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Encyclopedia > Aphorism

The word aphorism (literally distinction or definition, from Greek: αφορισμός) denotes an original thought, spoken or written in a laconic and easily memorable form. [1] An adverb describing the tendency to convey an idea in the smallest possible number of words. ...


The name was first used in the Aphorisms of Hippocrates. The term came to be applied later to other sententious statements of physical science and later still to statements of all kinds of philosophical, moral or literary principles. For other uses, see Hippocrates (disambiguation). ...


The Aphorisms of Hippocrates were the earliest collection of the kind. They include such notable and often invoked phrases as:"Life is short, art is long, opportunity fugitive, experimenting dangerous, reasoning difficult: it is necessary not only to do oneself what is right, but also to be seconded by the patient, by those who attend him, by external circumstances."


The aphoristic genre developed together with literacy, and after the invention of printing aphorisms were collected and published in book form. The first noted published collection of aphorisms is "Adagia" by Erasmus of Rotterdam. Other important early aphorists were François de La Rochefoucauld and Blaise Pascal. This article deals with the Erasmus, the theologian. ... François VI, duc de La Rochefoucauld, le Prince de Marcillac (September 15, 1613 - March 17, 1680), was the greatest maxim writer of France, one of her best memoir writers, and perhaps the most complete and accomplished representative of her ancient nobility. ... Blaise Pascal (pronounced ), (June 20 [[1624 // ]] – August 19, 1662) was a French mathematician, physicist, and religious philosopher. ...


Two influential collections of aphorisms published in the 20th century were "The Uncombed Thoughts" by Stanislaw Jerzy Lec (in Polish), and "Itch of Wisdom" by Mikhail Turovsky (in Russian). Stanisław Jerzy Lec The title of this article is incorrect because of technical limitations. ... Mikhail Turovsky (born in Pryluky, Ukraine in 1933) is an American artist-painter, and writer-aphorist, resident in New York since 1979. ...

Contents

Examples

Usually an aphorism is a concise statement containing a personal truth or observation cleverly and pithily written. Aphorisms can be both prosaic or poetic, sometimes they have repeated words or phrases, and sometimes they have two parts that are of the same grammatical structure. Some examples include:

  • Lost time is never found again.Benjamin Franklin
  • Greed is a permanent slavery.Ali
  • Render unto Caesar what is Caesar. Render unto God what is God's.Jesus Christ
  • Mediocrity is forgiven more easily than talent.' Emil Krotky
  • Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Death with dignity is better than life with humiliation.Husayn ibn Ali
  • That which does not destroy us makes us stronger.Friedrich Nietzsche
  • If you see the teeth of the lion, do not think that the lion is smiling at you. — Al-Mutanabbi
  • When your legs get weaker time starts running faster.Mikhail Turovsky
  • Many of those who tried to enlighten were hanged from the lampposts.Stanislaw Jerzy Lec
  • A mystic hangs a fig leaf on a eunuch.' Stanislaw Jerzy Lec
  • The psychology of committees is a special case of the psychology of mobs.Celia Green
  • It is not uncommon to commiserate with a stranger's misfortune, but it takes a really fine nature to appreciate a friend's success.Oscar Wilde
  • Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue. — Unknown, possibly French proverb, or authored by François de La Rochefoucauld
  • One death is a tragedy; a million is a statistic.Joseph Stalin
  • Believe nothing you hear, and only half of what you see.Mark Twain
  • It is better to be hated for what one is, than loved for what one is not.André Gide
  • A lie told often enough becomes the truth.Vladimir Lenin
  • Like a road in Autumn: Hardly is it swept clean before it is covered again with dead leaves.Franz Kafka
  • Love the sinner and hate the sin. (Cum dilectione hominum et odio vitiorum.) - St. Augustine of Hippo[2]

