Quotations about   duty

Note that not all quotations have been tagged, so the Search function may find additional quotations on this topic.



Evil when we are in its power is not felt as evil but as a necessity, or even a duty.

Simone Weil (1909-1943) French philosopher
Notebooks [Cahiers] [tr. Wills (1956)]
    (Source)
Added on 23-Aug-21 | Last updated 23-Aug-21
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , ,
More quotes by Weil, Simone

Lightly, caressingly, Marie Antoinette picked up the crown as a gift. She was still too young to know that life never gives anything for nothing, and that a price is always exacted for what fate bestows. She did not think she would have to pay a price. She simply accepted the rights of her royal position and performed no duties in exchange. She wanted to combine two things which are, in actual human experience, incompatible; she wanted to reign and at the same time to enjoy.

Stefan Zweig (1881-1942) Austrian novelist, playwright, journalist, biographer
Marie Antoinette (1932)
    (Source)
Added on 12-Aug-21 | Last updated 12-Aug-21
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , ,
More quotes by Zweig, Stefan

This man who has fetched up here is some unlucky wanderer; we must now look after him, because all strangers and beggars are under Zeus’ protection, and any gift, though small, is welcome.

[ἀλλ’ ὅδε τις δύστηνος ἀλώμενος ἐνθάδ’ ἱκάνει,
τὸν νῦν χρὴ κομέειν· πρὸς γὰρ Διός εἰσιν ἅπαντες
ξεῖνοί τε πτωχοί τε, δόσις δ’ ὀλίγη τε φίλη τε.]

Homer (fl. 7th-8th C. BC) Greek author
The Odyssey [Ὀδύσσεια], Book 6, l. 206ff [Nausicaa] (c. 700 BC) [tr. Verity (2016)]
    (Source)

(Source (Greek)). This is later echoed by Eumæus in Book 14. Alternate translations:

This man, minding nought
But his relief, a poor unhappy wretch,
Wrack’d here, and hath no other land to fetch,
Him now we must provide for. From Jove come
All strangers, and the needy of a home,
Who any gift, though ne’er so small it be,
Esteem as great, and take it gratefully.
[tr. Chapman (1616)]

But by evil weather
To come to land this man hath forced been;
Let’s do him good. From Jove come beggars all,
And welcome to them is whate’er they get;
Our givings to him will be very small.
[tr. Hobbes (1675), l. 195ff]

'Tis ours this son of sorrow to relieve,
Cheer the sad heart, nor let affliction grieve.
By Jove the stranger and the poor are sent;
And what to those we give to Jove is lent.
[tr. Pope (1725)]

This man, a miserable wand’rer comes,
Whom we are bound to cherish, for the poor
And stranger are from Jove, and trivial gifts
To such are welcome.
[tr. Cowper (1792)]

Now comes this wanderer -- let us treat him well;
All strangers and all poor by Zeus are sent,
And love can make a little gift excel.
[tr. Worsley (1861), st. 27]

But this -- some hapless wanderer -- hither comes:
Him it behoves us care for: since from Zeus
Come strangers all, and poor men: and a gift
Small to the giver -- blesses him that takes it.
[tr. Bigge-Wither (1869)]

Nay, but this man is some helpless one come hither in his wanderings, whom now we must kindly entreat, for all strangers and beggars are from Zeus, and a little gift is dear.
[tr. Butcher/Lang (1879)]

But this man, a hapless wanderer, to usward now is sent,
And him is it meet to cherish; since from Zeus come guestfolk all
And suppliants; and full welcome is the gift, albeit but small.
[tr. Morris (1887)]

But this poor man has come here having lost his way, and we should give him aid; for in the charge of Zeus all strangers and beggars stand, and a small gift is welcome.
[tr. Palmer (1891)]

This is only some poor man who has lost his way, and we must be kind to him, for strangers and foreigners in distress are under Jove's protection, and will take what they can get and be thankful.
[tr. Butler (1898)]

This is some hapless wanderer that has come hither. Him must we now tend; for from Zeus are all strangers and beggars, and a gift, though small, is welcome.
[tr. Murray (1919)]

This man appeals as a luckless wanderer whom we must now kindly entertain. Homeless and broken men are all of them in the sight of Zeus, and it is a good deed to make them some small alms.
[tr. Lawrence (1932)]

The man you see is an unfortunate wanderer who has strayed here, and now commands our care, since all strangers and beggars come under the protection of Zeus, and the charity that is a trifle to us can be precious to others.
[tr. Rieu (1946)]

This man is a castaway, poor fellow; we must take care of him. Strangers and beggars come from Zeus: a small gift, then, is friendly.
[tr. Fitzgerald (1961)]

But this man is a luckless fellow, one
who wandered here, and he deserves our care;
the stranger and the beggar -- both are sent
by Zeus, and even small gifts win their thanks.
[tr. Mandelbaum (1990)]

But here's an unlucky wanderer strayed our way
and we must tend him well. Every stranger and beggar
comes from Zeus, and whatever scrap we give him
he'll be glad to get.
[tr. Fagles (1996)]

This poor man comes here as a wanderer,
And we must take care of him now. All strangers,
All beggars, are under the protection of Zeus,
And even small gifts are welcome.
[tr. Lombardo (2000)]

But this man is lost, poor thing. We must look after him. All foreigners and beggars come from Zeus, and any act of kindness is a blessing.
[tr. Wilson (2017)]

But this man who has wandered here, who is so ill-starred,
It is right to care for him now. For all are from Zeus,
The strangers and the beggars, and our gift is small but dear to them.
[tr. @sentantiq (2020)]

Added on 4-Aug-21 | Last updated 4-Aug-21
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Homer

There was a price to be paid; the dominion of the seas was not given freely by destiny. The Channel Fleet paid in blood, in lives, as well as in the sacrifice of the freedom and leisure of every officer and man on board. There was a constant petty drain. Ordinary sickness took only small toll; among men in the prime of life isolated from the rest of the world illnesses were few, although it was noticeable that after the arrival of victualling ships from England epidemics of colds would sweep through the fleet, while rheumatism — the sailor’s disease — was always present. The losses were mainly due to other causes. There were men who, in a moment of carelessness or inattention, fell from the yard. There were the men who ruptured themselves, and they were many, for despite the ingenuity of blocks and tackles there were heavy weights to haul about by sheer manpower. There were crushed fingers and crushed feet when ponderous casks of salted provisions were lowered into boats from the storeships and hauled up on to the decks of the fighting ships. And frequently a lacerated limb would end — despite all the care of the surgeons — in gangrene, in amputation, and death. There were the careless men who, during target practice with the cannon, lost their arms by ramming a cartridge into an improperly sponged gun, or who did not remove themselves from the line of recoil. Three times that year there were men who died in quarrels, when boredom changed to hysteria and knives were drawn; and on each of those occasions another life was lost, a life for a life, a hanging with the other ships clustered round and the crews lining the sides to learn what happened when a man lost his temper. And once the crews manned the sides to see what happened when a wretched young seaman paid the price for a crime worse even than murder — for raising his fist to his superior officer. Incidents of that sort were inevitable as the ships beat back and forth monotonously, over the eternal grey inhospitable sea.

