Vices can be elevated, but are always base. Some people see a certain hero with a certain fault, but they don’t realize it wasn’t the fault that made him a hero. An example of people in high places is so persuasive that it makes people imitate even their ugliness. Adulation mimics even an ugly face, without realizing that what is hidden by greatness is abominated when greatness is lacking.

[Bien pueden estar los vicios realzados, pero no son realces. Ven algunos que aquel héroe tuvo aquel accidente, pero no ven que no fue héroe por aquello. Es tan retórico el ejemplo superior, que aun las fealdades persuade; hasta las del rostro afectó tal vez la lisonja, no advirtiendo que, si en la grandeza se disimulan, en la bajeza se abominan.]

Baltasar Gracián y Morales (1601-1658) Spanish Jesuit priest, writer, philosopher
The Art of Worldly Wisdom [Oráculo Manual y Arte de Prudencia], § 186 (1647) [tr. Maurer (1992)]

(Source (Spanish)). Alternate translation:

Vices may stand in high place, but are low for all that. Men can see that many a great man has great faults, yet they do not see that he is not great because of them. The example of the great is so specious that it even glosses over viciousness, till it may so affect those who flatter it that they do not notice that what they gloss over in the great they abominate in the lower classes.
[tr. Jacobs (1892)]

The vices may stand high, but they are not high: some see a great man afflicted with this vice or that; but they do not see, that is great not because of it but in spite of it. The portrait of the man high up is so convincing, that even his deformities persuade, wherefore flattery at times mimics them, not seeing, that if in the great such things are overlooked, in the small, they are looked down upon.
[tr. Fischer (1937)]

Added on 15-Jun-22 | Last updated 15-Jun-22
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