Quotations about   dishonesty

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Who dares think one thing, and another tell,
My heart detests him as the gates of hell.

[Ἐχθρὸς γάρ μοι κεῖνος ὁμῶς Ἀΐδαο πύλῃσιν
ὅς χ’ ἕτερον μὲν κεύθῃ ἐνὶ φρεσίν, ἄλλο δὲ εἴπῃ.]

Homer (fl. 7th-8th C. BC) Greek author
The Iliad, Book 9, ll. 312-313 [Achilles to Odysseus] (c. 750 BC) [tr. Pope (1715-20)]
    (Source)

Original Greek. Alt. trans.:

For, like hell mouth I loath, Who holds not in his words and thoughts one indistinguish’d troth. [tr. Chapman (1611), ll. 300-01]

For I abhor the man, not more the gates Of hell itself, whose words belie his heart. [tr. Cowper (1791), ll. 385-86]

Hateful to me as the gates of Hades is he who conceals one thing in his mind and utters another. [tr. Buckley (1860)]

Him as the gates of hell my soul abhors,
Whose outward words his inmost thoughts conceal.
[tr. Derby (1864), ll. 373-74]

For hateful to me even as the gates of hell is he that hideth one thing in his heart and uttereth another. [tr. Leaf/Lang/Myers (1891)]

Him do I hate even as the gates of hell who says one thing while he hides another in his heart.
[tr. Butler (1898)]

I hate that man like the very Gates of Death
who says one thing but hides another in his heart.
[tr. Fagles (1990), ll. 378-79]

Added on 4-Nov-20 | Last updated 24-Nov-20
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Lying is an indispensable part of making life tolerable.

Bergen Evans (1904-1978) American educator, writer, lexicographer
Quoted in “The Euphemism: Telling It Like It Isn’t,” Time (19 Sep 1969)
    (Source)

Sometimes misquoted with the words "Euphemisms persist because," but these are non-quoted text leading up to the quotation.
Added on 20-May-20 | Last updated 20-May-20
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As soon as people have power they go crooked and sometimes dotty as well, because the possession of power lifts them into a region where normal honesty never pays.

E. M. Forster (1879-1970) English novelist, essayist, critic, librettist [Edward Morgan Forster]
“What I Believe,” The Nation (16 Jul 1938)
    (Source)

See Lord Acton.
Added on 12-Feb-20 | Last updated 12-Feb-20
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The amount of temptation required differentiates the honest from the dishonest.

Paul Eldridge (1888-1982) American educator, novelist, poet
Maxims for a Modern Man, #1095 (1965)
Added on 1-May-17 | Last updated 1-May-17
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Treachery and violence are spears pointed at both ends — they wound those who resort to them worse than their enemies.

Emily Brontë (1818-1848) British novelist, poet [pseud. Ellis Bell]
Wuthering Heights, ch. 17 [Isabella Linton] (1847)
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Added on 5-Jan-17 | Last updated 5-Jan-17
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All men are frauds. The only difference between them is that some admit it. I myself deny it.

H.L. Mencken (1880-1956) American writer and journalist [Henry Lewis Mencken]
A Little Book in C Major (1916)
Added on 11-Jun-16 | Last updated 11-Jun-16
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Good breeding consists in concealing how much we think of ourselves and how little we think of the other person.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Mark Twain’s Notebook [ed. Paine (1935)]
Added on 4-Mar-16 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
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Lying is done with words, and also with silence.

Adrienne Rich (1929-2012) American poet, essayist, feminist
“Women and Honor: Some Notes on Lying” (1975)
Added on 21-Oct-15 | Last updated 21-Oct-15
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Wisdom without honesty is mere craft and cozenage.

Ben Jonson (1572-1637) English playwright and poet
Timber, or Discoveries Made upon Men and Matter (1641)
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Added on 12-May-15 | Last updated 12-May-15
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The honest Man takes Pains, and then enjoys Pleasures;
the Knave takes Pleasure, and then suffers Pains.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher
Poor Richard’s Almanack (May 1755)
Added on 8-May-15 | Last updated 8-May-15
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I have laughed in bitterness and agony of heart, at the contrast between what I seem and what I am!

Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864) American writer
The Scarlet Letter, ch. 17 (1850)
Added on 13-Jun-14 | Last updated 13-Jun-14
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Better be cheated in the price than in the quality of goods.

