Envy, then incredulity—Pericles’ Funeral Oration

ὅ τε ἄπειρος ἔστιν ἃκαὶ πλεονάζεσθαι, διὰ φθόνον, εἴ τι ὑπὲρ τὴν αὑτοῦ φύσιν ἀκούοι. μέχρι γὰρτοῦδε ἀνεκτοὶ οἱ ἔπαινοί εἰσι περὶ ἑτέρων λεγόμενοι, ἐς ὅσον ἂν καὶ αὐτὸςἕκαστος οἴηται ἱκανὸς εἶναι δρᾶσαί τι ὧν ἤκουσεν: τῷ δὲ ὑπερβάλλοντιαὐτῶν φθονοῦντες ἤδη καὶ ἀπιστοῦσιν. Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War 2.35.2

…he who is a stranger to the matter may be led by envy to suspect exaggeration if he hears anything above his own nature. For men can endure to hear others praised only so long as they can severally persuade themselves of their own ability to equal the actions recounted: when this point is passed, envy comes in and with it incredulity. (transl. J.M. Dent, 1910)

I always think of this passage whenever I hear critics of LeBron James the basketball player.

Thanks, dear reader, should you ever find me, for being my gadfly.

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