Posted by S. Ryan on February 25, 2003
In Reply to: Origin: Only the good die young posted by ESC on February 24, 2003
: : Looking for the origin of this phrase.
: THE GOOD DIE YOUNG - " (Whom the gods love dies young; Best go first.) The long history of the saying began with the ancient version, 'Whom the gods love dies young,' and a touching story of how the proverb originated. As told by the Greek historian Herodotus in 'History' (c. 445 B.C.), the story concerns two especially favored youths who, replacing two missing oxen, hitched themselves to a cart and carried their mother to a festival for the goddess Hera. At the temple, the grateful mother asked Hera to reward her sons with the greatest gift anyone might receive, whereupon her sons lay down to sleep and never woke again."
: ".The most recent version, 'The good die young,' can be traced back to William Wordsworth's 'The Excursion' and the lines, 'The good die first,/ And they whose hearts are dry as summer dust burn/ Burn to the socket'." From "Wise Words and Wives' Tales: The Origins, Meanings and Time-Honored Wisdom of Proverbs and Folk Sayings Olde and New" by Stuart Flexner and Doris Flexner (Avon Books, New York, 1993).
: There's a bunch more, but those are the main points.
: Thank you once again for this forum. One of my students was insisting that Billy Joel was the author until I introduced him to this site.