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Spent with fatigue, and shrunk with pining fast,
My craving bowels still require repast.
Howe’er the noble, suffering mind may grieve
Its load of anguish, and disdain to live,
Necessity demands our daily bread;
Hunger is insolent, and will be fed.

[ἀλλ᾽ ἐμὲ μὲν δορπῆσαι ἐάσατε κηδόμενόν περ:
οὐ γάρ τι στυγερῇ ἐπὶ γαστέρι κύντερον ἄλλο
ἔπλετο, ἥ τ᾽ ἐκέλευσεν ἕο μνήσασθαι ἀνάγκῃ
καὶ μάλα τειρόμενον καὶ ἐνὶ φρεσὶ πένθος ἔχοντα,
ὡς καὶ ἐγὼ πένθος μὲν ἔχω φρεσίν, ἡ δὲ μάλ᾽ αἰεὶ
ἐσθέμεναι κέλεται καὶ πινέμεν, ἐκ δέ με πάντων
ληθάνει ὅσσ᾽ ἔπαθον, καὶ ἐνιπλησθῆναι ἀνώγει.]

Homer (fl. 7th-8th C. BC) Greek author
The Odyssey [Ὀδύσσεια], Book 7, l. 215ff (7.215) (c. 700 BC) [tr. Pope (1725)]

Original Greek. Alternate translations:

Worse than an envious belly nothing is.
It will command his strict necessities,
Of men most griev’d in body or in mind,
That are in health, and will not give their kind
A desp’rate wound.
When most with cause I grieve,
It bids me still, Eat, man, and drink, and live;
And this makes all forgot. Whatever ill
I ever bear, it ever bids me fill.
[tr. Chapman (1616)]

No creature is so fierce as is the gut,
And so loud barketh when it is forgot,
That out of mind it never can be put,
But will be heard whether one will or not.
So ’tis with me, that am afflicted sore,
Yet still my belly bids me eat and drink,
And forget all I had endured before,
And on my misery no more to think.
[tr. Hobbes (1675), l. 201ff]

But let me eat, comfortless as I am,
Uninterrupted; for no call is loud
As that of hunger in the ears of man;
Importunate, unreas’nable, it constrains
His notice, more than all his woes beside.
So, I much sorrow feel, yet not the less
Hear I the blatant appetite demand
Due sustenance, and with a voice that drowns
E’en all my suff’rings, till itself be fill’d.
[tr. Cowper (1792), l. 266ff]

But let me feed in peace, though sore distressed.
Nothing more shameless is than Appetite,
Who still, whatever anguish load our breast,
Makes us remember in our own despite
Both food and drink. Thus I, thrice wretched wight,
Carry of inward grief surpassing store,
Yet she constrains me with superior might,
Wipes clean away the memory-written score,
And takes whate'er I give, and taking craveth more.
[tr. Worsley (1861), st. 29]

But let me now eat on, tho' sick at heart:
Nought is more shameless than a craving stomach,
Which bids remembrance of herself by force,
Tho' sorely worn the limbs, and sad the heart!
So I am sad at heart: but she for ever
Is bidding me eat and drink; and making forget
All I have borne; and still to gorge compels me!
[tr. Bigge-Wither (1869)]

But as for me, suffer me to sup, afflicted as I am; for nought is there more shameless than a ravening belly, which biddeth a man perforce be mindful of him, though one be worn and sorrowful in spirit, even as I have sorrow of heart; yet evermore he biddeth me eat and drink and maketh me utterly to forget all my sufferings, and commandeth me to take my fill.
[tr. Butcher/Lang (1879)]

But I pray you amidst of my sorrow that ye suffer me supper to eat,
For nought indeed more shameless than the belly-beast may ye meet,
When need and he are bidding that we mind us of his part,
Although we be worn and wasted and have sorrow in the heart.
Thus I in my my heart have sorry, but the belly evermore
Will bid me to eat and to drink and forget my sorrow sore,
Whatso my soul may have suffered, and to filling forceth me.
[tr. Morris (1887), l. 215ff]

But let me now, though sick of heart, take supper; for nothing is more brutal than an angry belly. Perforce it bids a man attend, sadly though he be worn, though grief be on his mind. Even so, I too have grief upon my mind, and yet this ever more calls me to eat and drink; all I have borne it makes me quite forget, and bid me take my fill.
[tr. Palmer (1891)]

Nevertheless, let me sup in spite of sorrow, for an empty stomach is a very importunate thing, and thrusts itself on a man's notice no matter how dire is his distress. I am in great trouble, yet it insists that I shall eat and drink, bids me lay aside all memory of my sorrows and dwell only on the due replenishing of itself.
[tr. Butler (1898)]

But as for me, suffer me now to eat, despite my grief; for there is nothing more shameless than a hateful belly, which bids a man perforce take thought thereof, be he never so sore distressed and laden with grief at heart, even as I, too, am laden with grief at heart, yet ever does my belly bid me eat and drink, and makes me forget all that I have suffered, and commands me to eat my fill.
[tr. Murray (1919)]

