It is Aesop Series Monday, and we bring you one of the most used morals of the ancient writer.
Aesop tells the story of a “φιλόσοφος πατὴρ” (a father-philosopher) whose children were always fighting. In order to educate them, the father put together a bundle of sticks and asked the young men to break it; they could not. To make his point even clearer the father broke up the bundle of sticks and then told the children to break the individual sticks apart, which “ῥᾳδίως πράττουσιν” (they did easily). Aesop closes with the moral:
“Οὐκ ἔστι τοὺς φίλους ὑπο τὼν ἐχθρῶν βλάπτεσθαι, ἡ γὰρ ὁμόνται φυλάτει τούτους. Ἔστε οὗν σοφοί, ὦ τέκνα, καὶ μηκέτι στασίαζετε.”
They who are not friends on account of hatred are destroyed, for [only] agreement protects [you] from this. Do be, therefore, friends, children, and no longer fight.”
Aquellos que no son amigos son destruidos por odio, ya que sólo el acuerdo os protege de estos problemas. Sed amigos entonces, hijos, y no peleéis más.
A lot of Ancient Greek meaning is written in these two sentences; a moral out of the ordinary, with respect to length, for Aesop. The rub lies in the unity; not only of mind but also of purpose. Ὁμόνται, literally ‘to be of the same [mind]’ is then essential to the Ancient Greeks and their system of government. Not to be of the same mind caused men to stand opposite each other; from standing (in opposition) comes στασίαζετε (in English, stasis), meaning ‘to quarrel.’ However, this verb also meant ‘civil war.’ The fact that the ‘polis’ (or the farm) could not progress while men were standing around fighting was the deeper meaning of Aesop here. Agree, and progress takes place;disagree, and risk loss of progress, or destruction.
The Romans took this concept and created the ‘fasces’ (fag – from a bundle of sticks), a symbol of power from the age of the kings. He who was ‘in union’ was the leader of the Romans. Unity was strength, lack of unity was ‘bellum civium’ (civil war) for them as well.