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Prejudice in favour of one’s own country, combined with national pride, makes us forget that reason is found in every land, and sound thoughts wherever there are men. We should not like to be thus treated by those whom we call barbarians; and if we ourselves display a certain barbarism, this consists in being panic-stricken at seeing men of another nation reason as we do ourselves.

[La prévention du pays, jointe à l’orgueil de la nation, nous fait oublier que la raison est de tous les climats, et que l’on pense juste partout où il y a des hommes. Nous n’aimerions pas à être traités ainsi de ceux que nous appelons barbares; et s’il y a en nous quelque barbarie, elle consiste à être épouvantés de voir d’autres peuples raisonner comme nous.]

Jean de La Bruyere
Jean de La Bruyère (1645-1696) French essayist, moralist
The Characters [Les Caractères], ch. 12 “Of Opinions [Des Jugements],” § 22 (12.22) (1688) [tr. Stewart (1970)]

(Source (French)). Alternate translations:

Our prepossession in favour of our Country, join'd to the pride of our Nation, makes us forget that Reason belongs to all Climates, and just Thoughts to all places where there are Men. We should not like to be so treated by those we call Barbarians; if amongst us there is any barbarity, it is in being amaz'd at the hearing other People reason like our selves.
[Curll ed. (1713)]

Our Prepossession in the Favour of our Country, joined to a national Pride, makes us forget that Reason is the Growth of all Climates, and that a Justness of Sentiment is not limited to a Part of Europe: It would enrage us to be so treated by those whom we are pleased to call Barbarians; if amongst us there is any Barbarism, 'tis in being amazed at hearing other People reason like ourselves.
[Browne ed. (1752)]

Our prepossession in favour of our native country and our national pride makes us forget that common sense is found in all climates, and correctness of thought wherever there are men. We should not like to be so treated by those we call barbarians; and if some barbarity still exists amongst us, it is in being amazed on hearing natives of other countries reason like ourselves.
[tr. Van Laun (1885)]

Added on 29-Aug-23 | Last updated 29-Aug-23
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It is not often that you can say a political conviction coincides with a religious belief; but I think to look upon foreigners as enemies and try and draw a tight string round ourselves and our possessions to keep them out, is not only profoundly anti-Christ but contrary to all wisdom.

Margot Asquith
Margot Asquith (1864-1945) British socialite, author, wit [Emma Margaret Asquith, Countess Oxford and Asquith; Margot Oxford; née Tennant]
More or Less about Myself, ch. 11 (1934)
Added on 10-Oct-22 | Last updated 10-Oct-22
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Others again who say that regard should be had for the rights of fellow-citizens, but not of foreigners, would destroy the universal brotherhood of mankind; and, when this is annihilated, kindness, generosity, goodness, and justice must utterly perish; and those who work all this destruction must be considered as wickedly rebelling against the immortal gods. For they uproot the fellowship which the gods have established between human beings.

[Qui autem civium rationem dicunt habendam, externorum negant, ii dirimunt communem humani generis societatem; qua sublata beneficentia, liberalitas, bonitas, iustitia funditus tollitur; quae qui tollunt, etiam adversus deos immortales impii iudicandi sunt. Ab iis enim constitutam inter homines societatem evertunt.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
De Officiis [On Duties; On Moral Duty; The Offices], Book 3, ch. 6 (3.6) / sec. 28 (44 BC) [tr. Miller (1913)]

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translation:

Others there are, who are ready to confess that they ought to bear such a regard to fellow-citizens, but by no means allow of it in relation to strangers: now these men destroy that universal society of all mankind, which, if once taken away, kindness, liberality, justice, and humanity must utterly perish; which excellent virtues whoever makes void, is chargeable with impiety towards the immortal gods; for he breaks that society which they have established and settled amongst men.
[tr. Cockman (1699)]

They, too, who hold that a regard ought to be paid to our fellow-citizens, but deny it to foreigners, break asunder the common society of mankind, by which beneficence, liberality, goodness, justice, are entirely abolished. They who destroy these virtues, are to be charged with impiety towards the immortal gods. For, by such principles, they subvert established intercourse among men.
[tr. McCartney (1798)]

They, again, who say that a regard ought to be had with fellow citizens, but deny that it ought to foreigners, break up the common society of the human race, which being withdrawn, beneficence, liberality, goodness, justice are utterly abolished. But they who tear up these things should be judged impious, even towards the immortal gods; for they overturn the society established by them among men.
[tr. Edmonds (1865)]

Those, too, who say that account is to be taken of citizens, but not of foreigners, destroy the common sodality of the human race, which abrogated, beneficence, liberality, kindness, justice, are removed from their very foundations. And those who remove them are to be regarded as impious toward the immortal gods; for they overturn the fellowship established among men by the gods.
[tr. Peabody (1883)]