[Más vale ser engañado en el precio que en la mercadería.]

Baltasar Gracián y Morales (1601-1658) Spanish Jesuit priest, writer, philosopher
The Art of Worldly Wisdom [Oráculo Manual y Arte de Prudencia], #157 (1647) [tr. Jacobs (1892)]
    (Source)

Alt. trans.: "Better to be cheated by the price than by the merchandise." [tr. Maurer (1992)]
Added on 4-Jun-12 | Last updated 31-Jan-20
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For the trouble with lying and deceiving is that their efficiency depends entirely upon a clear notion of the truth that the liar and deceiver wishes to hide. In this sense, truth, even if it does not prevail in public, possesses an ineradicable primacy over all falsehoods.

Hannah Arendt (1906-1975) German-American philosopher, political theorist
“Lying in Politics,” Crises of the Republic (1969)
    (Source)
Added on 1-Apr-11 | Last updated 6-Nov-20
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Never regard something as doing you good if it makes you betray a trust, or lose your sense of shame, or makes you show hatred, suspicion, ill will, or hypocrisy, or a desire for things best done behind closed doors.

[Μὴ τιμήσῃς ποτὲ ὡς συμφέρον σεαυτοῦ, ὃ ἀναγκάσει σέ ποτε τὴν πίστιν παραβῆναι, τὴν αἰδῶ ἐγκαταλιπεῖν, μισῆσαί τινα, ὑποπτεῦσαι, καταράσασθαι, ὑποκρίνασθαι, ἐπιθυμῆσαί τινος τοίχων καὶ παραπετασμάτων δεομένου.]

Marcus Aurelius (AD 121-180) Roman emperor (161-180), Stoic philosopher
Meditations, Book 3, #7 [tr. Hays (2003)]
    (Source)

Original Greek. Alternate translations:

Never esteem of anything as profitable, which shall ever constrain thee either to break thy faith, or to lose thy modesty; to hate any man, to suspect, to curse, to dissemble, to lust after anything, that requireth the secret of walls or veils.
[tr. Casaubon (1634), #8]

Don't be fond of any thing, or think that for your interest, which makes you break your word, quit your modesty, be of a dissembling, suspicious, or outrageous humor; which puts you up on hating any person, and inclines you to any practice, which won't bear the light, and look the world in the face.
[tr. Collier (1701)]

Never value anything as profitable to thyself which shall compel thee to break thy promise, to lose thy self-respect, to hate any man, to suspect, to curse, to act the hypocrite, to desire anything which needs walls and curtains.
[tr. Long (1862)]

Think nothing for your interest which makes you break your word, quit your modesty, hate, suspect, or curse any person, or inclines you to any practice which will not bear the light and look the world in the face.
[tr. Zimmern (1887)]

Never esteem anything as of advantage to thee that shall make thee break thy word or lose thy self-respect.
[tr. Morgan, in Bartlett's (1894)]

Never value as an advantage to yourself what will force you one day to break your word, to abandon self-respect, to hate, suspect, execrate another, to act a part, to covet anything that calls for walls or coverings to conceal it.
[tr. Farquharson (1944)]

Never value the advantages derived from anything involving breach of faith, loss of self-respect, hatred, suspicion, or execration of others, insincerity, or the desire for something which hast to be veiled and curtained.
[tr. Staniforth (1964)]

Never value as beneficial to yourself something that will force you one day to break your word, abandon your sense of shame, hate, suspect, or curse someone else, pretend, or desire something that needs the secrecy of walls or curtains.
[tr. Gill (2013)]

Value nothing which compels you to break your promise, to abandon your honor, to hate, suspect or curse anyone, to be a hypocrite, or to lust after anything which needs walls or decorations.
[tr. @sentantiq (2019)]

Some causes will force you to betray faith, abandon shame, hate or suspect another person, call down curses, put forward explanations, or desire something that requires walls and fences. Do not regard these causes as necessary or beneficial to yourself.
[Source]

Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 17-Mar-21
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But if he does really think that there is no distinction between virtue and vice, why, Sir, when he leaves our houses let us count our spoons.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Comment (14 Jul 1763)

In James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson (1791)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 21-Apr-20
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