Quotations about:
    hunger


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Foolish people, I say, then, who have never experienced much of either, will tell you that mental distress is far more agonizing than bodily. Romantic and touching theory! so comforting to the love-sick young sprig who looks down patronizingly at some poor devil with a white starved face and thinks to himself, “Ah, how happy you are compared with me!” — so soothing to fat old gentlemen who cackle about the superiority of poverty over riches. But it is all nonsense — all cant. An aching head soon makes one forget an aching heart. A broken finger will drive away all recollections of an empty chair. And when a man feels really hungry he does not feel anything else.

Jerome K. Jerome (1859-1927) English writer, humorist [Jerome Klapka Jerome]
Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow, “On Eating and Drinking” (1886)
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Added on 28-May-24 | Last updated 13-May-24
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In truth, poverty is an anomaly to rich people. It is very difficult to make out why people who want dinner do not ring the bell.

Walter Bagehot (1826-1877) British businessman, essayist, journalist
“The Waverley Novels,” National Review (1858-04)
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A review of Sir Walter Scott's very popular and lengthy book series of that name, which includes his (today) most famous, Ivanhoe.
 
Added on 3-Apr-24 | Last updated 3-Apr-24
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Oh, God, I know no joy as great as a moment of rushing into a new love, no ecstasy like that of a new love. I swim in the sky; I float; my body is full of flowers, flowers with fingers giving me acute, acute caresses, sparks, jewels, quivers of joy, dizziness, such dizziness. Music inside of one, drunkenness. Only closing the eyes and remembering, and the hunger, the hunger for more, more, the great hunger, the voracious hunger, and thirst.

Anaïs Nin (1903-1977) Catalan-Cuban-French author, diarist
Diary (1934-05)
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Added on 29-Feb-24 | Last updated 29-Feb-24
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To what extremes, O cursèd lust for gold
will you not drive man’s appetite?
 
[Per che non reggi tu, o sacra fame
de l’oro, l’appetito de’ mortali?]

Dante Alighieri the poet
Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) Italian poet
The Divine Comedy [Divina Commedia], Book 2 “Purgatorio,” Canto 22, l. 40ff (22.40-41) [Statius] (1314) [tr. Musa (1981)]
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Statius is quoting Virgil (whose shade stands in front of him) from The Aeneid, Book 3, ll. 56-57:

Quid non mortalia pectora cogis,
Auri sacra fames?

Unlike the phrase in that pagan book, which is purely about the corrupting power of greed and gold-lust, Dante's Italian and some translators make reference to a "holy hunger," a virtue/rule of proper attitude toward money and spending, criticized here for it not restraining humans from the sins of being either spendthrifts or misers -- a nod to Aristotle making sin about extremes and virtue about moderation. See Ciardi, Durling, Kirkpatrick, Princeton, and Sayers for more discussion.

(Source (Italian)). Alternate translations:

Why, thou cursed thirst
Of gold! dost not with juster measure guide
The appetite of mortals?
[tr. Cary (1814)]

Why should'st thou not restrain accursèd thirst
Of gold, the appetite of mortals lost?
[tr. Bannerman (1850)]

To what impellest thou not, O cursed hunger
Of gold, the appetite of mortal men?
[tr. Longfellow (1867)]

Why restrainest thou not, O holy hunger of gold, the desire of mortals?
[tr. Butler (1885)]

To what lengths, O thou cursed thirst of gold,
Dost thou not rule the mortal appetite?
[tr. Minchin (1885)]

O cursed hunger of gold, to what dost thou not impel the appetite of mortals?
[tr. Norton (1892)]

Wherefore dost thou not regulate the lust of mortals, O hallowed hunger of gold?
[tr. Okey (1901)]

To what, O cursed hunger for gold, dost thou not drive the appetite of mortals?
[tr. Sinclair (1939)]

O hallowed hunger of gold, why dost thou not
The appetite of mortal men control?
[tr. Binyon (1943)]

With what constraint constran'st thou not the lust
Of mortals, thou devoted greed of gold!
[tr. Sayers (1955)]

To what do you not drive man's appetite,
O cursèd gold-lust!
[tr. Ciardi (1961)]

Why do you not control the appetite
Of mortals, O you accurst hunger for gold?
[tr. Sisson (1981)]

Why cannot you, o holy hunger
for gold, restrain the appetite of mortals?
[tr. Mandelbaum (1982)]

O sacred hunger for gold, why do you not rule human appetite?
[tr. Kline (2002)]

Why do you, O holy hunger for gold, not
govern the appetite of mortals?
[tr. Durling (2003)]

You, awestruck hungering for gold! Why not
impose a rule on mortal appetite?
[tr. Kirkpatrick (2007)]

To what end, O cursèd hunger for gold,
do you not govern the appetite of mortals?
[tr. Hollander/Hollander (2007)]

Accursed craving for money, what is there, in
This world, you don't lead human beings to?
[tr. Raffel (2010)]

 
Added on 23-Feb-24 | Last updated 23-Feb-24
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More quotes by Dante Alighieri

There are such things as to speak well, to speak easily, to speak correctly, and to speak seasonably. We offend against the last way of speaking if we mention a sumptuous entertainment we have just been present at before people who have not had enough to eat; if we boast of our good health before invalids; if we talk of our riches, our income, and our fine furniture to a man who has not so much as an income or a dwelling; in a word, if we speak of our prosperity before people who are wretched; such a conversation is too much for them, and the comparison which they then make between their condition and ours is very painful.

