Quotations about   deed

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Then welcome fate!
‘Tis true I perish, yet I perish great:
Yet in a mighty deed I shall expire,
Let future ages hear it, and admire!

[νῦν αὖτέ με μοῖρα κιχάνει.
μὴ μὰν ἀσπουδί γε καὶ ἀκλειῶς ἀπολοίμην,
ἀλλὰ μέγα ῥέξας τι καὶ ἐσσομένοισι πυθέσθαι.]

Homer (fl. 7th-8th C. BC) Greek author
The Iliad, Book 22, l. 303ff [Hector] (c. 750 BC) [tr. Pope (1715-20), l. 385ff]
    (Source)

Original Greek. Alternate translations:

But Fate now conquers; I am hers; and yet not she shall share
In my renown; that life is left to every noble spirit,
And that some great deed shall beget that all lives shall inherit.
[tr. Chapman (1611), l. 266ff]

But I will not fall
Inglorious; I will act some great exploit
That shall be celebrated ages hence.
[tr. Cowper (1791), l. 347ff]

Fate overtakes me. Nevertheless I will not perish cowardly and ingloriously at least, but having done some great deed to be heard of even by posterity.
[tr. Buckley (1860)]

My fate hath found me now.
Yet not without a struggle let me die,
Nor all inglorious; but let some great act,
Which future days may hear of, mark my fall.
[tr. Derby (1864)]

Now my fate hath found me. At least let me not die without a struggle or ingloriously, but in some great deed of arms whereof men yet to be born shall hear.
[tr. Leaf/Lang/Myers (1891)]

My doom has come upon me; let me not then die ingloriously and without a struggle, but let me first do some great thing that shall be told among men hereafter.
[tr. Butler (1898)]

Now again is my doom come upon me. Nay, but not without a struggle let me die, neither ingloriously, but in the working of some great deed for the hearing of men that are yet to be.
[tr. Murray (1924)]

But now my death is upon me. Let me at least not die without a struggle, inglorious, but do some big thing first, that men to come shall know of it.
[tr. Lattimore (1951)]

So now I meet my doom. Well let me die --
but not without struggle, not without glory, no,
in some great clash of arms that even men to come
will hear of down the years!
[tr. Fagles (1990), l. 359ff]

But now has my doom overcome me. But let me at least not die without making a fight, without glory, but a great deed having done for the men of the future to hear of.
[tr. Merrill (2007)]

May I not die without a fight and without glory
but after doing something big for men to come to learn about.
[tr. @Sentantiq (2011)]

Added on 24-Mar-21 | Last updated 24-Mar-21
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Sympathy … is not an end in itself. … Not mere feeling, but action, will mitigate the world’s misery, society’s injustice, or the people’s alienation from God.

Abraham Joshua Heschel (1907-1972) Polish-American rabbi, theologian, philosopher
The Prophets, 18 (1962)
Added on 24-Aug-16 | Last updated 24-Aug-16
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He’s suffering from Politicians’ Logic. Something must be done, this is something, therefore we must do it.

Antony Jay (b. 1930) English writer, broadcaster, director
Yes, Prime Minister, 2×05 “Power to the People” (7 Jan 1988)

Variant: "There is this great idea about the logic of a politician, along the lines of: 'Something must be done, this is something, therefore we must do it.'"
Added on 1-Aug-16 | Last updated 1-Aug-16
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Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.

Leo Buscaglia (1925-1998) American psychologist, writer
Born For Love: Reflections on Loving (1992)
Added on 12-Apr-16 | Last updated 12-Apr-16
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It’s no great Commendation to just forbear doing Ill: thou art bound moreover to do Good to others; if thou dost not, thou art not Good to thy self.

Thomas Fuller (1654-1734) English writer, physician
Introductio ad Prudentiam, # 716 (1725)
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Added on 8-Dec-15 | Last updated 26-Jan-21
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Not the cry, but the flight of a wild duck, leads the flock to fly and follow.

Chinese - fly and follow - wist_info quote

Other Authors and Sources
Chinese proverb

First recorded by Jean Paul [Johann Paul Friedrich Richter] (1763-1825), Levana, sec. 8 (1807): "Nicht das Geschrei, sagt ein chinesischer Autor, sondern der Ausflug einer wilden Ente treibt die Heerde zur Folge und zum Nachfliegen." (See H. A., A Book of Thoughts (1865))
Added on 7-Dec-15 | Last updated 7-Dec-15
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Make the least ado about your greatest gifts. Be content to act, and leave the talking to others.

Baltasar Gracián y Morales (1601-1658) Spanish Jesuit priest, writer, philosopher
The Art of Worldly Wisdom [Oráculo Manual y Arte de Prudencia], #295 (1647)

Alt. trans.: "The greater your exploits the less you need affect them: content yourself with doing, leave the talking to others." [tr. Jacobs (1892)]
Added on 2-Dec-15 | Last updated 31-Jan-20
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An act is not good because we feel obliged to do it; it is rather that we feel obliged to do it because it is good.

Abraham Joshua Heschel (1907-1972) Polish-American rabbi, theologian, philosopher
Man Is Not Alone, ch. 13 (1951)
Added on 10-Nov-15 | Last updated 10-Nov-15
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Sow an act, and you reap a habit. Sow a habit, and you reap a character. Sow a character, and you reap a destiny.

