Quotations about   conflict

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The wound hurts less than your desire to wound me.

James Richardson (b. 1950) American poet
“Vectors: 56 Aphorisms and Ten-second Essays,” Michigan Quarterly Review, # 18 (Spring 1999)
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Added on 5-Oct-21 | Last updated 5-Oct-21
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If we do not redefine manhood, war is inevitable.

Paul Fussell (1924-2012) American cultural and literary historian, author, academic
(Attributed)
Added on 15-Jul-21 | Last updated 15-Jul-21
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I don’t have much truck with the “religion is the cause of most of our wars” school of thought because that is manifestly done by mad, manipulative and power-hungry men who cloak their ambition in God.

Terry Pratchett (1948-2015) English author
“I create gods all the time — now I think one might exist,” Daily Mail (21 Jun 2008)
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Added on 13-Jul-21 | Last updated 13-Jul-21
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WATCHMAN:
Sir, I am here. I can’t say I am out of breath.
I have not exactly been “running on light feet.”
I halted many times along the road so I could think,
And I almost turned around and marched right back.
My mind kept talking to me. It said, “You poor guy,
Why are you going there? You’ll just get your ass kicked.”
Then it said, “Are you stopping again, you damn fool?
If Creon hears this from another man, he’ll give you hell.”
Well, I turned this idea up and down like that,
And I hurried along, real slow. Made a short trip long.

[Φύλαξ:
ἄναξ, ἐρῶ μὲν οὐχ ὅπως τάχους ὕπο
δύσπνους ἱκάνω κοῦφον ἐξάρας πόδα.
πολλὰς γὰρ ἔσχον φροντίδων ἐπιστάσεις,
ὁδοῖς κυκλῶν ἐμαυτὸν εἰς ἀναστροφήν:
ψυχὴ γὰρ ηὔδα πολλά μοι μυθουμένη:
τάλας, τί χωρεῖς οἷ μολὼν δώσεις δίκην;
τλήμων, μενεῖς αὖ; κεἰ τάδ᾽ εἴσεται Κρέων
ἄλλου παρ᾽ ἀνδρός; πῶς σὺ δῆτ᾽ οὐκ ἀλγύνει;
τοιαῦθ᾽ ἑλίσσων ἤνυτον σχολῇ βραδύς.]

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Antigone, l. 223ff (441 BC) [tr. Woodruff (2001)]
    (Source)

Original Greek. Alternate translations:

SENTINEL:
My liege, I cannot say that from very haste I come panting for breath, having stept out with nimble paces. Troth: I have had many half-way houses of cogitation, wheeling about after every fresh start as though I would return. In fact, my soul often addressed me with some such tale as this: Why goest, simpleton, where to be come is to be punished?" then again: "What! wilt not away, poor wretch? and if Kreon shall learn these tidings from some one else, how then wilt thou escape the penalty?" While thus my mind revolved, the speed I made was tardy in its swiftness: and so a short road is made long.
[tr. Donaldson (1848)]

GUARD:
My lord, I will not make pretense to pant
And puff as some light-footed messenger.
In sooth my soul beneath its pack of thought
Made many a halt and turned and turned again;
For conscience plied her spur and curb by turns.
"Why hurry headlong to thy fate, poor fool?"
She whispered. Then again, "If Creon learn
This from another, thou wilt rue it worse."
Thus leisurely I hastened on my road;
Much thought extends a furlong to a league.
[tr. Storr (1859)]

WATCHMAN:
My lord, I am out of breath, but not with speed.
I will not say my foot was fleet. My thoughts
Cried halt unto me ever as I came
And wheeled me to return. My mind discoursed
Most volubly within my breast, and said--
Fond wretch! why go where thou wilt find thy bane?
Unhappy wight! say, wilt thou bide aloof?
Then if the king shall hear this from another,
How shalt thou 'scape for 't? Winding thus about
I hasted, but I could not speed, and so
Made a long journey of a little way.
[tr. Campbell (1873)]

GUARD:
My king, I will not say that I arrive breathless because of speed, or from the action of a swift foot. For often I brought myself to a stop because of my thoughts, and wheeled round in my path to return. My mind was telling me many things: “Fool, why do you go to where your arrival will mean your punishment?” “Idiot, are you dallying again? If Creon learns it from another, must you not suffer for it?” So debating, I made my way unhurriedly, slow, and thus a short road was made long.
[tr. Jebb (1891)]

MESSENGER:
O King, I cannot boast that, hither sent,
I came with speed, for oft my troubled thoughts
Have driven me back; oft to myself I said,
Why dost thou seek destruction?
With doubts like these oppressed, slowly I came,
And the short way seemed like a tedious journey.
[tr. Werner (1892)]

