I will certainly tell you, Socrates, what my own experience of it is. I and a few other people of my own age are in the habit of frequently meeting together, true to the old proverb. On these occasions, most of us give way to lamentations, and regret the pleasures of youth, and call up the memory of amours and drinking parties and banquets and similar proceedings. - The Republic of Plato

What's the meaning of true to the old proverb? I couldn't find the old proverb.

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    I think there is some old proverb in which it says something like "people of my own age are in the habit of frequently meeting together" Jun 14, 2017 at 13:14
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    @SovereignSun Ah.. maybe.. I missed the proverb. BTW "true to" means "the proverb is true"?
    – Ting Choe
    Jun 14, 2017 at 13:17
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    Consider this: dictionary.com/browse/true-to Jun 14, 2017 at 13:19
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    Consider that this is a translation from a text written in ancient Greek. So it would be a Greek proverb.
    – TimR
    Jun 14, 2017 at 13:25
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    Well, the phrase "true to the old proverb" is English, and understanding that it refers to an absent-but-presumed-understood proverb is part of understanding English. The follow-up details are more about Greek, it's true..... Jun 14, 2017 at 15:56

1 Answer 1


This phrase indicates that a proverb is being fulfilled, although not directly cited. (You didn't miss it; it does not appear in this text.) The idea is that the reader will recognize the situation and recall the proverb. The situation is "true to" the proverb, meaning that it shows the truth of the proverb.

If the context were modern English, the old proverb would probably be, "Birds of a feather flock together," meaning that people tend to associate with those who are similar to themselves. Indeed, some translators of The Republic allude to this proverb in the quoted passage.

In this case, we need a proverb that was common in Athens around the time of Socrates: "ἧλιξ ἥλικα τέρπει". It translates roughly as, "two of the same age delight each other", and it appears directly in another of Plato's dialogues, The Phaedrus.

  • The "birds of a feather one" came to my mind as well, but of course Socrates doesn't know it. Very nice reference to the Greek one the speaker probably had in mind! Jun 14, 2017 at 13:52
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    The information contained here is hardly relevant to the needs of people learning English - but it's obviously spot-on, so +1 Jun 14, 2017 at 15:48

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