C S Forester
C. S. Forester (1899-1966) English novelist [Cecil Scott Forester, pen name for Cecil Louis Troughton Smith]
Hornblower and the Hotspur (1962)
    (Source)
Added on 14-Jul-21 | Last updated 14-Jul-21
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , ,
More quotes by Forester, C S

It’s wrong, my friend, to send any stranger packing —
even one who arrives in worse shape than you.
Every stranger and beggar comes from Zeus
and whatever scrap they get from the likes of us,
they’ll find it welcome.

[Ξεῖν’, οὔ μοι θέμις ἔστ’, οὐδ’ εἰ κακίων σέθεν ἔλθοι,
ξεῖνον ἀτιμῆσαι· πρὸς γὰρ Διός εἰσιν ἅπαντες
ξεῖνοί τε πτωχοί τε. δόσις δ’ ὀλίγη τε φίλη τε
γίνεται ἡμετέρη.]

Homer (fl. 7th-8th C. BC) Greek author
The Odyssey [Ὀδύσσεια], Book 14, l. 56ff [Eumæus/Eumaios] (c. 700 BC) [tr. Fagles (1996)]
    (Source)

(Source (Greek)). The language is an echo of Nausicaa in Book 6. Alternate translations:

Guest! If one much worse
Arriv’d here than thyself, it were a curse
To my poor means, to let a stranger taste
Contempt for fit food. Poor men, and unplac’d
In free seats of their own, are all from Jove
Commended to our entertaining love.
But poor is th’ entertainment I can give,
Yet free and loving.
[tr. Chapman (1616)]

Stranger, then said Eumæus, it was never
My custom any stranger to neglect;
The poor and stranger are in God’s hand ever.
Few are my gifts, and but of small effect.
[tr. Hobbes (1675)]

It never was our guise
To slight the poor, or aught humane despise:
For Jove unfold our hospitable door,
'Tis Jove that sends the stranger and the poor.
[tr. Pope (1725)]

My guest! I should offend, treating with scorn
The stranger, though a poorer should arrive
Than ev’n thyself; for all the poor that are,
And all the strangers are the care of Jove.
Little, and with good will, is all that lies
Within my scope.
[tr. Cowper (1792), l. 68ff]

O friend, I dare not, though a worse man sought
These doors, a stranger use discourteously.
All strangers and all poor by Zeus are brought;
Sweet is our gift, yet small.
[tr. Worsley (1862), st. 7]

Sir guest, 'tis not my wont, not e'en should come
A worser man than thou, to slight a guest.
From Zeus are strangers all, and begger-men:
My gift is small, tho' proof of kindliness.
[tr. Bigge-Wither (1869)]

Guest of mine, it were an impious thing for me to slight a stranger, even if there came a meaner man than thou; for from Zeus are all strangers and beggars; and a little gift from such as we, is dear.
[tr. Butcher/Lang (1879)]

O guest, it were not rightful, though e'en worser than thou he were sped,
To put shame upon a stranger; since guest and bedesman all,
From Zeus they are; and our giving, although it be but small,
Is dear.
[tr. Morris (1887)]

Stranger, it is not right for me to slight a stranger, not even one in poorer plight than you; for in the charge of Zeus all strangers and beggars stand, and our small gift is welcome.
[tr. Palmer (1891)]

Stranger, though a still poorer man should come here, it would not be right for me to insult him, for all strangers and beggars are from Jove. You must take what you can get and be thankful.
[tr. Butler (1898)]

Nay, stranger, it were not right for me, even though one meaner than thou were to come, to slight a stranger: for from Zeus are all strangers and beggars, and a gift, though small, is welcome from such as we.
[tr. Murray (1919)]

My guest, I should sin if I failed in attention to any stranger, even one poorer than yourself. The needy and the strangers are all from Zeus; and with the likes of us a quite slender gift can convey goodwill.
[tr. Lawrence (1932)]

"Sir," said the swineherd Eumaeus, "my conscience would not let me turn away a stranger in a worse state even than yourself, for strangers and beggars all come in Zeus’ name, and a gift from folk like us is none the less welcome for being small."
[tr. Rieu (1946)]

Tush, friend,
rudeness to a stranger is not decency,
poor though he may be, poorer than you.
All wanderers
and beggars come from Zeus. What we can give
is slight but well-meant.
[tr. Fitzgerald (1961)]

Dear guest. I'd never slight the least of strangers. Not even one more wretched than you are; for it is Zeus who sends to us all beggars and strangers; and a gift, however small, means much when given by a man like me.
[tr. Lattimore (1965)]

Stranger, it is not right for me to treat a guest dishonorably, not even one in a worse state than you; all strangers and beggars are under the protection of Zeus. What I can offer is small, but you are welcome to it.
[tr. Verity (2016)]

One must honor guests and foreigners and strangers, even those much poorer than oneself. Zeus watches over beggars and guests and strangers. What I have to give is small, but I will give it gladly.
[tr. Wilson (2017)]

Added on 7-Jul-21 | Last updated 4-Aug-21
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , ,
More quotes by Homer

Fear, born of that stern matron, Responsibility, sits on one’s shoulders like some heavy imp of darkness, and one is preoccupied and, possibly, cantankerous.

William McFee (1881-1966) English writer
“The Crusaders,” Atlantic (Sep 1919)
    (Source)
Added on 2-Jul-21 | Last updated 2-Jul-21
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , ,
More quotes by McFee, William

But since, as Plato has admirably expressed it, we are not born for ourselves alone, but our country claims a share of our being, and our friends a share; and since, as the Stoics hold, everything that the earth produces is created for man’s use; and as men, too, are born for the sake of men, that they may be able mutually to help one another; in this direction we ought to follow Nature as our guide, to contribute to the general good by an interchange of acts of kindness, by giving and receiving, and thus by our skill, our industry, and our talents to cement human society more closely together, man to man.

[Sed quoniam, ut praeclare scriptum est a Platone, non nobis solum nati sumus ortusque nostri partem patria vindicat, partem amici, atque, ut placet Stoicis, quae in terris gignantur, ad usum hominum omnia creari, homines autem hominum causa esse generatos, ut ipsi inter se aliis alii prodesse possent, in hoc naturam debemus ducem sequi, communes utilitates in medium afferre mutatione officiorum, dando accipiendo, tum artibus, tum opera, tum facultatibus devincire hominum inter homines societatem.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
De Officiis [On Duties; On Moral Duty; The Offices], Book 1, ch. 7 / sec. 22 (44 BC) [tr. Miller (1913)]
    (Source)

Original Latin. Referring to Plato, Epistle 9, to Archytas: "No one of us exists for himself alone, but one share of our existence belongs to our country, another to our parents, a third to the rest of our friends, while a great part is given over to those needs of the hour with which our life is beset." [tr. Bury (1966)]

Alternate translations:

"But seeing (as is excellently said by Plato) we are not born for ourselves alone; but that our native country, our friends and relations, have a just claim and title to some part of us;" and seeing whatsoever is created on earth was merely designed (as the Stoics will have it) for the service of men; and men themselves for the service, good, and assistance of one another; we certainly in this should be followers of Nature, and second her intentions; and by producing all that lies within the reach of our power for the general interest, by mutually giving and receiving good turns, by our knowledge, industry, riches, or other means, should endeavour to keep up that love and society, that should be amongst men.
[tr. Cockman (1699)]

