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If the gods do a shameful thing, they are not gods.

[εἰ θεοί τι δρῶσιν αἰσχρόν, οὐκ εἰσὶν θεοί.]

Euripides (485?-406? BC) Greek tragic dramatist
Bellerophon [Βελλεροφῶν], frag. 292, l. 7 (TGF) (c. 430 BC) [tr. @sentantiq (2014)]

Barnes frag. 112, Musgrave frag. 19. (Source (Greek)). Alternate translations:

But to thee
This I maintain, that if the Gods commit
Aught that is base, they are no longer Gods.
[tr. Wodhull (1809)]

If gods do anything shameful, they are not gods.
[tr. Collard, Hargreaves, Cropp (1995)]

If gods do what is shameful, they are not gods.
[tr. Stevens (2012), frag. 286b]

If the gods do anything base, they are not gods.
[tr. Dixon (2014)]

Added on 28-Nov-23 | Last updated 28-Nov-23
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More quotes by Euripides

He shall come to know
Dionysus, son of Zeus, consummate god,
most terrible, and yet most gentle, to mankind.

[γνώσεται δὲ τὸν Διὸς
Διόνυσον, ὃς πέφυκεν ἐν τέλει θεός,
δεινότατος, ἀνθρώποισι δ᾽ ἠπιώτατος.]

Euripides (485?-406? BC) Greek tragic dramatist
Bacchæ [Βάκχαι], l. 859ff [Dionysus/Διόνυσος] (405 BC) [tr. Arrowsmith (1960)]

Speaking of King Pentheus. (Source (Greek)). Alternate translations:

Thus he shall know dread Bacchus, son of Jove,
A god most terrible when he asserts
His slighted power: but gracious to mankind.
[tr. Wodhull (1809)]

He will recognize the son of Zeus, Dionysus, who is in fact a god, the most terrible and yet most mild to men.
[tr. Buckley (1850)]

Know he must
Dionysus, son of Jove, among the gods
Mightiest, yet mildest to the sons of men.
[tr. Milman (1865)]

There belike to tell
That Dionysus, son to Zeus, is god,
Most terrible, most gracious unto men.
[tr. Rogers (1872), l. 820ff]

So shall he recognize Dionysus, the son of Zeus, who proves himself at last a god most terrible, for all his gentleness to man.
[tr. Coleridge (1891)]

And he shall know Zeus' son
Dionysus, who hath risen at last a God
Most terrible, yet kindest unto men.
[tr. Way (1898)]

So shall he learn and mark
God's true Son, Dionyse, in fulness God,
Most fearful, yet to man most soft of mood.
[tr. Murray (1902)]

And he shall recognize the son of Zeus,
Dionysus, as a god in perfect essence:
a terrible one, but to men most gentle.
[tr. Kirk (1970)]

And he shall know the son of Zeus, Dionysus; who, those most gentle to mankind, can prove a god of terror irresistible.
[tr. Vellacott (1973)]

Consummate god, most terrible, most gentle
To mankind.
[tr. Soyinka (1973), Bacchante speaking]

He shall know Zeus’ son
Dionysos, that he is in his fullness a god
most dreadful, and to men most mild.
[tr. Neuburg (1988)]

So shall Pentheus come to know Dionysus, son of Zeus,
a God sprung from nature, like nature most cruel,
and, yet, most gentle to mankind.
[tr. Cacoyannis (1982)]

And he'll know
Zeus-born Dionysos is a true divinity,
Most terrifying to men, and most kind.
[tr. Blessington (1993)]

He will come to know Dionysus, the son of Zeus,
that he is, in the ritual of initiation, a god most terrifying,
but for mankind a god most gentle.
[tr. Esposito (1998)]

Then he will know the son of Zeus,
Dionysus, and realize that he was born a god, bringing
terrors for initiation, and to the people, gentle grace.
[tr. Woodruff (1999)]

