A Man Is Like A Bow

(Chapter 173, part 2 of 2) Amasis responds to the critics of his behavior by pointing out that a bow that is continuously strung is liable to break and not be available when needed. A man, he says, is similar. Constant hard work and no relaxation leads to a breakdown. He, therefore, divides his time rationally between work and play.


[Vocabulary] This selection features the subjunctive and optative, since it is dealing with choices that may or may not be made, and contemplative or ideal situations.

He answered them with these [words]: "Those who have acquired bows string them when there is need for them to be used. If they were strung all of the time, they might break, so that in need they would not have them usable. Such is the nature of a man as well. If he should choose to be serious always, and not partly give himself over to play, he would surely end up raving, or stunned. [As for] these things, I apportion to each a wise share." Thus he answered his friends

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Composed by J. B. Calvert
Last revised 9 July 1999