Quotations about   gluttony

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Stuff yourself with food all day, never give your mind anything to do, and you’re a problem! There’s chess, isn’t there? There’s weiqi, isn’t there? — wiser at least to busy yourself with these.


Confucius (c. 551- c. 479 BC) Chinese philosopher, sage, politician [孔夫子 (Kǒng Fūzǐ, K'ung Fu-tzu, K'ung Fu Tse), 孔子 (Kǒngzǐ, Chungni), 孔丘 (Kǒng Qiū, K'ung Ch'iu)]
The Analects [論語, 论语, Lúnyǔ], Book 17, verse 22 (17.22) (6th C. BC – AD 3rd C.) [tr. Watson (2007)]

There is varied discussion in footnotes as to the specific identity and nature of the game(s) Confucius references. The phrase bo yi or po yi (博弈) can be translated either as "to play chess" or "the game of bo and the game of yi." The game of bo was similar to weiqi (wei-ch'i) (or, in Japan, go; the game of yi was a game like chess, or a board game played with dice (shuanglu), the rules of which have been forgotten. There are also translators who assert it's the other way around, that bo or liubo is the game of chance, and yi was weiqi (go).

(Source (Chinese) 1, 2). Alternate translations:

Hard is it to deal with him, who will stuff himself with food the whole day, without applying his mind to anything good! Are there not gamesters and chess players? To be one of these would still be better than doing nothing at all.
[tr. Legge (1861)]

Ah, it is difficult to know what to make of those who are all day long cramming themselves with food and are without anything to apply their minds to! Are there no dice and chess players? Better, perhaps, join in that pursuit than do nothing at all!
[tr. Jennings (1895)]

It is a really bad case when a man simply eats his full meals without applying his mind to anything at all during the whole day. Are there not such things as gambling and games of skill? To do one of those things even is better than to do nothing at all.
[tr. Ku Hung-Ming (1898)]

How hard is the case of the man who stuffs himself with food the livelong day, never applying his mind to anything! Are there no checker or chess players? Even to do that is surely better than nothing at all.
[tr. Soothill (1910)]

Stuffing in food all day, nothing that he puts his mind on, a hard case! Don't chess players at least do something and have solid merit by comparison?
[tr. Pound (1933)]

Those who do nothing all day but cram themselves with food and never use their minds are difficult. Are there not games such as draughts? To play them would surely be better than doing nothing at all.
[tr. Waley (1938)]

I really admire a fellow who goes about the whole day with a well-fed stomach and a vacuous mind. How can one ever do it? I would rather that he play chess, which would seem to me to be better.
[tr. Lin Yutang (1938)]

It is no easy matter for a man who always has a full stomach to put his mind to some use. Are there not such things as po and yi? Even playing these games is better than being idle.
[tr. Lau (1979)]

It is surely difficult to spend the whole day stuffing oneself with food and having nothing to use one's mind on. Are there not people who play bo and yi? Even such activity is definitely superior, is it not?
[tr. Dawson (1993), 17.20]

I cannot abide these people who fill their bellies all day long, without ever using their minds! Why can't they play chess? At least it would be better than nothing.
[tr. Leys (1997)]

Eating all day without thinking about anything, such persons are hard to be trained. Are not there some games? Even if playing some games, it is also better than having nothing to do.
[tr. Cai/Yu (1998), No. 462]

There are troubles ahead for those who spend their whole day filling their stomachs without ever exercising their heart-and-mind (xin). Are there not diversions such as the board games of bo and weiqi? Even playing those games would be better than nothing.
[tr. Ames/Rosemont (1998)]

One who eats his fill all day long, and never uses his mind on anything, is a difficult case. Are there not such things as gammon and chess? Would it not be better to play them?
[tr. Brooks/Brooks (1998), 17.20]

All day eating and never thinking: such people are serious trouble. Aren't there games to play, like go and chess? Even that is better than nothing. [tr. Hinton (1998), 17.21]

Spending the entire day filling himself with food, never once exercising his mind -- someone like this is a hard case indeed! Do we not have the games Bo and Yi? Even playing these games would be better than doing nothing.
[tr. Slingerland (2003)]

To spend the whole day stuffing yourself and not to put your mind to use at all -- this is hopeless behavior. Are there not such games as bo and yi? It would be better to play these games [than to do nothing at all].
[tr. Annping Chin (2014)]

If a person is well fed the whole day and does not use his brain on anything, it will be difficult for him to be of value in life. Are there poker games and chess? Playing these games is still more beneficial than doing nothing.
[tr. Li (2020)]

Added on 19-Sep-22 | Last updated 19-Sep-22
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More quotes by Confucius

The savage brute that makes thee cry for dread
     Lets no man pass this road of hers, but still
     Trammels him, till at last she lays him dead.
Vicious her nature is, and framed for ill;
     When crammed she craves more fiercely than before;
     Her raging greed can never gorge its fill.

