he who fights and runs away, may live to fight another day

The phrase to live to fight another day is also used allusively. Cf. MENANDER Sent. 56 (Jaekel) ἀνὴρ ὁ φεύγων καὶ πάλιν μαχήσεται, a man who flees will fight again. The present form of the saying has superseded a pithy Middle English version: a 1250 Owl & Nightingale (1960) 1.176 ‘Wel fight that wel flight,’ seth the wise.

1542 N. UDALL Erasmus’ Apophthegms II. 335v That same manne, that renneth awaye, Maye again fight, an other daye.

1678 S. BUTLER Hudibras III. iii. For, those that fly, may fight againe, Which he can never do that’s slain.

1747 J. RAY Complete Hist. Rebellion 61 The Dragoons..thought proper..a sudden Retreat; as knowing that, He that fights and runs away, May turn and fight another Day; But he that is in Battle slain, Will never rise to fight again.

1876 J. A. AULLS Sparks & Cinders 5 For be it known he kept in view That ancient adage, trite but true, That ‘He who fights and runs away, May live to fight another day.’

1981 Daily Telegraph 10 June 2 (caption) He who fights and runs away..lives to fight another day!


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