Ἂριστον μὲν ὕδωρ³

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22 February 2012

WATER IS BEST

Quid lapide durius, quid aqua mollius? Verumtamen gutta cavat lapidem non vi sed sæpe cadendo.

What is harder than stone, what is softer than water? Yet the drop hollows out the stone, not by force, but by constantly falling.

Western saying¹

 

天下莫柔弱於水,而攻堅強者莫之能勝…。弱之勝強,柔之勝剛,天下莫不知,莫能行…

Nothing under heaven is softer or more yielding than water; but when it attacks things hard and resistant there is not one of them that can prevail….That the yielding conquers the resistant and the soft conquers the hard is a fact known by all men, yet utilised by none…

 Eastern saying²

 

₁ Remark attributed to Richard (d.1172), a Scottish monk at the former medieval Abbey of St Victor in the Latin Quarter of Paris. The saying is a medieval amplification of an abbreviated version “gutta cavat lapidem” (The drop hollows out the stone) much quoted by classical authors (eg Lucretius, Ovid and Tibullus).

₂ 道德經 Dao De Jing (also transliterated as Tao Te Ching): The Classic of the Way and its Power. Around 250BC. Chapter 78.

₃ “Water is best”. Pindar (518-438BC). Olympian Odes, Book 1, Line 1.

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