And he will know that Dionysos, son
Of Zeus, was born a god in full, and is
Most terrible to mortals and most gentle.
[tr. Gibbons/Segal (2000)]

He will learn that Dionysus is in the full sense a god, a god most dreadful to morals -- but also most gentle!
[tr. Kovacs (2002)]

He'll learn the nature of this son of Zeus:
The sweetest and most fearsome of the gods.
[tr. Teevan (2002)]

Only then will he learn that the son of Zeus, Dionysos, is a god of peace for the good folk but he is also a fearsome god who those who don’t respect him.
[tr. Theodoridis (2005)]

He will recognize Zeus' son Dionysus, born in ritual,
The most terrible god -- and kindest to humans.
[tr. Valerie (2005)]

He'll come to acknowledge
Dionysus, son of Zeus, born in full divinity,
most fearful, yet most kind to human beings.
[tr. Johnston (2008)]

And he shall finally know Dionysus, son of Zeus,
a god both terrible and gentle to the world of man.
[tr. Robertson (2014)]

He will know Dionysus. He will know the son of Zeus to be true-god-born, to be the greatest horror to mortal kind.
And the greatest helper.
[tr. Pauly (2019)]

He shall learn that Dionysus is the son of Zeuis, a god with the power of a god, a god most fearful and most gentle.
[tr. Behr/Foster (2019)]

And he will come to know the son of Zeus,
Dionysus, the one who is by his own nature a god in the end [telos],
the one who is most terrifying [deinos], but, for humans, also most gentle [ēpios ].
[tr. Buckley/Sens/Nagy (2020)]

Added on 25-Apr-23 | Last updated 11-Jul-23
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At that,
as she turned away her neck shone with a rosy glow,
her mane of hair gave off an ambrosial fragrance,
her skirt flowed loose, rippling down to her feet
and her stride alone revealed her as a goddess.

[Dixit et avertens rosea cervice refulsit,
Ambrosiaeque comae divinum vertice odorem
Spiravere; pedes vestis defluxit ad imos,
Et vera incessu patuit dea.]

Virgil the Poet
Virgil (70-19 BC) Roman poet [b. Publius Vergilius Maro; also Vergil]
The Aeneid [Ænē̆is], Book 1, l. 402ff (1.402-405) (29-19 BC) [tr. Fagles (2006), l. 487ff]

Describing Venus. (Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

Therefore goe on (she said) as leads the way,
And turning did her rosie neck display,
When her Ambrosian haire a heavenly sweet
Breaths from her head, robes flow beneath her feet,
Her Gate a Godesse shewes.
[tr. Ogilby (1649)]

Thus having said, she turn'd, and made appear
Her neck refulgent, and dishevel'd hair,
Which, flowing from her shoulders, reach'd the ground.
And widely spread ambrosial scents around:
In length of train descends her sweeping gown;
And, by her graceful walk, the Queen of Love is known.
[tr. Dryden (1697)]

She said, and turning away, shone radiant with her rosy neck, and from her head ambrosial locks breathed divine fragrance: her robe hung flowing to the ground, and by her gait the goddess stood confessed.
[tr. Davidson/Buckley (1854)]

She turned, and flashed upon their view
Her stately neck's purpureal hue;
Ambrosial tresses round her head
A more than earthly fragrance shed:
Her falling robe her footprints swept,
And showed the goddess as she stept.
[tr. Conington (1866)]

She said; and turning, gleamed with rosy neck,
And from her head divinest odors breathed
In her ambrosial hair. Around her feet
Floated her flowing robe; and in her gait
All the true goddess was revealed.
[tr. Cranch (1872), l. 524ff]

Speaking she turned away, and her neck shone roseate, her immortal tresses breathed the fragrance of deity; her raiment fell flowing down to her feet, and the godhead was manifest in her tread.
[tr. Mackail (1885)]

She spake, she turned, from rosy neck the light of heaven she cast,
And from her hair ambrosial the scent of Gods went past
Upon the wind, and o'er her feet her skirts fell shimmering down,
And very God she went her ways.
[tr. Morris (1900), l. 402ff]