But, according to the excellent observation of Plato, "since we were not born for ourselves alone, our country and our friends have separate claims upon us." The produce of the earth, according to the Stoics, is intended wholly for the use of man; but men were designed for the service of men, by being made able to communicate reciprocal benefits to each other. In this view we ought to follow nature as our guide; and, by the exchange of services, by giving and receiving, to bring forward general advantages for the common good. We ought, by knowledge, industry, and wealth, to bind closer the society of men with men.
[tr. McCartney (1798)]

But (as has been strikingly said by Plato) we are not born for ourselves alone, and our country claims her share, and our friends their share of us; and, as the Stoics hold, all the earth produces is created for the used of man, so men are created for the sake of men, that they may mutually do good to one another; in this we ought to take nature for our guide, to throw into the public stock the offices of general utility by a reciprocation of duties; sometimes by receiving, sometimes by giving, and sometimes to cement human society by arts, by industry, and byh our resources.
[tr. Edmonds (1865)]

But since, as it has been well said by Plato, we are not born for ourselves alone; since our country claims a part in us, our parents a part, our friends a part; and since, according to the Stoics, whatever the earth bears is created for the use of men, while men were brought into being for the sake of men, that they might do good to one another, -- in this matter we ought to follow nature as a guide, to contribute our part to the common good, and by the interchange of kind offices, both in giving and receiving, alike by skill, by labor, and by the resources at our command, to strengthen the social union of men among men.
[tr. Peabody (1883)]
Added on 22-Feb-21 | Last updated 22-Feb-21
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Cicero, Marcus Tullius

It is not easy to be sure that being yourself is worth the trouble, but we do know it is our sacred duty.

Florida Scott-Maxwell (1883-1979) American-British playwright, author, psychologist
The Measure of My Days (1968)
    (Source)
Added on 11-Jan-21 | Last updated 11-Jan-21
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , ,
More quotes by Scott-Maxwell, Florida

Fine, Haemon.
That’s how you ought to feel within your heart,
subordinate to your father’s will in every way.
That’s what a man prays for: to produce good sons —
a household full of them, dutiful and attentive,
so they can pay his enemy back with interest
and match the respect their father shows his friend.
But the man who rears a brood of useless children,
what has he brought into the world, I ask you?
Nothing but trouble for himself, and mockery
from his enemies laughing in his face.

[οὕτω γάρ, ὦ παῖ, χρὴ διὰ στέρνων ἔχειν,
γνώμης πατρῴας πάντ᾽ ὄπισθεν ἑστάναι.
τούτου γὰρ οὕνεκ᾽ ἄνδρες εὔχονται γονὰς
κατηκόους φύσαντες ἐν δόμοις ἔχειν,
ὡς καὶ τὸν ἐχθρὸν ἀνταμύνωνται κακοῖς
καὶ τὸν φίλον τιμῶσιν ἐξ ἴσου πατρί.
ὅστις δ᾽ ἀνωφέλητα φιτύει τέκνα,
τί τόνδ᾽ ἂν εἴποις ἄλλο πλὴν αὑτῷ πόνους
φῦσαι, πολὺν δὲ τοῖσιν ἐχθροῖσιν γέλων]

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Antigone, l. 639 ff (Act 3) [Creon] (441 BC) [tr. Fagles (1982), l. 712ff]
    (Source)

Original Greek. Alt. trans.:

Well spoken: so right-minded sons should feel,
In all deferring to a father's will.
For 'tis the hope of parents they may rear
A brood of sons submissive, keen to avenge
Their father's wrongs, and count his friends their own.
But who begets unprofitable sons,
He verily breeds trouble for himself,
And for his foes much laughter.
[tr. Storr (1859)]

That, O my son! should be thy constant mind,
In all to bend thee to thy father's will.
Therefore men pray to have around their hearths
Obedient offspring, to requite their foes
With harm, and honour whom their father loves;
But he whose issue proves unprofitable,
Begets what else but sorrow to himself
And store of laughter to his enemies?
[tr. Campbell (1873)]

Yes, my son, this is the spirit you should maintain in your heart -- to stand behind your father's will in all things. It is for this that men pray: to sire and raise in their homes children who are obedient, that they may requite their father's enemy with evil and honor his friend, just as their father does. But the man who begets unhelpful children -- what would you say that he has sown except miseries for himself and abundant exultation for his enemies?
[tr. Jebb (1891), l. 640ff]

Yea, this, my son, should be thy heart's fixed law, -- in all things to obey thy father's will. 'Tis for this that men pray to see dutiful children grow up around them in their homes, -- that such may requite their father's foe with evil, and honour, as their father doth, his friend. But he who begets unprofitable children -- what shall we say that he hath sown, but troubles for himself, and much triumph for his foes?
[tr. Jebb (1917)]

Good. That is the way to behave: subordinate
Everything else, my son, to your father’s will
This is what a man prays for, that he may get
Sons attentive and dutiful in his house,
Each one hating his father’s enemies,
Honoring his father’s friends. But if his sons
Fail him, if they turn out unprofitably,
What has he fathered but trouble for himself
And amusement for the malicious?
[tr. Fitts/Fitzgerald (1939), l. 503ff]

Rightly said.
Your father’s will should have your heart’s first place.
Only for this do fathers pray for sons
Obedient, loyal, ready to strike down
Their father’s foes, and love their father’s friends.
To be the father of unprofitable sons
Is to be the father of sorrows, a laughingstock
To all one’s enemies.
[tr. Watling (1947), l. 540ff]

And that’s how it should always be, my son! Everything should give way to a father’s wish because that’s why a father hopes to have many children: so that they can inflict upon his enemies whatever hard punishment they can and treat his friends with the same honour as he does. Whereas the father who brings to the world worthless children, well, how would that be different to having brought about the birth of innumerable pains and cause for his enemies to ridicule him?
[tr. Theodoridis (2004)]

Indeed, my son,
that’s how your heart should always be resolved,
to stand behind your father’s judgment
on every issue. That’s what men pray for --
obedient children growing up at home
who will pay back their father’s enemies,
evil to them for evil done to him,
while honouring his friends as much as he does.
A man who fathers useless children --
what can one say of him except he’s bred
troubles for himself, and much to laugh at
for those who fight against him?
[tr. Johnston (2005), l. 724ff]

There's a good boy. So should you hold at heart
and stand behind your father all the way.
It is for this men pray they may beget
households of dutiful obedient sons,
who share alike in punishing enemies,
and give due honor to their father's friends.
Whoever breeds a child that will not help
what has he sown but trouble for himself,
and for his enemies laughter full and free?
[tr. Wyckoff (1954)]

Yes, you should always be disposed this way in your breast, boy,
to assume your post behind your father’s judgments
in all things. For this reason, men pray to beget
and have sons in their households who listen,
that they may both repay an enemy with evils
and honor the philos equally with the father.
Whoever produces useless children,
what could you say about him except that he begets
hardship for himself and great mockery for his enemies.
[tr. Tyrell/Bennett (2002)]
Added on 17-Dec-20 | Last updated 21-Dec-20
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , ,
More quotes by Sophocles

When great causes are on the move in the world, stirring all men’s souls, drawing them from their firesides, casting aside comfort, wealth, and the pursuit of happiness in response to impulses at once awe-striking and irresistible, we learn that we are spirits, not animals, and that something is going on in space and time, and beyond space and time, which, whether we like it or not, spells duty.

