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Do the gods light this fire in our hearts
or does each man’s mad desire become his god?

[Dine hunc ardorem mentibus addunt,
Euryale, an sua cuique deus fit dira cupido?]

Virgil (70-19 BC) Roman poet [b. Publius Vergilius Maro; also Vergil]
The Aeneid [Ænē̆is], Book 9, l. 184ff (9.184-185) [Nisus] (29-19 BC) [tr. Fagles (2006)]
    (Source)

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

          Or do the gods inspire
This warmth, or make we gods of our desire?
[tr. Dryden (1697)]

Do the gods, Euryalus, infuse this ardour into our minds? or is each one's earnest inclination his god?
[tr. Davidson/Buckley (1854)]

"Can it be Heaven" said Nisus then
"That lends such warmth to hearts of men,
Or passion surging past control
That plays the god to each one's soul?"
[tr. Conington (1866)]

Is it the gods who give
This ardor to our minds, Euryalus?
And must our strong desires be deemed divine?
[tr. Cranch (1872), l. 230ff]

Lend the gods this fervour to the soul, Euryalus? or does fatal passion become a proper god to each?
[tr. Mackail (1885)]

Doth very God so set the heart on fire,
Euryalus, or doth each man make God of his desire?
[tr. Morris (1900)]

Is it that the Gods inspire,
Euryalus, this fever of the breast?
[tr. Taylor (1907), st. 24, l. 208ff]

Is it gods above that breathe
this fever in my soul, Euryalus?
or is the tyrant passion of each breast
the god it serves?
[tr. Williams (1910)]

Do the gods, Euryalus, put this fire in our hearts, or does his own wild longing become to each man a god?
[tr. Fairclough (1918)]

          Euryalus, what is it?
Do the gods put this ardor in our hearts
Or does each man’s desire become his god?
[tr. Humphries (1951)]

Is it God that makes one burn to do brave things,
Or does each of us make a god of his own fierce passion to do them?
[tr. Day-Lewis (1952)]

          Euryalus, is it
the gods who put this fire in our minds,
or is it that each man's relentless longing
becomes a god to him?
[tr. Mandelbaum (1971), l. 243ff]

This urge to action, do the gods instill it,
Or is each man's desire a god to him,
Euryalus?
[tr. Fitzgerald (1981), l. 252ff]

Is it the gods who put this ardour into our minds, or does every man's irresistible desire become his god?
[tr. West (1990)]

Euryalus, do the gods set this fire in our hearts,
or does each man’s fatal desire become godlike to him?
[tr. Kline (2002)]

          Do the gods
Put this fire in our hearts, Euryalus,
Or do our passions become our gods?
[tr. Lombardo (2005)]

Do gods enflame our hearts, Euryalus,
or do our fierce desires become our gods?
[tr. Bartsch (2021)]

 
Added on 18-Jan-23 | Last updated 18-Jan-23
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More quotes by Virgil

No longer dream that human prayer
The will of Fate can overbear.

[Desine fata deum flecti sperare precando.]

Virgil (70-19 BC) Roman poet [b. Publius Vergilius Maro; also Vergil]
The Aeneid [Ænē̆is], Book 6, l. 176ff (6.176) [The Sybil] (29-19 BC) [tr. Conington (1866)]
    (Source)

Speaking to dead Palinurus. (Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

Fate, and the dooming gods, are deaf to tears.
[tr. Dryden (1697)]

Cease to hope that the decrees of the gods are to be altered by prayers.
[tr. Davidson/Buckley (1854)]

          Cease to hope
By prayers to bend the destinies divine.
[tr. Cranch (1872)]

Cease to hope prayers may bend the decrees of heaven.
[tr. Mackail (1885)]

Hope not the Fates of very God to change by any prayer.
[tr. Morris (1900)]

Hope not by prayer to bend the Fates' decree.
[tr. Taylor (1907), st. 51, l. 454]

Hope not by prayer to change the laws of Heaven!
[tr. Williams (1910)]

Cease to dream that heaven's decrees may be turned aside by prayer.
[tr. Fairclough (1916)]

          Give up the hope
That fate is changed by praying.
[tr. Humphries (1951)]

Give up this hope that the course of fate can be swerved by prayer.
[tr. Day-Lewis (1952)]

Leave any hope that prayer can turn aside
the gods' decrees.
[tr. Mandelbaum (1971), ll. 495-96]

Abandon hope by prayer to make the gods
Change their decrees.
[tr. Fitzgerald (1981), ll. 506-7]

You must cease to hope that the Fates of the gods can be altered by prayers.
[tr. West (1990)]

Cease to hope that divine fate can be tempered by prayer.
[tr. Kline (2002)]

Stop hoping that the gods' decrees
Can be bent with prayer.
[tr. Lombardo (2005)]

          Hope no more
the gods’ decrees can be brushed aside by prayer,
[tr. Fagles (2006), l. 428-29]

As if the gods' fates could be bent by prayer.
[tr. Bartsch (2021)]

 
Added on 23-Nov-22 | Last updated 23-Nov-22
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More quotes by Virgil

You gods who hold dominion over spirits,
you voiceless Shades; you, Phlegethon and Chaos,
immense and soundless regions of the night:
allow me to retell what I was told;
allow me by your power to disclose
things buried in the dark and deep of earth!

[Di, quibus imperium est animarum, umbraeque silentes,
Et Chaos, et Phlegethon, loca nocte tacentia late,
Sit mihi fas audita loqui: sit numine vestro
Pandere res alta terra et caligine mersas.]

Virgil (70-19 BC) Roman poet [b. Publius Vergilius Maro; also Vergil]
The Aeneid [Ænē̆is], Book 6, l. 264ff (6.264-267) (29-19 BC) [tr. Mandelbaum (1971), l. 350ff]
    (Source)

The author, asking the spirits of the Underworld permission to tell of what happened to Aeneas there. (Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

Ye realms, yet unrevealed to human sight,
Ye gods who rule the regions of the night,
Ye gliding ghosts, permit me to relate
The mystic wonders of your silent state!
[tr. Dryden (1697)]

Ye gods, to whom the empire of ghosts belong, and ye silent shades, and Chaos, and Phlegethon, places where silence reigns around in night! permit me to utter the secrets heard; may I by your divine will disclose things buried in deep earth and darkness.
[tr. Davidson/Buckley (1854)]

Eternal Powers, whose sway controls
The empire of departed souls,
Ye too, throughout whose wide domain
Blank Night and grisly Silence reign,
Hoar Chaos, awful Phlegethon,
What ear has heard let tongue make known:
Vouchsafe your sanction, nor forbid
To utter things in darkness hid.
[tr. Conington (1866)]