GUARD:
My liege, I will not say that I come breathless from speed, or that I have plied a nimble foot; for often did my thoughts make me pause, and wheel round in my path, to return. My mind was holding large discourse with me; "Fool, why goest thou to thy certain doom?" "Wretch, tarrying again? And if Creon hears this from another, must not thou smart for it?" So debating, I went on my way with lagging steps, and thus a short road was made long.
[tr. Jebb (1917)]

SENTRY:
I'll not say that I'm out of breath from running, King, because every time I stopped to think about what I have to tell you, I felt like going back. And all the time a voice kept saying, "You fool, don't you know you're walking straight into trouble?"; and then another voice: "Yes, but if you let somebody else get the news to Creon first, it will be even worse than that for you!"
[tr. Fitts/Fitzgerald (1939)]

SENTRY:
My lord: if I am out of breath, it is not from haste.
I have not been running. On the contrary, many a time
I stopped to think and loitered on the way,
Saying to myself “Why hurry to your doom,
Poor fool?” and then I said, “Hurry, you fool.
If Creon hears this from another man,
Your head’s as good as off.” So here I am,
As quick as my unwilling haste could bring me;
In no great hurry, in fact.
[tr. Watling (1947), l. 183ff]

GUARD:
Lord, I can't claim that I am out of breath
from rushing here with light and hasty step,
for I had many haltings in my thought
making me double back upon my road.
My mind kept saying many things to me:
"Why go where you will surely pay the price?"
"Fool, are you halting? And if Creon learns
from someone else, how shall you not be hurt?"
Turning this over, on I dilly-dallied.
And so a short trip turns itself to long.
[tr. Wyckoff (1954)]

GUARD:
My lord: I cannot say that I am come
All out of breath with running. More than once
I stopped and thought and turned round in my path
And started to go back. My mind had much
To say to me. One time it said "You fool!
Why do you go to certain punishment?"
Another time "What? Standing still, you wretch?
You'll smart for it, if Creon comes to hear
From someone else." And so I went along
Debating with myself, not swift nor sure.
This way, a short road soon becomes a long one.
[tr. Kitto (1962)]

SENTRY:
My lord,
I can't say I'm winded from running, or set out
with any spring in my legs either -- no sir,
I was lost in thought, and it made me stop, often,
dead in my tracks, wheeling, turning back,
and all the time a voice inside me muttering,
"Idiot, why? You're going straight to your death."
Then muttering, "Stopped again, poor fool?
If somebody gets the news to Creon first,
what's to save your neck?" And so,
mulling it over, on I trudged, dragging my feet,
you can make a short road take forever ...
[tr. Fagles (1982), l. 248ff]

WATCHMAN:
Lord, I cannot say that I arrive breathless
from quickly lifting nimble feet.
In fact, I stopped many times to think,
whirling around on the roads to turn back.
My spirit kept talking to me and saying:
“Poor fool, why are you going to a place where
you will pay the penalty when you arrive? Wretch, are you
dawdling along again? If Creon learns about this
from someone else, how then will you not feel pain?”
As I rolled around such thoughts, I was gradually and
slowly completing the journey, and so a short road
became a long one.
[tr. Tyrell/Bennett (2002)]

GUARD: My King, I can’t really say that I’ve lost my breath by running my feet to the ground so as to get here as quickly as I could! No, I tarried. God knows I’ve stopped myself often enough, on the way here and I’ve almost turned back many times.

My soul, you see, was talking to me all the while and all the while it kept changing its mind: “poor man,” it would say one minute, “Why are you rushing to your suffering?” Or again, “Stupid man,” it would say, “why are you hanging about like this? What if the king hears it from someone else? What a mess you’d get yourself into then!”

Stuff like that was spinning about in my head and it made this small road so much longer!

[tr. Theodoridis (2004)]

GUARD:
My lord, I can’t say I’ve come out of breath
by running here, making my feet move fast.
Many times I stopped to think things over --
and then I’d turn around, retrace my steps.
My mind was saying many things to me,
“You fool, why go to where you know for sure
your punishment awaits?” -- “And now, poor man,
why are you hesitating yet again?
If Creon finds this out from someone else,
how will you escape being hurt?” Such matters
kept my mind preoccupied. And so I went,
slowly and reluctantly, and thus made
a short road turn into a lengthy one.
[tr. Johnston (2005), l. 256ff]

GUARD:
My lord, I will not say that I come breathless
from rushing or quickly moving my feet,
for often my thoughts stopped me in my place,
and I'd wheel around on the road back where I came.
My heart kept talking to me, telling me,
"Poor fool, why are you going where you're sure
to be punished?" "Idiot, you stopping
again? If Creon hears it from someone else,
then you'll really pay for it!" Twisting like this
I made my way, the opposite of hate,
and thus a short road became a long one.
[tr. Thomas (2005), l. 226ff]

Added on 15-Apr-21 | Last updated 9-May-21
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More quotes by Sophocles

Truth is the first casualty in war.

