Quotations about   avarice

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It is in vain to Say that Democracy is less vain, less proud, less selfish, less ambitious or less avaricious than Aristocracy or Monarchy. It is not true in Fact and no where appears in history. Those Passions are the same in all Men under all forms of Simple Government, and when unchecked, produce the same Effects of Fraud Violence and Cruelty. When clear Prospects are opened before Vanity, Pride, Avarice or Ambition, for their easy gratification, it is hard for the most considerate Phylosophers and the most conscientious Moralists to resist the temptation. Individuals have conquered themselves, Nations and large Bodies of Men, never.

John Adams (1735-1826) American lawyer, Founding Father, statesman, US President (1797-1801)
Letter to John Taylor (17 Dec 1814)
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Added on 19-Oct-21 | Last updated 19-Oct-21
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For the old notions of civil liberty and social order did not benefit the masses of the people. Wealth increased, without relieving their wants. The progress of knowledge left them in abject ignorance. Religion flourished, but failed to reach them. Society, whose laws were made by the upper class alone, announced that the best thing for the poor is not to be born, and the next best, to die in childhood, and suffered them to live in misery and crime and pain. As surely as the long reign of the rich has been employed in promoting the accumulation of wealth, the advent of the poor to power will be followed by schemes for diffusing it. Seeing how little was done by the wisdom of former times for education and public health, for insurance, association, and savings, for the protection of labour against the law of self-interest, and how much has been accomplished in this generation, there is reason in the fixed belief that a great change was needed, and that democracy has not striven in vain.

John Dalberg, Lord Acton (1834-1902) British historian
“Review of Sir Erskine May’s Democracy in Europe,” The Quarterly Review (Jan 1878)
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Preacher preaching love like vengeance
Preaching love like hate
Calling for large donations
Promising estates
Rolling lawns and angel bands
Behind the pearly gates
You know he will have his in this life
But yours will have to wait
He’s immaculately tax free

Joni Mitchell
Joni Mitchell (b. 1943) Canadian singer-songwriter and painter [b. Roberta Joan Anderson]
“Tax Free” Joni Mitchell (1985)
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Added on 17-Sep-21 | Last updated 17-Sep-21
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We are all born brave, trusting and greedy, and most of us manage to remain greedy.

Mignon McLaughlin (1913-1983) American journalist and author
The Complete Neurotic’s Handbook (1981)
Added on 13-May-21 | Last updated 13-May-21
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There is always someone ready to be lured to ruin by hope of gain.

[ἀλλ᾽ ὑπ᾽ ἐλπίδων ἄνδρας τὸ κέρδος πολλάκις διώλεσεν.]

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Antigone, l. 221ff [Creon] (441 BC) [tr. Watling (1947)]
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Original Greek. Alternate translations:

  • "But backed by hope, lucre has ruined many." [tr. Donaldson (1848)]
  • "Yet hope of gain hath lured men to their ruin oftentimes." [tr. Storr (1859)]
  • "But hope of gain full oft ere now hath been the ruin of men." [tr. Campbell (1873)]
  • "Yet by just the hope of it, money has many times corrupted men." [tr. Jebb (1891)]
  • "Yet lucre hath oft ruined men through their hopes." [tr. Jebb (1917)]
  • "Yet money talks, and the wisest have sometimes been known to count a few coins too many." [tr. Fitts/Fitzgerald (1939)]
  • "But often we have known men to be ruined by the hope of profit." [tr. Wyckoff (1954)]
  • "But love of gain has often lured a man to his destruction." [tr. Kitto (1962)]
  • "But all too often the mere hope of money has ruined many men." [tr. Fagles (1982)]
  • "But hope -- and bribery -- often have led men to destruction." [tr. Woodruff (2001)]
  • "But profit with its hopes often destroys men." [tr. Tyrell/Bennett (2002)] https://diotima-doctafemina.org/translations/greek/sophocles-antigone/#post-1273:~:text=But%20profit,with%20its%20hopes%20often%20destroys%20men.
  • "Yet there are men who the mere hope of winning has killed them." [tr. Theodoridis (2004)]
  • "And yet men have often been destroyed because they hoped to profit in some way." [tr. Johnston (2005)]
  • "But often profit has destroyed men through their hopes." [tr. Thomas (2005)]
  • "But the profit-motive has destroyed many people in their hope for gain." [tr. @sentantiq (2018)]
Added on 1-Apr-21 | Last updated 9-May-21
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A society which reverences the attainment of riches as the supreme felicity will naturally be disposed to regard the poor as damned in the next world, if only to justify making their life a hell in this.

R. H. Tawney (1880-1962) English writer, economist, historian, social critic [Richard Henry Tawney]
Religion and the Rise of Capitalism, ch. 4: The Puritan Movement, sec. 4 “The New Medicine for Poverty” (1926)
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Originally delivered as Holland Lectures, Kings College (Feb-Mar 1922).
Added on 30-Mar-21 | Last updated 30-Mar-21
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If all men were rich, all men would be poor.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Mark Twain’s Noteook (1935 ed) [ed. Paine]
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Added on 9-Mar-21 | Last updated 9-Mar-21
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CREON: Prophecies? All your tribe wants is to make money.
TIRESIAS: And what about tyrants? Filthy lucre is all you want!

