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What pleasures habitual wrongdoing provides for men without principle or sense of shame, when they have escaped punishment and found themselves given a free hand!

[O consuetudo peccandi, quantam habes iucunditatem improbis et audacibus, cum poena afuit et licentia consecuta est!]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
In Verrem [Against Verres; Verrine Orations], Action 2, Book 3, ch. 76 / sec. 176 ( (70 BC) [tr. Greenwood (1928)]

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

O you habit of sinning, what delight you afford to the wicked and the audacious, when chastisement is afar off, and when impunity attends you!
[tr. Yonge (1903)]

Alas, the habit of evil-doing! what pleasure it affords to the depraved and the shameless, when punishment is in abeyance, and has been replaced by license.
[Source (1906)]

Added on 6-Jun-24 | Last updated 13-Jun-24
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Nothing predicts future behavior as much as past impunity.

Darius Rejali (b. c. 1959) Iranian-American academic, political scientist
In Jane Mayer, “Torture and the Truth,” New Yorker (14 Dec 2014)
Added on 3-May-21 | Last updated 3-May-21
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If nobody were to know or even to suspect the truth, when you do anything to gain riches or power or sovereignty or sensual gratification — if your act should be hidden for ever from the knowledge of gods and men, would you do it? […] Should they answer that, if impunity were assured, they would do what was most to their selfish interest, that would be a confession that they are criminally minded; should they say that they would not do so, they would be granting that all things in and of themselves immoral should be avoided.

[Si nemo sciturus, nemo ne suspicaturus quidemn sit, curn aliquid divitiarum, potentiae, dominationis, libidinis causa feceris, si id dis hominibusque futurum sit semper ignotuml, sisne facturus. […] Si responderint se impunitate proposita facturos, quod expediat, facinorosos se esse fateantur, si negent, omnia turpia per se ipsa fugienda esse concedant.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
De Officiis [On Duties; On Moral Duty; The Offices], Book 3, ch. 9 (3.9) / sec. 39 (44 BC) [tr. Miller (1913)]

Attacking the Epicurean philosophy that people are deterred from evil acts, not because they are evil, but because they might be caught. (Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

Suppose you could do any dishonest action, for the gratifying of a lustful, covetous, or ambitious desire, so as that no one living could either know or suspect it, but both gods and men must be kept perfectly in ignorance; whether in such case would you do it or no? [...] If they say they would gratify such desires on assurance of impunity, we may know them to be villains by their own confession; but if they deny it, they may be forced to grant that every base and dishonest action is barely as such to be shunned and detested.
[tr. Cockman (1699)]

If no man should know, or not even suspect, that you were any way engaged in the pursuit of wealth, power, or domination, or for the gratification of lust; and if it were to be forever unknown to gods and men; would you behave so? [...] If they answer, upon impunity being proposed, they would do what is profitable, they may confess themselves profligate, but if they refuse that they would follow such a course, they admit that every vice from its own nature ought to be avoided.
[tr. McCartney (1798)]

If nobody were to know, nobody even to suspect that you were doing anything for the sake of riches, power, domination, lust -- if it would be for ever unknown to gods and men, would you do it? [...] If they answer that they would do, if impunity were offered, what it was their interest to do, they must confess that they are wicked; if they deny that they would do so, they must admit that all base actions are to be shunned on their own account.
[tr. Edmonds (1865)]

If no one would ever know, if no one would ever suspect, when you performed some act for the sake of wealth, power, ascendency, lust, -- if it would remain forever unknown to gods and men, would you do it? [...] If they answer that they would do what seemed expedient if assured of impunity, they may confess themselves atrociously guilty; and if they make the contrary answer, that they may grant that whatever is wrong in itself ought to be shunned.
[tr. Peabody (1883)]

Would you gratify your desire for riches, power, dominion, or sensual pleasure, if you had no fear of detection or even of suspicion, and were certain that the act would for ever be unknown to gods and men? [...] If they replied that they would do what was best for themselves if assured of impunity, they would thereby admit their criminal intention ; if they said they would not, they would grant that every shameful act must be shunned on its own account.
[tr. Gardiner (1899)]

If no one were to know, if no one were even to suspect when you were about to commit a crime to gain wealth, power, ascendancy, or sexual satisfaction, if this fact were to remain unknown for lal time to the gods and to men, would you go ahead and do it? [...] If they replied that they would perform actions for their personal advantage if they had a guarantee of impunity, they would admit they were criminal types. If they said they would not, they would concede that all immortal acts must be avoided at all times.
[tr. Edinger (1974)]

Added on 8-Feb-21 | Last updated 8-Sep-22
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