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Moderation in all things

Posted by ESC on May 21, 2004

In Reply to: "Everything in moderation" posted by Smokey Stover on May 21, 2004

: : : Help! I'm doing a story on moderation, and would love to know the derivation of that famous phrase. I've spent a few hours on it thus far... nothing. Any ideas? Thanks tons!

: :
: : I think the concept is from Aristole's golden mean. It's been a long time since I read Aristole though so I'm not sure if it's lifted directly from his writing or not. It's not in Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable or the Partridge Dictionary of Catch Phrases: American and British, from the Sixteenth Century to the Present Day.

: I tried quotations and websites for Moderation in all things, and All things in moderation, without luck. I agree, however, that Aristotle is the one traditionally assigned authorship of the phrase. SS

A better question is, who didn't say it. Here's a sampling from one reference.

MODERATION IN ALL THINGS - "Thinkers of ancient Greece held the notion of moderation in high esteem. As early as the nineth century B.C., the historian Hesiod wrote in 'Works and Days,' 'Observe due measure, moderation is best in all things.' The Greek playwright Euripides echoed that sentiment in 'Medea' (c. 431 B.C.) with, 'Moderation, the noblest gift of heaven,' and after him the philosopher Plato advised in 'Gorgias' (c. 375 B.C.), 'We should pursue and practice moderation.' Centuries later, Chaucer first rendered a similar English saying in 'Troilus and Criseyde' (c. 1385) with 'In every thyng, I woot, there lith mesure (moderation or proportion)'.William H.G. Kingston gave the exact wording of the modern version in his translation of 'Swiss Family Robinson' ." 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). Page 127.

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