[Κρέων: τὸ μαντικὸν γὰρ πᾶν φιλάργυρον γένος.
Τειρεσίας: τὸ δ᾽ ἐκ τυράννων αἰσχροκέρδειαν φιλεῖ.]

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Antigone, l. 1055ff (441 BC) [tr. Woodruff (2001)]
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Argument between Creon, the king, and Teiresias, his seer. Original Greek. Alternate translations:

KREON: The race of seers is wholly given to pelf.
TEIRESIAS: The tyrant-race is given to filthy lucre.
[tr. Donaldson (1848)]

CREON: Prophets are all a money-getting tribe.
TEIRESIAS: And kings are all a lucre-loving race.
[tr. Campbell (1873)]

CREON: Desire of money is the prophet's plague.
TIRESIAS: And ill-sought lucre is the curse of kings.
[tr. Storr (1859)]

CREON: Yes, for the prophet-clan was ever fond of money.
TEIRESIAS: And the race sprung from tyrants loves shameful gain.
[tr. Jebb (1891)]

CREON: Your prophetic race are lovers all of gold.
TIRESIAS: Tyrants are so, howe'er illgotten.
[tr. Werner (1892)]

CREON: Well, the prophet-tribe was ever fond of money.
TEIRESIAS: And the race bred of tyrants loves base gain.
[tr. Jebb (1917)]

CREON: The generation of prophets has always loved gold.
TEIRESIAS: The generation of kings has always loved brass.
[tr. Fitts/Fitzgerald (1939)]

CREON: I say all prophets seek their own advantage.
TEIRESIAS: All kings, I say, seek gain unrighteously.
[tr. Watling (1947)]

CREON: Well, the whole crew of seers are money-mad.
TEIRESIAS: And the whole tribe of tyrants grab at gain.
[tr. Wyckoff (1954)]

CREON: Prophets have always been too fond of gold.
TEIRESIAS: And tyrants, of the shameful use of power.
[tr. Kitto (1962)]

CREON: You and the whole breed of seers are mad for money!
TIRESIAS: And the whole race of tyrants lusts for filthy gain.
[tr. Fagles (1982), l. 1171ff]

CREON: Yes, for the whole family of prophets is philos to silver.
TIRESIAS: And the family of absolute rulers holds disgraceful profits as philoi.
[tr. Tyrell/Bennett (2002)]

CREON: The whole race of prophets loves money.
TEIRESIAS: And the kings love their shameful profits.
[tr. Theodoridis (2004)]

CREON: The tribe of prophets --
all of them -- are fond of money.
TEIRESIAS: And kings?
Their tribe loves to benefit dishonestly.
[tr. Johnston (2005), l. 1180ff]

TEIRESIAS: The race of tyrants loves shameful profit.
[tr. @senstantiq (2018)]
Added on 4-Mar-21 | Last updated 11-Mar-21
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As soon as riches came to be held in honour, when glory, dominion, and power followed in their train, virtue began to lose its lustre, poverty to be considered a disgrace, blamelessness to be termed malevolence. Therefore as the result of riches, luxury and greed, united with insolence, took possession of our young manhood. They pillaged, squandered; set little value on their own, coveted the goods of others; they disregarded modesty, chastity, everything human and divine; in short, they were utterly thoughtless and reckless.

[Postquam divitiae honori esse coepere et eas gloria, imperium, potentia sequebatur, hebescere virtus, paupertas probro haberi, innocentia pro malivolentia duci coepit. Igitur ex divitiis iuventutem luxuria atque avaritia cum superbia invasere; rapere, consumere, sua parvi pendere, aliena cupere, pudorem, pudicitiam, divina atque humana promiscua, nihil pensi neque moderati habere.]

Sallust (c. 86-35 BC) Roman historian and politician [Gaius Sallustius Crispus]
Bellum Catilinae [The War of Cateline; The Conspiracy of Catiline], ch. 12, sent. 1-2 [tr. Rolfe (1931)]
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Original Latin. Alt. trans.:
  • "Riches became the epidemic passion; and where honours, imperial sway, and power, followed in their train, virtue lost her influence, poverty was deemed the meanest disgrace, and innocence was thought to be no better than a mark for malignity of heart. In this manner riches engendered luxury, avarice, and pride; and by those vices the Roman youth were enslaved. Rapacity and profusion went on increasing; regardless of their own property, and eager to seize that of their neighbours, all rushed forward without shame or remorse, confounding every thing sacred and profane, and scorning the restraint of moderation and justice." [tr. Murphy (1807)]

  • "When riches began to be held in high esteem, and attended with glory, honour, and power, virtue languished, poverty was deemed a reproach, and innocence passed for ill-nature. And thus luxury, avarice, and pride, all springing from riches, enslaved the Roman youth; they wantoned in rapine and prodigality; undervalued their own, and coveted what belonged to others; trampled on modesty, friendship, and continence; confounded things divine and human; and threw off all manner of consideration and restraint." [tr. Rose (1831)]

  • "After that riches began to be an honour and glory, and command and power followed them, virtue began to languish, poverty to be accounted matter of reproach, and innocence to be considered as malignity. Therefore from riches, luxury and avarice with pride came in upon our youth. They ravaged and wasted every thing, their own property they valued at a trifle, that of other persons they coveted, and had not the least care for, or moderation in, shame, modesty, sacred or profane things, which were all the same to them." [Source (1841)]

