The Throwaway Comment


One of the marks of being in the presence of genius is coming upon what looks to be a throwaway comment, but which carries a greater significance than I could come up with on my best day.  As Emerson says, in an example, “Talent may frolic and juggle; genius realizes and adds.”  (The Poet)  Herewith a few more of my favorites:

The scholar always wants to know more than can be known.  –Werner Jaeger, Paideia

Tell us also why you are made unhappy on hearing about the return of the Argive Danaans from Troy. The gods arranged all this, and sent them their misfortunes in order that future generations might have something to sing about.  –Homer, The Odyssey, Book 8 (Butler)

The only sin is limitation.  –Ralph Waldo Emerson, Circles

But, whether true or false, my opinion is that in the world of knowledge the idea of good appears last of all, and is seen only with an effort; and, when seen, is also inferred to be the universal author of all things beautiful and right, parent of light and of the lord of light in this visible world, and the immediate source of reason and truth in the intellectual…  –Plato, Republic, Book 7 (Jowett)

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