So saying, she turned, and all refulgent showed
Her roseate neck, and heavenly fragrance sweet
Was breathed from her ambrosial hair. Down flowed
Her loosened raiment, streaming to her feet,
And by her walk the Goddess shone complete.
[tr. Taylor (1907), st. 53; l. 478ff]

She ceased and turned away. A roseate beam
from her bright shoulder glowed; th' ambrosial hair
breathed more than mortal sweetness, while her robes
fell rippling to her feet. Each step revealed
the veritable goddess.
[tr. Williams (1910)]

She spoke, and as she turned away, her roseate neck flashed bright. From her head her ambrosial tresses breathed celestial fragrance; down to her feet fell her raiment, and in her step she was revealed a very goddess.
[tr. Fairclough (1916)]

And as she turned, her shoulders
Shone with a radiant light; her hair shed fragrance,
Her robes slipped to her feet, and the true goddess
Walked in divinity.
[tr. Humphries (1951)]

She spoke. She turned away; and as she turned, her neck
Glowed to a rose-flush, her crown of ambrosial hair breathed out
A heavenly fragrance, her robe flowed down, down to her feet,
And in gait she was all a goddess.
[tr. Day Lewis (1952)]

Those were the words of Venus. When she turned,
her neck was glittering with a rose brightness;
her hair anointed with ambrosia,
her head gave all a fragrance of the gods;
her gown was long and to the ground; even
her walk was sign enough she was a goddess.
[tr. Mandelbaum (1971), l. 572ff]

On this she turned away. Rose-pink and fair
Her nape shone, her ambrosial hair exhaled
Divine perfume, her gown rippled full length,
And by her stride she showed herself a goddess.
[tr. Fitzgerald (1981), l. 552ff]

When she was finished speaking and was turning way, her neck shone with a rosy light and her hair breathed the divine odor of ambrosia. Her dress flowed free to her feet and as she walked he knew she was truly a goddess.
[tr. West (1990)]

She spoke, and turning away she reflected the light
from her rose-tinted neck, and breathed a divine perfume
from her ambrosial hair: her robes trailed down to her feet,
and, in her step, showed her a true goddess.
[tr. Kline (2002)]

She spoke, and as she turned, her neck
Shone with roselight. An immortal fragrance
From her ambrosial locks perfumed the air,
Her robes flowed down to cover her feet,
And every step revealed her divinity.
[tr. Lombardo (2005)]

As she turned away, her neck gleamed rosily, her ambrosial hair gave off a divine scent and her robes grew longer, flowing to her feet. Her gait too revealed the goddess.
[tr. Bartsch (2021)]

Added on 19-Jan-22 | Last updated 21-Jun-23
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Divine reality is not way up in the sky somewhere; it is readily available in the encounters of everyday life, which make hash of my illusions that I can control the ways God comes to me.

Barbara Brown Taylor (b. 1951) American minister, academic, author
“Material Faith,” interview by Meghan Larissa Good, The Other Journal (19 Dec 2013)
Added on 23-Jul-21 | Last updated 23-Jul-21
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A man is a god in ruins.

Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Nature,” ch. 8, Nature: Addresses and Lectures (1849)
Added on 16-Oct-17 | Last updated 24-Feb-22
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The abdomen is the reason why man does not easily take himself for a god.

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) German philosopher and poet
Beyond Good and Evil, ch. 4 “Apophthegms and Interludes,” #141 (1886)

Alt. trans.: "The belly is the reason why man does not so readily take himself for a God." [tr. Zimmern]
Added on 25-May-17 | Last updated 25-May-17
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Every man is a divinity in disguise, a god playing the fool. It seems as if heaven had sent its insane angels into our world as to an asylum, and here they will break out into their native music and utter at intervals the words they have heard in heaven; and then the mad fit returns, and they mope and wallow like dogs.

Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“History,” Essays: First Series (1841)
Added on 16-Jan-17 | Last updated 16-Jan-17
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Those Divine demands which sound to our natural ears most like those of a despot and least like those of a lover, in fact marshal us where we should want to go if we knew what we wanted. He demands our worship, our obedience, our prostration. Do we suppose that they can do Him any good, or fear, like the chorus in Milton, that human irreverence can bring about ‘His glory’s diminution’? A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word ‘darkness’ on the walls of his cell. But God wills our good, and our good is to love Him (with that responsive love proper to creatures) and to love Him we must know Him: and if we know Him, we shall in fact fall on our faces. If we do not, that only shows that what we are trying to love is not yet God — though it may be the nearest approximation to God which our thought and fantasy can attain. Yet the call is not only to prostration and awe; it is to a reflection of the Divine life, a creaturely participation in the Divine attributes which is far beyond our present desires. We are bidden to ‘put on Christ’, to become like God. That is, whether we like it or not, God intends to give us what we need, not what we now think we want. Once more, we are embarrassed by the intolerable compliment, by too much love, not too little.

C. S. Lewis (1898-1963) English writer, literary scholar, lay theologian [Clive Staples Lewis]
The Problem of Pain, ch. 3 “The Intolerable Compliment” (1940)
Added on 29-Nov-16 | Last updated 29-Nov-16
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As to Jesus of Nazareth, my Opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think the System of Morals and his Religion as he left them to us, the best the World ever saw, or is likely to see; but I apprehend it has received various corrupting Changes, and I have with most of the present Dissenters in England, some Doubts as to his Divinity: tho’ it is a Question I do not dogmatise upon, having never studied it, and think it needless to busy myself with it now, when I expect soon an Opportunity of knowing the Truth with less Trouble. I see no harm however in its being believed, if that Belief has the good Consequence as probably it has, of making his Doctrines more respected and better observed, especially as I do not perceive that the Supreme takes it amiss, by distinguishing the Believers, in his Government of the World, with any particular Marks of his Displeasure.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Letter to Ezra Stiles (9 Mar 1790)
Added on 23-Sep-13 | Last updated 8-Jul-21
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A mighty lesson we inherit:
Thou art a symbol and a sign
To Mortals of their fate and force;
Like thee, Man is in part divine,
A troubled stream from a pure source.

Lord Byron
George Gordon, Lord Byron (1788-1824) English poet
“Prometheus,” st. 3, ll. 44-48 (1816)
Added on 31-Oct-11 | Last updated 29-Nov-23
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If the concept of God has any validity or any use, it can only be to make us larger, freer, and more loving. If God cannot do this, then it is time we got rid of Him.

James Baldwin (1924-1987) American novelist, playwright, activist
“Letter from a Region of My Mind,” The New Yorker (17 Nov 1962)

Republished as "Down at the Cross: Letter from a Region in My Mind" in The Fire Next Time (1963)
Added on 3-Sep-10 | Last updated 14-May-18
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I cannot imagine a God who rewards and punishes the objects of his creation, whose purposes are modeled after our own — a God, in short, who is but a reflection of human frailty. Neither can I believe that the individual survives the death of his body, although feeble souls harbor such thoughts through fear or ridiculous egotism. It is enough for me to contemplate the mystery of conscious life perpetuating itself through all eternity, to reflect upon the marvelous structure of the universe which we can dimly perceive, and to try humbly to comprehend even an infinitesimal part of the intelligence manifested in nature.

Albert Einstein (1879-1955) German-American physicist
“What I Believe,” Forum and Century (Oct 1930)

Einstein crafted and recrafted his credo multiple times in this period, and specifics are often muddled by differing translations and by his reuse of certain phrases in later writing. The Forum and Century entry appears to be the earliest. Some important variants:

I cannot conceive of a God who rewards and punishes his creatures, or has a will of the kind that we experience in ourselves. Neither ca I nor would I want to conceive of an individual that survives his physical death; let feeble souls, from fear or absurd egoism, cherish such thoughts. I am satisfied with they mystery of the eternity of life and with the awareness and a glimpse of the marvelous structure of the existing world, together with the devoted striving to comprehend a portion, be it ever so tiny, of the reason that manifests itself in nature.

