Phormio "As Many Men, So Many Minds"


"As Many Men, So Many Minds"

Context: Demipho, an aged Athenian, goes abroad, leaving his grown son at home in Athens. During the father's absence, the son, named Antipho, marries Phanium without his father's consent, an act unheard of in classical times. Upon Demipho's return he is righteously angry about his son's marriage, and becomes even angrier when Antipho refuses to come to explain the matter to him. In his anger and his anxiety, Demipho turns to his three legal advisers–Hegio, Crito, and Cratinus–for their opinions on what to do in the matter, hoping they can give him advice about what action to take. When Hegio speaks in his turn, he makes the comment about the diversity of men's opinions. The comment has been translated variously, although always with the same meaning.

You see how matters stand? What shall I do? Tell me, Hegio.
I? I think Cratinus ought to give his opinion, if you have no objection.
Tell me, Cratinus.
. . .
Well, I think you should do what is best; what this son of yours has done in your absence should be undone. In that way you will secure justice. . . .
Now you, Hegio.
I believe that Cratinus has spoken with good sense. But it's a fact that "As many men, so many minds": each man after his own fashion. Now, it doesn't seem to me that what has been done by law can be undone; and it's wrong to try to change it.