  • "When wealth was once considered an honor, and glory, authority, and power attended on it, virtue lost her influence, poverty was thought a disgrace, and a life of innocence was regarded as a life of ill-nature. From the influence of riches, accordingly, luxury, avarice, and pride prevailed among the youth; they grew at once rapacious and prodigal; they undervalued what was their own, and coveted what was another’s; they set at naught modesty and continence; they lost all distinction between sacred and profane, and threw off all consideration and self-restraint." [tr. Watson (1867)]

  • "Riches became a means of distinction and glory, power and influence followed their possession. As a result the edge of virtue was dulled, poverty was accounted a disgrace, and uprightness a kind of ill-nature. Riches made the youth prey to luxury, avarice, and pride: at once grasping and prodigal, they valued lightly their own property, while the coveted that of others; all modesty and purity, alike things human and things divine, everything, in short, was despised and disregarded." [tr. Pollard (1882)]

  • "After riches began to be a source of honour and to be attended by glory, command and power, prowess began to dull, poverty to be considered a disgrace and blamelessness to be regarded as malice. In the wake of riches, therefore, young men were attacked by luxury and avarice along with haughtiness; they seized, they squandered; they placed little weight on their own property and desired that of others; they considered propriety and unchastity, divine and human matters, as indistinguishable, and nothing as worth weight or restraint." [tr. Woodman (2007)]
Added on 1-Dec-20 | Last updated 1-Dec-20
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Avarice, on the other hand, implies a zeal for money, an object for which no philosopher ever yearned. Tainting the body and mind of the strong, it weakens them as by some deadly poison; it is always boundless, always insatiable; plenty and want alike fail to lessen it.

[Avaritia pecuniae studium habet, quam nemo sapiens concupivit; ea quasi venenis malis imbuta corpus animumque virilem effeminat, semper infinita, insatiabilis est, neque copia neque inopia minuitur.]

Sallust (c. 86-35 BC) Roman historian and politician [Gaius Sallustius Crispus]
Bellum Catilinae [The War of Cateline; The Conspiracy of Catiline], ch. 11, sent. 3 [tr. Pollard (1882)]
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Alt. trans.:
  • "Avarice, on the other hand, aims at an accumulation of riches; a passion unknown in liberal minds. It may be called a compound of poisonous ingredeients; it has power to enervate the body, and debauch the best understanding; always unbounded; never satisfied; in plenty and in want equally craving and rapacious." [tr. Murphy (1807)]
  • "Avarice has money for its object, which no wise man ever coveted. This vice, as if impregnated with deadly poison, enervated both soul and body; is always boundless and insatiable; nor are its cravings lessened by plenty or want." [tr. Rose (1831)]
  • "Avarice has a longing for money, which no wise man ever desired. This passion, as if it were imbued with deadly poisons, enervates the body and mind of man. It is always boundless, insatiable, is neither diminished by plenty nor want." [Source (1841)]
  • "But avarice has merely money for its object, which no wise man has ever immoderately desired. It is a vice which, as if imbued with deadly poison, enervates whatever is manly in body or mind. It is always unbounded and insatiable, and is abated neither by abundance nor by want." [tr. Watson (1867)]
  • "Avarice implies a desire for money, which no wise man covets; steeped as it were with noxious poisons, it renders the most manly body and soul effeminate; it is ever unbounded and insatiable, nor can either plenty or want make it less." [tr. Rolfe (1931)]
  • "Avarice involves an enthusiasm for money (which no wise man has ever desired): as if saturated with a harmful poison, it feminizes the manly body and mind, knows neither limit nor surfeit, and lessened by neither sufficiency nor insufficiency." [tr. Woodman (2007)]
Added on 10-Nov-20 | Last updated 10-Nov-20
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Their frail human nature was subjected to a strain greater than it was made for; the fires of greed had been lighted in their hearts, and fanned to a white heat that melted every principle and every law.

Upton Sinclair (1878-1968) American writer, journalist, activist, politician
Oil!, ch. 2 (1927)
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Added on 29-Oct-20 | Last updated 29-Oct-20
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In this decline of all public virtue, ambition, and not avarice, was the passion that first possessed the minds of men; and this was natural. Ambition is a vice that borders on the confines of virtue; it implies a love of glory, of power, and pre-eminence; and these are objects that glitter alike in the eyes of the man of honour, and the most unprincipled: but the former pursues them by fair and honourable means, while the latter, who finds within himself no resources of talent, depends altogether upon intrigue and fallacy for his success.

[Sed primo magis ambitio quam avaritia animos hominum exercebat, quod tamen vitium propius virtutem erat. Nam gloriam, honorem, imperium bonus et ignavus aeque sibi exoptant; sed ille vera via nititur, huic quia bonae artes desunt, dolis atque fallaciis contendit.]