But instead I will ask leave to obey my instincts and fall upon this supper, as I would do despite my burden of woe. See now, there is not anything so exigent as a man's ravening belly, which will not leave him alone to feel even so sore a grief as this grief in my heart, but prefers to overwhelm his misery with its needs for meat and drink, forcibly and shamelessly compelling him to put its replenishment above his soul's agony.
[tr. Lawrence (1932)]

But all I ask of you now is your leave to eat my supper, in spite of all my troubles. For nothing in the world is so incontinent as a man’s accursed appetite. However afflicted he may be and sick at heart, it calls for attention so loudly that he is bound to obey it. Such is my case: my heart is sick with grief, yet my hunger insists that I shall eat and drink. It makes me forget all I have suffered and forces me to take my fill.
[tr. Rieu (1946)]

You will indulge me if I finish dinner--?
grieved though I am to say it. There's no part
of man more like a dog than brazen Belly,
crying to be remembered -- and it must be --
when we are mortal weary and sick at heart;
and that is my condition. Yet my hunger
drives me to take this food, and think no more
of my afflictions. Belly must be filled.
[tr. Fitzgerald (1961)]

But despite my misery, let me finish dinner.
The belly’s a shameless dog, there’s nothing worse.
Always insisting, pressing, it never lets us forget --
destroyed as I am, my heart racked with sadness,
sick with anguish, still it keeps demanding,
"Eat, drink!" It blots out all the memory
of my pain, commanding, "Fill me up!"
[tr. Fagles (1996)]

But all I want now is to be allowed to eat,
Despite my grief. There is nothing more shameless
Than this belly of ours, which forces a man
To pay attention to it, no matter how many
Troubles he has, how much pain is in his heart.
I have pain my heart, but my belly always
Makes me eat and drink and forget my troubles,
Pestering me to keep it filled.
[tr. Lombardo (2000), l. 228ff]

But leave me now to eat my supper, distressed though I am; there is nothing more shameless than a man's wretched belly, which lays him under necessity to be mindful of it even when he is sorely troubled and nursing grief in his heart. This is my case: I am nursing grief in my heart, and yet it is forever urging me to eat and drink, making me forget all that I have suffered, always telling me to eat my fill.
[tr. Verity (2016)]

But let me have my meal, despite my grief.
The belly is just like a whining dog:
it begs and forces one to notice it,
despite exhaustion or depths of sorry.
My heart is full of sorrow, but my stomach
is always telling me to eat and drink.
It tells me to forget what I have suffered,
and fill it up.
[tr. Wilson (2017)]

Added on 28-Apr-21 | Last updated 1-Dec-21
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More quotes by Homer

Lat take a cat, and fostre him wel with milk,
And tendre flesh, and make his couche of silk,
And lat him seen a mous go by the wal;
Anon he weyveth milk, and flesh, and al,
And every deyntee that is in that hous,
Swich appetyt hath he to ete a mous.
Lo, here hath lust his dominacioun,
And appetyt flemeth discrecioun.

[Let’s take a cat, and foster him well with milk
And tender meat, and make his couch of silk,
And let him see a mouse go by the wall,
Right then he refuses milk and meat and all,
And every dainty that is in that house,
Such appetite has he to eat a mouse.
Lo, here has lust his domination,
And appetite drives away discretion.]

Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1343-1400) English poet, philosopher, astronomer, diplomat
The Canterbury Tales, “The Manciple’s Tale,” l. 175ff (c. 1400)

Modern English. Alternate modernizations:

Let take a cat, and foster her with milk
And tender flesh, and make her couch of silk,
And let her see a mouse go by the wall,
Anon she weiveth milk, and flesh, and all,
And every dainty that is in that house,
Such appetite hath she to eat the mouse.
Lo, here hath kind her domination,
And appetite flemeth discretion.

Let take a cat, and foster her with milk
And tender flesh, and make her couch of silk,
And let her see a mouse go by the wall,
Anon she forsaketh milk, and flesh, and all,
And every dainty that is in that house,
Such appetite hath she to eat the mouse.
Lo, here hath nature her domination,
And appetite drives out discretion.
Added on 20-Apr-21 | Last updated 20-Apr-21
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More quotes by Chaucer, Geoffrey

Therefore he who bids the law rule may be deemed to bid God and Reason alone rule, but he who bids man rule adds an element of the beast; for desire is a wild beast, and passion perverts the minds of rulers, even when they are the best of men. The law is reason unaffected by desire.

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Politics [Πολιτικά], Book 3, ch. 16 / 1287a.32 [tr. Jowett (1885)]

Alternate translations:

  • "He, therefore, who wishes Law to govern seems to wish for the rule of God and Intellect alone; he who wishes men to rule bring sin the element of the animal. For appetites are of this lower nature, and anger distorts the judgment of rulers, even of the best. And so Law is Intellect without animal impulses." [tr. Bolland (1877)]

  • "Moreover, he who would place the supreme power in mind, would place it in God and the laws; but he who entrusts man with it, gives it to a wild beast, for such his appetites sometimes make him; for passion influences those who are in power, even the very best of men: for which reason law is reason without desire." [tr. Ellis (1912)]

  • "He therefore that recommends that the law shall govern seems to recommend that God and reason alone shall govern, but he that would have man govern adds a wild animal also; for appetite is like a wild animal, and also passion warps the rule even of the best men. Therefore the law is wisdom without desire." [tr. Rackham (1932)]

  • "One who asks law to rule, therefore, is held to be asking god and intellect alone to rule, while one who asks man adds the beast. Desire is a thing of this sort; and spiritedness perverts rulers and the best men. Hence law is intellect without appetite." [tr. Lord (1984)]
Added on 29-Jan-21 | Last updated 12-Feb-21
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More quotes by Aristotle

It is of the nature of desire not to be satisfied, and most men live only for the gratification of it.