Winston Churchill (1874-1965) British statesman and author
BBC Radio broadcast (16 Jun 1941)
    (Source)

First published in the Imperial Review (28 Jun 1941).
Added on 8-Oct-20 | Last updated 8-Oct-20
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , ,
More quotes by Churchill, Winston

What is betrayal? They talk of a man betraying his country, his friends, his sweetheart. There must be a moral bond first. All a man can betray is his conscience.

Joseph Conrad (1857-1924) Polish-English novelist [b. Teodor Josef Konrad Korzeniowski]
Under Western Eyes (1911)
    (Source)
Added on 5-Oct-20 | Last updated 5-Oct-20
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , ,
More quotes by Conrad, Joseph

That which is most excellent, and is most to be desired by all happy, honest and healthy-minded men, is dignified leisure.

[Id quod est praestantissimum, maximeque optabile omnibus sanis et bonis et beatis, cum dignitate otium.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
Pro Publio Sestio, ch. 45, sec. 98

Alt. trans.:
  • "That which stands first, and is most to be desired by all happy, honest, and healthy-minded men, is ease with dignity." [tr. Source)]
  • "The thing that is the most outstanding, and chiefly to be desired by all healthy and good and well-off persons, is leisure with honor." [Source]
  • "What is desired the most, by those who are healthy, good, and blessed, is leisure with honor." [Source]
  • "That which is most excellent and most desirable to all men in their senses, and to all good and happy men, -- ease conjoined with duty." [Source]
  • "They are the finest, noblest aims of all men of wisdom, integrity, and substance -- civil peace for Rome and honor for those who deserve it." [tr. Baldwin & Lacey (1978), adapted]
Added on 5-Oct-20 | Last updated 5-Oct-20
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , ,
More quotes by Cicero, Marcus Tullius

Our blunders mostly come from letting our wishes interpret our duties, or hide from us plain indications of unwelcome tasks.

Alexander Maclaren (1826-1910) Scots-English minister, homilist
The Secret of Power: And Other Sermons, Sermon 15 “Moses and Hobab” (1902)
    (Source)
Added on 21-Sep-20 | Last updated 21-Sep-20
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , ,
More quotes by Maclaren, Alexander

On the other hand, we denounce with righteous indignation and dislike men who are so beguiled and demoralized by the charms of pleasure of the moment, so blinded by desire, that they cannot foresee the pain and trouble that are bound to ensue; and equal blame belongs to those who fail in their duty through weakness of will, which is the same as saying through shrinking from toil and pain. These cases are perfectly simple and easy to distinguish. In a free hour, when our power of choice is untrammeled and when nothing prevents our being able to do what we like best, every pleasure is to be welcomed and every pain avoided. But in certain circumstances and owing to the claims of duty or the obligations of business it will frequently occur that pleasures have to be repudiated and annoyances accepted. The wise man therefore always holds in these matters to this principle of selection: he rejects pleasures to secure other greater pleasures, or else he endures pains to avoid worse pains.

[At vero eos et accusamus et iusto odio dignissimos ducimus, qui blanditiis praesentium voluptatum deleniti atque corrupti, quos dolores et quas molestias excepturi sint, obcaecati cupiditate non provident, similique sunt in culpa, qui officia deserunt mollitia animi, id est laborum et dolorum fuga. et harum quidem rerum facilis est et expedita distinctio. nam libero tempore, cum soluta nobis est eligendi optio, cumque nihil impedit, quo minus id, quod maxime placeat, facere possimus, omnis voluptas assumenda est, omnis dolor repellendus. temporibus autem quibusdam et aut officiis debitis aut rerum necessitatibus saepe eveniet, ut et voluptates repudiandae sint et molestiae non recusandae. itaque earum rerum hic tenetur a sapiente delectus, ut aut reiciendis voluptatibus maiores alias consequatur aut perferendis doloribus asperiores repellat.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
De Finibus Bonorum et Malorum [On the Ends of Good and Evil], Book 1, sec. 33 (ch. 10) (44 BC) [tr. Rackham (1914)]
    (Source)

Alt. trans.:

  • "Then again we criticize and consider wholly deserving of our odium those who are so seduced and corrupted by the blandishments of immediate pleasure that they fail to foresee in their blind passion the pain and harm to come. Equally blameworthy are those who abandon their duties through mental weakness -- that is, through the avoidance of effort and pain. It is quite simple and straightforward to distinguish such cases. In our free time, when our choice is unconstrained and there is nothing to prevent us doing what most pleases us, every pleasure is to be tasted, every pain shunned. But in certain circumstances it will often happen that either the call of duty or some sort of crisis dictates that pleasures are to be repudiated and inconveniences accepted. And so the wise person will uphold the following method of selecting pleasures and pains: pleasures are rejected when this results in other greater pleasures; pains are selected when this avoids worse pains." [On Moral Ends, tr. Woolf (2001)]

  • "But in truth we do blame and deem most deserving of righteous hatred the men who, enervated and depraved by the fascination of momentary pleasures, do not foresee the pains and troubles which are sure to befall them, because they are blinded by desire, and in the same error are involved those who prove traitors to their duties through effeminacy of spirit, I mean because they shun exertions and trouble. Now it is easy and and simple to mark the difference between these cases. For at our seasons of ease, when we have untrammelled freedom of choice, and when nothing debars us from the power of following the course that pleases us best, then pleasure is wholly a matter for our selection and pain for our rejection. On certain occasions however either through the inevitable call of duty or through stress of circumstances, it will often come to pass that we must put pleasures from us and must make no protest against annoyance. So in such cases the principle of selection adopted by the wise man is that he should either by refusing cerftain pleasures attain to other and greater pleasures or by enduring pains should ward off pains still more severe." [tr. Reid (1883)]

  • "But we do accuse those men, and think them entirely worthy of the greatest hatred, who, being made effeminate and corrupted by the allurements of present pleasure, are so blinded by passion that they do not foresee what pains and annoyances they will hereafter be subject to; and who are equally guilty with those who, through weakness of mind, that is to say, from eagerness to avoid labour and pain, desert their duty. And the distinction between these things is quick and easy. For at a time when we are free, when the option of choice is in our own power, and when there is nothing to prevent our being able to do whatsoever we choose, then every pleasure may be enjoyed, and every pain repelled. But on particular occasions it will often happen, owing whether to the obligations of duty or the necessities of business, that pleasures must be declined and annoyances must not be shirked. Therefore the wise man holds to this principle of choice in those matters, that he rejects some pleasures, so as, by the rejection to obtain others which are greater, and encounters some pains, so as by that means to escape others which are more formidable." [On the Chief Good and Evil, tr. Yongue (1853)]
Added on 17-Aug-20 | Last updated 8-Feb-21
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Cicero, Marcus Tullius

What stuck in the minds of these men who had become murderers was simply the notion of being involved in something historic, grandiose, unique (“a great task that occurs once in two thousand years”), which must therefore be difficult to bear. This was important, because the murderers were not sadists or killers by nature; on the contrary, a systematic effort was made to weed out all those who derived physical pleasure from what they did. […] Hence the problem was how to overcome not so much their conscience as the animal pity by which all normal men are affected in the presence of physical suffering. The trick used by Himmler — who apparently was rather strongly afflicted by these instinctive reactions himself — was very simple and probably very effective; it consisted in turning these instincts around, as it were, in directing them toward the self. So that instead of saying: What horrible things I did to people!, the murderers would be able to say: What horrible things I had to watch in the pursuance of my duties, how heavily the task weighed upon my shoulders!

