We may also observe that a great many people do many things that seem to be inspired more by a spirit of ostentation than by heart-felt kindness; for such people are not really generous but are rather influenced by a sort of ambition to make a show of being open-handed. Such a pose is nearer akin to hypocrisy than to generosity or moral goodness.

[Videre etiam licet plerosque non tam natura liberales quam quadam gloria ductos, ut benefici videantur, facere multa, quae proficisci ab ostentatione magis quam a voluntate videantur. Talis autem sinulatio vanitati est coniunctior quam aut liberalitati aut honestati.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
De Officiis [On Duties; On Moral Duty; The Offices], Book 1, ch. 14 (1.14) / sec. 44 (44 BC) [tr. Miller (1913)]

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:trans.:

One may also observe in a great many people, that they take a sort of pride in being counted magnificent, and give very plentifully, not from any generous principle in their natures, but only to appear great in the eye of the world; so that all their bounty is resolved into nothing but mere outside and pretense, and is nearer of kin to vanity and folly, than it is to either liberality or honesty.
[tr. Cockman (1699)]

Besides we may observe, that most men, not so much from a liberal disposition, as led by some show of apparent beneficence, do acts of kindness, which seem to flow more from ostentation than from the heart. This conduct is more allied to vanity than to liberality or honour.
[tr. McCartney (1798)]

For it is easy to observe, that most of them are not so much by nature generous, as they are misled by a kind of pride to do a great many things in order that they may seem to be generous; which things seem to spring not so much from good will as from ostentation. Now such a simulation is more nearly allied to duplicity than to generosity or virtue.
[tr. Edmonds (1865)]

We can see, also, that a large number of persons, less from a liberal nature than for the reputation of generosity, do many things that evidently proceed from ostentation rather than from good will.
[tr. Peabody (1883)]

It is also manifest that the conduct of men who are not really generous but only ambitious of the name often springs from vainglory rather than from a pure motive. Such hypocrisy, I hold, savours more of deceit than of liberality or honour.
[tr. Gardiner (1899)]

It is quite clear that many individuals who are not so much innately generous as they are swayed by the vain desire to seem generous, often indulge in gestures that apparently originate in ostentation rather than in genuine open-handedness. This kind of pretense is closer to vanity than to generosity or uprightness.
[tr. Edinger (1974)]

Added on 29-May-11 | Last updated 25-Aug-22
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