Aeschylus (525-456 BC) Greek dramatist (Æschylus)
(Misattributed)

Variant: "Truth is the first casualty of war."

Not found, as such, in Aeschylus' works. The closest (Fragm. Incert, xi.) is his phrase "God is not averse to deceit in a just cause." Attribution to of the subject phrase to Aeschylus dates only back to 1965. The first recorded use of the phrase as such is from 1915, but even there it is offered as a quotation from an unnamed source.

More discussion of the history of this phrase can be found here and here.
Added on 9-Mar-21 | Last updated 9-Mar-21
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Inferiors revolt in order that they may be equal, and equals that they may be superior.

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Politics [Πολιτικά], Book 5, ch. 2 / 1302a.29 [tr. Jowett (1885)]
    (Source)

Alternate translations:

  • "Now, what they aim at may be either just or unjust; just, when those who are inferior are seditious, that they may be equal; unjust, when those who are equal are so, that they may be superior." [tr. Ellis (1912)]
  • "When inferior, people enter on strife in order that they may be equal, and when equal, in order that they may be greater." [tr. Rackham (1932)]
  • "The lesser engage in factional conflict in order to be equal; those who are equal, in order to be greater." [tr. Lord (1984)]
Added on 26-Feb-21 | Last updated 26-Feb-21
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More quotes by Aristotle

Hector, stop!
You unforgivable, you … don’t talk to me of pacts.
There are no binding oaths between men and lions —
wolves and lambs can enjoy no meeting of the minds —
they are all bent on hating each other to the death.
So with you and me. No love between us. No truce
till one or the other falls and gluts with blood
Ares who hacks at men behind his rawhide shield.

[Ἕκτορ μή μοι ἄλαστε συνημοσύνας ἀγόρευε:
ὡς οὐκ ἔστι λέουσι καὶ ἀνδράσιν ὅρκια πιστά,
οὐδὲ λύκοι τε καὶ ἄρνες ὁμόφρονα θυμὸν ἔχουσιν,
ἀλλὰ κακὰ φρονέουσι διαμπερὲς ἀλλήλοισιν,
265ὣς οὐκ ἔστ᾽ ἐμὲ καὶ σὲ φιλήμεναι, οὐδέ τι νῶϊν
ὅρκια ἔσσονται, πρίν γ᾽ ἢ ἕτερόν γε πεσόντα
αἵματος ἆσαι Ἄρηα ταλαύρινον πολεμιστήν.]

Homer (fl. 7th-8th C. BC) Greek author
The Iliad [Ἰλιάς], Book 22, l. 261ff (22.261) [Achilles] (c. 750 BC) [tr. Fagles (1990), l. 308ff]
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After Hector proposes a pact with Achilles that the winner of their battle will not abuse the corpse of his opponent. Original Greek. Alternate translations:

Hector, thou only pestilence in all mortality
To my sere spirits, never set the point ’twixt thee and me
Any conditions; but as far as men and lions fly
All terms of cov’nant, lambs and wolves; in so far opposite state,
Impossible for love t’ atone, stand we, till our souls satiate
The God of soldiers.
[tr. Chapman (1611), l. 224ff]

"Talk not of oaths," the dreadful chief replies,
While anger flashed from his disdainful eyes,
"Detested as thou art, and ought to be,
Nor oath nor pact Achilles plights with thee;
Such pacts, as lambs and rabid wolves combine,
Such leagues, as men and furious lions join,
To such I call the gods! one constant state
Of lasting rancour and eternal hate:
No thought but rage, and never-ceasing strife,
Till death extinguish rage, and thought, and life."
[tr. Pope (1715-20)]

Hector! my bitterest foe! speak not to me
Of covenants! as concord can be none
Lions and men between, nor wolves and lambs
Can be unanimous, but hate perforce
Each other by a law not to be changed,
So cannot amity subsist between
Thee and myself; nor league make I with thee
Or compact, till thy blood in battle shed
Or mine, shall gratify the fiery Mars.
[tr. Cowper (1791), l. 302ff]

Talk not to me of covenants, O most cursed Hector. As there are not faithful leagues between lions and men, nor yet have wolves and lambs an according mind, but ever meditate evils against each other; so it is not possible for thee and me to contract a friendship, nor shall there at all be leagues between us, -- first shall one, falling, satiate the invincible warrior Mars with his blood.
[tr. Buckley (1860)]

