Quotations about   inevitability

Note that not all quotations have been tagged, so the Search function may find additional quotations on this topic.



Truth is mighty and will prevail. There is nothing wrong with this, except that it ain’t so.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Mark Twain’s Notebook (1935) [ed. Albert Bigelow Paine]
    (Source)

With an entry for 4 Jul 1893. The core phrase, from the Latin "Magna est veritas et prævalebit," was first formulated in English by Thomas Brooks. An earlier variant can be found in Cicero, Pro Caelio Rufo (56 BC): "How great is the power of truth" [O magna vis veritas].
Added on 5-Feb-21 | Last updated 5-Feb-21
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , ,
More quotes by Twain, Mark

Nobody knows what is going to happen because so much depends on an enormous number of variables, on simple hazard. On the other hand if you look at history retrospectively, then, even though it was contingent, you can tell a story that makes sense. … Jewish history, for example, in fact had its ups and downs, its, enmities and its friendships, as every history of all people has. The notion that there is one unilinear history is of course false. But if you look at it after the experience of Auschwitz it looks as though all of history — or at least history since the Middle Ages — had no other aim than Auschwitz. … This, is the real problem of every philosophy of history how: is it possible that in retrospect it always looks as though it couldn’t have happened otherwise?

Hannah Arendt (1906-1975) German-American philosopher, political theorist
Interview with Roger Errera (Oct 1973), The New York Review of Books (26 Oct 1978)
    (Source)
Added on 28-Jan-21 | Last updated 28-Jan-21
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , ,
More quotes by Arendt, Hannah

And fate? No one alive has ever escaped it,
neither brave man nor coward, I tell you —
it’s born with us the day that we are born.

[Μοῖραν δ’ οὔ τινά φημι πεφυγμένον ἔμμεναι ἀνδρῶν,
οὐ κακὸν οὐδὲ μὲν ἐσθλόν, ἐπὴν τὰ πρῶτα γένηται.]

Homer (fl. 7th-8th C. BC) Greek author
The Iliad, Book 6, ll. 488-89 (c. 750 BC) [tr. Fagles (1990), ll. 582-84]

Hector bidding his wife farewell. Alt. trans.:

And fate, whose wings can fly?
Noble, ignoble, fate controls. Once born, the best must die.
[tr. Chapman (1611), ll. 528-29]

Fixed is the term to all the race of earth,
And such the hard condition of our birth.
No force can then resist, no flight can save;
All sink alike, the fearful and the brave.
[tr. Pope (1715-20)]

Nor lives he who can overpass the date
By heaven assign’d him, be he base or brave
[tr. Cowper (1791), ll. 595-96]

But I think there is no one of men who has escaped fate, neither the coward nor the brave man, after he has once been born.
[tr. Buckley (1860)]

If a man's hour is come, be he brave or be he coward, there is no escape for him when he has once been born.
[tr. Butler (1898)]

Only his doom, methinks, no man hath ever escaped, be he coward or valiant, when once he hath been born.
[tr. Murray (1924)]

Added on 7-Oct-20 | Last updated 24-Nov-20
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , ,
More quotes by Homer

Lead the ideas of your time and they will accompany and support you; fall behind them and they drag you along with them; oppose them and they will overwhelm you.

Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821) French emperor, military leader
(Attributed)
    (Source)

Quoted, unsourced, in Jules Bertaut, Napoleon: In His Own Words [Virilités, maximes et pensées de Napoléon Bonaparte], ch. 4 (1916) [tr. Law and Rhodes].
Added on 10-Apr-20 | Last updated 13-Apr-20
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , ,
More quotes by Napoleon Bonaparte

Against all appearances the nature of things works for truth and right forever.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
The Conduct of Life, ch. 6 “Worship” (1860)
    (Source)
Added on 24-Mar-20 | Last updated 5-May-20
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , ,
More quotes by Emerson, Ralph Waldo

It is the mark of a good action that it appears inevitable in retrospect.

Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894) Scottish essayist, novelist, poet
“Reflections and Remarks on Human Life,” #6 (1878)
    (Source)
Added on 20-Nov-17 | Last updated 20-Nov-17
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , ,
More quotes by Stevenson, Robert Louis

Destiny is for people who are too lazy to create alternate timelines.

Other Authors and Sources
Richard Stevens III, Diesel Sweeties (5 Oct 2011)
    (Source)
Added on 4-Jan-17 | Last updated 4-Jan-17
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , ,
More quotes by ~Other

‘Tis impossible to be sure of any thing but Death and Taxes.

Christopher Bullock (1690?-1724) English actor and dramatist
The Cobler of Preston (1716)
Added on 18-Apr-16 | Last updated 18-Apr-16
Link to this post | 1 comment
Topics: , , ,
More quotes by Bullock, Christopher

Your spirit, youth, and valour give me heart, not to mention necessity, which makes even the timid brave.

[Animus, aetas, virtus vostra me hortantur, praeterea necessitudo, que etiam timidos fortis facit.]

