- WIST is my personal collection of quotations, curated for thought, amusement, turn of phrase, historical significance, or sometimes just (often-unintentional) irony.
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- 19,544 quotes and counting ...
Author CloudAristotle • Asimov, Isaac • Bacon, Francis • Bible • Bierce, Ambrose • Billings, Josh • Butcher, Jim • Chesterfield (Lord) • Chesterton, Gilbert Keith • Churchill, Winston • Cicero, Marcus Tullius • Einstein, Albert • Eisenhower, Dwight David • Emerson, Ralph Waldo • Franklin, Benjamin • Fuller, Thomas (1654) • Gaiman, Neil • Galbraith, John Kenneth • Gandhi, Mohandas • Hazlitt, William • Heinlein, Robert A. • Hoffer, Eric • Homer • Huxley, Aldous • Ingersoll, Robert Green • Jefferson, Thomas • Johnson, Lyndon • Johnson, Samuel • Kennedy, John F. • King, Martin Luther • La Rochefoucauld, Francois • Lewis, C.S. • Lincoln, Abraham • Mencken, H.L. • Orwell, George • Pratchett, Terry • Roosevelt, Eleanor • Roosevelt, Theodore • Russell, Bertrand • Shakespeare, William • Shaw, George Bernard • Sophocles • Stevenson, Robert Louis • Twain, Mark • Wilde, Oscar
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- A Writer’s Notebook (1949) on
- The Odyssey [Ὀδύσσεια], Book 6, l. 180ff (6.180) [Odysseus to Nausicaa] (c. 700 BC) [tr. Rieu (1946)] on
- Meditations, Book 2, #11 [tr. Gill (2014)] on
- “We’ll Meet Again” (1939) [with Hughie Charles] on
- Gnomologia: Adages and Proverbs, #3366 (1732) on
By applying conjecture to the countless delusions of drunk or crazy men we may sometimes deduce what appears to be a real prophecy; for who, if he shoots at a mark all day long, will not occasionally hit it? We sleep every night and there is scarcely ever a night when we do not dream; then do we wonder that our dreams come true sometimes? Nothing is so uncertain as a cast of dice and yet there is no one who plays often who does not sometimes make a Venus-throw and occasionally twice or thrice in succession. Then are we, like fools, to prefer to say that it happened by the direction of Venus rather than by chance? And if we are to put no trust in false visions at other times I do not see what especial virtue there is in sleep to entitle its false visions to be taken as true.
[Iam ex insanorum aut ebriorum visis innumerabilia coniectura trahi possunt, quae futura videantur. Quis est enim, qui totum diem iaculans non aliquando conliniet? Totas noctes dormimus, neque ulla est fere, qua non somniemus, et miramur aliquando id quod somniarimus evadere? Quid est tam incertum quam talorum iactus? Tamen nemo est quin saepe iactans Venerium iaciat aliquando, non numquam etiam iterum ac tertium. Num igitur, ut inepti, Veneris id impulsu fieri malumus quam casu dicere? Quodsi ceteris temporibus falsis visis credendum non est, non video, quid praecipui somnus habeat, in quo valeant falsa pro veris.]
De Divinatione [On Divination], Book 2, ch. 59 / sec. 121 (44 BC) [tr. Falconer (1923)]
The "Venus throw" or "Point of Venus" was the highest-scoring throw in the Roman game of Tali, throwing four knucklebone dice to show one each of the four main sides (1, 3, 4, 6). (Source (Latin)). Alternate translation:
From the visions of drunkards and madmen one might, doubtless, deduce innumerable consequences by conjecture, which might seem to be presages of future events. For what person who aims at a mark all day long will not sometimes hit it? We sleep every night; and there are very few on which we do not dream; can we wonder then that what we dream sometimes comes to pass? What is so uncertain as the cast of dice? and yet no one plays dice often without at times casting the point of Venus, and sometimes even twice or thrice in succession. Shall we, then, be so absurd as to attribute such an event to the impulse of Venus, rather than to the doctrine of chance? If then, on ordinary occasions, we are not bound to give credit to false appearances, I do not see why sleep should enjoy this special privilege, that its false seemings should be honoured as true realities.
[tr. Yonge (1853)]
What is more uncertain than the fall of the dice? Yet everyone will occasionally throw the double six, if he throws often enough; nay, sometimes even twice or thrice running.
Added on 20-Jan-22 | Last updated 20-Jan-22
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