I was held back by mere trifles, the most paltry inanities, all my old attachments. They plucked at my garment of flesh and whispered, “Are you going to dismiss us? From this moment we shall never be with you again, for ever and ever. From this moment you will never again be allowed to do this thing or that, for evermore.” What was it, my God, that they meant when they whispered “this thing or that?” Things so sordid and so shameful that I beg you in your mercy to keep the soul of your servant free from them!
[Retinebant nugae nugarum et vanitates vanitantium, antiquae amicae meae, et succutiebant vestem meam carneam et submurmurabant, “dimittisne nos?” et “a momento isto non erimus tecum ultra in aeternum” et “a momento isto non tibi licebit hoc et illud ultra in aeternum.” et quae suggerebant in eo quod dixi “hoc et illud,” quae suggerebant, deus meus, avertat ab anima servi tui misericordia tua! Quas sordes suggerebant, quae dedecora!]
Confessions, Book 8, ch. 11 / ¶ 26 (8.11.26) (c. AD 398) [tr. Pine-Coffin (1961)]
(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:
The very toys of toys, and vanities of vanities, my ancient mistresses, still held me; they plucked my fleshy garment, and whispered softly, "Dost thou cast us off? and from that moment shall we no more be with thee for ever? and from that moment shall not this or that be lawful for thee for ever?" And what was it which they suggested in that I said, "this or that," what did they suggest, O my God? Let Thy mercy turn it away from the soul of Thy servant. What defilements did they suggest! what shame!
[tr. Pusey (1838)]
The very toys of toys, and vanities of vanities, my old mistresses, still enthralled me; they shook my fleshly garment, and whispered softly, “Dost thou part with us? And from that moment shall we no more be with thee for ever? And from that moment shall not this or that be lawful for thee for ever?” And what did they suggest to me in the words “this or that?” What is it that they suggested, O my God? Let Thy mercy avert it from the soul of Thy servant. What impurities did they suggest! What shame!
[tr. Pilkington (1876)]
Toys of toys and vanities of vanities, my old loves held me back, and made my fleshly garment quiver whispering softly, “Dost thou leave us? and from that moment shall we never be with thee any more? And from this moment will not this and that be allowed thee for ever?” And what did they suggest in that which I call "this or that"? what did they suggest, my God ? Let Thy Mercy turn it away from the soul of Thy servant! What defilements did they suggest! what shameful things!
[tr. Hutchings (1890)]
Trifles of trifles and vanities of vanities, my old mistresses, held me back; they caught hold of the garment of my flesh and whispered in my ear, "Can you let us go? and from that instant we shall see you no more for ever; and from that instant this and that will be forbidden you for ever.” What did they mean, O m God, what did they mean by "this and that?" O let Thy mercy guard the soul of Thy servant from the vileness, the shame that they meant!
[tr. Bigg (1897), 8.11.2]
Those trifles of all trifles, and vanities of vanities, my one-time mistresses, held me back, plucking at my garment of flesh and murmuring softly: “Are you sending us away?” And “From this moment shall we not be with you, now or forever?” And “From this moment shall this or that not be allowed you, now or forever?” What were they suggesting to me in the phrase I have written “this or that,” what were they suggesting to me, O my God? Do you in your mercy keep from the soul of Your servant the vileness and uncleanness they were suggesting.
[tr. Sheed (1943)]
It was, in fact, my old mistresses, trifles of trifles and vanities of vanities, who still enthralled me. They tugged at my fleshly garments and softly whispered: “Are you going to part with us? And from that moment will we never be with you any more? And from that moment will not this and that be forbidden you forever?” What were they suggesting to me in those words “this or that”? What is it they suggested, O my God? Let thy mercy guard the soul of thy servant from the vileness and the shame they did suggest!
[tr. Outler (1955)]
My lovers of old, trifles of trifles and vanities of vanities held me back. They plucked at my fleshly garment, and they whispered softly: “Do you cast us off?” and “From that moment we shall no more be with you forever and ever!” and again, “From that moment no longer will this thing and that be allowed to you, forever and ever!” What did they suggest by what I have called “this thing and that,” what, O my God, did they suggest? May your mercy turn away all that from your servant’s soul! What filth did they suggest! What deeds of shame!
[tr. Ryan (1960)]
Toys and trifles, utter vanities had been my mistresses, and now they were holding me back, pulling me by the garment of my flesh and softly murmuring in my ear: “Are you getting rid of us?” and “From this moment shall we never be with you again for all eternity?” and “From this moment will you never for all eternity be allowed to do this or to do that?” My God, what was it, what was it that they suggested in those words “this” or “that” which I have just written? I pray you in your mercy to keep such things from the soul of your servant. How filthy, how shameful were these things they were suggesting!
[tr. Warner (1963)]
The trifles of trifles, the worthless amid the worthless, past objects of my affections, were what was holding me, pulling at the garment of my flesh and whispering: "Are you sending us away? From this moment we shall not be with you for eternity? And from this moment you will not be permitted to do this and that for ever?" And what did they suggest by my "this and that", my God? Let your mercy turn it away from your servant’s soul. What impurities, what acts of shame they suggested.
[tr. Blaiklock (1983)]
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But they who only live to pamper up
Their flesh, when their possessions they have wasted,
Become bad citizens; for still unchang’d
Doth their voracious appetite remain.
[καὶ µὴν ὅσοι µὲν σαρκὸς εἰς εὐεξίαν
ἀσκοῦσι βίοτον, ἢν σφαλῶσι χρηµάτων,
κακοὶ πολῖται· δεῖ γὰρ ἄνδρ᾽εἰθισµένον
ἀκόλαστον ἦθος γαστρὸς ἐν ταὐτῷ µένειν.]
Antiope [Αντιοπη], frag. 201 (Kannicht) / 200 (TGF) (c. 410 BC) [tr. Wodhall (1809)]
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A real man of fashion and pleasures observes decency: at least, neither borrows nor affects vices; and, if he unfortunately has any, he gratifies them with choice, delicacy, and secrecy.
Letter to his son, #119 (27 Mar 1747)
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Habit is habit, and not to be flung out the window by any man, but coaxed downstairs a step at a time.
The Tragedy of Pudd’nhead Wilson, ch. 6, Epigraph “Pudd’nhead Wilson’s Calendar” (1894)
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