The Physics
Opus in profectus

Slow but steady wins the race

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The Tortoise
The Hare

(πε. 620 Π.Χ.)


(ca. 620 B.C.)

Ποδῶν χελώνης κατεγέλα λαγωός. Ἡ δὲ ἔφη· Ἐγώ σε τὸν ταχύπουν νικήσω. Ὁ δέ· Λόγῳ μόνῳ λέγεις τοῦτο· ἀλλ' ἔριζε καὶ γνῶθι. Τίς δὲ τὸν τόπον ὁρίσει, ἔφη, καὶ βραβεύσει τὴν νίκην; Ἀλώπηξ, ἔφη, ἡ δικαία καὶ σοφωτάτη. Ἔταξε δὲ τὴν ἀρχὴν τὴς ὥρας τοῦ δρόμου. Ἡ δὲ χελώνη μὴ ῥᾳθυμήσασα ἤρξατο τῆς ὁδοῦ. Ὁ δὲ λαγωὸς τοῖς ποσὶ θαρρῶν ἐκοιμήθη. Ἐλθὼν δὲ ἐπὶ τὸν ὡρισμένον τόπον εὗρε τὴν χελώνην νικήσασαν.   A Hare was one day making fun of a Tortoise for being so slow upon his feet. "Wait a bit," said the Tortoise; "I'll run a race with you, and I'll wager that I win." "Oh, well," replied the Hare, who was much amused at the idea, "let's try and see"; and it was soon agreed that the fox should set a course for them, and be the judge. When the time came both started off together, but the Hare was soon so far ahead that he thought he might as well have a rest: so down he lay and fell fast asleep. Meanwhile the Tortoise kept plodding on, and in time reached the goal. At last the Hare woke up with a start, and dashed on at his fastest, but only to find that the Tortoise had already won the race.
Ὅτι πολλαὶ φύσεις ἀνθρώπων εὐφυεῖς εἰσιν, ἀλλ' ἐκ τῆς ῥᾳθυμίας ἀπώλοντο, ἐκ δὲ νήψεως καὶ σπουδῆς καὶ μακροθυμίας τινὲς καὶ φύσεως ἀργῆς περιεγένοντο.   Slow but steady wins the race.
Edited by Émile Chambry, 1925–26   Translated by V.S. Vernon Jones, 1912
Note: This English translation by is not the most faithful to the original Greek text, but it is public domain. The best copyrighted English translation is by Laura Gibbs, 2002.

Illustration by Aurthur Rackham, 1912