Others again who deny the rights of aliens while respecting those of their countrymen, destroy the universal brotherhood of mankind which involves in its ruin beneficence, liberality, goodness and justice. To destroy these virtues is to sin against the immortal gods. It is to subvert that society which the gods established among men.
[tr. Gardiner (1899)]

In the same way, those who say that one standard should be applied to fellow citizens but another to foreigners, destroy the common society of the human race. When that disappears, good deeds, generosity, kindness, and justice are also removed root and branch. We must draw the conclusion that people who do away with these qualities are disrespectful even against the immortal gods. They destroy the cooperation among men which the gods instituted.
[tr. Edinger (1974)]

Added on 17-Mar-22 | Last updated 11-Aug-22
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In the course of my travels I remarked that all those whose opinions are decidedly repugnant to ours are not in that account barbarians and savages, but on the contrary that many of these nations make an equally good, if not better, use of their reason than we do. I took into account also the very different character which a person brought up from infancy in France or Germany exhibits, from that which, with the same mind originally, this individual would have possessed had he lived always among the Chinese or with savages, and the circumstance that in dress itself the fashion which pleased us ten years ago, and which may again, perhaps, be received into favor before ten years have gone, appears to us at this moment extravagant and ridiculous. I was thus led to infer that the ground of our opinions is far more custom and example than any certain knowledge.

[Et depuis, en voyageant, ayant reconnu que tous ceux qui ont des sentiments fort contraires aux nôtres ne sont pas pour cela barbares ni sauvages, mais que plusieurs usent autant ou plus que nous de raison; et ayant considéré combien un même homme, avec son même esprit, étant nourri dès son enfance entre des Français ou des Allemands, devient différent de ce qu’il seroit s’il avoit toujours vécu entre des Chinois ou des cannibales, et comment, jusques aux modes de nos habits, la même chose qui nous a plu il y a dix ans, et qui nous plaira peut-être encore avant dix ans, nous semble maintenant extravagante et ridicule; en sorte que c’est bien plus la coutume et l’exemple qui nous persuade, qu’aucune connaissance certaine.]

René Descartes (1596-1650) French philosopher, mathematician
Discourse on Method [Discours de la méthode], Part 2 (1637) [tr. Veitch (1901)]

(Source (French)). Alternate translations:

And having since observ’d in my travails, That all those whose opinions are contrary to ours, are not therefore barbarous or savage, but that many use as much or more reason then we; and having consider’d how much one Man with his own understanding, bred up from his childhood among the French or the Dutch, becomes different from what he would be, had he alwayes liv’d amongst the Chineses, or the Cannibals: And how even in the fashion of our Clothes, the same thing which pleas’d ten years since, and which perhaps wil please ten years hence, seems now to us ridiculous and extravagant. So that it’s much more Custome and Example which perswades us, then any assured knowledg.
[tr. Newcombe ed. (1649)]

I further recognized in the course of my travels that all those whose sentiments are very contrary to ours are yet not necessarily barbarians or savages, but may be possessed of reason in as great or even a greater degree than ourselves. I also considered how very different the self-same man, identical in mind and spirit, may have become, according as he is brought up from childhood amongst the French or Germans, or has passed his whole life amongst Chinese or cannibals. I likewise noticed how even in the fashions of one's clothing the same thing that pleased us ten years ago, and which will perhaps please us once again before ten years are passed, seems at the present time extravagant and ridiculous. I thus concluded that it is much more custom and example that persuade us than any certain knowledge.
[tr. Haldane & Ross (1911)]

Since then I have recognized through my travels that those with views quite contrary to ours are not on that account barbarians or savages, but that many of them make use of reason as much or more than we do. I thought, too, how the same man, with the same mind, if brought up from infancy among the French or Germans, develops otherwise than he would if he had always lived among the Chinese or cannibals; and how, even in our fashions of dress, the very thing that pleased us ten years ago, and will perhaps please us again ten years hence, now strikes us as extravagant and ridiculous. Thus it is custom and example that persuade us, rather than any certain knowledge.
[tr. Cottingham, Stoothoff (1985)]

Added on 11-Jan-22 | Last updated 4-Jun-22
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It is always tempting when you have political discontent in your own country to say it is the fault of some other country and not of your own government.

A. J. P. Taylor (1906-1990) British historian, journalist, broadcaster [Alan John Percivale Taylor]
How Wars Begin (1979)
Added on 28-Jun-21 | Last updated 28-Jun-21
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The dread of being duped by other nations — the notion that foreign heads are more able, though at the same time foreign hearts are less honest than our own, has always been one of our prevailing weaknesses.