Benjamin Franklin (January 17 [O.S. January 6] 1706 – April 17, 1790) was one of the most well known Founding Fathers of the United States. ... For other uses, see Ali (disambiguation). ... Wikipedia does not yet have an article with this exact name. ... Ralph Waldo Emerson (May 25, 1803 – April 27, 1882) was an American essayist, poet, and leader of the Transcendentalist movement in the early nineteenth century. ... This article is about Husayn ibn Ali ibn Abi Talib (626 – 680). ... Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (October 15, 1844 – August 25, 1900) (IPA: ) was a nineteenth-century German philosopher and philologist. ... Abou-t-Tayyib Ahmad ibn al-Husayn al-Mutanabbi (Arabic: أبو الطيب احمد بن الحسين المتنبّي ) ‎ (915–965) was an Arab (Iraqi-born) poet. ... Mikhail Turovsky (born in Pryluky, Ukraine in 1933) is an American artist-painter, and writer-aphorist, resident in New York since 1979. ... Stanisław Jerzy Lec The title of this article is incorrect because of technical limitations. ... Stanisław Jerzy Lec The title of this article is incorrect because of technical limitations. ... Celia Green. ... Oscar Fingal OFlahertie Wills Wilde (October 16, 1854 – November 30, 1900) was an Irish playwright, novelist, poet, and author of short stories. ... Hypocrisy is the act of condemning or calling for the condemnation of another person when the critic is guilty of the act for which he demands that the accused be condemned. ... Vice is a practice or habit that is considered immoral, depraved, and/or degrading in the associated society. ... Personification of virtue (Greek ἀρετή) in Celsus Library in Ephesos, Turkey Virtue (Latin virtus; Greek ) is moral excellence of a person. ... This article is about the French noble and writer de La Rochefoucauld. ... Josef Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili (Georgian: , Ioseb Besarionis Dze Jughashvili; Russian: , Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili) (December 18 [O.S. December 6] 1878[1] – March 5, 1953), better known by his adopted name, Joseph Stalin (alternatively transliterated Josef Stalin), was General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Unions Central Committee from... Samuel Langhorne Clemens (November 30, 1835 – April 21, 1910),[1] better known by the pen name Mark Twain, was an American humanist,[2] humorist, satirist, lecturer and writer. ... Gide redirects here. ... Lenin redirects here. ... Kafka redirects here. ... St. ...

Aphorism and literature

Aphoristic collections, sometimes known as wisdom literature, have a prominent place in the canons of several ancient societies: E.g. the Biblical Book of Proverbs, Islamic Hadith, Hesiod's Works and Days, or Epictetus' Handbook. Aphoristic collections also make up an important part of the work of some modern authors, such as Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, Friedrich Nietzsche, Franz Kafka, Karl Kraus, La Rouchefoucauld, Thomas Szasz, Stanislaw Jerzy Lec, Mikhail Turovsky, Celia Green, Robert A. Heinlein, Blaise Pascal, E. M. Cioran, and Oscar Wilde. A 1559 oil-on-oak-panel painting, Netherlandish Proverbs (also called The Blue Cloak or The Topsy Turvy World) by Pieter Brueghel the Elder, artfully depicts a land populated with literal renditions of Flemish aphorisms (proverbs) of the day. Wisdom literature is the a genre of literature common in the Ancient Near East. ... The Bible (From Greek βιβλια—biblia, meaning books, which in turn is derived from βυβλος—byblos meaning papyrus, from the ancient Phoenician city of Byblos which exported papyrus) is the sacred scripture of Christianity. ... The Book of Proverbs is one of the books of the Ketuvim of the Tanakh and of the Writings of the Old Testament. ... For people named Islam, see Islam (name). ... Hadith ( transliteration: ) are oral traditions relating to the words and deeds of Prophet Muhammad. ... Roman bronze bust, the so-called Pseudo-Seneca, now identified by some as possibly Hesiod Hesiod (Hesiodos, ) was an early Greek poet and rhapsode, who presumably lived around 700 BC. Hesiod and Homer, with whom Hesiod is often paired, have been considered the earliest Greek poets whose work has survived... Epictetus (Greek: Επίκτητος; ca. ... Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (1 July 1742 – 24 February 1799) was an 18th-century German scientist, satirist and Anglophile. ... Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (October 15, 1844 – August 25, 1900) (IPA: ) was a nineteenth-century German philosopher and philologist. ... Kafka redirects here. ... Karl Kraus (April 28, 1874 - June 12, 1936) was an eminent Austrian writer and journalist, known as a satirist, essayist, aphorist, playwright and poet. ... This article is about the French noble and writer de La Rochefoucauld. ... Szasz redirects here. ... Stanisław Jerzy Lec The title of this article is incorrect because of technical limitations. ... Mikhail Turovsky (born in Pryluky, Ukraine in 1933) is an American artist-painter, and writer-aphorist, resident in New York since 1979. ... Celia Green. ... Robert Anson Heinlein (July 7, 1907 – May 8, 1988) was one of the most popular, influential, and controversial authors of hard science fiction. ... Blaise Pascal (pronounced ), (June 20 [[1624 // ]] – August 19, 1662) was a French mathematician, physicist, and religious philosopher. ... Emil Cioran (known in French as Émile Cioran), (April 8, 1911 - June 20, 1995) was a writer noted for his somber works in the French language. ... Oscar Fingal OFlahertie Wills Wilde (October 16, 1854 – November 30, 1900) was an Irish playwright, novelist, poet, and author of short stories. ... Netherlandish Proverbs (also called The Blue Cloak or The Topsy Turvy World) is a 1559 oil-on-oak-panel painting by Pieter Brueghel the Elder which depicts a land populated with literal renditions of Flemish proverbs of the day. ... Bruegels The Painter and The Connoisseur drawn c. ... Proverbs may refer to: The plural of the word proverb. ...


