Quotations about   arrogance

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Wisdom is by far the greatest part of joy,
and reverence toward the gods must be safeguarded.
The mighty words of the proud are paid in full
with mighty blows of fate, and at long last
those blows will teach us wisdom.

[πολλῷ τὸ φρονεῖν εὐδαιμονίας
πρῶτον ὑπάρχει. χρὴ δὲ τά γ᾽ εἰς θεοὺς
μηδὲν ἀσεπτεῖν. μεγάλοι δὲ λόγοι
μεγάλας πληγὰς τῶν ὑπεραύχων
ἀποτίσαντες
γήρᾳ τὸ φρονεῖν ἐδίδαξαν.]

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Antigone, l. 1348ff [Chorus] (441 BC) [tr. Fagles (1982), l. 1466ff]
    (Source)

Final lines of the play. Original Greek. Alternate translations:

Wisdom is first of the gifts of good fortune:
'Tis a duty, to be sure, the rites of the Gods
Duly to honor: but words without measure, the
Fruit of vain-glory, in woes without number their
Recompense finding,
Have lesson'd the agéd in wisdom.
[tr. Donaldson (1848)]

Of happiness the chiefest part
Is a wise heart:
And to defraud the gods in aught
With peril's fraught.
Swelling words of high-flown might
Mightily the gods do smite.
Chastisement for errors past
Wisdom brings to age at last.
[tr. Storr (1859)]

Wise conduct hath command of happiness
Before all else, and piety to Heaven
Must be preserved. High boastings of the proud
Bring sorrow to the height to punish pride: --
A lesson men shall learn when they are old.
[tr. Campbell (1873)]

Wisdom is provided as the chief part of happiness, and our dealings with the gods must be in no way unholy. The great words of arrogant men have to make repayment with great blows, and in old age teach wisdom.
[tr. Jebb (1891)]

Wisdom alone is man's true happiness.
We are not to dispute the will of heaven;
For ever are the boastings of the proud
By the just gods repaid, and man at last
Is taught to fear their anger and be wise.
[tr. Werner (1892)]

Wisdom is the supreme part of happiness; and reverence towards the gods must be inviolate. Great words of prideful men are ever punished with great blows, and, in old age, teach the chastened to be wise.
[tr. Jebb (1917)]

There is no happiness where there is no wisdom;
No wisdom but in submission to the gods.
Big words are always punished
And proud men in old age learn to be wise.
[tr. Fitts/Fitzgerald (1939), l. 1039ff]

Of happiness the crown
And chiefest part
Is wisdom, and to hold
The gods in awe.
This is the law
That, seeing the stricken heart
Of pride brought down,
We learn when we are old.
[tr. Watling (1947), Exodos, l. 1027ff]

Our happiness depends
on wisdom all the way.
The gods must have their due.
Great words by men of pride
bring greater blows upon them.
So wisdom comes to the old.
[tr. Wyckoff (1954)]

Of happiness, far the greatest part is wisdom,
and reverence towards the gods.
Proud words of arrogant man, in the end,
Meet punishment, great as his pride was great,
Till at last he is schooled in wisdom.
[tr. Kitto (1962)]

Wisdom is supreme for a blessed life,
And reference for the gods
Must never cease. Great words, sprung from arrogance.
Are punished by great blows.
So it is one learns, in old age, to be wise.
[tr. Woodruff (2001)]

By far is having sense the first part
of happiness. One must not act impiously toward
what pertains to gods. Big words
of boasting men,
paid for by big blows,
teach having sense in old age.
[tr. Tyrell/Bennett (2002)]

The most important thing in man’s happiness is good judgement and he must not treat with disdain the works of the gods.
The arrogant pay for their big proud words with great downfalls and it’s only then, in their old age that they gain wisdom!
[tr. Theodoridis (2004)]

The most important part of true success
is wisdom -- not to act impiously
towards the gods, for boasts of arrogant men
bring on great blows of punishment --
so in old age men can discover wisdom.
[tr. Johnston (2005)]

Knowledge truly is by far the most important part of happiness, but one must neglect nothing that the gods demand. Great words of the over-proud balanced by great falls taught us knowledge in our old age.
[tr. Thomas (2005)]
Added on 11-Mar-21 | Last updated 11-Mar-21
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And the man who is arrogant belittles his victim. For arrogance is doing and saying things which bring shame to the victim, not in order that something may come out of it for the doer other than the mere fact it happened, but so that he may get pleasure. … The cause of the pleasure enjoyed by those who are arrogant is that they think that in doing ill they are themselves very much superior. That is why the young and the wealthy are arrogant. For they think that in being arrogant they are superior.