Ye deities, whose empire is of souls!
Ye silent Shades, -- Chaos and Phlegethon!
Ye wide dumb spaces stretching through the night!
Be it lawful that I speak what I have heard,
And by your will divine unfold the things
Buried in gloomy depths of deepest earth!
[tr. Cranch (1872), l. 325ff]

Gods who are sovereign over souls! silent ghosts, and Chaos and Phlegethon, the wide dumb realm of night! as I have heard, so let me tell, and according to your will unfold things sunken deep under earth in gloom.
[tr. Mackail (1885)]

O Gods, who rule the ghosts of men, O silent shades of death,
Chaos and Phlegethon, hushed lands that lie beneath the night!
Let me speak now, for I have heard: O aid me with your might
To open things deep sunk in earth, and mid the darkness blent.
[tr. Morris (1900)]

O silent Shades, and ye, the powers of Hell,
Chaos and Phlegethon, wide realms of night,
What ear hath heard, permit the tongue to tell,
High matter, veiled in darkness, to indite.
[tr. Taylor (1907), st. 37, l. 325ff]

Ye gods! who rule the spirits of the dead!
Ye voiceless shades and silent lands of night!
O Phlegethon! O Chaos! let my song,
If it be lawful, in fit words declare
What I have heard; and by your help divine
Unfold what hidden things enshrouded lie
In that dark underworld of sightless gloom.
[tr. Williams (1910)]

Ye gods, who hold the domain of spirits! You voiceless shades! Thou, Chaos, and thou, Phlegethon, ye broad, silent tracts of night! Suffer me to tell what I have heard; suffer me of your grace to unfold secrets buried in the depths and darkness of the earth!
[tr. Fairclough (1916)]

Gods of the world of spirit, silent shadows,
Chaos and Phlegethon, areas of silence,
Wide realms of dark, may it be right and proper
To tell what I have heard, this revelation
Of matters buried deep in earth and darkness!
[tr. Humphries (1951)]

Chaos, and Phlegethon! O mute wide leagues of Nightland! --
Grant me to tell what I have heard! With your assent
May I reveal what lies deep in the gloomof the Underworld!
[tr. Day-Lewis (1952)]

Gods who rule the ghosts; all silent shades;
And Chaos and infernal Fiery Stream,
And regions of wide night without a sound,
May it be right to tell what I have heard,
May it be right, and fitting, by your will,
That I describe the deep world sunk in darkness
Under the earth.
[tr. Fitzgerald (1981), l. 363ff]

You gods who rule the world of the spirits, you silent shades, and Chaos, and Phlegethon, you dark and silent wastes, let it be right for me to tell what I have been told, let it be with your divine blessing that I reveal what is hidden deep in the mists beneath the earth.
[tr. West (1990)]

You gods, whose is the realm of spirits, and you, dumb shadows,
and Chaos, Phlegethon, wide silent places of the night,
let me tell what I have heard: by your power, let me
reveal things buried in the deep earth, and the darkness.
[tr. Kline (2002)]

Gods of the world below, silent shades,
Chaos and Phlegethon, soundless tracts of Night --
Grant me the grace to tell what I have heard,
And lay bare the mysteries in the earth's abyss.
[tr. Lombardo (2005)]

          You gods
who govern the realm of ghosts, you voiceless shades and Chaos --
you, the River of Fire, you far-flung regions hushed in night --
lend me the right to tell what I have heard, lend your power
to reveal the world immersed in the misty depths of earth.
[tr. Fagles (2006), l. 302ff]

O gods who govern souls, O silent shades, Chaos, Phlegethon, and mute expanses of the night, let it be right to tell what I have heard, let me show what's buried deep in earth and darkness.
[tr. Bartsch (2021)]

 
Added on 18-Oct-22 | Last updated 18-Oct-22
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More quotes by Virgil

Ripheus fell, a man
Most just of all the Trojans, most fair-minded.
The gods thought otherwise.

[Cadit et Rhipeus, iustissimus unus
qui fuit in Teucris et servantissimus aequi:
dis aliter visum.]

Virgil (70-19 BC) Roman poet [b. Publius Vergilius Maro; also Vergil]
The Aeneid [Ænē̆is], Book 2, l. 426ff (2.426) [Aeneas] (29-19 BC) [tr. Humphries (1951)]
    (Source)

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

Then Ripheus follow'd, in th' unequal fight;
Just of his word, observant of the right:
Heav'n thought not so.
[tr. Dryden (1697)]

Ripheus too falls, the most just among the Trojans, and of the strictest integrity; but to the gods it seemed otherwise.
[tr. Davidson/Buckley (1854)]

Then Rhipeus dies: no purer son
Troy ever bred, more jealous none
Of sacred right: Heaven's will be done.
[tr. Conington (1866)]

Next
Rhipeus, of all Trojans most upright
And just : -- such was the pleasure of the gods!
[tr. Cranch (1872), l. 580ff]

Rhipeus falls, the one man who was most righteous and steadfast in justice among the Teucrians: the gods' ways are not as ours.
[tr. Mackail (1885)]

Fell Rhipeus there, the heedfullest of right
Of all among the Teucrian folk, the justest man of men;
The Gods deemed otherwise.
[tr. Morris (1900)]

Next, Rhipeus dies, the justest, but in vain,
The noblest soul of all the Trojan train.
Heaven deemed him otherwise.
[tr. Taylor (1907), st. 57, l. 508ff]

Then Rhipeus fell;
we deemed him of all Trojans the most just,
most scrupulously righteous; but the gods
gave judgment otherwise.
[tr. Williams (1910)]

Ripheus, too, falls, foremost in justice among the Trojans, and most zealous for the right -- Heaven's will was otherwise.
[tr. Fairclough (1916)]

Then Rhipeus fell, he who of all the Trojans
Was most fair-minded, the one who was most regardful of justice:
God's ways are inscrutable.
[tr. Day Lewis (1952)]

Then Ripheus, too, has fallen -- he was first
among the Teucrians for justice and
observing right; the gods thought otherwise.
[tr. Mandelbaum (1971)]

And Ripheus fell,
A man uniquely just among the Trojans,
The soul of equity; but the gods would have it
Differently.
[tr. Fitzgerald (1981), l. 560ff]

Rhipeus also fell. Of all the Trojans he was the most righteous, the greatest lover of justice. But the gods made their own judgments.
[tr. West (1990)]

Then Rhipeus,
Of all Teucrians the most righteous (but the gods
Saw otherwise) went down.
[tr. Lombardo (2005), l. 493ff]

Rhipeus falls too, the most righteous man in Troy,
the most devoted to justice, true, but the gods
had other plans.
[tr. Fagles (2006)]

 
Added on 13-Apr-22 | Last updated 13-Apr-22
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More quotes by Virgil

Alas! in naught may one trust the gods against their will!