Poetics of the aphorism

The aphorism is considered a compressed poetic genre in itself. Aphorisms typically make extensive use of such devices as alliteration (penny wise, pound foolish), anaphora (a penny saved is a penny earned) and rhyme (a stitch in time saves nine). For the gay mens lifestyle magazine, see Genre (magazine). ... Alliteration is the repetition of a leading consonant sound in a phrase. ... This article is about the rhetorical term. ... A rhyme is a repetition of identical or similar sounds in two or more different words and is most often used in poetry. ...


Consider, for example, the aphorism "Children should be seen and not heard", which has persisted in common usage despite many compelling objections to its wisdom. Whatever the value of its message, the phrase could, in fact, be considered a masterpiece of oral-poetic art.


"Children should be seen and not heard" contains emphatic repetition of the consonants n and d (Children should be seen and not heard). Metrically, it consists of four syllables without strong rhythmical marking (Children should be) followed by a pronounced choriamb (seen and not heard). It is thus remarkably similar to octosyllabic verse-forms found in many ancient literatures, including Sappho's lyrics and the hymns of the Rig-Veda. In Greek and Latin poetry, choriamb refers to a prosodic foot of four syllables, of the pattern long-short-short-long. ... For other uses, see Sappho (disambiguation). ... The Rig Veda ऋग्वेद (Sanskrit ṛgveda from ṛc praise + veda knowledge) is a collection of hymns(each hymn is called a Rucha.) counted among the four Hindu religious scriptures known as the Vedas, and contains the oldest texts preserved in any Indo-Iranian language. ...


Aphorism and society

In a number of cultures, such as Samuel Johnson's England and tribal societies throughout the world, the ability to spontaneously produce aphoristic sayings at exactly the right moment is a key determinant of social status.[dubious ] For other persons named Samuel Johnson, see Samuel Johnson (disambiguation). ... http://www. ...


Many societies have traditional sages or culture heroes to whom aphorisms are commonly attributed, such as the Seven Sages of Greece, Confucius or King Solomon. A culture hero is a historical or mythological hero who changes the world through invention or discovery. ... The Seven Sages (of Greece) (c. ... Confucius (Chinese: ; pinyin: ; Wade-Giles: Kung-fu-tzu), lit. ... It has been suggested that Sulayman be merged into this article or section. ...


Misquoted or misadvised aphorisms are frequently used as a source of humour; for instance, wordplays around aphorisms appear in the works of P. G. Wodehouse, Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams (e.g. Zaphod Beeblebrox saying "Right now I need aphorisms like I need holes in my heads"). Aphorisms being misquoted by sports players, coaches and commentators forms the basis of Private Eye's Colemanballs section. Sir Pelham Grenville Wodehouse, KBE (15 October 1881 – 14 February 1975) (IPA: ) was a comic writer who has enjoyed enormous popular success for more than seventy years. ... Terence David John Pratchett, OBE (born 28 April 1948) is a British fantasy and science fiction author, best known for his Discworld series. ... Douglas Noël Adams (11 March 1952 – 11 May 2001) was an English author, comic radio dramatist, and musician. ... This article is about the fictional character. ... Private eye may mean: Look up Private eye on Wiktionary, the free dictionary Private Eye a fortnightly British satirical magazine-newspaper, edited by Ian Hislop (as of 2005) A private investigator, a private detective for hire (see also crime fiction and detective fiction) Private Eye, a song by Alkaline Trio... Colemanballs is a term coined by Private Eye magazine to describe gaffes perpetrated by (usually British) sports commentators. ...


