Katastrepsousa

Γλῶσσα, ποῖ πορεύῃ; πόλιν ἀνορθώσουσα καὶ πόλιν καταστρέψουσα· ἐπὶ τῶν διὰ λόγων ἢ ὠφελούντων ἢ βλαπτόντων.
(Zenobius, Vulgata 2.99 = Diogenianus, Paroemiae 4.9)

O tongue where are you going? Answer: to rebuild a city and to tear down a city; in reference to those who are either helping or harming through their words. (tr. Jennifer Benedict)

Γλῶσσα, ποῖ πορεύῃ; πόλιν ἀνορθώσουσα καὶ πάλιν ἀναστρέψουσα, id est ‘Lingua, quo vadis? Erectum civitatem, eandem denuo subversura’. Refertur a Suida, Zenodoto, Diogeniano. Docet linguam plurimum utilitatis adferre mortalibus, et eandem rursum plurimam adferre perniciem, tametsi membrum corporis sit perquam exiguum. Proinde divus Iacobus apostolus eam clavo navis adsimilem facit, quae, cum pars sit minima, tamen totam navem aut servat, aut evertit. Bias, referente Plutarcho in libello ‘De audiendo’, rursum in alio ‘De loquacitate’, Amasidi Aegyptiorum tyranno iubenti, ut sibi, quod esset in victimae, quam illum miserat, carnibus et optimum et pessimum mitteret, linguam resectam misit, innuens huius usum esse praecipuum, sive prodesse cupias, sive nocere. Nec inscite dictum est a Solomone capite decimo octavo: ‘Mors et vita in manibus linguae’ [Proverbia 18:21].
(Erasmus, Adagia 2.2.39 (= 1139))

Γλῶσσα, ποῖ πορεύῃ; πόλιν ἀνορθώσουσα καὶ πάλιν ἀναστρέψουσα, Tongue, whither wouldst thou? To build a city, and then again to overthrow it. Recorded by Suidas, Zenodotus and Diogenianus. Its message is that the tongue can be the greatest benefit to mortals and again can bring on them the greatest disasters, although as a member of the body it is very small indeed. Hence the apostle St James compares it to a nail in a ship’s timbers, which is a very small part of the whole and yet either keeps the ship safe and sound or destroys it. Plutarch in his essay ‘On How to Study’ tells a story of Bias, which recurs in his ‘On Garrulity;’ when Amasis, tyrant of Egypt, told Bias to bring him the best and worst pieces of meat in the victim which he sent him, Bias cut out the tongue and sent that, indicating that it was the outstanding instrument, whether you wish to do good or harm. There is much point in Solomon’s remark in chapter 18, that ‘Death and life are in the power of the tongue.’ (tr. Roger A.B. Mynors)

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