Variety is the Spice of Life: Quote from Aristophane’s Ecclesiazusae

I’m not sure which translation of Aristophane’s he quoted from, but I like the following quote that appears in “Sailing the Wine Dark Sea, Why the Greeks Matter” by Thomas Cahill that I heard on the drive home from work last week while re-listening to his book on tape (excellent book on Greek history and culture, although I wouldn’t recommend it for younger audiences due to the use of some vulgar language, e.g. the “F” word scattered throughout the book):

women’s chorus:

…You’ll come up with something brand new 
if you’re hoping to launch a real winner.  

The banqueters won’t fail to boo
if you dare serve them yesterday’s dinner.

However if you take the advice of William James in his essay on Attention in Chapter 11 of his Talks to Teachers, it is perhaps wiser to serve your intellectual dishes not dressed as completely new meals but as somewhat familiar yet intriguingly fresh morsels to the palate of the mind:

…And the maximum of attention may then be said to be found whenever we have a systematic harmony or unification between the novel and the old. It is an odd circumstance that neither the old nor the new, by itself, is interesting; the absolutely old is insipid; the absolutely new makes no appeal at all.  The old in the rim, is what claims attention,  — the old with a slightly new turn.  No one wants to hear a lecture on a subject completely disconnected with his previous knowledge, but we all like lectures on subjects of which we know a little already, just as, in the fashions, every year must bring its slight modfication of last year’s suit, but an abrupt jump from the fashion of one decade to another would be distasteful to the eye…

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