Quotations about   good people

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The company of just and righteous men is better
than wealth and a rich estate.

[κρεῖσσον δὲ πλούτου καὶ βαϑυσπόρου χϑονὸς
ἀνδρῶν δικαίων χἀγαϑῶν ὁμιλίαι]

Euripides (485?-406? BC) Greek tragic dramatist
Ægeus [Αἰγέως], Frag. 7 (TGF) [tr. Morgan]
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(Source (Greek))
Added on 26-Jul-22 | Last updated 26-Jul-22
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Those who so act and so live as to give proof of loyalty and uprightness, of fairness and generosity; who are free from all passion, caprice, and insolence, and have great strength of character — men like those just mentioned — such men let us consider good, as they were accounted good in life, and also entitled to be called by that term because, in as far as that is possible for man, they follow Nature, who is the best guide to good living.

[Qui ita se gerunt, ita vivunt, ut eorum probetur fides integritas aequitas1 liberalitas, nec sit in eis ulla cupiditas libido audacia, sintque magna constantia, ut ei fuerunt, modo quos nominavi, hos viros bonos, ut habiti sunt, sic etiam appellandos putemus, quia sequantur, quantum homines possunt, naturam optimam bene vivendi ducem.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
Laelius De Amicitia [Laelius on Friendship], ch. 5, part 3 (5.3) / sec. 19 (44 BC) [tr. Falconer (1923)]
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Original Latin. Alternate translations:

Those who so conduct themselves, and so live that their honor, their integrity, their justice, and liberality are approved; so that there is not in them any covetousness, or licentiousness, or boldness; and that they are of great consistency, as those men whom I have mentioned above; -- let us consider these worthy of the appellation of good men, as they have been accounted such because they follow (as far as men are able) nature, which is the best guide of a good life.
[tr. Edmonds (1871)]

Those who so conduct themselves, so live, that their good faith, integrity, equity, and kindness win approval, who are entirely free from avarice, lust, and the infirmities of a hasty temper, and in whom there is perfect consistency of character; in fine, men like those whom I have named, while they are regarded as good, ought to be so called, because to the utmost of human capacity they follow Nature, who is the best guide in living well.
[tr. Peabody (1887)]

We mean then by the "good" those whose actions and lives leave no question as to their honour, purity, equity, and liberality; who are free from greed, lust, and violence; and who have the courage of their convictions. The men I have just named may serve as examples. Such men as these being generally accounted “good,” let us agree to call them so, on the ground that to the best of human ability they follow nature as the most perfect guide to a good life.
[tr. Shuckburgh (1909)]

Those who comport themselves in such a way, who live in such a way that their loyalty, integrity, fairness and generosity are proven, such that there is no desire, lust, and insolence in them, and such that they have great steadfastness of character (like those whom I named just before), we consider ought indeed to be called good men (as is customary), because they follow (as much as humans can) nature -- the best leader in proper living.
[Source]

Added on 19-Apr-21 | Last updated 11-Aug-22
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But I must at the very beginning lay down this principle — friendship can only exist between good men.

[Sed hoc primum sentio, nisi in bonis amicitiam esse non posse]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
Laelius De Amicitia [Laelius on Friendship], ch. 5 / sec. 18 (44 BC) [tr. Shuckburgh (1909)]
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Original Latin. Alternate translations:

  • "But first of all, I am of opinion, that except among the virtuous, friendship cannot exist." [tr. Edmonds (1871)]
  • "But I consider this as a first principle, -- that friendship can exist only between good men." [tr. Peabody (1887)]
  • "This, however, I do feel first of all -- that friendship cannot exist except among good men." [tr. Falconer (1923)]
  • "But first of all, I think this: except among good people, friendship cannot exist." [Source]
Added on 12-Apr-21 | Last updated 11-Aug-22
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We are all ready to be savage in some cause. The difference between a good man and a bad one is the choice of the cause.

William James (1842-1910) American psychologist and philosopher
Letter to E. L. Godkin (24 Dec 1895)
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Added on 29-Oct-20 | Last updated 29-Oct-20
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I believe in aristocracy, though — if that is the right word, and if a democrat may use it. Not an aristocracy of power, based upon rank and influence, but an aristocracy of the sensitive, the considerate and the plucky. Its members are to be found in all nations and classes, and all through the ages, and there is a secret understanding between them when they meet. They represent the true human tradition, the one permanent victory of our queer race over cruelty and chaos. Thousands of them perish in obscurity, a few are great names. They are sensitive for others as well as for themselves, they are considerate without being fussy, their pluck is not swankiness but the power to endure, and they can take a joke.

E. M. Forster (1879-1970) English novelist, essayist, critic, librettist [Edward Morgan Forster]
“What I Believe,” The Nation (16 Jul 1938)
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Added on 5-Feb-20 | Last updated 5-Feb-20
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Even in a time of elephantine vanity and greed, one never has to look far to see the campfires of gentle people.

Garrison Keillor (b. 1942) American entertainer, author
“The Meaning of Life,” We Are Still Married (1989)
Added on 20-Nov-14 | Last updated 20-Nov-14
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That best portion of a good man’s life,
His little, nameless, unremembered acts
Of kindness and love.

William Wordsworth (1770-1850) English poet
“Lines Composed a few Miles above Tintern Abbey” (13 Jul 1798)
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Often paraphrased into a sentence, e.g., "The best portion of a good man's life is his little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and of love."
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 7-Apr-20
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It is absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are either charming or tedious.

Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) Irish poet, wit, dramatist
Lady Windemere’s Fan, Act 1 [Lord Darlington] (1892)
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Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 9-Aug-21
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