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I have known nearly all the famous men of our age and I have seen them made wretched by this glorious passion for fame, and die after debauching their moral natures in its service.
[J’ai connu presque tous les hommes célèbres de notre tems, et que je les ai vus malheureux par cette belle passion de célébrité, et mourir, après avoir dégradé par elle leur caractère moral.]

Nicolas Chamfort
Nicolas Chamfort (1741-1794) French writer, epigrammist (b. Nicolas-Sébastien Roch)
Products of Perfected Civilization [Produits de la Civilisation Perfectionée], Part 1 “Maxims and Thoughts [Maximes et Pensées],” “Question” (1795) [tr. Merwin (1969)]

(Source (French)). Alternate translation:

I have known nearly every famous man in our times, and I have seen them unhappy through this pretty passion for celebrity, and die after having degraded their moral character for it.
[tr. Siniscalchi (1994)]

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Laws like to Cobwebs catch small Flies,
Great ones break thro’ before your eyes.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard (1734 ed.)

See Swift.
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Sometimes when a person sees the roguery of poor people and the thievery of people in high positions, he is tempted to regard society as a forest full of robbers, the most dangerous of which are the policemen that are set up to stop the others.

[En voyant quelquefois les friponneries des petits et les brigandages des hommes en place, on est tenté de regarder la société comme un bois rempli de voleurs, dont les plus dangereux sont les archers, préposés pour arrêter les autres.]

Nicolas Chamfort
Nicolas Chamfort (1741-1794) French writer, epigrammist (b. Nicolas-Sébastien Roch)
Products of Perfected Civilization [Produits de la Civilisation Perfectionée], Part 1 “Maxims and Thoughts [Maximes et Pensées],” ch. 3, ¶ 198 (1795) [tr. Siniscalchi (1994)]

(Source (French)). Alternate translations:

Seeing the rogueries of little men and the extortions of the great in office, one is tempted to look upon Society as a wood infested by robbers, the most dangerous being the constables sent to arrest the others.
[tr. Mathers (1926)]

At times, seeing the petty thieveries of the petty, and the robberies of those in office, one is tempted to regard society as a wood full of thieves, of which the most dangerous are the officers set there to arrest the others.
[tr. Merwin (1969)]

Sometimes, when one observes the rogueries perpetuated by petty people and the graft committed by men in office, one is tempted to think of society as a wood infested by thieves, of which the most dangerous are the archers, posted to prevent the others from escaping.
[tr. Pearson (1973)]

There are times when, seeing the nasty tricks people get up to, the gross frauds of high officers, you're tempted to think that you're in a wood infested by thieves, amongst whom the most dangerous are the police, whose purpose is supposed to be that of arresting them.
[tr. Parmée (2003), ¶ 152]

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Where large sums of money are concerned, it is advisable to trust nobody.

Agatha Christie (1890-1976) English writer
Endless Night, ch. 21 [Mr. Lippincott] (1967)
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We come now to the third ground for abusing old age, and that is, that it is devoid of sensual pleasures. O glorious boon of age, if it does indeed free us from youth’s most vicious fault! Now listen, most noble young men, to what that remarkably great and distinguished man, Archytas of Tarentum, said in an ancient speech repeated to me when I was a young man serving with Quintus Maximus at Tarentum: “No more deadly curse,” said he, “has been given by nature to man than carnal pleasure, through eagerness for which the passions are driven recklessly and uncontrollably to its gratification. From it come treason and the overthrow of states; and from it spring secret and corrupt conferences with public foes. In short, there is no criminal purpose and no evil deed which the lust for pleasure will not drive men to undertake. Indeed, rape, adultery, and every like offence are set in motion by the enticements of pleasure and by nothing else; and since nature — or some god, perhaps — has given to man nothing more excellent than his intellect, therefore this divine gift has no deadlier foe than pleasure; for where lust holds despotic sway self-control has no place, and in pleasure’s realm there is not a single spot where virtue can put her foot.”

[Sequitur tertia vituperatio senectutis, quod eam carere dicunt voluptatibus. O praeclarum munus aetatis, si quidem id aufert a nobis, quod est in adulescentia vitiosissimum! Accipite enim, optimi adulescentes, veterem orationem Archytae Tarentini, magni in primis et praeclari viri, quae mihi tradita est cum essem adulescens Tarenti cum Q. Maximo. Nullam capitaliorem pestem quam voluptatem corporis hominibus dicebat a natura datam, cuius voluptatis avidae libidines temere et effrenate ad potiendum incitarentur. Hinc patriae proditiones, hinc rerum publicarum eversiones, hinc cum hostibus clandestina colloquia nasci; nullum denique scelus, nullum malum facinus esse, ad quod suscipiendum non libido voluptatis impelleret; stupra vero et adulteria et omne tale flagitium nullis excitari aliis illecebris nisi voluptatis; cumque homini sive natura sive quis deus nihil mente praestabilius dedisset, huic divino muneri ac dono nihil tam esse inimicum quam voluptatem. Nec enim lubidine dominante temperantiae locum esse, neque omnino in voluptatis regno virtutem posse consistere.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
De Senectute [Cato Maior; On Old Age], ch. 12 / sec. 39ff (12.39-41) (44 BC) [tr. Falconer (1923)]

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

Nowe folowith the iij vituperacion & defaute by the which yong men seyne that olde age is noiouse myschaunte & wretchid by cause it hath almost no flesshely delectacyons or sensualitees as for to gete with childeren and yssue to encrece and multiplie the world. To whom I answere forwith that it is right a noble gyfte rewarde & the right grete worship of olde age that it be sequestred depryved and dischargid of the delectacyons of sensualitee of the body or flesshely lustis for ys it be so that olde age be pryved and sequestred of such delectacyons It had takin awey from us olde men that thyng whiche is right vicious & right foule in the age of adolescence & yongthe.
And neverthelesshe my right good and lovyng yong men Scipion and Lelius an auncyent senatour purposid an oracion that a philosopher callid Archites made whiche was takyn of Haniballe duc of Cartage when he werrid in Ytaile. He was recoverde by Quintus Fabius the noble senatour when he recoverd Tarente, takyn by the said Haniballe. Archites was pryncypally a grete man connyngly lernyd in sciences and in vertues and was right famous and noble. This oracion purposid which Archites made was yeven to me when I adolescent and yong of age was at Tarente with the seid Fabius, and by this oracyon seid Archites that nature which ordeyned to men complexions gave nevir no pestelence peyne nor turment more damageable to yong men than is flesshely delectacyon. The coveitous playsirs of delectacyon moven tyce and steeren men over boldely and withoute bridell of reason or shame or any restraynt to execute and make an ende of their foule lustys. For thought delectacy∣ons ben made and conspired treasons divisions and dissencyons of countrees & the destruccions of their comon profite, and the secretes of parlementys disclosed to our ennemyes and adversarye partye there is noon untrou∣the there is noon evyll werke but pleasyre of delectacyon which shall constrayne men to encline therto, by cause that they enioyen owt of mesure of spousehode brekyng & that so fervently the cause of defoulyng of maydens virgins the anontry of weddyd women & all such corrupte untrew werkys, whiche ben nevir mevid nor undirtakyn but by the insolence & wantownes & wenlacys of flesshely delectacyon. Archites also saide that as nature by power of which god hath yeven to men noth̄yng bettir than is the soule by the which they have undirstondyng & mynde, also to that soule which is an office & a gift dyvine nothyng is so grete ennemye nor so contrary as ben flesshely delectacyons, for sith delectacyon & flesshely pleasir have dominacyon in the regyon of man. That is to witt in the courage of his body, the vertue of attemperance may not be lodgid therin & wthin the regyon of man which is yeven to delectacyon may not abyde any wisedome nor vertue.
[tr. Worcester/Worcester/Scrope (1481)]

Now followeth the third dispraise and fault which is laid in old age, because (say they) it is without pleasure, and must forego voluptuous appetites. O noble and excellent gift, wherewith old age is so blessed, if it take from us that thing, which is in youth most vicious and detestable. But you (noble and virtuous gentlemen, Scipio and Laelius) hear what Archytas, the famous philosopher of Tarentum, was wont to say, whose oration touching on the same matter was lent and delivered to me, when I was a young man and served under Quintus Maximus at the siege of Tarentum. He said that no plague was given by nature so great and pernicious unto men, as the bestial pleasures and voluptuousness of the body: which which pleasures the dissolute and libidinous lusts of men do so much affect and desire, that with all licentious profanation and outrage, their minds be incited and stirred to pursue the same, thinking all things lawful for their unbridled appetites, so that they may enjoy their beastly desires and still wallow in the filthy puddle of their hellish sensuality. Hence (said he_ as from a fountain do spring out all kinds of mischief, as treason, betraying of countries, the ruin and subversion of commonwealths, secret conventicles, and privy conferences with the enemies; finally (he said), there was none so great a villainy, nor any so flagitious and horrible an enormity, which the inordinate desire of pleasure would not egg and prick forward men's froward wills to enterprise: furthermore, that whoredom, adultery, and all such like heinous facts of carnal concupiscency were by none other lures or enticements provoked but by pleasure. And whereas either nature or God hath given unto man nothing of so noble excellency as the mind or reasonable soul, there is nothing so great an enemy until this inestimable and divine gift as pleasure.
For where pleasure beareth away and ruleth the roast, there is no mansion or dwelling-place left for temperance and sobriety, and, to be short, virtue cannot remain where pleasure reigneth.
[tr. Newton (1569)]

There followeth the third Objection to age; they say that it wanteth pleasures. Oh excellent gift of age, if it take away that which makes our youth vitious; therefore hear now, O yee excellent young men, the old oration of Architas the Tarentine, a singular and worthy man, which was delivered me when I was a young man with Q. Maximus at Tarentum. He said that there was no deadlier plague given by nature to men, then the pleasure of the body, the greedy lusts whereof are rash and unbrideledly, stirred up to get and gain. From hence are derived treasons, from hence arise the overthrowes of Commonwealths, and the privy conspiracies and whisperings with the enemies. That to conclude, there was no wickednesse, nor no evill deed, to the undertaking of which, the lust of pleasure did not incite a man; and that whoredome, adultery, and all such evill was stirred up by no other bait then pleasure. And forasmuch as nature, or some God, hath given nothing more excellent to a man, then his minde; to this divine gift, there is no greater enemy then pleasure. For lust bearing rule, there is no place for temperance, neither in the Kingdome of pleasure can virtue consist.
[tr. Austin (1648)]

Now must I draw my forces 'gainst that Host
Of Pleasures, which i'th' Sea of age are lost.
Oh, thou most high transcendent gift of age!
Youth from its folly thus to disengage.
And now receive from me that most divine
Oration of that noble Tarentine,
Which at Tarentum I long since did hear;
When I attended the great Fabius there.
Yee Gods, was it man's Nature? or his Fate?
Betray'd him with sweet pleasures poyson'd bait?
Which he, with all designs of art, or power,
Doth with unbridled appetite devour;
And as all poysons seek the noblest part,
Pleasure possesses first the head and heart;
Intoxicating both, by them, she finds,
And burns the Sacred Temples of our Minds.
Furies, which Reasons divine chains had bound,
(That being broken) all the World confound.
Lust, Murder, Treason, Avarice, and Hell
It self broke loose; in Reason's Pallace dwell,
Truth, Honour, Justice, Temperance, are fled,
All her attendants into darkness led.
But why all this discourse? when pleasure's rage
Hath conquer'd reason, we must treat with age.
Age undermines, and will in time surprize
Her strongest Forts, and cut off all supplies.
And joyn'd in league with strong necessity,
Pleasure must flie, or else by famine die.v [tr. Denham (1669)]

The third Accusation against Old Age is, that it deprives us of the Enjoyments of Pleasure. O glorious Priviledge of Age, if through thy means we can get rid of the most pernicious Bane, to which our You is liable! Give me leave to repeat to you, what a great Orator has said upon this Subject.
"Nature has not implanted in Man any more execrable Curse, than that of bodily Pleasures; to the gratification of which we are hurried on, wich such unbounded and licentious Appetites. For to what else is oweing the Subversion of so many States and Kingdoms? What Villainy too daring, what Undertaking too hazardous, which the Desire of satisfying our unbounded Lusts will not instigate us to attempt? To what are Rapes, Adulteries, or such like abominable Enormities owing, but to the gratification of our Appetites? And since the Faculties of Reason, and Judgment, are the most excellent Qualities, which Nature, or Providence, has conferred upon us; it is certain that nothing can be more destructive, more pernicious to this divine Gift, than the Indulging bodily Pleasures? For it is impossible to observe an Degrees of Temperance, while we are under the Dominion of our unruly Passions, nor can Virtue consiste with the pursuit of such Enjoyments."
[tr. Hemming (1716)]

We come now to the Third Objection, which is, That Old Age is deprived of Pleasure. O excellent State! if it deprives us of what is most vitious in You! For, hear ye well-disposed young Men, the old Remark of Architas the Tarentine, a most ingenious Man, which was given to me when I was a young Fellow at Tarentum, with Q. Maximus. He said, "That Nature had not given Mankind a greater Plague than the Pleasure of the body, whose eager Desires for the Enjoyment of it, are altogether loose and unbridled: That from hence arise Conspiracies against our Country, Subversions of the Commonwealth, and treasonable Conferences with the Enemy. In short, that there was no Wickedness nor Capital Crime, but this Lust after Pleasure would put a man upon undertaking; that Whoredom, Adultery, and all such Vices, were excited by no other Allurements than those of Pleasure. That as Nature, or some God, had given to Man nothing more valuable than his Mind, so to that Gift was joined nothing so much its Enemy as Pleasure; for when Lust is predominant, there is no Room for Temperance; nor can Virtue possibly consist in Pleasure's Throne."
[tr. J. D. (1744)]

