Delphic Maxims

DELPHIC MAXIMS for Modern Followers

translated by Melissa Gold of Hellenion

Greek from Al. N. Oikonomides, Classical Bulletin 63 (1987); pronunciation is Modern Greek

1 ἕπου θεῷ
epou theo
Follow Zeus; follow divinity

2 νόμῳ πείθου
nomo peethou
Obey law; obey custom

3 θεοὺς σέβου
theous sevou
Honor the gods; revere the gods

4 γονεῖς αἰδοῦ
gonees edou
Respect parents

5 ἡττῶ ὑπὸ δικαίου
eeto eepo deekeou
Yield to a just man

6 γνῶθι μαθών
gnothee mathon
When you have learned something, recognize it (in all situations)

7 ἀκούσας νόει
akousas noee
Having heard, perceive

8 σαυτὸν ἴσθι
savton eesthee
Know yourself

9 γαμεῖν μέλλε
gameen melle
Intend to marry

10 καιρὸν γνῶθι
keron gnothee
Know the critical moment

11 φρόνει θνητά
fronee thneeta
Think like a mortal; be prudent like one who can die

12 ξένος ὢν ἴσθι
kzenos on eesthee
Be aware (of yourself) when you are a stranger

13 Ἑστίαν τίμα
esteean teema
Honor / revere the hearth / the family / the altar / the Goddess Hestia

14 ἆρχε σεαυτοῦ
arkhye seavtou
Rule / govern / control yourself

15 φίλοις βοήθει
feelees voeethee
Come to the aid of those dear to you

16 θυμοῦ κράτει
theemou kratee
Rule / conquer / master / control / prevail over anger / desire / emotion / lust

17 φρόνησιν ἄσκει
froneeseen askee
Practice good sense

18 πρόνοιαν τίμα
proneean teema
Value divine forethought

19 ὅρχῳ μὴ χρῶ
orkho mee khro
Do not make use of an oath

20 φιλίαν ἀγάπα
feeleean agapa
Desire / prize / prefer love / friendship

21 παιδείας ἀντέχου
pedeeas antekhou
Hold on to / cling to education / learning / culture / custom / what you have been taught

22 δόξαν δίωκε
doxan deeoke
Pursue / seek a good reputation

23 σοφίαν ζήλου
sofeean zeelou
Seek skill

24 καλὸν εὖ λέγε
kalon ev leye
Acknowledge a good man or a good/beautiful thing

25 ψέγε μηδένα
pseye meedena
Blame / censure / find fault with no one

26 ἐπαίνει ἀρετήν
epenee areteen
Approve / commend / praise excellence (merit / good service / virtue)

27 πρᾶττε δίκαια
pratte deekea
Act justly / righteously; Manage affairs according to law / custom; Achieve / do in a well-ordered way; Do well-ordered / just things

28 φίλοις εὐνόει
feelees evnoee
Be favourable / well-inclined to friends / family / dear ones / allies / kin

29 ἐχθροὺς ἀμύνου
ekhthrous ameenou
Keep off from hateful people; keep away from those who alienated and refuse to be reconciled

30 εὐγήνειαν ἄσκει
evyeeneean askee
Practice / train nobility of mind / character / excellence (of body)

31 κακίας ἀπέχου
kakeeas apekhou
Keep yourself away from moral badness / cowardice / ill-repute

32 κοινὸς γίνου
keenos yeenou
Become / be impartial / neutral / courteous

33 ἴδια φύλαττε
eedeea feelatte
Watch / guard / maintain one’s own property / affairs / interests

34 ἀλλοτρίων ἀπέχου
allotreeon apekhou
Refrain / hold yourself from what belongs to others / those who are unfavourable / strange things or customs

35 ἄκουε πάντα
akoue panta
Listen to everyone; Listen wholly / entirely

36 εὔφημος ἴσθι
evfeemos eesthee
Be fair-sounding; speak auspiciously (in religious settings)

37 φίλῳ χαρίζου
feelo khareezou
Be agreeable to/show kindness to one’s own/dear one

38 μηδὲν ἄγαν
meeden agan
Nothing very much / too much

39 χρόνου φείδου
khronou feedou
Use time sparingly; Don’t waste time

40 ὅρα τὸ μέλλον
ora to mellon
Think ahead; Give heed to the things to come

41 ὕβριν μίσει
eevreen meesee
Hate wanton violence / overblown pride

42 ἱκέτας αἰδοῦ
eeketas edou
Have respect for suppliants

43 πᾶσιν ἁρμόζου
paseen armozou
Adapt yourself to all things

44 υἱοὺς παίδευε
eeyous pedeve
Train / discipline your sons

45 ἔχων χαρίζου
ekhon khareezou
When you have, give freely / do a favor

46 δόλον φοβοῦ
dolon fovou
Be wary about / flee from a trap / trick / spy

47 εὐλόγει πάντας
evlogee pantas
Speak well of everyone

48 φιλόσοφος γίνου
feelosofos yeenou
Become/ always be becoming a philosopher

49 ὃσια κρίνε
oseea kreene
Distinguish what is lawful / divine / sacred / allowed (not forbidden)

