Quotations about   divine retribution

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But I’d sooner have the depths of earth gape open,
and almighty Father hurl me down to Hades
with his bolt, to the pallid shades and inky night,
before I disobey my conscience or its laws.

[Sed mihi vel tellus optem prius ima dehiscat
Vel pater omnipotens adigat me fulmine ad umbras,
Pallentis umbras Erebo noctemque profundam,
Ante, pudor, quam te violo aut tua iura resolvo.]

Virgil (70-19 BC) Roman poet [b. Publius Vergilius Maro; also Vergil]
The Aeneid [Ænē̆is], Book 4, l. 24ff (4.24-29) [Dido] (29-19 BC) [tr. Bartsch (2021)]
    (Source)

Dido, regarding her loyalty to her dead husband even as she falls in love with Aeneas. (Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

But first let yawning earth a passage rend,
And let me thro' the dark abyss descend;
First let avenging Jove, with flames from high,
Drive down this body to the nether sky,
Condemn'd with ghosts in endless night to lie,
Before I break the plighted faith I gave!
[tr. Dryden (1697)]

But sooner may earth from her lowest depths yawn for me, or the almighty Sire hurl me by his thunder to the shades, the pale shades of Erebus and deep night, than I violate thee, modesty, or break they laws.
[tr. Davidson/Buckley (1854)]

But first for me may Earth unseal
     The horrors of her womb,
Or Jove with awful thunderpeal
     Dismiss me into gloom,
The gloom of Orcus' dim twilight,
Or deeper still, primeval night,
Ere wound I thee, my woman's fame,
Or disallow thy sacred claim.
[tr. Conington (1866)]

But I would rather that the steadfast earth
Should yawn beneath me, from its lowest depths,
Or the Omnipotent Father hurl me down
With thunder to the shades, the pallid shades
Of Erebus, and night profound, ere thee,
O sacred shame, I violate, or break
Thy laws.
[tr. Cranch (1872)]

But rather, I pray, may earth first yawn deep for me, or the Lord omnipotent hurl me with his thunderbolt into gloom, the pallid gloom and profound night of Erebus, ere I soil thee, mine honour, or unloose thy laws.
[tr. Mackail (1885)]

And yet I pray the deeps of earth beneath my feet may yawn,
I pray the Father send me down bolt-smitten to the shades,
The pallid shades of Erebus, the night that never fades,
Before, O Shame, I shame thy face, or loose what thou hast tied!
[tr. Morris (1900)]

But O! gape Earth, or may the Sire of might
Hurl me with lightning to the Shades amain,
Pale shades of Erebus and abysmal Night,
Ere, wifely modesty, thy name I stain,
Or dare thy sacred precepts to profane.
[tr. Taylor (1907), st. 4, l. 28ff]

But may the earth gape open where I tread,
and may almighty Jove with thunder-scourge
hurl me to Erebus' abysmal shade,
to pallid ghosts and midnight fathomless,
before, O Chastity! I shall offend
thy holy power, or cast thy bonds away!
[tr. Williams (1910)]

But rather, I would pray, may earth yawn for me to its depths, or may the Almighty Father hurl me with his bolt to the shades -- the pale shades and abysmal night of Erebus -- before, O Shame, I violate thee or break thy laws!
[tr. Fairclough (1916)]

But I pray, rather,
That earth engulf me, lightning strike me down
To the pale shades and everlasting night
Before I break the laws of decency.
[tr. Humphries (1951)]

But no, I would rather the earth should open and swallow me
Or the Father of heaven strike me with lightning down to the shades --
The pale shades and deep night of the Underworld -- before
I violate or deny pure widowhood's claim upon me.
[tr. Day Lewis (1952)]

But I should call upon the earth to gape
and close above me, or on the almighty
Father to take his thunderbolt, to hurl
me down to the shades, the pallid shadows
and deepest night of Erebus, before
I'd violate you, Shame, or break your laws!
[tr. Mandelbaum (1971)]

But O chaste life, before I break your laws,
I pray that Earth may open, gape for me
Down to its depth, or the omnipotent
With one stroke blast me to the shades, pale shades
Of Erebus and the deep world of night!
[tr. Fitzgerald (1981)]

But I would pray that the earth open to its depths and swallow me or that the All-powerful Father of the Gods blast me with his thunderbolt and hurl me down to the pale shades of Erebus and its bottomless night before I go against my conscience and rescind its laws.
[tr. West (1990)]

But may the earth gape open and swallow me,
May the Father Almighty blast me
Down to the shades of Erebus below
And Night profound, before I violate you,
O Modesty, and break your vows.
[tr. Lombardo (2005)]

I pray that the earth gape deep enough to take me down
or the almighty Father blast me with one bolt to the shades,
the pale, glimmering shades in hell, the pit of night,
before I dishonor you, my conscience, break your laws.
[tr. Fagles (2006), l. 30ff]

Added on 14-Jun-22 | Last updated 14-Jun-22
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More quotes by Virgil

Wisdom is by far the greatest part of joy,
and reverence toward the gods must be safeguarded.
The mighty words of the proud are paid in full
with mighty blows of fate, and at long last
those blows will teach us wisdom.

[πολλῷ τὸ φρονεῖν εὐδαιμονίας
πρῶτον ὑπάρχει. χρὴ δὲ τά γ᾽ εἰς θεοὺς
μηδὲν ἀσεπτεῖν. μεγάλοι δὲ λόγοι
μεγάλας πληγὰς τῶν ὑπεραύχων
ἀποτίσαντες
γήρᾳ τὸ φρονεῖν ἐδίδαξαν.]

