Don’t Speak Ill of an Enemy

181. It is enough to think ill of an enemy, without speaking it.

We’ve returned again with another saying by Publius Syrus, a Roman slave from Syria who lived 2,000 years ago.

Here he is reminding us that some thoughts are best kept to ourselves — particularly negative ones concerning our enemies. Let’s think of it. What do we really have to gain by speaking ill of another?

We’ve already looked at cases where one should think before speaking, and where being too frank is folly. But those cases are more concerned with dealing with friends or associates. Here we are concerned with an enemy, or at least one that we are at odds with.

What are some possible outcomes that could arise from speaking ill of an enemy?

  • Those to whom you speak don’t consider him an enemy and they get offended, or worse.
  • Word gets back to the person in question — he now knows just how you feel about him.
  • If you’re discussing your own plans or strategies, all the worse for him to get word.

And basically no good can arise. Most of the time, it’s just a case of us looking to let off some steam and vent, without any particular purpose in mind. Not very mindful.

So next time you feel like speaking ill of someone, particularly one whom with you are at odds, consider biting your tongue. Save the universe from the negativity, and instead spread some positivity.

Until next time,


You might enjoy reading this ancient book of wisdom, because many others have before you.


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