The third Charge against Old-Age was, That it is (they say) insensible to Pleasure, and the Enjoyments arising from the Gratifications of the Senses. And a most blessed and heavenly Effect it truly is, if it eases of what in Youth was the sorest and cruellest Plague of Life. Pray listen, my good Friends, to an old Discourse of Archytas the Tarentine, a great and excellent Man in his Time, which I learned when I was but young myself, at Tarentum, under Fabius Maximus, at the Time he recovered that Place. The greatest Curse, the heaviest Plague, said he, derived on Man from Nature, is bodily Pleasure, when the Passions are indulged, and strong inordinate Desires are raised and set in Motion for obtaining it. For this have Men betray'd their Country; for this have States and Governments been plunged in Ruin; for this have treacherous Correspondences been held with publick Enemies: In short, there is no Mischief so horrid, no Villany so execrable, that this will not prompt to perpetrate. And as Adultery, and all the Crimes of that Tribe, are the natural Effects of it; so of course are all the fatal Consequences that ensue on them. 'Tis owned, that the most noble and excellent Gift of Heaven to Man, is his Reason: And 'tis as sure, that of all the Enemies Reason has to engage with, Pleasure is the most capital, and the most pernicious: For where its great Incentive, Lust, prevails, Temperance can have no Place; nor under the Dominion of Pleasure, can Virtue possibly subsist.
[tr. Logan (1750)]

Let us now proceed to examine the third article of complaint against old age, as "bereaving us," it seems, "of the sensual gratifications." Happy effect indeed, if it deliver us from those snares which allure youth into some of the worst vices to which that age is addicted. Suffer me upon this occasion, my excellent young friends, to acquaint vou with the substance of a discourse which was held many years since by that illustrious philosopher Archytas, of Tarentum, as it was related to me when I was a young man in the army of Quintus Maximus, at the siege of that city. "Nature," said this illustrious sage, "has not conferred on mankind a more dangerous present than those pleasures which attend the sensual indulgences; as the passions they excite are too apt to run away with reason, in a lawless and unbridled pursuit of their respective enjoyments. It is in order to gratify inclinations of this ensnaring kind that men are tempted to hold clandestine correspondence with the enemies of the state, to subvert governments, and turn traitors to their country. In short, there is no sort of crimes that afiect the public welfare to which an inordinate love of the sensual pleasures may not directly lead. And as to vices of a more private tendency -- rapes, adulteries and every other flagitious violation of the moral duties -- are they not perpetrated solely from this single motive? Reason, on the other hand," continued Archytas," is the noblest gift which God, or nature, has bestowed on the sons of men. Now nothing is so great an enemy to that divine endowment, as the pleasures of sense. For neither temperance, nor any other of the more exalted virtues, can find a place in that breast which is under the dominion of the voluptuous passions."
[tr. Melmoth (1773)]

The third charge against old age comes next, namely, that they say that it is without pleasures. O glorious privilege of old age, if indeed it takes away from us that which in youth is most faulty! For listen, excellent young men, to an ancient discourse of Archytas of Tarentum, a singularly great and renowned man, which was delivered to me when I was a young man with Quintus Maximus: He said, that no deadlier plague than the pleasure of the body was given to men by Nature; of which pleasure the passions being excessively fond, impelled men to enjoy them rashly and precipitously. That hence rose betrayals of country, hence subversions of states, hence clandestine correspondence with enemies. In a word, that there is no atrocity, no wicked deed, to the undertaking of which the lust of pleasure did not incite; and that seductions and adulteries, and every such crime, are called into existence by no other allurements but pleasure; and whereas, whether Nature or some deity had given nothing to man more excellent than the understanding, nothing was more hostile to this divine gift and endowment than pleasure. For neither, when lust bore sway, was there room for temperance, nor could virtue hold any place at all in the reign of pleasure.
[Cornish Bros. ed. (1847)]

Then follows the third topic of blame against old age, that they say it has no pleasures. Oh, noble privilege of age! if indeed it takes from us that which is in youth the greatest defect. For listen, most excellent young men, to the ancient speech of Archytas of Tarentum, a man eminently great and illustrious, which was reported to me when I, a young man, was at Tarentum with Quintus Maximus. He said that no more deadly plague than the pleasure of the body was inflicted on men by nature; for the passions, greedy of that pleasure, were in a rash and unbridled manner incited to possess it; that hence arose treasons against one's country, hence the ruining of states, hence clandestine conferences with enemies: in short, that there was no crime, no wicked act, to the undertaking of which the lust of pleasure did not impel; but that fornications and adulteries and every such crime, were provoked by no other allurements than those of pleasure. And whereas either nature or some god had given to man nothing more excellent than his mind; that to this divine function and gift, nothing was so hostile as pleasure: since where lust bore sway, there was no room for self-restraint; and in the realm of pleasure, virtue could by no possibility exist.
[tr. Edmonds (1874)]

I come now to the third charge against old age, that, as it is alleged, it lacks the pleasures of sense. O admirable service of old age, if indeed it takes from us what in youth is more harmful than all things else! For I would have you hear, young men, an ancient discourse of Archytas of Tarentum, a man of great distinction and celebrity, as it was repeated to me when in my youth I was at Tarentum with Quintus Maximus. "Man has received from nature," said he, "no more fatal scourge than bodily pleasure, by which the passions in their eagerness for gratification are made reckless and are released from all restraint. Hence spring treasons against one's country; hence, overthrows of states; hence, clandestine plottings with enemies. In fine, there is no form of guilt, no atrocity of evil, to the accomplishment of which men are not driven by lust for pleasure. Debaucheries, adulteries, and all enormities of that kind have no other inducing cause than the allurements of pleasure. Still more, while neither Nature nor any god has bestowed upon man aught more noble than mind, nothing is so hostile as pleasure to this divine endowment and gift. Nor while lust bears sway can self-restraint find place, nor under the reign of pleasure can virtue have any foothold whatever."
[tr. Peabody (1884)]

The third charge against old age is that it LACKS SENSUAL PLEASURES. What a splendid service does old age render, if it takes from us the greatest blot of youth! Listen, my dear young friends, to a speech of Archytas of Tarentum, among the greatest and most illustrious of men, which was put into my hands when as a young man I was at Tarentum with Q. Maximus. "No more deadly curse than sensual pleasure has been inflicted on mankind by nature, to gratify which our wanton appetites are roused beyond all prudence or restraint. Fornications and adulteries, and every abomination of that kind, are brought about by the enticements of pleasure and by them alone. Intellect is the best gift of nature or God: to this divine gift and endowment there is nothing so inimical as pleasure. For when appetite is our master, there is no place for self-control; nor where pleasure reigns supreme can virtue hold its ground."
[tr. Shuckburgh (1895)]

Thirdly, it is alleged against old age,
It has no sensual pleasures to enjoy.
Divinest gift of age, to take away sensual pleasures.
What is the greatest blot on youthful years!
Hear, my dear friends, a speech Archytas made
(Who was a very old and famous man),
And told me at Tarentum, where I was
With Quintus Maximus, when quite a youth:
'No greater curse than sensuality
Has Nature given to man: its foul desires
To feed, lust grows unbridled and unwise;
Hence countries are betrayed, states overthrown,
Secret arrangements with our foes are made.
There is no crime, no ill deed to which lust
Cannot entice : abominable vice
Of every kind is due to this alone.
Nature herself, or some kind deity
Has given to man no greater gift than mind:
But to this gift, this faculty divine,
No greater enemy can be than lust.
When that bears sway, all moderation's gone,
And 'neath its rule virtue cannot survive.
[tr. Allison (1916)]

Next we come to the third allegation against old age. This was its deficiency in sensual pleasures. But if age really frees us from youth's most dangerous failing, then we are receiving a most blessed gift.
Let me tell you, my dear friends, what was said years ago by that outstandingly distinguished thinker, Archytas of Tarentum, the city at which I heard of his words when I was a young soldier serving under Fabius. "The most fatal curse given by nature to mankind," said Archytas, "is sensual greed: this incites men to gratify their lusts heedlessly and uncontrollably, thus bringing about national betrayals, revolutions, and secret negotiations with the enemy. Lust will drive men to every sin and crime under the sun. Mere lust, without any additiona impulse, is the cause of rape, adultery, and every other sexual outrage. Nature, or a god, has given human beings a mind as their outstanding possession, and this divine gift and endowment has no worse foe than sensuality. For in the realm of the physical passions there can be no room for self-control; where self-indulgence reigns, decent behavior is excluded.
[tr. Grant (1960, 1971 ed.)]

I turn now to the third charge against old age -- one commonly leveled with vehemence: men say that it is cut off from pleasures. What a glorious blessing the years confer if they take away from us the greatest weakness that afflicts our younger days! Let me repeat to you, my dear young friends, what Archytas of Tarentum said many, many years ago. (He was one of the truly great -- a distinguished man -- and his discourse was reported to me when as a young man I visited Tarentum in the company of Quintus Maximus.) Archytas declared that nature had afflicted man with no plague more deadly than physical pleasure, since the hope of pleasure roused men’s desires to fever-pitch and spurred them on, like wild, unbridled beasts, to attainment.
Pleasure, he said, was the ultimate source of treason, of riot and rebellion, of clandestine negotiations with an enemy; to sum it up, there was no crime, no foul perversion, which men were not led to commit by the desire for pleasure. As for crimes of passion, adultery, and the like, he declared that pleasure and its blandishments were the sole cause of them "Here is man," said he. "Nature, or if you will, God, has given him nothing more precious and distinctive than his mind, yet nothing is so hostile to this blessing -- this godlike power -- as pleasure."
Further, he asserted that when the appetites had the upper hand there was no room left for self-discipline -- in fact, to put it generally, virtue could find no foothold anywhere in the kingdom of pleasure.
[tr. Copley (1967)]

Now I come to the third reason why old age is so strenuously condemned: that when we are old we can’t enjoy sensual pleasures. On the contrary, what a gift it is that age takes away from us the most objectionable vices of the young! When I was a young man in the army, someone quoted to me from a speech -- and it is well worth listening to it today -- that was delivered long ago by a distinguished philosopher, Archytas of Tarentum. “Nature,” he said, “has never visited on man a more virulent pestilence than sex. There is nothing we will not do, however rash and ill-considered, in order to satisfy our desires. Sex has impelled men to treason, to revolution, to collusion with the enemy. Under the influence of sex, there is no criminal enterprise they will not undertake, no sin they will not commit. Infidelity, of course, and then any kind of depraved perversion you can think of -- all are driven by the search for sexual pleasure. Nature -- or perhaps some god -- has given us nothing more valuable than the power to reason; but there is nothing more inimical to reason than sex. Lust will always overcome self-control; there is no moral value that can stand up to the attacks of unbridled desire.”
[tr. Cobbold (2012)]

THEY SAY OLD AGE DEPRIVES US OF ALMOST ALL OF THE PLEASURES. Oh, this is a wonderful gift of old age, if it does indeed relieve us of most of the reasons youth gets itself into trouble. Remember, you young folks, the famous warning from Dr. Johnson, the especially great and famous eighteenth century savant. I came to admire him when I was a young man at Oxford. He said that the body is all vice. The body's avid desire for the pleasures makes it seek them rashly and without control until it finds gratification. Oh the trouble! These things often create traitors of their countries: they ruin governments and cause secret dealings with enemies. The desire for bodily pleasure drives people to commit debauchery, adultery, and crimes of all sorts. Since nature's (or God's) greatest gift to mankind is our reason, nothing is so harmful to God's gift than the desire for pleasure because it makes us act so irrationally. By golly, when we are in hot pursuit of pleasure, there is no place for modration or good sense. If the pleasure is too great and lasts too long, it will blot out any trace of rational thinking.
[tr. Gerberding (2014)]

Again old age is given a third censure.
It is devoid, they say, of sensual pleasure,
But that’s also a wonderful gift without price
Taking from us youth’s most wicked vice!
Listen, my good lads, to the time-honoured advice
Of Archytas from Tarentum, great and blessed,
Who in my young days his thoughts expressed,
While I was in Tarentum with Q. Maximus:
No evildoing can be worse than the voluptuous
Pleasure of the senses was his complaint
Which makes men blind and act with no restraint.
From it descend treason, revolution and
Pacts with the enemies of the Fatherland.
All evil actions and crimes combined
Have an urge for lust not far behind,
And then adultery and lewdness
Are set on fire by voluptuousness.
There must have been some god who gave mankind,
Or maybe it wasn’t a god but nature,
The divine privilege of the mind
Which is the enemy of pleasure.
Indeed under the rule of passion
Temperance has no place at all,
And virtue can be kept in thrall
By sensuality’s enticing coils.
[tr. Bozzi (2015)]

We come now to the third objection to growing older -- that the pleasures of the flesh fade away. But if this is true, I say it is indeed a glorious gift that age frees us from youth's most destructive failing. Now listen, my most noble young friends, to the ancient words of that excellent and most distinguished young man, Archytas of Tarentum, repeated to me when I was serving as a young soldier in that very city with Quintus Maximus. He said the most fatal curse given to men by nature is sexual desire. From it spring passions of uncontrollable and reckless lust seeking gratification. From it come secret plotting with enemies, betrayals of one's country, and teh voer throw of governments. Indeed, there is no evil act, no unscrupulous deed that a man driven by lust will not perform. Uncontrolled sensuality will drive men to rape, adultery, and every other sexual outrage. And since nature -- or perhaps some god -- has given men no finer gift than human intelligence, this divine endowment has no greater foe than naked sensuality. Where lust rules, there is no place for self-control. And in the kingdom of self-indulgence, there is no room for decent behavior.
[tr. Freeman (2016)]

The third typical criticism of old age follows this, and that is that people complain that it lacks [sexual] pleasures. Oh! Glorious wealth of age, if it takes that from us, the most criminal part of youth! Take this from me, most noble young men, this is the ancient speech of Archytas of Tarentum, which was repeated to me when I was a young man working for Quintus Maximus there: “Nature has given man no deadlier a curse than sexual desire.”
[tr. @sentantiq (2019)]

Added on 31-Aug-23 | Last updated 17-Nov-23
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More quotes by Cicero, Marcus Tullius

Those who believe it permissible to tell white lies soon grow color-blind.

