In Herodotus 3.81 :

Megabyzus spoke next, and advised the setting up of an oligarchy:- "In all that Otanes has said to persuade you to put down monarchy," he observed, "I fully concur; but his recommendation that we should call the people to power seems to me not the best advice. For there is nothing so void of understanding, nothing so full of wantonness, as the unwieldy rabble. It were folly not to be borne, for men, while seeking to escape the wantonness of a tyrant, to give themselves up to the wantonness of a rude unbridled mob. ..."


2 Answers 2


A hypothetical situation is posed which uses the subjunctive were.
If the action actually happened, was would be more appropriate.



This is a Victorian translation, now more than a hundred and fifty years old, and it employs (as did most translations of that era) a diction which was already very old-fashioned.

This were would ordinarily be expressed would be today.

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