Hannah Arendt (1906-1975) German-American philosopher, political theorist
Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil, ch. 6 (1963)
    (Source)
Added on 7-Jul-20 | Last updated 7-Jul-20
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , ,
More quotes by Arendt, Hannah

I intend to do what little one man can do to awaken the public conscience, and in the meantime I am not frightened by your menaces. I am not a giant physically; I shrink from pain and filth and vermin and foul air, like any other man of refinement; also, I freely admit, when I see a line of a hundred policemen with drawn revolvers flung across a street to keep anyone from coming onto private property to hear my feeble voice, I am somewhat disturbed in my nerves. But I have a conscience and a religious faith, and I know that our liberties were not won without suffering, and may be lost again through our cowardice. I intend to do my duty to my country.

Upton Sinclair (1878-1968) American writer, journalist, activist, politician
Letter to the Louis D. Oaks, Los Angeles Chief of Police (17 May 1923)
    (Source)

Reprinted in his Autobiography (1962).
Added on 11-Jun-20 | Last updated 11-Jun-20
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Sinclair, Upton

In case signals can neither be seen nor perfectly understood, no captain can do very wrong if he places his ship alongside that of an enemy.

Horatio Nelson (1758-1805) British admiral
Memorandum before the Battle of Trafalgar (9 Oct 1805)
    (Source)
Added on 2-Feb-19 | Last updated 2-Feb-19
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Nelson, Horatio

CRASSUS: One of the disadvantages of being a patrician is that occasionally you’re obliged to act like one.

Dalton Trumbo (1905-1976) American screenwriter and novelist [James Dalton Trumbo]
Spartacus (1960) [novel by Howard Fast]
Added on 2-Oct-18 | Last updated 2-Oct-18
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Trumbo, Dalton

Every subject’s duty is the king’s; but every subject’s soul is his own.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
Henry V, Act 4, sc. 1 [King Henry] (1599)
    (Source)
Added on 9-Apr-18 | Last updated 9-Apr-18
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , ,
More quotes by Shakespeare, William

There is fascism, leading only into the blackness which it has chosen as its symbol, into smartness and yapping out of orders, and self-righteous brutality, into social as well as international war. It means change without hope. Our immediate duty — in that tinkering which is the only useful form of action in our leaky old tub — our immediate duty is to stop it ….

E. M. Forster (1879-1970) English novelist, essayist, critic, librettist [Edward Morgan Forster]
“Notes on the Way,” Time and Tide (10 June 1934)
    (Source)

Reprinted in The Prince's Tale and Other Uncollected Writings (1998)
Added on 7-Mar-18 | Last updated 7-Mar-18
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , ,
More quotes by Forster, E. M.

There are three possible ways in which the church can act toward the state: in the first place, as has been said, it can ask the state whether its actions are legitimate and in accordance with its character as state, i.e., it can throw the state back on its responsibilities. Secondly, it can aid the victims of state action. The church has an unconditional obligation to the victims of any ordering society, even if they do not belong to the Christian community. “Do good to all men.” In both these course of action, the church serves the free state in its free way, and at times when laws are changed the church may in no way withdraw itself from these two tasks.

The third possibility is not just to bandage the victims under the wheel, but to put a spoke in the wheel itself. Such action would be direct political action, and is only possible and required when the church sees the state fail in its function of creating law and order, i.e., when it sees the state unrestrainedly bring about too much or too little law and order.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945) German Lutheran pastor, theologian, martyr
“The Church and the Jewish Question” (1933)
    (Source)

On the need for Christian clergy to actively oppose the Nazi regime's persecution of Jews.
Added on 8-Jan-18 | Last updated 8-Jan-18
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Bonhoeffer, Dietrich

Love responsibility. Say: “It is my duty, and mine alone, to save the earth. If it is not saved, then I alone am to blame.” Love each man according to his contribution in the struggle. Do not seek friends; seek comrades-in-arms.

Nikos Kazantzakis (1883-1957) Greek writer and philosopher
The Saviors of God [Salvatores Dei], “The March: First Step: The Ego,” #15-16 (1923) [tr. Friar [1960])
    (Source)
Added on 4-Jul-17 | Last updated 4-Jul-17
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , ,
More quotes by Kazantzakis, Nikos

It is not yours to finish the task, but neither are you free to set it aside.

tarfon-finish-the-task-wist_info-quote

No picture available
Tarfon (fl. 1st-2nd C AD) Jewish rabbi, sage
Mishnah, Pirkei Avot 2:15-16

Alt. trans.:
  • It is not incumbent upon you to finish the task, but neither are you free to absolve yourself from it.
  • It is not up to you to finish the task, but you are not free to avoid it.
  • We need not finish the task but neither can we desist from it.
  • Although I am not free to avoid doing the work, it is not always necessary that I finish the task.
  • You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.
Added on 21-Nov-16 | Last updated 21-Nov-16
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Tarfon

Laborare est orare. By the Puritan moralist the ancient maxim is repeated with a new and intenser significance. The labor which he idealizes is not simply a requirement imposed by nature, or a punishment for the sin of Adam. It is itself a kind of ascetic discipline, more rigorous than that demanded of any order of mendicants — a discipline imposed by the will of God, and to be undergone, not in solitude, but in the punctual discharge of secular duties. It is not merely an economic means, to be laid aside when physical needs have been satisfied. It is a spiritual end, for in it alone can the soul find health, and it must be continued as an ethical duty long after it has ceased to be a material necessity.

R. H. Tawney (1880-1962) English writer, economist, historian, social critic [Richard Henry Tawney]
Religion and the Rise of Capitalism, ch. 4 (1926)
    (Source)

The Latin means, "To work is to pray."
Added on 28-Sep-16 | Last updated 17-Apr-20
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , ,
More quotes by Tawney, R. H.

It is a strange desire, to seek power and to lose liberty.

Francis Bacon (1561-1626) English philosopher, scientist, author, statesman
Essays, “Of Great Place” (1625)
Added on 8-Sep-16 | Last updated 8-Sep-16
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , ,
More quotes by Bacon, Francis

Duty makes us do things well, but love makes us do them beautifully.

