These posts have been discussing some of the 147 maxims given in the Delphi Oracle back in Greece about the time of Homer. They were probably the first document easily readable by the speakers of any language. If a person spoke Greek and began learning the first few tips they would soon learn the Greek alphabet. The letters alpha and beta are the first two letters and there would have been people standing beside the stone documents to help you learn them.
The Seven Sages of Greece are the ones given credit for creating the list of tips on how to live a good life. Nothing like that published list ever existed for learning how to read and write. Other lists were made, such as Hammurabi’s Laws and Moses’ Ten Commandments, but they were not easily read by everyone because the writing was not phonetic.
I have been using the basic list of 147 tips to clarify some basic ideas on how to live a good life. Every time I read the whole list it would further clarify to me what was intended by the document. That process fed back on itself and thus the terse sentences were expanded a little to get the words into a more understandable form for a modern reader of the English language. The goal was to make the good sense more available to us so we can apply the good sense implicit in the tips to our own lives.
When looking back over some of the expansions I have created for those terse Greek sayings, they feel like the things my grandmother Bertha would be telling me: “Charles, Do your work with skill and diligence” is something I can almost hear her saying. That’s tip #99. I don’t remember her saying #51, “Shun criminals and murderers,” but I suspect that it is my faulty memory rather than her not asserting that bit of wisdom. She would also recommend #73, “Seek and enjoy what is easy and natural,” and perhaps the most important of all the tips, #133 …