"The better part of valor is discretion."- Henry IV pt. I
I love this quote because it is a shining example of how the real meaning of a phrase can be lost in a cliche'. When said in a contemporary manner, it implies that being discreet is preferable behavior, though the idea that discretion is linked to valor always escaped me. Then I did the play several years ago and had the pleasure of playing Falstaff- the character who makes this rather odd statement. When put within Falstaff's "honor speech", its meaning becomes clear.
The character is rationalizing his cowardice. He is afraid to go to battle, therefore he besmirches the entire concept of honor and states that he is more brave then those honorable fighters since he is trying to avoid the fight. Though his refusal to fight is not due to some higher social conciousness or loathing of violence... he's just a big ol' puss.
Now peace-nicks and those who decry MA practioners and violent and barbaric use this cliche' as a rallying cry...
And they wonder why I drink...
"Where's the white women" The Sheriff in Blazing Saddles...I can't remember his name.
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