The Free Dictionary  
mailing list For webmasters
Welcome Guest Forum Search | Active Topics | Members

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

Joined: 3/7/2009
Posts: 31,105
Neurons: 92,493
Location: Inside Farlex computers
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
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 5/27/2011
Posts: 35,380
Neurons: 563,379
Location: Lübeck, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany
Who wouldn't?
AJC
Posted: Wednesday, August 24, 2011 8:13:00 AM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 7/16/2009
Posts: 829
Neurons: 2,436
Location: United States, Michigan
Duh!
MTC
Posted: Wednesday, August 24, 2011 10:08:16 AM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 1/18/2011
Posts: 2,780
Neurons: 8,606
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
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 2/13/2010
Posts: 3,494
Neurons: 9,763
Thanks for the context MTC. Otherwise it would have looked like a statement that would boil down to "me first".
MTC
Posted: Wednesday, August 24, 2011 9:53:06 PM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 1/18/2011
Posts: 2,780
Neurons: 8,606
You are welcome, HWNN1961.
IMcRout
Posted: Thursday, August 25, 2011 6:56:02 AM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 5/27/2011
Posts: 35,380
Neurons: 563,379
Location: Lübeck, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany
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.
Users browsing this topic
Guest


Forum Jump
You cannot post new topics in this forum.
You cannot reply to topics in this forum.
You cannot delete your posts in this forum.
You cannot edit your posts in this forum.
You cannot create polls in this forum.
You cannot vote in polls in this forum.