[Il y a parler bien, parler aisément, parler juste, parler à propos. C’est pécher contre ce dernier genre que de s’étendre sur un repas magnifique que l’on vient de faire, devant des gens qui sont réduits à épargner leur pain; de dire merveilles de sa santé devant des infirmes; d’entretenir de ses richesses, de ses revenus et de ses ameublements un homme qui n’a ni rentes ni domicile; en un mot, de parler de son bonheur devant des misérables: cette conversation est trop forte pour eux, et la comparaison qu’ils font alors de leur état au vôtre est odieuse.]

Jean de La Bruyere
Jean de La Bruyère (1645-1696) French essayist, moralist
The Characters [Les Caractères], ch. 5 “Of Society and Conversation [De la Société et de la Conversation],” § 23 (5.23) (1688) [tr. Van Laun (1885)]
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(Source (French)). Alternate translations:

Some men talk well, easily, justly, and to the purpose: those offend in the last kind, who speak of the Banquets they are to be at, before such as are reduc'd to spare their Bread; of sound Limbs, before the Infirm; of Demesnes and Revenues, before the Poor and Needy; of fine Houses and Furniture, before such as have neither Dwelling or Moveables: in a word, who speak of Prosperity, before the Miserable. This conversation is too strong for 'em, and the comparison you make between their condition and yours is odious.
[Bullord ed. (1696)]

There is speaking well, speaking easily, speaking justly, and speaking seasonably: 'Tis transgressing the last rule, to speak ofthe sumptuous Entertainments you have made, before such as are reduc'd to want of Bread; of a healthy Constitution of Body, before the Infirm; of Demesnes, Revenues and Furniture, before a Man who has neither Dwelling, Rents, nor Movables; in a word, to speak of your Prosperity before the Miserable: this Conversation is too strong from them, and the Comparison they make between their Condition and yours is odious.
[Curll ed. (1713)]

There is speaking well, speaking easily, speaking justly, and speaking seasonably: It is offending against the last, to speak of Entertainments before the Indigent; of sound Limbs and Health before the Infirm; of Houses and Lands before one who has not so much as a Dwelling; in a Word, to speak of your Prosperity before the Miserable; this Conversation is cruel, and the Comparison which naturally rises in them betwixt their Condition and yours is excruciating.
[Browne ed. (1752)]

There is a difference between speaking well, speaking easily, speaking with judgement and speaking opportunely. We fail in this last respect when we enlarge upon the splendid meal we have just enjoyed in front of people who have to be thrifty of their bread; or boast of our health in the presence of invalids; or talk about our wealth, our fortune and property to a man who has neither home nor income; in a word, when we speak of our happiness in front of those who are wretched; such conversation is too painful for them, and the comparison they are bound to make between your state and their own is intolerable.
[tr. Stewart (1970)]

 
Added on 20-Feb-24 | Last updated 20-Feb-24
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Where bread is wanting, all’s to be sold.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard (1733)
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Added on 21-Aug-23 | Last updated 21-Aug-23
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Hunger never saw bad bread.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard (1733)
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Added on 10-Apr-23 | Last updated 5-Jun-23
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A poor man defended himself when charged with stealing food to appease the cravings of hunger, saying, the cries of the stomach silenced those of the conscience.

Marguerite Gardiner, Countess of Blessington (1789-1849) Irish novelist [Lady Blessington, b. Margaret Power]
(Attributed)
    (Source)

Quoted, without citation, in R. R. Madden, The Literary Life and Correspondence of the Countess of Blessington, Vol. 1 (1855).
 
Added on 20-Dec-22 | Last updated 20-Dec-22
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You’re going to have to explain the logic of man to me, Mr. Grudge. For example, tell me how you come about your selective morality. This ease with which you strip off your conscience like an overcoat — and let your satisfied belch drown out the hunger cries that fill the air around you. How do you create the exact science whereby you disinvolve yourself from all the anguish of the world that doesn’t happen to be in your direct line of vision? That doesn’t take a special breed of man at all, Mr. Grudge. That is man in his normal condition.

Rod Serling (1924-1975) American screenwriter, playwright, television producer, narrator
A Carol for Another Christmas [Ghost of Christmas Present] (1964)
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Added on 18-Oct-22 | Last updated 18-Oct-22
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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 the poet
Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) Italian poet
The Divine Comedy [Divina Commedia], Book 1 “Inferno,” Canto 1, l. 94ff (1.94-99) [Virgil] (1309) [tr. Sayers (1949)]
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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 leers
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 willful 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)]

The cat that drove you back and made you cry
Ends the life to any who try
To pass her on their way through.
She's insane and insatiable. She eats more
And that just makes her more malignant with craving.
She kills all she comes in contact with. All with whom she comes.
[tr. Bang (2013)]
 
Added on 16-Sep-22 | Last updated 1-Oct-23
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More quotes by Dante Alighieri

It’s simply a national acknowledgement that in any kind of priority, the needs of human beings must come first. Poverty is here and now. Hunger is here and now. Racial tension is here and now. Pollution is here and now. These are the things that scream for a response. And if we don’t listen to that scream — and if we don’t respond to it — we may well wind up sitting amidst our own rubble, looking for the truck that hit us — or the bomb that pulverized us. Get the license number of whatever it was that destroyed the dream. And I think we will find that the vehicle was registered in our own name.