Aphorists

An aphorist is someone who produces or collects aphorisms. Famous aphorists include:

Woody Allen (born Allen Stewart Konigsberg; December 1, 1935) is a three-time Academy Award-winning American film director, writer, actor, jazz musician, comedian and playwright. ... Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce (June 24, 1842 – 1914?) was an American editorialist, journalist, short-story writer and satirist, today best known for his Devils Dictionary. ... For other persons named William Blake, see William Blake (disambiguation). ... Jean de La Bruyère (August 16, 1645 - May 10, 1696), was a French essayist and moralist. ... James Boswell, 9th Laird of Auchinleck and 1st Baronet (October 29, 1740 - May 19, 1795) was a lawyer, diarist, and author born in Edinburgh, Scotland. ... Nicolas Chamfort (April 6, 1741, Clermont-Ferrand, Auvergne France - April 13, 1794, Paris) was a French writer, best known for his witty epigrams and aphorisms. ... François-René de Chateaubriand, painting by Anne-Louis Girodet de Roussy-Trioson, beginning of 19th century. ... Gilbert Keith Chesterton (May 29, 1874–June 14, 1936) was an influential English writer of the early 20th century. ... Churchill redirects here. ... Emil Cioran (known in French as Émile Cioran), (April 8, 1911 - June 20, 1995) was a writer noted for his somber works in the French language. ... Kung-Fu-Tzu is a language of no particular region. ... Mason Cooley (1927 – ) is an American aphorist mostly known for his witty quotations. ... Jetsun Jamphel Ngawang Lobsang Yeshe Tenzin Gyatso (born Llhamo Döndrub (Tibetan: ; Wylie: Lha-mo Don-grub) 6 July 1935 in Qinghai [1]), is the fourteenth and current Dalai Lama. ... “Einstein” redirects here. ... For other uses of Fontenelle, see Fontenelle (disambiguation). ... Benjamin Franklin (January 17 [O.S. January 6] 1706 – April 17, 1790) was one of the most well known Founding Fathers of the United States. ... Joan Fuster i Ortells Joan Fuster i Ortells ( Sueca, b. ... Khalil Gibran Gibran Khalil Gibran (January 6, 1883 - April 10, 1931) was a Lebanese poet and artist. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with Gomez Dávila. ... Celia Green. ... Robert Anson Heinlein (July 7, 1907 – May 8, 1988) was one of the most popular, influential, and controversial authors of hard science fiction. ... Hermann Hesse (pronounced ) (2 July 1877 – 9 August 1962) was a German-Swiss poet, novelist, and painter. ... John Heywood (1497-1580) was an English writer known for his plays, poems, and collection of proverbs. ... Ahmad ibn Muhammad Ibn Ata Allah (d. ... For other persons named Samuel Johnson, see Samuel Johnson (disambiguation). ... Karl Kraus (April 28, 1874 - June 12, 1936) was an eminent Austrian writer and journalist, known as a satirist, essayist, aphorist, playwright and poet. ... Lao Zi (also spelled Laozi, Lao Tzu, or Lao Tse) was a famous Chinese philosopher who is believed to have lived in approximately the 4th century BC, during the Hundred Schools of Thought and Warring States Periods. ... Samuel Langhorne Clemens (November 30, 1835 – April 21, 1910),[1] better known by the pen name Mark Twain, was an American humanist,[2] humorist, satirist, lecturer and writer. ... StanisÅ‚aw Jerzy Lec StanisÅ‚aw Jerzy Lec (6 March 1909 – 7 May 1966) was a Polish poet and aphorist. ... Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (1 July 1742 – 24 February 1799) was an 18th-century German scientist, satirist and Anglophile. ... Clare Boothe Luce (April 10, 1903 – October 9, 1987) was an American editor, playwright, social activist, politician, journalist, and diplomat. ... Andrzej Majewski, born in 1966 in WrocÅ‚aw, is an outstanding polish aphorist, writer, columnist and photographer. ... H. L. (Henry Louis) Mencken (September 12, 1880, Baltimore – January 29, 1956, Baltimore), was a journalist, essayist, magazine editor, satirist, acerbic critic of American life and culture, and a student of the American English. ... Michel Eyquem de Montaigne (French pronounced ) (February 28, 1533–September 13, 1592) was one of the most influential writers of the French Renaissance. ... Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (October 15, 1844 – August 25, 1900) (IPA: ) was a nineteenth-century German philosopher and philologist. ... Andrés Ortíz-Osés, in attitude of serenity // Andrés Ortíz-Osés (Tardienta, 1943) is a Spanish Philosopher. ... Dorothy Parker (August 22, 1893 – June 7, 1967) was an American writer and poet, best known for her caustic wit, wisecracks, and sharp eye for 20th century urban foibles. ... Don Paterson (born 1963) is a Scottish poet and musician who was awarded the TS Eliot Prize for poetry for the second time in six years in 2004, and having already won the poetry category narrowly missed the same years Whitbread Prize. ... For other persons named John Peel, see John Peel (disambiguation). ... Fernando Pessoa Fernando António Nogueira de Seabra Pessoa (pron. ... Antonio Porchia (November 13, 1886 - November 9, 1968) was an Italian poet. ... François VI, duc de La Rochefoucauld, le Prince de Marcillac (September 15, 1613 - March 17, 1680), was the greatest maxim writer of France, one of her best memoir writers, and perhaps the most complete and accomplished representative of her ancient nobility. ... George Santayana George Santayana (December 16, 1863, Madrid – September 26, 1952, Rome), was a philosopher, essayist, poet, and novelist. ... Karl Wilhelm Friedrich von Schlegel (March 10, 1772 - January 11, 1829), German poet, critic and scholar, was the younger brother of August Wilhelm von Schlegel. ... Arthur Schopenhauer (February 22, 1788 – September 21, 1860) was a German philosopher best known for his work The World as Will and Representation. ... Peppard as Hannibal in The A-Team Col. ... Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy(Lyof, Lyoff) (September 9 [O.S. August 28] 1828 – November 20 [O.S. November 7] 1910) (Russian: , IPA:  ), commonly referred to in English as Leo Tolstoy, was a Russian writer – novelist, essayist, dramatist and philosopher – as well as pacifist Christian anarchist and educational reformer. ... Mikhail Turovsky (born in Pryluky, Ukraine in 1933) is an American artist-painter, and writer-aphorist, resident in New York since 1979. ... For other people of the same name, see Valery. ... Luc de Clapiers, marquis de Vauvenargues (6 August 1715 – 28 May 1747) was a French moralist, essayist, and miscellaneous writer. ... For other uses, see Voltaire (disambiguation). ... Oscar Fingal OFlahertie Wills Wilde (October 16, 1854 – November 30, 1900) was an Irish playwright, novelist, poet, and author of short stories. ... Wittgenstein redirects here. ... Eric Hoffer (July 25, 1898 – May 21, 1983) was an American social writer. ... Frank McKinney Hubbard (born 1 September 1868 in Bellefontaine, Ohio - died: 26 December 1930 in Indianapolis, Indiana) was an American cartoonist, humorist, and journalist better known by his pen name Kin Hubbard. ... Veda redirects here. ...