50 γνοῦς πρᾶττε
gnous pratte
When you know, do; having understood by observing, do

51 φόνου ἀπέχου
fonou apekhou
Hold yourself off from / abstain from murder; avoid punishment by death

52 εὔχου δυνατά
evkhou deenata
Say aloud things that are powerful / possible / practicable

53 σοφοῖς χρῶ
sofees khro
Have need of / use learned / prudent / practical men (men who know how)

54 ἤθος δοκίμαζε
eethos dokeemaze
Put behavior to public scrutiny (especially things you have done)

55 λαβὼν ἀπόδος
lavon apodos
When you have received / gotten, pay back

56 ὑφορῶ μηδένα
eeforo meedena
View no one with jealousy; view no one stealthily

57 τέχνῃ χρῶ
tekhnee khro
Make use of the skill that you have; acquire skill

58 ὅ μέλλεις, δός
o mellees, dos
That which you were on the point of [giving], give (when you said you would)

59 εὐεργεσίας τίμα
everyeseeas teema
On-goingly value / honor good service done, especially since all goodness comes from the Gods

60 φθόνει μηδενί
fthonee meedenee
Bear a grudge against no one

61 φυλακῇ πρόσεχε
feelakee prosekhye
Pay attention to watching (for dangers)

62 ἐλπίδα αἴνει
elpeeda enee
Praise expectation; be content with hope

63 διαβολὴν μίσει
deeavoleen meesee
Hate slander / quarreling

64 δικαίως κτῶ
deekeos kto
Acquire justly

65 ἀγαθοὺς τίμα
agathous teema
Honor good men

66 κριτὴν γνῶθι
kreeteen gnothee
Know who is judging

67 γάμους κράτει
gamous kratee
Get the upper hand with respect to marriage negotiations

68 τύχην νόμιζε
teekheen nomeeze
Acknowledge fate

69 ἐγγύην φεῦγε
eggee-een fevye
Avoid pledges

70 ἁπλῶς διαλέγου
aplos deealegou
Speak plainly; “don’t speak with forked tongue”

71 ὁμοίοις χρῶ
omee-ees khro
Deal with those who those are equal and like to you in virtue

72 δαπανῶν ἄρχου
dapanon arkhou
Govern your expenditures

73 κτώμενος ἥδου
ktomenos eedou
What you have acquired, enjoy

74 αἰσχύνην σέβου
eskheeneen sevou
Revere shame (that has a person admitting his wrong-doing)

75 χάριν ἐκτέλει
khareen ektelee
Fully repay favor (especially to the Gods)

76 εὐτυχίαν εὔχου
evteekheean evkhou
Pray (aloud) for success

77 τύχην στέργε
teekheen sterye
Be content with your lot

78 ἀκούων ὅρα
akouon ora
Having heard, discern / give heed

79 ἐργάζου κτητά
ergazou kteeta
On-goingly work for acquisitions

80 ἔριν μίσει
ereen meesee
Despise strife / quarreling

81 ὄνειδος ἔχθαιρε
oneedos ekhthere
Detest disgrace (yours); don’t reproach others

82 γλῶτταν ἴσχε
glottan eeskhye
Hold your tongue

83 ὕβριν ἀμύνου
eevreen ameenou
Ward off insolence (or lust) toward others and avoid attracting it from others

84 κρῖνε δίκαια
kreene deekea
Discern just things (from unjust things); discern justly

85 χρῶ χρήμασιν
khro khreemaseen
Use your useful things (don’t hoard them)

86 ἀδωροδόκητος δίκαζε
adorodokeetos deekaze
Make judgements without bribes

87 αἰτιῶ παρόντα
eteeo paronta
Accuse someone when he is present, to his face

88 λέγε εἰδώς
leye eedos
Speak only from expertise

89 βίας μὴ ἔχου
veeas mee ekhou
Don’t rely on brute force; don’t be violent

90 ἀλύπως βίου
aleepos beeou
Gather your livelihood without causing pain

91 ὁμίλει πρᾷως
omeelee preos
Associate with others in a gentle way

92 πέρας ἐπιτέλει μὴ ἀποδειλιῶν
peras epeetelee mee apodeeleeon
Finish fully without timidness

93 φιλοφρόνει πᾶσιν
feelofronee paseen
Be friendly/cheerful to all

94 υἱοῖς μὴ καταρῶ
eeyees mee kataro
Do not curse your sons; don’t act in such a way that your actions doom your descendants

95 γυναικὸς ἆρχε
yeenekos arkhye
Show your wife the way / lead your wife (esp. re: her use of household resources)

96 σεαυτὸν εὖ ποίει
seavton ev pee-ee
Treat yourself well

97 εὐπροσήγορος γίνου
evproseegoros yeenou
Be well spoken and be spoken about well

98 ἀποκρίνου ἐν καιρῷ
apokreenou en keroi
Respond at the critical moment; don’t make a snap judgement

99 πόνει μετ’ εὐκλείας
ponee met evkleeas
Labor / struggle in company with good repute / integrity

100 πρᾶττε ἀμετανοήτως
pratte ametanoeetos
Act without afterthought / don’t keep changing your mind / act without overthinking it

