Quotations about   betrayal

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But the modern right wing, as Daniel Bell has put it, feels dispossessed: America has been largely taken away from them and their kind, though they are determined to try to repossess it and to prevent the final destructive act of subversion. The old American virtues have already been eaten away by cosmopolitans and intellectuals; the old competitive capitalism has been gradually undermined by socialistic and communistic schemers; the old national security and independence have been destroyed by treasonous plots, having as their most powerful agents not merely outsiders and foreigners as of old but major statesmen who are at the very centers of American power. Their predecessors had discovered conspiracies; the modern radical right finds conspiracy to be betrayal from on high.

Richard Hofstadter (1916-1970) American historian and intellectual
“The Paranoid Style in American Politics,” Herbert Spencer Lecture, Oxford (Nov 1963)
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Reprinted in Harpers (Nov 1964).
Added on 9-Dec-20 | Last updated 9-Dec-20
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Treason is merely a question of dates.

Charles Maurice, Prince de Talleyrand-Périgord (1754-1838) French statesman
Comment to Tsar Alexander (1815)
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Variant: "Treason is merely a matter of dates."

Both versions of the line are quoted in different biographies of Talleyrand, apparently derived from a passage in his Memoirs (ed. Albert de Broglie, tr. De Beaufort (1891)). He relates while at the Congress of Vienna (1814-15), Tsar Alexander referred to Saxony as "Those who betrayed the cause of Europe" for joining with Napoleon, to which Talleyrand replied (mindful that Alexander had at times been allied with Napoleon), "Sire, that is a question of dates."

In the movie Die Hard 2 (1990), the quote is misattributed to Cardinal Richelieu in Alexandre Dumas, The Three Musketeers (1844). Variants on the line actually have been used in movie editions of Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo (but not in the actual book).
Added on 1-Dec-20 | Last updated 1-Dec-20
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He [the pseudo-conservative] sees his own country as being so weak that it is constantly about to fall victim to subversion; and yet he feels that it is so all-powerful that any failure it may experience in getting its own way in the world … cannot possibly be due to its limitations but must be attributed to its having been betrayed.

Richard Hofstadter (1916-1970) American historian and intellectual
“The Pseudo-Conservative Revolt” (1954)
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Added on 28-Oct-20 | Last updated 28-Oct-20
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[A man who] counts the pain of the state as his own glory; as if, indeed, your consulate were not the reason for that conspiracy and through which the republic was torn apart when it possessed you as its protector.”

[… qui civitatis incommodum in gloriam suam ponit. Quasi vero non illius coniurationis causa fuerit consulatus tuus et idcirco res publica disiecta eo tempore quo te custodem habebat.]

Sallust (c. 86-35 BC) Roman historian and politician [Gaius Sallustius Crispus]
Invectiva in Ciceronem [Invective Against Cicero], sec. 3 [tr. @setentiq (2020)] (Spurious)
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In reference to the Catiline conspiracy. Most scholars believe this was not Sallust's work, but that of a 1st Century rhetorician, likely the one who penned the provoking Invective against Sallust, ostensibly by Cicero.

Alt. trans.:
  • "[He] who caused the state injury to augment his own glory. As though your consulship were not the cause of that conspiracy! That is the reason the state was torn apart at that time with you as its guardian." [tr. Novokhatko (2009)]
  • "[A] man who makes disaster to his country the means of his own glorification, was sent as a protector to this city and its citizens, and not as its executioner. As if, forsooth, your consulship was not the cause of that conspiracy, and as if the reason why the commonwealth was not rent asunder at that time was because it had you for a protector." [tr. Loeb ed. (1921), sec. 2]
Added on 14-Oct-20 | Last updated 14-Oct-20
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What is betrayal? They talk of a man betraying his country, his friends, his sweetheart. There must be a moral bond first. All a man can betray is his conscience.

Joseph Conrad (1857-1924) Polish-English novelist [b. Teodor Josef Konrad Korzeniowski]
Under Western Eyes (1911)
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Added on 5-Oct-20 | Last updated 5-Oct-20
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Treachery and violence are spears pointed at both ends — they wound those who resort to them worse than their enemies.

Emily Brontë (1818-1848) British novelist, poet [pseud. Ellis Bell]
Wuthering Heights, ch. 17 [Isabella Linton] (1847)
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Added on 5-Jan-17 | Last updated 5-Jan-17
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For we do not easily expect evil of those whom we love most.

[Non enim facile de his quos plurimum diligimus turpitudinem suspicamur.]

Peter Abelard (1079-1142) French philosopher, theologian, logician [Pierre Abélard]
Historia Calamitatum Mearum, ch. 6
Added on 23-Aug-16 | Last updated 23-Aug-16
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Under a tyranny, most friends are a liability. One quarter of them turn “reasonable” and become your enemies, one quarter are afraid to speak, and one quarter are killed and you die with them. But the blessed final quarter keep you alive.

Sinclair Lewis (1885-1951) American novelist, playwright
It Can’t Happen Here (1935)
Added on 24-Nov-15 | Last updated 24-Nov-15
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Anyone who idolizes you is going to hate you when he discovers that you are fallible. He never forgives. He has deceived himself, and he blames you for it.

Elbert Hubbard (1856-1915) American writer, businessman, philosopher
An American Bible [ed. Alice Hubbard] (1918)
Added on 13-Nov-15 | Last updated 13-Nov-15
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One thing shines clear in the heart’s sweet reason,
One lightning over the chasm runs —
That to turn from love is the world’s one treason
That darkens all the suns.