Austin O'Malley
Austin O'Malley (1858-1932) American ophthalmologist, professor of literature, aphorist
Keystones of Thought (1914)
Added on 8-Jun-23 | Last updated 8-Jun-23
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Ah, Constantine! what mischief in the gift —
Not thy conversion, but the dower you gave
For the first wealthy Father to receive.

[Ahi, Costantin, di quanto mal fu matre,
non la tua conversion, ma quella dote
che da te prese il primo ricco patre!]

Dante Alighieri the poet
Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) Italian poet
The Divine Comedy [Divina Commedia], Book 1 “Inferno,” Canto 19, l. 115ff (9.115-117) [Dante] (1320) [tr. Bannerman (1850)]

According to legend, the Emperor Constantine, having been cured of leprosy through baptism by Pope Sylvester, both showered Sylvester with riches and moved his own capital to Constantinople, leaving the Pope as temporal ruler of the West. This "Donation of Constantine" was fabricated in the 8th century, and first used by Pope Adrian I to encourage Charlemagne to give generously and acknowledge papal power over the emperor. It was largely believed true until the 15th Century. Dante, both author and character, traced the Church's corruption by power and wealth from that legend.

(Source (Italian)). Alternate translations:

Ah! Constantine, of how much ill was Cause
Not thy Conversion, but those rich Domains
That the first wealthy Pope received of thee!
[tr. Milton (1641)]

Ah, Constantine, what are the many Ills
You have been parent of: I do not mean
By your Conversion, but that pompous Gift
By which our Holy Father you enrich'd!
[tr. Rogers (1782), l. 112ff]

Lamented ever be that lib'ral hand,
Whose gifts allur'd the Apostolic band
To leave that humble path where long they trod.
[tr. Boyd (1802), st. 19]

Ah, Constantine! to how much ill gave birth,
Not thy conversion, but that plenteous dower,
Which the first wealthy Father gain’d from thee!
[tr. Cary (1814)]

Ah, Constantine! what ills have we to rue --
I say not from thine own conversion sprung,
But from thy dower, the first rich father drew!
[tr. Dayman (1843)]

Ah Constantine! to how much ill gave birth, not thy conversion, but that dower which the first rich Father took from thee!
[tr. Carlyle (1849)]

Oh, Constantine, of how much ill the source!
Not thy conversion, but that fatal dower
Which the first Father took from the in gift!
[tr. Johnston (1867)]

Ah, Constantine! of how much ill was mother,
⁠Not thy conversion, but that marriage-dower
⁠Which the first wealthy Father took from thee!
[tr. Longfellow (1867)]

Ah, Constantine, of how great ill was mother, not thy conversion, but that dowry which the first rich pope got from thee!
[tr. Butler (1885)]

Ah, Constantine, of how much ill was cause,
Not thy conversion but the fatal dower
Which the first wealthy father from thee draws!
[tr. Minchin (1885)]

Ah Constantine! of how much ill was mother, not thy conversion, but that dowry which the first rich Father received from thee!
[tr. Norton (1892)]

Ah! Constantine, of how great ill was mother,
Not thy conversion, but that fatal dowry,
Which from thy hands received the first rich Father.
[tr. Griffith (1908)]

Ah, Constantine, of how much evil gave birth,
not thy conversion, but that dower
the first rich Father had from thee.
[tr. Sinclair (1939)]

Ah, Constantine, what evil fruit did bear
Not they conversion, but that dowry broad
Thou on the first rich Father didst confer!
[tr. Binyon (1943)]

Ah, Constantine! What ills were gendered there --
No, not from thy conversion, but the dower
The first rich Pope received from thee as heir?
[tr. Sayers (1949)]

Ah Constantine, what evil marked the hour --
not of your conversion, but of the fee
the first rich Father took from you in dower!
[tr. Ciardi (1954)]

Ah, Constantine, of how much ill was mother, not your conversion, but that dowry which the first rich Father took from you!
[tr. Singleton (1970)]

Oh, Constantine, what evil did you sire,
not by your conversion, but by the dower
that the first wealthy Father got from you!
[tr. Musa (1971)]

Ah, Constantine, what wickedness was born --
and not from your conversion -- from the dower
that you bestowed upon the first rich father!
[tr. Mandelbaum (1980)]

Ah, Constantine, how much ill you produced,
Not by your conversion, but by that endowment
Which the first rich father accepted from you.
[tr. Sisson (1981)]

Ah Constantine! What measure of wickedness
Stems from that mother -- not your conversion, I mean:
Rather the dowry that the first rich Father
Accepted from you!
[tr. Pinsky (1994), l. 108ff]

Ah, Constantine, not your conversion, but that dowry which the first rich father took from you, has been the mother of so much evil!
[tr. Durling (1996)]

Ah, Constantine, how much evil you gave birth to, not in your conversion, but in that Donation that the first wealthy Pope, Sylvester, received from you!
[tr. Kline (2002)]

What harm you mothered, Emperor Constantine!
Not your conversion but the dowry he --
that first rich Papa -- thus obtained from you!
[tr. Kirkpatrick (2006)]

Ah, Constantine, to what evil you gave birth,
not by your conversion, but by the dowry
that the first rich Father had from you!
[tr. Hollander/Hollander (2007)]

Ah, Constantine, the evil thrown in the world
Was not your conversion to Christ, but the wealth and grandeur
The first rich Pope and Father took from your hands!
[tr. Raffel (2010)]

Constantine! You set the spurs
To evil, not by cleaving to your new
Religion, but by how, when you moved east,
You gave Sylvester, just to stay behind,
The Western Empire's wealth.
[tr. James (2013)]

Added on 19-May-23 | Last updated 19-May-23
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More quotes by Dante Alighieri

People feel shameful to be poor and underprivileged in a well-run country. You should feel shameful if you are rich and aristocratic in a decadent and corrupt country.


Confucius (c. 551- c. 479 BC) Chinese philosopher, sage, politician [孔夫子 (Kǒng Fūzǐ, K'ung Fu-tzu, K'ung Fu Tse), 孔子 (Kǒngzǐ, Chungni), 孔丘 (Kǒng Qiū, K'ung Ch'iu)]
The Analects [論語, 论语, Lúnyǔ], Book 8, verse 13, sec. 3 (8.13.3) (6th C. BC – AD 3rd C.) [tr. Li (2020)]

Brooks (below) says that this analect was added into Book 8 at the time of Book 14 being produced.

(Source (Chinese)). Alternate translations:

When a country is well-governed, poverty and a mean condition are things to be ashamed of. When a country is ill-governed, riches and honour are things to be ashamed of.
[tr. Legge (1861)]

Under a good government it will be a disgrace to him if he remain in poverty and low estate; under a bad one it would be equally disgraceful to him to hold riches and honours.
[tr. Jennings (1895)]

When there is justice and order in the government of his own country, he should be ashamed to be poor and without honour; but when there is no justice in the government of his own country he should be ashamed to be rich and honoured.
[tr. Ku Hung-Ming (1898)]

When law and order prevail in his State, he is ashamed to be needy and of no account. When law and order fail, he is ashamed to be in affluence and honour.
[tr. Soothill (1910)]

When a state is functioning, poverty and meanness are shameful; when a state is in chaos (ill governed) riches and honours are shameful. [Let us say: under a corrupt government.]
[tr. Pound (1933)]

When the Way prevails in your own land, count it a disgrace to be needy and obscure; when the Way does not prevail in your land, then count it a disgrace to be rich and honoured.
[tr. Waley (1938)]

If a state is following The Right Way, it is a disgrace to be in poverty and a low estate therein; if not, it is a disgrace to be rich and honored therein.
[tr. Ware (1950)]

It is a shameful matter to be poor and humble when the Way prevails in the state. Equally, it is a shameful matter to be rich and noble when the Way falls into disuse in the state.
[tr. Lau (1979)]

When the Way prevails in your own state, to be made poor and obscure by it is a disgrace; but when teh Way does not prevail in your own state, to be made rich and honourable by it is a disgrace.
[tr. Dawson (1993)]

In a country where the Way prevails, it is shameful to remain poor and obscure; in a country which has lost the Way, it is shameful to become rich and honored.
[tr. Leys (1997)]

When the state possesses the Way and you are poor and lowly, it is a shame; when the state loses the Way and you are rich and noble, it is also a shame.
[tr. Huang (1997)]

If the country is on the right way, it is the shame to be poor and low; If the country is not on the right way, it is the shame to be rich and honor.
[tr. Cai/Yu (1998), #201]

It is a disgrace to remain poor and without rank when the way prevails in the state; it is a disgrace to be wealthy and of noble rank when it does not.
[tr. Ames/Rosemont (1998)]

When the state has the Way, to be poor and humble in it is shameful; when the state has not the Way, to be wealthy and honored in it is shameful.
[tr. Brooks/Brooks (1998)]

When the Way rules in your country, there's shame in poverty and obscurity; when the Way's lost in your country, there's shame in wealth and renown.
[tr. Hinton (1998)]

In a state that has the Way, to be poor and of low status is a cause for shame; in a state that is without the Way, to be wealthy and honored is equally a cause for shame.
[tr. Slingerland (2003)]

When the state follows the Way, being poor and lowly is a cause for shame. When the state is without the Way, being rich and eminent is a cause for shame.
[tr. Watson (2007)]

When the moral way prevails in a state, being poor and lowly is a cause for shame. When the moral way does not prevail in the world, having wealth and position is a cause for shame.
[tr. Chin (2014)]

Added on 15-May-23 | Last updated 15-May-23
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More quotes by Confucius

And thou hadst seen there,
⁠If thou hadst had a hankering for such scurf,
That one, who by the Servant of the Servants
⁠From Arno was transferred to Bacchiglione,
⁠Where he has left his sin-excited nerves.

[E vedervi,
s’avessi avuto di tal tigna brama,
colui potei che dal servo de’ servi
fu trasmutato d’Arno in Bacchiglione,
dove lasciò li mal protesi nervi.]

Dante Alighieri the poet
Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) Italian poet
The Divine Comedy [Divina Commedia], Book 1 “Inferno,” Canto 15, l. 110ff (15.110-114) [Brunetto] (1320) [tr. Longfellow (1867)]

Referring to Bishop Andrea de'Mozzi, one of the damned in the 7th Circle. In order to cover up de'Mozzi's continuous sexual scandals, Dante's enemy, Pope Boniface VIII (the "Servant of the Servants of God"), shuffled him from the See of Florence to that of Vicenza; he died there a year later.

There's also wordplay here around de'Mozzi's "unnatural vices" hidden in the last line of the Italian: "mal protesti nervi," which can mean "dissolute nerves" -- or, more suggestively, "ill-stretched muscles," or even "wrongly erect penis". Different translators vary as they (or the times) see fit. See Ciardi and Singleton for more commentary.

(Source (Italian)). Alternate translations:

And, of such odious sights if fond, you him
May see, who by the Servants Servant was
To that which laves Vicenza's walls transferr'd
From Arno's river where he died contemn'd.
[tr. Rogers (1782), l. 108]

He too is there, who late at Rome's request,
Forsook proud Florence for Vicenza's plain.
The living scandal of the hallow'd train,
'Till the kind clay his tainted limbs opprest.
[tr. Boyd (1802), st. 20]

And, if the wish of so impure a blotch
Possess’d thee, him thou also might’st have seen,
Who by the servants’ servant was transferr’d
From Arno’s seat to Bacchiglione, where
His ill-strain’d nerves he left.
[tr. Cary (1814)]

and, couldst thou crave
So leprous scab to see, was sight allowed
Of him to whom the servants' servant gave
Arno's to change for Bacchiglione's vale,
Wherein his ill-strung sinews found a grave.
[tr. Dayman (1843)]

Also, if thou hadst had any longing for such scurf, thou mightest have seen
him there, who by the Servant of servants was translated from Arno to the Bacchiglionne, where he left his ill-strained nerves.
[tr. Carlyle (1849)]

Even him you might have see, by servants' servant
From Arno taken to Bacchilion --
Abused, corrupted nerves to leave alone.
[tr. Bannerman (1850)]

I could shew
If thou wouldst more of this uncleanness see,
Him by the servant's servant from the banks
Of Arno to Bacchiglione sent,
His foul-stretched members there in death to leave.
[tr. Johnston (1867)]

And thou canst also see there, if thou hadst had a desire of such scurf, him who by the servant of servants was translated from Arno to Bacchiglione, where he left his nerves stretched to sin.
[tr. Butler (1885)]

Thou might'st see
(If though hadst any whish to see such blame)
Him whom the slave of slaves translated free
From Arno's until Bacchiglione's tide,
Where all his rotten nerves he left in fee.
[tr. Minchin (1885)]

And thou mightest also have seen, hadst thou had desire of such scurf, him who by the Servant of Servants was translated from Arno to Bacchiglione, where he left his ill-strained nerves.
[tr. Norton (1892)]

And furthermore, thou mightest have looked, if thou hadst any care for suchlike scurf, on him who by the Servant of Servants was translated from the Arno to Bacchiglione, where he left his vice-warped senses.
[tr. Sullivan (1893)]

