(Publilius Syrus Sententia 48)
Pron = beh-neh-FIH-kee-oom ahk-KIH-peh-reh ehst lih-ber-TAH-tehm WEHN-deh-reh.
To accept a favor is to sell one's liberty.
Comment: "Beneficium" can be translated as "benefit, kindness, favor".
And this little insight really does get to the nitty-gritty of many our human dynamics.
Yesterday morning, for example, NPR did a story on the recent arrest and pending trial of a Mississippi man accused of killing civil rights workers 30 years ago. It's just the latest of several trials like this, where justice is finally having it's day in one of the worst periods of our history. At one point, the reporter asked the rhetorical question: why did local authorities not prosecute these men way back then?
I found myself responding out loud to the radio. "Because those "in authority" had too many connections with the accused!" I had in mind, among other things, these benefits, favors, etc that Publilius speaks of.
The really deep cut of this proverb is this: when I do an act of kindness, a favor, offer a benefit, is it really an act of goodness,
kindness, generosity? Or, is it a quid pro quo? Make that
distinction, and the liberty either vanishes (because it was a quid pro quo that comes with the expectation of a return favor), or liberty remains in tact because one human being offered, out of his/her freedom, real goodness, to another.
It's that simple. When I do a nice thing for another, do I expect ANYTHING? If so, it was not a nice thing. It was a business deal.
And those deals cost something.
(Used with permission)
Latin Proverb of the Day Archive