Rod Serling (1924-1975) American screenwriter, playwright, television producer, narrator
Commencement Address, University of Southern California (17 Mar 1970)
    (Source)

In Anne Serling, As I Knew Him: My Dad, Rod Serling, ch. 28 (2013).
 
Added on 12-Jul-22 | Last updated 12-Jul-22
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“Some people say we shouldn’t give alms to the poor, Shirley.”

“They are great fools for their pains. For those who are not hungry, it is easy to palaver about the degradation of charity, and so on; but they forget the brevity of life, as well as its bitterness. We have none of us long to live: let us help each other through seasons of want and woe, as well as we can, without heeding in the least the scruples of vain philosophy.”

Charlotte Brontë (1816-1855) British novelist [pseud. Currer Bell]
Shirley, ch. 14 [Lina and Shirley] (1849)
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Added on 8-Apr-22 | Last updated 8-Apr-22
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But the great hero himself tossed and turned.
It was like a man roasting a paunch
Stuffed with fat and blood over a fire.
He can’t wait for it to be done
And so keeps turning it over and over.

[ἀτὰρ αὐτὸς ἑλίσσετο ἔνθα καὶ ἔνθα.
ὡς δ᾽ ὅτε γαστέρ᾽ ἀνὴρ πολέος πυρὸς αἰθομένοιο,
ἐμπλείην κνίσης τε καὶ αἵματος, ἔνθα καὶ ἔνθα
αἰόλλῃ, μάλα δ᾽ ὦκα λιλαίεται ὀπτηθῆναι,
ὣς ἄρ᾽ ὅ γ᾽ ἔνθα καὶ ἔνθα ἑλίσσετο]

Homer (fl. 7th-8th C. BC) Greek author
The Odyssey [Ὀδύσσεια], Book 20, l. 24ff (20.24) (c. 700 BC) [tr. Lombardo (2000)]
    (Source)

(Source (Greek)). Alternate translations:

But from side to side
It made him toss apace. You have not tried
A fellow roasting of a pig before
A hasty fire, his belly yielding store
Of fat and blood, turn faster, labour more
To have it roast, and would not have it burn,
Than this and that way his unrest made turn
His thoughts and body ....
[tr. Chapman (1616)]

He lay restlessly.
As one that has raw flesh upon the fire,
And hungry is, is ever turning it;
So turneth he himself ....
[tr. Hobbes (1675), l. 20ff]

Restless his body rolls, to rage resign'd
As one who long with pale-eyed famine pined,
The savoury cates on glowing embers cast
Incessant turns, impatient for repast.
[tr. Pope (1725)]

Yet he turn’d from side to side.
As when some hungry swain turns oft a maw
Unctuous and sav’ry on the burning coals,
Quick expediting his desired repast ....
[tr. Cowper (1792), l. 26ff]

But ever he rolled tossing to and fro.
As when a man beside a blazing fire
Turneth a rich fat goat-paunch to and fro,
Over and over, with intense desire
Quickly to roast it ....
[tr. Worsley (1861), st. 4]

But himself tossed to and fro.
As when a wight a'front a blazing fire
A savoury haggis full of fat and gravy
Restlessly turns and tumbles to and fro --
In hope right well and quickly for to roast it.
[tr. Bigge-Wither (1869), l. 24ff]

But, ev'n as when a man at some fierce fire
A savoury paunch with fat and blood replete
From side to side turns oft, intent with speed
Most prompt to roast it; -- so, from right to left
Ulysses swaying lay.
[tr. Musgrave (1869), l. 36ff]

But Odysseus himself lay tossing this way and that. And as when a man by a great fire burning takes a paunch full of fat and blood, and turns it this way and that and longs to have it roasted most speedily, so Odysseus tossed from side to side.
[tr. Butcher/Lang (1879)]

But he himself in meanwhile was tossing here and there.
As when a man hath gotten by a great fire blazing out
A paunch of fat and of blood, and turneth it oft about
Hither and thither, all eager to roast it speedily.
[tr. Morris (1887)]

Yet he himself kept tossing to and fro. As when a man near a great glowing fire turns to and fro a sausage, full of fat and blood, anxious to have it quickly roast.
[tr. Palmer (1891)]

He tossed about as one who turns a paunch full of blood and fat in front of a hot fire, doing it first on one side and then on the other, that he may get it cooked as soon as possible, even so did he turn himself about from side to side ....
[tr. Butler (1898)]

But he himself lay tossing this way and that. And as when a man before a great blazing fire turns swiftly this way and that a paunch full of fat and blood, and is very eager to have it roasted quickly, so Odysseus tossed from side to side ....
[tr. Murray (1919)]

But the strain tossed his body about, like the basting paunch stuffed with blood and fat that a man who wants it immediately cooked will turn over and over before a blazing fire. In such fashion did Odysseus roll to this side and to that ....
[tr. Lawrence (1932)]

Odysseus nevertheless could not help tossing to and fro on his bed, just as a paunch stuffed with fat and blood is tossed this way and that in the blaze of the fire by a cook who wants to get it quickly roasted, twisting and turning thus to one side and the other ....
[tr. Rieu (1946)]