— "The World As I See It [Mein Weltbild] [tr. Bargmann (1954)]

I cannot conceive of a God who rewards and punishes his creatures, or has a will of the type of which we are conscious in ourselves. An individual who should survive his physical death is also beyond my comprehension, nor do I wish it otherwise; such notions are for the fears or absurd egoism of feeble souls. Enough for me the mystery of the eternity of life, and the inkling of the marvellous structure of reality, together with the single-hearted endeavor to comprehend a portion, be it never so tiny, of the reason that manifests itself in nature.

— "The World As I See It [Mein Weltbild] [tr. Harris (1934)]

To me it suffices to wonder at these secrets and to attempt humbly to grasp with my mind a mere image of the lofty structure of all there is.

[Es ist mir genug, diese Geheimnisse staunend zu ahnen und zu versuchen, von der erhabenen Struktur des Seienden in Demut ein mattes Abbild geistig zu erfassen.]

Reduced variant in "My Credo Mein Glaubensbekenntnis]" (Aug 1932)
Added on 8-Oct-08 | Last updated 21-Feb-21
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Let each man think himself an act of God,
His mind a thought, his life a breath of God;
And let each try, by great thoughts and good deeds,
To shew the most of Heaven he hath in him.

Phillip James Bailey
Philip James Bailey (1816-1902) English poet, lawyer
Festus, “Proëm” (1839)
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For the name of these gods there is both a serious and a humorous explanation; the serious explanation is not to be had from me, but there is no hindrance to my offering the humorous one, for the gods too are fond of a joke.

[ἀλλὰ ἔστι γὰρ καὶ σπουδαίως εἰρημένος ὁ τρόπος τῶν ὀνομάτων τούτοις τοῖς θεοῖς καὶ παιδικῶς. τὸν μὲν οὖν σπουδαῖον ἄλλους τινὰς ἐρώτα, τὸν δὲ παιδικὸν οὐδὲν κωλύει διελθεῖν: φιλοπαίσμονες γὰρ καὶ οἱ θεοί.]

Socrates - The gods, too, are fond of a joke - wist.info quote

Socrates (c.470-399 BC) Greek philosopher
In Plato, Cratylus [Κρατύλος], ch. 23 / 406c [tr. Hyers (1969)]

The final phrase, "The gods, too, are fond of a joke," is broadly misattributed to Aristotle, without any citation. It is also sometimes misattributed to Edward Albee.

Cratylus is dialogue about the nature of names. Socrates, here, has been asked about the origins of the names of the gods, Dionysus and Aphrodite. Burges (below) notes that Plato had been "partly initiated into the mysteries of Demeter and Dionysus," part of which dealt seriously with the meanings of those deities' names; his avoiding the "serious explanation" is not betray his oath of secrecy to the cult.

(Source (Greek)). Alternate translations:

But the mode of nomination, belonging to these divinities, is both serious and jocose. Ask therefore others about the serious mode; but nothing hinders us from relating the jocose; for these deities are lovers of jesting and sport.
[tr. Taylor (1804)]

But the manner of the appellations given to these divinities, has been said to be both serious and jocose. Ask therefore others about the serious manner; but nothing hinders us from relating the jocose; for these deities are lovers of jesting and sport.
[tr. Burges (1850)]

There is a serious and also a facetious explanation of both these names; the serious explanation is not to be had from me, but there is no objection to your hearing the facetious one; for the Gods too love a joke.
[tr. Jowett (1892)]

You see there is both a serious and a facetious account of the form of the name of these deities. You will have to ask others for the serious one; but there is nothing to hinder my giving you the facetious account, for the gods also have a sense of humor.
[tr. Fowler (1926)]

Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 4-May-22
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