[Heu nihil invitis fas quemquam fidere divis!]

Virgil (70-19 BC) Roman poet [b. Publius Vergilius Maro; also Vergil]
The Aeneid [Ænē̆is], Book 2, l. 402 (2.402) [Aeneas] (29-19 BC) [tr. Fairclough (1916)]
    (Source)

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

But, ah! what use of valour can be made,
When heav'n's propitious pow'rs refuse their aid!
[tr. Dryden (1697)]

Alas! it is right for one to trust to nothing when the gods are adverse.
[tr. Anthon (1843)]

Alas! on nothing ought man to presume, while the gods are against him!
[tr. Davidson/Buckley (1854)]

Alas! a mortal may not lean
On Heaven, when Heaven averts its mien.
[tr. Conington (1866)]

Alas, one ought
To trust in nothing, when the gods oppose.
[tr. Cranch (1872), ll. 549-550]

Alas that none may trust at all to estranged gods!
[tr. Mackail (1885)]

Alas! what skills it man to trust in Gods compelled to good?
[tr. Morris (1900)]

Ah! vain to boast, if Heaven refuse to aid!
[tr. Taylor (1907)]

But woe is me! If gods their help withhold,
't is impious to be brave.
[tr. Williams (1910)]

Alas! it is not well for anyone to be confident when the gods are adverse.
[Source (1922)]

It is not for men to trust unwilling gods.
[tr. Humphries (1951)]

Ah, well, there's no trusting the gods for anything, once they're against you!
[tr. Day Lewis (1952)]

But oh, it is not right for anyone
to trust reluctant gods!
[tr. Mandelbaum (1971), ll. 540-541]

When gods are contrary
They stand by no one.
[tr. Fitzgerald (1981), ll. 532-533]

But no man can trust in gods who are opposed to him.
[tr. West (1990)]

Never rely on the gods for anything
Against their will.
[tr. Lombardo (2005), ll. 466-467]

But, oh
how wrong to rely on gods dead set against you!
[tr. Fagles (2006), ll. 501-502]

How wrong it is to trust the gods against their will!
[tr. Bartsch (2021)]

 
Added on 6-Apr-22 | Last updated 6-Apr-22
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More quotes by Virgil

     May the gods —
And surely there are powers that care for goodness,
Surely somewhere justice counts — may they
And your own consciousness of acting well
Reward you as they should!

[Di tibi, si qua pios respectant numina, si quid
Usquam iustitiae est et mens sibi conscia recti,
Praemia digna ferant.]

Virgil (70-19 BC) Roman poet [b. Publius Vergilius Maro; also Vergil]
The Aeneid [Ænē̆is], Book 1, l. 603ff (1.603-605) [Aeneas to Dido] (29-19 BC) [tr. Fitzgerald (1981), l. 820ff]
    (Source)

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

The gods, if gods to goodness are inclin'd;
If acts of mercy touch their heav'nly mind,
And, more than all the gods, your gen'rous heart.
Conscious of worth, requite its own desert!
[tr. Dryden (1697)]

The gods (if any powers divine regard the pious, if justice any where exists, and a mind conscious of its own virtue) shall yield thee a just recompense.
[tr. Davidson/Buckley (1854)]

May Heaven, if virtue claim its thought,
If justice yet avail for aught,
Heaven, and the sense of conscious right,
With worthier meed your acts requite!
[tr. Conington (1866)]

     If anywhere
The gods regard the good; if anywhere
Be justice, and a mind within itself
Conscious of rectitude, -- the gods shall give
Deserved reward to thee.
[tr. Cranch (1872)] https://archive.org/details/aeneidvirgiltra00crangoog/page/n55/mode/2up?q=gyas#:~:text=If%20anywhere%20%C2%AB8,reward%20to%20thee.

The gods grant thee worthy reward, if their deity turn any regard on goodness, if aught avails justice and conscious purity of soul.
[tr. Mackail (1885)]

But if somewhere a godhead is the righteous man to heed,
If justice is, or any soul to note the right it wrought,
May the Gods give thee due reward.
[tr. Morris (1900)]

The gods, if gods the good and just regard,
And thy own conscience, that approves the right,
Grant thee due guerdon and a fit reward.
[tr. Taylor (1907), st. 80, l. 712ff]

May gods on high (if influence divine
bless faithful lives, or recompense be found
in justice and thy self-approving mind)
give thee thy due reward.
[tr. Williams (1910)]

May the gods, if any divine powers have regard for the good, if justice has any weight anywhere -- may the gods and the consciousness of right bring thee worthy rewards!
[tr. Fairclough (1916)]

If there is justice anywhere, if goodness
Means anything to any power, if gods
At all regard good people, may they give
The great rewards you merit.
[tr. Humphries (1951)]

If angels there be who look after the good, if indeed just dealing
And minds informed with the right mean anything to heaven,
May God, reward you as you deserve!
[tr. Day Lewis (1952)]

May gods confer on you your due rewards,
if deities regard the good, if justice
and mind aware of right count anywhere.
[tr. Mandelbaum (1971), l. 847ff]

May the gods bring you the reward you deserve, if there are any gods who have regard for goodness, if there is any justice in the world, if their minds have any sense of right.
[tr. West (1990)]

     May the gods --
If any powers above look down on the pious,
If there is any justice anywhere -- may the gods
And your good conscience reward you
As you deserve.
[tr. Lombardo (2005)]

     But may the gods,
if there are Powers who still respect the good and true,
if justice still exists on the face of the earth,
may they and their own sense of right and wrong
bring you your just rewards.
[tr. Fagles (2006), l. 720ff]

May the gods -- if they honor pious men, if there's justice anywhere, and conscience -- reward you in kind.
[tr. Bartsch (2021)]

 
Added on 2-Feb-22 | Last updated 2-Feb-22
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More quotes by Virgil

You might just as well take the sun out of the sky as friendship from life; for the immortal gods have given us nothing better or more delightful.

