Even in the 17th century, Parisian man-of-letters Jean de La Bruyθre (1645-1696) knew the key to success was self-promotion... And used an aphorism to get his point across.
According to the insightful Oxford Book of Aphorisms (John Gross, 1983), the earliest aphorisms were collected brief medical sayings of the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates (460-377 B.C.).
HOPE TO HOPE
"The natural flights of the human mind are not from pleasure to pleasure but from hope to hope. ~ Dr. Samuel Johnson
Literary Club founder and famous lexicographer Dr. Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) was the first to define an aphorism: A maxim; a precept contracted in a short sentence; an unconnected position. Or, as Webster put it, a short, concise statement of principle.
Dr. Johnson was a genius of the aphorism. He said with great wit, A man may be so much of everything that he is nothing of anything.
FOOD FOR EVERY EPOCH
"A good aphorism is too hard for the tooth of time, and is not worn away by all the centuries, although it serves as food for every epoch. ~ Friedrich W. Nietzsche
An aphorism is either universally true, or true to its subject. It must be wise and brief. An observation, a truth. It can be funny and clever, but never boring; universal and astute.
"It is a great art to saunter." ~ Henry David Thoreau
You can trust writer and transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) to come up with a great aphorism. Here are others:
I can promise to be sincere, but not to be impartial. ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832)
It is always the secure who are humble. ~Gilbert K. Chesterton (1874-1936)
A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds. ~ Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1626)
TWICE AS GOOD
Good things, when short, are twice as good. ~ Baltasar Graciαn (1601-1658)
A perfectly healthy sentence is extremely rare. ~ Henry David Thoreau
A thought, a phrase, a truth