Brooks - duty well love beautifully - wist_info quote

Phillips Brooks (1835-1893) American clergyman, hymnist
(Attributed)
    (Source)

Quoted in Life and Light for Woman, Vol. 26, #1 (Jan 1896)
Added on 18-Jul-16 | Last updated 18-Jul-16
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , ,
More quotes by Brooks, Phillips

To persevere in one’s duty and be silent is the best answer to calumny.

George Washington (1732-1799) American military leader, Founding Father, US President (1789-1797)
Letter to William Livingston (7 Dec 1779)
Added on 11-Jul-16 | Last updated 11-Jul-16
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Washington, George

The first requisite of a good citizen in this republic of ours is that he shall be able and willing to pull his weight; that he shall not be a mere passenger, but shall do his share in the work that each generation of us finds ready to hand; and, furthermore, that in doing his work he shall show, not only the capacity for sturdy self-help, but also self-respecting regard for the rights of others.

Roosevelt - pull his weight - wist_info quote

Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) US President (1901-1909)
Speech, New York (11 Nov 1902)
Added on 16-Jun-16 | Last updated 16-Jun-16
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Roosevelt, Theodore

To act with common sense according to the moment, is the best wisdom I know; and the best philosophy, to do one’s duties, take the world as it comes, submit respectfully to one’s lot; bless the Goodness that has given so much happiness with it, whatever it is; and despise affectation.

Horace Walpole (1717-1797) English novelist, letter writer
Letter to Horace Mann (27 May 1776)
Added on 5-Feb-16 | Last updated 5-Feb-16
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Walpole, Horace

A man’s first duty is to make a competence and be independent. But his whole duty does not end there. It his his duty to do something for his needy neighbors who are less favored than himself. It is his duty to contribute to the general good of the community in which he lives. He has been protected by its laws. Because he has been protected in his various enterprises he has been able to make money sufficient for his needs and those of his family. All beyond this belongs in justice to the protecting power that has fostered him and enabled him to win pecuniary success. To try and make the world in some way better than you have found is to have a noble motive in life.

Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919) American industrialist and philanthropist
The Empire of Business, “Thrift as a Duty” (1902)
Added on 15-Jan-16 | Last updated 15-Jan-16
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Carnegie, Andrew

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
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , ,
More quotes by Heschel, Abraham

The coldest depth of Hell is reserved for people who abandon kittens.

Robert A. Heinlein (1907-1988) American writer
Friday [Friday Jones] (1982)
Added on 6-Oct-15 | Last updated 6-Oct-15
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Heinlein, Robert A.

We each have a moral obligation to conserve and preserve beauty in this world; there is none to waste.

Robert A. Heinlein (1907-1988) American writer
Friday [Dr. Baldwin] (1982)
Added on 18-Aug-15 | Last updated 18-Aug-15
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , ,
More quotes by Heinlein, Robert A.

Do your duty, and leave the outcome to the Gods.

Pierre Corneille (1606-1684) French tragedian
Horace, Act 2, sc. 8 (1640)
Added on 9-Jul-15 | Last updated 9-Jul-15
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Corneille, Pierre

SIMON: Captain, why did you come back for us?

MAL: You’re on my crew.

SIMON: Yeah, but you don’t even like me. Why’d you come back?

MAL: You’re on my crew. Why’re we still talking about this?

Drew Z. Greenberg (contemp.) TV producer and writer
Firefly, 1×05 “Safe” (8 Nov 2002)
Added on 4-Jun-15 | Last updated 4-Jun-15
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , ,
More quotes by Greenberg, Drew Z.

Thank goodness, many years ago, I had a preceptor, for whom my admiration has never died, and he had a favorite saying, one that I trust I try to live by. It was: always take your job seriously, never yourself.

Dwight David Eisenhower (1890-1969) American general, US President (1953-61)
Speech, New England “Forward to ’54” Dinner, Boston (21 Sep 1953)
Added on 14-May-15 | Last updated 14-May-15
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Eisenhower, Dwight David

The last pleasure in life is the sense of discharging our duty.

William Hazlitt (1778-1830) English writer
Table Talk, “On Novelty and Familiarity” (1822)
Added on 17-Apr-15 | Last updated 17-Apr-15
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , ,
More quotes by Hazlitt, William

‘Patriotism is not enough.’ But neither is anything else. Science is not enough, religion is not enough, art is not enough, politics and economics are not enough, nor is love, nor is duty, nor is action however disinterested, nor, however sublime, is contemplation. Nothing short of everything will really do.

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) English novelist, essayist and critic
The Island, “Notes on What’s What” (1962)
Added on 22-Oct-14 | Last updated 22-Oct-14
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Huxley, Aldous

If the provisions of the Constitution be not upheld when they pinch as well as when they comfort, they may as well be abandoned.

George Sutherland (1862-1942) Anglo-American jurist, Supreme Court Justice (1922-1938)
Home Building & Loan Association v. Blaisdell, 290 U.S. 398, 483 (1934)
Added on 2-Sep-14 | Last updated 7-Feb-17
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , ,
More quotes by Sutherland, George

From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.

The Bible (14th C BC - 2nd C AD) Christian sacred scripture
Luke 12:48 (NIV)
    (Source)

Alt. trans.:
  • KJV: "For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more."
  • GNT: "Much is required from the person to whom much is given; much more is required from the person to whom much more is given."
  • NRSV: "From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from the one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded."
Added on 15-Jul-13 | Last updated 14-Oct-19
Link to this post | 1 comment
Topics: , , , ,
More quotes by Bible

By “nationalism” I mean first of all the habit of assuming that human beings can be classified like insects and that whole blocks of millions or tens of millions of people can be confidently labeled “good” or “bad.” But secondly — and this is much more important — I mean the habit of identifying oneself with a single nation or other unit, placing it beyond good and evil and recognizing no other duty than that of advancing its interests.

George Orwell (1903-1950) English writer [pseud. of Eric Arthur Blair]
“Notes on Nationalism” (May 1945)
    (Source)
Added on 23-Jan-12 | Last updated 16-Feb-21
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Orwell, George

One ought to be both feared and loved, but as it is difficult for the two to go together it is much safer to be feared than loved, if one of the two has to be wanting. … And men have less scruple in offending one who makes himself loved than one who makes himself feared; for love is held by a chain of obligation, which men being selfish, is broken whenever it serves their purpose, but fear is maintained by a dread of punishment which never fails.

Niccolò Machiavelli (1469-1527) Italian politician, philosopher, political scientist
The Prince, ch. 17 (1513) [tr. Ricci (1903)]
    (Source)

Alt. trans.: "Is it better to be loved than feared, or the reverse? The answer is that it is desirable to be both, but because it is difficult to join them together, it is much safer for a prince to be feared than loved, if he is to fail in one of the two. ... Men have less hesitation in injuring one who makes himself loved than one who makes himself feared, for love is held by a chain of duty which, since men are bad, they break at every chance for their own profit; but fear is held by a dread of punishment that never fails you." [tr. Gilbert (1958)]
Added on 3-Oct-11 | Last updated 21-Jan-20
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , ,
More quotes by Machiavelli, Niccolo

The secret of my incredible energy and efficiency in getting work done is a simple one. I have based it very deliberately on a well-known psychological principle and have refined it so that it is now almost too refined. I shall have to begin coarsening it up again pretty soon. The psychological principle is this: anyone can do any amount of work, provided it isn’t the work he is supposed to be doing at that moment.

