Meaning of Apothegm

Apotegma is a term that comes from the Latin word apophthegma, although its most distant origin is found in the Greek language. Specifically, we have to expose that apothegm originally comes from a Greek word that was made up of two clearly differentiated parts: the particle “apo”, which can be translated as “out” or “far”, and the verb “phthengesthai”, which it is synonymous with “declare”.

An apothegm is a short and judgmental saying, which includes a moral content that is intended to teach.

For example: “The writer launched another of his famous apothegms before ending the interview”, “Do not come with another apothegm: I am old enough that you are advising me about my life”, “The philosopher wrote several apothegms about the life in the country ”.

An apothegm can be said to be a short sentence that expresses important content without needing to lean on or expand on other sentences. In this sense, it is possible to compare apothegms with aphorisms, sayings or proverbs.

It must be established that the first time that an apothegm was considered to have been spoken was by Cicero. And it is that this made known that Cato had carried out the compilation of important and significant things that responded to that name.

The aphorism is usually created by an individual who takes credit for it. Proverbs, on the other hand, are born of the people and are anonymous. The same happens with sayings that, in addition, carry an implicit warning.

The apothegm, therefore, is more similar to the aphorism than to the proverb or saying, since its author is usually known. The main difference between the apothegm and the aphorism is that the former does not usually cover serious topics, apart from being nice or funny. So the apothegm can also be a gracefully said sentence that does not include moral content.

There are many apothegms that are used in various sectors of our society. This happens, for example, in the field of politics. In this case, throughout history, important sentences of this type have emerged and a good sample is the one established by the former president of Argentina, Juan Domingo Perón. And it is that he went so far as to say that the Peronists were like cats, because when it could seem that they were fighting, what they were really doing was reproducing.

An example of apothegm is the one pronounced by the writer Jorge Luis Borges about people who belong to the Peronist movement: “Peronists are neither good nor bad: they are incorrigible. ”

Within the scope of Literature, we must point out that there are various works that use the word “apothegmas” in their titles or themes. Among those we could highlight, for example, “Apothegmas in the desert” that belongs to the author Mariano Torrent.

In the same way, it is necessary to highlight “Apotegmas on the subject of Marxism”, an essay on politics published in 1970 and which was written by the Zamorano thinker Agustín García Calvo.