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Antigone, l. 1348ff [Chorus] (441 BC) [tr. Fagles (1982), l. 1466ff]
    (Source)

Final lines of the play. Original Greek. Alternate translations:

Wisdom is first of the gifts of good fortune:
'Tis a duty, to be sure, the rites of the Gods
Duly to honor: but words without measure, the
Fruit of vain-glory, in woes without number their
Recompense finding,
Have lesson'd the agéd in wisdom.
[tr. Donaldson (1848)]

Of happiness the chiefest part
Is a wise heart:
And to defraud the gods in aught
With peril's fraught.
Swelling words of high-flown might
Mightily the gods do smite.
Chastisement for errors past
Wisdom brings to age at last.
[tr. Storr (1859)]

Wise conduct hath command of happiness
Before all else, and piety to Heaven
Must be preserved. High boastings of the proud
Bring sorrow to the height to punish pride: --
A lesson men shall learn when they are old.
[tr. Campbell (1873)]

Wisdom is provided as the chief part of happiness, and our dealings with the gods must be in no way unholy. The great words of arrogant men have to make repayment with great blows, and in old age teach wisdom.
[tr. Jebb (1891)]

Wisdom alone is man's true happiness.
We are not to dispute the will of heaven;
For ever are the boastings of the proud
By the just gods repaid, and man at last
Is taught to fear their anger and be wise.
[tr. Werner (1892)]

Wisdom is the supreme part of happiness; and reverence towards the gods must be inviolate. Great words of prideful men are ever punished with great blows, and, in old age, teach the chastened to be wise.
[tr. Jebb (1917)]

There is no happiness where there is no wisdom;
No wisdom but in submission to the gods.
Big words are always punished
And proud men in old age learn to be wise.
[tr. Fitts/Fitzgerald (1939), l. 1039ff]

Of happiness the crown
And chiefest part
Is wisdom, and to hold
The gods in awe.
This is the law
That, seeing the stricken heart
Of pride brought down,
We learn when we are old.
[tr. Watling (1947), Exodos, l. 1027ff]

Our happiness depends
on wisdom all the way.
The gods must have their due.
Great words by men of pride
bring greater blows upon them.
So wisdom comes to the old.
[tr. Wyckoff (1954)]

Of happiness, far the greatest part is wisdom,
and reverence towards the gods.
Proud words of arrogant man, in the end,
Meet punishment, great as his pride was great,
Till at last he is schooled in wisdom.
[tr. Kitto (1962)]

Wisdom is supreme for a blessed life,
And reference for the gods
Must never cease. Great words, sprung from arrogance.
Are punished by great blows.
So it is one learns, in old age, to be wise.
[tr. Woodruff (2001)]

By far is having sense the first part
of happiness. One must not act impiously toward
what pertains to gods. Big words
of boasting men,
paid for by big blows,
teach having sense in old age.
[tr. Tyrell/Bennett (2002)]

The most important thing in man’s happiness is good judgement and he must not treat with disdain the works of the gods.
The arrogant pay for their big proud words with great downfalls and it’s only then, in their old age that they gain wisdom!
[tr. Theodoridis (2004)]

The most important part of true success
is wisdom -- not to act impiously
towards the gods, for boasts of arrogant men
bring on great blows of punishment --
so in old age men can discover wisdom.
[tr. Johnston (2005)]

Knowledge truly is by far the most important part of happiness, but one must neglect nothing that the gods demand. Great words of the over-proud balanced by great falls taught us knowledge in our old age.
[tr. Thomas (2005)]
Added on 11-Mar-21 | Last updated 11-Mar-21
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More quotes by Sophocles

I’ve seen the meanness of humans till I don’t know why God ain’t put out the sun and gone away.

Cormac McCarthy (b. 1933) American novelist, playwright, screenwriter
Outer Dark, ch. 17 (1968)
    (Source)
Added on 3-Feb-20 | Last updated 3-Feb-20
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Those whom God wishes to destroy, he first makes mad.

Euripides (485?-406? BC) Greek tragic dramatist
(Misattributed)

Frequently cited as a fragment, but not actually in his known writings. Similar phrases, attributed to old sayings, predate Euripides. For more see here.

See also Oates and Beard.
Added on 14-Nov-17 | Last updated 14-Nov-17
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If Allah took mankind to task by that which they deserve, He would not leave a living creature on the surface of the earth.

Muhammad (570-632) Arabian merchant, prophet, founder of Islam [Mohammed]
Qur’an, 35.45 (AD 670?) [tr. Pickthall (1953)]
Added on 21-Dec-15 | Last updated 21-Dec-15
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More quotes by Muhammad

When the gods wish to punish us, they answer our prayers.

Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) Irish poet, wit, dramatist
An Ideal Husband, Act 2 (1895)
Added on 14-Apr-15 | Last updated 14-Apr-15
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Why should man be afraid to think, and why should he fear to express his thoughts? Is it possible that an infinite Deity is unwilling that a man should investigate the phenomena by which he is surrounded? Is it possible that a god delights in threatening and terrifying men? What glory, what honor and renown a god must win on such a field! The ocean raving at a drop; a star envious of a candle; the sun jealous of a fire-fly.

Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-1899) American lawyer, agnostic, orator
“Heretics and Heresies” (1874)
    (Source)
Added on 7-Feb-08 | Last updated 2-Feb-16
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More quotes by Ingersoll, Robert Green