Great Throughts Treasury

This site is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Alan William Smolowe who gave birth to the creation of this database.

Theophrastus NULL

Greek Philosopher, Botanist, Naturalist and Humorist, Man of Letters, Successor to Aristotle in the Peripatetic School

"Tactlessness is a pain-giving failure to hit upon the right moment."

"Time is the most valuable thing a man can spend."

"Waste of time is the most extravagant and costly of all expenses."

"Ah, yes, superstition: it would appear to be cowardice in face of the supernatural."

"An orator without judgment is a horse without a bridle"

"Anaximenes… also says that the underlying nature is one and infinite... but not undefined as Anaximander said but definite, for he identifies it as air; and it differs in its substantial nature by rarity and density. Being made finer it becomes fire; being made thicker it becomes wind, then cloud, then (when thickened still more) water, then earth, then stones; and the rest come into being from these."

"And he will borrow from his acquaintances things of a kind that no one would ask back, — or readily take back, if it were proposed to restore them."

"Arrogance is a certain scorn for all the world beside oneself."

"Avarice is excessive desire of base gain."

"Boastfulness would seem to be, in fact, pretension to advantages which one does not possess."

"Boorishness would seem to be ignorance offending against propriety."

"Chattiness, if one should wish to define it, would seem to be an incontinence of talk.?"

"Complaisance may be defined as a mode of address calculated to give pleasure, but not with the best tendency."

"Cowardice would seem to be, in fact, the shrinking of the soul through fear."

"Distrustfulness is a presumption that all men are unjust."

"Expense of time is the most costly of all expenses."

"Flattery may be considered as a mode of companionship degrading but profitable to him who flatters."

"Garrulity is the discoursing of much and ill-considered talk."

"Gossip is the framing of fictitious saying and doings at the pleasure of him who gossips."

"Grossness is not difficult to define; it is obtrusive and objectionable pleasantry."

"Grumbling is undue censure of one’s portion."

"He [the flatterer] is just the person, too, who can run errands to the women’s market without drawing breath. He is the first of the guests to praise the wine; and to say, as he reclines next the host, ‘How delicate is your fare!’ and (taking up something from the table)"

"Hearing, he [the ironic type] will affect not to have heard, seeing, not to have seen; if he has made an admission, he will say that he does not remember it. Sometimes he has ‘been considering the question’; sometimes he does ‘not know’; sometimes he is ‘surprised’; sometimes it is ‘the very conclusion’ at which he ‘once arrived’ himself. And, in general, he is very apt to use this kind of phrase: ‘I do not believe it’; ‘I do not understand it’; ‘I am astonished.’ Or he will say that he has heard it from some one else: ‘This, however, was not the story that he told me.’ ‘The thing surprises me’; ‘Don’t tell me’; ‘I do not know how I am to disbelieve you, or to condemn him’; ‘Take care that you are not too credulous.’"

"I would define boastfulness to be the pretension to good which the boaster does not possess."

"Irony, roughly defined, would seem to be an affectation of the worse in word or deed."

"Late-learning would seem to mean the pursuit of exercises for which one is too old."

"Meanness is an excessive indifference to honor where expense is concerned."

"Offensiveness is distressing neglect of person."

"Officiousness would seem to be, in fact, a well-meaning presumption in word or deed."

"One may define flattery as a base companionship which is most advantageous to the flatterer."

"Our costliest expenditure is time."

"Penuriousness is too strict attention to profit and loss.?"

"Petty ambition would seem to be a mean craving for distinction."

"Recklessness is tolerance of shame in word and deed."

"Shamelessness may be defined as neglect of reputation for the sake of base gain."

"Stupidity may be defined as mental slowness in speech and action."

"Superstition is cowardice in the face of the Divine."

"Superstition would seem to be simply cowardice in regard to the supernatural."

"Surliness is discourtesy in words."

"Surliness is incivility in speech."

"The Arrogant man is one who will say to a person who is in a hurry that he will see him after dinner when he is taking his walk."

"The Avaricious man is one who, when he entertains, will not set enough bread upon the table."

"The Boastful Man is one who will stand in the bazaar talking to foreigners of the great sums which he has at sea; he will discourse of the vastness of his money-lending business, and the extent of his personal gains and losses; and, while thus drawing the long-bow, will send of his boy to the bank, where he keeps — a drachma."

"The Boor is one who, having drunk a posset, will go into the Ecclesia. He vows that thyme smells sweeter than any perfume; he wears his shoes too large for his feet; he talks in a loud voice."

"The Chatty Man is one who will say to those whom he meets, if they speak a word to him, that they are quite wrong, and that he knows all about it, and that, if they listen to him, they will learn; then, while one is answering him, he will put in, ‘Do you tell me so? — don’t forget what you are going to say’ [...]"

"The Complaisant man is very much the kind of person who will hail one afar off with ‘my dear fellow’; and, after a large display of respect, seize and hold one by both hands."

"The Coward is one who, on a voyage, will protest that the promontories are pirates; and, if a high sea gets up, will ask if there is any one on board who has not been initiated."

"The Distrustful man is one who, having sent his slave to market, will send another to ascertain what price he gave."

"The Evil-speaker is one who, when asked who so-and-so is, will reply, in the style of genealogists, ‘I will begin with his parentage."

"The Gossip is a person who, when he meets his friend, will assume a demure air, and ask with a smile — ‘Where are you from, and what are your tidings?"