And, if to see such scabs hadst had a craving,
Thou might'st see him who by the servants' servant
From Arno to Bacchilion was translated;
And there he left behind his sin-strained sinew.
[tr. Griffith (1908)]

And if thou hast a craving for such scurf, him thou mightest see there that was translated by the Servant of Servants from the Arno to the Bacchiglione, where he left his sin-strained nerves behind.
[tr. Sinclair (1939)]

And didst thou crave
Such scurf, thou mightest have seen and spoken to
Him who from Arno to Bacchiglon's wave
By the servant of God's servants was transferred,
And there his sinfully spent nerves outgave.
[tr. Binyon (1943)]

Could thy hunger have been sated
By such scabbed meat, thou mightest have seen also
Him whom the Servant of servants once translated
From Arno to Bacchiglione, where he left
The body he'd unstrung and enervated.
[tr. Sayers (1949)]

And also there,
if you had any longing for such scum,
you might have seen that one the Servant of Servants
send from the Arnot to the Bacchiglione
where he left his unnatural organ wrapped in cerements.
[tr. Ciardi (1954)]

And you could also have seen there, had you hankered for such scurf, him who was transferred by the Servant of Servants form Arno to Bacchiglione, where he left his sinfully displayed muscles.
[tr. Singleton (1970)]

And also there,
if you could have stomached such repugnancy,
you might have seen the one the Servant of Servants
transferred to the Bacchiglione from the Arno
where his sinfully-erected nerves were buried.
[tr. Musa (1971)]

And among them you can see,
if you have any longing for such scurf,
the one the Servant of His Servants sent
from the Arno to the Bacchiglione's banks,
and there he left his tendons strained by sin.
[tr. Mandelbaum (1980)]

And you might have seen,
If you had any taste for such pestilence,
Him who, by the servant of the servants,
Was translated from the Arno to the Bacchiglione,
Where he at last left his ill-stretched nerves.
[tr. Sisson (1981)]

And if you crave
To see such scurf, among them you can find
One whom the Servant of Servants asked to leave
The Arno for Bacchiglione; and there
He left his body, distended in its nerve
And muscle.
[tr. Pinsky (1994)]

And, if you had desired such scurf, you could see there
him who by the Servant of servants was transmuted from Arno to Bacchiglione, where he left his ill-protended muscles.
[tr. Durling (1996)]

And if you had any desire for such scum, you might have seen Andrea di Mozzi there, who by Boniface, the Pope, servus servorum Dei, servant of servants, was translated from the Arno to Vicenza’s Bacchiglione, where he departed from his ill-strained body.
[tr. Kline (2002)]

And if you yearn
to set your eyes on such-like mangy scabs,
you could. That bishop there! The Slave of Slaves
transferred him to Vicenza from the Arno.
He left his muscles, ill-distended, there.
[tr. Kirkpatrick (2006)]

And, had you had
a hankering for such filth, you might have seen
the one transferred by the Servant of Servants
from the Arno to the Bacchiglione,
where he left his sin-stretched sinews.
[tr. Hollander/Hollander (2007)]

And if you longed for
The company of such holy, but scurvy slime,
There's also Andrea de Mozzi, a bishop so strongly
Warped that the Servant of Servants was finally forced
To ship him off to Bacchiglione: he belonged there,
And died, left it his sin-stained body.
[tr. Raffel (2010)]

And if you like scum you might see the man
Sent to Vicenza by the Pope, before
Florence should see his sin-worn nerves collapse:
Andrea de'Mozzi. Bishop, in your youth.
[tr. James (2013), l. 111ff]

Added on 5-May-23 | Last updated 5-May-23
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More quotes by Dante Alighieri

Slavery is not good in itself: it is neither useful to the master nor to the slave, because the slave can do nothing from virtuous motives; nor to the master, because he contracts amongst his slaves all sorts of bad habits — he becomes haughty, passionate, obdurate, vindictive, voluptuous, and cruel.

[Il n’est pas bon par sa nature; il n’est utile ni au maître ni à l’esclave: à celui-ci, parce qu’il ne peut rien faire par vertu; à celui-là, parce qu’il contracte avec ses esclaves toutes sortes de mauvaises habitudes, qu’il s’accoutume insensiblement à manquer à toutes les vertus morales, qu’il devient fier, prompt, dur, colère, voluptueux, cruel.]

Charles-Lewis de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu (1689-1755) French political philosopher
The Spirit of Laws [De l’esprit des lois], Vol. 1, Book 15, ch. 1 (1748)

(Source (French)).

Common translation used by English and American abolitionists (e.g., 1812). Alternate translations:

The state of slavery is in its own nature bad. It is neither useful to the master nor to the slave; not to the slave, because he can do nothing through a motive of virtue; not to the master, because by having an unlimited authority over his slaves, he insensibly accustoms himself to the want of all moral virtues, and from thence grows fierce, hasty, severe, choleric, voluptuous, and cruel.
[tr. Nugent (1758 ed.)]

It is not good by its nature; it is useful neither to the master nor to the slave: not to the slave, because he can do nothing from virtue; not to the master, because he contracts all sorts of bad habits from his slaves, because he imperceptibly grows accustomed to failing in all the moral virtues, because he grows proud, curt, harsh, angry, voluptuous, and cruel.
[tr. Cohler/Miller/Stone (1989)]

Added on 4-Apr-23 | Last updated 4-Apr-23
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More quotes by Montesquieu, Baron de

PENTHEUS: Do you hold your rites
during the day or night?
DIONYSUS: Mostly by night.
The darkness is well suited to devotion.
PENTHEUS: Better suited to lechery and seducing women.
DIONYSUS: You can find debauchery by daylight too.

[Πενθεύς: τὰ δ᾽ ἱερὰ νύκτωρ ἢ μεθ᾽ ἡμέραν τελεῖς;
Διόνυσος: νύκτωρ τὰ πολλά: σεμνότητ᾽ ἔχει σκότος.
Πενθεύς: τοῦτ᾽ ἐς γυναῖκας δόλιόν ἐστι καὶ σαθρόν.
Διόνυσος: κἀν ἡμέρᾳ τό γ᾽ αἰσχρὸν ἐξεύροι τις ἄν.]

Euripides (485?-406? BC) Greek tragic dramatist
Bacchæ [Βάκχαι], l. 485ff (405 BC) [tr. Arrowsmith (1960)]

(Source (Greek)). Alternate translations:

PENTHEUS: By night or day these sacred rites perform'st thou ?
BACCHUS: Mostly by nighty for venerable is darkness.
PENTHEUS: To women this is treacherous and unsafe.
BACCHUS: E'en in the broadest day may shame be found.
[tr. Wodhull (1809)]

PENTHEUS: Do you perform the rites by night or by day?
DIONYSUS: Mostly by night; darkness conveys awe.
PENTHEUS: This is treacherous towards women, and unsound.
DIONYSUS: Even during the day someone may devise what is shameful.
[tr. Buckley (1850)]

PENTHEUS: Performest thou these rites by night or day?
DIONYSUS: Most part by night -- night hath more solemn awe.
PENTHEUS: A crafty rotten plot to catch our women.
DIONYSUS: Even in the day bad men can do bad deeds.
[tr. Milman (1865)]

PENTHEUS: Dost thou perform thy rites by day; or night?
DIONYSUS: Chiefly by night; darkness gives dignity.
PENTHEUS: Craft rather and seduction it denotes.
DIONYSUS: Base acts are oft made manifest by day.
[tr. Rogers (1872), l. 462ff]

PENTHEUS: Is it by night or day thou performest these devotions?
DIONYSUS: By night mostly; darkness lends solemnity.
PENTHEUS: Calculated to entrap and corrupt women.
DIONYSUS: Day too for that matter may discover shame.
[tr. Coleridge (1891)]

PENTHEUS: By night or day dost thou perform his rites? ⁠
DIONYSUS: Chiefly by night: gloom lends solemnity.
PENTHEUS: Ay -- and for women snares of lewdness too.
DIONYSUS: In the day too may lewdness be devised.
[tr. Way (1898)]

PENTHEUS: How is thy worship held, by night or day?
DIONYSUS: Most oft by night; 'tis a majestic thing,
The darkness.
PENTHEUS: Ha! with women worshipping?
'Tis craft and rottenness!
DIONYSUS: By day no less,
Whoso will seek may find unholiness.
[tr. Murray (1902)]

PENTHEUS: Do you celebrate your sacred acts at night or by day?
DIONYSUS: At night for the most party. Darkness possesses solemnity.
PENTHEUS: Darkness for women is deceitful and corrupt!
DIONYSUS: Even in daytime one could discover disgraceful behavior.
[tr. Kirk (1970)]

PENTHEUS: Do you celebrate your mysteries by night or by day?
DIONYSUS: Chiefly by night. Darkness induces religious awe.
PENTHEUS: For women darkness is treacherous and impure.
DIONYSUS: Impurity can be practiced by daylight too.
[tr. Vellacott (1973)]

PENTHEUS: These sacred practices of your god, the worship,
The rites of great devotion, do they
Hold at night, or in the day.
DIONYSUS: [...] We hold our rites mostly at night
Because it is cooler. And the lamps
Lend atmosphere and feeling to the heart in worship.
PENTHEUS: And I say night hours are dangerous
Lascivious hours, lechery ....
DIONYSUS: You'll find debauchery in daylight, too.
[tr. Soyinka (1973)]

PENTHEUS: The rites -- at night or by day you perform them?
DIONYSUS: At night, mostly; there’s majesty in darkness.
PENTHEUS: And for women there’s trickery and smut.
DIONYSUS: Even by day one may discover shame.
[tr. Neuburg (1988)]

PENTHEUS: Do you perform your mysteries
during the day or by night?
DIONYSUS: Mostly at night.
The dark is more conducive to worship.
PENTHEUS: You mean to lechery and bringing out the filth in women.
DIONYSUS: Those who look for filth, can find it at the height of noon.
[tr. Cacoyannis (1982)]

PENTHEUS: Do you worship in daylight or at night?
DIONYSUS: Mostly at night. Darkness is most sacred.
PENTHEUS: That is treacherous and unwholesome for women.
DIONYSUS: Some find shame even in daylight.
[tr. Blessington (1993)]

PENTHEUS: Do you celebrate these sacred rites at night or in the day?
THE STRANGER: At night mostly, since darkness induces devotion.
PENTHEUS: No, darkness is devious and corrupts women.
THE STRANGER: Even in the day someone could devise shameful deeds.
[tr. Esposito (1998)]

PENTHEUS: You practice this cult by night or by day?
DIONYSUS: Mostly at night. Darkness lends solemnity.
PENTHEUS: Darkness is just a filthy trap for women.
DIONYSUS: Some people can dig up dirt in daytime, too.
[tr. Woodruff (1999)]

PENTHEUS: Do you perform the rites by day? -- or night?
DIONYSUS: Mostly at night -- because the darkness has its holiness.
PENTHEUS: It's treacherous, for women, and corrupts them.
DIONYSUS: What's shameful can be found even by light of day.
[tr. Gibbons/Segal (2000), l. 571ff]

PENTHEUS: Do you practice your rites at night or by day?
DIONYSUS: Mostly at night: darkness lends solemnity.
PENTHEUS: This is an immoral trick aimed at women.
DIONYSUS: Someone could engage in shameful deeds even by day.
[tr. Kovacs (2002)]

PENTHEUS: And you perform these practices at night?
DIONYSUS: Man's true nature's seen in darkness not in light.
PENTHEUS: While darkness shrouds a woman's true duplicity.
DIONYSUS: Duplicity's not found in night exclusively.
[tr. Teevan (2002)]

PENTHEUS: Tell me, when do you hold your worship? By clear day, or dark night?
DIONYSUS: Mostly by night -- it is a majestic time.
PENTHEUS: Indeed! A majestic time to take advantage of women. Shameful!
DIONYSUS: There are enough shameful things done by day. And enough shameful thoughts in your head, I am sure!
[tr. Rao/Wolf (2004)]

PENTHEUS: These ... holy orgies of yours… do you perform them during the day or in the night?
DIONYSUS: Most of them during the night. Darkness adds a certain modesty.
PENTHEUS: That’s quite a dubious thing for the women… and rather lecherous, I’d say.
DIONYSUS: Shame, of course can be seen during the day, too, if it exists and if one were to look for it.
[tr. Theodoridis (2005)]

PENTHEUS: Do you conduct the mysteries in the night or by day?
DIONYSUS: Us'ally by night, for darkness holds reverence.
PENTHEUS: Is this thing deceitful or unwholesome towards women?
DIONYSUS: One might also uncover shameful things i' the day.
[tr. Valerie (2005)]

PENTHEUS: When you dance these rites,
is it at night or during daylight hours?
DIONYSUS: Mainly at night. Shadows confer solemnity.
PENTHEUS: And deceive the women. It's all corrupt!
DIONYSUS: One can do shameful things in daylight, too.
[tr. Johnston (2008), l. 604ff]

PENTHEUS: These mysteries. Do you practise them by day, or night?
DIONYSUS: Mostly by night. Dark is better for devotion.
PENTHEUS: Better for lechery and the taking of women.
DIONYSUS: That happens in daylight too.
[tr. Robertson (2014)]

PENTHEUS: And are these rites conducted by day or by night?
DIONYSUS: Night, for the most part. It’s so much more ... spiritual. Good for devotion.
PENTHEUS: The night’s a trap for women’s virtue.
DIONYSUS: And the day isn’t? You don’t get out much, do you?
[tr. Pauly (2019)]

PENTHEUS: Do you perform your rituals by day or night?
DIONYSUS: By night. We believe that darkness is holy.
PENTHEUS: It's a cunning time to force filth upon women.
DIONYSUS: Vice thrives in daylight, too.
[tr. Behr/Foster (2019)]

PENTHEUS: Do you perform the sacred rites [hiera] by night or by day?
DIONYSUS: Mostly by night; darkness conveys awe.
PENTHEUS: This is treacherous towards women, and unsound.
DIONYSUS: Even during the day you can find what is shameful.
[tr. Buckley/Sens/Nagy (2020)]

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Fraud, which so gnaweth at all men’s conscience,
A man may use on one who trusts him best
And on him also who risks no confidence.
This latter mode seems only to arrest
The love which Nature meaneth to endure;
Hence in the second circle huddled nest
Hypocrisy, flattery; they who would conjure
By spells; and simony; the thief, the cheat,
Pandars and barrators, and the like ordure.

