A few days later I happened to be reading a Horace poem which contains a similar idea:
auream quisquis mediocritatem
diligit, tutus caret obsoletis
ordibus tecti, caret invidenda
saepius ventis agitatur ingens
pinus et celsae graviore casu
decidunt turres feriuntque summos
sperat infestis, metuit secundis
alteram sortem bene praeparatum
Whoever cherishes the golden middle-way
will safely avoid the squalor of the slums
and will soberly avoid the palace
which brings only jealousy.
Often a huge pine tree is uprooted by the winds,
and tall towers fall with more serious
consequences, and lightning strikes
the highest mountains.
When times are tough, the well prepared heart
hopes for a change of fate, and, when they are favourable,
(Horace, Odes II.10)
The idea of the 'golden middle-way' (auream... mediocritatem) was particularly dear to the Romans (especially Stoics), who took the story of Daedalus and Icarus as a kind of parable on the dangers of excess:
instruit et natum 'medio' que 'ut limite curras,
Icare,' ait 'moneo, ne, si demissior ibis,
unda gravet pennas, si celsior, ignis adurat...
me duce carpe viam!'
He fitted his son with the wings and said to him 'I warn you, Icarus, to fly on the middle course, so that, if you fly too low, the waves won't weigh down your wings, nor, if you fly too high, will the sun's fire burn them... With me as your leader, take to the sky!
(Ovid, Metamorphoses VIII.203ff)Related Posts