[ἄπειρος γὰρ ἡ τῆς ἐπιθυμίας φύσις, ἧς πρὸς τὴν ἀναπλήρωσιν οἱ πολλοὶ]

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Politics [Πολιτικά], Book 2, ch. 7, sec. 19 / 1267b.4 [tr. Jowett (1885)]

Original Greek. Alt. trans.:

  • "For it is the nature of our desires to be boundless, and many live only to gratify them." [tr. Ellis (1912)]

  • "For appetite is in its nature unlimited, and the majority of mankind live for the satisfaction of appetite." [tr. Rackham (1924)]

  • "For the nature of desire is without limit, and it is with a view to satisfying this that the many live. [tr. Lord (1984)]
Added on 18-Dec-20 | Last updated 12-Feb-21
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Other people’s appetites easily appear excessive when one doesn’t share them.

André Gide (1869-1951) French author, Nobel laureate
The Counterfeiters, “Edouard’s Journal: Oscar Molinier” (1925)
Added on 2-Oct-18 | Last updated 2-Oct-18
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The Christian attitude does not mean that there is anything wrong about sexual pleasure, any more than about the pleasure of eating. It means that you must not isolate that pleasure and try to get it by itself, any more than you ought to try to get the pleasures of taste without swallowing and digesting, by chewing things and spitting them out again.

C.S. Lewis (1898-1963) English writer and scholar [Clive Staples Lewis]
Mere Christianity, ch. 6 “Christian Marriage” (1952)
Added on 8-Nov-16 | Last updated 8-Nov-16
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Ambition is like hunger; it obeys no law but its appetite.

Josh Billings (1818-1885) American humorist [pseud. of Henry Wheeler Shaw]

Attributed in Frank Jenners Wilstach, A Dictionary of Similes (1916).
Added on 11-Mar-15 | Last updated 31-May-17
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Yet many men, being slaves to appetite and sleep, have passed through life untaught and untrained, like mere wayfarers. In these men we see, contrary to Nature’s intent, the body a source of pleasure, the soul a burden.

[Sed multi mortales dediti ventri atque somno, indocti incultique vitam sicuti peregrinantes transegere.]

Sallust (c. 86-35 BC) Roman historian and politician [Gaius Sallustius Crispus]
Bellum Catilinae [The War of Catiline; The Conspiracy of Catiline], ch. 2, sent. 8 [tr. Rolfe (1931)]

Original Latin. Alt. trans.:

"Yet we see in the mass of life numbers addicted to sloth and the gratifications of appetite; men uneducated and uninformed, who have passed their time like incurious travellers, of whom it may be said, the organs of bodily sensation were their delight, and their minds were no better than a burden." [tr. Murphy (1807)]

"Yet many there are in the world who, abandoned to sloth and sensuality, without learning or politeness, pass their lives much like travellers; and who, in opposition to the design of nature, place their whole happiness in animal pleasure, looking on their minds as a heavy burden." [tr. Rose (1831)]

"But many men abandoned to their belly and sleep, untaught and uneducated, have spent their days like strangers, whose body in truth, contrary to nature, has been their happiness, their soul a burden." [Source (1841)]

"Yet many human beings, resigned to sensuality and indolence, uninstructed and unimproved, have passed through life like travelers in a strange country; to whom, certainly, contrary to the intention of nature, the body was a gratification, and the mind a burden." [tr. Watson (1867)]

"Many, however, the slaves of gluttony and sloth, without learning or cultivation, have passed through life as though it were a journey in a foreign land, and thus, in defiance of nature, have actually found their body a pleasure and their real vital powers a burden." [tr. Pollard (1882)]

"But many mortals, devoted to their stomachs and to sleep, have passed through life untaught and uncouth, like foreign travellers; and of course, contracy to nature, their bodies were a source of pleasure to them, their minds a burden." [tr. Woodman (2007)]
Added on 17-Apr-14 | Last updated 23-Oct-20
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Riches rather enlarge than satisfy Appetites.

Thomas Fuller (1654-1734) English writer, physician
Gnomologia: Adages and Proverbs, #4048 (1732)
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The real persuaders are our appetites, our fears, and above all our vanity. The skillful propagandist stirs and coaches these internal persuaders.

Eric Hoffer (1902-1983) American writer, philosopher, longshoreman
The Passionate State of Mind, Aphorism 218 (1955)
Added on 29-Nov-12 | Last updated 23-Jun-22
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