“Become who you are”, is it what Pindar said?

A kid is watching a sculptor working. Days after, he comes back and is in a awe in front of the completed statue, asking to the artist : “How did you know there was a man into it??”.

Pindar was a Greek poet (he died in 443 BC). I don’t know his work BUT I always meet his silhouette, his tone, his quotes, in texts from authors I like  – this pattern, indeed, could become an article one day…

Today I met Pindar in a dictionary about Nietzsche, who wrote to Lou Andreas Salomé : “Become who you are”.


This really sounded like a stupid smart ass self-help quote, almost written in capitals before an ugly sunset above a road (symbol!) cutting a field in two, eeek!

But if Nietzsche studied Pindar, well…

What did Pindar say, really? Wikipedia proposes these :

  • Become such as you are, having learned what that is
  • Be what you know you are
  • Be true to thyself now that thou hast learnt what manner of man thou art
  • Having learned, become who you are


In my French book and on the web, I found :

  • May you become who you are by learning
  • Be as you learned to know you
  • Become what you are by learning who you are

These are 6 different ways to translate Pindar! The pack just threw a fistful of seeds on your table. And I prefer the last one already…

Man could study diaries and interviews of thinkers, or great artists and writers, trying to find what they said about this idea of “becoming themselves”. It could sound… mundane, but I think it could be interesting. For example, many artists say at the end of their life that “Less is More”, right? What other pattern do we often find?

It’s a strange idea, right? As if, like a sculptor with a big block of wood, we were all spending our lives trying to find what man or woman was hidden in the block, already here…

Is it only “by learning who you are”? How so? What do we win when we do that? Are we stronger, smarter? What’s the horror in not becoming the real one? What if we were mistaken all along? Working in a bad manner? What happens when you discover it in the middle of your life? What if we had “many” us to discover? Facets? Is it some work really to discover and become who we are, or are we, like some, the prey of destiny, accidents and betrayals?

Here I ask my readers : what do you think about this idea, which seems mundane and worldly-wise at the same time? For you, is it an empty concept or a good seed for thinkers?

Thanks for reading!


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7 thoughts on ““Become who you are”, is it what Pindar said?

  1. annetterallsblog August 14, 2017 / 5:54 am

    In order to “become who you are” becomes more complicated the more you think. The more you are aware of how you think, the more fascited your sculpture becomes. If you are also aware of how your surroundings and especially other people influence you, you may realise how those fascits fit together and it becomes easier to be how you are meant to be. Does that makes sense?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jean-Pascal August 14, 2017 / 6:51 am

      Hi Annette. It makes sense but also almost needs another article about “meant to be”. Social pressure? Norms?…


  2. sarahdel23 May 17, 2018 / 3:19 am

    Oh my God, this post gives a lot to think about!


  3. andrearobertsblog December 1, 2019 / 10:21 pm

    Nietzsche was a fatalist; become who you are – likened to how an acorn must become an oak … it’s fate. That’s what I do profoundly remember this from my Nietzsche studies. I took a semester dedicated to studying his work in depth – it was the most rewarding philosophy to ever enter my world to date.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Jeong Jae hun February 25, 2020 / 5:12 pm

    In Eastern world, we don’t know about Pindar,,, But the phrase ” become such as you are…” is same as that of “Tao Te Ching” ,,, I’m from South Korea…

    Liked by 1 person

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