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A vast deal may be done by those who dare to act.

Jane Austen
Jane Austen (1775-1817) English novelist
Emma, Vol. 2, ch. 15 (ch. 33) [Mrs. Elton] (1816)
Added on 29-Jun-23 | Last updated 3-Aug-23
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There are cases in which the greatest daring is the greatest wisdom.

[Es giebt Fälle, wo das höchste Wagen die höchste Weisheit ist.]

Karl von Clausewitz (1780-1831) Prussian soldier, historian, military theorist
On War [Vom Kriege], Book 2, ch. 5 “Critical Analysis [Kritik]” (2.5) (1832) [tr. Graham (1873)]

Jolles (1943) translates this passage the same as Graham. (Source (German)). Alternate translation:

There are times when the utmost daring is the height of wisdom.
[tr. Howard & Paret (1976)]

Added on 4-Aug-22 | Last updated 28-Mar-23
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Fortunate are those who recognize the divine importance of youth’s cocksureness and conceit, and yet know how, gently and appreciatively, to temper it with the riper judgment of added years.

Bruce Barton
Bruce Barton (1886-1967) American author, advertising executive, politician
More Power to You, ch. 27 (1917)
Added on 30-Mar-22 | Last updated 30-Mar-22
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Combining rational intelligence with all the imagination we can command, let us project ourselves forcefully into the future. In doing so, let us not fear occasional error — the imagination is only free when fear of error is temporarily laid aside. Moreover, in thinking about the future, it is better to err on the side of daring, than the side of caution.

Alvin Toffler (1928-2016) American writer and futurist
Future Shock (1970)
Added on 24-May-21 | Last updated 24-May-21
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No matter how daring or cautious you may choose to be, in the course of your life you are bound to come into direct physical contact with what’s known as Evil. I mean here not a property of the gothic novel but, to say the least, a palpable social reality that you in no way can control. No amount of good nature or cunning calculations will prevent this encounter. In fact, the more calculating, the more cautious you are, the greater is the likelihood of this rendezvous, the harder its impact. Such is the structure of life that what we regard as Evil is capable of a fairly ubiquitous presence if only because it tends to appear in the guise of good. You never see it crossing your threshold announcing itself: “Hi, I’m Evil!” That, of course, indicates its secondary nature, but the comfort one may derive from this observation gets dulled by its frequency.

Joseph Brodsky (1940-1996) Russian-American poet, essayist, Nobel laureate, US Poet Laureate [Iosif Aleksandrovič Brodskij]
Commencement Address, Williams College (24 May 1984)
Added on 18-May-21 | Last updated 18-May-21
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Nations are most commonly saved by the worst men in them. The virtuous are too scrupulous to go to the lengths which are necessary to rouse the people against their tyrants.

Horace Walpole (1717-1797) English novelist, letter writer
Memoirs of the Reign of King George III, Vol. 1, ch. 12 (1859)

  • "The adventurer's career suggests the reflection that nations are usually saved by their worse men, since the virtuous are too scrupulous to go to the lengths needed to rouse the people against their tyrants." (Source)
  • "The virtuous are too scrupulous to go to the lengths that are necessary to rouse the people against their tyrants."
  • Modern paraphrase: "No great country was ever saved by good men because good men will not go to the lengths necessary to save it."
  • Modern paraphrase: "No great country was ever saved by good men, because good men may not go to the lengths that may be necessary."
Added on 7-Jan-20 | Last updated 7-Jan-20
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Begin, be bold, and venture to be wise.

[Dimidium facti qui coepit habet; sapere aude; incipe!]

Horace - begin - wist_info quote

Horace (65-8 BC) Roman poet and satirist [Quintus Horacius Flaccus]
Epistles, Book 1, Epistle 2, ll. 39-40 [tr. Cowley]

Alt. trans.: "He who has begun has half done. Dare to be wise; begin!"
Added on 28-Jan-16 | Last updated 28-Jan-16
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Fortune favors the bold.

[Audentis Fortuna iuvat]

Virgil the Poet
Virgil (70-19 BC) Roman poet [b. Publius Vergilius Maro; also Vergil]
The Aeneid [Ænē̆is], Book 10, l. 284 (10.284) [Turnus] (29-19 BC) [tr. West (1990)]

The Rutulian prince exhorting his men to meet Aeneas' Trojans on the beach as they land. Not a sentiment invented by Virgil. See also Terence.

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

Fortune assists the bold.
[tr. Ogilby (1649)]

Fortune befriends the bold.
[tr. Dryden (1697)]

Fortune assists the daring.
[tr. Davidson/Buckley (1854)]

Fair fortune aids the bold.
[tr. Conington (1866)]

Fortune assists the bold.
[tr. Cranch (1872), l. 380]

Fortune aids daring.
[tr. Mackail (1885)]

For Fortune helpeth them that dare.
[tr. Morris (1900)]

Fair Fortune aids the bold.
[tr. Taylor (1907), st. 37, l. 342]

Fortune will help the brave.
[tr. Williams (1910)]

Fortune aids the daring.
[tr. Fairclough (1918)]

And luck helps men who dare.
[tr. Humphries (1951)]

Fortune always fights for the bold.
[tr. Day-Lewis (1952)]

For fortune
helps those who dare.
[tr. Mandelbaum (1971), ll. 395-96]

favors men who dare!
[tr. Fitzgerald (1981), ll. 392-93]

Fortune favours the brave.
[tr. Kline (2002)]

Fortune speeds the bold!
[tr. Fagles (2006), l. 341]

Added on 25-Feb-13 | Last updated 21-Jun-23
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Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. God Himself is not secure, having given man dominion over His works! Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. The fearful are caught as often as the bold. Faith alone defends. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable.

