Whom the gods would destroy
An early version of the phrase Whom the gods would destroy… appears in verses 620–23 of Sophocles’ play Antigone: "τὸ κακὸν δοκεῖν ποτ᾽ ἐσθλὸν τῷδ᾽ ἔμμεν' ὅτῳ φρένας θεὸς ἄγει πρὸς ἄταν" to mean that "evil appears as good in the minds of those whom gods lead to destruction".
In the 17th century the phrase was used in the neo-Latin form "Quem Iuppiter vult perdere, dementat prius" (Whom Jupiter would ruin, he first makes mad); in a Christianized Greek version, "Iuppiter" was replaced by "God" as in "μωραίνει Κύριος ον βούλεται απολέσαι".
Another version ("Those whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad") is quoted as a "heathen proverb" in Daniel, a Model for Young Men (1854) by William Anderson Scott (1813–85).
- Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth (1893), The Complete Poetical Works, Houghton, Mifflin & Co, p. 303.
- Sophocles (1900), Jebb, ed., The Plays and Fragments, 3–4, Cambridge: University Press, p. 256,
The use of dementat as = dementem facit proves of course a post-classical origin.
- Joe, MRM.
- Is "those whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad" a classical quotation?, Roger Pearse, 2015-10-31.
- Similar quotes misattributed to Euripides at Wikiquote
- Enoch Powell's 'Rivers of Blood'speech at The Telegraph, unedited since 12 December 2007