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By Art and Nature, if thou well recall
How Genesis begins, man ought to get
His bread, and make prosperity for all.
But the usurer contrives a third way yet,
And in herself and in her follower, Art,
Scorns Nature, for his hope is elsewhere set.

[Da queste due, se tu ti rechi a mente
lo Genesì dal principio, convene
prender sua vita e avanzar la gente;
e perché l’usuriere altra via tene,
per sé natura e per la sua seguace
dispregia, poi ch’in altro pon la spene.]

Dante Alighieri the poet
Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) Italian poet
The Divine Comedy [Divina Commedia], Book 1 “Inferno,” Canto 11, l. 106ff (11.106-111) [Virgil] (1320) [tr. Sayers (1949)]
    (Source)

In Genesis (Gen. 2:15, 3:17-19), God ordains humanity is to survive gathering plants and resources (Nature) and through toil and "the sweat of his face" (Art or Industry) . Usurers are deemed evil because they gain wealth from interest on money-lending (or, by extension, any financial investments), producing money from money, not from productive work. They are considered in Dante's scheme as bad as blasphemers and perverts, and worse sinners than murderers or suicides. See commentary from Sayers and Durling.

(Source (Italian)). Alternate translations:

And if you recollect
Your Genesis, you'll know that from these two
Mankind should Life, Tillage the Earth receive.
But, because Us'ry takes another way,
Despising Nature and your daughter Art,
It God displeases, and incurs his wrath.
[tr. Rogers (1782), l. 101ff]

But from her hallow'd path the Miser strays,
Who lets pale A'rice warp his sordid ways,
Invet'rate foe to Nature's simple lore,
Beneath his influence grows the barren gold.
He speaks, and lo! the parent sums unfold
In monstrous births, a misbegotten store.
[tr. Boyd (1802), st. 16]

These two, if thou recall to mind
Creation’s holy book, from the beginning
Were the right source of life and excellence
To human kind. But in another path
The usurer walks; and Nature in herself
And in her follower thus he sets at nought,
Placing elsewhere his hope.
[tr. Cary (1814)]

Both these to man, if thou refresh thy mind
In Genesis' early writ, the Word ordains
His life to foster, and advance his kind.
But other way takes Usance to his gains,
And, choosing other hope, a scornful war
With Nature and her handmaid Art maintains.
[tr. Dayman (1843)]

By these two, if you recallest to thy memory Genesis at the beginning, it behoves man to gain his bread and [to prosper].
And because the usurer takes another way, he contemns Nature in herself and in her follower, placing elsewhere his hope.
[tr. Carlyle (1849)]

From these two, if right considered in the mind,
From first of Genesis the truth receive,
Life and advancement to the nations gave.
But usury has ta'en another way,
Despising nature and her handmaid Art,
Far other hopes his light of life impart.
[tr. Bannerman (1850)]

From these two, then, if thou in mem'ry hold'st
The earlier Genesis, it is decreed
That life must spring, and man's increase must come.
But then the usurer treads another path;
Nature and her attendant both he scorns,
Since in another means he places hope.
[tr. Johnston (1867)]

From these two, if thou bringest to thy mind
Genesis at the beginning, it behoves
⁠Mankind to gain their life and to advance;
And since the usurer takes another way,
⁠Nature herself and in her follower ⁠
⁠Disdains he, for elsewhere he puts his hope.
[tr. Longfellow (1867)]

From these two, if thou bring to thy mind Genesis, towards the beginning, it behoves folk to take their life, and to prosper. And because the usurer holds another course, he despises Nature both for herself and for her follower; because he places his hope in another thing.
[tr. Butler (1885)]

From Art and Nature, if thou bring'st to mind
The verse of Genesis, 'tis doomed alone
That man should live and carry on his kind.
And since to usurers other ways are known,
Both Nature and her follower stand confest
Outraged by those whose trust is elsewhere shown.
[tr. Minchin (1885)]

By means of these two, if thou bringest to mind Genesis at its beginning, it behoves mankind to obtain their livelihood and to thrive. But because the usurer takes another course, he despises Nature in herself, and in her follower, since upon other thing he sets his hope.
[tr. Norton (1892)]

By these two, if thou recallest to thy mind an early page in Genesis, doth it behove mankind to win their means of life, and to excel. And for that the usurer goeth another way, he slighteth nature both in herself and follower, putting his trust elsewhere.
[tr. Sullivan (1893)]

From these two, if thou bring' st to recollection
Genesis at its opening, it must needs be
That folk do take their living and make progress.
And, since the usurer keeps another pathway,
Nature, both for herself and for her daughter,
Contemns he, since his hope elsewhere he places.
[tr. Griffith (1908)]

By these two, if thou recall to mind Genesis near the beginning, it behoves mankind to gain their livelihood and their advancement, and because the usurer takes another way he despises nature both in herself and in her follower, setting his hope elsewhere.
[tr. Sinclair (1939)]

By these two, if thy memory Genesis
Recalls, and its beginning, man hath need
To gain his bread and foster earthly bliss.
But the usurer, since he will not thus proceed,
Flouts Nature's follower and herself also,
Setting his wealth another way to breed.
[tr. Binyon (1943)]

