Quotations about   inevitability

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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]

Alt. trans.:

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)]

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 7-Oct-20
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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

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
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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)
Added on 24-Mar-20 | Last updated 5-May-20
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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)
Added on 20-Nov-17 | Last updated 20-Nov-17
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Destiny is for people who are too lazy to create alternate timelines.

Other Authors and Sources
Richard Stevens III, Diesel Sweeties (5 Oct 2011)
Added on 4-Jan-17 | Last updated 4-Jan-17
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‘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
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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)]

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
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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)

See Bullock.
Added on 3-May-13 | Last updated 15-Apr-20
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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
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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
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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
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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
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