Sallust (c. 86-35 BC) Roman historian and politician [Gaius Sallustius Crispus]
Bellum Catilinae [The War of Cateline; The Conspiracy of Catiline], ch. 11, sent. 1-2 [tr. Murphy (1807)]
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Alt. trans.:

At first, indeed, the minds of men were less influenced by avarice than ambition, a vice which has some affinity to virtue; for the desire of glory, power, and preferment is common to the worthy and the worthless; with this difference, that the one pursues them by direct means; the other, being void of merit, has recourse to fraud and subtlety. [tr. Rose (1831)]

But at first ambition more than avarice influenced the minds of the Romans. Which vice however was the nearer to virtue. For glory, honour, command, the good and slothful equally wish for themselves. But the former strives by the right course; to the latter because good qualities are wanting, he works by tricks and deceits. [Source (1841)]

At first, however, it was ambition, rather than avarice, that influenced the minds of men; a vice which approaches nearer to virtue than the other. For of glory, honor, and power, the worthy is as desirous as the worthless; but the one pursues them by just methods; the other, being destitute of honorable qualities, works with fraud and deceit. [tr. Watson (1867)]

At first it was not so much avarice as ambition which spurred men's minds, a vice, indeed, but one akin to virtue. Glory, distinction, and power in the state are equally desired by good and bad, though the first strives to reach his goal by the path of honor, the second, in the lack of honest arts, uses the weapons of falsehood and deceit. [tr. Pollard (1882)]

But at first men’s souls were actuated less by avarice than by ambitions -- a fault, it is true, but not so far removed from virtue; for the noble and the base alike long for glory, honour, and power, but the former mount by the true path, whereas the latter, being destitute of noble qualities, rely upon craft and deception. [tr. Rolfe (1931)]

At first people's minds were taxed less by avarice than by ambition, which, though a fault, was nevertheless closer to prowess: for the good man and the base man have a similar personal craving for glory, honour, and command, but the former strives along the truth path, whereas the latter, because he lacks good qualities, presses forward by cunning and falsity. [tr. Woodman (2007)]
Added on 27-Oct-20 | Last updated 27-Oct-20
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One thing more dangerous than getting between a grizzly sow and her cub is getting between a businessman and a dollar bill.

Edward Abbey (1927-1989) American anarchist, writer, environmentalist
A Voice Crying in the Wilderness (1989)
Added on 23-Oct-20 | Last updated 23-Oct-20
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Hence the lust for money first, then for power, grew upon them; these were, I may say, the root of all evils. For avarice destroyed honour, integrity, and all the other noble qualities; taught in their place insolence, cruelty, to neglect the gods, to set a price on everything. Ambition drove many men to become false; to have one thought locked in the breast, another ready on the tongue; to value friendships and enmities not on their merits but by the standard of self-interest, and to show a good front rather than a good heart. At first these vices grew slowly, from time to time they were punished; finally, when the disease had spread like a deadly plague, the state was changed and a government second to none in equity and excellence became cruel and intolerable.

[Igitur primo imperi, deinde pecuniae cupido crevit: ea quasi materies omnium malorum fuere. Namque avaritia fidem, probitatem ceterasque artis bonas subvortit; pro his superbiam, crudelitatem, deos neglegere, omnia venalia habere edocuit. Ambitio multos mortalis falsos fieri subegit, aliud clausum in pectore, aliud in lingua promptum habere, amicitias inimicitiasque non ex re, sed ex commodo aestumare magisque voltum quam ingenium bonum habere. Haec primo paulatim crescere, interdum vindicari; post, ubi contagio quasi pestilentia invasit, civitas inmutata, imperium ex iustissumo atque optumo crudele intolerandumque factum.]

Sallust (c. 86-35 BC) Roman historian and politician [Gaius Sallustius Crispus]
Bellum Catilinae [The War of Catiline; The Conspiracy of Catiline], ch. 10, sent. 3-6 [tr. Rolfe (1931)]
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Discussing the corruption of Rome in the years after the final defeat of Carthage.

Alt. trans.:
"A love of money, and a lust for power, took possession of every mind. These hateful passions were the source of innumerable evils. Good faith, integrity, and every virtuous principle, gave way to avarice; and in the room of moral honesty, pride, cruelty, and contempt of the gods succeeded. Corruption and venality were introduced; and everything had its price. Such were the effects of avarice. Ambition was followed by an equal train of evils; it taught men to be false and deceitful; to think one thing, and to say another; to make friendship or enmity a mere traffic for private advantage, and to set the features to a semblance of virtue, while malignity lay lurking in the heart. But at first these vices sapped their way by slow degrees, and were often checked in their progress; but spreading at length like an epidemic contagious, morals and the liberal arts went to ruin; and the government, which was before a model of justice, became the most profligate and oppressive." [tr. Murphy (1807)]

"First a love of money possessed their minds; then a passion for power; and these were the seeds of all the evils that followed. For avarice rooted out faith, probity, and every worthy principle; and, in their stead, substituted insolence, inhumanity, contempt of the gods, and a mercenary spirit. Ambition obliged many to be deceitful; to belie with their tongues the sentiments of their hearts; to value friendship and enmity, not according to their real worth, but as they conduced to interest; and to have a specious countenance, rather than an honest heart. These corruptions at first grew by degrees, and were sometimes checked by correction. At last, the infection spreading like a plague, the state was entirely changed, and the government, from being the most righteous and equitable, became cruel and insupportable." [tr. Rose (1831)]

"Therefore at first the love of money, then that of power increased. These things became as it were the foundation of all evils. For avarice overthrew faith, honesty, and all the other good acts; and instead of them it taught men pride, cruelty, to neglect the gods, and to consider everything venal. Ambition forced many men to become false, to have one thing hidden in their hearts, another ready on their tongue, to value friendships and enmities, not accordingly to reality, but interest, and rather to have a good appearance than a good disposition. These things at first began to increase by degrees, sometimes to be punished. Afterwards when the infection swept on like a pestilence, the state was changed, the government from the most just and best, became cruel and intolerable." [Source (1841)]

