skip to main | skip to sidebar
Home » » What is aphorism?

An aphorism is a short phrase or statement that reveals a truth or principle. It is found first in a work which is generally attributed to the Greek physician Hippocrates entitled “Aphorisms” which consists of tersely-worded principles on the practice of medicine. An example of aphorism is “ars longa, vita brevis est” — “art is long, life is short.” The following sentence from Bacon’s “Of Studies” is another example of aphorism : “Reading maketh a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man.” An aphorism is also called ‘sententia’. 

Though both an aphorism and an epigram are terse expressions, they differ from each other. An aphorism simply states a truth in brief while an epigram is a succinct and witty statement producing a shock of comic surprise. An aphorism does not denote any satire but an epigram is often satiric. Here is an epigram : 

“God made women beautiful so that men would love them; and He made them stupid so that they could love men.” 

Again, an aphorism is different from a maxim which offers a behavioural advice rather than simply revealing a truth or principle. “A stitch in time saves nine” is a maxim. 

Francis Bacon has a distinct prose style. The aspect which makes his prose distinct is the aphoristic style. The aphoristic style is a way of expression which is concise and pointed. In this style sentences are brief and rapid. They reveal some insights and truths. “Of Studies” reflects Bacon's aphoristic style. 

Most of the sentences Bacon uses in “Of Studies” are short but loaded with meaning. They contain general truth. For example, “Crafty men condemn studies, simple men admire them, and wise men use them.” Again, suggesting the importance of reading, speaking, and writing, Bacon, in the shortest possible words, writes : — “Reading maketh a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man.” Bacon’s aphoristic quality is seen even when he does not ~. support reading without having any practical benefit. For instance, 

“To spend too much time in studies is sloth; to use them too much for ornament is affectation; to make judgment wholly by their rules is the humour of scholar.” 


Post a Comment

Back To Top