Memorable Sayings of Filippo Ottonieri (cont.)

[Ottonieri] observed that irresolute men are sometimes extremely persistent in their intents in spite of all difficulties; and this is as a result of their very irresolution, for if they relinquished their deliberation, they would have to resolve a second time. Often they are extremely prompt and efficient in executing what they have resolved because they are afraid to abandon their decision at any moment and regress to that torturing perplexity and mental vacillation in which they had dwelt before reaching a decision, and, therefore, they hasten the execution of their intents and apply to it all their energies – stimulated, as they are, more by anxiety and by the uncertainty about mastering themselves than by the aim of their undertaking and by the other obstacles they must surmount in order to attain it.

…he was listening to a passage of Diogenes Laertius’s Lives of the Philosophers, according to which Chilo, being asked in what way the learned differ from the ignorant, answered: “The learned have hope”; Ottonieri said: “Nowadays it is altogether the opposite; for the ignorant have hope and the learned have no hope whatsoever.”
Operette Morali, by Giacomo Leopardi (translated by Giovanni Cecchetti)


  1. I don't know what an irresolute man actually is. This is different from an open minded thoughtful individual how?

    I am irresolute. I nearly always consult with my staff, my banker, or my wife before making big purchases, or even big changes in the direction of the business. I guess people like Donald Trump or Rupert Murcock don't do that. That could be why they are rich and I am not.

  2. Consulting others and being open minded doesn't mean you are indecisive or unsure of how to proceed. For example, if you were irresolute you might spend hours trying to decide whether or not to even talk to your staff, banker, etc.

    That passage made me think of a certain prominent fellow named George...


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