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The Laughable Stories of Bar-Hebraeus, by Bar-Hebraeus, tr. E.A.W. Budge, [1897], at

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The Seventh Chapter:


CCLII. A certain teacher used to say, "A very large portion of learning hath escaped me, I mean that portion which I was ashamed to learn from men who were my inferiors. Therefore do not, O my disciples, let it be accounted a disgrace by you to ask questions of those who are your inferiors, whereby ye may become accomplished and perfect."

CCLIII. Another teacher related a story of his master to the effect that on a certain day the people asked him more than fifty questions, and that he replied to [each of] them shamelessly "I do not know the answer thereof;" and that he never answered questions on any matters except such as he knew accurately.

CCLIV. Another teacher used to say, "The things which I know are few, but I know those accurately."

CCLV. Another learned man, when sitting at a feast with certain people who were drinking milk and honey, said to the servants, "Give me to drink of that for which when it cannot be found a man would sell his soul, but which when found is rejected;" now by these words he meant water.

CCLVI. Another learned man in heaping abuse on a common man, said, "The father of this man used to conceal the greater number of the animals which he owned

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in his garments;" now by those words he referred to lice.

CCLVII. Another learned man used to say, "Honourable praise is that the man to whom thou hast done no good thing should praise thee, and veritable abuse, likewise, is that he to whom thou hast never done harm should abuse thee."

CCLVIII. Another learned man said, "A man is wholly at ease until his teeth become worn out or he be sick."

CCLIX. Another learned man said, "I wish to be considered before God as one of the excellent ones of men, and before myself as one of the abjects of the children of men, and before men as one among them who is neither good nor bad; for the exalted are eaten up by care, and the abjects are wasted away by hunger."

CCLX. Another learned man said, "There are three classes of men who are not destitute of advantage:—He that teacheth being hired for wages, and he that hireth to learn excellence, and he who being the equal of his pupil in knowledge merely calleth to mind what he hath learnt; but the man who wisheth to learn whilst pretending to teach is remote from any advantage whatsoever."

CCLXI. Another learned man said, "He that meditateth upon a learned life, having no need so to do, should not be deprived of the benefit thereof when he hath need of it."

CCLXII. Another learned man said, "A good woman is like a raven with white legs," that is to say, she cannot be found.

CCLXIII. Another learned man was asked, "Who

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are the foolish ones?" And he replied, "Those who do not know either how to praise or to blame."

CCLXIV. Another learned man said, "Smite no man for his folly, for if thou dost so he will make profit by thee as from a friend, or he will hate thee as an enemy."

CCLXV. Another learned man was asked, "Who is the wise man? Is it he of whom a man hath said, Send a wise man and command him not?" And he replied, "He that hearkeneth." 1

CCLXVI. Another teacher pretended to learn the answer to a certain question from his disciple, and it was said to him [by a certain man], "Dost thou learn from such an one as this?" And he replied, "I know the answer to this question much better than he, but I wish him to taste the pleasure of teaching, in order that he may be incited the more to learn."

CCLXVII. Another teacher said, "The commentary on the Books of Scripture is like the earrings in the ears of a virgin."

CCLXVIII. Another teacher said, "Let the counsels which are mingled with the Scriptures be thy principal, and let those which are in thy heart be the interest thereof."

CCLXIX. Another teacher while writing a certain discourse upon a tablet, found that the tablet was filled before he had finished this discourse, and he began to rub out the beginning of his discourse from the top of the tablet, and then wrote the remainder of it. And when he was asked why he did this, he answered, "I am doing this in order that I may have my discourse

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by me complete, for having written down the beginning thereof I can repeat it by heart."

CCLXX. Another teacher said, "There are four classes of men to whom it is pleasant for them to be listened unto:—The man from whom a gift, or instruction, or blessings, or prayers are expected, or he that having the power can cause loss."


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