Quotations about:
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He that falls into sin is a man; that grieves at it, is a saint; that boasteth of it, is a devil.

Thomas Fuller
Thomas Fuller (1608-1661) English churchman, historian
The Holy State and the Profane State, Book 3, ch. 3 “Of Self-Praising” (1642)
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Added on 16-Jan-23 | Last updated 16-Jan-23
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More quotes by Fuller, Thomas (1608)

          In the throat
Of Hell, before the very vestibule
Of opening Orcus, sit Remorse and Grief,
And pale Disease, and sad Old Age, and Fear,
And Hunger that persuades to crime, and Want,
Forms terrible to see. Suffering and Death
Inhabit here, and Death’s own brother, Sleep;
And the mind’s evil Lusts, and deadly War
Lie at the threshold, and the iron beds
Of the Eumenides; and Discord wild,
Her viper-locks with bloody fillets bound.

[Vestibulum ante ipsum, primisque in faucibus Orci
Luctus et ultrices posuere cubilia Curae;
pallentesque habitant Morbi, tristisque Senectus,
et Metus, et malesuada Fames, ac turpis Egestas,
terribiles visu formae: Letumque, Labosque;
tum consanguineus Leti Sopor, et mala mentis
Gaudia, mortiferumque adverso in limine Bellum,
ferreique Eumenidum thalami, et Discordia demens,
vipereum crinem vittis innexa cruentis.]

Virgil (70-19 BC) Roman poet [b. Publius Vergilius Maro; also Vergil]
The Aeneid [Ænē̆is], Book 6, l. 274ff (6.274-282) (29-19 BC) [tr. Cranch (1872), l. 336ff]
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(Source (Latin)). Aeneas entering the Underworld. Alternate translations:

Just in the gate and in the jaws of hell,
Revengeful Cares and sullen Sorrows dwell,
And pale Diseases, and repining Age,
Want, Fear, and Famine's unresisted rage;
Here Toils, and Death, and Death's half-brother, Sleep,
Forms terrible to view, their sentry keep;
With anxious Pleasures of a guilty mind,
Deep Frauds before, and open Force behind;
The Furies' iron beds; and Strife, that shakes
Her hissing tresses and unfolds her snakes.
[tr. Dryden (1697)]

Before the vestibule itself, and in the first jaws of hell, Grief and vengeful Cares have placed their couches, and pale Diseases dwell, and disconsolate Old Age, and Fear, and the evil counsellor Famine, and vile deformed Indigence, forms ghastly to the sight! and Death, and Toil; then Sleep, akin to Death, and criminal Joys of the mind; and in the opposite threshold murderous War, and the iron bed-chambers of the Furies, and frantic Discord, having her viperous locks bound with bloody fillets.
[tr. Davidson/Buckley (1854)]

At Orcus' portals hold their lair
Wild Sorrow and avenging Care;
And pale Diseases cluster there,
     And pleasureless Decay,
Foul Penury, and Fears that kill,
And Hunger, counsellor of ill,
     A ghastly presence they:
Suffering and Death the threshold keep,
And with them Death's blood-brother, Sleep:
Ill Joys with their seducing spells
     And deadly War are at the door;
The Furies couch in iron cells,
And Discord maddens and rebels;
     Her snake-locks hiss, her wreaths drip gore.
[tr. Conington (1866)]

Right in front of the doorway and in the entry of the jaws of hell Grief and avenging Cares have made their bed; there dwell wan Sicknesses and gloomy Eld, and Fear, and ill-counselling Hunger, and loathly Want, shapes terrible to see; and Death and Travail, and thereby Sleep, Death's kinsman, and the Soul's guilty Joys, and death-dealing War full in the gateway, and the Furies in their iron cells, and mad Discord with bloodstained fillets enwreathing her serpent locks.
[tr. Mackail (1885)]

Lo, in the first of Orcus' jaws, close to the doorway side,
The Sorrows and Avenging Griefs have set their beds to bide;
There the pale kin of Sickness dwells, and Eld, the woeful thing,
And Fear, and squalid-fashioned Lack, and witless Hungering,
Shapes terrible to see with eye; and Toil of Men, and Death,
And Sleep, Death's brother, and the Lust of Soul that sickeneth:
And War, the death-bearer, was set full in the threshold's way,
And those Well-willers' iron beds: there heartless Discord lay,
Whose viper-breeding hair about was bloody-filleted.
[tr. Morris (1900), l. 272ff]

Before the threshold, in the jaws of Hell,
Grief spreads her pillow, with remorseful Care.
There sad Old Age and pale Diseases dwell,
And misconceiving Famine, Want and Fear,
Terrific shapes, and Death and Toil appear.
Death's kinsman, Sleep, and Joys of sinful kind,
And deadly War crouch opposite, and here
The Furies' iron chamber, Discord blind
And Strife, her viperous locks with gory fillets twined.
[tr. Taylor (1907), st. 38, l. 334]

In the first courts and entrances of Hell
Sorrows and vengeful Cares on couches lie:
There sad Old Age abides, Diseases pale,
And Fear, and Hunger, temptress to all crime;
Want, base and vile, and, two dread shapes to see,
Bondage and Death : then Sleep, Death's next of kin;
And dreams of guilty joy. Death-dealing War
Is ever at the doors, and hard thereby
The Furies' beds of steel, where wild-eyed Strife
Her snaky hair with blood-stained fillet binds.
[tr. Williams (1910)]

Just before the entrance, even within the very jaws of Hell, Grief and avenging Cares have made their bed; there pale Diseases dwell, and sad Age, and Fear, and ill-counselling Famine, and loathly Want, shapes terrible to view; and Death and Distress; next, Death's own brother Sleep, and the soul's Guilty Joys, and, on the threshold opposite, the death-bearer War, and the Furies' iron cells, and savage Strife, her snaky locks entwined with bloody fillets.
[tr. Fairclough (1916)]

At the first threshold, on the jaws of Orcus,
Grief and avenging Cares have set their couches,
And pale Diseases dwell, and sad Old Age,
Fear, evil-counselling Hunger, wretched Need,
Forms terrible to see, and Death, and Toil,
And Death’s own brother, Sleep, and evil Joys,
Fantasies of the mind, and deadly War,
The Furies’ iron chambers, Discord, raving,
Her snaky hair entwined in bloody bands.
[tr. Humphries (1951)]

See! At the very porch and entrance way to Orcus
Grief and ever-haunting Anxiety make their bed:
Here dwell pallid Diseases, here morose Old Age,
With Fear, ill-prompting Hunger, and squalid Indigence,
Shapes horrible to look at, Death and Agony;
Sleep, too, which is the cousin of Death; and Guilty Joys,
And there, against the threshold, War, the bringer of Death:
Here are the iron cells of the Furies, and lunatic Strife
Whose viperine hair is caught up with a headband soaked in blood.
[tr. Day-Lewis (1952)]

Before the entrance, at the jaws of Orcus,
both Grief and goading Cares have set their couches;
there pale Diseases dwell, and sad Old Age,
and Fear and Hunger, that worst counselor,
and ugly Poverty -- shapes terrible
to see -- and Death and Trials; Death's brother, Sleep,
and all the evil Pleasures of the mind;
and War, whose fruits are death; and facing these,
the Furies' iron chambers; and mad Strife,
her serpent hair bound up with bloody garlands.
[tr. Mandelbaum (1971), l. 363ff]

