Friday, November 9, 2012

Today I'm reading "The Art of Speech and the Art of Silence," a medieval text concerning rhetoric by Albertano of Brescia. It is available here, because after this you might just want to read it, too.

It's this really weird combination of actually quite good advice, and then some strange advice, but what strikes me is a lot of these things are, sometimes word for word, things said today. Here are (so far) my favorite quotes:

When you wish to speak, dearest son, you should begin in the manner of the cock, which, before it crows, beats itself with its wings three times.

What does not concern you, does not hurt you. If you do not trouble yourself with things that do not trouble you, you will bring much peace to your heart and soul. This verse says it well: He brings peace to many who takes interest in few.

Examine yourself and consider if what you say is spoken with a clear understanding or out of ignorance. If you do not know what you are talking about, then do not talk as though you do.

Silence hurts no one; speech often may. Words are like arrows: easy to shoot off, hard to retrieve.

Better to be mute than to say things nobody understands.

Watch everything you say and do. Many who seem friendly are in fact not. All strangers can prove hostile.

Talking intelligently to a fool is like talking to a sleeping man; when your speech is over, he will say, ‘What is going on?’

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