"At first the love of money, and then that of power, began to prevail, and these became, as it were, the sources of every evil. For avarice subverted honesty, integrity, and other honorable principles, and, in their stead, inculcated pride, inhumanity, contempt of religion, and general venality. Ambition prompted many to become deceitful; to keep one thing concealed in the breast, and another ready on the tongue; to estimate friendships and enmities, not by their worth, but according to interest; and to carry rather a specious countenance than an honest heart. These vices at first advanced but slowly, and were sometimes restrained by correction; but afterwards, when their infection had spread like a pestilence, the state was entirely changed, and the government, from being the most equitable and praiseworthy, became rapacious and insupportable." [tr. Watson (1867)]

"At first the lust of money increased, then that of power, and these, it may be said, were the sources of every evil. Avarice subverted loyalty, uprightness, and every other good quality, and in their stead taught men to be proud and cruel, to neglect the gods, and to hold all things venal. Ambition compelled many to become deceitful; they had one thought buried in their breast, another ready on their tongue; their friendships and enmities they valued not at their real worth, but at the advantage they could bring, and they maintained the look rather than the nature of honest men. These evils at first grew gradually, and were occasionally punished; later, when the contagion advanced like some plague, the state was revolutionized, and the government, from being one of the justest and best, became cruel and unbearable." [tr. Pollard (1882)]

"Hence it was the desire for money first of all, and then for empire, which grew; and these factors were the kindling (so to speak) of every wickedness. For avarice undermined trust, probity, and all other good qualities; instead it taught men haughtiness, cruelty, to neglect the gods, to regard everything as for sale. Ambition reduced many mortals to becoming false, having one sentiment shut away in the heart and another ready on the tongue, assessing friendships and antagonisms in terms not of reality but of advantage, and having a good demeanour rather than a good disposition. At first these things grew gradually; sometimes they were punished; but after, when the contamination had attacked like a plague, the community changed and the exercise of command, from being the best and most just, became cruel and intolerable." [tr. Woodman (2007)]

"At first the desire of power, then the desire of money increased; these were effectively the material of all evils, because avarice overturned faith, probity, and all other noble arts; in their place, it taught men to be arrogant and cruel, to neglect the gods, and to consider all things for sale. Ambition compelled many men to become liars; to hold one thing hidden in the heart, and the opposite thing at the tip of one’s tongue; to judge friends and enemies not in objective terms, but by reference to personal gain; and finally, to make a good appearance rather than to have a good mind. As these vices first began to increase, they were occasionally punished; but afterward, once the contagion had spread like a plague, the state as a whole was altered, and the government, once the noblest and most just, was made cruel and intolerable." [tr. @sententiq (2017)]

That it is the nature of ambition, to make men liars and cheaters; to hide the truth in their breasts, and show, like jugglers, another thing in their mouths; to cut all friendships and enmities to the measure of their own interest, and to make a good countenance without the help of good will. [tr. Cowley? (17th C)]
Added on 23-Oct-20 | Last updated 23-Oct-20
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There is no wilderness where I can hide from these things, there is no haven where I can escape them; though I travel to the ends of the earth, I find the same accursed system — I find that all the fair and noble impulses of humanity, the dreams of poets and the agonies of martyrs, are shackled and bound in the service of organized and predatory Greed! And therefore I cannot rest, I cannot be silent; therefore I cast aside comfort and happiness, health and good repute — and go out into the world and cry out the pain of my spirit!

Upton Sinclair (1878-1968) American writer, journalist, activist, politician
The Jungle, ch. 28 (1906)
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Added on 22-Oct-20 | Last updated 22-Oct-20
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Men may be divided almost any way we please, but I have found the most useful distinction to be made between those who devote their lives to conjugating the verb “to be” and those who spend their lives conjugating the verb “to have.”

Sydney J. Harris (1917-1986) Anglo-American columnist, journalist, author
For the Time Being (1972)
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Objects close to the eye shut out much larger objects on the horizon; and splendors born only of the earth eclipse the stars. So a man sometimes covers up the entire disk of eternity with a dollar, and quenches transcendent glories with a little shining dust.

Edwin Hubbell Chapin (1814-1880) American clergyman
Living Words (1860)
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Added on 11-Sep-20 | Last updated 11-Sep-20
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Marrying for money iz a meaner way tew git it than counterfiting.

[Marrying for money is a meaner way to get it than counterfeiting.]

Josh Billings (1818-1885) American humorist [pseud. of Henry Wheeler Shaw]
Everybody’s Friend, Or; Josh Billing’s Encyclopedia and Proverbial Philosophy of Wit and Humor, “Puddin and Milk” (1874)
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Added on 23-Jul-20 | Last updated 23-Jul-20
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The love of money as a possession — as distinguished from the love of money as a means to the enjoyment and realities of life — will be recognized for what it is, a somewhat disgusting morbidity, one of those semi-criminal, semi-pathological propensities which one hands over with a shudder to the specialists in mental disease.

John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946) English economist
“Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren,” Nation and Athenaeum (11 and 18 Oct 1930)
    (Source)

Originally a society talk in 1920, expanded to a lecture given in Madrid (Jun 1930). Reprinted in Essays in Persuasion, Part 5, ch. 2 (1931).
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The miser iz a riddle. What he possesses he haint got, and what he leaves behind him he never had.