He himself rocked, rolling from side to side, as a cook turns a sausage, big with blood and fat, at a scorching blaze, without a pause, to broil it quick.
[tr. Fitzgerald (1961)]

The man himself was twisting and turning.
And as a man with a paunch pudding, that has been filled with
blood and fat, tosses it back and forth over a blazing
fire, and the pudding itself strains hard to be cooked quickly;
so he was twisting and turning back and forth.
[tr. Lattimore (1965)]

Yet Odysseus' own self thrashed this way and that. Just as a man before a blazing fire who's skewered a paunch that's stuffed with blood and fat will swiftly turn ths spit this way and that, eager to have it roasted fast.
[tr. Mandelbaum (1990)]

But he himself kept tossing, turning,
intent as a cook before some white-hot blazing fire
who rolls his sizzling sausage back and forth,
packed with fat and blood -- keen to broil it quickly,
tossing, turning it, this way, that way.
[tr. Fagles (1996)]

He himself kept twisting one way and the other. As when a man keeps shifting a paunch that has been stuffed full with suet and blood, in a huge fire's blaze, one way and the other turning it over, and wishes for it to be rapidly roasted, so did he twist one way and the other.
[tr. Merrill (2002)]

Nevertheless, he could not help twisting and turning, just as a paunch stuffed with fat and blood is turned this way and that in the blaze of the roaring fire by a man who wants to get it quickly roasted.
[tr. DCH Rieu (2002)]

But Odysseus himself kept tossing back and forth. As when a man has stuffed a paunch full of fat and blood, and keeps turning it back and forth on a blazing-hot fire, because he wants it to be cooked as soon as possible, so Odysseus kept turning back and forth ....
[tr. Verity (2016)]

He writhed around, as when a man rotates a sausage full of fat and blood; the huge fire blazes, and he longs to have the roasting finished.
[tr. Wilson (2017)]

But he himself kept tossing and turning. As a man cooking a paunch chockful of fat and blood on a fierce blazing fire will turn it to and fro, determined to get it cooked through as fast as he can, so Odysseus tossed this way and that.
[tr. Green (2018)]

He still tossed and turned, back and forth. Just as a man
eager to roast a stomach stuffed with fat and blood
turns it quickly round and round on a blazing fire,
that is how lord Odysseus tossed and turned ....
[tr. Johnston (2019), l. 25ff]

 
Added on 15-Sep-21 | Last updated 2-Feb-22
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All deaths are dour: the fate of men is sad; but there’s no death more miserable than the doom starvation sends.

[Πάντες μὲν στυγεροὶ θάνατοι δειλοῖσι βροτοῖσι,
λιμῷ δ’ οἴκτιστον θανέειν καὶ πότμον ἐπισπεῖν.]

Homer (fl. 7th-8th C. BC) Greek author
The Odyssey [Ὀδύσσεια], Book 12, l. 341ff (12.341-342) [Eurylochus] (c. 700 BC) [tr. Mandelbaum (1990)]
    (Source)

Urging is fellow sailors to slaughter the Sun God's cattle. That ends poorly.Original Greek. Alternate translations:

Hear what I shall say,
Though words will staunch no hunger, ev’ry death
To us poor wretches that draw temporal breath
You know is hateful; but, all know, to die
The death of Famine is a misery
Past all death loathsome.
[tr. Chapman (1616)]

Meantime Eurylochus bad counsel gives
To his companions. All deaths, quoth he,
Are hateful to what thing soever lives;
But death by hunger is the worst can be.
[tr. Hobbes (1675)]

O friends, a thousand ways frail mortals lead
To the cold tomb, and dreadful all to tread;
But dreadful most, when by a slow decay
Pale hunger wastes the manly strength away.
[tr. Pope (1725)]

Death, however caused,
Abhorrence moves in miserable man,
But death by famine is a fate of all
Most to be fear’d.
[tr. Cowper (1792)]

Friends, though to wretched men all deaths are dire,
Yet it is far most miserable to pine
With pangs of famine and for want expire.
[tr. Worsley (1861), st. 47]

Death is in all shapes to unhappy men
A fearful fate: but misery extreme
Were it our own destruction to provoke
And die of hunger.
[tr. Musgrave (1869), l. 515ff]

All deaths are hateful to us wretched mortals;
But death by famine is most pitiable.
[tr. Bigge-Wither (1869)]

Truly every shape of death is hateful to wretched mortals, but to die of hunger and so meet doom is most pitiful of all.
[tr. Butcher/Lang (1879)]

All manner of death is loathly to wretched men that die,
But to meet our fate by famine is to end most wretchedly.
[tr. Morris (1887)]

Hateful is every form of death to wretched mortals; and yet to die by hunger, and so to meet one's doom, is the most pitiful of all.
[tr. Palmer (1891)]

All deaths are bad enough, but there is none so bad as famine.
[tr. Butler (1898)]

All forms of death are hateful to wretched mortals, but to die of hunger, and so meet one's doom, is the most pitiful.
[tr. Murray (1919)]

No variety of death is pleasing to us poor mortals: but commend me to hunger and its slow perishing as the meanest fate of all.
[tr. Lawrence (1932)]

To us wretched men all forms of death are abominable, but death by starvation is the most miserable end that one can meet.
[tr. Rieu (1946)]

All deaths are hateful to us, mortal wretches, but famine is the most pitiful, the worst end that a man can come to.
[tr. Fitzgerald (1961)]

