Thursday, 28 December 2017


Though enslaved when original brought from Syria to Italy, Publilius Syrus was subsequently freed and legitimised (classically trained) by his master once he realised his oratory potential and was allowed to spend his days in observation, penning pithy maxims.
Among his most famous and enduring sayings is that “a rolling stone gathers no moss” (Saxum volutum non obducitur musco—which also contains the anti-proverb, a rolling stone gathers momentum) is variously interpreted as people always on the move establish no true roots or that moss is substitute phrase for stagnation but that is not his only one left up to the listener. Often misattributed to the playwright Euripedes, Syrus’ Stultum facit fortuna, quem vult perdere (catalogued as Aphorism 911, the former, number 524) means “Whom Fortune wishes to destroy, she first makes mad” has enjoyed a like measure popular culture relatability with it being put in the mouths of several worthies to include Antigone, Prometheus and Captain James Tiberius Kirk with different shades of meaning ultimately up for debate in terms of causality.