Quotations about   awareness

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Those fools
were not aware that now they all were snared,
that death cords lashed them fast.

[τὸ δὲ νήπιοι οὐκ ἐνόησαν,
ὡς δή σφιν καὶ πᾶσιν ὀλέθρου πείρατ᾽ ἐφῆπτο.]

Homer (fl. 7th-8th C. BC) Greek author
The Odyssey [Ὀδύσσεια], Book 22, l. 32ff (22.32) (c. 700 BC) [tr. Mandelbaum (1990)]
    (Source)

(Source (Greek)). Alternate translations:

O fools, to think
That all their rest had any cup to drink
But what their great Antinous began!
[tr. Chapman (1616)]

For, proud and foolish, they perceived not
The fatal hour was to them all arriv’d.
[tr. Hobbes (1675), l. 27ff]

Blind as they were: for death e'en now invades
His destined prey, and wraps them all in shades.
[tr. Pope (1725)]

Nor saw
Th’ infatuate men fate hov’ring o’er them all.
[tr. Cowper (1792), ll. 34-35]

How fatal and how nigh
Death's snares were set, they foolish never knew!
[tr. Worsley (1861), st. 5]

Yet this the fools knew not
That now them all the goal of death was touching!
[tr. Bigge-Wither (1869)]

Insensate they!
Who felt not in that hour that one and all
Upon the verge of their own ruin stood!
[tr. Musgrave (1869), l. 54ff]

But they knew not in their folly that on their own heads, each and all of them, the bands of death had been made fast.
[tr. Butcher/Lang (1879)]

And they had no understanding, fools as they were, and vain,
That to all the end of the Death-doom was hard upon them now.
[tr. Morris (1887), ll. 32-33]

They foolishly did not see that for them one and all destruction's cords were knotted.
[tr. Palmer (1891)]

And did not perceive that death was hanging over the head of every one of them.
[tr. Butler (1898)]

In their folly they knew not this, that over themselves one and all the cords of destruction had been made fast.
[tr. Murray (1919)]

... their infatuation hiding from them the toils of death that enlaced each and every one.
[tr. Lawrence (1932)]

It had not dawned upon the fools that every one of them was marked for slaughter too.
[tr. Rieu (1946)]

Fools, not to comprehend
they were already in the grip of death.
[tr. Fitzgerald (1961)]

They had not yet realized
how over all of them the terms of death were now hanging.
[tr. Lattimore (1965)]

The fools did not perceive
That already the bond of destruction were fastened on them all.
[tr. Cook (1967)]

Poor fools, blind to the fact
that all their necks were in the noose, their doom sealed.
[tr. Fagles (1996)]

And had no idea of how tightly the net
Had been drawn around them.
[tr. Lombardo (2000)]

And the poor fools never suspected how on all of the suitors the grim death bindings were fastened.
[tr. Merrill (2002)]

It had not dawned upon the fools that the fate of all of them was sealed.
[tr. DCH Rieu (2002)]

Fools, who did not understand that on every one of them death's ropes were now fastened tight.
[tr. Verity (2016)]

Those poor fools did not know [...] that the snares of death were round them all.
[tr. Wilson (2017)]

Poor fools, they had no notion that over them all the bonds of destruction were set.
[tr. Green (2018)]

In their folly,
they did not understand that they were now enmeshed
in destruction’s net.
[tr. Johnston (2019), ll. 39-41]

Added on 29-Sep-21 | Last updated 1-Dec-21
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More quotes by Homer

If we could learn to look, instead of gawking,
We’d see the horror in the heart of farce.
If only we could act, instead of talking,
We wouldn’t always end up on our arse.
This is the thing that nearly had us mastered;
Don’t yet rejoice in his defeat, you men!
Although the world has stood up and stopped the bastard,
The bitch that bore him is in heat again.

[Ihr aber lernet, wie man sieht statt stiert
Und handelt, statt zu reden noch und noch.
So was hätt einmal fast die Welt regiert!
Die Völker wurden seiner Herr, jedoch
Dass keiner uns zu früh da triumphiert —
Der Schoß ist fruchtbar noch, aus dem das kroch.]

Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956) German poet, playwright, director, dramaturgist
The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui [Der Aufhaltsame Aufstieg des Arturo Ui], Epilogue (1941) [tr. Tabori (1963)]
    (Source)

Original German. The end of the play, after the violent death of the gangster Ui, modeled after the rise of Hitler. It was not performed until 1958 (German), 1960 (English). The above is the translation first used on Broadway (1963).

