The Prow and Stern of the Matter


Erasmus, Adagia 1.1.8

Πρῶρα καὶ πρύμνη, that is Prow and stern. Cicero, writing to Tiro in the final book of his Epistulae Familiares, recalls the saying with these words: ‘It was my prow and stern, as the saying of the Greeks goes, to send you away from me so that you could explain my reasoning’. We mean by ‘prow and stern’ the entirety of our plan, on account of the fact that the whole ship hangs between stern and prow as if from head to heel. Among the Greeks, I found it given thus: Τὰ ἐκ πρώρας καὶ τὰ ἐκ πρύμνης ἀπόλλυται, that is, They perish from prow and from stern equally or the prow and stern perish equally, referring to complete destruction. Philostratus, in his Heroics, writes Ἀλλὰ δεῖ προσδεδέσθαι τῇ νηί, καθάπερ τὸν Ὀδυσσέα, εἰ δὲ μή, καὶ τὰ ἐκ πρώρας φασὶ καὶ ἐκ πρύμνης…

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