And therefore it was a good answer that was made by one who when they showed him hanging in a temple a picture of those who had paid their vows as having escaped shipwreck, and would have him say whether he did not now acknowledge the power of the gods, — “Aye,” asked he again, “but where are they painted that were drowned after their vows?”

[Taque recte respondit ille, qui, cum suspensa tabula in templo ei monstraretur eorum qui vota solverant, quod naufragii periculo elapsi sint, atque interrogando premeretur, anne tum quidem Deorum numen agnosceret, quaesivit denuo, At ubi sunt illi depicti qui post vota nuncupata perierint?]

Francis Bacon (1561-1626) English philosopher, scientist, author, statesman
Instauratio Magna [The Great Instauration], Part 2 “Novum Organum [The New Organon],” Book 1, Aphorism # 46 (1620) [tr. Spedding (1858)]

The reference is to Diagoras, in Cicero, De Natura Deorum, 3.37, or to Diogenes the Cynic, in Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers, 6.59.

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

It was well answered by him who was shown in a temple the votive tablets suspended by such as had escaped the peril of shipwreck, and was pressed as to whether he would then recognise the power of the gods, by an inquiry; "But where are the portraits of those who have perished in spite of their vows?"
[tr. Wood (1831)]

And so he made a good answer, who, when he was shown, hung up in the temple, the votive tablets of those who had fulfilled their vows after escaping from shipwreck, and was pressed with the question, "Did he not then recognize the will of the gods?" asked, in his turn, "But where are the pictures of those who have perished, notwithstanding their vows?"
[tr. Johnson (1859)]

So when someone was shown a votive tablet in a temple dedicated, in fulfilment of a vow, by some men who had escaped the danger of shipwreck, and was pressed to say whether he would now recognise the divinity of the gods, he made a good reply, when he retorted: "Where are the offerings of those who made vows and perished?"
[tr. Silverthorne (2000)]

A man was shown a picture, hanging in a temple, of people who had made their vows and escaped shipwreck, and was asked ‘Now do you admit the power of the gods?’ He answered with a question: ‘Where are the pictures of those who made their vows and then drowned?’ It was a good answer!
[tr. Bennett (2017)]

Added on 7-Jul-16 | Last updated 27-Mar-24
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Bacon, Francis

Thoughts? Comments? Corrections? Feedback?