The Straight Dope

Go Back   Straight Dope Message Board > Main > General Questions

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 03-10-2003, 08:15 PM
galen galen is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 1999
"The millstones of the gods grind slow, but they grind exceeding fine"

What does this mean, exactly?
Reply With Quote
Advertisements  
  #2  
Old 03-10-2003, 08:28 PM
Dogface Dogface is offline
BANNED
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 3,466
"Mills of the Gods, Grind exceedingly slow, But grind exceedingly fine.", attributed to Euripides*


This is usually used as a modern revision: "Millstones of Justice turn exceedingly slow, but grind exceedingly fine.", attributed to John Bannister, a Pennsylvania judge of the 1800s.

In either sense, it means that matters inevitably get sorted out very well, but it happens very slowly. I consider it to be a cop-out to rationalize halfway measures and quietism.


*Euripides?
Yeah! Eumenides?
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 03-10-2003, 08:31 PM
Q.E.D. Q.E.D. is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Richmond, VA
Posts: 22,536
I've always heard it as "The millstones of justice grind slow, but they grind exceeding fine." It means the process of judgement takes time, but every detail is examined extremely closely and nothing gets through without inspection.
__________________
SnUgGLypuPpY -- TakE BaCk tHe PiT!
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 03-10-2003, 08:53 PM
Rhum Runner Rhum Runner is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Do you know what a millstone is? It is a big stone, usually turned by a water wheel or windmill that is used to grind grain into flour. The phrase means that the wheels turn slowly, but they produce a very 'fine' result, like a finely ground flour. Think about corn chips, rough grind vs. cake flour, fine grind.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 03-10-2003, 08:57 PM
bobk2 bobk2 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Quote:
Originally posted by Q.E.D.
I've always heard it as "The millstones of justice grind slow, but they grind exceeding fine." It means the process of judgement takes time, but every detail is examined extremely closely and nothing gets through without inspection.
I have also heard it as "the *wheels* of justice...." I'm guessing because a millstone looks a bit like a wheel.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 03-10-2003, 09:30 PM
samclem samclem is offline
graphite is a great moderator
Moderator
 
Join Date: Aug 1999
Location: Akron, Ohio
Posts: 21,792
According to the Oxford Dictonary of Quotations it is
Quote:
The mills of God grind slowly, yet they grind exceeding small.
They then say
Quote:
mid seventeenth century; translation of an anonymous verse in Sextus Empiricus Adversus Mathematicos bk. I, sect. 287.
Longfellow quoted it later, perhaps creating its lasting popularity.
Reply With Quote
Reply



Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 07:24 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@chicagoreader.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to: sdsubscriptions@chicagoreader.com.

Copyright 2013 Sun-Times Media, LLC.