Quotations about   father

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The man who is fortunate in his choice of a son-in-law gains a son; the man unfortunate in his choice loses his daughter also.

[Δημόκριτος ἔφη, ὡς γαμβροῦ ὁ μὲν ἐπιτυχὼν εὗρεν υἱόν, ὁ δὲ ἀποτυχὼν ἀπώλεσε καὶ θυγατέρα.]

Democritus (c. 460 BC - c. 370 BC) Greek philosopher
Frag. 272 (Diels) [tr. Freeman (1948)]
    (Source)

Diels citation "272. (0 N.) ... Zweifelhalft, da Apophthegmenform."; collected in Joannes Stobaeus (Stobaios) Anthologium IV, 70, 18.

Alternate translations:

  • "One who is lucky in his son-in-law gains a son, one who is unlucky loses a daughter." [tr. Barnes (1987)]
  • "The man who is lucky in his son-in-law gains a son, whilst the man who fails loses a daughter."
Added on 19-Jan-21 | Last updated 23-Feb-21
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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
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Being a father
Is quite a bother,
But I like it, rather.

Ogden Nash (1902-1971) American poet
“Soliloquy in Circles,” New Yorker (27 Mar 1948)
    (Source)

Reprinted in Versus (1949).
Added on 30-Oct-20 | Last updated 30-Oct-20
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JUST DISCOURSE: Do not bandy words with your father, nor treat him as a dotard, nor reproach the old man, who has cherished you, with his age.

Aristophanes (c.450-c.388 BC) Athenian comedic playwright
Clouds, ll. 998-999 (423 BC) [tr. Athenian Soc. (1912)]
    (Source)

Alt. trans.:
  • JUST ΛΟΓΟΣ: "[Learn] not to contradict your father in any thing; nor by calling him Iapetus, to reproach him with the ills of age, by which you were reared in your infancy." [tr. Hickie (1853)]
  • RIGHT LOGIC: "Nor dare to reply when your Father is nigh, nor 'musty old Japhet' to call / In your malice and rage that Sacred Old Age which lovingly cherished your youth." [tr. Rogers (1924)]
Added on 13-May-20 | Last updated 13-May-20
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We’re like a rich father who wishes he knew how to give his son the hardships that made the father such a man.

Robert Frost (1874-1963) American poet
Comment, “Meet the Press” (22 Mar 1959)

When asked by Ernest Lindley whether American civilization had improved or declined in his lifetime. Often misquoted as "Americans are like a rich father who wishes he knew how to give his son the hardships that made him rich."
Added on 13-Mar-19 | Last updated 13-Mar-19
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Children will imitate their fathers in their vices, seldom in their repentance.

Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892) British Baptist preacher, author [Charles Haddon (C.H.) Spurgeon]
Spurgeon’s Sermons, 3rd Series, Sermon 21, “Manasseh” (1883)
    (Source)
Added on 22-Nov-16 | Last updated 22-Nov-16
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My father had a profound influence on me. He was a lunatic.

Terence Alan "Spike" Milligan (1918-2002) Anglo-Irish comedian, writer, actor
(Attributed)
Added on 6-Aug-15 | Last updated 6-Aug-15
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The father of a daughter is nothing but a high-class hostage. A father turns a stony face to his sons, berates them, shakes his antlers, paws the ground, snorts, runs them off into the underbrush, but when his daughter puts her arm over his shoulder and says, “Daddy, I need to ask you something,” he is a pat of butter in a hot frying pan.

Garrison Keillor (b. 1942) American entertainer, author
The Book of Guys, Introduction (1993)
Added on 1-Jan-15 | Last updated 1-Jan-15
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Washington acted as the representative of the needs, the ideas, the enlightened men, the opinions of his age; he supported, not thwarted, the stirrings of intellect; he desired only what he had to desire, the very thing to which he had been called: from which derives the coherence and longevity of his work. That man who struck few blows because he kept things in proportion has merged his existence with that of his country: his glory is the heritage of civilisation; his fame has risen like one of those public sanctuaries where a fecund and inexhaustible spring flows.

François-René de Chateaubriand (1768-1848) French writer, politican, diplomat
Memoirs from Beyond the Grave [Mémoires d’Outre-Tombe], Book 6, ch. 8 (1848-1850) [tr. Kline]

On George Washington.
Added on 27-May-14 | Last updated 27-May-14
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“Are you lost, daddy?” I asked tenderly.
“Shut up,” he explained.

Ring Lardner (1885-1933) American sports columnist and writer [Ringgold Wilmer Lardner]
The Young Immigrants, ch. 10 (1920)
Added on 16-Apr-14 | Last updated 16-Apr-14
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The best thing to give to your enemy is forgiveness; to an opponent, tolerance; to a friend, your heart; to your child, a good example; to a father, deference; to your mother, conduct that will make her proud of you; to yourself, respect; to all men, charity.

Clara Lucas Balfour (1808-1878) English novelist, lecturer, temperance campaigner
Sunbeams for All Seasons: Counsels, Cautions, and Precepts (1861 ed.)
Added on 29-May-13 | Last updated 8-Jul-16
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Certain it is, that there is no kind of affection so pure and angelic as that of a father to a daughter. he beholds her, both wise and without regard to her sex. In love to our wives there is desire, to our sons there is ambition; but in that to our daughters, there is something which there are no words to describe.

Joseph Addison (1672-1719) English essayist, poet, statesman
The Spectator #449 (5 Aug 1712)
    (Source)
Added on 19-Sep-11 | Last updated 10-Dec-14
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Croesus said to Cambyses: That peace was better than war; because in peace the sons did bury their fathers, but in wars the fathers did bury their sons.

Francis Bacon (1561-1626) English philosopher, scientist, author, statesman
Apophthegms, #149 (1625)

See Herodotus.
Added on 10-Sep-10 | Last updated 28-Jul-17
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When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
(Spurious)

Not found in Twain's writing.  He was 11 when his father died.

Added on 18-Mar-10 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
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They say the religion of your fathers is good enough. Why should a father object to your inventing a better plow than he had?

Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-1899) American lawyer, agnostic, orator
Speech on Religious Intolerance, Pittsburgh Opera House (14 Oct 1879)
Added on 22-Jan-08 | Last updated 5-Feb-16
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