The last three lines are in the credits of the Sam Peckinpah (dir.) film Cross of Iron (1977).

Alternate translations:

Therefore we learn how to see and not to gape.
To act instead of talking all day long.
The world was almost won by such an ape!
The nations put him where his kind belong.
But don't rejoice too soon at your escape --
The womb he crawled from is still going strong.
[tr. Manheim (1981)]

The last four lines of Manheim's version were quoted by a vampire in the final episode of the first series (UK) of Being Human (2008).

Learn how to face the facts you tried to shun.
And how to act, where once you idly slept.
That's how the world was going to be run!
The nations duly mastered it, except
(In case you think the battle has been won) --
The womb is fertile still from which that crept.
[tr. Willett]

That was similar to the quatrain Willett translated (1998) from the portion of that that Brecht used in his War Primer [Kriegsfibel] (1947):

That’s how the world was going to be run!
The other nations mastered him, except
(In case you think the battle has been won) --
The womb is fertile still from which that crept.

Something like that almost governed the world.
Yet the people mastered him. But
I wish you'd hold your triumph:
The womb is fertile still from which that crawled.
[Another Kriegsfibel trans.]

Let none of us exult too soon: the womb is fertile still from which this monster crawled.
[Notes from Brecht in the notes for José Limón's unfinished memoir]

Do not applaud quite so soon, for the womb is fertile still from where this one crawled.
[Source]
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Not listening is probably the commonest unkindness of married life, and one that creates — more devastatingly than an eternity of forgotten birthdays and misguided Christmas gifts — an atmosphere of not loving and not caring.

Judith Viorst (b. 1931) American writer, journalist, psychoanalysis researcher
Yes, Married (1972)
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Youth is full of sunshine and life. Youth is happy, because it has the ability to see beauty. When this ability is lost, wretched old age begins, decay, unhappiness. […] Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old.

Franz Kafka (1883-1924) Czech-Austrian Jewish writer
In Gustav Janouch, Conversations with Kafka (1951; 1971 ed.)
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What is originality? Undetected plagiarism. This is probably itself a plagiarism, but I cannot remember who said it before me. If originality means thinking for oneself, and not thinking differently from other people, a man does not forfeit his claim to it by saying things which have occurred to others.

William Ralph Inge (1860-1954) English prelate [Dean Inge]
London Evening Standard (1927)

Parallel to this, in James Marchant, ed., Wit and Wisdom of Dean Inge (1927), Inge is cited as saying, "Originality, I fear, is too often only undetected and frequently unconscious plagiarism."

The sentiment is, appropriately, not original with Inge; see here for more discussion and earlier uses.
Added on 14-Sep-20 | Last updated 14-Sep-20
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Many eyes go through the meadow, but few see the flowers in it.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
Journal (16 May 1834)
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Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use.

Emily Post (1872-1960) American author, columnist [née Price]
(Attributed)

Often cited to her famous Etiquette in Society, in Business, in Politics, and at Home (1922), but not found in that work. Claimed as genuine by the Emily Post Institute.
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Some people are just better than others at noticing things that don’t align with their concern, and Mum and Dad are simply oblivious to elves, vampires, vegans, and other esoteric manifestations of modernity.

Charles "Charlie" Stross (b. 1964) British writer
The Nightmare Stacks, ch. 12 (2016)
    (Source)
Added on 5-Sep-17 | Last updated 5-Sep-17
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You’ve got to rattle your cage door. You’ve got to let them know that you’re in there, and that you want out. Make noise. Cause trouble. You may not win right away, but you’ll sure have a lot more fun.

Florynce "Flo" Kennedy (1916-2000) American lawyer, feminist, civil rights activist
(Attributed)
    (Source)

Quoted in Gloria Steinem, "The Verbal Karate of Florynce R. Kennedy, Esq.," Ms. (Mar 1973).
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Now if of the things we do there is an end which we wish for its own sake […] then clearly this end would be good and the highest good. Will not knowledge of it, then, have a great influence on our way of life, and would we not as a consequence be more likely to attain the desired end, like archers who have a mark to aim at? If so, then we should try to grasp, in outline at least, what that end is and to which of the sciences or faculties it belongs.