Before the entrance, in the jaws of Orcus,
Grief and avenging Cares have made their beds,
And pale Diseases and sad Age are there,
And Dread, and Hunger that sways men to crime,
And sordid Want -- in shapes to affright the eyes --
And Death and Toil and Deaths;s own brother, Sleep,
And the mind's evil joys; on the door sill
Death-bringing War, and iron cubicles
Of the Eumenidës, and raving Discord,
Viperish hair bound up in gory bands.
[tr. Fitzgerald (1981)]

Before the entrance hall of Orcus, in the very throat of hell, Grief and Revenge have made their beds and Old age lives there in despair, with white faced Diseases and Fear and Hunger, corrupter of men, and squalid Poverty, things dreadful to look upon, and Death and Drudgery besides. Then there were Sleep, Death's sister, perverted Pleasures, murderous War astride the threshold, the iron chambers of the Furies and raving Discord with blood-soaked ribbons binding her viperous hair.
[tr. West (1990)]

Right before the entrance, in the very jaws of Orcus,
Grief and vengeful Care have made their beds,
and pallid Sickness lives there, and sad Old Age,
and Fear, and persuasive Hunger, and vile Need,
forms terrible to look on, and Death and Pain:
then Death’s brother Sleep, and Evil Pleasure of the mind,
and, on the threshold opposite, death-dealing War,
and the steel chambers of the Furies, and mad Discord,
her snaky hair entwined with blood-wet ribbons.
[tr. Kline (2002)]

Just before the entrance, in the very jaws
Of Orcus, Grief and avenging Cares
Have set their beds. Pale Diseases
Dwell there, sad Old Age, Fear, Hunger --
The tempter -- and foul Poverty,
All fearful shapes, and Death and Toil,
And Death's brother Sleep, Guilty Joys,
And on the threshold opposite, lethal War,
The Furies in iron cells, and mad Strife,
Her snaky hair entwined with bloody bands.
[tr. Lombardo (2005)]

There in the entryway, the gorge of hell itself,
Grief and the pangs of Conscience make their beds,
and fatal pale Disease lives there, and bleak Old Age,
Dread and Hunger, seductress to crime, and grinding Poverty,
all, terrible shapes to see -- and Death and deadly Struggle
and Sleep, twin brother of Death, and twisted, wicked Joys
and facing them at the threshold, War, rife with death,
and the Furies’ iron chambers, and mad, raging Strife
whose blood-stained headbands knot her snaky locks.
[tr. Fagles (2006), l. 312ff]

At the entrance, in Orcus' very jaws, Grief and vengeful Sorrow made their beds, and Pale Diseases, sad Old Age, and Fear and ill-advising Hunger and shameful Poverty, forms horrible to see, and Death and Suffering, then Death's brother Slumber, and the Joys of evil men. Facing them were murderous War and the Furies' iron chambers and mad Discord, her serpent hair bound up with bloody ribbons.
[tr. Bartsch (2021)]

 
Added on 27-Oct-22 | Last updated 27-Oct-22
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More quotes by Virgil

I happen to think that the singular evil of our time is prejudice. It is from this evil that all other evils grow and multiply. In almost everything I’ve written there is a thread of this: a man’s seemingly palpable need to dislike someone other than himself.

Rod Serling (1924-1975) American screenwriter, playwright, television producer, narrator
“Serling in Creative Mainstream,” Interview by Ellen Cameron May, Los Angeles Times (25 Jun 1967)
 
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It is great sin to swear unto a sin,
But greater sin to keep a sinful oath.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
Henry VI, Part 2, Act 5, sc. 1, l. 186ff [Salisbury] (1591)
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Added on 18-Oct-22 | Last updated 18-Oct-22
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More quotes by Shakespeare, William

It’s dated, called a fable; men are clever,
But they are just as badly off as ever:
The Evil One is gone, the evil ones remain.

[Er ist schon lang in Fabelbuch geschrieben;
Allein die Menschen sind nichts besser dran,
Den Bösen sind sie los, die Bösen sind geblieben.]

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) German poet, statesman, scientist
Faust: a Tragedy [eine Tragödie], Part 1, sc. 9 “Witches’ Kitchen,” l. 2557ff [Mephistopheles] (1808-1829) [tr. Kaufmann (1961)]
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On humanity no longer believing in "Satan."

Some translations (and this site) include the Declaration, Prelude on the Stage, and Prologue in Heaven as individual scenes; others do not, leading to their Part 1 scenes being numbered three lower.

(Source (German)). Alternate translations:

This many a day 'tis written down a fable;
Yet men are nowise winners in the game.
They're rid of the Evil One, the Evil still are able.
[tr. Latham (1790)]

That's been known as a fable many a season;
But men have things no better for that reason.
Free are they from the Evil One; the evil are still here.
[tr. Priest (1808)]

It has been long written in story books; but men are not the better for that; they are rid of the wicked one, the wicked have remained.
[tr. Hayward (1831)]

To fable-books it now doth appertain;
But people from the change have nothing won.
Rid of the evil one, the evil ones remain.
[tr. Swanwick (1850)]

It has long since to fable-books been banished;
But men are none the better for it; true,
The wicked one, but not the wicked ones, has vanished.
[tr. Brooks (1868)]

It's long been written in the Book of Fable;
Yet, therefore, no whit better men we see:
The Evil One has left, the evil ones are stable.
[tr. Taylor (1870)]

That name has had its station long assigned
With Mother Bunch; and yet I cannot see
Men are much better for the want of me.
The wicked one is gone, the wicked stay behind.
[tr. Blackie (1880)]

It's now a name for fairy tales and fables;
the people are as miserable as ever --
the Evil One is gone, the evil ones remain.
[tr. Salm (1962)]

It's been consigned to storybooks for youngsters;
Mind you, men are no better off for that.
The Fiend is gone, the fiends are still amongst us.
[tr. Arndt (1976)]

The name has been a myth too long.
Not that man's any better off -- the Evil One
They're rid of, evil is still going strong.
[tr. Luke (1987)]

Since God knows when it belongs to mythology,
But that's hardly improved the temper of humanity.
The Evil One's no more, evil ones more than ever.
[tr. Greenberg (1992)]

It only comes in fairy stories nowadays.
But even so, humanity's no better off --
The Evil One has gone, they've kept their evil ways.
[tr. Williams (1999)]

It’s written in story books, always:
Men are no better for it, though:
The Evil One’s gone: the evil stays.
[tr. Kline (2003)]

 
Added on 17-Oct-22 | Last updated 17-Oct-22
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Timely advis’d, the coming Evil shun:
Better not do the Deed, than weep it done.

Matthew Prior
Matthew Prior (1664-1721) English poet and diplomat
“Henry and Emma,” l. 310ff [Henry] (1709)
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Things look different when seen in a different light. So look at them in the light of happiness. Don’t confuse good and bad.

[Hace muy diferentes visos una misma cosa si se mira a diferentes luces: mírese por la de la felicidad. No se han de trocar los frenos al bien y al mal.]