[La frode, ond’ogne coscïenza è morsa,
può l’omo usare in colui che ‘n lui fida
e in quel che fidanza non imborsa.
Questo modo di retro par ch’incida
pur lo vinco d’amor che fa natura;
onde nel cerchio secondo s’annida
ipocresia, lusinghe e chi affattura,
falsità, ladroneccio e simonia,
ruffian, baratti e simile lordura.]

Dante Alighieri the poet
Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) Italian poet
The Divine Comedy [Divina Commedia], Book 1 “Inferno,” Canto 11, l. 52ff (11.52-60) [Virgil] (1320) [tr. Binyon (1943)]

On the punishment of common fraudsters, who do not betray a personal trust but only the natural love of humanity. This is still deemed worse, in Dante's cosmology, than deadly "bestial" violence.

Barratry is the sale of justice, employment, or public offices, going alongside simony, the sale of holy offices.

(Source (Italian)). Alternate translations:

That Fraud of which each Conscience feels the pangs
Man may commit 'gainst those who do confide
In him, as well as those who trust him not.
The first unhappily destroys the Bond
In general by Nature form'd: from whence
Confined in the second Circle are
The Hypocrites, the Flatterers, and they
Who practice Coz'ning, Sorcery, and Theft,
Base Simony, procuring with a smile,
Masked Deceit, and all such filthy tricks.
[tr. Rogers (1782), l. 53ff]

Fraud skulks below with all her various brood,
There darkling dwell the foes of public good.
The pilf'rer, and the cheat, his dark ally:
With those, whose felon hand their trust betray'd,
Hypocrisy in faintly garb array'd.
Corruption foul, and frontless Perjury.
[tr. Boyd (1802), st. 8]

Fraud, that in every conscience leaves a sting,
May be by man employ’d on one, whose trust
He wins, or on another who withholds
Strict confidence. Seems as the latter way
Broke but the bond of love which Nature makes.
Whence in the second circle have their nest
Dissimulation, witchcraft, flatteries,
Theft, falsehood, simony, all who seduce
To lust, or set their honesty at pawn,
With such vile scum as these.
[tr. Cary (1814)]

Fraud, to the stricken conscience inly known,
Might man devise on him who faith disbursed,
And eke on him who credence had not shown.
The bond of love which nature framed at first.
But only that, the latter mode hath slain,
Whence nesting in the second orb lie curst
Hypocrites, and flatterers, and the wizard train,
Falseness, and simonies, and pilferers' trade,
Panders, and cheats, and all of foulest stain.
[tr. Dayman (1843)]

Fraud, which gnaws every conscience, a man may practice upon one who confides in him; and upon him who reposes no confidence.
This latter mode seems only to cut off the bond of love which Nature makes: hence in the second circle nests
hypocrisy, flattery, sorcerers, cheating, theft and simony, pandars, barrators, and like filth.
[tr. Carlyle (1849)]

And fraud, that every conscience can corrode --
Fraud may be practiced against them who trust,
And those who put no confidence in dust.
This seems to come behind, it only slays
The kindly chains of love that nature binds
Hence, in the lower circle, station finds
Hypocrisy, flattery and sorcery;
Falsification, robbery, simony,
Seduction, quarrels, and brutality.
[tr. Bannerman (1850)]

That fraud, which sharply, ev'ry conscience bites,
Man against those who trust in him may use,
Or against those by whom no trust is giv'n.
This latter seems to rend in twain the bond
Which Nature in her love for us hath made;
Whence in the second circle such are held;
Magic, hypocrisy, and flatters,
Vile falsehood, robbery and simony,
Panders and Userers, and such foul stuff.
[tr. Johnston (1867)]

Fraud, wherewithal is every conscience stung,
A man may practise upon him who trusts,
And him who doth no confidence imburse.
This latter mode, it would appear, dissevers ⁠
Only the bond of love which Nature makes;
Wherefore within the second circle nestle
Hypocrisy, flattery, and who deals in magic,
Falsification, theft, and simony,
Panders, and barrators, and the like filth.
[tr. Longfellow (1867)]

The fraud, wherewith every conscience is pricked, man can practise towards the one who trusts him, and towards him who has no confidence in store. This latter mode seems to destroy only the bond of love that nature makes; whence in the second circle have their nests hypocrisy, flatteries, and whoso uses arts; forgery, robbery, and simony; pandars, jobbers, and suchlike filth.
[tr. Butler (1885)]

Such fraud, for which all must compunction feel.
Can man exert 'gainst him whose trust he shares,
And him whose thoughts no confidence reveal.
This latter fashion all unseemly tears
The golden chain of love which Nature weaves.
Whence gather in the second circle's lairs
Hypocrisy, all flattery that deceives,
Witchcraft, lies, thefts, the Simoniac blot.
Panders, chicaners, and all similar thieves.
[tr. Minchin (1885)]

Fraud, by which every conscience is bitten, man may practice on one that confides in him, or on one that owns no confidence. This latter mode seemeth to destroy only the bond of love that nature makes; wherefore in the second circle nestle hypocrisy, flatteries, and sorcerers, falsity, robbery, and simony, panders, barrators, and such like filth.
[tr. Norton (1892)]

Fraud, with which there is no conscience but is bitten, a man may practise upon one who putteth his trust in him; and upon one who giveth no credit for fidelity. This last kind seemeth only to sever the bond of love which nature weaveth; and therefore is it that in the second circle there nestle hypocrisy, flattery, workers of sorcery, treachery, robbery and simony, panders, barrators, and such-like refuse.
[tr. Sullivan (1893)]

Fraud, wherewithal is bitten every conscience,
A man may use regarding one who trusts him,
Or one who has no store of trust to deal with.
This latter way, as it would seem, slays only
The tie of love that nature itself fashions;
Whence make their nest within the second circle
Hypocrisy, smooth speeches, and bewitchment,
Forgery, thieving, and the sin of Simon,
Panders, and jobbers, and the like offscouring.
[tr. Griffith (1908)]

Fraud, which always stings the conscience, a man may practice on one who confides in him or on one who does not so place his confidence; it is evident that this latter way destroys simply the bond of love which nature makes, so that in the next circle, hypocrisy, flatteries, sorceries, falsifications, theft, and simony, panders, jobbers, and like filth have their nest.
[tr. Sinclair (1939)]

Fraud, which gnaws at every conscience, may be a breach
Of trust against the confiding, or deceive
Such as repose no confidence; though each
Is fraud, the latter sort seems but to cleave
The general bond of love and Nature's tie;
So the second circle opens to receive
Hypocrites, flatterers, dealers in sorcery,
Panders and cheats, and all such filthy stuff,
With theft, and simony and barratry.
[tr. Sayers (1949)]

Fraud, which is a canker to every conscience,
may be practiced by a man on those who trust him,
and on those who have reposed no confidence.
This latter mode seems only to deny
the bond of love which all men have from Nature;
therefore within the second circle lie
simoniacs, sycophants, and hypocrites,
falsifiers, thieves, and sorcerers,
grafters, pimps, and all such filthy cheats.
[tr. Ciardi (1954)]

Fraud, which gnaws at every conscience, a man may practice upon one who trusts in him, or upon one who reposes no condifence. This altter way seems to sever only the bond of love which nature makes; wherefore in the second circle hypocrisy, flatteries, sorcerers, falsity, theft, simony, panders, barratry, and like filth have their nest.
[tr. Singleton (1970)]

Fraud, that gnaws the conscience of its servants,
can be used on one who puts his trust in you
or else on one who has no trust invested.
This latter sort seems only to destroy
the bond of love that Nature gives to man;
so in the second circle there are nests
of hypocrites, flatterers, dabblers in sorcery,
falsifiers, thieves and simonists,
panders, seducers, grafters and like filth.
[tr. Musa (1971)]

Now fraud, that eats away at every conscience,
is praticed by a man against another
who trusts in him, or one who has no trust.
This latter way seems only to cut off
the bond of love that nature forges; thus,
nestled within the second circle are:
hypocrisy and flattery, sorcerers,
and falsifiers, simony, and theft,
and barrators and panders and like trash.
[tr. Mandelbaum (1980)]

Fraud, by which every conscience is bitten,
A man may practice on a person who trusts him
Or upon one who has no confidence in him.
This latter mode cuts only the bond of love
Which nature itself establishes;
And so there are, lodged in the second circle,
Hypocrisy, flatterers, and those who delude,
Falsity, thieving and simony,
Pimps, trouble-makers, and all such-like scum.
[tr. Sisson (1981)]

Fraud, which bites every conscience, a man may play
Either on one who trusts him, or one who does not.
The latter of the two is seen to destroy
Only those bonds of love that nature makes:
So in the second circle hypocrisy,
Flatterers, sorcery, larceny, simoniacs,
With pimps, barrators, and such filth have their nest.
[tr. Pinsky (1994), ll. 53-59]

Fraud, which bites at every mind, a man can use against one who trusts in him or against one who has in his purse no cause for trust.
This latter mode seems to cut solely into the bond of love that Nature makes; thus in the second circle find their nest
hypocrisy, flattery, casters of spells, impersonators, thievery and simony, panders, embezzlers, and similar filth.
[tr. Durling (1996)]

Human beings may practise deceit, which gnaws at every conscience, on one who trusts them, or on one who places no trust. This latter form of fraud only severs the bond of love that Nature created, and so, in the eighth circle, are nested hypocrisy; sorcery; flattery; cheating; theft and selling of holy orders; pimps; corrupters of public office; and similar filth.
[tr. Kline (2002)]

As for deceit -- which gnaws all rational minds --
we practise this on those who trust in us,
or those whose pockets have no room for trust.
Fraud of the second kind will only gash
the ligature of love that Nature forms:
and therefore in great Circle Two there nests
smarm and hypocrisy, the casting-up of spells,
impersonation, thievery, crooked priests,
embezzlement and pimping, such like scum.
[tr. Kirkpatrick (2006)]

Fraud gnaws at every conscience,
whether used on him who trusted
or on one who lacked such faith.
Fraud against the latter only severs
the bond of love that nature makes.
Thus in the second circle nest
hypocrisy, flatteries, and sorcerers;
lies, theft, and simony;
panders, barrators, and all such filth.[tr. Hollander/Hollander (2007)]

Fraud will gnaw at the conscience, but a man may bury
His heart and cheat the people who believe in him --
But trust's not needed, just opportunity.
This sinning slices away the soft-tied tether
Of love, prepared for us by Nature. The second
Circle is therefore a nest for flatterers
And hypocrites and liars, and those who press
Illiterate fools for high Church office, well-paid
For their filthy work, and bawds, and all such festering
[tr. Raffel (2010)]

Fraud eats the conscience, whether used against
Those who trust us, or those who trust us not.
In the latter case, the bonds of love dispensed
By nature are undone. Thus you have got,
In Circle Eight, toadies and hypocrites,
Magicians, forgers, thieves, thugs, dealers in
Holy preferment, everything that fits
The definition of sheer filth.
[tr. James (2013)]

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A conscience which has been bought once will be bought twice.

Norbert Wiener
Norbert Wiener (1894-1964) American mathematician and philosopher
The Human Use of Human Beings, ch. 7 (1954)
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Evil communication corrupts good manners. I hope to live to hear that good communication corrects “bad manners.”

Benjamin Banneker
Benjamin Banneker (1731-1806) American naturalist, surveyor, almanac author, mathematician
Handwritten note in one of his almanacs

Quoted in Friends' Intelligencer, vol. 11 (1854).
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Whoever, in a prosperous station plac’d,
Is slothful and regardless of his household,
Intent on nought except bewitching song,
Will by his family, his friends, his country,
Be held in no esteem: for the best gifts
Of nature ineffectual prove, when pleasure,
Degrading pleasure, occupies the soul.

[ἁνὴρ γὰρ ὅστις εὖ βίον κεκτηµένος
τὰ µὲν κατ’ οἴκους ἀµελίᾳ παρεὶς ἐᾷ,
µολπαῖσι δ’ ἡσθεὶς τοῦτ’ ἀεὶ θηρεύεται,
ἀγρὸς µὲν οἴκοι κἂν πόλει γενήσεται,
φίλοισι δ’οὐδείς· ἡ φύσις γὰρ οἴχεται,
ὅταν γλυκείας ἡδονῆς ἥσσων τις ᾗ.]

Euripides (485?-406? BC) Greek tragic dramatist
Antiope [Αντιοπη], frag. 187 (TGF, Kannicht) [Zethus/ΖΗΘΟΣ] (c. 410 BC) [tr. Wodhall (1809)]

(Source (Greek)). Barnes frag. 16, Musgrave frag. 29. See also frag. 200. Alternate translation:

For any man who well acquires a livelihood
and permits its decline with his indifference,
and who delights himself with song and dance
and is always chasing it, will be idle at home and in the polis,
and a nobody for his friends; for a man’s nature is lost
when he is conquered by the sweetness of pleasure.
[tr. Will (2015)]

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Know your major defect. Every talent is balanced by a fault, and if you give in to it, it will govern you like a tyrant.

