Maxims of Evagrius

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The Maxims of Evagrius Ponticus are found at the end of Thirty-Three Chapters, in Mss. Protaton 26 and Lavra Γ 93, among others.[1]

Maxims 1[edit | edit source]

  1. The beginning of salvation is condemnation of yourself.
  2. Better to throw a stone at random than a word.
  3. Be to all as you wish all (to be to you).
  4. Practise righteousness more in deed than in word.
  5. It is not the one who shows mercy to many who is pious, but the one who wrongs no one.
  6. Better to live lying on a bed of straw and be without fear than to have a bed of gold and be troubled.
  7. Pleasant among friends is that person who nourishes his own soul.
  8. Revere God in deeds, praise him in word, and honour him in thought.
  9. Prudence, a way of life, and nobility make a priest.
  10. It is the worst thing to be a slave to the shameful passions.
  11. Teach virtue in word, but proclaim it in deed.
  12. Consider not the possession of virtue to be a good thing, but (to practise it) as required.
  13. In honouring the law you shall live according to the law.
  14. A foreigner is one for whom the things of the world are foreign.
  15. One who is jealous does harm to himself, for in speaking evil of another he comes to suffer evil at his own hand.
  16. Neither flatter nor irritate a rich person.
  17. Wine strengthens the body, the word of God the soul.
  18. Use not foods that are pleasant but those that are beneficial.
  19. In trying to please the crowds, you shall become like the crowds.
  20. Abuse the body beyond all (else).
  21. Industrious is that person who has time to spare.
  22. Accept not the outward appearance of a Christian man, but rather the attitude of soul.
  23. To accuse one who is blameless is a sin against God.
  24. Great is the danger of the ears and the tongue.

Maxims 2[edit | edit source]

  1. It is absurd for one who pursues honours to escape the labours through which honours (are attained).
  2. You want to know God? First know yourself.
  3. Genuine among friends is the one who shares your circumstances.
  4. It is strange to think big while doing little.
  5. Always thinking is an impediment to knowledge.
  6. The demon is the guide to the irrational life.
  7. Nobility of soul is manifested in one's moral vigour.
  8. God-fearing is that person who speaks not of himself.
  9. A person not open to blame is a temple of God.
  10. The worst sort of possession is a disreputable life.
  11. Say what you should, when you should, and you will not hear what you should not.
  12. The greatest possession is a friend without fault.
  13. A disposition attached to esteem is a sickness of the soul.
  14. A stranger and a poor man is God's eye medication.
  15. One who welcomes them will quickly recover his sight (cf. Rev. 3:18).
  16. It is good to show beneficence to all, but more so to those unable to return the favour.
  17. An orator of justice is a cup of cold water (cf. Matt. 10:42).
  18. The cherubim—chastity and gentleness of soul (cf. Exod. 25:18-22).
  19. Being honoured in old age is proof of one's industriousness prior to old age; earnestness in youth is a guarantee that one will be honoured in old age.
  20. True contemplation is the higher function of the soul.
  21. If you love what you should not, you will not love what you should.
  22. Better to possess unrefined gold than a friend.
  23. A pure soul is God after God.
  24. O what proceeds from a self-love that hates all!

Maxims 3[edit | edit source]

  1. The beginning of charity is the presumption of esteem.
  2. It is good to grow rich in gentleness and charity.
  3. The arrogant thought is a winnower of virtue.
  4. A road is made smooth by mercy.
  5. A sullied conscience is an unjust judge.
  6. It is a terrible thing to become a slave to the passions of the flesh.
  7. If you wish to be free of sadness, be zealous in pleasing God.
  8. He who shows goodly consideration for himself receives consideration from God.
  9. A chaste heart is a haven for contemplations.
  10. When you want to know yourself as to who you are, do not compare who you were, but what you have become from the beginning.
  11. A pond without water is the soul that loves esteem.
  12. An arrogant soul is a catch-all for thieves, but it hates the sound of knowledge.
  13. For a true man it is a bad error not to know the scriptures.
  14. If you fear God, know it by your tears.
  15. Humility of soul is an indestructible weapon.
  16. A man who loves virtue is a tree of paradise.
  17. Jesus Christ is the tree of life (cf. Prov. 3:18); resort to him as you should and you will never die.
  18. Show beneficence to the truly poor and you will eat Christ.
  19. True strength is to eat the body of Christ.
  20. If you love Christ, you will not forget to keep his commandments (cf. John 14:15).
  21. For thence is made manifest the one who is a benefactor after God.
  22. A friend according to God flows with milk and honey (cf. Exod. 3:8, Num. 13:27, etc.) in his true words.
  23. But the lazy soul will not have such a one as a friend.
  24. The thought that loves pleasure is a harsh master.
  25. To silence the truth is to bury gold.
  26. One who fears God does all things according to God.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Evagrius. Evagrius of Pontus: The Greek Ascetic Corpus. Translated by Robert E. Sinkewicz, (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2003). pp. 228-232.