Robert Benchley (1889-1945) American humorist
“How to Get Things Done,” Chicago Tribune (2 Feb 1930)
Added on 3-Sep-11 | Last updated 22-Apr-21
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Benchley, Robert

‘What do you fear, lady?’ he asked.
‘A cage,’ she said. ‘To stay behind bars, until use and old age accept them, and all chance of doing great deeds is gone beyond recall or desire.’

J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973) English writer, fabulist, philologist, academic [John Ronald Reuel Tolkien]
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Book 5, ch. 2 “The Passing of the Grey Company” [Aragorn and Eowyn] (1954)
Added on 16-Aug-11 | Last updated 3-Sep-15
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , ,
More quotes by Tolkien, J.R.R.

We have an obligation to one another, responsibilities and trusts. That does not mean we must be pigeons, that we must be exploited. But it does mean that we should look out for one another when and as much as we can; and that we have a personal responsibility for our behavior; and that our behavior has consequences of a very real and profound nature.

J. Michael (Joe) Straczynski (b. 1954) American screenwriter, producer, author [a/k/a "JMS"]
rec.arts.sf.tv.babylon5.moderated, “At The Midpoint (Spoilers for everything)” (7 Apr 1995)
    (Source)
Added on 22-Jan-10 | Last updated 17-Jul-20
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , ,
More quotes by Straczynski, J. Michael "Joe"

You will always find those who think they know what is your duty better than you know it.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Self-Reliance,” Essays: First Series (1841)
Added on 21-Oct-09 | Last updated 27-Feb-17
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Emerson, Ralph Waldo

When I had youth I had no money; now I have the money I have no time; and when I get the time, if I ever do, I shall have no health to enjoy life. I suppose it’s the discipline I need; but it’s rather hard to love the things I do, and see them go by because duty chains me to my galley. If I ever come into port with all sails set, that will be my reward perhaps.

Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888) American writer
(Attributed) (1873)

Quoted in M. Saxton, Louisa May, ch. 17 (1977).
Added on 7-Oct-08 | Last updated 16-Apr-19
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Alcott, Louisa May

Our obligations to our country never cease but with our lives.

John Adams (1735-1826) American lawyer, Founding Father, statesman, US President (1797-1801)
Letter to Benjamin Rush (18 Apr 1808)
Added on 22-Aug-08 | Last updated 29-Mar-17
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , ,
More quotes by Adams, John

He had discovered a great law of human action, without knowing it — namely, that in order to make a man or a boy covet a thing, it is only necessary to make the thing difficult to attain. If he had been a great and wise philosopher, like the writer of this book, he would now have comprehended that Work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do, and that Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do. And this would help him to understand why constructing artificial flowers or performing on a tread-mill is work, while rolling ten-pins or climbing Mont Blanc is only amusement.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, ch. 2 (1876)
Added on 16-Apr-08 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
Link to this post | 1 comment
Topics: , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Twain, Mark

For of those to whom much is given, much is required. And when at some future date the high court of history sits in judgment on each of us — recording whether in our brief span of service we fulfilled our responsibilities to the state — our success or failure, in whatever office we hold, will be measured by the answers to four questions:

First, were we truly men of courage — with the courage to stand up to one’s enemies — and the courage to stand up, when necessary, to one’s associates — the courage to resist public pressure, as well as private greed?

Secondly, were we truly men of judgment — with perceptive judgment of the future as well as the past — of our mistakes as well as the mistakes of others — with enough wisdom to know what we did not know and enough candor to admit it.

Third, were we truly men of integrity — men who never ran out on either the principles in which we believed or the men who believed in us — men whom neither financial gain nor political ambition could ever divert from the fulfillment of our sacred trust?

Finally, were we truly men of dedication — with an honor mortgaged to no single individual or group, and comprised of no private obligation or aim, but devoted solely to serving the public good and the national interest?

Courage — judgment — integrity — dedication — these are the historic qualities … which, with God’s help … will characterize our Government’s conduct in the four stormy years that lie ahead.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Address to the Massachusetts legislature (9 Jan 1961)
    (Source)

As President-elect. The reference is to Luke 12:48.
Added on 18-Jan-08 | Last updated 14-Oct-19
Link to this post | 2 comments
Topics: , , , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Kennedy, John F.

If you don’t know how to serve men, why worry about serving the gods?

Confucius (551-479 BC) Chinese philosopher [Ku'ng Ch'iu / King Qiu, Ku'ng Fu-tzu / Kong Fuzi]
The Analects [Lun Yü], 11.11 (6th C. BC) [ed. Lao-Tse]

Common translation of this Analect, source unknown. Other translations:

  • 'Chi Lu asked about serving the spirits of the dead. The Master said, "While you are not able to serve men, how can you serve their spirits?"' [tr. Legge (1861)]

  • 'Tszlu propounded a question about ministering to the spirits of the departed. The Master replied, "Where there is scarcely the ability to minister to living men, how shall there be ability to minister to the spirits?"' [tr. Jennings (1895)]

  • 'A disciple (the intrepid Chung Yu) enquired how one should behave towards the spirits of dead men. Confucius answered, "We cannot as yet do our duties to living men; why should we enquire about our duties to dead men?"' [tr. Ku Hung-Ming (1898)]

  • 'When Chi Lu asked about his duty to his spirits the Master replied: "While still unable to do your duty to the living, how can you do your duty to the dead?"' [tr. Soothill (1910)]

  • 'Zilu asked how to serve the spirits and gods. The Master said: "You are not yet able to serve men, how could you serve the spirits?"' [tr. Leys (1997)]

  • 'Jilu asked how one should serve the gods and spirits. The Master said, "When you don't yet know how to serve human beings, how can you serve the spirits?"' [tr. Watson (2007)]

  • 'Jilu [Zilu] asked about how to serve the spirits of the dead and the gods. The Master said, "You can't even serve men properly, how can you serve the spirits?"' [tr. Annping Chin (2014), 11.12]

  • 'Ji Lu asked about how to serve and worship gods and spirits. Confucius said, "You still have not served men well. Why do you bother serving gods and spirits?"' [tr. Li (2020), 11.12]
Added on 12-May-04 | Last updated 10-Dec-20
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Confucius

Do something every day that you don’t want to do; this is the golden rule for acquiring the habit of doing your duty without pain.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Following the Equator, ch. 58, epigraph (1897)

See here for more discussion about this (and related) quotations.
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 6-Dec-15
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , ,
More quotes by Twain, Mark

If we attend continually and promptly to the little that we can do, we shall ere long be surprised to find how little remains that we cannot do.

Samuel Butler (1835-1902) English novelist, satirist, scholar
The Note-Books of Samuel Butler (1912)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 5-Sep-19
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Butler, Samuel

The first rule is, to keep an untroubled spirit; for all things must bow to Nature’s law, and soon enough you must vanish into nothingness, like Hadrian and Augustus. The second is to look things in the face and know them for what they are, remembering that it is your duty to be a good man. Do without flinching what man’s nature demands; say what seems to you most just — though with courtesy, modesty, and sincerity.