[Conocer su defecto rey. Ninguno vive sin él, contrapeso de la prenda relevante; y si le favorece la inclinación, apodérase a lo tirano.]

Baltasar Gracián y Morales (1601-1658) Spanish Jesuit priest, writer, philosopher
The Art of Worldly Wisdom [Oráculo Manual y Arte de Prudencia], § 225 (1647) [tr. Maurer (1992)]

(Source (Spanish)). Alternate translations:

To know ones prevailing fault. Every one hath one, that makes a counterpoise to his predominant perfection. And if it be backt by inclination, it rules like a Tyrant.
[Flesher ed. (1685)]

Know your chief fault. There lives none that has not in himself a counterbalance to his most conspicuous merit: if this be nourished by desire, it may grow to be a tyrant.
[tr. Jacobs (1892)]

Know your chief weakness. No one lives without some counterweight to even his greatest gift, which when petted, assumes tyranny.
[tr. Fischer (1937)]

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If I may be his guide, you’ll lose him yet;
I’ll subtly lead him my way, if you’ll let
Me do so; shall we have a bet?

[Was wettet Ihr? den sollt Ihr noch verlieren!
Wenn Ihr mir die Erlaubnis gebt,
Ihn meine Straße sacht zu führen.]

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) German poet, statesman, scientist
Faust: a Tragedy [eine Tragödie], Part 1, sc. 3 “Prologue in Heaven,” l. 320ff [Mephistopheles] (1808-1829) [tr. Luke (1987)]

Mephisto to the Lord, on tempting His servant, Faust.

Some translations (and this site) include the Declaration, Prelude on the Stage, and Prologue in Heaven as individual scenes; others do not, leading to their Part 1 scenes being numbered three lower.

(Source (German)). Alternate translations:

What will you wager? Him you yet shall lose,
     If you will give me your permission
     To lead him gently on the path I choose.
[tr. Priest (1808)]

What will you bet? -- now I am sure of winning --
Only, observe you give me full permission
To lead him softly on my path.
[tr. Shelley (1815)]

What will you wager? you shall lose him yet, if you give me leave to guide him quietly my own way.
[tr. Hayward (1831)]

What wilt thou wager? Him thou yet shall lose,
If leave to me thou wilt but give,
Gently to lead him as I choose!
[tr. Swanwick (1850)]

What will you bet? You'll surely lose your wager!
If you will give me leave henceforth,
To lead him softly on, like an old stager.
[tr. Brooks (1868)]

What will you bet? There's still a chance to gain him,
If unto me full leave you give,
Gently upon my road to train him!
[tr. Taylor (1870)]

What wager you? you yet shall lose that soul!
Only give me full license, and you’ll see
How I shall lead him softly to my goal.
[tr. Blackie (1880)]

What will you wager? Give me but permission
To lead him gently on my way,
I'll win him from you to perdition.
[tr. Latham (1908)]

What will you bet? You'll lose him yet to me,
If you will graciously connive
That I may lead him carefully.
[tr. Kaufmann (1961)]

What will you bet? You'll lose him in the end, if you'll just give me your permission to lead him gently down my street.
[tr. Salm (1962)]

You'll lose him yet! I offer bet and tally,
Provided that your Honor gives
Me leave to lead him gently up my alley!
[tr. Arndt (1976)]

Would you care to bet on that? You'll lose, I tell you,
If you'll give me leave to lead the fellow
Gently down my broad, my primrose path.
[tr. Greenberg (1992)]

What would you wager? Will you challenge me
To win him from you? Give me your permission
To lead him down my path to his perdition?
[tr. Williams (1999)]

What do you wager? I might win him yet!
If you give me your permission first,
I’ll lead him gently on the road I set.
[tr. Kline (2003)]

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My opinion is that there would never have been an infidel, if there had never been a priest. The artificial structures they have built on the purest of all moral systems, for the purpose of deriving from it pence and power, revolts those who think for themselves, and who read in that system only what is really there.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) American political philosopher, polymath, statesman, US President (1801-09)
Letter to Margaret Bayard Smith (6 Aug 1816)
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Authority has always attracted the lowest elements in the human race. All through history mankind has been bullied by scum. Those who lord it over their fellows and toss commands in every direction and would boss the grass in the meadows about which way to bend in the wind are the most depraved kind of prostitutes. They will submit to any indignity, perform any vile act, do anything to achieve power. The worst off-sloughings of the planet are the ingredients of sovereignty. Every government is a parliament of whores.

The trouble is, in a democracy, the whores are us.

P. J. O'Rourke (b. 1947) American humorist, editor
Parliament of Whores, “At Home in the Parliament of Whores” (1991)

Concluding words of the book.
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To undermine the fundamental appeal of superheroes like Superman and Supergirl by re-casting them as anti-heroes at best or outright monsters — dragging imaginary childhood paragons off their pedestals to reinforce a fairly facile point about the tendency of real world heroes to exhibit feet of clay — struck me and strikes me still as imaginatively lazy.

Grant Morrison
Grant Morrison (b. 1960) Scottish comic book writer and playwright
“SUPERMAN and THE AUTHORITY annotations Pt 2,” blog entry (16 Feb 2022)
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And if I turn back, refusing the road in its bitter end, where then shall I go among Elves or Men? Would you have me come to Gondor with this Thing, the Thing that drove your brother mad with desire? What spell would it work in Minas Tirith? Shall there be two cities of Minas Morgul, grinning at each other across a dead land filled with rottenness?’

‘I would not have it so,’ said Faramir.

J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973) English writer, fabulist, philologist, academic [John Ronald Reuel Tolkien]
The Lord of the Rings, Vol. 2: The Two Towers, Book 4, ch. 6 “The Forbidden Pool” [Frodo and Faramir] (1954)
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Compassion is probably the only antitoxin of the soul. Where there is compassion even the most poisonous impulses remain relatively harmless. One would rather see the world run by men who set their hearts on toys but are accessible to pity, than by men animated by lofty ideals whose dedication makes them ruthless. In the chemistry of man’s soul, almost all noble attributes — courage, honor, hope, faith, duty, loyalty, etc. — can be transmuted into ruthlessness. Compassion alone stands apart from the continuous traffic between good and evil proceeding within us.

Eric Hoffer (1902-1983) American writer, philosopher, longshoreman
The Passionate State of Mind, Aphorism 139 (1955)
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But much I fear, that when this great truth shall be re-established, its votaries will fall into the fatal error of fabricating formulas of creed and confessions of faith, the engines which so soon destroyed the religion of Jesus, and made of Christendom a mere Aceldama; that they will give up morals for mysteries, and Jesus for Plato. How much wiser are the Quakers, who, agreeing in the fundamental doctrines of the gospel, schismatize about no mysteries, and, keeping within the pale of common sense, suffer no speculative differences of opinion, any more than of feature, to impair the love of their brethren. Be this the wisdom of Unitarians, this the holy mantle which shall cover within its charitable circumference all who believe in one God, and who love their neighbor!

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) American political philosopher, polymath, statesman, US President (1801-09)
Letter to Benjamin Waterhouse (26 Jun 1822)
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‘But if you’ll pardon my speaking out, I think my master was right. I wish you’d take his Ring. You’d put things to rights. You’d stop them digging up the Gaffer and turning him adrift. You’d make some folk pay for their dirty work.’

‘I would,’ she said. ‘That is how it would begin. But it would not stop with that, alas!’

J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973) English writer, fabulist, philologist, academic [John Ronald Reuel Tolkien]
The Lord of the Rings, Vol. 1: The Fellowship of the Ring, Book 2, ch. 7 “The Mirror of Galadriel” [Sam and Galadriel] (1954)
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The rules are simple: they lie to us, we know they’re lying, they know we know they’re lying but they keep lying anyway, and we keep pretending to believe them.

Elena Gorokhova
Elena Gorokhova (b. 1955) Russo-American novelist, linguist, educator
A Mountain of Crumbs: A Memoir, ch. 13 (2010)

On the relationship between the Soviet government and media and the Soviet people. Sometimes attributed to Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.
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Fascist movements have been “draining swamps” for generations. Publicizing false charges of corruption while engaging in corrupt practices is typical of fascist politics, and anti-corruption campaigns are frequently at the heart of fascist political movements. Fascist politicians characteristically decry corruption in the state they seek to take over, which is bizarre, given that fascist politicians themselves are invariably vastly more corrupt than those they seek to supplant or defeat.

Jason Stanley (b. 1969) American philosopher, epistemologist, academic
How Fascism Works: The Politics of Us and Them, ch. 2 (2018)
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The desire of power in excess caused the angels to fall; the desire of knowledge in excess caused man to fall; but in charity there is no excess, neither can angel or man come in danger by it.

Francis Bacon (1561-1626) English philosopher, scientist, author, statesman
“Of Goodness and Goodness of Nature,” Essays, No. 13 (1625)

Often trimmed down to "In charity there is no excess."
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“You are wise and powerful. Will you not take the Ring?”

“No!” cried Gandalf, springing to his feet. “With that power I should have power too great and terrible. And over me the Ring would gain a power still greater and more deadly.” His eyes flashed and his face was lit as by a fire within. “Do not tempt me! For I do not wish to become like the Dark Lord himself. Yet the way of the Ring to my heart is by pity, pity for weakness and the desire of strength to do good. Do not tempt me! I dare not take it, not even to keep it safe, unused. The wish to wield it would be too great for my strength. I shall have such need of it. Great perils lie before me.”

J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973) English writer, fabulist, philologist, academic [John Ronald Reuel Tolkien]
The Lord of the Rings, Vol. 1: The Fellowship of the Ring, Book 1, ch. 2 “The Shadow of the Past” (1954)
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All things being equal, those who have more power are liable to sin more; no theorem in geometry is more certain than this.

[Caeteris paribus, on trouvera tousjours que ceux qui ont plus de puissance sont sujets à pécher davantage; et il n’y a point de théorème de géométrie qui soit plus asseuré que cette proposition.]

Gottfried Leibniz
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716) German mathematician, philosopher, diplomat, polymath
Letter to Ernst, Landgrave of Hessen-Rheinfels (9 Jul 1688) [tr. Fasnacht (1952)]

Quoted by John Dalberg, Lord Acton (and thus often attributed to him).

Acton's quotation was in his Inaugural Lecture on History, Cambridge (11 Jun 1895). In the lecture, after mentioning the academic precept "never be surprised by the crumbling of an idol or the disclosure of a skeleton; judge talent at its best and character at its worst; suspect power more than vice," he footnotes this Leibniz quotation (in its source French, with the Latin introduction). This was in turn translated into English in G. E. Fasnacht, Acton's Political Philosophy, ch. 6 (1952), after which it became erroneously cited by others to Acton.

The source letter (in which Leibniz is discussing the Jesuits) is collected in Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, Sämtliche Schriften und Briefe, Series 2, vol. 2, p. 278 (2009), reprinted in Stephen Voss, The Leibniz Arnauld Correspondence (2016) (the Source noted), which offers this alternate translation:

Other things being equal, one will always find that those who have more power are subject to sin more. And there is no theorem of Geometry more sure than this proposition.
[tr. Voss (2016)]

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We have now, it seems a National Bible Society, to propagate King James Bible, through all Nations. Would it not be better, to apply these pious Subscriptions, to purify Christendom from the corruptions of Christianity; than to propagate those Corruptions in Europe, Asia, Africa and America!

John Adams (1735-1826) American lawyer, Founding Father, statesman, US President (1797-1801)
Letter to Thomas Jefferson (4 Nov 1816)

After the founding of the American Bible Society (11 May 1816).
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Who are those who are really disloyal? Those who inflame racial hatreds, who sow religious and class dissensions. Those who subvert the Constitution by violating the freedom of the ballot box. Those who make a mockery of majority rule by the use of the filibuster. Those who impair democracy by denying equal educational facilities. Those who frustrate justice by lynch law or by making a farce of jury trials. Those who deny freedom of speech and of the press and of assembly. Those who press for special favors against the interest of the commonwealth. Those who regard public office as a source of private gain. Those who would exalt the military over the civil. Those who for selfish and private purposes stir up national antagonisms and expose the world to the ruin of war.

Henry Steele Commager (1902-1998) American historian, writer, activist
“Who Is Loyal to America?” Harper’s Magazine #1168 (Sep 1947)

Reprinted in Freedom, Loyalty, Dissent (1954)
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All the Sixties were complicated, you know. On the one hand it was funny too, you know; on the other hand it was cruel, you know. The Communists are so cruel, because they impose one taste on everybody, on everything, and who doesn’t comply with their teachings and with their ideology, is very soon labeled pervert, you know, or whatever they want you call it, or counterrevolutionary or whatever. And then the censorship itself, that’s not the worst evil. The worst evil is — and that’s the product of censorship — is the self-censorship, because that twists spines, that destroys my character because I have to think something else and say something else, I have to always control myself. I am stopping to being honest, I am becoming hypocrite — and that’s what they wanted, they wanted everybody to feel guilty, they were, you know… And also they were absolutely brilliant in one way, you know: they knew how effective is not to punish somebody who is guilty; what Communist Party members could afford to do was mind-boggling: they could do practically anything they wanted — steal, you know, lie, whatever. What was important — that they punished if you’re innocent, because that puts everybody, you know, puts fear in everybody.

