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Many in life esteem themselves great men
who then will wallow here like pigs in mud,
leaving behind them their repulsive fame.

[Quanti si tegnon or là sù gran regi
che qui staranno come porci in brago,
di sé lasciando orribili dispregi!]

Dante Alighieri the poet
Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) Italian poet
The Divine Comedy [Divina Commedia], Book 1 “Inferno,” Canto 8, l. 49ff (8.49) [Virgil] (1320) [tr. Musa (1971)]

(Source (Italian)). Alternate translations:

How many Kings were thought of high renown,
Who wallow in this marsh, like Hogs in mire,
Leaving their horrid characters behind!
[tr. Rogers (1782), l. 41ff]

There many a regal Chief of ancient note,
Wallowing thro' mire obscene lament their lot,
In ruin roll'd, like brethren of the sty.
[tr. Boyd (1802), st. 9]

There above
How many now hold themselves mighty kings
Who here like swine shall wallow in the mire,
Leaving behind them horrible dispraise!
[tr. Cary (1814)]

How many kings now there set up their horn,
That here shall wallow as in filth the swine,
And leave their names to execrable scorn!
[tr. Dayman (1843)]

How many up there now think themselves great kings, that shall lie here like swine in mire, leaving behind them horrible reproaches!
[tr. Carlyle (1849)]

How many mighty kings are now above,
Shall one day stand like hogs within their stye,
Disparaging their memory terribly.
[tr. Bannerman (1850)]

Above how many live as mighty kings
Who here like swine shall grovel in the mire,
Leaving behind them shame and foul contempt!
[tr. Johnston (1867)]

How many are esteemed great kings up there,
⁠Who here shall be like unto swine in mire,
⁠Leaving behind them horrible dispraises!
[tr. Longfellow (1867)]

How many now hold themselves great kings up there who shall stand here like swine in the slush, leaving horrible dispraise of themselves!
[tr. Butler (1885)]

Many great kings who now lift up their horns
Will wallow here like swine in filthy swill,
Leaving their memories to most horrible scorns.
[tr. Minchin (1885)]

How many now up there are held great kings who shall stand here like swine in mire, leaving of themselves horrible dispraises.
[tr. Norton (1892)]

How many are there that bear themselves above as mighty kings, that here shall stand like swine in slush, leaving behind them loathing and condemnation!
[tr. Sullivan (1893)]

How many count themselves up there great princes,
Who here like hogs in mire shall have their station,
Leaving behind them horrible reproaches!
[tr. Griffith (1908)]

How many above there now account themselves great kings who shall lie here like swine in the mire, leaving of themselves horrible dispraises!
[tr. Sinclair (1939)]

How many above there deem themselves great kings
Now, who shall lie wallowing in mire like swine,
Leaving a name that with dishonor rings!
[tr. Binyon (1943)]

Many who strut like kings up there are such
As here shall wallow hog-like in the mud,
Leaving behind nothing but foul reproach.
[tr. Sayers (1949)]

How many living now, chancellors of wrath,
shall come to lie here yet in this pigmire,
leaving a curse to be their aftermath!
[tr. Ciardi (1954)]

How many up there now account themselves great kings, that here shall lie like swine in mire, leaving behind them horrible dispraises.
[tr. Singleton (1970)]

How many up above now count themselves
great kings, who'll wallow here like pigs in slime,
leaving behind foul memories of crimes!
[tr. Mandelbaum (1980)]

How many, up there, think themselves great kings
Who here will wallow in the mire like pigs,
Leaving behind them nothing but infamous horrors.
[tr. Sisson (1981)]

In the world above, how many a self-deceiver
Now counting himself a mighty king will sprawl
Swinelike amid the mire when life is over,
Leaving behind a name that men revile.
[tr. Pinsky (1994)]

How many consider themselves great kings up
above, who here will be like pigs in the mire, leaving
behind horrible dispraise of themselves!
[tr. Durling (1996)]

How many up there think themselves mighty kings, that will lie here like pigs in mire, leaving behind them dire condemnation!
[tr. Kline (2002)]

How many, in the world above, pose there
as kings but here will like like pigs in much,
leaving behind them horrible dispraise.
[tr. Kirkpatrick (2006)]

How many now above who think themselves
great kings will lie here in the mud, like swine,
leaving behind nothing but ill repute!
[tr. Hollander/Hollander (2007)]

How many think themselves the greatest of kings,
But here will lie around like pigs in slime,
Remembered for having indulged in horrible things!
[tr. Raffel (2010)]

And there are others up there of the same
Persuasion they are kings. They, too, will be
Pigs in this filthy sty, and leave behind
Nothing but curses rained upon the hole
Their swelled heads filled.
[tr. James (2013), l. 47ff]

Added on 3-Mar-23 | Last updated 3-Mar-23
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More quotes by Dante Alighieri

I have yet to see a serious act of violence that was not provoked by the experience of feeling shamed or humiliated, disrespected and ridiculed.