[Solem enim e mundo tollere videntur ei, qui amicitiam e vita tollunt, qua nihil a dis immortalibus melius habemus, nihil iucundius.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
Laelius De Amicitia [Laelius on Friendship], ch. 13 / sec. 47 (44 BC) [tr. Shuckburgh (1909)]
    (Source)

Original Latin. Alternate translations:

For they seem to take away the sun from the world who withdraw friendship from life; for we receive nothing better from the immortal gods, nothing more delightful.
[tr. Edmonds (1871)]

It is like taking the sun out of the world, to bereave human life of friendship, than which the immortal gods have given man nothing better, nothing more gladdening.
[tr. Peabody (1887)]

Why, they seem to take the sun out of the universe when they deprive life of friendship, than which we have from the immortal gods no better, no more delightful boon.
[tr. Falconer (1923)]

For they seem to remove the sun from the Earth, these people who remove friendship from life, when we have received no better thing, no sweeter thing, from the immortal gods.
[Source]

 
Added on 10-May-21 | Last updated 11-Aug-22
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More quotes by Cicero, Marcus Tullius

My word, how mortals take the gods to task!
All their afflictions come from us, we hear.
And what of their own failings? Greed and folly
double the suffering in the lot of man.

[ὢ πόποι, οἷον δή νυ θεοὺς βροτοὶ αἰτιόωνται.
ἐξ ἡμέων γάρ φασι κάκ’ ἔμμεναι· οἱ δὲ καὶ αὐτοὶ
σφῇσιν ἀτασθαλίῃσιν ὑπὲρ μόρον ἄλγε’ ἔχουσιν.]

Homer (fl. 7th-8th C. BC) Greek author
The Odyssey [Ὀδύσσεια], Book 1, l. 32ff (1.32) [Zeus] (c. 700 BC) [tr. Fitzgerald (1961)]
    (Source)

Original Greek. Alternate translations:

O how falsely men
Accuse us Gods as authors of their ill!
When, by the bane their own bad lives instill,
They suffer all the mis’ries of their states,
Past our inflictions, and beyond their fates.
[tr. Chapman (1616)]

Ha! how dare mortals tax the Gods, and say,
Their harms do all proceed from our decree,
And by our setting; when by their crimes they
Against our wills make their own destiny?
[tr. Hobbes (1675), l. 37ff]

Perverse mankind! whose wills, created free,
Charge all their woes on absolute degree;
All to the dooming gods their guilt translate,
And follies are miscall'd the crimes of fate.
[tr. Pope (1725)]

Alas! how prone are human-kind to blame
The Pow’rs of Heav’n! From us, they say, proceed
The ills which they endure, yet more than Fate
Herself inflicts, by their own crimes incur.
[tr. Cowper (1792), l. 41ff]

Mortals, ye Powers, upbraid us with their voice,
And brand us for the fount of all their ill,
Who, of their own acts, not of fate but choice,
Heap to themselves much toil and sorrow still.
[tr. Worsley (1861), st. 6]

Why! what reproach,
Ye gods! do mortals cast on deities!
To us all their calamities they trace,
While they, themselves, through their own senseless acts,
Feel pangs their destiny had ne'er decreed.
[tr. Musgrave (1869)]

Oh heavens! how mortals now to blame the gods!
From us they say spring ills! but they themselves
By their own folly bring unfated woes.
[tr. Bigge-Wither (1869)]

Lo you now, how vainly mortal men do blame the gods! For of us they say comes evil, whereas they even of themselves, through the blindness of their own hearts, have sorrows beyond that which is ordained.
[tr. Butcher/Lang (1879)]

Lo, how men blame the gods! From us, they say, spring troubles. But through their own perversity and more than is their due they meet with sorrow.
[tr. Palmer (1891)]

See now, how men lay blame upon us gods for what is after all nothing but their own folly.
[tr. Butler (1898)]

Oh my, how mortals hold us gods responsible! For they say that their misfortunes come from us. But they get their sufferings, beyond what is fated, by way of their own acts of recklessness.
[tr. Butler (1898), rev. Kim/McCray/Nagy/Power (2018)]

Look you now, how ready mortals are to blame the gods. It is from us, they say, that evils come, but they even of themselves, through their own blind folly, have sorrows beyond that which is ordained.
[tr. Murray (1919)]

It vexes me to see how mean are these creatures of a day towards us Gods, when they charge against us the evils (far beyond our worst dooming) which their own exceeding wantonness has heaped upon themselves.
[tr. Lawrence (1932)]

What a lamentable thing it is that men should blame the gods and regard us as the source of their troubles, when it is their own wickedness that brings them sufferings worse than any which Destiny allots them.
[tr. Rieu (1946)]

Oh for shame, how the mortals put the blame upon us
gods, for they say evils come from us, but it is they, rather,
who by their own recklessness win sorrow beyond what is given.
[tr. Lattimore (1965)]

Men are so quick to blame the gods: they say
that we devise their misery. But they
themselves -- in their depravity -- design
grief greater than the griefs that fate assigns.
[tr. Mandelbaum (1990)]

Ah how shameless -- the way these mortals blame the gods.
From us alone, they say, come all their miseries, yes,
but they themselves, with their own reckless ways,
compound their pains beyond their proper share.
[tr. Fagles (1996)]

Mortals! They are always blaming the gods
For their troubles, when their own witlessness
Causes them more than they were destined for!
[tr. Lombardo (2000), l. 37ff]

Strange to behold, what blame these mortals can bring against godhead! For their ills, they assert, are from us, when they themselves by their mad recklessness have pain far past what is fated.
[tr. Merrill (2002)]

What a lamentable thing it is that men should blame the gods and regard us as the source of their troubles, when it is their own transgressions which bring them suffering that was not their destiny.
[tr. DCH Rieu (2002)]

This is not good! See how mortals find fault with us gods!
They say it is from us that all evil things come, yet it is by their
own recklessness that they suffer hardship beyond their destiny.
[tr. Verity (2016)]

This is absurd,
that mortals blame the gods! They say we cause
their suffering, but they themselves increase it
by folly.
[tr. Wilson (2017)]

My oh my, the way mortals will fasten blame on the gods!
From us, they say, evils come, yet they themselves
through their own blind recklessness have ills beyond
their fated lot.
[tr. Green (2018)]

It’s disgraceful how humans blame the gods.
They say their tribulations come from us,
when they themselves, through their own foolishness,
bring hardships which are not decreed by Fate.
[tr. Johnston (2019), l. 41ff]

 
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In all your actions, words, and thoughts, be aware that it is possible that you may depart from life at any time. But leaving the human race is nothing to be afraid of, if the gods exist; they would not involve you in anything bad. And if they do not exist or have no concern for human affairs, why should I live in a universe empty of gods and empty of providence? But the gods do exist and have concern for human affairs and have placed it wholly in the power of human beings never to meet what is truly bad.

