Quotations about   ancestors

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Ye knowe ek that, in forme of speche is chaunge
Withinne a thowsand yere, and words tho
That hadden prys, now wonder nyce and straunge
Us thynketh hem, and yet thai spake hm so,
And spedde as wele in love, as men now do ….

[You know that the form of speech will change within a thousand years, and words that were once apt, we now regard as quaint and strange; and yet they spoke them thus, and succeeded as well in love as men do now.]

Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1343-1400) English poet, philosopher, astronomer, diplomat
Troilus and Criseyde, Book 2, st. 4, ll. 22-26 (1385)

Note that the spelling varied between different editions of this same text.

Alt. trans.:
"Remember in the forms of speech comes change
Within a thousand years, and words that then
Were well esteemed, seem foolish now and strange;
And yet they spake them so, time and again,
And thrived in love as well as any men." [tr. Krapp (2006)]
Added on 24-Mar-20 | Last updated 24-Mar-20
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Mules are always boasting that their ancestors are horses.

(Other Authors and Sources)
German Proverb
Added on 13-Nov-18 | Last updated 13-Nov-18
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We open our mouths and out flow words whose ancestries we do not even know. We are walking lexicons. In a single sentence of idle chatter we preserve Latin, Anglo-Saxon, Norse: we carry a museum inside our heads, each day we commemorate peoples of whom we have never heard.

Penelope Lively (b. 1933) British writer
Moon Tiger (1987)
Added on 2-Oct-18 | Last updated 2-Oct-18
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If your descent is from heroic sires,
Show in your life a remnant of their fires.

[Si vous êtes sorti de ces héros fameux,
Montrez-nous cette ardeur qu’on vit briller en eux.]

Nicolas Boileau-Despréaux (1636-1711) French poet and critic
Satires, Satire 5, l. 43 (1716)
Added on 1-Jun-16 | Last updated 27-Jun-22
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If Carmel’s founders should return, they could not afford to live there, but it wouldn’t go that far. They would be instantly picked up as suspicious characters and deported over the city line.

John Steinbeck (1902-1968) American writer
Travels With Charley (1962)
Added on 8-Feb-16 | Last updated 8-Feb-16
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It is revolting to have no better reason for a rule of law than that so it was laid down in the time of Henry IV.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (1841-1935) American jurist, Supreme Court Justice
“The Path of the Law,” Speech to the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts (8 Jan 1897)
Added on 10-Apr-15 | Last updated 10-Apr-15
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We are like dwarfs on the shoulders of giants, so that we can see more than them and things at a greater distance.

Bernard of Chartres (d. after 1124) French philosopher, scholar, administrator. [a.k.a. Bernardus Carnotensis]

Attributed in John of Salisbury, The Metalogicon, 3.4 (1159). Paraphrase of this original: "Bernard of Chartres used to say that we [the Moderns] are like dwarves perched on the shoulders of giants [the Ancients], and thus we are able to see more and farther than the latter. And this is not at all because of the acuteness of our sight or the stature of our body, but because we are carried aloft and elevated by the magnitude of the giants." See here for more discussion. See also Isaac Newton.
Added on 12-Dec-13 | Last updated 18-Jun-15
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So, as you go into battle, remember your ancestors and remember your descendants.

[Et majores vestros et posteros cogitate]

Tacitus (c.56-c.120) Roman historian, orator, politician [Publius or Gaius Cornelius Tacitus]
Agricola, ch. 32 [tr. Acheson, ch. 4, para. 22 (1938)]

Alt. trans: "Think of your ancestors and your posterity" or "Think of your forefathers and posterity."
Added on 23-Apr-10 | Last updated 4-May-15
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They say the religion of your fathers is good enough. Why should a father object to your inventing a better plow than he had?

Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-1899) American lawyer, agnostic, orator
Speech on Religious Intolerance, Pittsburgh Opera House (14 Oct 1879)
Added on 22-Jan-08 | Last updated 5-Feb-16
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