Helen Keller (1880-1968) American author and lecturer
Let Us Have Faith, “Faith Fears Not” (1940)

Reprinted in her compilation book, The Open Door (1957). This quotation is often given in excerpted form, leaving out certain sentences, or even rearranging some of the sentences and sometimes making it seem that the two sources are actually different.
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 10-May-21
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The encouraging thing is that every time you meet a situation, though you may think at the time it is an impossibility and you go through the tortures of the damned, once you have met it and lived through it you find that forever after you are freer than you ever were before. If you can live through that you can live through anything. You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, “I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.” The danger lies in refusing to face the fear, in not daring to come to grips with it. If you fail anywhere along the line it will take away your confidence. You must make yourself succeed every time. You must do the thing you think you cannot do.

Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962) First Lady of the US (1933-45), politician, diplomat, activist
You Learn by Living, ch. 2 “Fear — the Great Enemy” (1960)

This is the likely source for the misattribution of this Mary Schmich quotation to Roosevelt.
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 3-Sep-22
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Those blush to lose a conquering game,
And fain would peril life for fame:
These bring success their zeal to fan;
They can because they think they can.

[Hi proprium decus et partum indignantur honorem
ni teneant, vitamque volunt pro laude pacisci;
hos successus alit: possunt, quia posse videntur.]

Virgil the Poet
Virgil (70-19 BC) Roman poet [b. Publius Vergilius Maro; also Vergil]
The Aeneid [Ænē̆is], Book 5, l. 229ff (5.229-231) (29-19 BC) [tr. Conington (1866)]

Of the crews of the two remaining ships racing at the funeral games of Anchises: Cloanthus' Scylla which is closing on the finish line; Mnestheus' Pristis which has come up from last place and may yet take the lead. (Cloanthus wins the race by offering a sacrifice to the sea gods.)

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

These their new glory, honours got despise,
Unless they keep it, and to gaine the prize
Would sell their lives; success feeds them; they may
Because they think they can obtain the day.
[tr. Ogilby (1649)]

Resolv'd to hold their own, they mend their pace,
All obstinate to die, or gain the race.
Rais'd with success, the Dolphin swiftly ran;
For they can conquer, who believe they can.
[tr. Dryden (1697)]

These are fired with indignation, lest they should lose their possession of glory and honor they have won; and they are willing to barter life for renown. Those success cherishes; they are able because they seem to be able.
[tr. Davidson/Buckley (1854)]

These scorn to lose the honour that is their own, the glory in their grasp, and would sell life for renown; to these success lends life; power comes with belief in it.
[tr. Mackail (1885)]

These, thinking shame of letting fall their hardly-gotten gain
Of glory's meed, to buy the praise with very life are fain;
Those, fed on good-hap, all things may, because they deem they may
[tr. Morris (1900), l. 228ff]

These scorn to lose their vantage, stung with shame,
And life is wagered willingly for fame.
Success inspires the hindmost; as they dare,
They do; the thought of winning wins the game.
[tr. Taylor (1907), st. 31, l. 274ff]

The leaders now with eager souls would scorn
to lose their glory, and faint-hearted fail
to grasp a prize half-won, but fain would buy
honor with life itself; the followers too
are flushed with proud success, and feel them strong
because their strength is proven.
[tr. Williams (1910)]

These think it shame not to keep the honour that is theirs, the glory they have won, and would barter life for fame: those success heartens; strong are they, for strong they deem themselves.
[tr. Fairclough (1916)]

               On the Scylla
They would give their lives to hold their place, they have won it,
The glory and honor are theirs already, almost;
And Mnestheus’ men take courage from their nearness;
They can because they think they can.
[tr. Humphries (1951)]

One crew was compelled by the shame of losing a prize they had all but
Gained for their own, and would give their lives for its glory; the other
Was fired by success -- they could do it because they believed they could do it.
[tr. Day-Lewis (1952)]

               Cloanthus' crewmen
now think it a disgrace to fail to keep
the fame and honor they themselves have won,
and they would give their very lives for glory;
but Menestheus' men are strengthened by success,
they have the power because they feel they have it.
[tr. Mandelbaum (1971), l. 301ff]

One crew fought off the shame of losing honor
Theirs already, glory won; they'd give
Their lives for fame; but luck empowered the others
Who felt that they could do it, and so could.
[tr. Fitzgerald (1981), l. 294ff]

Cloanthus and his men on the Scylla saw the honour as theirs by right. They had already won the victory and had no intention of giving it up. They would rather have lost their lives than lose the glory. Mnestheus and his men on the Pristis were feeding on success. They could win because they thought they could.
[tr. West (1990)]

The former crew are unhappy lest they fail to keep
the honour that is theirs and the glory already
in their possession, and would sell their lives for fame.
the latter feed on success: they can because they think they can.
[tr. Kline (2002)]

One crew, stung by the shame of losing victory now
with glory won, would trade their lives for fame.
But Mnestheus and his crew, fired by their success,
can just about win the day because they think they can.
[tr. Fagles (2006), l. 256ff]

One crew would hate to lose the glory of an honor all but one. They'd trade their lives for victory. The others were encouraged by success. Belief in victory spurred them on.
[tr. Bartsch (2021)]

Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 28-Jun-23
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