Sallust (c. 86-35 BC) Roman historian and politician [Gaius Sallustius Crispus]
Bellum Catilinae [The War of Catiline; The Conspiracy of Catiline], ch. 58, sent. 19 [tr. Rolfe (1931)]
    (Source)

Catiline, addressing his troops. Usually shortened to "Necessity makes even the timid brave" [Necessitas etiam timidos fortes facit.]. Original Latin.

Alt. trans.:
  • "From your youthful vigor and undaunted courage I expect every advantage. Even the difficulties of our situation inspire me with confidence; for difficulties have often produced prodigies of valor." [tr. Murphy (1807)]
  • "Your spirit, your age, your virtue encourage me; and our necessity, too, which even inspires cowards with bravery." [tr. Rose (1831), ch. 61]
  • "Your spirit, your age, your valour encourage me, the necessity moreover which makes even the timid brave." [Source (1841)]
  • "Your spirit, your age, your valor, give me confidence; to say nothing of necessity, which makes even cowards brave." [tr. Watson (1867)]
  • "Your resolution, your age, and your courage, and above all the inevitable nature of the encounter, which often makes even the timid brave, exhort me to this." [tr. Pollard (1882)]
Added on 15-May-14 | Last updated 23-Oct-20
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Sallust

Our new Constitution is now established, and has an appearance that promises permanency, but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher
Letter to Jean-Baptiste Leroy (13 Nov 1789)
    (Source)

See Bullock.
Added on 3-May-13 | Last updated 15-Apr-20
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Franklin, Benjamin

History teaches us the mistakes we are going to make.

Lawrence J. Peter (1919-1990) American educator, management theorist
Peter’s Quotations: Ideas for Our Time (1977)
Added on 4-Jun-11 | Last updated 3-Apr-20
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , ,
More quotes by Peter, Lawrence J.

The present, as historians well know, re-creates the past. This is partly because, once we know how things have come out, we tend to rewrite the past in terms of historical inevitability.

Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. (1917-2007) American historian, author, social critic
“The Historian as Participant,” Daedalus (Spring 1971)
Added on 18-Feb-11 | Last updated 18-Dec-19
Link to this post | 1 comment
Topics: , , , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Schlesinger, Arthur

But dreadful is the mysterious power of fate — there is no deliverance from it by wealth or by war, by towered city, or dark, sea-beaten ships.

[ἀλλ᾽ ἁ μοιριδία τις δύνασις δεινά:
οὔτ᾽ ἄν νιν ὄλβος οὔτ᾽ Ἄρης, οὐ πύργος, οὐχ ἁλίκτυποι
κελαιναὶ νᾶες ἐκφύγοιεν.]

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Antigone, ll. 951-53, Strophe 1 (Stasimon 4) [Chorus] (441 BC) [tr. Jebb (1891)]
    (Source)

Original Greek. Alt. trans.:

Strange are the ways of Fate, her power
Nor wealth, nor arms withstand, nor tower;
Nor brass-prowed ships, that breast the sea
From Fate can flee.
[tr. Storr (1859)]

No power in wealth or war
Or tough sea-blackened ships
Can prevail against untiring Destiny!
[tr. Fitts/Fitzgerald (1939), ll. 744-46]

There is no tower.
So high, no armory so great,
No ship so swift, as is the power
Of man's inexorable fate.
[tr. Watling (1947)]

Mysterious, overmastering, is the power of Fate,
From this, nor wealth nor force of arms
Nor strong encircling city-walls
Nor storm-tossed ship can give deliverance.
[tr. Kitto (1962)]

Fate has a terrible power
That nothing escapes, not wealth,
Not warfare, not a fortress tower,
Not even black ships beating against the sea.
[tr. Woodruff (2001)]

Fate's power, though, is mighty, and neither Lords of lands nor Ares nor castles nor flighty ships well-beaten by the waves can escape her.
[tr. Theodoridis (2004)]

But the power of fate is full of mystery.
There’s no evading it, no, not with wealth,
or war, or walls, or black sea-beaten ships.
[tr. Johnston (2005)]

But the power of fate (whatever it may be) is terrible and wonderful.
Neither wealth nor Ares,
no tower, no dark ships
beaten by the sea can escape it.
[tr. Tyrell/Bennett]
Added on 27-Jul-08 | Last updated 22-Nov-20
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , ,
More quotes by Sophocles

When playing Russian roulette the fact that the first shot got off safely is little comfort for the next.

Richard Feynman (1918-1988) American physicist
Rogers Commission Report into the Challenger Crash, Appendix F “Personal Observations on Reliability of Shuttle” (Jun 1986)

Full report
Added on 19-Feb-08 | Last updated 10-Jan-20
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , ,
More quotes by Feynman, Richard

Great blunders are often made, like large ropes, of a multitude of fibers.

[Les fortes sottises sont souvent faites, comme les grosses cordes, d’une multitude de brins.]