Milos Forman
Jan Tomáš "Miloš" Forman (1932-2018) Czech-American film director, screenwriter, actor, academic
National Security Archive interview (18 Jan 1997)
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To many white Americans, President Obama must have been corrupt, because his very occupation of the White House was a kind of corruption of the traditional order. When women attain positions of political power usually reserved for men — or when Muslims, blacks, Jews, homosexuals, or “cosmopolitans” profit or even share the public goods of a democracy, such as healthcare — that is perceived as corruption.

Jason Stanley (b. 1969) American philosopher, epistemologist, academic
How Fascism Works: The Politics of Us and Them, ch. 2 (2018)
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Vile deeds are vile, no matter whether we know or do not know what, after death, will be the fate of the doer. We know, at least, what his fate is now, namely to be wedded to the vileness.

Felix Adler
Felix Adler (1851-1933) German-American educator
Life and Destiny, Lecture 9 “Ethical Outlook” (1903)
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What is blasphemy? I will give you a definition; I will give you my thought upon this subject. What is real blasphemy?

To live on the unpaid labor of other men — that is blasphemy.

To enslave your fellow-man, to put chains upon his body — that is blasphemy.

To enslave the minds of men, to put manacles upon the brain, padlocks upon the lips — that is blasphemy.

To deny what you believe to be true, to admit to be true what you believe to be a lie — that is blasphemy.

To strike the weak and unprotected, in order that you may gain the applause of the ignorant and superstitious mob — that is blasphemy.

To persecute the intelligent few, at the command of the ignorant many — that is blasphemy.

To forge chains, to build dungeons, for your honest fellow-men — that is blasphemy.

To pollute the souls of children with the dogma of eternal pain — that is blasphemy.

To violate your conscience — that is blasphemy.

The jury that gives an unjust verdict, and the judge who pronounces an unjust sentence, are blasphemers.

The man who bows to public opinion against his better judgment and against his honest conviction, is a blasphemer.

Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-1899) American lawyer, agnostic, orator
Speech to the Jury, Trial of C. B. Reynolds for Blasphemy, Morristown, New Jersey (May 1887)
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Allegiance to the group identity forged by political party affiliation renders Americans blind to the essential similarities between the agendas of the two parties, similarities that can be expected to be exactly the ones that run counter to public interest, in other words, those interests of the deep-pocketed backers of elections to which any politician must be subservient in order to raise the kind of money necessary to run for national office.

Jason Stanley (b. 1969) American philosopher, epistemologist, academic
How Propaganda Works, Introduction (2015)
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Preacher preaching love like vengeance
Preaching love like hate
Calling for large donations
Promising estates
Rolling lawns and angel bands
Behind the pearly gates
You know he will have his in this life
But yours will have to wait
He’s immaculately tax free

Joni Mitchell
Joni Mitchell (b. 1943) Canadian singer-songwriter and painter [b. Roberta Joan Anderson]
“Tax Free” Joni Mitchell (1985)
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Few men, indeed, are so mad that they do not know when they are doing wrong. But so avid is their pursuit of goods that wrongdoing has become an element of all they do. To protest that fact is idle. Our politics, our business — little and big, our professions, our labor, are smitten in every facet with a corruption occasioned by reckless determination to make not just a reasonable profit but all the profit that can be wrung from every enterprise. Our commonest man, emulating his superiors, forges ahead with a brick on the safety valve of his conscience. Think over your morning paper in that light.

Philip Wylie (1902-1971) American author
Generation of Vipers (1942)
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“It’s not as simple as that. It’s not a black and white issue. There are so many shades of grey.”
“There’s no greys, only white that’s got grubby.”

Terry Pratchett (1948-2015) English author
Carpe Jugulum [Rev. Mightily Oats, Granny Weatherwax] (1998)
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The mistake is to assume that rulers who came to power through institutions cannot change or destroy those very institutions — even when that is exactly what they have announced that they will do.

Timothy Snyder (b. 1969) American historian, author
On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century (2017)
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It is not pointless to acquire wealth but it is more evil than anything to get it from injustice.

[Χρήματα πορίζειν μὲν οὐκ ἀχρεῖον, ἐξ ἀδικίης δὲ πάντων κάκιον.]

Democritus (c. 460 BC - c. 370 BC) Greek philosopher
Frag. 78 (Diels) [tr. @sententiq (2018)]

Original Greek. Diels citation "78. (74 N.) DEMOKRATES. 43."; collected in Joannes Stobaeus (Stobaios) Anthologium 4, 31, 21. Bakewell lists this under "The Golden Sayings of Democritus." Freeman notes this as one of the Gnômae, from a collection called "Maxims of Democratês," but because Stobaeus quotes many of these as "Maxims of Democritus," they are generally attributed to the latter. Alternate translations:

  • "Making money is not without its value, but nothing is baser than to make it by wrong-doing." [tr. Bakewell (1907)]
  • "To make money is not without use, but if it comes from wrong-doing, nothing is worse." [tr. Freeman (1948)]
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There is nothing more agreeable in life than to make peace with the Establishment — and nothing more corrupting.

A. J. P. Taylor (1906-1990) British historian, journalist, broadcaster [Alan John Percivale Taylor]
“William Cobbett” (1953), Essays in English History (1976)
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There is always someone ready to be lured to ruin by hope of gain.

[ἀλλ᾽ ὑπ᾽ ἐλπίδων ἄνδρας τὸ κέρδος πολλάκις διώλεσεν.]

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Antigone, l. 221ff [Creon] (441 BC) [tr. Watling (1947)]

Original Greek. Alternate translations:

  • "But backed by hope, lucre has ruined many." [tr. Donaldson (1848)]
  • "Yet hope of gain hath lured men to their ruin oftentimes." [tr. Storr (1859)]
  • "But hope of gain full oft ere now hath been the ruin of men." [tr. Campbell (1873)]
  • "Yet by just the hope of it, money has many times corrupted men." [tr. Jebb (1891)]
  • "Yet lucre hath oft ruined men through their hopes." [tr. Jebb (1917)]
  • "Yet money talks, and the wisest have sometimes been known to count a few coins too many." [tr. Fitts/Fitzgerald (1939)]
  • "But often we have known men to be ruined by the hope of profit." [tr. Wyckoff (1954)]
  • "But love of gain has often lured a man to his destruction." [tr. Kitto (1962)]
  • "But all too often the mere hope of money has ruined many men." [tr. Fagles (1982)]
  • "But hope -- and bribery -- often have led men to destruction." [tr. Woodruff (2001)]
  • "But profit with its hopes often destroys men." [tr. Tyrell/Bennett (2002)] https://diotima-doctafemina.org/translations/greek/sophocles-antigone/#post-1273:~:text=But%20profit,with%20its%20hopes%20often%20destroys%20men.
  • "Yet there are men who the mere hope of winning has killed them." [tr. Theodoridis (2004)]
  • "And yet men have often been destroyed because they hoped to profit in some way." [tr. Johnston (2005)]
  • "But often profit has destroyed men through their hopes." [tr. Thomas (2005)]
  • "But the profit-motive has destroyed many people in their hope for gain." [tr. @sentantiq (2018)]
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We remark with pain that the indecent foreign dance called the Waltz was introduced (we believe, for the first time) at the English Court on Friday last. This is a circumstance which ought not to be passed over in silence. National morals depend on national habits: and it is quite sufficient to cast one’s eyes on the voluptuous intertwining of the limbs, and close compressure of the bodies, in this dance, to see that it is far indeed removed from the modest reserve which has hitherto been considered distinctive of English females. So long as this obscene display was confined to prostitutes and adulteresses, we did not think it deserving of notice; but now that it is attempted to be forced on the respectable classes of society by the evil example of their superiors, we feel it a duty to warn every parent against exposing his daughter to so foul a contagion. Amicus Plato sed mogis amica veritas. We pay a due deference to our superiors in rank, but we owe a higher duty to morality. We know not how it has happened (probably by the recommendation of some worthless and ignorant French dancing-master) that so indecent a dance now has for the first time been exhibited at the English court; but the novelty is one deserving of severe reprobation, and we trust it will never again be tolerated in any moral English society.

(Other Authors and Sources)
“Dance Called the Waltz,” The Times of London, 2nd printing (16 Jul 1816)

After the "introduction" of the waltz at a London Ball given by the Prince Regent. The dance had actually been present in London dance studios since 1812, and waltz music had come across from Europe earlier than that.

The Latin means "Plato I love, but I love Truth more," attributed to Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, 1096a.15.
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The innocent and the beautiful
Have no enemy but time.

William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) Irish poet and dramatist
“In Memory of Eva Gore-Booth and Con Markiewicz” (1927)
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A good cause has to be careful of the company it keeps.

Rebecca West (1892-1983) British author, journalist, literary critic, travel writer [pseud. for Cicily Isabel Fairfield]
“World of Books: The Greek Way,” Sunday Times of London (23 Aug 1942)
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If we look at the techniques of totalitarian government, it is obvious that the argument of “the lesser evil” — far from being raised only from the outside by those who do not belong to the ruling elite — is one of the mechanisms built into the machinery of terror and criminality. Acceptance of lesser evils is consciously used in conditioning the government officials as well as the population at large to the acceptance of evil as such.

Hannah Arendt (1906-1975) German-American philosopher, political theorist
“Personal Responsibility Under Dictatorship” (1964)
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The corruption of the best things gives rise to the worst.

David Hume (1711-1776) Scottish philosopher, economist, historian, empiricist
The Natural History of Religion, ch. 10 “With Regard to Courage or Abasement” (1757)

Hume actually calls this "the vulgar observation," an English translation of the well-known Latin phrase corruptio optimi pessima.
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Our political system has been thoroughly corrupted, and by the usual suspect — money, what else? The corruption is open, obscene, and unmistakable. The way campaigns are financed is a system of legalized bribery. We have a government of special interests, by special interests, and for special interests. And that will not change until we change the way campaigns are financed.

Molly Ivins (1944-2007) American writer, political columnist [Mary Tyler Ivins]
You Got to Dance With Them What Brung You, Introduction (1998)
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Why, pray, should I speak of things which are incredible except to those who have seen them, that a host of private men have levelled mountains and built upon the seas? To such men their riches seem to me to have been but a plaything; for while they might have enjoyed them honourably, they made haste to squander them shamefully. Nay more, the passion which arose for lewdness, gluttony, and the other attendants of luxury was equally strong; men played the woman, women offered their chastity for sale; to gratify their palates they scoured land and sea; they slept before they needed sleep; they did not await the coming of hunger or thirst, of cold or of weariness, but all these things their self-indulgence anticipated.

[Nam quid ea memorem, quae nisi eis qui videre nemini credibilia sunt, a privatis compluribus subvorsos montis, maria constrata esse? Quibus mihi videntur ludibrio fuisse divitiae; quippe quas honeste habere licebat, abuti per turpitudinem properabant. Sed lubido stupri, ganeae ceterique cultus non minor incesserat; viri muliebria pati, mulieres pudicitiam in propatulo habere; vescendi causa terra marique omnia exquirere, dormire prius quam somni cupido esset, non famem aut sitim neque frigus neque lassitudinem opperiri sed omnia luxu antecapere.]

Sallust (c. 86-35 BC) Roman historian and politician [Gaius Sallustius Crispus]
Bellum Catilinae [The War of Cateline; The Conspiracy of Catiline], ch. 13, sent. 1-3 [tr. Rolfe (1931)]

Original Latin. Alt. trans.:

  • "Need I mention, what to all but eye-witnesses would seem incredible? whole mountains levelled to the valley by the expense and labour of individuals, and even the seas covered with magnificent structures! To such men riches seem to be a burden: what they might enjoy with credit and advantage to themselves, they seem in eager haste to squander away in idle ostentation. To these vices that conspired against the commonwealth, many others may be added, such as prostitution, convivial debauchery, and all kinds of licentious pleasure. The men unsexed themselves, and the women made their persons venal. For the pleasures of the table, sea and land were ransacked; the regular returns of thirst and hunger were anticipated; the hour of sleep was left to a price and accident; cold was a sensation not to be endured by delicate habits; luxury was the business of life, and by that every thing was governed." [tr. Murphy (1807)]

  • "It is needless to recount other things, which none but those who saw them will believe; as the levelling of mountains by private citizens, and even covering the sea itself with fine edifices. These men appear to me to have sported with their riches, since they lavished them in the most shameful manner, instead of enjoying them with honour. Nor were they less addicted to all manner of extravagant gratifications: men and women laid aside all regard to chastity. To procure dainties for their tables, sea and land were ransacked. They indulged in sleep before nature craved it; the returns of hunger and thirst were anticipated with luxury: and cold and fatigue were never so much as felt." [tr. Rose (1831)]

  • "For why should I relate those things which are credible to no one except to those who have seen them -- that mountains have been levelled, seas built over by many private persons, whose riches appear to me to have been a jest, since those which they might have used honourably, they hastened to abuse disgracefully? But no less a desire of wantoning, gluttony, and other fashion had come on, women exhibited their shame in the open air, for the sake of feasting they ransacked every place by sea and land, and slept before there was any desire of sleep, they waited not for hunger nor thirst, nor cold nor fatigue, but anticipated all these things through their luxury." [Source (1841)]

  • "For why should I mention those displays of extravagance, which can be believed by none but those who have seen them; as that mountains have been leveled, and seas covered with edifices, by many private citizens; men whom I consider to have made a sport of their wealth, since they were impatient to squander disreputably what they might have enjoyed with honor. But the love of irregular gratification, open debauchery, and all kinds of luxury, had spread abroad with no less force. Men forgot their sex; women threw off all the restraints of modesty. To gratify appetite, they sought for every kind of production by land and by sea; they slept before there was any inclination for sleep; they no longer waited to feel hunger, thirst, cold, or fatigue, but anticipated them all by luxurious indulgence." [tr. Watson (1867)]

  • "Why should I tell of things which no one who has not seen them could believe, of how often private individuals have levelled mountains and built over seas? Such men seem to me to have trifled with their riches in the haste with which they have ignobly abused what they might honourably have enjoyed. But the passion for defilement, gluttony, and all other kinds of indulgence, had kept pace with that for wealth. Each sex alike trampled on their modesty. Sea and land were ransacked to supply the table. Men went to trest before the felt a desire for sleep; they did not wait for hunger or thirst, cold, or weariness, but anticipated them all by luxurious expedients." [tr. Pollard (1882)]

  • "Why should I recall that numerous private individuals undermined mountains and paved over the seas -- things that are credible to no one except those who have seen them? To such men, it seems to me, their riches were a plaything: when they could have held them with honour, they hurried to misuse them disgracefully. But the lust which had arisen for illicit sex, gluttony and other refinements was no less: men took the passive role of women, women made their chastity openly available; everywhere, by land and by sea, was ransacked for the sake of feeding; they slept before there could be any desire for slumber: they did not wait for hunger or thirst nor for cold nor tiredness, but in their luxuriousness anticipated them all." [tr. Woodman (2007)]

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No one has ever been known to decline to serve on a committee to investigate radicals on the ground that so much exposure to their doctrines would weaken his patriotism, nor on a vice commission on the ground that it would impair his morals. Anything may happen inside the censor, but what counts is that in his outward appearances after his ordeal by temptation he is more than ever a paragon of the conforming virtues. Perhaps his appetites are satisfied by an inverted indulgence, but to a clear-sighted conservative that does not really matter. The conservative is not interested in innocent thoughts. He is interested in loyal behavior.