[Ὡς ἤδη δυνατοῦ ὄντος ἐξιέναι τοῦ βίου, οὕτως ἕκαστα ποιεῖν καὶ λέγειν καὶ διανοεῖσθαι. τὸ δὲ ἐξ ἀνθρώπων ἀπελθεῖν, εἰ μὲν θεοὶ εἰσίν, οὐδὲν δεινόν: κακῷ γάρ σε οὐκ ἂν περιβάλοιεν: εἰ δὲ ἤτοι οὐκ εἰσὶν ἢ οὐ μέλει αὐτοῖς τῶν ἀνθρωπείων, τί μοι ζῆν ἐν κόσμῳ κενῷ θεῶν ἢ προνοίας κενῷ; ἀλλὰ καὶ εἰσὶ καὶ μέλει αὐτοῖς τῶν ἀνθρωπείων καὶ τοῖς μὲν κατ̓ ἀλήθειαν κακοῖς ἵνα μὴ περιπίπτῃ ὁ ἄνθρωπος, ἐπ̓ αὐτῷ τὸ πᾶν ἔθεντο.]

Marcus Aurelius (AD 121-180) Roman emperor (161-180), Stoic philosopher
Meditations, Book 2, #11 [tr. Gill (2014)]
    (Source)

Original Greek. Alternate translations:

Whatsoever thou dost affect, whatsoever thou dost project, so do, and so project all, as one who, for aught thou knowest, may at this very present depart out of this life. And as for death, if there be any gods, it is no grievous thing to leave the society of men. The gods will do thee no hurt, thou mayest be sure. But if it be so that there be no gods, or that they take no care of the world, why should I desire to live in a world void of gods, and of all divine providence? But gods there be certainly, and they take care for the world; and as for those things which be truly evil, as vice and. wickedness, such things they have put in a man's own power, that he might avoid them if he would.
[tr. Casaubon (1634), #8]

Manage all your Actions and Thoughts in such a Manner as if you were just going to step into the Grave. And what great matter is the Business of Dying; if the Gods are in Being you can suffer nothing, for they'll do you no Harm, and if they are not, or take no Care of us Mortals, why then I must tell you, that a World without either Gods, or Providence is not worth a Man's while to live in. But there's no need of this Supposition; The Being of the Gods, and their Concern in Human Affairs is beyond Dispute. And as an Instance of this, They have put it in his Power not to fall into any Calamity properly so called.
[tr. Collier (1701)]

Since it is possible that thou mayest depart from life this very moment, regulate every act and thought accordingly. But to go away from among men, if there are gods, is not a thing to be afraid of, for the gods will not involve thee in evil; but if indeed they do not exist, or if they have no concern about human affairs, what is it to me to live in a universe devoid of gods or devoid of providence? But in truth they do exist, and they do care for human things, and they have put all the means in man's power to enable him not to fall into real evils.
[tr. Long (1873 ed.)]

Manage all your actions, words, and thoughts accordingly , since you may at any moment quit life. And what great matter is the business of dying? If the gods are in being, you can suffer nothing, for they will do you no har. And if they are not, or take no care of us mortals -- why, then a world without either gods or Providence is not worth a man's while ot live in. But, in truth, the being of the gods, and their concern in human affairs, is beyond dispute. And they have put it entirely in a man's power not to fall into any calamity properly so-called.
[tr. Zimmern (1887)]

Whatever you do or say or think, it is in your power, remember, to take leave of life. In departing from this world, if indeed there are gods, there is nothing to be afraid of; for gods will not let you fall into evil. But if there are no gods, or if they do not concern themsleves with men, why live on in a world devoid of gods, or devoid of providence? But there do exist gods, who do concern themselves with men. And they have put it wholly in the power of man not to fall into any true evil.
[tr. Rendall (1898 ed.)]

Let thine every deed and word and thought be those of a man who can depart from life this moment.[16] But to go away from among men, if there are Gods, is nothing dreadful ; for they would not involve thee in evil. But if indeed there are no Gods, or if they do not concern themselves with the affairs of men, what boots it for me to live in a Universe where there are no Gods, where Providence is not? Nay, but there are Gods, and they do concern themselves with human things;[17] and they have put it wholly in man's power not to fall into evils that are truly such.
[tr. Haines (1916)]

In the conviction that it is possible you may depart from life at once, act and speak and think in every case accordingly. But to leave the company of men is nothing to fear, if gods exist; for they would not involve you in ill. If, however, they do not exist or if they take no care for man's affairs, why should I go on living in a world void of gods, or void of providence? But they do exist, and they do care for men's lives, and they have put it entirely in a man's power not to fall into real ills.
[tr. Farquharson (1944)]

In all you do or say or think, recollect that at any time the power of withdrawal from life is in your hands. If gods exist, you have nothing to fear in taking leave of mankind, for they will not let you come to harm. But if there are no gods, or if they have no concern with mortal affairs, what is life to me, in a world devoid of gods or devoid of Providence? Gods, however, do exist, and do concern themselves with the world of men. They have given us full power not to fall into any of the absolute evils.
[tr. Staniforth (1964)]

You could leave life right now. Let that determine what you do and say and think. If the gods exist, then to abandon human beings is not frightening; the gods would never subject you to harm. And if they don't exist, or don't care what happens to us, what would be the point of living in a world without gods or Providence? But they do exist, they do care what happens to us, and everything a person needs to avoid real harm they have placed within him.
[tr. Hays (2003)]

Do, say, and think each thing as if it is possible to die right now. To leave the discussion of human affairs, if there are gods, it is nothing terrible -- for they would not ensnare you in evil. If, moreover, there are no gods -- or if the realms of men are not their concern -- why would I live in a universe emptied of gods or their foresight? No, there are gods and they are concerned with the affairs of men. And they have completely arranged it that the human race many not fall into evils that are truly evil.
[tr. @sentantiq (2017)]

 
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Wisdom is by far the greatest part of joy,
and reverence toward the gods must be safeguarded.
The mighty words of the proud are paid in full
with mighty blows of fate, and at long last
those blows will teach us wisdom.

[πολλῷ τὸ φρονεῖν εὐδαιμονίας
πρῶτον ὑπάρχει. χρὴ δὲ τά γ᾽ εἰς θεοὺς
μηδὲν ἀσεπτεῖν. μεγάλοι δὲ λόγοι
μεγάλας πληγὰς τῶν ὑπεραύχων
ἀποτίσαντες
γήρᾳ τὸ φρονεῖν ἐδίδαξαν.]