Victor Hugo (1802-1885) French writer
Les Misérables, Vol. 2 “Cosette,” Book 5 “A Dark Chase Requires a Silent Hound,” ch. 10 “In Which it is explained how Javert lost the Game” (1862) [tr. Wilbour]

Alt. trans. [N. Denny (1980)]: "The greatest blunders, like the thickest ropes, are often compounded of a multitude of strands. Take the rope apart, separate it into the small threads that compose it, and you can break them one by one. You think, 'That is all there was!' But twist them all together, and you have something tremendous." Full text. Cited as Part 2, ch. 5 "Hunt in the Darkness."
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 27-May-19
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , ,
More quotes by Hugo, Victor

The first rule is, to keep an untroubled spirit; for all things must bow to Nature’s law, and soon enough you must vanish into nothingness, like Hadrian and Augustus. The second is to look things in the face and know them for what they are, remembering that it is your duty to be a good man. Do without flinching what man’s nature demands; say what seems to you most just — though with courtesy, modesty, and sincerity.

[Τὸ πρῶτον μὴ ταράσσου: πάντα γὰρ κατὰ τὴν τοῦ ὅλου φύσιν καὶ ὀλίγου χρόνου οὐδεὶς οὐδαμοῦ ἔσῃ, ὥσπερ οὐδὲ Ἁδριανὸς οὐδὲ Αὔγουστος. ἔπειτα ἀτενίσας εἰς τὸ πρᾶγμα ἴδε αὐτὸ καὶ συμμνημονεύσας ὅτι ἀγαθόν σε ἄνθρωπον εἶναι δεῖ καὶ τί τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἡ φύσις ἀπαιτεῖ, πρᾶξον τοῦτο ἀμεταστρεπτὶ καὶ εἰπέ, ὡς δικαιότατον φαίνεταί σοι: μόνον εὐμενῶς καὶ αἰδημόνως καὶ ἀνυποκρίτως.]

Marcus Aurelius (AD 121-180) Roman emperor (161-180), Stoic philosopher
Meditations, Book 8, #5 [tr. Staniforth (1964)]
    (Source)

This translation was adapted (and significantly shortened) by Norman Vincent Peale in You Can If You Think You Can (1974): "The first rule is to keep an untroubled spirit. The second is to look things in the face and know them for what they are."

Peale's paraphrase significantly changes the meaning (by removing the fatalism and the sense of duty in the face of the actions of great men from the past, and turning it into a general call for calm and clarity). Nonetheless, Peale's version of this translation shows up all over the place, and generally without reference to him.

Original Greek. Alternate translations:

First; let it not trouble thee. For all things both good and evil come to pass according to the nature and general condition of the universe, and within a very little while, all things will be at an end; no man will be remembered: as now of Africanus (for example) and Augustus it is already come to pass. Then secondly; fix thy mind upon the thing itself; look into it, and remembering thyself, that thou art bound nevertheless to be a good man, and what it is that thy nature requireth of thee as thou art a man, be not diverted from what thou art about, and speak that which seemeth unto thee most just: only speak it kindly, modestly, and without hypocrisy.
[tr. Casaubon (1634), #4]

In the first place, keep yourself easy, for all things are governed by the laws and order of Providence: besides, you'll quickly go the way of all flesh, as Augustus, Adrian, and the rest of the emperors have done before you. Farther, examine the matter from top to bottom, and remember, that the top of your business is to be a good man: therefore whatever the dignity of human nature requires of you, set about it presently, without ifs, or ands: and speak always according to your conscience, but let it be done in the terms of good nature and civility.
[tr. Collier (1701)]

This is the chief thing: Be not perturbed, for all things are according to the nature of the universal; and in a little time thou wilt be nobody and nowhere, like Hadrianus and Augustus. In the next place, having fixed thy eyes steadily on thy business, look at it, and at the same time remembering that it is thy duty to be a good man, and what man's nature demands, do that without turning aside; and speak as it seems to thee most just, only let it be with a good disposition and with modesty and without hypocrisy.
[tr. Long (1862)]

In the first place, keep yourself easy, for all things are governed by the universal nature. Besides, you'll quickly go the way of all flesh, as Augustus and Hadrian have done before you. Farther, examine the matter from top to bottom, and remember that your business is to be a good man. Therefore, whatever the dignity of human nature requires of you, set about it at once, without "ifs" or "ands"; and speak always according to your conscience, but let it be done in the terms of good nature and modesty and sincerity.
[tr. Zimmern (1887)]

In the first place, be not troubled; for all things are according to Universal Nature, and in a little while you will be no one and nowhere, even as Hadrian and Augustus are no more. Next, looking earnestly at the question, perceive its essence, and reminding yourself that your duty is to be a good man, and what it is that man's nature demands, do that without swerving, and speak the thing that appears to you to be most just, provided only that it is with kindness and modesty, and without hypocrisy
. [tr. Farquharson (1944)]

The first step. Don't be anxious. Nature controls it all. And before long you'll be no one, nowhere -- like Hadrian, like Augustus. The second step: Concentrate on what you have to do. Fix your eyes on it. Remind yourself that your task is to be a good human being; remind yourself what nature demands of people. Then do it, without hesitation, and speak the truth as you see it. But with kindness. With humility. Without hypocrisy.
[tr. Hays (2003)]

Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 17-Mar-21
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Marcus Aurelius