All deaths are detestable for wretched mortals,
but hunger is the sorriest way to die and encounter fate.
[tr. Lattimore (1965)]

All ways of dying are hateful to us poor mortals,
true, but to die of hunger, starve to death --
that's the worst of all.
[tr. Fagles (1996)]

Every manner of dying is hateful to miserable mortals,
but most wretched by hunger to die and encounter our doomsday.
[tr. Merrill (2002)]

To us wretched men all forms of death are abominable,
but death by starvation is the most miserable way to meet one's doom.
[tr. DCH Rieu (2002)]

All ways of dying are hateful to wretched mortals, but the most miserable way to meet one's doom is by hunger.
[tr. Verity (2016)]

All human deaths are hard to bear. But starving is most miserable of all.
[tr. Wilson (2017)]

All kinds of death are loathsome to wretched mortals,
but to die of starvation -- that's the most pitiful of fates!
[tr. Green (2018)]

For wretched human beings
all forms of death are hateful. But to die
from lack of food, to meet one’s fate like that,
is worst of all. [tr. Johnston (2019), l. 445ff]

 
Added on 9-Jun-21 | Last updated 20-Dec-21
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Old women will often bear the lack of food for two or three days. But take food from an athlete for a single day, he will implore the very Olympian Jupiter for whose honor he is in training, and will cry that he cannot bear it. Great is the power of habit.

[Aniculae saepe inediam biduum aut triduum ferunt; subduc cibum unum diem athletae: Iovem, Iovem Olympium, eum ipsum, cui se exercebit, implorabit, ferre non posse clamabit.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
Tusculan Disputations [Tusculanae Disputationes], Book 2, ch. 17 (2.17) / sec. 40 (45 BC) [tr. Peabody (1886)]
    (Source)

Original Latin. Alternate translations:

Weak old Women oftentimes go without eating two or three days together; do but with-hold Meat one day from a Wrestler, he will cry out upon Olympian Jupiter; the same to whose Honor he shall exercise himself. He will cry he cannot bear it. Great is the Power of Custom.
[tr. Wase (1643)]

You may often hear of diminutive old women living without victuals three or four days; but take away a wrestler's provision for but one day, he will implore Jupiter Olympus, the very god for whom he exercises himself: he will cry out, It is intolerable. Great is the force of custom!
[tr. Main (1824)]

Tender old women often support a fast of two or three days. Withdraw his rations for one day from a wrestler; he will appeal to that Olympic Jove himself, for whom he exercises; he will cry out it impossible to bear it. Great is the force of habit.
[tr. Otis (1839)]

You may often hear of old women living without victuals for three or four days: but take away a wrestler's provisions but for one day, and he will implore the aid of Jupiter Olympius, the very God for whom he exercises himself: he will cry out that he cannot endure it. Great is the force of custom!
[tr. Yonge (1853)]

Feeble old women often endure hunger for two or three days. Take food away from an athlete for just one day. He will appeal to Jupiter, that Olympian Jupiter, the very one for whom he will be doing this training -- he will cry out that he can't bear it. Practice has great power.
[tr. Douglas (1990)]

Little old ladies often bear a two or three day period of fasting; but take away an athlete’s food for a day, and he will beg for relief from Jove! Olympian Jove, the one for whom he exercises! And he’ll tell you that he simply cannot bear it.
[tr. @sentantiq (2015)]

Old women regularly endure a lack of food for a period of three or four days; take from an athlete his food for a single day and he will appeal to olympian Jupiter, the very god in whose honor he trains, he will cry out that he can't bear it. The force of habit is considerable.
[tr. Davie (2017)]

 
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More quotes by Cicero, Marcus Tullius

Spent with fatigue, and shrunk with pining fast,
My craving bowels still require repast.
Howe’er the noble, suffering mind may grieve
Its load of anguish, and disdain to live,
Necessity demands our daily bread;
Hunger is insolent, and will be fed.

[ἀλλ᾽ ἐμὲ μὲν δορπῆσαι ἐάσατε κηδόμενόν περ:
οὐ γάρ τι στυγερῇ ἐπὶ γαστέρι κύντερον ἄλλο
ἔπλετο, ἥ τ᾽ ἐκέλευσεν ἕο μνήσασθαι ἀνάγκῃ
καὶ μάλα τειρόμενον καὶ ἐνὶ φρεσὶ πένθος ἔχοντα,
ὡς καὶ ἐγὼ πένθος μὲν ἔχω φρεσίν, ἡ δὲ μάλ᾽ αἰεὶ
ἐσθέμεναι κέλεται καὶ πινέμεν, ἐκ δέ με πάντων
ληθάνει ὅσσ᾽ ἔπαθον, καὶ ἐνιπλησθῆναι ἀνώγει.]