[Chè questa bestia, per la qual tu gride,
     Non lascia altrui passar per la sua via,
     Ma tanto lo impedisce, che l’ uccide:
E ha natura sì malvagia e ria,
     Che mai non empie la bramosa voglia,
     E dopo il pasto ha più fame che pria.]

Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) Italian poet
The Divine Comedy [Divina Commedia], Book 1 “Inferno,” Canto 1, l. 94ff (1.94-99) [Virgil] (1320) [tr. Sayers (1949)]

The she-wolf (lupa) of incontinence/wantonness, though some associate her with wrath, or with avarice. (Source (Italian)). Alternate translations:

This raging Beast, which here you so much dread
Permits not any to pass on their way,
And never leaves them 'till their death she gains:
Her nature so perversely is dispos'd
That she never satisfies her greedy will;
But with each meal her hunger is increas'd.
[tr. Rogers (1782), l. 84ff]

Monster so fell, Numidia never bore,
As she, who riots there in human gore,
By inextinguishable famine stung.
The Fiend her hunger tries to sate in vain.
Still grows her appetite with growing pain.
And ceaseless rapine feeds the rising blaze.
[tr. Boyd (1802), st. 17-18]

          This beast,
At whom thou criest, her way will suffer none
To pass, and no less hindrance makes than death:
So bad and so accursed in her kind,
That never sated is her ravenous will,
Still after food more craving than before.
[tr. Cary (1814)]

For the fell beast who late, thy steps waylaying,
     Caused thee to shriek, lets none a passage find
     Across her walk, but hindereth e'en to slaying.
Baleful she is, and of so curst a kind.
     Her ravenous maw no glut can satisfy.
     But eats and leaves a hungrier greed behind.
[tr. Dayman (1843)]

Because this beast, for which thou criest, lets not men pass her way; but so entangles that she slays them;
and has a nature so perverse and vicious, that she never satiates her craving appetite; and after feeding, she is hungrier than before.
[tr. Carlyle (1849)]

The beast for which you utter such a cry
Suffers none else to pass her way, and will
Obstruct so far their passage as to kill:
Of nature so malignant to the core,
Insatiate hungers, ever longs for more;
And after eating hungrier than before.
[tr. Bannerman (1850)]

For lo! this creature, cause of thy great cry,
     Lets none pass her, but so bars the way,
     And with such deadly malice, that she slays.
So evil is her nature and so foul,
     Her lustful appetite is never quench'd
     And after eating she still craves the more.
[tr. Johnston (1867)]

Because this beast, at which thou criest out,
     Suffers not any one to pass her way,
     But so doth harass him, that she destroys him;
And has a nature so malign and ruthless,
     That never doth she glut her greedy will,
     And after food is hungrier than before.
[tr. Longfellow (1867)]

Because this beast, for the which thou criest out, lets not any pass by her way, but hinders him in such wise that she slays him. And she has a nature so evil and guilty that she never fulfils her greedy will, and after her repast has more hunger than before.
[tr. Butler (1885)]

That beast, at which thou criest, by this way
     Permits not one to pass, for evermore,
     But bars the passage so, that she will slay.
Of wickedness her nature has such store
     That her keen craving ne'er is satisfied,
     But after food she's hungrier than before.
[tr. Minchin (1885)]

For this beast, because of which thou criest out, lets not any one pass along her way, but so hinders him that she kills him! and she has a nature so malign and evil that she never sates her greedy will, and after food is hungrier than before.
[tr. Norton (1892)]

Because this beast, by reason of which thou criest aloud, suffereth none to come her way, but hindereth so rudely, that she slayeth them. So baneful and accursed is her nature, that she can never glut her ravening greed ; and after feeding she is hungrier than before.
[tr. Sullivan (1893)]

For this same beast, for cause whereof thou criest.
     To pass along her way allows no stranger,
     But hindereth him so far that she doth slay him.
Nature hath she so wicked and malicious
     That never doth she sate her ravenous craving,
     And after food is hungrier than before it.
[tr. Griffith (1908)]

For this beast on account of which thou criest lets no man pass her way, but hinders them till she takes their life, and she has a nature so vicious and malignant that her greedy appetite is never satisfied and after good she is hungrier than before.
[tr. Sinclair (1939)]