Edwin Markham (1852-1940) American poet
“The Crowning Hour” (2), The Shoes of Happiness, and Other Poems (1913)
Added on 27-Mar-15 | Last updated 27-Mar-15
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MAL: How come you didn’t turn on me, Jayne?
JAYNE: Money wasn’t good enough.
MAL: What happens when it is?
JAYNE: Well, that’ll be an interesting day.
MAL: I imagine it will.

Joss Whedon (b. 1964) American screenwriter, author, producer [Joseph Hill Whedon]
Firefly, 1×01 “Serenity” (pilot) (20 Dec 2002)
Added on 12-Mar-15 | Last updated 12-Mar-15
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[Wash is at his station on the bridge, playing with plastic dinosaurs.]

WASH [as Stegosaur]: Yes … yes, this is a fertile land, and we will thrive. We will rule over all this land, and we will call it … This Land.
WASH [as Allosaur]: I think we should call it … your grave!
WASH [as Stegosaur]: Ah! Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal!
WASH [as Allosaur]: Ha ha ha! Mine is an evil laugh! Now DIE!
WASH [as Stegosaur]: Oh no, God, oh dear God in Heaven …

Joss Whedon (b. 1964) American screenwriter, author, producer [Joseph Hill Whedon]
Firefly, 1×01 “Serenity” (pilot) (20 Dec 2002)
Added on 5-Feb-15 | Last updated 5-Feb-15
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For somehow this is tyranny’s disease, to trust no friends.

Aeschylus (525-456 BC) Greek dramatist (Æschylus)
Prometheus Bound, l. 224

Alternate translation: "In every tyrant's heart there springs in the end this poison, that he cannot trust a friend."
Added on 6-Jan-09 | Last updated 9-Mar-21
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The cruelest lies are often told in silence. A man may have sat in a room for hours and not opened his teeth, and yet come out of that room a disloyal friend or a vile calumniator.

Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894) Scottish essayist, novelist, poet
Virginibus Puerisque, “Virginibus Puerisque,” sec. 4 (1881)
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Added on 2-Oct-08 | Last updated 21-Oct-15
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Never regard something as doing you good if it makes you betray a trust, or lose your sense of shame, or makes you show hatred, suspicion, ill will, or hypocrisy, or a desire for things best done behind closed doors.

[Μὴ τιμήσῃς ποτὲ ὡς συμφέρον σεαυτοῦ, ὃ ἀναγκάσει σέ ποτε τὴν πίστιν παραβῆναι, τὴν αἰδῶ ἐγκαταλιπεῖν, μισῆσαί τινα, ὑποπτεῦσαι, καταράσασθαι, ὑποκρίνασθαι, ἐπιθυμῆσαί τινος τοίχων καὶ παραπετασμάτων δεομένου.]

Marcus Aurelius (AD 121-180) Roman emperor (161-180), Stoic philosopher
Meditations, Book 3, #7 [tr. Hays (2003)]
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Original Greek. Alternate translations:

Never esteem of anything as profitable, which shall ever constrain thee either to break thy faith, or to lose thy modesty; to hate any man, to suspect, to curse, to dissemble, to lust after anything, that requireth the secret of walls or veils.
[tr. Casaubon (1634), #8]

Don't be fond of any thing, or think that for your interest, which makes you break your word, quit your modesty, be of a dissembling, suspicious, or outrageous humor; which puts you up on hating any person, and inclines you to any practice, which won't bear the light, and look the world in the face.
[tr. Collier (1701)]

Never value anything as profitable to thyself which shall compel thee to break thy promise, to lose thy self-respect, to hate any man, to suspect, to curse, to act the hypocrite, to desire anything which needs walls and curtains.
[tr. Long (1862)]

Think nothing for your interest which makes you break your word, quit your modesty, hate, suspect, or curse any person, or inclines you to any practice which will not bear the light and look the world in the face.
[tr. Zimmern (1887)]

Never esteem anything as of advantage to thee that shall make thee break thy word or lose thy self-respect.
[tr. Morgan, in Bartlett's (1894)]

Never value as an advantage to yourself what will force you one day to break your word, to abandon self-respect, to hate, suspect, execrate another, to act a part, to covet anything that calls for walls or coverings to conceal it.
[tr. Farquharson (1944)]

Never value the advantages derived from anything involving breach of faith, loss of self-respect, hatred, suspicion, or execration of others, insincerity, or the desire for something which hast to be veiled and curtained.
[tr. Staniforth (1964)]

Never value as beneficial to yourself something that will force you one day to break your word, abandon your sense of shame, hate, suspect, or curse someone else, pretend, or desire something that needs the secrecy of walls or curtains.
[tr. Gill (2013)]

Value nothing which compels you to break your promise, to abandon your honor, to hate, suspect or curse anyone, to be a hypocrite, or to lust after anything which needs walls or decorations.
[tr. @sentantiq (2019)]

Some causes will force you to betray faith, abandon shame, hate or suspect another person, call down curses, put forward explanations, or desire something that requires walls and fences. Do not regard these causes as necessary or beneficial to yourself.
[Source]

Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 17-Mar-21
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In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
“The Trumpet of Conscience,” Steeler Lecture (Nov 1967)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 7-Dec-15
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I hate the idea of causes, and if I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friend, I hope I should have the guts to betray my country.

E. M. Forster (1879-1970) English novelist, essayist, critic, librettist [Edward Morgan Forster]
“What I Believe,” The Nation (16 Jul 1938)
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Sometimes misquoted as: "If I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friend, I hope I should have the decency to betray my country."
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 21-Nov-18
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