Don't kill the messenger

Posted by ESC on March 01, 2000

In Reply to: Phrase origin posted by rob harris on February 29, 2000

: could someone please tell me the derivation of the phrase "Don't kill the messenger" and/or anyplace to find information about it.
: Many thanks.

DON'T SHOOT THE MESSENGER -- From Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings by Gregory Y. Titelman: "Don't shoot the messenger. Don't blame the person who brings bad news. This idea was expressed by Sophocles as far back as 442 B.C. and much later by Shakespeare in 'Henry IV, Part II' and in 'Antony and Cleopatra' (1606-07) The word kill may be used as a substitute for 'shoot.'" Related saying: "Don't shoot the piano-player; he's doing the best he can. Don't hurt innocent people. Originated in the United States in the Wild West, around 1860. During his 1883 tour of the United States, Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) saw this saying on a notice in a Leadville, Colorado, saloon. It is sometimes attributed to Mark Twain, but neither Wilde nor Twain has ever claimed authority."