James Gilligan (b. c. 1936) American psychiatrist and author
Interview in Jon Ronson, So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, ch. 13 (2015)
Added on 26-Jul-22 | Last updated 26-Jul-22
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I’m not interested so much in how people survive as in how they avoid humiliation. Chekhov says we must never humiliate one another, and I think avoiding humiliation is the core of tragedy and comedy and probably of our lives.

John Guare
John Guare (b. 1938) American playwright and screenwriter
The House of Blue Leaves, Introduction (1971)
Added on 4-Oct-21 | Last updated 4-Oct-21
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There is another sort of lies, inoffensive enough in themselves, but wonderfully ridiculous; I mean those lies which a mistaken vanity suggests, that defeat the very end for which they are calculated, and terminate in the humiliation and confusion of their author, who is sure to be detected. These are chiefly narrative and historical lies, all intended to do infinite honor to their author. He is always the hero of his own romances; he has been in dangers from which nobody but himself ever escaped; he as seen with his own eyes, whatever other people have heard or read of; he has had more bonnes fortunes than ever he knew women; and has ridden more miles post in one day, than ever courier went in two. He is soon ridiculed, and as soon becomes the object of universal contempt and ridicule.

Lord Chesterfield (1694-1773) English statesman, wit [Philip Dormer Stanhope]
Letter to his son, #126 (21 Sep 1747)
Added on 4-Feb-21 | Last updated 12-Oct-22
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I was a model child. It was the teacher’s mistake I am sure. The box was drawn on the blackboard and the names of misbehaving children were written in it. As I adored my teacher, Miss Smith, I was destroyed to see my name appear. This was just the first of the many humiliations of my youth that I’ve tried to revenge through my writing. I have never fully exorcised shames that struck me to the heart as a child except through written violence, shadowy caricature, and dark jokes.

Louise Erdrich (b. 1954) American author, poet
Interview with Lisa Halliday, “The Art of Fiction” #208, The Paris Review (Winter 2010)

On the inspiration behind Dot Adare's 1st Grade teacher putting her into the "naughty box" in The Beet Queen (1986).
Added on 8-Sep-20 | Last updated 8-Sep-20
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I couldn’t get myself to read the want ads. The thought of sitting in front of a man behind a desk and telling him that I wanted a job, that I was qualified for a job, was too much for me. Frankly, I was horrified by life, at what a man had to do simply in order to eat, sleep, and keep himself clothed.

Charles Bukowski (1920-1994) German-American author, poet
Factotum, ch. 31 (1975)
Added on 13-Mar-20 | Last updated 13-Mar-20
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Nothing is more humiliating than seeing fools succeed where one has failed.

[Rien n’est humiliant comme de voir les sots réussir dans les entreprises où l’on échoue.]

Gustave Flaubert (1821-1880) French writer, novelist
Sentimental Education, Part 1, ch. 5 (1869) [tr. Baldick (1964)/Wall (2004)]

Alt. trans.:
  • "Nothing is more humiliating than to see idiots succeed in enterprises we have failed in."
  • "There is nothing so humiliating to see as blockheads succeed in undertakings in which we ourselves fail." [Ranout ed. (1922)]
  • "There is nothing so humiliating as to see blockheads succeed in undertakings in which we fail." [tr. Bouvard ed. rev. (2003)]
Added on 30-Jan-20 | Last updated 30-Jan-20
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Like young men from the dawn of time, I decided to choose the risk of death over certain humiliation.

Ben Aaronovitch (b. 1964) British author
Whispers Under Ground (2012)
Added on 16-Dec-15 | Last updated 16-Dec-15
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The greatest humiliation in life, is to work hard on something from which you expect great appreciation, and then fail to get it.

Edgar Watson "Ed" Howe (1853-1937) American journalist and author [E. W. Howe]
Ventures in Common Sense, “Miscellany of Life” (1919)
Added on 24-Jan-13 | Last updated 3-Mar-20
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