101 ἁμαρτάνων μετανόει
amartanon metanoee
(Only) when you are failing of your purpose, change your mind (rethink it)

102 ὀφθαλμοῦ κράτει
ofthalmou kratee
Master the eye (what you look at; what attention you attract)

103 βουλεύου χρόνῳ
voulevou khrono
Give counsel after a time (deliberate for a while first)

104 πρᾶττε συντόμως
pratte seentomos
Act immediately / expeditiously

105 φιλίαν φύλαττε
feeleean feelatte
Protect friendship

106 εὐγνώμων γίνου
evgnomon yeenou
Be reasonable; be prudent; be considerate

107 ὁμόνοιαν δίωκε
omoneean deeoke
Pursue concord

108 ἄρρητον κρύπτε
areeton kreepte
Keep hidden that which ought not be spoken

109 τὸ κρατοῦν φοβοῦ
to kratoun fobou
Fear power

110 τὸ συμφέρον θηρῶ
to seemferon theero
Hunt for what is (mutually) beneficial or expedient

111 καιρὸν προσδέχου
keron prosdekhou
Wait for the right time

112 ἔχθρας διάλυε
ekhthras deealee-e
Put an end to enmities, let them go

113 γῆρας προσδέχου
yeeras prosdekhou
Accept / expect old age

114 ἐπὶ ῥώμῃ μὴ καυχῶ
epee romee mee kavkho
Don’t boast about your physical strength

115 εὐφημίαν ἄσκει
evfeemeean askee
Practice auspicious speech

116 ἀπέχθειαν φεῦγε
apekhtheean fevye
Flee hatred

117 πλούτει δικαίως
ploutee deekeos
Become wealthy in a way that is just

118 δόξαν μὴ λεῖπε
doksan mee leepe
Don’t walk away from a good reputation

119 κακίαν μίσει
kakeean meesee
Hate badness

120 κινδύνευε φρονίμως
keendeeneve froneemos
Take a risk prudently

121 μανθάνων μὴ κάμνε
manthanon mee kamne
Don’t suffer over learning

122 φειδόμενος μὴ λεῖπε
feedomenos mee leepe
Don’t leave off being sparing (of resources or human life)

123 χρησμοὺς θαύμαζε
khreesmous thavmaze
Comply with / respect oracles

124 οὓς τρέφεις ἀγάπα
ous trefees agapa
Love those whom you raise

125 ἀπόντι μὴ μάχου
apontee mee makhou
Don’t fight someone who is away / don’t talk bad behind someone’s back

126 πρεσβύτερον αἰδοῦ
presveeteron edou
Show regard for an elder

127 νεώτερον δίδασκε
neoteron deedaske
Teach youngsters

128 πλούτῳ ἀπίστει
plouto apeestee
Don’t put faith in wealth

129 σεαυτὸν αἰδοῦ
se-avton edou
Respect yourself (don’t “settle”)

130 μὴ ἄρχε ὑβρίζειν
mee arkhye eevreezeen
Don’t be the leader in insolence

131 προγόνους στεφάνου
progonous stefanou
Honor forefathers (wreathe their memorials)

132 θνῇσκε ὑπὲρ πατρίδος
thneeske eeper patreedos
Die in defense of your fatherland

133 τῷ βίῳ μὴ ἄχθου
to veeo mee akhthou
Don’t be vexed with your manner of living (or even with the world)

134 ἐπὶ νεκρῷ μὴ γέλα
epee nekro mee yela
Do not laugh at a dead person (do not regard yourself as superior to a dead person)

135 ἀτυχοῦντι συνάχθου
ateekhountee seenakhthou
Be troubled for the man who is unfortunate (has failed or died)

136 χαρίζου ἀβλαβῶς
khareezou avlavos
Gratify (yourself and others) without harm

137 μὴ ἐπὶ παντὶ λυποῦ
mee epee pantee leepou
Don’t be distressed by everything

138 ἐξ εὐγενῶν γέννα
ex evyenon yena
Beget from good lineage (recognize your spouse’s family traits, reputation, wealth)

139 ἐπαγγέλου μηδενί
epagelou meedenee
Make (public) promises to no one

140 φθιμένους μὴ ἀδίκει
ftheemenous mee adeekee
Do not be unjust to the dead

141 εὖ πάσχε ὡς θνητός
ev paskhye os thneetos
Be in a good state of mind (about how you fare), as much as a mortal (can be)

142 τύχῃ μὴ πίστευε
teekhee mee peesteve
Do not put faith in luck (good or bad)

143 παῖς ὢν κόσμιος ἴσθι
pes on kosmios eesthee
When you are a child, be an ornament (a credit) to your parents

144 ἡβῶν ἐγκρατής
eevon enkratees
When you are in your youth, (be) self-disciplined

145 μέσος δίκαιος
mesos deekeos
When you are in middle age, be just (civilized, righteous)

146 πρεσβύτης εὔλογος
presveetees evlogos
When you are an elder, be reasonable (well-spoken)

147 τελευτῶν ἄλυπος
televton aleepos
Upon reaching the end, be without sorrow