[εἰ δή τι τέλος ἐστὶ τῶν πρακτῶν ὃ δι᾽ αὑτὸ βουλόμεθα, τἆλλα δὲ διὰ τοῦτο, καὶ μὴ πάντα δι᾽ ἕτερον αἱρούμεθα (πρόεισι γὰρ οὕτω γ᾽ εἰς ἄπειρον, ὥστ᾽ εἶναι κενὴν καὶ ματαίαν τὴν ὄρεξιν), δῆλον ὡς τοῦτ᾽ ἂν εἴη τἀγαθὸν καὶ τὸ ἄριστον. ἆρ᾽ οὖν καὶ πρὸς τὸν βίον ἡ γνῶσις αὐτοῦ μεγάλην ἔχει ῥοπήν, καὶ καθάπερ τοξόται σκοπὸν ἔχοντες μᾶλλον ἂν τυγχάνοιμεν τοῦ δέοντος; εἰ δ᾽ οὕτω, πειρατέον τύπῳ γε περιλαβεῖν αὐτὸ τί ποτ᾽ ἐστὶ καὶ τίνος τῶν ἐπιστημῶν ἢ δυνάμεων.]

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Nicomachean Ethics [Ἠθικὰ Νικομάχεια], Book 1, ch. 2 (1094a.18ff) (c. 325 BC) [tr. Apostle (1975)]
    (Source)

(Source (Greek)). Alternate translations:

Since then of all things which may be done there is some one End which we desire for its own sake, [...] this plainly must be the Chief Good, i.e. the best thing of all. Surely then, even with reference to actual life and conduct, the knowledge of it must have great weight; and like archers, with a mark in view, we shall be more likely to hit upon what is right: and if so, we ought to try to describe, in outline at least, what it is and of which of the sciences and faculties it is the End.
[tr. Chase (1847)]

If then there be some one end of all that we do, for which we wish for its own sake [...] it is evident that this end will be the chief and supreme good. Surely then a scientific knowledge of it will have a critical influence upon our lives, and will make us, like bowmen who have a mark at which to aim, all the more likely to hit upon that which is good. And if this be so, we must endeavour to describe it at least in outline, and to say of what science or of what art it is the province.
[tr. Williams (1869)]

If it is true that in the sphere of action there is an end which we wish for its own sake [...] it is clear this will be the good or the supreme good. Does it not follow then that the knowledge of this supreme good is of great importance for the conduct of life, and that, if we know it, we shall be like archers who have a mark at which to aim, we shall have a better chance of attaining what we want? But, if this is the case, we must endeavor to comprehend, at least in outline, its nature, and the science or faculty to which it belongs.
[tr. Welldon (1892), ch. 1]

If then in what we do there be some end which we wish for on its own account, [...] this evidently will be the good or the best of all things. And surely from a practical point of view it much concerns us to know this good; for then, like archers shooting at a definite mark, we shall be more likely to attain what we want. If this be so, we must try to indicate roughly what it is, and first of all to which of the arts or sciences it belongs.
[tr. Peters (1893)]

If, then, there is some end of the things we do, which we desire for its own sake [...] clearly this must be the good and the chief good. Will not the knowledge of it, then, have a great influence on life? Shall we not, like archers who have a mark to aim at, be more likely to hit upon what is right? If so, we must try, in outline at least, to determine what it is, and of which of the sciences or capacities it is the object.
[tr. Ross (1908)]

If therefore among the ends at which our actions aim there be one which we will for its own sake [...] it is clear that this one ultimate End must be the Good, and indeed the Supreme Good. Will not then a knowledge of this Supreme Good be also of great practical importance for the conduct of life? Will it not better enable us to attain our proper object, like archers having a target to aim at? If this be so, we ought to make an attempt to determine at all events in outline what exactly this Supreme Good is, and of which of the sciences or faculties it is the object.
[tr. Rackham (1934)]

If, then, there is some end of things doable in action that we wish for because of itself, [...] it is clear that this will be the good -- that is, the best good. Hence regarding our life as well, won't knowing the good have great influence and -- like archers with a target -- won't we be better able to hit what we should? If so, we should try to grasp in outline, at least, what the good is and to which of the sciences or capacities it properly belongs.
[tr. Reeve (1948)]

So if what is done has some end that we want for its own sake [...] then clearly this will be the good, indeed the chief good. surely, then, knowledge of the good must be very important for our lives? And if, like archers, we have a target, are we not more likely to hit the right mark? If so, we must try at least roughly to comprehend what it is and which science of faculty is concerned with it.
[tr. Crisp (2000)]

If, therefore, there is some end of our actions that we wish for on account of itself, [...] clearly this would be the good, that is, the best. And with a view to our life, then, is not the knowledge of this good of greater weight, and would we not, like archers in possession of a target, better hit on what is needed? If this is so, then one must try to grasp, in outline at least, whatever it is and to which of the sciences or capacities it belongs.
[tr. Bartlett/Collins (2011)]

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A wise Man will keep his Suspicions muzzled, but he will keep them awake.