Baltasar Gracián y Morales (1601-1658) Spanish Jesuit priest, writer, philosopher
The Art of Worldly Wisdom [Oráculo Manual y Arte de Prudencia], § 224 (1647) [tr. Maurer (1992)]
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(Source (Spanish)). Alternate translations:

One and the same thing, hath its good day, and its bad. Examine it on the fairest side. We must not give the contrary reines to good and evil.
[Flesher ed. (1685)]

The same thing looks quite different in another light; look at it therefore on its best side and do not exchange good for evil.
[tr. Jacobs (1892)]

For one and the same thing has very different faces, as seen in different lights; look upon it in its happiest light, and do not get the controls mixed, as to what is good and what is bad.
[tr. Fischer (1937)]

 
Added on 10-Oct-22 | Last updated 9-Jan-23
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I am the spirit, ever, that denies!
And rightly so: since everything created,
In turn deserves to be annihilated:
Better if nothing came to be.
So all that you call Sin, you see,
Destruction, in short, what you’ve meant
By Evil is my true element.

[Ich bin der Geist, der stets verneint!
Und das mit Recht; denn alles, was entsteht,
Ist wert, daß es zugrunde geht;
Drum besser wär’s, daß nichts entstünde.
So ist denn alles, was ihr Sünde,
Zerstörung, kurz, das Böse nennt,
Mein eigentliches Element.]

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) German poet, statesman, scientist
Faust: a Tragedy [eine Tragödie], Part 1, sc. 6 “The Study,” l. 1337ff [Mephistopheles] (1808-1829) [tr. Kline (2003)]
    (Source)

Some translations (and this site) include the Declaration, Prelude on the Stage, and Prologue in Heaven as individual scenes; others do not, leading to their Part 1 scenes being numbered three lower.

(Source (German)). Alternate translations:

I am the Spirit that Denies!
And rightly so, for all that from the Void
Wins into life, deserves to be destroyed;
Thus it were better nothing life should win.
And so is all that you as Sin,
Destruction, in a word, as Evil represent,
My own peculiar element.
[tr. Latham (1790)]

I am the Spirit that denies!
And rightly too; for all that doth begin
Should rightly to destruction run;
'Twere better then that nothing were begun.
Thus everything that you call Sin,
Destruction -- in a word, as Evil represent --
That is my own, real element.
[tr. Priest (1808)]

I am the spirit who says "nay" to all,
And rightly so; for all that have existence
Deserve that they should perish; so 'twere better
That nothing earthly should enjoy existence.
All, therefore, that you mortals mean by Sin,
Destruction, in a word, what you call Evil,
Is my peculiar element.
[tr. Coleridge (1821)]

I am the spirit which constantly denies, and that rightly; for everything that has originated, deserves to be annihilated. Therefore better were it that nothing should originate. Thus, all that you call sin, destruction, in a word. Evil, is my proper element.
[tr. Hayward (1831)]

The spirit I, which evermore denies!
And justly; for whate'er to light is brought
Deserves again to be reduced to naught;
Then better 'twere that naught should be.
Thus all the elements which ye
Destruction, Sin, or briefly, Evil, name,
As my peculiar element I claim.
[tr. Swanwick (1850)]

I am the spirit that denies!
And justly so; for all that time creates,
He does well who annihilates!
Better, it ne'er had had beginning;
And so, then, all that you call sinning,
Destruction, -- all you pronounce ill-meant, --
Is my original element.
[tr. Brooks (1868)]

I am the Spirit that Denies!
And justly so: for all things, from the Void
Called forth, deserve to be destroyed:
'Twere better, then, were naught created.
Thus, all which you as Sin have rated, --
Destruction, -- aught with Evil blent, --
That is my proper element.
[tr. Taylor (1870)]

I am the Spirit of Negation:
And justly so; for all that is created
Deserves to be annihilated.
’Twere better, thus, that there were no creation.
Thus everything that you call evil,
Destruction, ruin, death, the devil,
Is my pure element and sphere.
[tr. Blackie (1880)]

I am the spirit that negates.
And rightly so, for all that comes to be
Deserves to perish wretchedly;
'Twere better nothing would begin.
Thus everything that your terms, sin,
Destruction, evil represent --
That is my proper element.
[tr. Kaufmann (1961)]

I am the spirit that denies forever!
And rightly so! What has arisen from the void
deserves to be annihilated. It would be best if
nothing ever would arise. And thus what you call
havoc, deadly sin, or briefly stated: Evil,
that is my proper element.
[tr. Salm (1962)]

The spirit which eternally denies!
And justly so; for all that which is wrought
Deserves that it should come to naught;
Hence it were best if nothing were engendered.
Which is why all things you have rendered
By terms like sin, destruction -- evil, in brief --
Are my true element-in-chief.
[tr. Arndt (1976)]

I am the spirit of perpetual negation;
And rightly so, for all things that exist
Deserve to perish, and would not be missed.
Much better it would be if nothing were
Brought into being, Thus, what you men call
Destruction, sin, evil in short, is all
My sphere, the element I most prefer.
[tr. Luke (1987)]

I am the spirit that says no, no,
Always! And how right I am! For surely
It's right that everything that comes to be
Should cease to be. And so they do. Still better
Would be nothing ever was. Hence sin
And havoc and ruin -- all you call evil, in sum --
For me's the element in which I swim.
[tr. Greenberg (1992)]

I am the spirit of perpetual negation.
And that is only right; for all
That's made is fit to be destroyed.
Far better if it were an empty void!
So -- everything that you would call
Destruction, sin, and all that's meant
By evil, is my proper element.
[tr. Williams (1999)]

 
Added on 20-Sep-22 | Last updated 20-Sep-22
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But evil is wrought by want of Thought,
As well as want of Heart!

Thomas Hood (1799-1845) British humorist and poet
“The Lady’s Dream,” st. 16 (1844)
    (Source)

First printed in Hood’s Magazine.
 
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I have wrought great use out of evil tools.

Edward George Bulwer-Lytton (1803-1873) English novelist and politician
Richelieu, Act 3, sc. 1, ll. 49-50 [Richelieu] (1839)
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In the mirrors of the many judgments, my hands are the color of blood. I am part of the evil that exists in the world and in Shadow. I sometimes fancy myself an evil which exists to oppose other evils […] and on that Great Day of which the prophets speak but in which they do not truly believe, on the day the world is utterly cleansed of evil, then I too will go down into darkness, swallowing curses. Perhaps even sooner than that, I now judge. But whatever … Until then, I will not wash my hands nor let them hang useless.

Roger Zelazny (1937-1995) American writer
The Guns of Avalon, ch. 3 (1972)
    (Source)
 
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“Neither does this please me, nothing in excess;” for we ought to hate in excess those that are bad to excess.

[οὐδὲ τὸ μηδὲν ἄγαν· δεῖ γὰρ τούς γε κακοὺς ἄγαν μισεῖν.]

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Rhetoric [Ῥητορική; Ars Rhetorica], Book 2, ch. 21, sec. 14 (2.21.14) / 1395a.33 (350 BC) [Source (1847)]
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On developing one's own maxims and proverbs, and how to present them. (Source (Greek)). Alternate translations:

Nor again [does this please me], that we ought to carry nothing to excess; since 'tis our duty to hate the wicked at least to the very extreme.
[tr. Buckley (1850)]

No do I like the saying, Do nothing excessively. Bad men should be hated excessively.
[tr. Jebb (1873)]

Nor do I approve of the saying "nothing in excess": we are bound to hate bad men excessively.
[tr. Rhys Roberts (1924)]

Nor do I approve the maxim "Nothing in excess," for one cannot hate the wicked too much."
[tr. Freese (1926)]

Neither is "nothing in excess" [satisfying to me]. For one must tate to excess at least those who are evil.
[tr. Bartlett (2019)]

[I do not] commend the saying “nothing in excess” because one must hate evil men to the extreme.
[tr. @sentantiq (2019)]

 
Added on 7-Jun-22 | Last updated 13-Jun-22
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I believe in evil. It is the property of all those who are certain of truth. Despair and fanaticism are only differing manifestations of evil.