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Antigone, l. 1348ff [Chorus] (441 BC) [tr. Fagles (1982), l. 1466ff]
    (Source)

Final lines of the play. Original Greek. Alternate translations:

Wisdom is first of the gifts of good fortune:
'Tis a duty, to be sure, the rites of the Gods
Duly to honor: but words without measure, the
Fruit of vain-glory, in woes without number their
Recompense finding,
Have lesson'd the agéd in wisdom.
[tr. Donaldson (1848)]

Of happiness the chiefest part
Is a wise heart:
And to defraud the gods in aught
With peril's fraught.
Swelling words of high-flown might
Mightily the gods do smite.
Chastisement for errors past
Wisdom brings to age at last.
[tr. Storr (1859)]

Wise conduct hath command of happiness
Before all else, and piety to Heaven
Must be preserved. High boastings of the proud
Bring sorrow to the height to punish pride: --
A lesson men shall learn when they are old.
[tr. Campbell (1873)]

Wisdom is provided as the chief part of happiness, and our dealings with the gods must be in no way unholy. The great words of arrogant men have to make repayment with great blows, and in old age teach wisdom.
[tr. Jebb (1891)]

Wisdom alone is man's true happiness.
We are not to dispute the will of heaven;
For ever are the boastings of the proud
By the just gods repaid, and man at last
Is taught to fear their anger and be wise.
[tr. Werner (1892)]

Wisdom is the supreme part of happiness; and reverence towards the gods must be inviolate. Great words of prideful men are ever punished with great blows, and, in old age, teach the chastened to be wise.
[tr. Jebb (1917)]

There is no happiness where there is no wisdom;
No wisdom but in submission to the gods.
Big words are always punished
And proud men in old age learn to be wise.
[tr. Fitts/Fitzgerald (1939), l. 1039ff]

Of happiness the crown
And chiefest part
Is wisdom, and to hold
The gods in awe.
This is the law
That, seeing the stricken heart
Of pride brought down,
We learn when we are old.
[tr. Watling (1947), Exodos, l. 1027ff]

Our happiness depends
on wisdom all the way.
The gods must have their due.
Great words by men of pride
bring greater blows upon them.
So wisdom comes to the old.
[tr. Wyckoff (1954)]

Of happiness, far the greatest part is wisdom,
and reverence towards the gods.
Proud words of arrogant man, in the end,
Meet punishment, great as his pride was great,
Till at last he is schooled in wisdom.
[tr. Kitto (1962)]

Wisdom is supreme for a blessed life,
And reference for the gods
Must never cease. Great words, sprung from arrogance.
Are punished by great blows.
So it is one learns, in old age, to be wise.
[tr. Woodruff (2001)]

By far is having sense the first part
of happiness. One must not act impiously toward
what pertains to gods. Big words
of boasting men,
paid for by big blows,
teach having sense in old age.
[tr. Tyrell/Bennett (2002)]

The most important thing in man’s happiness is good judgement and he must not treat with disdain the works of the gods.
The arrogant pay for their big proud words with great downfalls and it’s only then, in their old age that they gain wisdom!
[tr. Theodoridis (2004)]

The most important part of true success
is wisdom -- not to act impiously
towards the gods, for boasts of arrogant men
bring on great blows of punishment --
so in old age men can discover wisdom.
[tr. Johnston (2005)]

Knowledge truly is by far the most important part of happiness, but one must neglect nothing that the gods demand. Great words of the over-proud balanced by great falls taught us knowledge in our old age.
[tr. Thomas (2005)]
 
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Both gods knotted the rope of strife and leveling war,
strangling both sides at once by stretching the mighty cable,
never broken, never slipped, that snapped the knees of thousands.

[Τοὶ δ’ ἔριδος κρατερῆς καὶ ὁμοιΐου πτολέμοιο
πεῖραρ ἐπαλλάξαντες ἐπ’ ἀμφοτέροισι τάνυσσαν
ἄῤῥηκτόν τ’ ἄλυτόν τε, τὸ πολλῶν γούνατ’ ἔλυσεν.]

Homer (fl. 7th-8th C. BC) Greek author
The Iliad [Ἰλιάς], Book 13, l. 358ff (13.358) (c. 750 BC) [tr. Fagles (1990), l. 417ff]

On Zeus and Poseidon driving on the Greeks and Trojans during the war. Alt. trans.:

So these Gods made men’s valours great, but equall’d them with war
As harmful as their hearts were good; and stretch’d those chains as far
On both sides as their limbs could bear, in which they were involv’d
Past breach, or loosing, that their knees might therefore be dissolv’d.
[tr. Chapman (1611), l. 336ff]

These powers infold the Greek and Trojan train
In War and Discord's adamantine chain;
Indissolubly strong; the fatal tie
Is stretched on both, and close-compelled they die.
[tr. Pope (1715-20)]

Thus, these Immortal Two, straining the cord
Indissoluble of all-wasting war,
Alternate measured with it either host,
And loosed the joints of many a warrior bold.
[tr. Cowper (1791), l. 438ff]

This way and that they tugg’d of furious war
And balanc’d strife, where many a warrior fell,
The straining rope, which none might break or loose.
[tr. Derby (1864)]

These twain had strained the ends of the cords of strong strife and equal war, and had stretched them over both Trojans and Achaians, a knot that none might break nor undo, for the loosening of the knees of many.
[tr. Leaf/Lang/Myers (1891)]

Thus, then, did these two devise a knot of war and battle, that none could unloose or break, and set both sides tugging at it, to the failing of men's knees beneath them.
[tr. Butler (1898)]

So these twain knotted the ends of the cords of mighty strife and evil war, and drew them taut over both armies, a knot none might break nor undo, that loosed the knees of many men.
[tr. Murray (1924)]

So these two had looped over both sides a crossing
cable of strong discord and the closing of the battle, not to be
slipped, not to be broken, which unstrung the knees of many.
[tr. Lattimore (1951)]

These gods had interlocked and drawn
an ultimate hard line of strife and war
between the armies; none
could loosen or break that line
that had undone the knees of many men.
[tr. Fitzgerald (1974)]

 
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It would be a pretty good bet that the gods of a world like this probably do not play chess and indeed this is the case. In fact no gods anywhere play chess. They haven’t got the imagination. Gods prefer simple, vicious games, where you Do Not Achieve Transcendence but Go Straight To Oblivion; a key to the understanding of all religion is that a god’s idea of amusement is Snakes and Ladders with greased rungs.

Terry Pratchett (1948-2015) English author
Wyrd Sisters (1988)
    (Source)
 
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Idiot, not to know
his days are numbered who would fight the gods!
His children will not sing around his knees
“Papà! Papà!” on his return from war.

Ὅττι μάλ’ οὐ δηναιὸς ὃς ἀθανάτοισι μάχηται,
οὐδέ τί μιν παῖδες ποτὶ γούνασι παππάζουσιν
ἐκ πολέμοιο καὶ αἰνῆς δηϊοτῆτος.