Hector, thou object of my deadly hate,
Talk not to me of compacts; as ’tween men
And lions no firm concord can exist,
Nor wolves and lambs in harmony unite,
But ceaseless enmity between them dwells:
So not in friendly terms, nor compact firm,
Can thou and I unite, till one of us
Glut with his blood the mail-clad warrior Mars.
[tr. Derby (1864)]

Hector, talk not to me, thou madman, of covenants. As between men and lions there is no pledge of faith, nor wolves and sheep can be of one mind, but imagine evil continually against each other, so is it impossible for thee and me to be friends, neither shall be any pledge between us until one or other shall have fallen and glutted with blood Ares, the stubborn god of war.
[tr. Leaf/Lang/Myers (1891)]

Fool, prate not to me about covenants. There can be no covenants between men and lions, wolves and lambs can never be of one mind, but hate each other out and out an through. Therefore there can be no understanding between you and me, nor may there be any covenants between us, till one or other shall fall and glut grim Mars with his life's blood.
[tr. Butler (1898)]

Hector, talk not to me, thou madman, of covenants. As between lions and men there are no oaths of faith, nor do wolves and lambs have hearts of concord but are evil-minded continually one against the other, even so is it not possible for thee and me to be friends, neither shall there be oaths between us till one or the other shall have fallen, and glutted with his blood Ares, the warrior with tough shield of hide.
[tr. Murray (1924)]

Added on 24-Feb-21 | Last updated 1-Dec-21
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More quotes by Homer

But oh! ye gracious Powers above,
Wrath and revenge from men and gods remove,
Far, far too dear to every mortal breast,
Sweet to the soul, as honey to the taste;
Gathering like vapours of a noxious kind
From fiery blood, and darkening all the mind.

[Ὡς ἔρις ἔκ τε θεῶν ἔκ τ’ ἀνθρώπων ἀπόλοιτο
καὶ χόλος, ὅς τ’ ἐφέηκε πολύφρονά περ χαλεπῆναι,
ὅς τε πολὺ γλυκίων μέλιτος καταλειβομένοιο
ἀνδρῶν ἐν στήθεσσιν ἀέξεται ἠΰτε καπνός.]

Homer (fl. 7th-8th C. BC) Greek author
The Iliad [Ἰλιάς], Book 18, l. 107ff (18.107) [Achilles] (c. 750 BC) [tr. Pope (1715-20)]
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Original Greek. Alternate translations:

How then too soon can hastiest death supplant
My fate-curst life? Her instrument to my indignity
Being that black fiend Contention; whom would to God might die
To Gods and men; and Anger too, that kindles tyranny
In men most wise, being much more sweet than liquid honey is
To men of pow’r to satiate their watchful enmities;
[tr. Chapman (1611), l. 98ff]

May fierce contention from among the Gods
Perish, and from among the human race,
With wrath, which sets the wisest hearts on fire;
Sweeter than dropping honey to the taste,
But in the bosom of mankind, a smoke!
[tr. Cowper (1791), l. 134ff]

Would that therefore contention might be extinguished from gods and men; and anger, which is wont to impel even the very wisest to be harsh; and which, much sweeter than distilling honey, like smoke, rises in the breasts of men.
[tr. Buckley (1860)]

Accurs’d of Gods and men be hateful strife
And anger, which to violence provokes
E’en temp’rate souls: though sweeter be its taste
Than dropping honey, in the heart of man
Swelling, like smoke.
[tr. Derby (1864)]

May strife perish utterly among gods and men, and wrath that stirreth even a wise man to be vexed, wrath that far sweeter than trickling honey waxeth like smoke in the breasts of men.
[tr. Leaf/Lang/Myers (1891)]

Therefore, perish strife both from among gods and men, and anger, wherein even a righteous man will harden his heart -- which rises up in the soul of a man like smoke, and the taste thereof is sweeter than drops of honey.
[tr. Butler (1898)]

So may strife perish from among gods and men, and anger that setteth a man on to grow wroth, how wise soever he be, and that sweeter far than trickling honey waxeth like smoke in the breasts of men.
[tr. Murray (1924)]

Why, I wish that strife would vanish away from among gods and mortals, and gall, which makes a man grow angry for all his great mind, that gall of anger that swarms like smoke inside of a man's heart and becomes a thing sweeter to him by far than the dripping of honey. [tr. Lattimore (1951)]

Ah, let strife and rancor perish from the lives of gods and men, with anger that envenoms even the wise and is far sweeter than slow-dripping honey, clouding the hearts of men like smoke.
[tr. Fitzgerald (1974)]

If only strife could die from the lives of gods and men
and anger that drives the sanest man to flare in outrage --
bitter gall, sweeter than dripping streams of honey,
that swarms in people's chests and blinds like smoke.
[tr. Fagles (1990), l. 126ff]
Added on 10-Feb-21 | Last updated 1-Dec-21
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As Israel’s own history shows, fighting a stronger opponent will cause a society to unite, but combating a weaker one will cause it to split and disintegrate.