Edward Teller (1908-2003) Hungarian-American theoretical physicist
(Attributed)
    (Source)

Attributed in a personal communication from Judith Shoolery, in Istvan Hargittai, The Martians of Science: Five Physicists Who Changed the Twentieth Century (2006).
 
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The seeds of evil usually germinated in the footprints of people who knew how everybody else ought to behave and felt the need to tell them so.

Charles "Charlie" Stross (b. 1964) British writer
Iron Sunrise, ch. 18 (2004)
    (Source)
 
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A maxim for the twenty-first century might well be to start not by fighting evil in the name of good, but by attacking the certainties of people who claim always to know where good and evil are to be found. We should struggle not against the devil himself but what allows the devil to live — Manichaean thinking itself.

Tzvetan Todorov
Tzvetan Todorov (1939-2017) Bulgarian-French historian, philosopher, literary critic, sociologist
Hope and Memory: Reflections on the Twentieth Century, ch. 5 (2003)

Paraphrased variant:

We should not be simply fighting evil in the name of good, but struggling against the certainties of people who claim always to know where good and evil are to be found.
 
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Evil is not a political or scientific category. But, after Auschwitz, who could doubt that it exists, and that it manifested itself in the hate-driven genocide carried out by the Nazi regime?

However, noting this fact does not permit us to circumvent our responsibility by blaming everything on a demonic Hitler. The evil manifested in the Nazi ideology was not without its precursors. There was a tradition behind the rise of this brutal ideology and the accompanying loss of moral inhibition.

Above all, it needs to be said that the Nazi ideology was something that people supported at the time and that they took part in putting into effect.

Gerhard Schroeder
Gerhard "Gerd" Schröder (b. 1944) German politician, Chancellor (1998-2005), lobbyist
Speech, Sixtieth Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz, Berlin (25 Jan 2005)
    (Source)
 
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To me, good works are more important than theology. We all know that religion has been historically, and still is today, a cause of great evil as well as great good in human affairs. We have seen terrible wars and terrible persecutions conducted in the name of religion. We have also seen large numbers of people inspired by religion to lives of heroic virtue, bringing education and medical care to the poor, helping to abolish slavery and spread peace among nations. Religion amplifies the good and evil tendencies of individual souls. Religion will always remain a powerful force in the history of our species. To me, the meaning of progress in religion is simply this, that as we move from the past to the future the good works inspired by religion should more and more prevail over the evil.

Freeman Dyson
Freeman Dyson (1923-2020) English-American theoretical physicist, mathematician, futurist
“Progress in Religion,” speech accepting the Templeton Prize, Washington National Cathedral (9 May 2000)
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Of two evils the less is always to be chosen.

Thomas à Kempis (c. 1380-1471) German monk, author
The Imitation of Christ, Book 3, ch. 12, sec. 2 (c. 1418)
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In this context, Thomas is speaking of the evil of unhappiness in this world compared to the evil of eternal damnation. See also Cicero. Alternate translations:

Of two evils, the least is to be chosen.
[tr. Payne (1832), Book 3, ch. 9, sec. 4]

You should always choose the lesser of two evils.
[tr. Knox (1959)]

 
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Hear now the treachery of the Greeks and from one learn the wickedness of all.

[Accipe nunc Danaum insidias, et crimine ab uno
Disce omnes.]

Virgil (70-19 BC) Roman poet [b. Publius Vergilius Maro; also Vergil]
The Aeneid [Ænē̆is], Book 1, l. 65ff (2.65-66) [Aeneas] (29-19 BC) [tr. Fairclough (1916)]
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Regarding Sinon, who posed as a Greek refugee and persuaded the Trojans that the Trojan Horse was harmless. (Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

Now hear how well the Greeks their wiles disguis'd;
Behold a nation in a man compris'd.
[tr. Dryden (1697)]

Now learn the treachery of the Greeks, and from one crime take a specimen of the whole nation.
[tr. Davidson/Buckley (1854), "Literally, 'from one of their tricks learn what they all are.'"]

Now listen while my tongue declares
The tale you ask of Danaan snares,
And gather from a single charge
Their catalogue of crimes at large.
[tr. Conington (1866)]

          Now
Hear what the treachery of the Grecians was,
And from one crime learn all.
[tr. Cranch (1872), l. 89ff]

Know now the treachery of the Grecians, and from a single crime learn all.
[tr. Mackail (1885)]

Lo now, behold the Danaan guile, and from one wrong they wrought
Learn ye what all are like to be.
[tr. Morris (1900)]

Mark now the Danaans' cunning; from one wrong
Learn all.
[tr. Taylor (1907), st. 10, ll. 82-83]

Hear now what Greek deception is, and learn
from one dark wickedness the whole.
[tr. Williams (1910)]

Listen, and learn Greek trickiness; learn all
Their crimes from one.
[tr. Humphries (1951)]

Now hear how the Greeks tricked us; learn from one case of their wickedness
What every Greek is like.
[tr. Day Lewis (1952)]

Now listen to the treachery of the Danaans
and learn from one the wickedness of all.
[tr. Mandelbaum (1971), ll. 92-93]

          Be instructed now
In Greek deceptive arts: one barefaced deed
Can tell you of them all.
[tr. Fitzgerald (1981), l.91ff]

Listen now to this story of Greek treachery, and from this one indictment, learn the ways of a whole people.
[tr. West (1990)]

          Hear now
The treachery of the Greeks, and from one offense
Learn all their evil.
[tr. Lombardo (2005)]

Now, hear the treachery of the Greeks and learn
from a single crime the nature of the beast.
[tr. Fagles (2006)]

Now hear how the Greeks baited their trap, and from one act of treachery, understand them all!
[tr. Bartsch (2021)]

 
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But I have learned from philosophers that among evils one ought not only to choose the least, but also to extract even from these any element of good that they may contain.

[Sed quia sic ab hominibus doctis accepimus, non solum ex malis eligere minima oportere, sed etiam excerpere ex his ipsis, si quid inesset boni ….]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
De Officiis [On Duties; On Moral Duty; The Offices], Book 3, ch. 1 (3.1) / sec. 3 (44 BC) [tr. Miller (1913)]
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(Source (Latin)). Alternate translation:

This is given us for a rule by the learned, that when several evils are threatening us at once, we should not only choose to undergo the least, but extract some advantage out of them, if it be possible.
[tr. Cockman (1699)]

We have been taught by learned men, not only that we ought to choose the least of evils, but also to extract from them, whatever good they contain.
[tr. McCartney (1798)]

We have bene taught by learned men, that out of evils it is fit not only to choose the least, but also from those very evils to gather whatever good is in them.
[tr. Edmonds (1865)]

Philosophers say that one ought not only of evils to choose the least, but from even these least evils to extract whatever of good there may be in them.
[tr. Peabody (1883)]

Having been taught by philosophers not only to choose the lesser evil but even to extract whatever good is in it.
[tr. Gardiner (1899)]

Learned men have taught us that not only with a choice of evils we should choose the least, but that from the evil we should endeavor to extract some good.
[Harbottle, Dictionary of Quotations (Classical) (1906 ed.)]

