Quotes: Archers String Their Bows Only When They Need Them

This was how Amasis managed the affairs of the Egyptians: from dawn until midday he handled all the matters that were brought before him; the rest of the day he gave over to drinking and joking with his companions.

His advisers, being vexed by his behavior, admonished him: “Majesty, it is not right that you should behave so foolishly. You should be seated on your august throne throughout the day conducting affairs of state. Thus the Egyptians would be certain that they are ruled by a great man and you would have a better reputation. What you do now is not at all kingly.”

But he replied: “Archers string their bows only when they need them. If they were kept strung all the time, bows would snap and be of no use when needed. It is the same with people: if you try to be serious all the time and not allow yourself a share of relaxation, you will surely either go insane or fall dead of a stroke. Knowing this, I take both business and leisure in turn.”

– Herodotus, The Histories 2.173


The Egyptian king Amasis, as reported by Herodotus, giving some good advice about making time for yourself.