Homer (fl. 7th-8th C. BC) Greek author
The Odyssey [Ὀδύσσεια], Book 7, l. 215ff (7.215) (c. 700 BC) [tr. Pope (1725)]
    (Source)

Original Greek. Alternate translations:

Worse than an envious belly nothing is.
It will command his strict necessities,
Of men most griev’d in body or in mind,
That are in health, and will not give their kind
A desp’rate wound.
When most with cause I grieve,
It bids me still, Eat, man, and drink, and live;
And this makes all forgot. Whatever ill
I ever bear, it ever bids me fill.
[tr. Chapman (1616)]

No creature is so fierce as is the gut,
And so loud barketh when it is forgot,
That out of mind it never can be put,
But will be heard whether one will or not.
So ’tis with me, that am afflicted sore,
Yet still my belly bids me eat and drink,
And forget all I had endured before,
And on my misery no more to think.
[tr. Hobbes (1675), l. 201ff]

But let me eat, comfortless as I am,
Uninterrupted; for no call is loud
As that of hunger in the ears of man;
Importunate, unreas’nable, it constrains
His notice, more than all his woes beside.
So, I much sorrow feel, yet not the less
Hear I the blatant appetite demand
Due sustenance, and with a voice that drowns
E’en all my suff’rings, till itself be fill’d.
[tr. Cowper (1792), l. 266ff]

But let me feed in peace, though sore distressed.
Nothing more shameless is than Appetite,
Who still, whatever anguish load our breast,
Makes us remember in our own despite
Both food and drink. Thus I, thrice wretched wight,
Carry of inward grief surpassing store,
Yet she constrains me with superior might,
Wipes clean away the memory-written score,
And takes whate'er I give, and taking craveth more.
[tr. Worsley (1861), st. 29]

But let me now eat on, tho' sick at heart:
Nought is more shameless than a craving stomach,
Which bids remembrance of herself by force,
Tho' sorely worn the limbs, and sad the heart!
So I am sad at heart: but she for ever
Is bidding me eat and drink; and making forget
All I have borne; and still to gorge compels me!
[tr. Bigge-Wither (1869)]

But as for me, suffer me to sup, afflicted as I am; for nought is there more shameless than a ravening belly, which biddeth a man perforce be mindful of him, though one be worn and sorrowful in spirit, even as I have sorrow of heart; yet evermore he biddeth me eat and drink and maketh me utterly to forget all my sufferings, and commandeth me to take my fill.
[tr. Butcher/Lang (1879)]

But I pray you amidst of my sorrow that ye suffer me supper to eat,
For nought indeed more shameless than the belly-beast may ye meet,
When need and he are bidding that we mind us of his part,
Although we be worn and wasted and have sorrow in the heart.
Thus I in my my heart have sorry, but the belly evermore
Will bid me to eat and to drink and forget my sorrow sore,
Whatso my soul may have suffered, and to filling forceth me.
[tr. Morris (1887), l. 215ff]

But let me now, though sick of heart, take supper; for nothing is more brutal than an angry belly. Perforce it bids a man attend, sadly though he be worn, though grief be on his mind. Even so, I too have grief upon my mind, and yet this ever more calls me to eat and drink; all I have borne it makes me quite forget, and bid me take my fill.
[tr. Palmer (1891)]

Nevertheless, let me sup in spite of sorrow, for an empty stomach is a very importunate thing, and thrusts itself on a man's notice no matter how dire is his distress. I am in great trouble, yet it insists that I shall eat and drink, bids me lay aside all memory of my sorrows and dwell only on the due replenishing of itself.
[tr. Butler (1898)]

But as for me, suffer me now to eat, despite my grief; for there is nothing more shameless than a hateful belly, which bids a man perforce take thought thereof, be he never so sore distressed and laden with grief at heart, even as I, too, am laden with grief at heart, yet ever does my belly bid me eat and drink, and makes me forget all that I have suffered, and commands me to eat my fill.
[tr. Murray (1919)]

But instead I will ask leave to obey my instincts and fall upon this supper, as I would do despite my burden of woe. See now, there is not anything so exigent as a man's ravening belly, which will not leave him alone to feel even so sore a grief as this grief in my heart, but prefers to overwhelm his misery with its needs for meat and drink, forcibly and shamelessly compelling him to put its replenishment above his soul's agony.
[tr. Lawrence (1932)]

But all I ask of you now is your leave to eat my supper, in spite of all my troubles. For nothing in the world is so incontinent as a man’s accursed appetite. However afflicted he may be and sick at heart, it calls for attention so loudly that he is bound to obey it. Such is my case: my heart is sick with grief, yet my hunger insists that I shall eat and drink. It makes me forget all I have suffered and forces me to take my fill.
[tr. Rieu (1946)]

You will indulge me if I finish dinner--?
grieved though I am to say it. There's no part
of man more like a dog than brazen Belly,
crying to be remembered -- and it must be --
when we are mortal weary and sick at heart;
and that is my condition. Yet my hunger
drives me to take this food, and think no more
of my afflictions. Belly must be filled.
[tr. Fitzgerald (1961)]

But despite my misery, let me finish dinner.
The belly’s a shameless dog, there’s nothing worse.
Always insisting, pressing, it never lets us forget --
destroyed as I am, my heart racked with sadness,
sick with anguish, still it keeps demanding,
"Eat, drink!" It blots out all the memory
of my pain, commanding, "Fill me up!"
[tr. Fagles (1996)]

But all I want now is to be allowed to eat,
Despite my grief. There is nothing more shameless
Than this belly of ours, which forces a man
To pay attention to it, no matter how many
Troubles he has, how much pain is in his heart.
I have pain my heart, but my belly always
Makes me eat and drink and forget my troubles,
Pestering me to keep it filled.
[tr. Lombardo (2000), l. 228ff]

But leave me now to eat my supper, distressed though I am; there is nothing more shameless than a man's wretched belly, which lays him under necessity to be mindful of it even when he is sorely troubled and nursing grief in his heart. This is my case: I am nursing grief in my heart, and yet it is forever urging me to eat and drink, making me forget all that I have suffered, always telling me to eat my fill.
[tr. Verity (2016)]

But let me have my meal, despite my grief.
The belly is just like a whining dog:
it begs and forces one to notice it,
despite exhaustion or depths of sorry.
My heart is full of sorrow, but my stomach
is always telling me to eat and drink.
It tells me to forget what I have suffered,
and fill it up.
[tr. Wilson (2017)]

 
Added on 28-Apr-21 | Last updated 1-Dec-21
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Your calling is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.

