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The Laughable Stories of Bar-Hebraeus
Format: Global Grey free PDF, epub, Kindle ebook
Pages (PDF): 148
Publication Date: 1897
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Bar-Hebraeus was a 13th century bishop of the Syriac Orthodox Church. Born in 1226 in what is now Turkey, Bar-Hebraeus was renowned as a scholar and theologian. He died in 1286 in Persia. Writing mostly in Syriac and Arabic, Bar Hebraeus wrote on philosophy, poetry, language, history and theology, including a comprehensive history of the world, the Chronicon Ecclesiasticum. The Laughable Stories are a sequence of anecdotes categorized by the story-teller: starting with Persian, Indian, Hebrew and Christian sages, and including stories of Misers, Clowns, Thieves, and Animals and so on.
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I. A certain disciple of Socrates said unto him, "How is it that I see in thee no sign of sorrow?" Socrates replied, "Because I possess nothing for which I should sorrow if it perished."
II. Another [disciple] said unto him, "If the vessel wherein thou hidest were to be broken, what wouldst thou do?" Socrates replied, "Even if the vessel were to be broken, the place in which it is would not be broken."
III. To Socrates the wife of a certain man said, "How ugly is thy face, O Socrates!" And Socrates replied unto her, saying, "If thou thyself hadst been a clean mirror I should have been distressed [by thy words]; but since thou art a dirty one my beauty is not reflected by thee. I do not, however, blame thee because of it."
IV. Socrates saw a woman who had hanged herself on a tree, and he said, "Would that all trees bore such fruit as this!"
V. A certain woman saw Socrates as they were carrying him along to crucify him, and she wept and said, "Woe is me, for they are about to slay thee without having committed any offence." And Socrates made answer unto her, saying, "O foolish woman, wouldst thou have me also commit some crime that I might be punished like a criminal?"
VI. A certain philosopher had a daughter, and two men came [to him] wishing to take her to wife; one of them was poor and the other was rich. To the rich man he said, "I will not give my daughter unto thee," and he gave her to the poor man. And when the folk asked him, "Why hast thou acted in this manner?" he made answer unto them, saying, "The rich man is a fool, and I was afraid lest he would come to poverty; but the poor man is wise, and therefore I hope and believe that he will gain riches and wealth."
VII. Certain men asked another philosopher, "What thing would benefit the majority of mankind?" And he replied, "The death of a wicked governor."
VIII. To another philosopher it was said, "Wherein dost thou differ from the king?" And he replied, "The king is a slave to his lusts, whilst my passion is subservient unto me."
IX. Certain men asked Plato, "With what shall a man console himself when he falleth into temptation?" And Plato made answer unto him, saying, "The wise man consoleth himself because he knoweth that that which hath come to pass must necessarily have happened; but the fool consoleth himself [by thinking] that that which hath happened unto himself hath also happened unto other men."
X. Aristotle commanded Alexander [the Great], saying, "Do not reveal thy secret unto two men lest, if it be revealed, thou be unable to be certain which of the two hath made it public, and if thou punishest both of them thou wilt then certainly inflict an injury upon him that revealed it not, and if thou forgivest both of them thou wilt not do even an act of grace because of him who revealed it not."
XI. To another philosopher it was said, "What man is happy?" And he replied, "He whose expectations are, for the most part, realised."
XII. Aristotle said, "One wise man agreeth with another wise man, but a fool neither agreeth with a wise man nor a fool. For, behold, all the parts of one straight line coincide with all the parts of another straight line, but the parts of crooked lines neither coincide with those of a straight line, nor with those of a crooked line."
XIII. It was said to Diogenes, "Why dost thou eat in the market-place?" He replied, "Because I am I hungry in the market-place."
XIV. Diogenes saw a harlot's child throwing stones at people, and he said to him, "Throw not stones, lest thou smite thine own father without knowing it."
XV. Another philosopher saw a certain man giving instruction to a certain maiden, and he said unto him, "Add not wickedness to wickedness. Why dost thou poison that which is right and proper by dipping it in poison, whereby she shall be the more able to slay the children of men and to lead captive their minds?"
XVI. Another philosopher saw a damsel carrying fire, and he said, "Behold fire upon fire, but the bearer is stronger than the burden."
XVII. Another philosopher saw a woman in the theatre looking on as a spectator, and he said [to her], "Thou hast not come out to see, but to be seen."
XVIII. [To him also] it was said, "Why doth not the king love thee?" He replied, "It is the peculiar characteristic of kings to love not him that is greater than they."
XIX. Another philosopher said, "Take heed of the two-legged lion," thereby referring to the king.
XX. To another philosopher it was said, "Why do we eat the outside of the date, and the inside of the nut?" He replied, "The Divine Providence of the Creator concerneth not itself with how that which hath been created shall be eaten, but with the matter of how the species thereof shall be preserved in perpetuity; thus that whereby the species is preserved is inside both, even though the kernel of the nut is edible and the stone of the date is not."
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