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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index P > Gaius Julius Phaedrus Quotes

Gaius Julius Phaedrus
(c. 15 B.C. - c. 50)

Roman writer who is recognized as the source of the modern Aesop fables. He took the versions collected by Demetrius of Phaleron (about250 years after Aesop) and rewrote them in Latin verse. The better-known fables of Phaedrus include “The Fox and the Sour Grapes” and “The Lion's Share.”

Science Quotes by Gaius Julius Phaedrus (1 quote)

Nisi utile est quod facias, stulta est gloria.
All useless science is an empty boast.
— Gaius Julius Phaedrus
Original Latin from 'Arbores in deorum tutela', Fabulae Aesopiae, Book 3, Poem 17, line 12. Translation by Samuel Johnson, used as an epigraph for an article on the thirst for collecting scientific curiosities, 'Numb. 83, Tuesday, January 1, 1755', The Rambler (1756), Vol. 2, 149. A mechanical translation of the Latin gives “Unless it is useful for what we do, it is the glory of the foolish.” In an 1874 collection by unnamed editor J.B.R., it is given as “nothing is truly valuable that is not useful.” It is given as “Unless what we do is useful, our pride is foolish,” in The Routledge Dictionary of Latin Quotations (2013), 74. Briefly summarizing, the fable is about the gods who choose trees to protect, but the wise Minerva alone picks a tree, the olive, that bears fruit which can be put to good use; moral, do what is useful. ( Webmaster found sources attributing the line in English to Shakespeare, but it cannot be found.)
Science quotes on:  |  All (4107)  |  Boast (22)  |  Empty (80)  |  Foolish (40)  |  Glory (58)  |  Pride (78)  |  Science (3880)  |  Useful (250)  |  Useless (33)


Carl Sagan Thumbnail In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) -- Carl Sagan
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