Frederick Buechner (b. 1926) American minister, author
The Hungering Dark (1969)
 
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He’d noticed that sex bore some resemblance to cookery: it fascinated people, they sometimes bought books full of complicated recipes and interesting pictures, and sometimes when they were really hungry they created vast banquets in their imagination — but at the end of the day they’d settle quite happily for egg and chips. If it was well done and maybe had a slice of tomato.

Terry Pratchett (1948-2015) English author
The Fifth Elephant (1999)
 
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The evangelist was preaching “sin and redemption,” the infinite grace of God and His pardon for human frailty. He was very much in earnest, and he meant well, but Jurgis, as he listened, found his soul filled with hatred. What did he know about sin and suffering — with his smooth, black coat and his neatly starched collar, his body warm, and his belly full, and money in his pocket — and lecturing men who were struggling for their lives, men at the death grapple with the demon powers of hunger and cold! — This, of course, was unfair; but Jurgis felt that these men were out of touch with the life they discussed, that they were unfitted to solve its problems; nay, they themselves were part of the problem — they were part of the order established that was crushing men down and beating them! They were of the triumphant and insolent possessors; they had a hall, and a fire, and food and clothing and money, and so they might preach to hungry men, and the hungry men must be humble and listen! They were trying to save their souls — and who but a fool could fail to see that all that was the matter with their souls was that they had not been able to get a decent existence for their bodies?

Upton Sinclair (1878-1968) American writer, journalist, activist, politician
The Jungle, ch. 23 (1906)
    (Source)
 
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A rich man cannot enjoy a sound mind nor a sound body without exercise and abstinence; and yet these are truly the worst ingredients of poverty.

Henry Home, Lord Kames (1696-1782) Scottish jurist, agriculturalist, philosopher, writer
Introduction to the Art of Thinking, ch. 2 (1761)
    (Source)
 
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I was often humiliated to see men disputing for a piece of bread, just as animals might have done. My feelings on this subject have very much altered since I have been personally exposed to the tortures of hunger. I have discovered, in fact, that a man, whatever may have been his origin, his education, and his habits, is governed, under certain circumstances, much more by his stomach than by his intelligence and his heart.

François Arago
François Arago (1786-1853) French Catalan mathematician, physicist, astronomer, politician
Biographies of Distinguished Scientific Men, “The History of My Youth” (1859) [tr. Smyth, Powell, Grant]
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AGATHA: … But after that, I’d better see some cake.
TARVEK: You know, there’s more to being an evil despot than getting cake whenever you want it.
AGATHA: If that’s what you think, then you’re doing it wrong!

Phil Foglio (b. 1956) American writer, cartoonist
Girl Genius, Vol. 13, p. 38, “The Heterodyne Requires Cake” (10 Apr 2013)
    (Source)

In Agatha H. and the Siege of Mechanicsburg (2020) [with Kaja Foglio], this is rendered:

“But after that, I’d better see some cake.”

Tarvek glanced at her. “You know, there’s more to being an evil despot than getting cake whenever you want it.”

Agatha thought about this and was filled with a sudden conviction, one that would stand the test of time through everything else that happened to her through the years. “If that’s what you think, then you’re doing it wrong.”

 
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Yet there is still this difference between man and all other animals — he is the only animal whose desires increase as they are fed; the only animal that is never satisfied.

Henry George (1839-1897) American economist
Progress and Poverty, Book 2, ch. 3 (1879)
    (Source)
 
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I heard a saying in Egypt, that ambition
Is like the sea wave, which the more you drink
The more you thirst — yea — drink too much, as men
Have done on rafts of wreck — it drives you mad.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-1892) English poet
The Cup, Act 1, sc. 3 [Synorix] (1884)
    (Source)
 
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No cook can ignore the opinion of a man who asks for three helpings. One is politeness, two is hunger, but three is a true and cherished compliment.

Kerry Greenwood (b. 1954) Australian author and lawyer
The Green Mill Murder, ch. 6 (1993)
    (Source)
 
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The abdomen is the reason why man does not easily take himself for a god.

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) German philosopher and poet
Beyond Good and Evil, ch. 4 “Apophthegms and Interludes,” #141 (1886)

Alt. trans.: "The belly is the reason why man does not so readily take himself for a God." [tr. Zimmern]
 
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In vast stretches of the earth, men awoke today in hunger. They will spend the day in unceasing toil. And as the sun goes down they will still know hunger. They will see suffering in the eyes of their children. Many despair that their labor will ever decently shelter their families or protect them against disease. So long as this is so, peace and freedom will be in danger throughout our world. For wherever free men lose hope of progress, liberty will be weakened and the seeds of conflict will be sown.

