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The phrase is in ancient Greek and colloquially means “Who cares?”. Herodotus In Book VI of the “Histories”, relates that Hippoclides of Tisandro “the wealthiest and most handsome man in Athens” was among the most accredited of the suitors for the hand of Agoriste, daughter of Clistene, the despot of Sicione.
Candidate trials lasted a year and at the final banquet those who remained had their musical and other talents put to the test. The wine flowed and Hippoclides, “who quite excelled the others called on the flautist to play him a tune. The flautist obeyed and set him dancing”. The dance made him appear increasingly self-obsessed and frenzied. Clistene found this somewhat unseemly.
“Son of Tisandro, you have danced away the marriage” he boomed when the exhibition had ended. “Who cares?” replied Hippoclides.
This response is incised in the entrance pediment of Clouds Hill, the cottage that T.E. Lawrence first rented and then bought on his return to his homeland at his re-entry, in two stages and under a false name, into the ranks of the British Army.
It embraces a philosophy of life that was congenial to him: follow your instincts, do not worry about others nor the consequences, and do not lend any importance to the things of this life.