See also

An adage (IPA ), or adagium (Latin), is a short, but memorable saying, which holds some important fact of experience that is considered true by many people, or it has gained some credibility through its long use. ... The Book of Proverbs is one of the books of the Ketuvim of the Tanakh and of the Writings of the Old Testament. ... Chiasmus (latinized form of Greek χιασμός, from χίασμα (chiasm), crossing) is a figure of speech based on inverted parallelism. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... Ecclesiastes, Qohelet in Hebrew, is a book of the Hebrew Bible. ... The Wisdom of Ben Sirach, (or The Wisdom of Joshua Ben Sirach or merely Sirach), called Ecclesiasticus by Christians, is a book written circa 180 BCE in Hebrew. ... An epigram is a short poem with a clever twist at the end or a concise and witty statement. ... The Gospel of Thomas (full name The Gospel According to Thomas (in Coptic, p. ... This article needs cleanup. ... Look up proverb in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Pseudo-Phocylides is an apocryphal work claiming to have been written by Phocylides, a Greek philosopher of the 6th century. ...

References

  1. ^ Definition of aphorism from the Online Etymology Dictionary
  2. ^ [[J.-P. Migne]], (translator) St. Augustine's Letter 211 (ed.) Patrologiae Latinae Volume 33, (1845).
  • The World in a Phrase: A Brief History of the Aphorism by James Geary
  • This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain.
  • "Itch of Wisdom" by Mikhail Turovsky, Hemlock Press 1990 (English edition)

An editor has expressed a concern that the subject of the article does not satisfy the notability guideline for Web content. ... The Patrologia Latina is an enormous collection of the writings of the Church Fathers and other ecclesiastical writers published by Jacques-Paul Migne between 1844 and 1855, with indices published between 1862 and 1865. ... This article or section does not cite any references or sources. ... Encyclopædia Britannica, the eleventh edition The Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition (1910–1911) is perhaps the most famous edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica. ... The public domain comprises the body of all creative works and other knowledge—writing, artwork, music, science, inventions, and others—in which no person or organization has any proprietary interest. ... Mikhail Turovsky (born in Pryluky, Ukraine in 1933) is an American artist-painter, and writer-aphorist, resident in New York since 1979. ...

External links

  • Aphorisms galore . Famous quotations and sayings listed by authors and categories.
Look up Aphorism in
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Wiktionary (a portmanteau of wiki and dictionary) is a multilingual, Web-based project to create a free content dictionary, available in over 151 languages. ... Image File history File links This is a lossless scalable vector image. ... Wikiquote is one of a family of wiki-based projects run by the Wikimedia Foundation, running on MediaWiki software. ...

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