Jeremy Bentham
Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) English jurist and philosopher
Principles of International Law, Essay 4 “A Plan for Universal and Perpetual Peace” (1796-89)
Added on 8-Feb-21 | Last updated 8-Feb-21
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Their guards also are such as are used in a kingly government, not a despotic one; for the guards of their kings are his citizens, but a tyrant’s are foreigners. The one commands, in the manner the law directs, those who willingly obey; the other, arbitrarily, those who consent not. The one, therefore, is guarded by the citizens, the other against them.

[οἱ γὰρ πολῖται φυλάττουσιν ὅπλοις τοὺς βασιλεῖς, τοὺς δὲ τυράννους ξενικόν: οἱ μὲν γὰρ κατὰ νόμον καὶ ἑκόντων οἱ δ᾽ ἀκόντων ἄρχουσιν, ὥσθ᾽ οἱ μὲν παρὰ τῶν πολιτῶν οἱ δ᾽ ἐπὶ τοὺς πολίτας ἔχουσι τὴν φυλακήν.]

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Politics [Πολιτικά], Book 3, ch. 14 / 1285a25 [tr. Ellis (1776)]

Original Greek. Alternate translations:
  • "The guard of the king is, for the same cause, one that belongs to a monarch and not to a tyrant, for the citizens protect their kings with their arms; but it is aliens who guard despots. For the former rule legally over willing subjects, the latter over unwilling; so that the former are guarded by their subjects, the latter against them." [tr. Bolland (1877)]

  • "Wherefore also their guards are such as a king and not such as a tyrant would employ, that is to say, they are composed of citizens, whereas the guards of tyrants are mercenaries. For kings rule according to the law over voluntary subjects, but tyrants over involuntary; and the one are guarded by their fellow-citizens, the others are guarded against them." [tr. Jowett (1921)]

  • "Also their bodyguard is of a royal and not a tyrannical type for the same reason; for kings are guarded by the citizens in arms, whereas tyrants have foreign guards, for kings rule in accordance with law and over willing subjects, but tyrants rule over unwilling subjects, owing to which kings take their guards from among the citizens but tyrants have them to guard against the citizens." [tr. Rackham (1944)]

  • "For the same reason, their bodyguard is of a kingly rather than a tyrannical sort. For the citizens guard kings with their own arms, while a foreign element guards the tyrant, since the former rule willing persons in accordance wit the law, while the latter rule unwilling persons. So the ones have a bodyguard provided by the citizens, the other one that is directed against them." [tr. Lord (1984)]

  • "And their bodyguards are kingly and not tyrannical due to the same cause. For citizens guard kings with their weapons, whereas a foreign contingent guards tyrants. For kings rule in accord with the law and rule voluntary subjects, whereas the latter rule involuntary ones, so that the former have bodyguards drawn from the citizens, whereas the latter have bodyguards to protect them against the citizens." [tr. Reeve (2007)]

  • "Citizens guard their kings with arms; foreigners protect tyrants. This is because kings rule according to the law and with willing citizens while tyrants rule the unwilling. As a result, kings have guards from their subjects and tyrants keep guards against them." [tr. @sentantiq]

Added on 9-Jun-20 | Last updated 12-Feb-21
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You grant your favours, Caelia, to Parthians, to Germans, to Dacians;
and despise not the homage of Cilicians and Cappadocians.
To you journeys the Egyptian gallant from the city of Alexandria,
and the swarthy Indian from the waters of the Eastern Ocean;
nor do you shun the embraces of circumcised Jews;
nor does the Alan, on his Sarmatic steed, pass by you.
How comes it that, though a Roman girl,
no attention on the part of a Roman citizen is agreeable to you?

[Das Parthis, das Germanis, das, Caelia, Dacis,
nec Cilicum spernis Cappadocumque toros;
et tibi de Pharia Memphiticus urbe fututor
navigat, a rubris et niger Indus aquis;
nec recutitorum fugis inguina Iudaeorum,
nec te Sarmatico transit Alanus equo.
qua ratione facis cum sis Romans puella,
quod Romana tibi mentula nulla placet?]

Marcus Valerius Martial
Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 7, epigram 30 (7.30) [tr. Bohn’s (1871)]

Alt. translations.:
For Parthians, Germans thou thy nets wilt spread;
Wilt Cappadocian or Cilician wed;
From Memphis comes a whipster unto thee,
And a black Indian from the Red Sea;
Nor dost thou fly the circumcised Jew;
Nor can the Muscovite once pass by you;
Why being a Roman lass dost do thus? tell
Is't cause no Roman knack can please so well?
[tr. Fletcher]

You grant your favours to Parthians, you grant them to Germans, you grant them, Caelia, to Dacians, and you do not spurn the couch of Cilicians and Cappadocians; and for you from his Egyptian city comes sailing the gallant of Memphis, and the black Indian from the Red Sea; nor do you shun the lecheries of circumcised Jews, and the Alan on his Sarmatian steed does not pass you by. What is your reason that, although you are a Roman girl, no Roman lewdness has attraction for you?
[tr. Ker (1919)]