Because this beast, at which thou criest still,
     Suffereth none to go upon her path,
     But hindereth and entangleth till she kill,
And hath a nature so perverse in wrath,
     Her craving maw never is satiated
     But after food the fiercer hunger hath.
[tr. Binyon (1943)]

     For that mad beast that fleers
before you there, suffers no man to pass.
     She tracks down all, kills all, and knows no glut,
     but, feeding, she grows hungrier than she was.
[tr. Ciardi (1954), l. 90ff]

For this beast, the cause of your complaint, lets no man pass her way, but so besets him that she slays him; and she has a nature so vicious and malign that she never sates her greedy appetite and after feeding is hungrier than before.
[tr. Singleton (1970)]

This beast, the one you cry about in fear,
     allows no soul to succeed along her path,
     she blocks his way and puts an end to him.
She is by nature so perverse and vicious,
     her craving belly is never satisfied,
     still hungering for food the more she eats.
[tr. Musa (1971)]

     The beast that is the cause of your outcry
allows no man to pass along her track,
but blocks him even to the point of death;
     her nature is so squalid, so malicious
that she can never sate her greedy will;
when she has fed, she's hungrier than ever.
[tr. Mandelbaum (1980)]

For that beast, which has made you so call out,
Does not allow others to pass her way,
But holds them up, and in the end destroys them;
And is by nature so wayward and perverted
That she never satisfies her wilful desires,
But, after a meal, is hungrier than before.
[tr. Sisson (1981)]

          This beast,
The cause of your complaint, lets no one pass
Her way -- but harries all to death. Her nature
Is so malign and vicious she cannot appease
Her voracity, for feeding makes her hungrier.
[tr. Pinsky (1994), l. 72ff]

For this beast at which you cry out lets no one pass by her way, but so much impedes him that she kills him;
and she has a nature so evil and cruel that her greedy desire is never satisfied, and after feeding she is hungrier than before.
[tr. Durling (1996)]

This creature, that distresses you, allows no man to cross her path, but obstructs him, to destroy him, and she has so vicious and perverse a nature, that she never sates her greedy appetite, and after food is hungrier than before.
[tr. Kline (2002)]

     That beast -- you cry out at the very sight --
lets no one through who passes on her way.
She blocks their progress; and there they all die.
     She is by her nature cruel, so vicious
she can never sate her voracious will,
but, feasting well, is hungrier than before.
[tr. Kirkpatrick (2006)]

For the beast that moves you to cry out
lets no man pass her way,
but so besets him that she slays him.
Her nature is so vicious and malign
her greedy appetite is never sated --
after she feeds she is hungrier than ever.
[tr. Hollander/Hollander (2007)]

Because this beast you complain of never lets
Anyone pass her along this road, harassing
And hindering them until she sees them dead,
Her nature being so malign and savage
That she is never able to finish her feasting,
Hungrier after she eats than before.
[tr. Raffel (2010)]

You're bound to lose:
Bound by the spell of this beast pledged to keep
you crying, you or anyone else who tries
To get by. In a bad mood it can kill,
And it's never in a good mood. See those eyes?
So great a hunger nothing can fulfil.
It eats, it wants more, like the many men
Infected by its bite.
[tr. James (2013)]

Added on 16-Sep-22 | Last updated 16-Sep-22
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More quotes by Dante Alighieri

In Christmas feasting pray take care;
Let not your table be a Snare;
But with the Poor God’s Bounty share.


Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher
Poor Richard’s Almanack, December (1748)
Added on 23-Dec-16 | Last updated 16-Dec-19
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Anything I like is either illegal or immoral or fattening.

Alexander Woollcott (1887-1943) American critic, commentator, journalist, wit

Apparently a gag attributed by Woollcott to a Frank Rand of St. Louis on his radio show in September 1933; it was then directly attributed to Woollcott in Reader's Digest in Dec. 1933. It is sometimes cited to Woollcott's essay "The Knock at the Stage Door," The North American Review (Sep 1922), but not found there.

  • "All the things I like to do are either immoral, illegal, or fattening."
  • "All the things I really like to do are either immoral, illegal or fattening."
  • "Everything I want to do is either illegal, immoral or fattening."
More discussion about this quotation:
Added on 20-Mar-15 | Last updated 25-Feb-22
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All luxury corrupts either the morals or the taste.

Joseph Joubert (1754-1824) French moralist
Pensées (1838) [ed. Auster (1983)]
Added on 15-Apr-13 | Last updated 13-May-16
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The devil Luxury, with his fat rump and potato finger …

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
Troilus and Cressida, Act 5, sc. 2, l. 66ff [Thersites] (1602)
Added on 12-May-04 | Last updated 30-Jun-22
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