The Enemy of My Enemy etc. etc.


SENTENTIAE ANTIQUAE

Erasmus, Adagia 1.1.11 – ‘Syncretism’

“‘Syncretism’ used to be used as a Cretan proverb in cases when those who seemed to be the bitterest enemies were unexpectedly driven back into the greatest concord. This used to happen often, especially when some common misfortune befell both parties. Plutarch, in his commentary On Brotherly Love, reviews and simultaneously explains the proverb with these words:  Ἔτι τοίνυν ἐκεῖνο δεῖ μνημονεύειν ἐν ταῖς πρὸς τοὺς ἀδελφοὺς διαφοραῖς καὶ φυλάττειν, τὸ τοῖς φίλοις αὐτῶν ὁμιλεῖν καὶ πλησιάζειν τότε μάλιστα, φεύγειν δὲ τοὺς ἐχθροὺς καὶ μὴ προσδέχεσθαι, μιμούμενον αὐτὸ γοῦν τοῦτο τὸ Κρητῶν, οἳ πολλάκις στασιάζοντες ἀλλήλοις καὶ πολεμοῦτες ἔξωθεν ἐπιόντων πολεμίων διελύοντο καὶ συνίσταντο· καὶ τοῦτο ἦν ὁ καλούμενος ὑπ᾿ αὐτῶν συγκρητισμός that is, It will also be proper to remember and to take care when brothers are arguing among themselves , that you may have at the same time familiarity and intimacy with…

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