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Manners and Morals

Manners and Morals

A person born in the right century

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

By Pendar

This blog is part of the series Not So Ancient Wisdom, based on Baltasar Gracián’s The Pocket Oracle and Art of Prudence


Aphorism # 20:

A person born in the right century. Truly outstanding people depend on their times. Not all were born at the time they deserved, and many, though they were, didn’t manage to take advantage of it. Some were worthy of a better century, for every good doesn’t triumph at all times. Everything has its time; even what’s outstanding is subject to changing taste. But wisdom has the advantage of being eternal, and if this is not its century, many others will be.

The idea of a “better century” is a little hard to imagine. It depends on who you would be in which century. If you were a Russian aristocrat in the 19th century maybe that would have been the “right” one for you. If you were one of the Beatles in mid-20th century that would have been good too.

If you were Socrates in ancient Greece that wouldn’t have been all that great – would it have been any better now? Maybe the century that Socrates “deserved” has not happened yet.

Then again, wisdom is eternal. Perhaps the right century for really outstanding people is eternity.


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