Form of Folklore: Folk Speech (Proverb)
Informant Bio: The informant was born and raised in Yerevan, Armenia until 1990, when he and his family moved to the United States, at the age of forty two. In his youth, he had been exposed to folklore founded in Armenian, Russian, and Greek culture. Even though he now lives in America, he is surrounded by a tight net community composed of people who speak Armenian or Russian and come from a background similar to his own. As a result, most of the folklore he knows is mainly based on his cultural upbringing.
Context: The interview was conducted in the living room of informant’s house in the presence of his wife and mother-in-law.
Item: Greek Proverb – Παν μέτρον άριστον.
Greek Transliteration – Pan metron ariston.
English Translation – Moderation is always best.
Informant Comments: The informant learned this proverb from his father, who spoke Greek fluently. He believes this is a great proverb to live one’s life by. Even in regards to wealth, success and happiness, moderation is best. The informant believes that a balance is needed in life in order for that life to be well-rounded.
Analysis: This proverb comes from one of the Seven Sages of Greece: Cleobulus of Lindos. Though this proverb was initially a quote from this tyrant, it has been passed down to many people who come from the Mediterranean and has become an important folklore. It is something I personally live my life by. Moderation is truly the best for a person, in the sense that it helps one fully develop while also offering that person moments of respite and joy. The idea of moderation being the goal has been around since the time of Ancient Greece. Excess is seen as something that can consume a person while moderation gives control to a person. Control and development were considered two of the greatest virtues of the Greeks, therefore, moderation was considered the best course.
Annotation: This proverb may be found in original Greek and in English: “Ausonius, with an English translation” by W. Heinemann (page 316-317).