George Savile, Marquis of Halifax (1633-1695) English politician and essayist
“Of Caution and Suspicion,” Political, Moral, and Miscellaneous Thoughts and Reflections (1750)
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He is free from danger who, even when safe, is on his guard.

Publilius Syrus (d. 42 BC) Assyrian slave, writer, philosopher [less correctly Publius Syrus]
Sententiae [Moral Sayings]
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The voice of conscience is so delicate that it is easy to stifle it; but it is also so clear that it is impossible to mistake it.

De Stael - voice of conscience - wist_info quote

Germaine de Staël (1766-1817) Swiss-French writer, woman of letters, critic, salonist [Anne Louise Germaine de Staël-Holstein, Madame de Staël, Madame Necker]
Germany [De l’Allemagne], Part 3, ch. 13 (1813)
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It is a mistake always to contemplate the good and ignore the evil, because by making people neglectful it lets in disaster. There is a dangerous optimism of ignorance and indifference.

Helen Keller (1880-1968) American author and lecturer
“Optimism” (1903)
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‘Tis the hardest thing in the world to be a good Thinker, without being a strong Self-Examiner.

Anthony Cooper, 3rd Earl of Shaftesbury (1671-1713) English politician and philosopher
Characteristicks of Men, Manners, Opinions, Times, Vol. 1, “Soliloquy: or Advice to an Author” (1711)
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The evil that is in the world always comes of ignorance, and good intentions may do as much harm as malevolence, if they lack understanding. On the whole men are more good than bad; that, however, isn’t the real point. But they are more or less ignorant, and it is this that we call vice or virtue; the most incorrigible vice being that of an ignorance which fancies it knows everything and therefore claims for itself the right to kill. There can be no true goodness, nor true love, without the utmost clear-sightedness.

Albert Camus (1913-1960) Algerian-French novelist, essayist, playwright
The Plague (1947)
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Concentrate your narrative energy on the point of change. This is especially important for historical fiction. When your character is new to a place, or things alter around them, that’s the point to step back and fill in the details of their world. People don’t notice their everyday surroundings and daily routine, so when writers describe them it can sound as if they’re trying too hard to instruct the reader.

Hilary Mantel (b. 1952) English writer
In “Ten Rules for Writing Fiction,” The Guardian (20 Feb 2010)
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Open your mind to new experiences, particularly to the study of other people. Nothing that happens to a writer — however happy, however tragic — is ever wasted.

P. D. James (1920-2014) British mystery writer [Phyllis Dorothy James White]
In “Ten Rules for Writing Fiction,” The Guardian (20 Feb 2010)
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As the light changed from red to green to yellow and back to red again, I sat there thinking about life. Was it nothing more than a bunch of honking and yelling? Sometimes it seemed that way.

Jack Handey (b. 1949) American humorist
Deeper Thoughts (1993)
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Men more frequently require to be reminded than informed.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The Rambler, # 2 (24 Mar 1750)
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Added on 11-Jan-13 | Last updated 13-Apr-21
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When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.

Helen Keller (1880-1968) American author and lecturer
We Bereaved (1929)

Also in The Open Door (1957).
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Knowledge is power.
[Nam et ipsa scientia potestas est.]

Bacon - knowledge is power - wist_info quote

Francis Bacon (1561-1626) English philosopher, scientist, author, statesman
Sacred Meditations [Meditationes Sacræ], “Of Heresies [De Hæresibus]” (1597)

Alt. trans.: "Knowledge itself is power."
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We recognize that there are no trivial occurrences in life if we get the right focus on them.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
The Autobiography of Mark Twain, Vol. 1 (2010)
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Nothing determines who we will become so much as those things we choose to ignore.

(Other Authors and Sources)
Sandor McNab
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If I were to begin life again, I should want it as it was. I would only open my eyes a little more.

Jules Renard (1864-1910) French writer
Journal
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