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I would rather be a freeman among slaves than a slave among freemen. Options
Daemon
Posted: Wednesday, August 24, 2011 12:00:00 AM
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I would rather be a freeman among slaves than a slave among freemen.

Jonathan Swift (1667-1745)
IMcRout
Posted: Wednesday, August 24, 2011 4:39:29 AM

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Who wouldn't?

I totally take back all those times I didn't want to nap when I was younger. (Anon)
AJC
Posted: Wednesday, August 24, 2011 8:13:00 AM

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Duh!

Feed Your Head-Grace Slick
MTC
Posted: Wednesday, August 24, 2011 10:08:16 AM
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It is easy to miss the point of what appears to be a transparent platitude. But a man of genius like Swift must have had something other than the obvious in mind. And in fact the quotation is from his letters in which he responds to entreaties from friends to return to England from Ireland where he lived in political exile "like a rat in a hole." Although he was poor, he lived in dignity in Ireland where he championed the Irish cause in works like A Modest Proposal. Swift was still a free man in Ireland, free to express his opinions even though the Irish themselves were political "slaves" to the English. Therefore, he was a "freeman among slaves." If he returned to England, Swift feared he would sacrifice his freedom to become a "slave among freemen." Hence the saying.

HWNN1961
Posted: Wednesday, August 24, 2011 5:00:30 PM

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Thanks for the context MTC. Otherwise it would have looked like a statement that would boil down to "me first".

"Be without fear in the face of your enemies. Be brave and upright that God may love thee. Speak the truth always, even if it leads to your death. Safeguard the helpless, and do no wrong". (Knight's Oath, Kingdom of Heaven)
MTC
Posted: Wednesday, August 24, 2011 9:53:06 PM
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You are welcome, HWNN1961.
IMcRout
Posted: Thursday, August 25, 2011 6:56:02 AM

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Thank you, too, MTC.
Although I did not seriously think Swift wrote this without reason and outside an appropriate context, it was just TOO tempting for temptable me.

I totally take back all those times I didn't want to nap when I was younger. (Anon)
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