Sometimes I look stuff up

Have you seen this quote?

There is a time for many words, and there is also a time for sleep.

~ Homer

Honestly, that’s pretty sharp! There’s good wisdom about a few things packed in there: Picking your battles, perhaps; Knowing the seasons of things, the ages of Man and so forth; Setting managable goals or not tackling more than you can do in a day. That Homer guy with the wisdom!

Until you look it up, and it turns out to be just a throwaway phrase in a transition. Here, read the full paragraphs, XI.35-6 from the Oddyssey:

And Alcinous answered him, saying: ‘Odysseus, in no wise do we deem thee, we that look on thee, to be a knave or a cheat, even as the dark earth rears many such broadcast, fashioning lies whence none can even see his way therein. But beauty crowns thy words, and wisdom is within thee; and thy tale, as when a minstrel sings, thou hast told with skill, the weary woes of all the Argives and of thine own self. But come, declare me this and plainly tell it all. Didst thou see any of thy godlike company who went up at the same time with thee to Ilios and there met their doom? Behold, the night is of great length, unspeakable, and the time for sleep in the hall is not yet; tell me therefore of those wondrous deeds. I could abide even till the bright dawn, so long as thou couldst endure to rehearse me these woes of thine in the hall.’ (35)

And Odysseus of many counsels answered him, saying: ‘My lord Alcinous, most notable of all the people, there is a time for many words and there is a time for sleep. But if thou art eager still to listen, I would not for my part grudge to tell thee of other things more pitiful still, even the woes of my comrades, those that perished afterward, for they had escaped with their lives from the dread warcry of the Trojans, but perished in returning by the will of an evil woman. (36)

~ Homer

It’s basically, “sure bro’, if you’re up for it, I’m game to stay up and tell you the story of . . .”

Question: Is the quote at the top better, or worse now that you know what Homer actually wrote? (Yes, fine, he was actually writing in ancient Greek, but my point stands.)

It’s a cliché that our favorite quotes say more about us, then they do about who we’re quoting. (Left unconsidered is what it says about me if I collect thousands of quotes.) But that cliché is the entire point of being intentionally reflective: I’m searching out new things, (quotes in this discussion,) and I’m thinking about what they might mean; What the original author or speaker might have meant; How that meaning might change over time from original source to my time, and how it might change for me during my life.

See? There is a time for many words, and a time for sleep!

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