Caelia, you love a Teuton swain,
An Asiatic stirs your pity,
For you swart Indians cross the main,
Copts flock to you from Pharos' city.
A Jew, a Scythian cavalier,
Can please you -- but I can't discover
Why you, a Roman, are austere
To none except a Roman lover.
[tr. Pott & Wright (1921)]

You give your favors to Parthians, you given them to Germans, Caelia, you give them to Dacians, nor do you despise the beds of Cilicians and Cappadocians; and to you comes sailing the fornicator of Memphis from his Pharian city and the black Indian from the Red Sea. Nor do you shun the loins of circumcised Jews nor does the Alan pass you by with his Sarmatian horse. Why is it, sinc eyou are a Roman girl, that no Roman cock is to your liking?
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

You do Germans, and Parthians, and Dacians, Caelia,
you don’t scorn Cappadocian, Cilician beds;
and fuckers from Memphis, that Pharian city,
and Red Sea’s black Indians sail towards you.
You’d not flee the thighs of a circumcised Jew,
not an Alan goes by, with Sarmatian horse too.
What’s the reason, then, since you are a Roman,
not one Roman member pleases you, woman?
[tr. Kline (2006), "Hard to Please"]

Barbarian hordes en masse you fuck,
Odd types into your bed you tuck.
You take on blacks and Asian forces,
And Jews, and soldiers, and their horses.
Yet you, voracious Roman chick,
Have never known a Roman dick.
[tr. Wills (2008)]

You sleep with Germans, Parthians, and Dacians;
Cilicians and Cappadocians get a screw;
a Memphian fucker sails to you from Pharos;
a coal-black Indian from the Red Sea, too.
You don't shun the pricks of circumcised Judeans;
a Scythian on his horse won't pass you buy.
Since you're a roman girl, why is it, Caelia,
you won't give any Roman cock a try?
[tr. McLean (2014)]

You grant your favours, Caelia, to all races --
Parthians, Germans, Dacians share your graces.
Cilicians, Cappadocians in your bed be,
And even a swarthy Indian from the Red Sea!
From Egypt's Memphis one sails to your door,
And Jews, though circumcised, you'll not ignore,
And that's not all! On his Samartian steed
No Scythian ever passed your door at speed.
You are a Roman girl, so tell me true,
Do Roman weapons have no charmes for you?
[tr. Pitt-Kethley]

You'll fuck a Frog, a Kraut, a Jew,
A Gippo, a Brit, a Pakki too;
Niggers and Russkies all go in your stew
But my prick's a Wop -- Caelia, fuck you!
[tr. Sullivan]

For more detailed commentary on the explicitly sexual nature of the epigram, see Vioque, Epigrammaton Liber VII.
Added on 1-Aug-18 | Last updated 6-Mar-23
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We send missionaries to China so the Chinese can get to heaven, but we won’t let them into our country.

Pearl S. Buck (1892-1973) American writer

Quoted in Clifton Fadiman, The American Treasury: 1455-1955 (1955).
Added on 25-Aug-16 | Last updated 25-Aug-16
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If we should hear it reported of the Eastern People, that their usual Drink is a Liquor which flies up into the Head, makes them mad, and sets them a-vomiting, we should be apt to lift up our Hands and say, These sottish Barbarians!

[Si nous entendions dire des Orientaux qu’ils boivent ordinairement d’une liqueur qui leur monte à la tête, leur fait perdre la raison et les fait vomir, nous dirions: «Cela est bien barbare.»]

Jean de La Bruyere
Jean de La Bruyère (1645-1696) French essayist, moralist
The Characters [Les Caractères], ch. 12 “Of Opinions [Des Jugements],” § 24 (12.24) (1688) [Browne ed. (1752)]

(Source (French)). Alternate translations:

If we should talk of the Eastern People, how they ordinarily drink a Liquor that takes the head, makes them mad, and forces them to vomit, we should be apt to say 'tis Barbarous.
[Bullord ed. (1696)]

If we should hear it reported of the Eastern People, how they ordinarily drink a Liquor which flies up into the Head, makes them mad, and forces them to vomit, we should be apt to say, this is very Barbarous.
[Curll ed. (1713)]

If we should hear it reported of an Eastern nation that they habitually drink a liquor which flies to their head, drives them mad, and makes them very sick, we should say they are barbarians.
[tr. Van Laun (1885)]

If we heard it said of Orientals that they habitually drank a liquor which went to their heads, deprived them of reason, and made them vomit, we should say: “How very barbarous!”
[tr. Stewart (1970)]

Added on 8-Jul-08 | Last updated 6-Jun-23
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