[The miser is a riddle. What he possesses he hasn’t got, and what he leaves behind him he never had.]

Josh Billings (1818-1885) American humorist [pseud. of Henry Wheeler Shaw]
Everybody’s Friend, Or; Josh Billing’s Encyclopedia and Proverbial Philosophy of Wit and Humor, “Puddin and Milk” (1874)
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Added on 11-Jun-20 | Last updated 11-Jun-20
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We need leaders not in love with money but in love with justice. Not in love with publicity but in love with humanity.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
“The Birth of a New Age,” speech, Alpha Phi Alpha banquet, Buffalo (11 Aug 1956)
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King used the same phrases, or variations of them, for different speeches and sermons, e.g., in "Desegregation and the Future" (15 Dec 1956), he used "Leaders not in love with publicity, but in love with justice. Leaders not in love with money, but in love with humanity."
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After all, to the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure. You know, the Stone was really not such a wonderful thing. As much money and life as you could want! The two things most human beings would choose above all — the trouble is, humans do have a knack for choosing precisely those things that are worst for them.

Joanne "Jo" Rowling (b. 1965) British novelist [writes as J. K. Rowling and Robert Galbraith]
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, ch. 17 [Dumbledore] (1997)
Added on 20-Feb-20 | Last updated 20-Feb-20
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Fortune to many gives too much, enough to none.

[Fortuna multis dat nimis, satis nulli.]  

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 12, epigram 10

Alt. trans.:
  • "Fortune gives too much to many, enough to none." [tr. Bohn (1871)]
  • "Fortune hath overmuch bestow'd on some; / But plenary content doth give to none." [tr. Fletcher]
  • "Fortune, some say, doth give too much to many; / And yet she never gave enough to any." [tr. Harrington]
  • "Fortune gives one enough, but some too much." [tr. Hay]
  • "Fortune to many gives too much, enough to none." [tr. Ker (1919)]
Added on 21-Nov-18 | Last updated 21-Nov-18
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‘Tis a hard task not to surrender morality for riches.

[Ardua res haec est opibus non tradere mores.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 11, epigram 5 [tr. in Harbottle (1897)]
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Alt. trans.:
  • It is an arduous task to preserve morality from the corruption of riches. [tr. Bohn (1871)]
  • 'Tis rare, when riches cannot taint the mind. [tr. Anon. (1695)]
  • 'Tis a hard task this, not to sacrifice manners to wealth. [tr. Ker (1919)]
  • It is a hard business, not to compromise morals for riches. [tr. Nisbet (2015)]
Added on 14-Nov-18 | Last updated 14-Nov-18
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If poor you are, poor you will always be,
For wealth’s now given to none but to the rich.

[Semper eris pauper, si pauper es, Aemiliane;
Dantur opes nulli nunc, nisi divitibus.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 5, #81
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In Thomas Harbottle, ed., The Dictionary of Quotations (Classical) (1897). Alt. trans.:
  • If you are poor now, Æmilianus, you will always be poor. / Riches are now given to none but the rich. [tr. Bohn (1871)]
  • If thou are poor, Æmilian, / Thou shalt be ever so, / For no man now his presents can / But on the rich bestow. [tr. Fletcher]
  • You want, Æmilianus, so you may; / Riches are given rich men, and none but they. [tr. Wright]
  • Poor once and poor for ever, Nat, I fear; / None but the rich get place and pension here. [tr. N. B. Halhed]
  • You will always be poor, if you are poor, Aemilianus. Wealth is given today t none savethe rich. [tr. Ker (1919)]
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Focusing your life solely on making a buck shows a certain poverty of ambition.

Barack Obama (b. 1961) American politician, US President (2009-2017)
Commencement Address, Knox College, Galesburg, IL (4 Jun 2005)
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Added on 6-Sep-17 | Last updated 6-Sep-17
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Ambition is but Avarice on stilts and masked.

Walter Savage Landor (1775–1864) English writer and poet
Imaginary Conversations, Third Series, “Lord Brooke and Sir Philip Sidney” (1828)
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[Capitalism is] the astonishing belief that the nastiest motives of the nastiest men somehow or other work for the best results in the best of all possible worlds.

John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946) English economist
(Attributed)

Attributed by Sir George Schuster, Christianity and Human Relations in Industry (1951). Frequently quoted, but no direct citation found. More information here.

Variations:
  • "... the extraordinary belief that the nastiest of men for the nastiest of motives will somehow work for the benefit of all."
  • "... the astounding belief that the most wickedest of men will do the most wickedest of things for the greatest good of everyone."
  • "The great merit of the capitalist system, it has been said, is that it succeeds in using the nastiest motives of nasty people for the ultimate benefit of society." (written by E. A. G. Robinson, Monopoly (1941). (Robinson was a colleague of Keynes.)
Added on 28-Mar-17 | Last updated 28-Mar-17
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In the Feejee islands, it appears, cannibalism is now familiar. They eat their own wives and children. We only devour widows’ houses, & great merchants outwit & absorb the substance of small ones and every man feeds on his neighbor’s labor if he can. It is a milder form of cannibalism.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
Journal (12 Feb 1841)
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Added on 27-Feb-17 | Last updated 27-Feb-17
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It is not merely that the ownership of any substantial share in the national wealth is concentrated to-day in the hands of a few hundred thousand families, and that at the end of an age which began with an affirmation of the rights of property, proprietary rights are, in fact, far from being widely distributed. Nor is it merely that what makes property insecure to-day is not the arbitrary taxation of unconstitutional monarchies or the privileges of an idle noblesse, but the insatiable expansion and aggregation of property itself, which menaces with absorption all property less than the greatest, the small master, the little shopkeeper, the country bank, and has turned the mass of mankind into a proletariat working under the agents and for the profit of those who own.