Philosophers have taught me not only that one ought to choose the lesser evils but also that even from them one ought to gather whatever good they might contain.
[tr. Edinger (1974)]

See also Thomas à Kempis.
 
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While then the worst man is he who displays vice both in his own affairs and in his dealings with his friends, the best man is not he who displays virtue in his own affairs merely, but he who displays virtue towards others; for this is the hard thing to do.

[κάκιστος μὲν οὖν ὁ καὶ πρὸς αὑτὸν καὶ πρὸς τοὺς φίλους χρώμενος τῇ μοχθηρίᾳ, ἄριστος δ᾽ οὐχ ὁ πρὸς αὑτὸν τῇ ἀρετῇ ἀλλὰ πρὸς ἕτερον: τοῦτο γὰρ ἔργον χαλεπόν.]

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Nicomachean Ethics [Ἠθικὰ Νικομάχεια], Book 5, ch. 1 (5.1.18) / 1130a.5-8 (c. 325 BC) [tr. Peters (1893)]
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(Source (Greek)). Alternate translations:

Now he is the basest of men who practises vice not only in his own person, but towards his friends also; but he the best who practises virtue not merely in his own person but towards his neighbour, for this is a matter of some difficulty.
tr. Chase (1847), ch. 2]

Worst of men is he whose wickedness affects not himself alone but his fellow with him; best of men is he whose virtue affects not himself alone but his fellow with him; for such a one has in all sooth a hard task.
[tr. Williams (1869)]

As then the worst of men is he who exhibits his depravity both in his own life and in relation to his friends, the best of men is he who exhibits his virtue not in his own life only but in relation to others; for this is a difficult task.
[tr. Welldon (1892)]

Now the worst man is he who exercises his wickedness both towards himself and towards his friends, and the best man is not he who exercises his virtue towards himself but he who exercises it towards another; for this is a difficult task.
[tr. Ross (1908)]

As then the worst man is he who practises vice towards his friends as well as in regard to himself, so the best is not he who practises virtue in regard to himself but he who practises it towards others; for that is a difficult task.
[tr. Rackham (1934)]

The worst sort of person, then, is the one who uses his depravity both in relation to himself and in relation to his friends, whereas the best sort is not the one who uses his virtue in relationship to himself but the one who uses it in relation to another person, since that is difficult work.
[tr. Reeve (1948)]

The worst man, then, is the one whose evil habit affects both himself and his friends, while the best man is one whose virtue is directed not to himself, but to others, for this is a difficult task.
[tr. Apostle (1975)]

So the worst person is the one who exercises his wickedness towards both himself and his friends, and the best is not the one who exercises his virtue towards himself but the one who exercises it towards another; because this is a difficult task.
[tr. Thomson/Tredennick (1976)]

So the worst person is the one who exercises wickedness in relation to himself and in relation to his friends, and the best is not he who exercises his virtue in relation to himself but the one who exercises it in relation to others, since this is a difficult thing to do.
[tr. Crisp (2000)]

Worst, then, is he who treats both himself and his friends in a corrupt way, but best is he who makes use of virtue not in relation to himself but in relation to another. For this is a difficult task.
[tr. Bartlett/Collins (2011)]

 
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Because we have sought to cover up past evil, though it still persists, we have been powerless to check the new evil of today. Evil unchecked grows, evil tolerated poisons the whole system. And because we have tolerated our past and present evils, international affairs are poisoned and law and justice have disappeared from them.

Jawaharlal Nehru
Jawaharlal Nehru (1889-1964) Indian nationalist leader, politician, statesman, author
“The Bombing of Open Towns,” speech, International Peace Campaign Conference, Paris (24 Jul 1938)
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Nehru was comparing rising fascism to colonial imperialism, and the bombings of cities in Spain and China to ongoing British bombing of villages in the North-West Frontier of India. Collected in The Unity of India : Collected Writings, 1937-1940 (1942).
 
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The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater.

J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973) English writer, fabulist, philologist, academic [John Ronald Reuel Tolkien]
The Lord of the Rings, Vol. 1: The Fellowship of the Ring, Book 2, ch. 6 “Lothlórien” [Haldir] (1954)
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He that has light within his own clear breast
May sit i’th center, and enjoy bright day,
But he that hides a dark soul, and foul thoughts
Benighted walks under the mid-day sun;
Himself is his own dungeon.

John Milton (1608-1674) English poet
A Mask Presented at Ludlow Castle, ll. 380-84 (1634)
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The title was changed to Comus for the 1737 stage version.
 
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When we think of evil, we think of something violent or demonic, something filled with hatred and wretchedly hungry to devour the good. But what if evil eats a salad at lunch and is polite, speaking rationally with nice table manners?

John Kass
John Kass (b. 1956) American journalist, columnist
“Evil with salad and a nice red,” Chicago Tribune (19 Jul 2015)
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The problem of drugs, of divorce, of race prejudice, of unmarried pregnancy, and so on — as if evil were a problem, something that an be solved, that has an answer, like a problem in fifth grade arithmetic. If you want the answer, you just look in the back of the book. That is escapism, that posing evil as a “problem,” instead of what it is: all the pain and suffering and waste and loss and injustice we will meet our loves long, and must face and cope with over and over and over, and admit, and live with, in order to live human lives at all.

Ursula K. Le Guin (b. 1929) American writer
“The Child and the Shadow,” Quarterly Journal of the Library of Congress (Apr 1975)
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On the difficulty of "realistic fiction" for children to teach morality. First delivered as a speech; later reprinted in The Language of the Night (1979).
 
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This is what the prophets discovered. History is a nightmare. There are more scandals, more acts of corruption, than are dreamed of in philosophy. It would be blasphemous to believe that what we witness is the end of God’s creation. It is an act of evil to accept the state of evil as either inevitable or final. Others may be satisfied with improvement, the prophets insist upon redemption. The way man acts is a disgrace, and it must not go on forever.

Abraham Joshua Heschel
Abraham Joshua Heschel (1907-1972) Polish-American rabbi, theologian, philosopher
The Prophets, Vol. 1 (1962)
 
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Every man knows there are evils in this world which need setting right. Every man has pretty definite ideas as what these evils are. But to most men one in particular stands out vividly. To some, in fact, this stands out with such startling vividness that they lose sight of other evils, or look upon them as the natural consequence of their own particular evil-in-chief.

Henry Hazlitt (1894-1993) American business and economics journalist
Thinking As A Science, ch. 1, opening words (1916)
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There is always a certain glamour about the idea of a nation rising up to crush an evil simply because it is wrong. Unfortunately, this can seldom be realized in real life; for the very existence of the evil usually argues a moral weakness in the very place where extraordinary moral strength is called for.

W. E. B. Du Bois (1868-1963) American writer, historian, social reformer [William Edward Burghardt Du Bois]
The Suppression of the African Slave-Trade to the United States of America, ch. 12, sec. 93 (1896)
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I had discovered what one man could do to another. I am not talking about one man killing another with a gun, or dropping a bomb on him or blowing him up or torpedoing him. I am thinking of the vileness beyond all words that went on, year after year, in the totalitarian states. It is bad enough to say that so many Jews were exterminated in this way and that, so many people liquidated — lovely, elegant word — but there were things done during that period from which I still have to avert my mind lest I should be physically sick. They were not done by the headhunters of New Guinea, or by some primitive tribe in the Amazon. They were done, skilfully, coldly, by educated men, doctors, lawyers, by men with a tradition of civilization behind them, to beings of their own kind. I must say that anyone who moved through those years without understanding that man produces evil as a bee produces honey must have been blind or wrong in the head.