Martin van Creveld b. 1946) Israeli military historian and theorist
“Only a wall will keep them from each other’s throats,” The Telegraph (17 Mar 2002)
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Added on 12-Jan-21 | Last updated 12-Jan-21
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Both gods knotted the rope of strife and leveling war,
strangling both sides at once by stretching the mighty cable,
never broken, never slipped, that snapped the knees of thousands.

[Τοὶ δ’ ἔριδος κρατερῆς καὶ ὁμοιΐου πτολέμοιο
πεῖραρ ἐπαλλάξαντες ἐπ’ ἀμφοτέροισι τάνυσσαν
ἄῤῥηκτόν τ’ ἄλυτόν τε, τὸ πολλῶν γούνατ’ ἔλυσεν.]

Homer (fl. 7th-8th C. BC) Greek author
The Iliad [Ἰλιάς], Book 13, l. 358ff (13.358) (c. 750 BC) [tr. Fagles (1990), l. 417ff]

On Zeus and Poseidon driving on the Greeks and Trojans during the war. Alt. trans.:

So these Gods made men’s valours great, but equall’d them with war
As harmful as their hearts were good; and stretch’d those chains as far
On both sides as their limbs could bear, in which they were involv’d
Past breach, or loosing, that their knees might therefore be dissolv’d.
[tr. Chapman (1611), l. 336ff]

These powers infold the Greek and Trojan train
In War and Discord's adamantine chain;
Indissolubly strong; the fatal tie
Is stretched on both, and close-compelled they die.
[tr. Pope (1715-20)]

Thus, these Immortal Two, straining the cord
Indissoluble of all-wasting war,
Alternate measured with it either host,
And loosed the joints of many a warrior bold.
[tr. Cowper (1791), l. 438ff]

This way and that they tugg’d of furious war
And balanc’d strife, where many a warrior fell,
The straining rope, which none might break or loose.
[tr. Derby (1864)]

These twain had strained the ends of the cords of strong strife and equal war, and had stretched them over both Trojans and Achaians, a knot that none might break nor undo, for the loosening of the knees of many.
[tr. Leaf/Lang/Myers (1891)]

Thus, then, did these two devise a knot of war and battle, that none could unloose or break, and set both sides tugging at it, to the failing of men's knees beneath them.
[tr. Butler (1898)]

So these twain knotted the ends of the cords of mighty strife and evil war, and drew them taut over both armies, a knot none might break nor undo, that loosed the knees of many men.
[tr. Murray (1924)]

So these two had looped over both sides a crossing
cable of strong discord and the closing of the battle, not to be
slipped, not to be broken, which unstrung the knees of many.
[tr. Lattimore (1951)]

These gods had interlocked and drawn
an ultimate hard line of strife and war
between the armies; none
could loosen or break that line
that had undone the knees of many men.
[tr. Fitzgerald (1974)]

Added on 30-Dec-20 | Last updated 1-Dec-21
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More quotes by Homer

Cursed is the man, and void of law and right,
Unworthy property, unworthy light,
Unfit for public rule, or private care,
That wretch, that monster, that delights in war:
Whose lust is murder, and whose horrid joy
To tear his country, and his kind destroy!

[Ἀφρήτωρ ἀθέμιστος ἀνέστιός ἐστιν ἐκεῖνος
ὃς πολέμου ἔραται ἐπιδημίου ὀκρυόεντος.]

Homer (fl. 7th-8th C. BC) Greek author
The Iliad [Ἰλιάς], Book 9, l. 63ff (9.63-64) [Nestor] (c. 750 BC) [tr. Pope (1715-20)]
    (Source)

Alt. trans.:

A hater of society, unjust, and wild, is he
That loves intestine war, being stuff’d with manless cruelty.
[tr. Chapman (1611), ll. 63-64]

He is a wretch, insensible and dead
To all the charities of social life,
Whose pleasure is in civil broils alone.
[tr. Cowper (1791), ll. 75-77]

Tribeless, lawless, homeless is he, who loves horrid civil war.
[tr. Buckley (1860)]

Religious, social, and domestic ties
Alike he violates, who willingly
Would court the horrors of internal strife.
[tr. Derby (1864), ll. 72-74]

He that foments civil discord is a clanless, hearthless outlaw
[tr. Butler (1898)]

A clanless, lawless, hearthless man is he that loveth dread strife among his own folk.
[tr. Murray (1924)]

Lost to the clan,
lost to the hearth, lost to the old ways, that one
who lusts for all the horrors of war with his own people.
[Fagles (1990), ll. 73-75]
Added on 28-Oct-20 | Last updated 1-Dec-21
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More quotes by Homer

It happens sometimes that two opposite tendencies flourish together, deriving strength from a sense of the danger with which each is threatened by the popularity of the other. Where the antagonism is not absolute, each may gain by being compelled to recognise the strong points in the rival position. In a serious controversy the right is seldom or never all on one side; and in the normal course of events both theories undergo some modification through the influence of their opponents, until a compromise, not always logically defensible, brings to an end the acute stage of the controversy.

