whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad

Cf. Trag. Graec. Fragm. Adesp. 296 (Nauck) ὅταν γὰρ ὀργὴ δαιμόνων βλάπτῃ τινά, τοῦτ᾿ αὐτὸ πρῶτον, ἐξαφαιρεῖται φρενῶν τὸν νοῦν τὸν ἐσθλόν, when divine anger ruins a man, it first takes away his good sense; L. quos Deus vultperdere, prius dementat.

1611 JONSON Catiline V. 481 A madnesse, Wherewith heauen blinds ’hem, when it would confound ’hem.

1640 G. HERBERT Outlandish Proverbs no. 688 When God will punish, hee will first take away the understanding.

1817 BYRON Letter 2 Apr. (1976) V. 204 God maddens him whom ’tis his will to lose, And gives the choice of death or phrenzy—Choose!

1875 M. THOMPSON Hoosier Mosaics 180 Whom the gods would destroy they first make mad.

1981 Daily Telegraph 24 July 4 Already Commonwealth Finance Ministers have elected not to meet on New Zealand’s defiled soil. If greater penalties follow, the Commonwealth will confirm that those whom the gods would destroy they first make mad.


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