William Golding
William Golding (1911-1983) British novelist, playwright, poet
Lord of the Flies as Fable,” Lecture, UCLA (1962)
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Reprinted in The Hot Gates (1965).
 
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Destroy the seed of evil, or it will grow up to your ruin.

Aesop (620?-560? BC) Legendary Greek storyteller
Fables [Aesopica], “The Swallow and the Other Birds” (6th C BC) [tr. Jacobs (1894)]
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Vile deeds are vile, no matter whether we know or do not know what, after death, will be the fate of the doer. We know, at least, what his fate is now, namely to be wedded to the vileness.

Felix Adler
Felix Adler (1851-1933) German-American educator
Life and Destiny, ch. 9 “Ethical Outlook” (1905)
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When you choose the lesser of two evils, always remember that it is still an evil. You may have to make the choice, but do not fool yourself into thinking it is therefore a good.

Maxwell "Max" Lerner (1902-1992) American journalist, columnist, educator
Actions and Passions (1949)
 
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Contumely always falls upon those who break through some custom or convention. Such men, in fact, are called criminals. Everyone who overthrows an existing law is, at the start, regarded as a wicket man. Long afterward, when it is found that this law was bad and so cannot be re-established, the epithet is changed. All history treats almost exclusively of wicked men who, in the course of time, have come to be looked upon as good men. All progress is the result of successful crimes.

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) German philosopher and poet
The Dawn [Morgenröte], sec. 20 (1881) [Mencken (1907)]
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Alternate translations:

We have to make good a great deal of the contumely which has fallen on all those who, by their actions, have broken through the conventionality of some custom -- such people generally have been called criminals. Everybody who overthrew the existing moral law has hitherto, at least in the beginning, been considered a wicked man; but when afterwards, as sometimes happened, the old law could not be re-established and had to be abandoned, the epithet was gradually changed. History almost exclusively treats of such wicked men who, in the course of time, have been declared good men.
[tr. Volz (1903)]

One has to take back much of the defamation which people have cast upon all those who broke through the spell of a custom by means of a deed -- in general, they are called criminals. Whoever has overthrown an existing law of custom has hitherto always first been accounted a bad man: but when, as did happen the laws could not afterwards be reinstated and this fact was accepted, the predicate gradually changed -- history treats almost exclusively of these bad men who subsequently became good men!
[tr. Hollingdale (1997)]

 
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It may be confidently asserted that no man chooses evil, because it is evil; he only mistakes it for happiness, the good he seeks.

Wollstonecraft - No man chooses evil because it is evil - wist.info quote

Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797) English social philosopher, feminist, writer
A Vindication of the Rights of Men (1790)
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For he says that evils are neither diminished by time nor lightened by being premeditated; that meditation on evil to come, or, it may be, on that which will never come, is foolish; that every evil is sufficiently annoying when it comes; that to him who has always thought that something adverse may happen to him that very thought is a perpetual evil; that if the expected evil should not happen, he would have incurred voluntary misery in vain; that thus one would be always in distress, either in suffering evil or in thinking of it.

[Nam neque vetustate minui mala nec fieri praemeditata leviora, stultamque etiam esse meditationem futuri mali aut fortasse ne futuri quidem: satis esse odiosum malum omne, cum venisset; qui autem semper cogitavisset accidere posse aliquid adversi, ei fieri illud sempiternum malum; si vero ne futurum quidem sit, frustra suscipi miseriam voluntariam; ita semper angi aut accipiendo aut cogitando malo.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
Tusculan Disputations [Tusculanae Disputationes], Book 3, ch. 15 (3.15) / sec. 32 (45 BC) [tr. Peabody (1886)]
    (Source)

Discussing the teachings of Epicurus (fr. U444). Source (Latin). Alternate translations:

For that neither are Evils abated by long time, nor yet alleviated by foresight of them; and that the poring on Evils not yet come, and perhaps that never will come, is foolish. For that all Evil is Vexation enough, when it is come; but he that is always thinking that some Adversity may possibly befall him, to him it becometh an everlasting Evil; but if it shall never actually come upon him, a voluntary Disquiet is taken up on false grounds; so the mind is always vex'd, either with enduring, or expecting Evil.
[tr. Wase (1643)]

Evils are not the less by reason of their continuance, nor the oighter for having been foreseen; and it is folly to ruminate on evils to come, or that, perhaps, may never come; every evil is disagreeable enough when it doth come: but he who is constantly considering that some evil may befall him, charges himself with a perpetual evil, for should such eve never light on him, he voluntarily takes to himself unnecessary misery, so that he is under constant uneasiness, whether he meets any evil or only thinks of it.
[tr. Main (1824)]

For evil ls not diminished by time, nor alleviated by premeditation: that it is folly itself to brood upon evil that is future, or indeed, perhaps, is not to be at all: that evil is hateful enough when it comes: that, to the man, who is always musing upon that which is to come, his meditation itself becomes an eternal evil; and, should it prove that his apprehensions have been groundless, he burdens himself with a voluntary misery; and thus, between the encounter and contemplation of evil, he is always in trouble.
[tr. Otis (1839)]

Evils are not the less by reason of their continuance, nor the lighter for having been foreseen; and it is folly to ruminate on evils to come, or such as, perhaps, never may come; every evil is disagreeable enough when it does come; but he who is constantly considering that some evil may befall him, is loading himself with a perpetual evil, and even should such evil never light on him, he voluntarily takes upon himself unnecessary misery, so that he is under constant uneasiness, whether he actually suffers any evil, or only thinks of it.
[tr. Yonge (1853)]

Evils are not diminished by the passage of time, nor made easier by pre-rehearsal. In fact it is foolish to rehearse misfortunes which have not yet happened and which may not happen at all. Each of our misfortunes is distasteful enough, he says, when it is already here: those who have constantly been thinking about what disagreeable things are on the way simply make their evils perpetual. And those things may not happen at all, in which case all their voluntary misery goes for nothing. The result is that they are always in anxiety, either from the evils they undergo or from those they anticipate.
[tr. Graver (2002)]

 
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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)]
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In all men is evil sleeping; the good man is he who will not awaken it, in himself or in other men.

Mary Renault
Mary Renault (1905-1983) English writer [b. Eileen Mary Challans]
The Praise Singer (1977)
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When the weak want to give an impression of strength they hint meaningfully at their capacity for evil. It is by its promise of a sense of power that evil often attracts the weak.

Eric Hoffer (1902-1983) American writer, philosopher, longshoreman
The Passionate State of Mind, Aphorism 91 (1955)
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In the face of evil, detachment is a dubious virtue.

Barbara Grizzuti Harrison
Barbara Grizzuti Harrison (1934-2002) American journalist, essayist, memoirist
“Budapest, Winter 1989,” The Astonishing World (1992)
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No evil dooms us hopelessly except the evil we love, and desire to continue in, and make no effort to escape from.

George Eliot (1819-1880) English novelist [pseud. of Mary Ann Evans]
Daniel Deronda, Book 5, ch. 8 (1876)
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Men are willing to keep their evil characters if they can but get rid of their evil reputations. They are scrupulously studious of appearances.

