Intelligenti pauca

Intelligenti pauca: A few words are enough for those who understand. Two words, great thrust, enduring truth.

Stendhal’s pithy words remind us that truth and beauty are always naturally scarce. To capture them one needs paucity, not abundance. The secret lies in rarity.

The ancient Greek epigram and the Roman satire are evidence that enduring truths don’t need to be clothed in sumptuous chlamys or embroidered chasubles. A plain toga is always enough for an important idea to carry weight.

Martial’s Epigrams and Juvenal’s Satires are more popular today than the long epic poems of the ancient poets – this is because they have a better compression rate and higher reliability. Why say it in 1000 words when 10 will do it just as well? It is not that the long line has less value than the laconism of the short phrase. It’s that the latter is always more memorable. It’s that the witty remark hits the target sooner and more exactly than convoluted speech. And as the ages roll on, the principle of economy takes precedence over everything else.

It’s always easier to run and more comfortable to fight in scantier clothes than overwhelmed by folds and long sleeves.

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