Here you see the mere opposition of the terms produces a verse; but in prosaic composition, the proper form of the last line would be, quod scis nihil prodest; quod nescis multum obest. This contrasting of opposite circumstances, which the Greeks call an Antithesis, will necessarily produce what is styled rhetorical metre, even without our intending it.
Quò tendis inertem, Rex periture, fugam? nescis, heu! perdite, nescis Quern fugias: hostes incurris dum fugis hostem; Incidis in Scyllam, cupiens vitare Charybdim. A line not less frequently quoted was suggested for enquiry in a note on The Rape of Lucrece: Solamen miseris socios habuisse doloris : But the author of this verse has not, I believe, been discovered.
Her, whom you ne'er accus'd, you now condemn; Bene quam meritam esse autumas, dicis male mereri, Her merit, once confess'd, you now deny; and, Id quod scis, prodest nihil; id quod nescis, obest, From what you've learnt no real good accrues, But ev'ry ill your ignorance pursues.
"Eam, quam nihil accusas, damnas." A man would say condemnas if he wished to avoid making a verse. "Bene quam meritam esse autumas, dicis male mereri. Id, quod scis, prodest nihil; id, quod nescis, obest." The very relation of the contrary effects makes a verse that would be harmonious in a narration. "Quod scis, nihil prodest; quod nescis, multum obest."
The titles of many are preserved, and give some index to the character of the contents. We have some in Greek, e.g. Marcopolis or peri archaes, a sort of Varro's Republic, after the manner of Plato; Hippokyon, Kynoppaetor, and others, satirizing the cynic philosophy. Many are in the shape of proverbs, e.g. Longe fugit qui suos fugit, gnothi seauton, nescis quid vesper serus vehat.
In view of the rarity of these volumes, and the importance of the philosopher, it is welcome news that J.P.N. Land has undertaken an edition of the collected works, in three volumes, of which the first two have already appeared. The Hague, 1891-92. Geulincx bases the occasionalistic position on the principle, quod nescis, quomodo fiat, id non facis.
"'In vera nescis nullum fore morte alium te, Qui possit vivus tibi to lugere peremptum, Stansque jacentem. "Nor shall you so much as wish for the life you are so concerned about: "'Nec sibi enim quisquam tum se vitamque requirit. .................................................. "'Nec desiderium nostri nos afficit ullum.
Fin. 2, 92 an id exploratum cuiquam potest esse quo modo sese habiturum sit corpus. non dico ad annum, sed ad vesperum? Also cf. the title of one of Varro's Menippean Satires, nescis quid vesper serus vehat, probably a proverb. AETAS ILLA ... ADULESCENTES: some suppose that this sentence was borrowed from Hippocrates. TRISTIUS: 'severioribus remediis'. Manutius.
Only two fragments are of any length; one from the Marcipor, in graceful iambic verse, the other in prose from the nescis quid vesper. It consists of directions for a convivial meeting: "Nam multos convivas esse non convenit, quod turba plerumque est turbulenta; et Romae quidem constat: sed et Athenis; nusquam enim plures cubabant.