William Ralph Inge (1860-1954) English prelate [Dean Inge]
“Institutionalism and Mysticism” (1914), Outspoken Essays: First Series (1914)
    (Source)
Added on 29-Jun-20 | Last updated 29-Jun-20
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Modern politics cannot be a matter of genuine moral consensus. And it is not. Modern politics is civil war carried on by other means.

Alasdair MacIntyre (b. 1929) Scottish philosopher
After Virtue: A Study of Moral Theory, ch. 17 (1981)
    (Source)
Added on 23-Jun-20 | Last updated 23-Jun-20
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More quotes by MacIntyre, Alasdair

Wars begin when you will, but they do not end when you please.

Niccolò Machiavelli (1469-1527) Italian politician, philosopher, political scientist
Florentine Histories, Book 3, ch. 2 (1521-5)

As commonly given, specific translation unknown. Alt. trans.:
Added on 14-Jan-20 | Last updated 14-Jan-20
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More quotes by Machiavelli, Niccolo

I have changed my definition of tragedy. I now think tragedy is not foul deeds done to a person (usually noble in some manner) but rather that tragedy is irresolvable conflict. Both sides/ideas are right.

Rita Mae Brown (b. 1944) American author, playwright
Starting from Scratch, Part 3 “The Work,” “Plot” (1989)
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Every man has a certain sphere of discretion, which he has a right to expect shall not be infringed by his neighbors. This right flows from the very nature of man. First, all men are fallible: no man can be justified in setting up his judgment as a standard for others. We have no infallible judge of controversies; each man in his own apprehension is right in his decisions; and we can find no satisfactory mode of adjusting their jarring pretensions. If every one be desirous of imposing his sense upon others, it will at last come to be a controversy, not of reason, but of force.

William Godwin (1756-1836) English journalist, political philosopher, novelist
Enquiry Concerning Political Justice, Book 2, ch. 5 (1793)
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The longest absence is less perilous to love than the terrible trials of incessant proximity.

Ouida (1839-1908) English novelist [pseud. of Maria Louise Ramé]
Friendship, ch. 11 (1878)
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It is in vain to say human beings ought to be satisfied with tranquility: they must have action; and they will make it if they cannot find it.

Charlotte Brontë (1816-1855) British novelist [pseud. Currer Bell]
Jane Eyre, ch. 12 [Jane] (1847)
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It is no longer a choice, my friends, between violence and nonviolence. It is either nonviolence or nonexistence. And the alternative to disarmament, the alternative to a greater suspension of nuclear tests, the alternative to strengthening the United Nations and thereby disarming the whole world, may well be a civilization plunged into the abyss of annihilation, and our earthly habitat would be transformed into an inferno that even the mind of Dante could not imagine.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
“Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution,” National Cathedral, Washington, DC (31 Mar 1968)
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Hell to ships, hell to men, hell to cities.

Aeschylus (525-456 BC) Greek dramatist (Æschylus)
Agamemnon

Speaking of Helen of Troy. The literal translation is "Ship-destroyer, man-destroyer, city-destroyer."
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“Okay,” I said to Teldra. “Look. I’ll concede that, over the years, I’ve learned that there’s no point in making a bad situation worse, and that it’s less work to talk yourself out of a tough spot than to slice your way out, and that words, while potentially deadly, are less deadly than Morganti daggers. But I don’t think that is quite the same thing as being courteous.”

“I believe, Lord Taltos, that it is very much the same thing.”

Steven Brust (b. 1955) American writer, systems programmer
Issola (2001)
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Good is that which makes for unity; Evil is that which makes for separateness.

Huxley - good unity evil separateness - wist_info quote

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) English novelist, essayist and critic
Ends and Means, “Ethics” (1937)
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Possibly my hatred of war blinds me so that I cannot comprehend the arguments they adduce. But, in my opinion, there is no such thing as a preventive war. Although this suggestion is repeatedly made, none has yet explained how war prevents war. Worse than this, no one has been able to explain away the fact that war creates the conditions that beget war.

