Tips for Use. “The better part of valor is discretion” is a masterpiece of what today would be called ‘political correctness’. If Falstaff were with us now, he would be the ideal presidential candidate, “Falstaff for President”. And, no doubt, he or his campaign-advertising managers would come up with slogans such as “Yes, we can”. Knowing full well that few, if any, will ask themselves, “Can what?”. Falstaff on one side (as well as most recent US presidents anyway) and, on the other side, the unthinking masses. Or masses deprived of thought by the society of the spectacle. Objects of disdain and contempt by William S., as brought up in various blogs on this site already (and more to come).
Applied to yourself, you can use “The better part of valor is discretion” to justify why you pulled out of a tricky situation or gamble.
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In the play. Falstaff has pretended to participate in the battle of Shrewsbury, won by the Lancastrians led by the Prince of Wales, but in reality he has avoided any contact with the enemy. In an attempt to justify his own actions (including his pretension to be dead during the battle) Falstaff comes out with this interesting piece of logic,
“I am no counterfeit: to die, is to be a counterfeit; for he is but the counterfeit of a man who hath not the life of a man: but to counterfeit dying, when a man thereby liveth, is to be no counterfeit, but the true and perfect image of life indeed”.
Image sources: http://www.steveonsteins.com/falstaffbeer-steins-not-as-english-as-one-might-think-10-31x