Charles Reade (1814-1884) English novelist and dramatist
(Attributed)

Attributed in Notes and Queries, 9th series, vol. 12 (7 Nov 1903). Not found in any of his works, but attributed to many other authors over time. See here for more discussion.
Added on 7-Sep-15 | Last updated 10-Aug-16
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Many strokes fell tall Oaks.

John Clarke (d. 1658) British educator
Proverbs: English and Latine (1639)
Added on 12-Aug-15 | Last updated 12-Aug-15
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It is when the sentimentalist turns preacher of morals that we investigate his character, and are justified in so doing. He may express as many and as delicate shades of feeling as he likes, — for this the sensibility of his organization perfectly fits him, no other person could do it so well, — but the moment he undertakes to establish his feeling as a rule of conduct, we ask at once how far are his own life and deed in accordance with what he preaches? For every man feels instinctively that all the beautiful sentiments in the world weigh less than a single lovely action; and that while tenderness of feeling and susceptibility to generous emotions are accidents of temperament, goodness is an achievement of the will and a quality of the life. Fine words, says our homely old proverb, butter no parsnips; and if the question be how to render those vegetables palatable, an ounce of butter would be worth more than all the orations of Cicero. The only conclusive evidence of a man’s sincerity is that he give himself for a principle. Words, money, all things else, are comparatively easy to give away; but when a man makes a gift of his daily life and practice, it is plain that the truth, whatever it may be, has taken possession of him.

James Russell Lowell (1819-1891) American diplomat, essayist, poet
“Rousseau And The Sentimentalists,” North American Review (Jul 1867)
    (Source)
Added on 10-Aug-15 | Last updated 10-Aug-15
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Every time I’ve done something that doesn’t feel right, it’s ended up not being right.

Mario Cuomo (1932-2015) American politician
(Attributed)
Added on 8-Jun-15 | Last updated 8-Jun-15
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Can anything be sadder than work left unfinished? Yes: work never begun.

Christina Rossetti (1830-1894) English poet
Time Flies: A Reading Diary, “January 5” (1886)
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Added on 5-Jun-15 | Last updated 4-Dec-20
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An able man shows his Spirit by gentle words and resolute actions.

Lord Chesterfield (1694-1773) English statesman, wit [Philip Dormer Stanhope]
Letter to his son (15 Jan 1753)
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Added on 27-Apr-15 | Last updated 27-Apr-15
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An act of goodness surpasses a thousand prayers.

Sa'adi (1184-1283/1291?) Persian poet [a.k.a. Sa'di, Moslih Eddin Sa'adi, Mushrif-ud-Din Abdullah, Muslih-ud-Din Mushrif ibn Abdullah, Mosleh al-Din Saadi Shirazi, Shaikh Mosslehedin Saadi Shirazi]
The Maxims of Sa’di, 1 [tr. Nakosteen (1977)]
Added on 7-Apr-15 | Last updated 7-Apr-15
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For a thing to remain undone nothing more is needed than to think it done.

Baltasar Gracián y Morales (1601-1658) Spanish Jesuit priest, writer, philosopher
The Art of Worldly Wisdom [Oráculo Manual y Arte de Prudencia], #204 (1647) [tr. Jacobs (1892)]
    (Source)
Added on 1-Apr-15 | Last updated 31-Jan-20
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Those who will not reason
Perish in the act:
Those who will not act
Perish for that reason.

W. H. Auden (1907-1973) Anglo-American poet [Wystan Hugh Auden]
“Shorts” (1974)
Added on 15-Jul-14 | Last updated 15-Jul-14
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A man does not sin by commission only, but often by omission.

Marcus Aurelius (AD 121-180) Roman emperor (161-180), Stoic philosopher
Meditations, Book 9, #5 [tr. Staniforth (1964)]
Added on 13-Jun-14 | Last updated 1-Mar-16
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Do one thing every day that scares you.

Mary Schmich (b. 1953) American newspaper columnist
“Advice, Like Youth, Probably Just Wasted on the Young,” Chicago Tribune (1 Jul 1997)
    (Source)

Often attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt, but no reference found in her works or contemporaneous sources (though see this). Also attributed to Kurt Vonnegut and to Baz Luhrmann (who used the words in a song but credited them to Schmich).

Related predecessors can be found in other quotations (Emerson, Jane Addams, Mark Toby), linked back to this one below.  See here for more research into this quotation.

Added on 13-Jun-13 | Last updated 11-Aug-14
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A good deed is the best prayer. A loving life is the best religion.

Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-1899) American lawyer, agnostic, orator
Fragment
    (Source)
Added on 6-Nov-08 | Last updated 4-Feb-16
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Action and becoming are one.

Meister Eckhart (1260?-1327?) German Dominican mystic, theologian [a.k.a. Eckehart von Hochheim]
Sermons #18 [tr. Blakney (1941)]
Added on 5-Sep-08 | Last updated 30-Sep-16
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Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) German poet, statesman, scientist
(Attributed)

Used by Bruce Lee, and sometimes attributed to him.
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 2-Sep-16
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