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Rhetoric, Book 2, ch. 2 (1378b23-29)

Alt. trans.:
  • "Insolence is also a form of slighting, since it consists in doing and saying things that cause shame to the victim, not in order that anything may happen to yourself, or because anything has happened to yourself, but simply for the pleasure involved. ... The cause of the pleasure thus enjoyed by the insolent man is that he thinks himself greatly superior to others when ill-treating them. That is why youths and rich men are insolent; they think themselves superior when they show insolence." [tr. Roberts (1924)]
  • "And he who is insolent to someone also slights him, for insolence is doing and saying such things as are a source of shame to the person suffering them, not so that some other advantage may accrue to the insolent person or because something happened to him, but so that he may gain pleasure thereby .... And a cause of the pleasure the insolent feel is their supposing that, by inflicting harm, they themselves are to a greater degree superior. Hence the young and the wealthy are insolent, for they suppose that, by being insolent, they are superior." [tr. Bartlett (2019)]
Added on 22-Jan-20 | Last updated 22-Jan-20
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The arrogance of some Christians would close heaven to them if, to their misfortune, it existed.

Simone de Beauvoir (1908-1986) French author, existentialist philosopher, feminist theorist
All Said and Done (1972)
Added on 15-Oct-18 | Last updated 15-Oct-18
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It’s said that science will dehumanize people and turn them into numbers. That’s false, tragically false. Look for yourself. This is the concentration camp and crematorium at Auschwitz. This is where people were turned into numbers. Into this pond were flushed the ashes of some four million people. And that was not done by gas. It was done by arrogance, it was done by dogma, it was done by ignorance. When people believe that they have absolute knowledge, with no test in reality, this is how they behave. This is what men do when they aspire to the knowledge of gods.

Jacob Bronowski (1908-1974) Polish-English humanist and mathematician
The Ascent of Man, Ep. 11 “Knowledge or Certainty” (1973)
Added on 16-Jan-17 | Last updated 16-Jan-17
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The prouder a man is, the more he thinks he deserves; and the more he thinks he deserves, the less he really does deserve.

Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887) American clergyman and orator
Royal Truths (1866)
Added on 30-Aug-16 | Last updated 30-Aug-16
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At its core, therefore, science is a form of arrogance control.

Carol Tavris (b. 1944) American social psychologist and author
Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts (2008) [with Elliot Aronson]
Added on 9-Aug-16 | Last updated 9-Aug-16
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He’s a good person, you know. In spite of many things, including his own opinion, he’s a good person. Maybe a bit conceited, overbearing, and arrogant, but then, people without a trace of these diseases aren’t usually worth one’s time.

Steven Brust (b. 1955) American writer, systems programmer
Orca [Kiera] (1996)
Added on 1-Jul-16 | Last updated 1-Jul-16
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No one is more dangerous than someone who thinks he has “The Truth”. To be an atheist is almost as arrogant as to be a fundamentalist. But then again, I can get pretty arrogant.

Tom Lehrer (b. 1928) American mathematician, satirist, songwriter
Interview (June 1996)

When asked if he considered himself atheist or an agnostic.
Added on 4-Feb-16 | Last updated 4-Feb-16
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Wants what he wants when he wants it — and thinks that constitutes a natural law.

Robert A. Heinlein (1907-1988) American writer
Methuselah’s Children [Lazarus Long] (1958)
Added on 21-Jul-15 | Last updated 21-Jul-15
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BADGER: You think you’re better than other people!
MAL: Just the ones I’m better than.

Jane Espenson (b. 1964) American television writer and producer
Firefly, 1×04 “Shindig” (1 Nov 2002)
Added on 7-May-15 | Last updated 7-May-15
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Righteousness cannot be born until self-righteousness is dead.

Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) English mathematician and philosopher
Justice in War-Time (1916)
Added on 26-Jan-15 | Last updated 26-Jan-15
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They lied to you. The Devil is not the Prince of Matter; the Devil is the arrogance of the spirit, faith without smile, truth that is never seized by doubt. The Devil is grim because he knows where he is going, and, in moving, he always returns whence he came.

Umberto Eco (1932-2016) Italian semiotician, essayist, philosopher, novelist
The Name of the Rose (1980)
Added on 2-Sep-14 | Last updated 2-Sep-14
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I regret nothing, says arrogance; I will regret nothing, says inexperience.

Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach (1830-1916) Austrian writer
Aphorisms (1890-1905) [tr. Scrase & MIeder (1994)]
Added on 18-Aug-14 | Last updated 18-Aug-14
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Self-love is often rather arrogant than blind; it does not hide our faults from ourselves, but persuades us that they escape the notice of others.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The Rambler, #155 (19 Sep 1751)
Added on 23-May-14 | Last updated 23-May-14
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Where men are the most sure and arrogant, they are commonly the most mistaken, and have there given reins to passion, without that proper deliberation and suspense, which can alone secure them from the grossest absurdities.

David Hume (1711-1776) Scottish philosopher, economist, historian, empiricist
An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals, Sec. 9.13 “Conclusion, Pt. 1” (1751)
Added on 23-Dec-13 | Last updated 16-Sep-20
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Towering is the confidence of twenty-one.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Comment (9 Jan 1758)

In James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson (1791)
Added on 26-Jul-13 | Last updated 31-May-16
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The difference between patriotism and nationalism is that the patriot is proud of his country for what it does, and the nationalist is proud of his country no matter what it does; the first attitude creates a feeling of responsibility, but the second a feeling of blind arrogance that leads to war.