Frank W. Boreham (1871-1959) Anglo-Australian preacher
“The Leopard’s Skin,” sec. 4, The Three Half-Moons (1929)
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Evil always wins through the strength of its splendid dupes.

Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936) English journalist and writer
Eugenics and Other Evils, ch. 1 (1922)
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Nothing could be less worthy of you than to think anything worse than dishonor, infamous behavior, and wickedness. To escape these, any pain is not so much as to be avoided as to be sought voluntarily, undergone, and welcomed.

[Quid enim minus est dignum quam tibi peius quicquam videri dedecore flagitio turpitudine? Quae ut effugias, quis est non modo recusandus, sed non ultro adpetendus subeundus excipiendus dolor?]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
Tusculan Disputations [Tusculanae Disputationes], Book 2, ch. 5 (2.5) / sec. 14 [Marcus] (45 BC) [tr. Douglas (1990)]
    (Source)

Original Latin. Alternate translations:

For what is more unsuitable to that high Character, than for you to think any thing worse, than dishonour, scandal, baseness? to avoid which, what Pain would not only not be declin'd, but also be eagerly pursu'd, undergone, encounter'd?
[tr. Wase (1643)]

For what is so unbecoming? What can appear worse to you, than disgrace, wickedness, immorality? To avoid which, what pain should we not only not refuse, but willingly take on ourselves?
[tr. Main (1824)]

For what is less worthy than for anything to appear worse to you than disgrace, turpitude, wickedness? which to escape, what pain is to be refused, or rather not to be welcomed, sought for, embraced?
[tr. Otis (1839)]

For what is so unbecoming -- what can appear worse to you, than disgrace, wickedness, immorality? To avoid which, what pain is there which we ought not (I will not say to avoid shirking, but even) of our own accord to encounter, and undergo, and even to court?
[tr. Yonge (1853)]

For what is more unworthy than that anything should seem to you worse than disgrace, crime, baseness? To escape these what pain should be not only not shunned, but voluntarily sought, endured, welcomed?
[tr. Peabody (1886)]

There is nothing more unworthy than for you to think anything worse than disgrace, criminal behavior, and infamous conduct. In order to escape these, any pain is not so to be rejected, as to be actively sought out, undergone, welcomed.
[tr. Davie (2017)]

 
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Once we have labeled someone as “evil” there is often no limit to the cruelty and violence we can feel justified in administering to him ….

James Gilligan (b. c. 1936) American psychiatrist and author
Preventing Violence (2001)
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Some people think that evolutionary psychology claims to have discovered that human nature is selfish and wicked. But they are flattering the researchers and anyone who would claim to have discovered the opposite. No one needs a scientist to measure whether humans are prone to knavery. The question has been answered in the history books, the newspapers, the ethnographic record, and the letters to Ann Landers. But people treat it like an open question, as if someday science might discover that it’s all a bad dream and we will wake up to find that it is human nature to love one another.

Steven Pinker (b. 1954) Canadian-American cognitive psychologist, linguist, author
How the Mind Works, ch. 7 (1997)
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Crowley had always known that he would be around when the world ended, because he was immortal and wouldn’t have any alternative. But he hoped it was a long way off.

Because he rather liked people.

It was major failing in a demon. Oh, he did his best to make their short lives miserable, because that was his job, but nothing he could think up was half as bad as the stuff they thought up themselves. They seemed to have a talent for it. It was built into the design, somehow. They were born into a world that was against them in a thousand little ways, and then devoted most of their energies to making it worse. Over the years Crowley had found it increasingly difficult to find anything demonic to do which showed up against the natural background of generalized nastiness. There had been times, over the past millennium, when he’d felt like sending a message back Below saying, Look we may as well give up right now, we might as well shut down Dis and Pandemonium and everywhere and move up here, there’s nothing we can do to them that they don’t do to themselves and they do things we’ve never even thought of, often involving electrodes. They’ve got what we lack. They’ve got imagination. And electricity, of course.

One of them had written it, hadn’t he … “Hell is empty, and all the devils are here.”

Terry Pratchett (1948-2015) English author
Good Omens, “Eleven Years Ago” (1990) [with Neil Gaiman]
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The question I get asked by religious people all the time is, without God, what’s to stop me from raping all I want? And my answer is: I do rape all I want. And the amount I want is zero. And I do murder all I want, and the amount I want is zero. The fact that these people think that if they didn’t have this person watching over them that they would go on killing, raping rampages is the most self-damning thing I can imagine. I don’t want to do that. Right now, without any god, I don’t want to jump across this table and strangle you. I have no desire to strangle you. I have no desire to flip you over and rape you.

Penn Jillette (b. 1955) American stage magician, actor, musician, author
“Penn Jillette Rapes All the Women He Wants To,” Interview by Ron Bennington,Interrobang (30 Apr 2012)
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If the first blow hasn’t knocked all the wits out of the victim’s head, he may realize that turning the other cheek amounts to manipulation of the offender’s sense of guilt, not to speak of his karma. The moral victory itself may not be so moral after all, not only because suffering often has a narcissistic aspect to it, but also because it renders the victim superior, that is, better than his enemy. Yet no matter how evil your enemy is, the crucial thing is that he is human; and although incapable of loving another like ourselves, we nonetheless know that evil takes root when one man starts to think that he is better than another.

Joseph Brodsky (1940-1996) Russian-American poet, essayist, Nobel laureate, US Poet Laureate [Iosif Aleksandrovič Brodskij]
Commencement Address, Williams College (24 May 1984)
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No matter how daring or cautious you may choose to be, in the course of your life you are bound to come into direct physical contact with what’s known as Evil. I mean here not a property of the gothic novel but, to say the least, a palpable social reality that you in no way can control. No amount of good nature or cunning calculations will prevent this encounter. In fact, the more calculating, the more cautious you are, the greater is the likelihood of this rendezvous, the harder its impact. Such is the structure of life that what we regard as Evil is capable of a fairly ubiquitous presence if only because it tends to appear in the guise of good. You never see it crossing your threshold announcing itself: “Hi, I’m Evil!” That, of course, indicates its secondary nature, but the comfort one may derive from this observation gets dulled by its frequency.

Joseph Brodsky (1940-1996) Russian-American poet, essayist, Nobel laureate, US Poet Laureate [Iosif Aleksandrovič Brodskij]
Commencement Address, Williams College (24 May 1984)
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People in other cultures are generally thought to commit terrible acts for calculated reasons, underscored by some perverse morality that can be readily discounted, so that only the consequences of their actions should be judged, whereas for one’s own group motivation is, and what ought to, mostly count.

Scott Atran (b. 1952) American-French cultural anthropologist
“Good Guys Kill Better,” Huffington Post (17 Mar 2012)
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“And sin, young man, is when you treat people like things. Including yourself. That’s what sin is.”

“It’s a lot more complicated than that –”

“No. It ain’t. When people say things are a lot more complicated than that, they means they’re getting worried that they won’t like the truth. People as things, that’s where it starts.”

“Oh, I’m sure there are worse crimes –”

“But they starts with thinking about people as things …”

Terry Pratchett (1948-2015) English author
Carpe Jugulum [Granny Weatherwax, Rev. Mightily Oats] (1998)
 
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Man the master, ingenious past all measure,
past all dreams the skills within his grasp —
   he forges on, now to destruction,
now again to greatness. When he weaves in
the laws of the land, and the justice of the gods
that bind his oaths together
   he and his city rise high —
      but the city casts out
that man who weds himself to inhumanity
thanks to reckless daring. Never share my hearth,
never think my thoughts, whoever does such things.

