Maxims & Wise Counsel

Trí búada insci...

Trí búada insci: fosta, gáes, gairte.

(three * virtues * of speech * composure * wisdom * brevity)

Three virtues of speech: composure, wisdom, brevity.

Triad #177 from "Trecheng Breth Féne". Praise of concise speech is common throughout Irish tradition. Another triad in this same collection, #93, says it this way:

Trí húathaid ata ferr sochaidi: úathad dagbríathar, úathad bó hi feór, úathad carat im chuirm.

Three fewnesses that are better than plenty: a fewness of fine words, a fewness of cows in grass, a fewness of friends around ale.

In "Tochmarc Ailbe" Finn asks "Cid as dech indsci?" (What is the best of speech?) The reply he gets is "gáes, gairde" (wisdom, brevity).

A song by Clannad says "an seanchas gearr, an seanchas is fearr" (the short tale is the best tale).

A Modern Irish quatrain quoted in "Dánfhocail" (221) gives the advice of brevity in the second couplet, after a proverb about a drink coming before a tale:

Is luaithe deoch ná sgéal,
is duine mé ar a mbíonn tart;
ní hé an sgéal fada is fearr,
acht an sgéal gearr ar a mbí blas.

Suí cech sochoisc.

Suí cech sochoisc.

(a sage * every * easily taught one)

Anyone who can be taught is wise.

A maxim found in "Tecosca Cormaic".

Do-léici gó do fhír.

Do-léici gó do fhír.

(yields * untruth * to * truth)

Untruth yields to truth.

A maxim from "Audacht Morainn", an early text in the "advice for princes" tradition.

A rigne is messu don gaís.

A rigne is messu don gaís.

(its * slowness * (that) is * worse * for the * wisdom)

The worst of wisdom is its slowness.

A maxim from the gnomic poem "Diambad messe bad rí réil".

Suthain cach flaith lasa forbaither fír.

Suthain cach flaith lassa forbaither fír.

(everlasting * every * ruler * by whom * is achieved * truth)

Every ruler who attains justice endures.

A maxim from "Aibidil Cuigni maic hEmoin".

Is cert cáich amal a nert.

Is cert cáich amal a nert.

(is * right * of each one * as * his * strength)

One's right is as one's strength.

This expression of "might makes right" comes from the gnomic poem "Diambad messe bad rí réil".

Is maith cech dál dia ticc síd.

Is maith cech dál dia ticc síd.

(is * good * every * meeting * of which * comes * peace)

Any meeting that produces peace is good.

A maxim from the gnomic poem "Diambad messe bad rí réil".

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