R. H. Tawney (1880-1962) English writer, economist, historian, social critic [Richard Henry Tawney]
The Acquisitive Century, ch. 5 “Property and Creative Work” (1920)
Added on 23-Feb-17 | Last updated 23-Feb-17
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When the accumulation of wealth is no longer of high social importance, there will be great changes in the code of morals. We shall be able to rid ourselves of many of the pseudo-moral principles which have hag-ridden us for two hundred years, by which we have exalted some of the most distasteful of human qualities into the position of the highest virtues. We shall be able to afford to dare to assess the money-motive at its true value. The love of money as a possession — as distinguished from the love of money as a means to the enjoyments and realities of life — will be recognised for what it is, a somewhat disgusting morbidity, one of those semi-criminal, semi-pathological propensities which one hands over with a shudder to the specialists in mental disease.

But beware! The time for all this is not yet. For at least another hundred years we must pretend to ourselves and to everyone that fair is foul and foul is fair; for foul is useful and fair is not. Avarice and usury and precaution must be our gods for a little longer still. For only they can lead us out of the tunnel of economic necessity into daylight.

John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946) English economist
“Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren” (1930)
Added on 14-Feb-17 | Last updated 14-Feb-17
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Be civil, then, to young and old,
Especially to persons who
Possess a quantity of gold
Which they might leave to you.
The more they have, it seems to me,
The more polite you ought to be.

Harry Graham (1874-1936) English journalist, poet, stage lyricist
“Politeness”
Added on 30-Jan-17 | Last updated 30-Jan-17
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By fixing men’s minds, not upon the discharge of social obligations, which restricts their energy, because it defines the goal to which it should be directed, but upon the exercise of the right to pursue their own self-interest, it offers unlimited scope for the acquisition of riches, and therefore gives free play to one of the most powerful of human instincts. To the strong it promises unfettered freedom for the exercise of their strength; to the weak the hope that they too one day may be strong. Before the eyes of both it suspends a golden prize, which not all can attain, but for which each may strive, the enchanting vision of infinite expansion. It assures men that there are no ends other than their ends, no law other than their desires, no limit other than that which they think advisable. Thus it makes the individual the center of his own universe, and dissolves moral principles into a choice of expediences.

R. H. Tawney (1880-1962) English writer, economist, historian, social critic [Richard Henry Tawney]
The Acquisitive Century, ch. 3 “The Acquisitive Society” (1920)
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Added on 26-Jan-17 | Last updated 26-Jan-17
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During the greater part of the nineteenth century the significance of the opposition between the two principles of individual rights and social functions was masked by the doctrine of the inevitable harmony between private interests and public good. Competition, it was argued, was an effective substitute for honesty. Today … few now would profess adherence to the compound of economic optimism and moral bankruptcy which led a nineteenth century economist to say: “Greed is held in check by greed, and the desire for gain sets limits to itself.”

R. H. Tawney (1880-1962) English writer, economist, historian, social critic [Richard Henry Tawney]
The Acquisitive Century, ch. 3 “The Acquisitive Society” (1920)
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Added on 5-Jan-17 | Last updated 5-Jan-17
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“Which of them shall be accounted greatest?” Let the churches stop trying to outstrip each other in the number of their adherents, the size of its sanctuary, the abundance of wealth. If we must compete let us compete to see which can move toward the greatest attainment of truth, the greatest service of the poor, and the greatest salvation of the soul and bodies of men. If the Church entered this kind of competition we can imagine what a better world this would be.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
“Cooperative Competition / Noble Competition,” sermon outline
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Added on 30-Dec-16 | Last updated 30-Dec-16
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Money is that dear thing which
if you’re not careful, you can squander
your whole life thinking of …

salter-money-is-that-dear-thing-wist_info-quote

Mary Jo Salter (b. 1954) American poet, editor, academic
“A Benediction,” part 6, ll. 1-3 (1994)
Added on 26-Dec-16 | Last updated 26-Dec-16
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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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When a nation forgets her skill in war, when her religion becomes a mockery, when the whole nation becomes a nation of money-grabbers, then the wild tribes, the barbarians drive in. … Who will our invaders be? From whence will they come?

Robert E. Howard (1906-1936) American author
Letter to Tevis Clyde Smith (Jul 1923)
Added on 24-May-16 | Last updated 24-May-16
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Kull was still mazed. “But being a wizard, having knowledge of all the ages and despising gold, glory, and position, what could Kaanuub offer Tuzun Thune that would make of him a foul traitor?”

“Gold, power, and position,” grunted Brule. “The sooner you learn that men are men whether wizard, king, or thrall, the better you will rule, Kull.”

Robert E. Howard (1906-1936) American author
“The Mirrors of Tuzun Thune” (1929)
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Capital is reckless of the health or length of life of the laborer, unless under compulsion from society.