Sydney J. Harris (1917-1986) Anglo-American columnist, journalist, author
“Purely Personal Prejudices,” Strictly Personal (1953)
Added on 23-Feb-09 | Last updated 10-Feb-20
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Then, do not have one mind, and one alone
that only your opinion can be right.
Whoever thinks that he alone is wise,
his eloquence, his mind, above the rest,
come the unfolding, shows his emptiness.

[μή νυν ἓν ἦθος μοῦνον ἐν σαυτῷ φόρει,
ὡς φὴς σύ, κοὐδὲν ἄλλο, τοῦτ᾽ ὀρθῶς ἔχειν.
ὅστις γὰρ αὐτὸς ἢ φρονεῖν μόνος δοκεῖ,
ἢ γλῶσσαν, ἣν οὐκ ἄλλος, ἢ ψυχὴν ἔχειν,
οὗτοι διαπτυχθέντες ὤφθησαν κενοί.]

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Antigone, l. 705ff [Haemon] (441 BC) [tr. Wyckoff]
    (Source)

Original Greek. Alt. trans.:

Then cleave not solely to this principle --
Thy words, no other man's, are free from error.
For whoso thinks that he alone is wise,
That his discourse and reason are unmatched,
He, when unwrapt, displays his emptiness.
[tr. Donaldson (1848)]

Therefore, my father, cling not to one mood,
And deem not thou art right, all others wrong.
For whoso thinks that wisdom dwells with him,
That he alone can speak or think aright,
Such oracles are empty breath when tried.
[tr. Storr (1859)]

Do not, then, bear one mood only in yourself: do not think that your word and no other, must be right. For if any man thinks that he alone is wise -- that in speech or in mind he has no peer -- such a soul, when laid open, is always found empty.
[tr. Jebb (1891)]

Oh, do not, then, retain thy will
And still believe no sense but thine
Can judge aright; the man who proudly thinks
None but himself or eloquent or wise,
By time betrayed is branded for an idiot.
[tr. Werner (1892)]

Wear not, then, one mood only in thyself; think not that thy word, and thine alone, must be right. For if any man thinks that he alone is wise, -- that in speech, or in mind, he hath no peer, -- such a soul, when laid open, is ever found empty.
[tr. Jebb (1917)]

I beg you, do not be unchangeable:
Do not believe that you alone can be right.
The man who thinks that,
The man who maintains that only he has the power
To reason correctly, the gift to speak, to soul ––
A man like that, when you know him, turns out empty.
[tr. Fitts/Fitzgerald (1939), ll. 564 ff]

Therefore I say,
Let not your first thought be your only thought.
Think if there cannot be some other way.
Surely, to think your own the only wisdom,
And yours the only word, the only will,
Betrays a shallow spirit, an empty heart.
[tr. Watling (1947), ll. 602 ff]

And now, don't always cling to the same anger,
Don't keep saying that this, and nothing else, is right.
If a man believes that he along has a sound mind,
And no one else can speak or think as well as he does,
Then, when people study him, they'll find an empty book.
[tr. Woodruff (2001)]

So, don’t be so single-minded. You said it yourself quite rightly: he who thinks that he’s the only one with a brain or a tongue or a soul, if you open him up you’ll find that he’s a hollow man.
[tr. Theodoridis (2004)]

So don’t let your mind dwell on just one thought,
that what you say is right and nothing else.
A man who thinks that only he is wise,
that he can speak and think like no one else,
when such men are exposed, then all can see
their emptiness inside.
[tr. Johnston (2005), ll. 799 ff]

Do not wear one and only one frame of mind in yourself,
that what you say, and nothing else, is right.
Whoever imagines that he and he alone has sense
or has a tongue or an essence that no other has,
these men, when unfolded, are seen to be empty.
[tr. Tyrell/Bennett]
Added on 15-Sep-08 | Last updated 9-May-21
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To fight is a radical instinct; if men have nothing else to fight over they fight over words, fancies, or women, or they will fight because they dislike each other’s looks, or because they have met walking in opposite directions. To knock a thing down, especially if it is cocked at an arrogant angle, is a deep delight of the blood.

George Santayana (1863-1952) Spanish-American poet and philosopher [Jorge Agustín Nicolás Ruíz de Santayana y Borrás]
The Life of Reason or The Phases of Human Progress, vol. 2 “Reason in Society” (1905)
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Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 9-Mar-20
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LONDO: Ah, arrogance and stupidity all in the same package. How efficient of you.

J. Michael (Joe) Straczynski (b. 1954) American screenwriter, producer, author [a/k/a "JMS"]
Babylon 5: In the Beginning (1998)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 17-Jul-20
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