Quotations about   insolence

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Wit is cultured insolence.

[ἡ γὰρ εὐτραπελία πεπαιδευμένη ὕβρις ἐστίν.]

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Rhetoric [Ῥητορική; Ars Rhetorica], Book 2, ch. 12, sec. 16 (2.12.16) / 1389b.11 (350 BC) [tr. Freese (1926)]
    (Source)

(Source (Greek)). Alternate translations:

  • "Wit is a refined petulance." [Source (1847)]

  • "Facetiousness is chastened forwardness of manner." [tr. Buckley (1850)]

  • "Wit is educated insolence." [tr. Jebb (1873)]

  • "Wit being well-bred insolence." [tr. Roberts (1924)]

  • "Wittiness is educated insolence." [tr. Bartlett (2019)]

Added on 5-Mar-21 | Last updated 1-Feb-22
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And the man who is arrogant belittles his victim. For arrogance is doing and saying things which bring shame to the victim, not in order that something may come out of it for the doer other than the mere fact it happened, but so that he may get pleasure. […] The cause of the pleasure enjoyed by those who are arrogant is that they think that in doing ill they are themselves very much superior. That is why the young and the wealthy are arrogant. For they think that in being arrogant they are superior.

[καὶ ὁ ὑβρίζων δὲ ὀλιγωρεῖ: ἔστι γὰρ ὕβρις τὸ πράττειν καὶ λέγειν ἐφ᾽ οἷς αἰσχύνη ἔστι τῷ πάσχοντι, μὴ ἵνα τι γίγνηται αὑτῷ ἄλλο ἢ ὅ τι ἐγένετο, ἀλλ᾽ ὅπως ἡσθῇ […] αἴτιον δὲ τῆς ἡδονῆς τοῖς ὑβρίζουσιν, ὅτι οἴονται κακῶς δρῶντες αὐτοὶ ὑπερέχειν μᾶλλον (διὸ οἱ νέοι καὶ οἱ πλούσιοι ὑβρισταί: ὑπερέχειν γὰρ οἴονται ὑβρίζοντες)]

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Rhetoric [Ῥητορική; Ars Rhetorica], Book 2, ch. 2, sec. 5ff (2.2.5-6) / 1378b.23-39 (350 BC) [tr. Lord]
    (Source)

Freese notes, "In Attic law ὕβρις (insulting, degrading treatment) was a more serious offence than αἰκία (bodily ill-treatment). It was the subject of a State criminal prosecution (γραφή), αἰκία of a private action (δίκη) for damages. The penalty was assessed in court, and might even be death."

(Source (Greek)). Alternate translations:

The contumelious, too, commits slight -- for contumely is the infliction of injury and pain under such circumstances as cause shame to the sufferer, not that any good may accrue to himself (the agent) other than the act itself, but that he may be pleased. [...] The reason of pleasure accruing to the contumelious is, that they think themselves rendered far superior by thus acting injuriously. Whence the young and the rich are contumelious, for they think that to give affront shews their superiority.
[Source (1847)]

He, too, who acts contumeliously manifests slight; for contumely is the doing and saying of those things about which the person who is the subject of this treatment, has feelings of delicacy, not with a view that any thing should accrue to himself, other than what arises to him in the act, but in order that he may be gratified. [...] Now the cause of the pleasure felt by those who act contumeliously, is that, by injuring, they conceive themselves to be more decidedly superior: on which account young men and the rich are given to contumely, for in manifesting the contumely, they conceive themselves superior.
[tr. Buckley (1850)]

The man who insults, again, slights; for insolence is to do and say things which shame the sufferer; not in order that anything may accrue to the insulter, or because anything has been done to him, but in order that he may have joy. [...] The source of pleasure to the insulters is this, -- they fancy that, by ill-treating the other people, they are showing the greater superiority. Hence young men and rich men are insolent; they fancy that, by insulting, they are superior.
[tr. Jebb (1873)]

Insolence is also a form of slighting, since it consists in doing and saying things that cause shame to the victim, not in order that anything may happen to yourself, or because anything has happened to yourself, but simply for the pleasure involved. [...] The cause of the pleasure thus enjoyed by the insolent man is that he thinks himself greatly superior to others when ill-treating them. That is why youths and rich men are insolent; they think themselves superior when they show insolence.
[tr. Roberts (1924)]

Similarly, he who insults another also slights him; for insult consists in causing injury or annoyance whereby the sufferer is disgraced, not to obtain any other advantage for oneself besides the performance of the act, but for one's own pleasure. [...] The cause of the pleasure felt by those who insult is the idea that, in ill-treating others, they are more fully showing superiority. That is why the young and the wealthy are given to insults; for they think that, in committing them, they are showing their superiority.
[tr. Freese (1926)]

And disparagement may be motivated by abusiveness, which is acting and speaking in such a way as to make your victim feel shame, not because you will gain from it, and not in response to anything that has happened to you, but just for the pleasure of it. [...] The reason why an abusive man feels pleasure is his belief that by treating others badly he increases his superiority to them. That is why youth and wealth make people abusive: they think that by insulting others they are establishing their superiority.
[tr. Waterfield (2018)]

And he who is insolent to someone also slights him, for insolence is doing and saying such things as are a source of shame to the person suffering them, not so that some other advantage may accrue to the insolent person or because something happened to him, but so that he may gain pleasure thereby. [...] And a cause of the pleasure the insolent feel is their supposing that, by inflicting harm, they themselves are to a greater degree superior. Hence the young and the wealthy are insolent, for they suppose that, by being insolent, they are superior.
[tr. Bartlett (2019)]

Added on 22-Jan-20 | Last updated 11-Jan-22
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Power is so apt to be insolent and Liberty to be saucy, that they are very seldom upon good Terms.

George Savile, Marquis of Halifax (1633-1695) English politician and essayist
“Of Prerogative, Power and Liberty,” Political, Moral, and Miscellaneous Thoughts and Reflections (1750)
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Added on 1-Jul-08 | Last updated 30-Jan-20
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The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.

Socrates (c.470-399 BC) Greek philosopher
(Spurious)

Often claimed as a passage from Socrates via Plato, but actually a paraphrase from a synthesis of complaints about youth in antiquity by Kenneth John Freeman, in his 1907 Cambridge dissertation "Schools of Hellas: an Essay on the Practice and Theory of Ancient Greek Education from 600 to 300 BC." See here for more discussion.
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 19-Feb-21
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