[Τὸ πρῶτον μὴ ταράσσου: πάντα γὰρ κατὰ τὴν τοῦ ὅλου φύσιν καὶ ὀλίγου χρόνου οὐδεὶς οὐδαμοῦ ἔσῃ, ὥσπερ οὐδὲ Ἁδριανὸς οὐδὲ Αὔγουστος. ἔπειτα ἀτενίσας εἰς τὸ πρᾶγμα ἴδε αὐτὸ καὶ συμμνημονεύσας ὅτι ἀγαθόν σε ἄνθρωπον εἶναι δεῖ καὶ τί τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἡ φύσις ἀπαιτεῖ, πρᾶξον τοῦτο ἀμεταστρεπτὶ καὶ εἰπέ, ὡς δικαιότατον φαίνεταί σοι: μόνον εὐμενῶς καὶ αἰδημόνως καὶ ἀνυποκρίτως.]

Marcus Aurelius (AD 121-180) Roman emperor (161-180), Stoic philosopher
Meditations, Book 8, #5 [tr. Staniforth (1964)]
    (Source)

This translation was adapted (and significantly shortened) by Norman Vincent Peale in You Can If You Think You Can (1974): "The first rule is to keep an untroubled spirit. The second is to look things in the face and know them for what they are."

Peale's paraphrase significantly changes the meaning (by removing the fatalism and the sense of duty in the face of the actions of great men from the past, and turning it into a general call for calm and clarity). Nonetheless, Peale's version of this translation shows up all over the place, and generally without reference to him.

Original Greek. Alternate translations:

First; let it not trouble thee. For all things both good and evil come to pass according to the nature and general condition of the universe, and within a very little while, all things will be at an end; no man will be remembered: as now of Africanus (for example) and Augustus it is already come to pass. Then secondly; fix thy mind upon the thing itself; look into it, and remembering thyself, that thou art bound nevertheless to be a good man, and what it is that thy nature requireth of thee as thou art a man, be not diverted from what thou art about, and speak that which seemeth unto thee most just: only speak it kindly, modestly, and without hypocrisy.
[tr. Casaubon (1634), #4]

In the first place, keep yourself easy, for all things are governed by the laws and order of Providence: besides, you'll quickly go the way of all flesh, as Augustus, Adrian, and the rest of the emperors have done before you. Farther, examine the matter from top to bottom, and remember, that the top of your business is to be a good man: therefore whatever the dignity of human nature requires of you, set about it presently, without ifs, or ands: and speak always according to your conscience, but let it be done in the terms of good nature and civility.
[tr. Collier (1701)]

This is the chief thing: Be not perturbed, for all things are according to the nature of the universal; and in a little time thou wilt be nobody and nowhere, like Hadrianus and Augustus. In the next place, having fixed thy eyes steadily on thy business, look at it, and at the same time remembering that it is thy duty to be a good man, and what man's nature demands, do that without turning aside; and speak as it seems to thee most just, only let it be with a good disposition and with modesty and without hypocrisy.
[tr. Long (1862)]

In the first place, keep yourself easy, for all things are governed by the universal nature. Besides, you'll quickly go the way of all flesh, as Augustus and Hadrian have done before you. Farther, examine the matter from top to bottom, and remember that your business is to be a good man. Therefore, whatever the dignity of human nature requires of you, set about it at once, without "ifs" or "ands"; and speak always according to your conscience, but let it be done in the terms of good nature and modesty and sincerity.
[tr. Zimmern (1887)]

In the first place, be not troubled; for all things are according to Universal Nature, and in a little while you will be no one and nowhere, even as Hadrian and Augustus are no more. Next, looking earnestly at the question, perceive its essence, and reminding yourself that your duty is to be a good man, and what it is that man's nature demands, do that without swerving, and speak the thing that appears to you to be most just, provided only that it is with kindness and modesty, and without hypocrisy
. [tr. Farquharson (1944)]

The first step. Don't be anxious. Nature controls it all. And before long you'll be no one, nowhere -- like Hadrian, like Augustus. The second step: Concentrate on what you have to do. Fix your eyes on it. Remind yourself that your task is to be a good human being; remind yourself what nature demands of people. Then do it, without hesitation, and speak the truth as you see it. But with kindness. With humility. Without hypocrisy.
[tr. Hays (2003)]

Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 17-Mar-21
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Marcus Aurelius

The punishment which the wise suffer who refuse to take part in the government is to live under the government of worse men.

Plato (c.428-347 BC) Greek philosopher
Republic, Book 1, 347c

In Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Eloquence," Society and Solitude (1870).

Alt. trans.:
  • "One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics, is that you end up being governed by your inferiors."
  • The Constitution Party (1952-68) used on their letterhead the variant, "The penalty good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men."
  • "The price of apathy is to be ruled by evil men."
  • "Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber."
More discussion here.

In context (Plato in Twelve Volumes, Vols. 5 & 6 [tr. Shorey (1969)]):
[346e] "Then, Thrasymachus, is not this immediately apparent, that no art or office provides what is beneficial for itself -- but as we said long ago it provides and enjoins what is beneficial to its subject, considering the advantage of that, the weaker, and not the advantage the stronger? That was why, friend Thrasymachus, I was just now saying that no one of his own will chooses to hold rule and office and take other people's troubles in hand to straighten them out, but everybody expects pay for that, [347a] because he who is to exercise the art rightly never does what is best for himself or enjoins it when he gives commands according to the art, but what is best for the subject. That is the reason, it seems, why pay must be provided for those who are to consent to rule, either in form of money or honor or a penalty if they refuse." "What do you mean by that, Socrates?" said Glaucon. "The two wages I recognize, but the penalty you speak of and described as a form of wage I don't understand." "Then," said I, "you don't understand the wages of the best men [347b] for the sake of which the finest spirits hold office and rule when they consent to do so. Don't you know that to be covetous of honor and covetous of money is said to be and is a reproach?" "I do," he said. "Well, then," said I, "that is why the good are not willing to rule either for the sake of money or of honor. They do not wish to collect pay openly for their service of rule and be styled hirelings nor to take it by stealth from their office and be called thieves, nor yet for the sake of honor, [347c] for they are not covetous of honor. So there must be imposed some compulsion and penalty to constrain them to rule if they are to consent to hold office. That is perhaps why to seek office oneself and not await compulsion is thought disgraceful. But the chief penalty is to be governed by someone worse if a man will not himself hold office and rule. It is from fear of this, as it appears to me, that the better sort hold office when they do, and then they go to it not in the expectation of enjoyment nor as to a good thing, but as to a necessary evil and because they are unable to turn it over to better men than themselves [347d] or to their like. For we may venture to say that, if there should be a city of good men only, immunity from office-holding would be as eagerly contended for as office is now, and there it would be made plain that in very truth the true ruler does not naturally seek his own advantage but that of the ruled; so that every man of understanding would rather choose to be benefited by another than to be bothered with benefiting him. "
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 3-Nov-20
Link to this post | 7 comments
Topics: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Plato

  • Page 1 of 2
  • 1
  • 2
  • >