Homer (fl. 7th-8th C. BC) Greek author
The Iliad [Ἰλιάς], Book 5, l. 407ff (5.407-409) (c. 750 BC) [tr. Fitzgerald (1974), l. 467ff]
    (Source)

Alt. trans.:

Not knowing he that fights with Heav’n hath never long to live,
And for this deed, he never shall have child about his knee
To call him father, coming home.
[tr. Chapman (1611), ll. 387-89]

No man who fights with gods will live long or hear his children prattling about his knees when he returns from battle.
[tr. Butler (1898)]

Know thou, whoe'er with heavenly power contends,
Short is his date, and soon his glory ends;
From fields of death when late he shall retire,
No infant on his knees shall call him sire.
[tr. Pope (1715-20)]

Infatuate! he forgets
That whoso turns against the Gods his arm
Lives never long; he never, safe escaped
From furious fight, the lisp’d caresses hears
Of his own infants prattling at his knees.
[tr. Cowper (1791), ll. 474-78]

Infatuate! nor does the son of Tydeus know this in his mind, that he is by no means long-lived who fights with the immortals, nor ever at his knees will sons lisp a father’s name, as he returns from war and dreadful battle.
[tr. Buckley (1860)]

Unknowing he how short his term of life
Who fights against the Gods! for him no child
Upon his knee shall lisp a father's name,
Safe from the war and battle-field return'd.
[tr. Derby (1864), ll. 463-466]

Verily he endureth not for long who fighteth with the immortals, nor do his children prattle about his knees when he is come back from war and the dread conflict.
[tr. Murray (1924)]

That man who fights the immortals lives for no long time, his children do not gather to his knees to welcome their father when he returns home after the fighting and the bitter warfare.
[tr. Lattimore (1951)]

Doesn't the son of Tydeus know, down deep,
the man who fights the gods does not live long?
Nor do his children ride his knees with cries of 'Father' --
home at last from the wars and heat of battle.
[tr. Fagles (1990), ll. 465-468]

 
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Experts in ancient Greek culture say that people back then didn’t see their thoughts as belonging to them. When ancient Greeks had a thought, it occurred to them as a god or goddess giving an order. Apollo was telling them to be brave. Athena was telling them to fall in love.

Now people hear a commercial for sour cream potato chips and rush out to buy them, but now they call this free will.

At least the ancient Greeks were being honest.

Chuck Palahniuk (b. 1962) American novelist and freelance journalist
Lullaby, ch. 3 (2002)
    (Source)

Much of this is repeated in ch. 39.
 
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Gods always behave like the people who make them.

Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960) American writer, folklorist, anthropologist
Tell My Horse, ch. 15 (1938)
 
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And therefore it was a good answer that was made by one who, when they showed him hanging in a temple a picture of those who had paid their vows as having escaped shipwreck, and would have him say whether he did not now acknowledge the power of the gods — “Aye,” asked he again, “but where are they painted that were drowned after their vows?” And such is the way of all superstition, whether in astrology, dreams, omens, divine judgments, or the like; wherein men, having a delight in such vanities, mark the events where they are fulfilled, but where they fail, though this happen much oftener, neglect and pass them by.

Francis Bacon (1561-1626) English philosopher, scientist, author, statesman
Novum Organum, Book 1, Aphorism 46 (1620)
    (Source)
 
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He shrugged his shoulders. “I have known many gods. He who denies them is as blind as he who trusts them too deeply. I seek not beyond death. It may be the blackness averred by the Nemedian skeptics, or Crom’s realm of ice and cloud, or the snowy plains and vaulted halls of the Nordheimer’s Valhalla. I know not, nor do I care. Let me live deep while I live; let me know the rich juices of red meat and stinging wine on my palate, the hot embrace of white arms, the mad exultation of battle when the blue blades flame and crimson, and I am content. Let teachers and priests and philosophers brood over questions of reality and illusion. I know this: if life is illusion, then I am no less an illusion, and being thus, the illusion is real to me. I live, I burn with life, I love, I slay, and am content.”

Robert E. Howard (1906-1936) American author
“Queen of the Black Coast” (1934)
 
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Do your duty, and leave the outcome to the Gods.

Pierre Corneille (1606-1684) French tragedian
Horace, Act 2, sc. 8 (1640)
 
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When struck by a thunderbolt it is unnecessary to consult the Book of Dates as to the precise meaning of the omen.

Ernest Bramah (1868-1942) English author [Ernest Brammah Smith]
“The Transformation of Ling,” The Wallet of Kai Lung (1900)
 
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When the gods wish to punish us, they answer our prayers.

Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) Irish poet, wit, dramatist
An Ideal Husband, Act 2 (1895)
 
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To search for meaning we must not forget that the gods (or God, for that matter) are a concept of the human mind; they are the creatures of man, not vice-versa. They are invented to give meaning and purpose to the puzzle that is life on earth, to explain strange and irregular phenomena of nature, haphazard events, and, above all, irrational human conduct. They exist to bear the burden of all the things that cannot be comprehended except by supernatural intervention or design.

Barbara W. Tuchman (1912-1989) American historian and author
The March of Folly: from Troy to Vietnam, ch. 2 (1984)
    (Source)
 
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There is no great invention, from fire to flying, which has not been hailed as an insult to some god.

J.B.S. Haldane (1892-1964) English geneticist [John Burden Sanderson Haldane]
“Daedalus, or Science and the Future,” speech, Cambridge (24 Feb 1923)
    (Source)
 
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I believe that the gods themselves are frightened of the world which they have fashioned.

Peter Ackroyd (b. 1949) English biographer, novelist, critic
The Last Testament of Oscar Wilde (1983)
 
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Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.

Marcus Aurelius (AD 121-180) Roman emperor (161-180), Stoic philosopher
(Spurious)

Widely attributed to Marcus Aurelius, but no actual citation found, and with some discrepancies to his philosophy. The closest match appears to be Meditations 2.11, but it is a very poor match.

More information:
 
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Against stupidity the very gods
Themselves contend in vain.

[Mit der Dummheit kämpfen Götter selbst vergebens]

Schiller - against stupidity the gods themselves - wist_info quote

Friedrich Schiller (1759-1805) German poet, playwright, critic [Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller]
The Maid of Orleans [Die Jungfrau von Orleans], Act III, sc. vi (1801) [tr. Swanwick]

Alt. trans:

  • "Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain."
  • "Against stupidity the gods themselves labor in vain."
  • "Against stupidity the gods themselves fight unvictorious."
  • "Against stupidity even the gods contend in vain."
  • "With stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain."
  • "With stupidity the gods themselves struggle in vain."
 
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Heaven-sent calamities you may stand up against, but you cannot survive those brought on by yourself.

