Regard your good name as the richest jewel you can possibly be possessed of — for credit is like fire; when once you have kindled it you may easily preserve it, but if you once extinguish it, you will find it an arduous task to rekindle it again. The way to gain a good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear.

Socrates (c.470-399 BC) Greek philosopher

Compare to here.

Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 6-May-12
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6 thoughts on “(Attributed)”

  1. Bobby Goodrich

    I’ve been looking everywhere for a citation for this quote, don’t suppose you could pass that along to me?

  2. David Newman

    I don’t think the alternate translation is a translation of the same piece of text. It’s too different. The alternate doesn’t mention jewels or fire, and alternate translations should at least include the same nouns as the primary translation or similar ones, particularly for simple nouns like these.
    The last line of the primary quotation is similar to the alternate, but the stuff that appears before that is not reflected in the alternate. The alternate translation is from “The memorable thoughts of Socrates” by Xenophon. Chapter VI, Of the Choice of Friends.

  3. Hmmm. Upon consideration, I think you’re right. I’ll break them apart into separate items.
    It could very well be the same sentiment, ostensibly from Socrates, from different sources (hence the different run-ups). Given that all we have from Socrates are what his students and admirers recorded, that wouldn’t be surprising (cf. the Gospels).

  4. Quoted in Xenophon, The Memorable Thoughts of Socrates, ch. 6 “Of the Choice of Friends”

    The shortest and surest way to live with honour in the world is to be in reality what we would appear to be: and if you observe, you will find that all human virtues increase and strengthen themselves by the…

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