Karl Marx (1818-1883) German philosopher, economist, sociologist, historian, journalist
Capital: A Critical Analysis of Capitalist Production (1873)
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To have money is a feare, not to have it a griefe.

George Herbert (1593-1633) Welsh priest, orator, poet.
Jacula Prudentum (1640)
Added on 24-Mar-16 | Last updated 18-Mar-16
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The desire of knowledge, like the thirst of riches, increases ever with the acquisition of it.

Sterne - desire of knowledge - wist_info quote

Laurence Sterne (1713-1786) Anglo-Irish novelist, Anglican clergyman
Tristam Shandy, Book 1, ch. 3 (1760-1767)
Added on 3-Mar-16 | Last updated 3-Mar-16
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The good person loves people and uses things, while the bad person loves things and uses people.

Sydney J. Harris (1917-1986) Anglo-American columnist, journalist, author
Pieces of Eight, ch. 4 (1982)
Added on 5-Jan-16 | Last updated 5-Jan-16
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In private life, no motive of action is at present so powerful and so persistent as acquisitiveness, which, unlike most other desires, knows no satiety.

Inge - acquisitiveness - wist_info quote

William Ralph Inge (1860-1954) English prelate [Dean Inge]
“Patriotism,” Outspoken Essays: First Series (1915)
Added on 21-Dec-15 | Last updated 4-Jan-16
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Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.

Oprah Winfrey (b. 1954) American TV personality, actress
(Attributed)
Added on 19-Nov-15 | Last updated 19-Nov-15
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The more lies are told, the more important it becomes for the liars to justify themselves by deep moral commitments to high-sounding objectives that mask the pursuit of money and power.

Bertram M. Gross (1912-1997) American social scientist, academic, bureaucrat
Friendly Fascism: The New Face of Power in America, ch. 9 (1980)
Added on 30-Sep-15 | Last updated 30-Sep-15
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Lust of absolute power is more burning than all the passions.

[Cupido dominandi cunctis affectibus flagrante est.]

Tacitus (c.56-c.120) Roman historian, orator, politician [Publius or Gaius Cornelius Tacitus]
Annals, 15.53 (AD 117)
Added on 28-Jul-15 | Last updated 28-Jul-15
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Would you persuade, speak of Interest, not of Reason.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher
Poor Richard’s Almanack (Jun 1734)
Added on 9-Jul-15 | Last updated 9-Jul-15
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Wall Street, where enough is never enough.

Alison Leigh Cowan (contemp.) American journalist
“Divorce, Wall Street Style,” New York Times (22 Jan 1989)
Added on 7-Jul-15 | Last updated 7-Jul-15
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Even in a time of elephantine vanity and greed, one never has to look far to see the campfires of gentle people.

Garrison Keillor (b. 1942) American entertainer, author
“The Meaning of Life,” We Are Still Married (1989)
Added on 20-Nov-14 | Last updated 20-Nov-14
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I think if the church put in half the time on covetousness that it does on lust, this would be a better world for all of us.

Garrison Keillor (b. 1942) American entertainer, author
Lake Wobegon Days (1985)
Added on 2-Oct-14 | Last updated 2-Oct-14
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The thirst for power and possessions knows no limits. In this system, which tends to devour everything which stands in the way of increased profits, whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenseless before the interests of a deified market, which become the only rule.

Francis I (b. 1936) Argentinian Catholic Pope (2013- ) [b. Jorge Mario Bergoglio]
Evangelii Gaudium, sec. 56 (24 Nov 2013)
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Added on 13-Aug-14 | Last updated 13-Aug-14
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Just as the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say “thou shalt not” to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills. How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points? This is a case of exclusion. Can we continue to stand by when food is thrown away while people are starving? This is a case of inequality. Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape.

Francis I (b. 1936) Argentinian Catholic Pope (2013- ) [b. Jorge Mario Bergoglio]
Evangelii Gaudium, sec. 53 (24 Nov 2013)
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Added on 6-Aug-14 | Last updated 6-Aug-14
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While the earnings of a minority are growing exponentially, so too is the gap separating the majority from the prosperity enjoyed by those happy few. This imbalance is the result of ideologies which defend the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation. Consequently, they reject the right of states, charged with vigilance for the common good, to exercise any form of control. A new tyranny is thus born, invisible and often virtual, which unilaterally and relentlessly imposes its own laws and rules.

Francis I (b. 1936) Argentinian Catholic Pope (2013- ) [b. Jorge Mario Bergoglio]
Evangelii Gaudium, sec. 56 (24 Nov 2013)
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Added on 30-Jul-14 | Last updated 30-Jul-14
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One cause of this situation is found in our relationship with money, since we calmly accept its dominion over ourselves and our societies. The current financial crisis can make us overlook the fact that it originated in a profound human crisis: the denial of the primacy of the human person! We have created new idols. The worship of the ancient golden calf has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose. The worldwide crisis affecting finance and the economy lays bare their imbalances and, above all, their lack of real concern for human beings; man is reduced to one of his needs alone: consumption.

Francis I (b. 1936) Argentinian Catholic Pope (2013- ) [b. Jorge Mario Bergoglio]
Evangelii Gaudium, sec. 55 (24 Nov 2013)
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Added on 23-Jul-14 | Last updated 23-Jul-14
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