Hi! Welcome to “Dusty Phrases.” You will find below an ancient phrase in one language or another, along with its English translation. You may also find the power to inspire your friends or provoke dread among your enemies.
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μὴ χεῖρον βέλτιστον.
Mḕ kheíron béltiston.
The least bad [choice] is best.
You will recognize this as an early version of the “lesser of two evils” principle. From wiki:
The lesser of two evils principle, also referred to as the lesser evil principle and lesser-evilism, is the principle that when faced with selecting from two immoral options, the least immoral one should be chosen. The principle is sometimes recalled in reference to binary political choices in democratic voting under a two-party system.
The maxim existed already in Platonic philosophy. In Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle writes: “For the lesser evil can be seen in comparison with the greater evil as a good, since this lesser evil is preferable to the greater one, and whatever preferable is good”. The modern formulation was popularized by Thomas à Kempis‘ devotional book The Imitation of Christ written in early 15th century.
Proposition 65: “According to the guidance of reason, of two things which are good, we shall follow the greater good, and of two evils, follow the less.”