Walter Lippmann (1889-1974) American journalist and author
Men of Destiny, ch. 8 “The Nature of the Battle Over Censorship,” sec. 2 (1927)
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As soon as riches came to be held in honour, when glory, dominion, and power followed in their train, virtue began to lose its lustre, poverty to be considered a disgrace, blamelessness to be termed malevolence. Therefore as the result of riches, luxury and greed, united with insolence, took possession of our young manhood. They pillaged, squandered; set little value on their own, coveted the goods of others; they disregarded modesty, chastity, everything human and divine; in short, they were utterly thoughtless and reckless.

[Postquam divitiae honori esse coepere et eas gloria, imperium, potentia sequebatur, hebescere virtus, paupertas probro haberi, innocentia pro malivolentia duci coepit. Igitur ex divitiis iuventutem luxuria atque avaritia cum superbia invasere; rapere, consumere, sua parvi pendere, aliena cupere, pudorem, pudicitiam, divina atque humana promiscua, nihil pensi neque moderati habere.]

Sallust (c. 86-35 BC) Roman historian and politician [Gaius Sallustius Crispus]
Bellum Catilinae [The War of Cateline; The Conspiracy of Catiline], ch. 12, sent. 1-2 [tr. Rolfe (1931)]

Original Latin. Alt. trans.:
  • "Riches became the epidemic passion; and where honours, imperial sway, and power, followed in their train, virtue lost her influence, poverty was deemed the meanest disgrace, and innocence was thought to be no better than a mark for malignity of heart. In this manner riches engendered luxury, avarice, and pride; and by those vices the Roman youth were enslaved. Rapacity and profusion went on increasing; regardless of their own property, and eager to seize that of their neighbours, all rushed forward without shame or remorse, confounding every thing sacred and profane, and scorning the restraint of moderation and justice." [tr. Murphy (1807)]

  • "When riches began to be held in high esteem, and attended with glory, honour, and power, virtue languished, poverty was deemed a reproach, and innocence passed for ill-nature. And thus luxury, avarice, and pride, all springing from riches, enslaved the Roman youth; they wantoned in rapine and prodigality; undervalued their own, and coveted what belonged to others; trampled on modesty, friendship, and continence; confounded things divine and human; and threw off all manner of consideration and restraint." [tr. Rose (1831)]

  • "After that riches began to be an honour and glory, and command and power followed them, virtue began to languish, poverty to be accounted matter of reproach, and innocence to be considered as malignity. Therefore from riches, luxury and avarice with pride came in upon our youth. They ravaged and wasted every thing, their own property they valued at a trifle, that of other persons they coveted, and had not the least care for, or moderation in, shame, modesty, sacred or profane things, which were all the same to them." [Source (1841)]

  • "When wealth was once considered an honor, and glory, authority, and power attended on it, virtue lost her influence, poverty was thought a disgrace, and a life of innocence was regarded as a life of ill-nature. From the influence of riches, accordingly, luxury, avarice, and pride prevailed among the youth; they grew at once rapacious and prodigal; they undervalued what was their own, and coveted what was another’s; they set at naught modesty and continence; they lost all distinction between sacred and profane, and threw off all consideration and self-restraint." [tr. Watson (1867)]

  • "Riches became a means of distinction and glory, power and influence followed their possession. As a result the edge of virtue was dulled, poverty was accounted a disgrace, and uprightness a kind of ill-nature. Riches made the youth prey to luxury, avarice, and pride: at once grasping and prodigal, they valued lightly their own property, while the coveted that of others; all modesty and purity, alike things human and things divine, everything, in short, was despised and disregarded." [tr. Pollard (1882)]

  • "After riches began to be a source of honour and to be attended by glory, command and power, prowess began to dull, poverty to be considered a disgrace and blamelessness to be regarded as malice. In the wake of riches, therefore, young men were attacked by luxury and avarice along with haughtiness; they seized, they squandered; they placed little weight on their own property and desired that of others; they considered propriety and unchastity, divine and human matters, as indistinguishable, and nothing as worth weight or restraint." [tr. Woodman (2007)]
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In truth, prosperity tries the souls of even the wise; how then should men of depraved character like these make a moderate use of victory?

[Quippe secundae res sapientium animos fatigant, ne illi corruptis moribus victoriae temperarent.]

Sallust (c. 86-35 BC) Roman historian and politician [Gaius Sallustius Crispus]
Bellum Catilinae [The War of Cateline; The Conspiracy of Catiline], ch. 11, sent. 8 [tr. Rolfe (1931)]

Alt. trans.:
  • "A series of prosperity is often too much even for the wisest and best disposed: that men corrupted should make a temperate use of their victory could not be expected." [tr. Murphy (1807)]
  • "For success unhinges the minds even of wise men; how then should they who were so depraved use their victory with moderation?" [tr. Rose (1831)]
  • "For success tries the minds of wise men, much less could they, when their morals were corrupted, use their victory with moderation." [Source (1841)]
  • "Success unsettles the principles even of the wise, and scarcely would those of debauched habits use victory with moderation." [tr. Watson (1867)]
  • "Since even the wise have their temper tried by prosperity, much less could men of this abandoned character use their success with moderation." [tr. Pollard (1882)]
  • "Successful situations overwhelm the minds even of the wise; still less wouild those men of corrupt morals moderate their victory." [tr. Woodman (2007)]
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Their frail human nature was subjected to a strain greater than it was made for; the fires of greed had been lighted in their hearts, and fanned to a white heat that melted every principle and every law.

Upton Sinclair (1878-1968) American writer, journalist, activist, politician
Oil!, ch. 2 (1927)
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Hence the lust for money first, then for power, grew upon them; these were, I may say, the root of all evils. For avarice destroyed honour, integrity, and all the other noble qualities; taught in their place insolence, cruelty, to neglect the gods, to set a price on everything. Ambition drove many men to become false; to have one thought locked in the breast, another ready on the tongue; to value friendships and enmities not on their merits but by the standard of self-interest, and to show a good front rather than a good heart. At first these vices grew slowly, from time to time they were punished; finally, when the disease had spread like a deadly plague, the state was changed and a government second to none in equity and excellence became cruel and intolerable.

[Igitur primo imperi, deinde pecuniae cupido crevit: ea quasi materies omnium malorum fuere. Namque avaritia fidem, probitatem ceterasque artis bonas subvortit; pro his superbiam, crudelitatem, deos neglegere, omnia venalia habere edocuit. Ambitio multos mortalis falsos fieri subegit, aliud clausum in pectore, aliud in lingua promptum habere, amicitias inimicitiasque non ex re, sed ex commodo aestumare magisque voltum quam ingenium bonum habere. Haec primo paulatim crescere, interdum vindicari; post, ubi contagio quasi pestilentia invasit, civitas inmutata, imperium ex iustissumo atque optumo crudele intolerandumque factum.]

Sallust (c. 86-35 BC) Roman historian and politician [Gaius Sallustius Crispus]
Bellum Catilinae [The War of Catiline; The Conspiracy of Catiline], ch. 10, sent. 3-6 [tr. Rolfe (1931)]

Discussing the corruption of Rome in the years after the final defeat of Carthage.

Alt. trans.:
"A love of money, and a lust for power, took possession of every mind. These hateful passions were the source of innumerable evils. Good faith, integrity, and every virtuous principle, gave way to avarice; and in the room of moral honesty, pride, cruelty, and contempt of the gods succeeded. Corruption and venality were introduced; and everything had its price. Such were the effects of avarice. Ambition was followed by an equal train of evils; it taught men to be false and deceitful; to think one thing, and to say another; to make friendship or enmity a mere traffic for private advantage, and to set the features to a semblance of virtue, while malignity lay lurking in the heart. But at first these vices sapped their way by slow degrees, and were often checked in their progress; but spreading at length like an epidemic contagious, morals and the liberal arts went to ruin; and the government, which was before a model of justice, became the most profligate and oppressive." [tr. Murphy (1807)]

"First a love of money possessed their minds; then a passion for power; and these were the seeds of all the evils that followed. For avarice rooted out faith, probity, and every worthy principle; and, in their stead, substituted insolence, inhumanity, contempt of the gods, and a mercenary spirit. Ambition obliged many to be deceitful; to belie with their tongues the sentiments of their hearts; to value friendship and enmity, not according to their real worth, but as they conduced to interest; and to have a specious countenance, rather than an honest heart. These corruptions at first grew by degrees, and were sometimes checked by correction. At last, the infection spreading like a plague, the state was entirely changed, and the government, from being the most righteous and equitable, became cruel and insupportable." [tr. Rose (1831)]

"Therefore at first the love of money, then that of power increased. These things became as it were the foundation of all evils. For avarice overthrew faith, honesty, and all the other good acts; and instead of them it taught men pride, cruelty, to neglect the gods, and to consider everything venal. Ambition forced many men to become false, to have one thing hidden in their hearts, another ready on their tongue, to value friendships and enmities, not accordingly to reality, but interest, and rather to have a good appearance than a good disposition. These things at first began to increase by degrees, sometimes to be punished. Afterwards when the infection swept on like a pestilence, the state was changed, the government from the most just and best, became cruel and intolerable." [Source (1841)]

"At first the love of money, and then that of power, began to prevail, and these became, as it were, the sources of every evil. For avarice subverted honesty, integrity, and other honorable principles, and, in their stead, inculcated pride, inhumanity, contempt of religion, and general venality. Ambition prompted many to become deceitful; to keep one thing concealed in the breast, and another ready on the tongue; to estimate friendships and enmities, not by their worth, but according to interest; and to carry rather a specious countenance than an honest heart. These vices at first advanced but slowly, and were sometimes restrained by correction; but afterwards, when their infection had spread like a pestilence, the state was entirely changed, and the government, from being the most equitable and praiseworthy, became rapacious and insupportable." [tr. Watson (1867)]

"At first the lust of money increased, then that of power, and these, it may be said, were the sources of every evil. Avarice subverted loyalty, uprightness, and every other good quality, and in their stead taught men to be proud and cruel, to neglect the gods, and to hold all things venal. Ambition compelled many to become deceitful; they had one thought buried in their breast, another ready on their tongue; their friendships and enmities they valued not at their real worth, but at the advantage they could bring, and they maintained the look rather than the nature of honest men. These evils at first grew gradually, and were occasionally punished; later, when the contagion advanced like some plague, the state was revolutionized, and the government, from being one of the justest and best, became cruel and unbearable." [tr. Pollard (1882)]

"Hence it was the desire for money first of all, and then for empire, which grew; and these factors were the kindling (so to speak) of every wickedness. For avarice undermined trust, probity, and all other good qualities; instead it taught men haughtiness, cruelty, to neglect the gods, to regard everything as for sale. Ambition reduced many mortals to becoming false, having one sentiment shut away in the heart and another ready on the tongue, assessing friendships and antagonisms in terms not of reality but of advantage, and having a good demeanour rather than a good disposition. At first these things grew gradually; sometimes they were punished; but after, when the contamination had attacked like a plague, the community changed and the exercise of command, from being the best and most just, became cruel and intolerable." [tr. Woodman (2007)]

"At first the desire of power, then the desire of money increased; these were effectively the material of all evils, because avarice overturned faith, probity, and all other noble arts; in their place, it taught men to be arrogant and cruel, to neglect the gods, and to consider all things for sale. Ambition compelled many men to become liars; to hold one thing hidden in the heart, and the opposite thing at the tip of one’s tongue; to judge friends and enemies not in objective terms, but by reference to personal gain; and finally, to make a good appearance rather than to have a good mind. As these vices first began to increase, they were occasionally punished; but afterward, once the contagion had spread like a plague, the state as a whole was altered, and the government, once the noblest and most just, was made cruel and intolerable." [tr. @sententiq (2017)]

That it is the nature of ambition, to make men liars and cheaters; to hide the truth in their breasts, and show, like jugglers, another thing in their mouths; to cut all friendships and enmities to the measure of their own interest, and to make a good countenance without the help of good will. [tr. Cowley? (17th C)]
Added on 23-Oct-20 | Last updated 23-Oct-20
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