Dwight David Eisenhower (1890-1969) American general, US President (1953-61)
Speech, Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh (19 Oct 1950)
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In vast stretches of the earth, men awoke today in hunger. They will spend the day in unceasing toil. And as the sun goes down they will still know hunger. They will see suffering in the eyes of their children. Many despair that their labor will ever decently shelter their families or protect them against disease. So long as this is so, peace and freedom will be in danger throughout our world. For wherever free men lose hope of progress, liberty will be weakened and the seeds of conflict will be sown.

Dwight David Eisenhower (1890-1969) American general, US President (1953-61)
Speech, Tenth Colombo Plan Meeting, Seattle (10 Nov 1958)
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There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle, because we do not lead single-issue lives.

Lorde - single issue - wist_info quote

Audre Lorde (1934-1992) American writer, feminist, civil rights activist
“Learning from the 60s,” speech, Malcolm X weekend, Harvard University (Feb 1982)
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Reprinted in Sister Outsider (1984).
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Commonly they whose tongue is their weapon, use their feet for defense.

Philip Sidney (1554-1586) English poet, courtier, scholar, and soldier
(Attributed)
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Oh, the poor folks hate the rich folks,
And the rich folks hate the poor folks,
All of my folks hate all of your folks,
It’s American as apple pie.

Tom Lehrer (b. 1928) American mathematician, satirist, songwriter
“National Brotherhood Week” (1965)
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CHAPLAIN: War is like love, it always finds a way.

Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956) German poet, playwright, director, dramaturgist
Mother Courage and Her Children, sc. 6 (1939)
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If a couple could see themselves twenty years later they might not recognize their love, but they would recognize their argument.

James Richardson (b. 1950) American poet
Vectors: Aphorisms and Ten-Second Essays, # 20 (2001)
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As a member of the avant-garde who is capable of perceiving the conspiracy before it is fully obvious to an as yet unaroused public, the paranoid is a militant leader. He does not see social conflict as something to be mediated and compromised, in the manner of the working politician. Since what is at stake is always a conflict between absolute good and absolute evil, what is necessary is not compromise but the will to fight things out to a finish. Since the enemy is thought of as being totally evil and totally unappeasable, he must be totally eliminated — if not from the world, at least from the theatre of operations to which the paranoid directs his attention. This demand for total triumph leads to the formulation of hopelessly unrealistic goals, and since these goals are not even remotely attainable, failure constantly heightens the paranoid’s sense of frustration. Even partial success leaves him with the same feeling of powerlessness with which he began, and this in turn only strengthens his awareness of the vast and terrifying quality of the enemy he opposes.

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).
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In love, in war, in conversation, in business, confidence and resolution are the principal things.

William Hazlitt (1778-1830) English writer
Table Talk, “On the Qualifications Necessary to Success in Life” (1822)
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When you teach a man to hate and fear his brother, when you teach that he is a lesser man because of his color or his beliefs or the policies he pursues, when you teach that those who differ from you threaten your freedom or your job or your family, then you also learn to confront others not as fellow citizens but as enemies, to be met not with cooperation but with conquest; to be subjugated and mastered. We learn, at the last, to look at our brothers as aliens, men with whom we share a city, but not a community; men bound to us in common dwelling, but not in common effort. We learn to share only a common fear, only a common desire to retreat from each other, only a common impulse to meet disagreement with force.

Robert Francis Kennedy (1925-1968) American politician
“On the Mindless Menace of Violence,” speech, City Club of Cleveland (5 Apr 1968)
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All Politeness is owing to Liberty. We polish one another, and rub off our Corners and rough Sides by a sort of amicable Collision. To restrain this, is inevitably to bring a Rust upon Men’s Understandings.

Anthony Cooper, 3rd Earl of Shaftesbury (1671-1713) English politician and philosopher
Characteristicks of Men, Manners, Opinions, Times, Vol. 1, “Sensus Communis” (1711)
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But what a cruel thing is war; to separate and destroy families and friends, and mar the purest joys and happiness God has granted us in this world; to fill our hearts with hatred instead of love for our neighbors, and to devastate the fair face of this beautiful world!

Robert E. Lee (1807-1870) American military leader
Letter to his wife (25 Dec 1862)
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Peace means something different from “not fighting.” Those aren’t peace advocates, they’re “stop fighting” advocates. Peace is an active and complex thing and sometimes fighting is part of what it takes to get it.

Jo Walton (b. 1964) Welsh-Canadian writer and poet
(Attributed)
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Two souls, alas, are housed within my breast,
And each will wrestle for the mastery there.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) German poet, statesman, scientist
Faust, 1, “Outside the City Gate” (1808-1832) [tr. Wayne (1959)]
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Always a friend to peace and believing it to promote eminently the happiness and prosperity of mankind, I am ever unwilling that it should be disturbed as long as the rights and interests of the nations can be preserved. But whensoever hostile aggressions on these require a resort to war, we must meet our duty and convince the world that we are just friends and brave enemies.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) American political philosopher, polymath, statesman, US President (1801-09)
Letter to Andrew Jackson (1806) [ME 19:156]
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Boys are the cash of war. Whoever said
We’re not free-spenders doesn’t know our likes.