[σοφόν τι τὸ μηχανόεν τέχνας ὑπὲρ ἐλπίδ᾽ ἔχων
τοτὲ μὲν κακόν, ἄλλοτ᾽ ἐπ᾽ ἐσθλὸν ἕρπει,
νόμους γεραίρων χθονὸς θεῶν τ᾽ ἔνορκον δίκαν,
370ὑψίπολις: ἄπολις ὅτῳ τὸ μὴ καλὸν
ξύνεστι τόλμας χάριν. μήτ᾽ ἐμοὶ παρέστιος
γένοιτο μήτ᾽ ἴσον φρονῶν ὃς τάδ᾽ ἔρδει.]

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Antigone, l. 365ff, Stasimon 1, Antistrophe 2 [Chorus] (441 BC) [tr. Fagles (1982)]
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Original Greek. Alternate translations:

Wise in his craft of art
Beyond the bounds of expectation,
The while to good he goes, the while to evil.
Honouring his country's laws and heaven's oathbound right,
High is he in the state!
But cityless is he with whom inherent baseness dwells;
When boldness dares so much,
No seat by me at festive hearth,
No seat by me in sect or party,
For him that sinneth!
[tr. Donaldson (1848)]

Passing the wildest flight thought are the cunning and skill,
That guide man now to the light, but now to counsels of ill.
If he honors the laws of the land, and reveres the Gods of the State
Proudly his city shall stand; but a cityless outcast I rate
Whoso bold in his pride from the path of right doth depart;
Ne'er may I sit by his side, or share the thoughts of his heart.
[tr. Storr (1859)]

Inventive beyond wildest hope, endowed with boundless skill,
One while he moves toward evil, and one while toward good,
According as he loves his land and fears the Gods above.
Weaving the laws into his life and steadfast oath of Heaven,
High in the State he moves but outcast he,
Who hugs dishonour to his heart and follows paths of crime
Ne'er may he come beneath my roof, nor think like thoughts with me.v [tr. Campbell (1873)]

Possessing resourceful skill, a subtlety beyond expectation he moves now to evil, now to good. When he honors the laws of the land and the justice of the gods to which he is bound by oath, his city prospers. But banned from his city is he who, thanks to his rashness, couples with disgrace. Never may he share my home, never think my thoughts, who does these things!
[tr. Jebb (1891)]

Cunning beyond fancy's dream is the fertile skill which brings him, now to evil, now to good. When he honours the laws of the land, and that justice which he hath sworn by the gods to uphold, proudly stands his city: no city hath he who, for his rashness, dwells with sin. Never may he share my hearth, never think my thoughts, who doth these things!
[tr. Jebb (1917)]

O clear intelligence, force beyond all measure!
O fate of man, working both good and evil!
When the laws are kept, how proudly his city stands!
When the laws are broken, what of his city then?
Never may the anarchic man find rest at my hearth,
Never be it said that my thoughts are his thoughts.
[tr. Fitts/Fitzgerald (1939), l. 285ff]

O wondrous subtlety of man, that draws
To good or evil ways! Great honor is given
And power to him who upholdeth his country’s laws
And the justice of heaven.
But he that, too rashly daring, walks in sin
In solitary pride to his life’s end.
At door of mine shall never enter in
To call me friend.
[tr. Watling (1947)]

Clever beyond all dreams
the inventive crat that he has
which may drive him one time or another to well or ill.
When he honors the laws of the land and the gods' sworn right
high indeed is his city; but stateless is the man
who dares to dwell with dishonor. Not by my fire,
never to share my thoughts, who does these things.
[tr. Wyckoff (1954)]

Surpassing belief, the device and
Cunning that Man has attained,
And it bringeth him now to evil, now to good.
If he observe Law, and tread
The righteous path God ordained,
Honored is he; dishonored, the man whose reckless heart
Shall make him join hands with sin:
May I not think like him,
Nor may such an impious man
Dwell in my house.
[tr. Kitto (1962)]

He has cunning contrivance,
Skill surpassing hope,
And so he slithers into wickedness sometimes,
Other times into doing good.
If he honors the law of the land
And the oath-bound justice of the gods,
Then his city shall stand high.
But no city for him if he turns shameless out of daring.
He will be no guest of mine,
He will never share my thoughts,
If he goes wrong.
[tr. Woodruff (2001)]

Possessing a means of invention, a skillfulness beyond expectation,
now toward evil he moves, now toward good.
By integrating the laws of the earth
and justice under oath sworn to the gods,
he is lofty of city. Citiless is the man with whom ignobility
because of his daring dwells.
May he never reside at my hearth
or think like me,
whoever does such things.
[tr. Tyrell/Bennett (2002)]

And though his wisdom is great in discovery -- wisdom beyond all imaginings!
Yet one minute it turns to ill the next again to good.
But whoever honours the laws of his land and his sworn oaths to the gods, he’ll bring glory to his city.
The arrogant man, on the other hand, the man who strays from the righteous path is lost to his city. Let that man never stay under the same roof as me or even be acquainted by me!
[tr. Theodoridis (2004)]

The qualities of his inventive skills
bring arts beyond his dreams and lead him on,
sometimes to evil and sometimes to good.
If he treats his country’s laws with due respect
and honours justice by swearing on the gods,
he wins high honours in his city.
But when he grows bold and turns to evil,
then he has no city. A man like that --
let him not share my home or know my mind.
[tr. Johnston (2005), l. 415ff]

With clever creativity beyond expectation, he moves now to evil, now to good. The one who observes the laws of the land and justice, our compat with the gods, is honored in the city, but there is no city for one who participates in what is wrong for the sake of daring. Let him not share my hearth, nor let me share his ideas who had done these things.
[tr. Thomas (2005)]

 
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Throughout our nervous history, we have constructed pyramidic towers of evil, ofttimes in the name of good. Our greed, fear and lasciviousness have enabled us to murder our poets, who are ourselves, to castigate our priests, who are ourselves. The lists of our subversions of the good stretch from before recorded history to this moment. We drop our eyes at the mention of the bloody, torturous Inquisition. Our shoulders sag at the thoughts of African slaves lying spoon-­fashion in the filthy hatches of slave-ships, and the subsequent auction blocks upon which were built great fortunes in our country. We turn our heads in bitter shame at the remembrance of Dachau and the other gas ovens, where millions of ourselves were murdered by millions of ourselves. As soon as we are reminded of our actions, more often than not we spend incredible energy trying to forget what we’ve just been reminded of.

Maya Angelou (1928-2014) American poet, memoirist, activist [b. Marguerite Ann Johnson]
“Facing Evil,” Interview by Bill Moyers (1982)
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Something Vimes had learned as a young guard drifted up from memory. If you have to look along the shaft of an arrow from the wrong end, if a man has you entirely at his mercy, then hope like hell that man is an evil man. Because the evil like power, power over people, and they want to see you in fear. They want you to know you’re going to die. So they’ll talk. They’ll gloat.

They’ll watch you squirm. They’ll put off the moment of murder like another man will put off a good cigar.

So hope like hell your captor is an evil man. A good man will kill you with hardly a word.

Terry Pratchett (1948-2015) English author
Men at Arms (1993)
 
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