Quotations about   calumny

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If a man has reported to you that a certain person speaks ill of you, do not make any defense to what has been told you: but reply, The man did not know the rest of my faults, for he would not have mentioned these only.

Epictetus (c.55-c.135) Greek (Phrygian) Stoic philosopher
Enchiridion, 33 (c. AD 135) [tr. Long (1888)]
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Alt. trans.: "If anyone tells you that a certain person speaks ill of you, do not make excuses about what is said of you, but answer, 'He was ignorant of my other faults, else he would have not mentioned these alone.'" [tr. Higginson (1948)]
Added on 12-Sep-18 | Last updated 12-Sep-18
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She speaks poniards and every word stabs

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
Much Ado About Nothing, Act 2, sc. 1 (1599)
Added on 20-Jul-17 | Last updated 20-Jul-17
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Even doubtful Accusations leave a Stain behind them.

Thomas Fuller (1654-1734) English writer, physician
Gnomologia, #1395 (1732)
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Added on 6-Jun-17 | Last updated 6-Jun-17
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The tongue is not steel, yet it cuts.

George Herbert (1593-1633) Welsh priest, orator, poet.
Jacula Prudentum (1651)
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Added on 8-Feb-17 | Last updated 8-Feb-17
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To persevere in one’s duty and be silent is the best answer to calumny.

George Washington (1732-1799) American military leader, Founding Father, US President (1789-1797)
Letter to William Livingston (7 Dec 1779)
Added on 11-Jul-16 | Last updated 11-Jul-16
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Neglected, calumny soon expires; show that you are hurt, and you give it the appearance of truth.

Tacitus (c.56-c.120) Roman historian, orator, politician [Publius or Gaius Cornelius Tacitus]
The Annals (AD 109)
Added on 20-Jun-16 | Last updated 20-Jun-16
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An evil-speaker differs from an evil-doer only in the want of opportunity.

[Maledicus a malefico non distat nisi occasione.]

Quintilian (39-90) Roman orator [Marcus Fabius Quintilianus]
De Institutione Oratorio, Book 12, ch. 9, l. 9
Added on 13-Jun-16 | Last updated 13-Jun-16
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I never yet heard man or woman much abused, that I was not inclined to think the better of them; and to transfer any suspicion or dislike to the person who appeared to take delight in pointing out the defects of a fellow-creature.

Jane Porter (1776-1850) English historical novelist and dramatist
Aphorisms of Sir Philip Sidney, Vol. 2, “Falsehood, Treachery, and Slander,” #19, Remark (1807)
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Added on 6-Jun-16 | Last updated 6-Jun-16
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When we speak evil of others, we generally condemn ourselves.

Publilius Syrus (d. 42 BC) Assyrian slave, writer, philosopher [less correctly Publius Syrus]
Sententiae [Moral Sayings], #1058 [tr. Lyman (1862)]
Added on 31-May-16 | Last updated 31-May-16
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The men who convey, and those who listen to calumnies, should, if I could have my way, all hang, the tale-bearers by their tongues, the listeners by their ears.

Plautus (b. c. 254 BC) Roman playright [Titus Macchius Plautus]
Pseudolus, 1.5
Added on 24-May-16 | Last updated 24-May-16
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The best apology against false accusers is silence and sufferance, and honest deeds set against dishonest words.

John Milton (1608-1674) English poet
An Apology for Smectymnuus (1642)
Added on 16-May-16 | Last updated 16-May-16
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He that lends an easy and credulous ear to calumny is either a man of very ill morals or has no more sense and understanding than a child.

Menander (c. 341 - c. 290 BC) Greek comedic dramatist
Fragment

Quoted in James Elmes, Classic Quotations: A Thought-Book (1863).
Added on 9-May-16 | Last updated 9-May-16
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Every life is its own excuse for being, and to deny or refute the untrue things that are said of you is an error in judgment. All wrong recoils upon the doer, and the man who makes wrong statements about others is himself to be pitied, not the man he vilifies. It is better to be lied about than to lie. At the last no one can harm us but ourselves.

Elbert Hubbard (1856-1915) American writer, businessman, philosopher
The Roycroft Dictionary and Book of Epigrams (1923)
Added on 25-Apr-16 | Last updated 25-Apr-16
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Calumny is a monstrous vice: for, where parties indulge in it, there are always two that are actively engaged in doing wrong, and one who is subject to injury. The calumniator inflicts wrong by slandering the absent; he who gives credit to the calumny, before he has investigated the truth, is equally implicated. The person traduced is doubly injured — first by him who propagates, and secondly by him who credits the calumny.

Herodotus (c.484-c.420 BC) Greek historian
Histories, 7.10
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Added on 18-Apr-16 | Last updated 18-Apr-16
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Like the tiger, that seldom desists from pursuing man after having once preyed upon human flesh, the reader, who has once gratified his appetite with calumny, makes ever after, the most agreeable feast upon murdered reputation.