John Ciardi (1916-1986) American poet, writer, critic
“New Year’s Eve,” This Strangest Everything (1966)
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It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
(Attributed)
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I love to see two truths at the same time. Every good comparison gives the mind this advantage.

Joseph Joubert (1754-1824) French moralist
Pensées (1838) [ed. Auster (1983)]
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O poor mortals, how ye make this earth bitter for each other.

Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881) Scottish essayist and historian
The French Revolution: A History, 1.5.5 (1837)
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Religions are kept alive by heresies, which are really sudden explosions of faith.  Dead religions do not produce them.

Gerald Brenan (1894-1987) British writer and Hispanist [Edward FitzGerald Brenan]
Thoughts in a Dry Season (1978)
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To this war of every man against every man, this also is consequent; that nothing can be unjust. The notions of right and wrong, justice and injustice, have there no place. Where there is no common power, there is no law; where no law, no injustice. Force and fraud are in war the two cardinal virtues.

Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) English philosopher
Leviathan, Part 1, ch. 13 (1651)
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He that wrestles with us strengthens our nerves and sharpens our skill. Our antagonist is our helper.

Edmund Burke (1729-1797) Anglo-Irish statesman, orator, philosopher
Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790)
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Hereby it is manifest that during the time men live without a common power to keep them all in awe, they are in that condition which is called war; and such a war as is of every man against every man.

Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) English philosopher
Leviathan, Part 1, ch. 13 (1651)
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Whatsoever therefore is consequent to a time of Warre, where every man is Enemy to every man; the same is consequent to the time, wherein men live without other security, than what their own strength, and their own invention shall furnish them withall. In such condition, there is no place for Industry; because the fruit thereof is uncertain; and consequently no Culture of the Earth; no Navigation, nor use of the commodities that may be imported by Sea; no commodious Building; no Instruments of moving, and removing such things as require much force; no Knowledge of the face of the Earth; no account of Time; no Arts; no Letters; no Society; and which is worst of all, continuall feare, and danger of violent death; And the life of man, solitary, poore, nasty, brutish, and short.

Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) English philosopher
Leviathan, Part 1, ch. 13 (1651)
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Never contend with a man who has nothing to lose.

Baltasar Gracián y Morales (1601-1658) Spanish Jesuit priest, writer, philosopher
The Art of Worldly Wisdom [Oráculo Manual y Arte de Prudencia], #172 (1647) [tr. Jacobs (1892)]
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Hampden, on the other hand, was for vigorous and decisive measures. When he drew the sword, as Clarendon has well aid, he threw away the scabbard. He had shown that he knew better than any public man of his time how to value and how to practice moderation. He knew that the essence of war is violence, and that moderation in war is imbecility.

Thomas Babington Macaulay (1800-1859) English writer and politician
“John Hampden,” Essays Contributed to the Edinburgh Review, Vol. 1 (1843)
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Review of Lord Nugent, Some Memorials of John Hampden, His Party, and His Times (1831).
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Appeasement does not always lead to war; sometimes it leads to surrender.

William Safire (1929-2009) American author, columnist, journalist, speechwriter
“Giving War a Chance,” New York Times (2 Nov 1989)
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To fight is a radical instinct; if men have nothing else to fight over they fight over words, fancies, or women, or they will fight because they dislike each other’s looks, or because they have met walking in opposite directions. To knock a thing down, especially if it is cocked at an arrogant angle, is a deep delight of the blood.

George Santayana (1863-1952) Spanish-American poet and philosopher [Jorge Agustín Nicolás Ruíz de Santayana y Borrás]
The Life of Reason or The Phases of Human Progress, vol. 2 “Reason in Society” (1905)
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Full and free expression of the right by the citizen is ordinarily also his duty; for its exercise is more important to the Nation than it is to himself. Like the course of the heavenly bodies, harmony in national life is a resultant of the struggle between contending forces. In the frank expression of conflicting opinions lies the greatest promise of wisdom in governmental action.

Louis Brandeis (1856-1941) American lawyer, activist, Supreme Court Justice (1916-39)
Gilbert v. Minnesota, 254 US 325 (1920) [Dissent]
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You don’t promote the cause of peace by talking only to people with whom you agree.

Dwight David Eisenhower (1890-1969) American general, US President (1953-61)
News conference (20 Jan 1957)
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When will our consciences grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery rather than avenge it?

Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962) First Lady of the US (1933-45), politician, diplomat, activist
“My Day” (16 Feb 1946)
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