Shu Ching (6th Century BC) Chinese collection of political philosophy [Shujing, Shu-kin, Shangshu, The Book of History, The Book of Documents, or The Classic of History]
T’ai Chia

Also cited as Shu Ching 4, 5
 
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Chi-lu asked how the spirits of the dead and the gods should be served. The Master said, “You are not able even to serve man. How can you serve the spirits?”

[季路問事鬼神。子曰、未能事人、焉能事鬼。]

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 11, verse 12 (11.12) (6th C. BC – AD 3rd C.) [tr. Lau (1979)]
    (Source)

Brooks (below) suggests that this passage was interpolated into Book 11 around the time of Book 16. This analect was originally numbered 11.11 by Legge and other early translators (as noted below). (Source (Chinese)). Alternate translations:

Chi Lu asked about serving the spirits of the dead. The Master said, "While you are not able to serve men, how can you serve their spirits?"
[tr. Legge (1861), 11.11]

Tszlu propounded a question about ministering to the spirits ((of the departed). The Master replied, "Where there is scarcely the ability to minister to living men, how shall there be ability to minister to the spirits?"
[tr. Jennings (1895), 11.11]

A disciple (the intrepid Chung Yu) enquired how one should behave towards the spirits of dead men. Confucius answered, "We cannot as yet do our duties to living men; why should we enquire about our duties to dead men?"
[tr. Ku Hung-Ming (1898), 11.11]

When Chi Lu asked about his duty to the spirits the Master replied: "While still unable to do your duty to the living, how can you do your duty to the dead?"
[tr. Soothill (1910), 11.11]

Chi Lu asked about the service for ghosts and spirits. Confucius said, You cannot be useful to the living, how can you be useful to (serve) ghosts?
[tr. Pound (1933), 11.11]

Tsu-lu asked how one should serve ghosts and spirits. The master said, Till you have learnt to serve men, how can you serve ghosts?
[tr. Waley (1938), 11.11]

Zilu asked about serving ghosts and spirits. The Master said: "If one is not yet capable of serving men, how can one serve ghosts?"
[tr. Dawson (1993)]

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

When Ji-lu asked how to serve the spirits and gods, the Master said, "You cannot serve men yet; how can you serve the spirits?"
[tr. Huang (1997)]

Jilu asked how to service the gods, Confucius said: "One could not service the human beings yet, how could one service the gods?"
[tr. Cai/Yu (1998), #272]

Zilu asked how to serve the spirits and the gods. The master replied, "Not yet being able to serve other people, how would you be able to serve the spirits?"
[tr. Ames/Rosemont (1998)]

Jì-Lì asked about serving ghosts and spirits. The Master said, You cannot yet serve men, how could you serve ghosts?
[tr. Brooks/Brooks (1998)]

When Adept Lu asked about serving ghosts and spirits, the Master said, "You haven't learned to serve the living, so how could you serve ghosts?"
[tr. Hinton (1998)]

Zilu asked about serving ghosts and spirits. The Master said, “You are not yet able to serve people -- how could you be able to serve ghosts and spirits?”
[tr. Slingerland (2003)]

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

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

Ji Lu asked about how to serve and worship gods and spirits. Confucius said, "You still have not served men well. Why do you bother serving gods and spirits?"
[tr. Li (2020)]

If you don't know how to serve men, why worry about serving the gods?
[Common translation]

 
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When we talk of tomorrow, the gods laugh.

(Other Authors and Sources)
Chinese proverb
 
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Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods.

[Wer es unternimmt, auf dem Gebiet der Wahrheit und der Erkenntnis als Autoritat aufzutreten, scheitert am Gelachter der Gotter.]

Albert Einstein (1879-1955) German-American physicist
“Neun Aphorismen” (23 May 1953), Essays Presented to Leo Baeck on the Occasion of His Eightieth Birthday (1954) [Einstein Archives 28-962]
    (Source)

Original German. Alternate translation: "He who endeavors to present himself as an authority in matters of truth and cognition, will be wrecked by the laughter of the gods."
 
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We, ignorant of ourselves,
Beg often our own harms, which the wise powers
Deny us for our good; so find we profit
By losing of our prayers.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
Antony and Cleopatra, Act 2, sc. 1, l. 7ff [Menas] (1607)
    (Source)
 
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For the name of these gods there is both a serious and a humorous explanation; the serious explanation is not to be had from me, but there is no hindrance to my offering the humorous one, for the gods too are fond of a joke.

[ἀλλὰ ἔστι γὰρ καὶ σπουδαίως εἰρημένος ὁ τρόπος τῶν ὀνομάτων τούτοις τοῖς θεοῖς καὶ παιδικῶς. τὸν μὲν οὖν σπουδαῖον ἄλλους τινὰς ἐρώτα, τὸν δὲ παιδικὸν οὐδὲν κωλύει διελθεῖν: φιλοπαίσμονες γὰρ καὶ οἱ θεοί.]

Socrates - The gods, too, are fond of a joke - wist.info quote

Socrates (c.470-399 BC) Greek philosopher
In Plato, Cratylus [Κρατύλος], ch. 23 / 406c [tr. Hyers (1969)]
    (Source)

The final phrase, "The gods, too, are fond of a joke," is broadly misattributed to Aristotle, without any citation. It is also sometimes misattributed to Edward Albee.

Cratylus is dialogue about the nature of names. Socrates, here, has been asked about the origins of the names of the gods, Dionysus and Aphrodite. Burges (below) notes that Plato had been "partly initiated into the mysteries of Demeter and Dionysus," part of which dealt seriously with the meanings of those deities' names; his avoiding the "serious explanation" is not betray his oath of secrecy to the cult.

(Source (Greek)). Alternate translations:

But the mode of nomination, belonging to these divinities, is both serious and jocose. Ask therefore others about the serious mode; but nothing hinders us from relating the jocose; for these deities are lovers of jesting and sport.
[tr. Taylor (1804)]

But the manner of the appellations given to these divinities, has been said to be both serious and jocose. Ask therefore others about the serious manner; but nothing hinders us from relating the jocose; for these deities are lovers of jesting and sport.
[tr. Burges (1850)]

There is a serious and also a facetious explanation of both these names; the serious explanation is not to be had from me, but there is no objection to your hearing the facetious one; for the Gods too love a joke.
[tr. Jowett (1892)]

You see there is both a serious and a facetious account of the form of the name of these deities. You will have to ask others for the serious one; but there is nothing to hinder my giving you the facetious account, for the gods also have a sense of humor.
[tr. Fowler (1926)]

 
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Whom the gods would destroy they first make mad with power;
The mills of God grind slowly, but they grind exceedingly small;
The bee fertilizes the flower it robs;
When it is dark enough, you can see the stars.

Charles A Beard
Charles Beard (1874-1948) American historian
Summary of human history, in reply to George S. Counts
 
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