Oliver Goldsmith (1730-1774) Irish poet, playwright, novelist
The Traveler; Or, A Prospect of Society (1764)
Added on 11-Apr-16 | Last updated 11-Apr-16
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Act uprightly, and despise Calumny; Dirt may stick to a Mud Wall, but not to polish’d Marble.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher
Poor Richard’s Almanack (1757)
Added on 4-Apr-16 | Last updated 4-Apr-16
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Never complain and never explain.

Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881) English politician and author
(Attributed)

Regarding attacks on him in Parliament. Quoted in John Morley, Life of William Ewart Gladstone (1903).
Added on 28-Mar-16 | Last updated 28-Mar-16
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Calumny is only the noise of madmen.

Diogenes of Sinope (412 or 404-323BC) Greek Cynic philosopher
Quoted in Epictetus The Discourses, Book 1, ch. 24.
Added on 21-Mar-16 | Last updated 18-Mar-16
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What Paul says about Peter tells us more about Paul than it does about Peter.

Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677) Dutch philosopher
(Attributed)
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Quoted by Erich Fromm, Psychoanalysis and Religion, 3 (1950).
Added on 14-Mar-16 | Last updated 14-Mar-16
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No man can humiliate me or disturb me. I won’t let him.

Bernard Baruch (1870-1965) American businessman and statesman
(Attributed)

Quoted in Dale Carnegie, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living (1948). When asked by Carnegie if he was troubled by his enemies' attacks.
Added on 7-Mar-16 | Last updated 7-Mar-16
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Calumny is like a wasp which harasses you. Raise no hand against it unless you’re sure of killing it, for otherwise it will return to the charge more furious than ever.

Nicolas Chamfort (1741-1794) French writer, epigrammist (b. Nicolas-Sébastien Roch)
Maxims and Thoughts, #302 (1796)
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Alt. trans.: "Calumny is like the wasp which worries you, which it were best not to try to get rid of unless you are sure of slaying it; for otherwise it will return to the charge more furious than ever."
Added on 29-Feb-16 | Last updated 29-Feb-16
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To avoid dissensions we should ever be on our guard, more especially with those who drive us to argue with them, with those who vex and irritate us, and who say things likely to excite us to anger. When we find ourselves in company with quarrelsome, eccentric individuals, people who openly and unblushingly say the most shocking things, difficult to put up with, we should take refuge in silence, and the wisest plan is not to reply to people whose behavior is so preposterous.

Those who insult us and treat us contumeliously are anxious for a spiteful and sarcastic reply: the silence we then affect disheartens them, and they cannot avoid showing their vexation; they do all they can to provoke us and to elicit a reply, but the best way to baffle them is to say nothing, refuse to argue with them, and to leave them to chew the cud of their hasty anger. This method of bringing down their pride disarms them, and shows them plainly that we slight and despise them.

St. Ambrose (339-397) Roman prelate, Bishop of Milan [Aurelius Ambrosius]
De Officiis Ministrorum, ch. 5
Added on 22-Feb-16 | Last updated 22-Feb-16
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Besides, there are two things that will be believed of any man whatsoever, and one of them is that he has taken to drink.

Booth Tarkington (1869-1946) American novelist and dramatist
Penrod, ch. 10 (1914)
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Added on 25-Jan-16 | Last updated 25-Jan-16
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Just deeds are the best answer to injurious words.

John Milton (1608-1674) English poet
Observations upon the Articles of Peace with the Irish Rebels (1649)
Added on 17-Sep-14 | Last updated 17-Sep-14
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He that flings Dirt at another dirtieth himself most.

Thomas Fuller (1654-1734) English writer, physician
Gnomologia, #2107 (1732)
Added on 26-Aug-14 | Last updated 26-Aug-14
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Sir, calumnies are answer’d best with silence.

Ben Jonson (1572-1637) English playwright and poet
Volpone, Act 2, sc. 2 (1606)
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Added on 26-Feb-13 | Last updated 2-Aug-17
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Hurl your calumnies boldly; something is sure to stick.

[Audacter calumniare, semper aliquid haeret.]

Francis Bacon (1561-1626) English philosopher, scientist, author, statesman
De Augmentis Scientiarum [Advancement of Learning] (1605)
Added on 21-May-10 | Last updated 16-May-16
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Be thou as chaste as ice, as pure as snow, thou shalt not escape calumny.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
Hamlet Act 3, sc. 1, l. 139 [Hamlet] (1600)
Added on 22-Jan-09 | Last updated 26-May-16
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The widespread interest in gossip is inspired, not by a love of knowledge, but by malice: no one gossips about other people’s secret virtues, but only about their secret vices. Accordingly most gossip is untrue, but care is taken not to verify it. Our neighbour’s sins, like the consolations of religion, are so agreeable that we do not stop to scrutinize the evidence closely.

Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) English mathematician and philosopher
“The Aims of Education” (1929)
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Usually shortened to "No one gossips about other people's secret virtues."
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 6-Nov-15
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