Dwight David Eisenhower (1890-1969) American general, US President (1953-61)
Speech, Tenth Colombo Plan Meeting, Seattle (10 Nov 1958)
 
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Love and business and family and religion and art and patriotism are nothing but shadows of words when a man’s starving.

Henry - starving - wist_info

O. Henry (1862-1910) American short story writer [pseud. for William Sydney Porter]
“Cupid à la Carte,” Heart of the West (1907)
 
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Fear for one’s daily bread destroys one’s character.

Franz Kafka (1883-1924) Czech-Austrian Jewish writer
In G. Janouch, “Conversations with Kafka” [tr. Rees] Encounter (Aug 1971)
 
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Of what use is political liberty to those who have no bread?

Jean-Paul Marat (1743-1793) French physician, political theorist, scientist, journalist
Letter to Camille Desmoulins (24 Jun 1790)
 
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We cannot exist as a little island of well-being in a world where two-thirds of the people go to bed hungry every night.

Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962) First Lady of the US (1933-45), politician, diplomat, activist
Speech (8 Dec 1959)
 
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Well, by God, I’m hungry. … My guts is yellin’ bloody murder.

John Steinbeck (1902-1968) American writer
The Grapes of Wrath, ch. 9 (1939)
 
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No man was ever more than about nine meals away from crime or suicide.

Eric Sevareid (1912-1992) American journalist [Arnold Eric Sevareid]
“A New Kind of Leadership,” speech, Conference on Vision Care, Washington, DC (26 Apr 1974)

For more discussion of this and other closely parallel quotations, see: There Are Only Nine Meals Between Mankind and Anarchy – Quote Investigator.
 
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There is a crime here that goes beyond denunciation. There is a sorrow here that weeping cannot symbolize. There is a failure here that topples all our success. The fertile earth, the straight tree rows, the sturdy trunks, and the ripe fruit. And children dying of pellagra must die because a profit cannot be taken from an orange. And coroners must fill in the certificate — died of malnutrition — because the food must rot, must be forced to rot.

In the eyes of the people there is the failure; and in the eyes of the hungry there is a growing wrath. In the souls of the people the grapes of wrath are filling and growing heavy, growing heavy for the vintage.

John Steinbeck (1902-1968) American writer
The Grapes of Wrath, ch. 25 (1939)
 
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Hunger makes a thief of any man.

Pearl S. Buck (1892-1973) American writer
The Good Earth, ch. 15 (1931)
 
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He whose Belly is full, believes not him whose is empty.

Thomas Fuller (1654-1734) English physician, preacher, aphorist, writer
Gnomologia: Adages and Proverbs, #2399 (1732)
    (Source)
 
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Ambishun iz like hunger — it obeys no law but its appetight.
 
[Ambition is like hunger — it obeys no law but its appetite.]

Josh Billings (1818-1885) American humorist, aphorist [pseud. of Henry Wheeler Shaw]
Everybody’s Friend, Or; Josh Billing’s Encyclopedia and Proverbial Philosophy of Wit and Humor, “Affurisms,” “Plum Pits” (1874)
    (Source)
 
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An American Government cannot permit Americans to starve.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) American lawyer, politician, statesman, US President (1933-1945)
Speech, San Diego Exposition (2 Oct 1935)
    (Source)
 
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The human frame being what it is, heart, body and brain all mixed together, and not contained in separate compartments as they will be no doubt in another million years, a good dinner is of great importance to good talk. One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.

Virginia Woolf (1882-1941) English modernist writer [b. Adeline Virginia Stephen]
A Room of One’s Own, ch. 1 (1929)
 
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CAESAR: Let me have men about me that are fat;
Sleek-headed men and such as sleep o’ nights:
Yon Cassius has a lean and hungry look;
He thinks too much; such men are dangerous.

Shakespeare
William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
Julius Caesar, Act 1, sc. 2, l. 202ff (1.2.202-205) (1599)
    (Source)

See Plutarch.
 
Added on 11-Feb-14 | Last updated 29-Jan-24
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There is something wrong in a government where they who do the most have the least. There is something wrong when honesty wears a rag, and rascality a robe; when the loving, the tender, eat a crust, while the infamous sit at banquets.

Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-1899) American lawyer, agnostic, orator
“A Lay Sermon” (1886)
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MACHEATH: You may proclaim, good sirs, your fine philosophy
But till you feed us, right and wrong can wait!

[Erst kommt das Fressen, dann kommt die Moral.] 

Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956) German poet, playwright, director, dramaturgist
Die Dreigroschenoper [The Three-Penny Opera], Act 2, sc. 3 (1928)

Alt. trans.:
  • However much you twist, whatever lies you tell / Food is the first thing, morals follow on." [used by the Pet Shop Boys, "What Keeps Mankind Alive?", Can You Forgive Her (1993)
  • Food first, then morality.
  • Food comes first, then morals.
  • First comes a full stomach, then comes ethics.
 
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It was against my principles, but I find that principles have no real force except when one is well-fed.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
“Extracts from Adam’s Diary” (1904)
 
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
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All sins are attempts to fill voids.

Simone Weil (1909-1943) French philosopher
Gravity and Grace [La Pesanteur et la Grâce], “To Desire Without An Object” (1947) [ed. Thibon] [tr. Crawford/von der Ruhr (1952)]
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Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 22-May-23
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