By this, recalling the Old Testament
near the beginning of Genesis, you will see
that in the will of Providence, man was meant
to labor and to prosper. But usurers,
by seeking their increase in other ways,
scorn Nature in herself and her followers.
[tr. Ciardi (1954)]

By these two, if you remember Genesis at the beginning, it behooves man to gain his bread and to prosper. But because the usurer takes another way, he contemns Nature in herself and in her follower, for he puts his hope elsewhere.
[tr. Singleton (1970)]

From Art and Nature man was meant to take
his daily bread to live -- if you recall
the book of Genesis near the beginning;
but the usurer, adopting another means,
scorns Nature in herself and in her pupil,
Art -- he invests his hope in something else.
[tr. Musa (1971)]

From these two, art and nature, it is fitting,
if you recall how Genesis begins,
for men to make their way, to gain their living;
and since the usurer prefers another
pathway, he scorns both nature in herself
and art, her follower; his hope is elsewhere.
[tr. Mandelbaum (1980)]

From these two, if you recall to mind
The beginning of Genesis, it is proper for man
To win his bread and to advance his race:
And because the usurer takes another way,
Treating nature and what follows from her
Contemptuously, he puts his hopes elsewhere.
[tr. Sisson (1981)]

By these two, man should thrive and gain his bread --
If you remember Genesis -- from the start
But since the usurer takes a different way,
He contemns Nature both in her own sort
And in her follower as well, while he
Chooses to invest his hope another place.
[tr. Pinsky (1994)]

From these two, if you bring to mind the beginning of Genesis, we must draw our life and advance our people. and because the usurer holds another way, he scorns Nature in herself and in her follower, since he puts his hope in something else.
[tr. Durling (1996)]

By these two, art and nature, man must earn his bread and flourish, if you recall to mind Genesis, near its beginning.
Because the usurer holds to another course, he denies Nature, in herself, and in that which follows her ways, putting his hopes elsewhere.
[tr. Kline (2002)]

From these two principles -- if you recall
the opening lines of Genesis -- we're bound to draw
our living strength and multiply our people.
But usurers adopt a different course.
They place their hopes in other things, and thus
make mock of Nature's self and her close kin.
[tr. Kirkpatrick (2006)]

By toil and nature, if you remember Genesis,
near the beginning, it is man's lot
to earn his bread and prosper.
The usurer, who takes another path,
scorns nature in herself and in her follower,
and elsewhere sets his hopes.
[tr. Hollander/Hollander (2007)]

Nature and human labor -- as Genesis teaches
In its very first pages -- combine to let man live
And thereby take his people forward. But those leeches
Who practice usury abandon the given
Path for another, despising Nature's way
And her honest pupils: gold, not God, is their living.
[tr. Raffel (2010)]

By this twin element
Of nature's force and human effort -- see
The book of Genesis, near the beginning, where
Men are enjoined to earn their bread by sweat --
Humanity needs must accept its share
Of effort to advance. The trade in debt
Ignores that pact. His course set otherwise
The usurer holds nature in contempt
Both in herself and in her human guise,
Simply by how he holds himself exempt
And sets his hopes elsewhere.
[tr. James (2013), l. 112ff]

 
Added on 31-Mar-23 | Last updated 31-Mar-23
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More quotes by Dante Alighieri

The entrepreneur, in the classic image, was supposed to have taken a risk, not only with his money but with his very career; but once the founder of a business has taken the big jump he does not usually take serious risks as he comes to enjoy the accumulation of advantages that lead him into great fortune. If there is any risk, someone else is usually taking it. Of late, that someone else […] has been the government of the United States. If a middle-class businessman is in debt for $50,000, he may well be in trouble. But if a man manages to get into debt for $2 million, his creditors, if they can, may well find it convenient to produce chances for his making money in order to repay them.

C. Wright Mills (1916-1962) American sociologist, academic, author [Charles Wright Mills]
The Power Elite (1956)
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Added on 21-Apr-21 | Last updated 21-Apr-21
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Certainty has become a consumer product. It is marketed the world over — by insurance companies, investment advisers, election campaigns, and the medical industry.

Gerd Gigerenzer (b. 1947) German research psychologist
Reckoning with Risk (2003)
 
Added on 4-Jan-21 | Last updated 4-Jan-21
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On the other hand, we denounce with righteous indignation and dislike men who are so beguiled and demoralized by the charms of pleasure of the moment, so blinded by desire, that they cannot foresee the pain and trouble that are bound to ensue; and equal blame belongs to those who fail in their duty through weakness of will, which is the same as saying through shrinking from toil and pain. These cases are perfectly simple and easy to distinguish. In a free hour, when our power of choice is untrammeled and when nothing prevents our being able to do what we like best, every pleasure is to be welcomed and every pain avoided. But in certain circumstances and owing to the claims of duty or the obligations of business it will frequently occur that pleasures have to be repudiated and annoyances accepted. The wise man therefore always holds in these matters to this principle of selection: he rejects pleasures to secure other greater pleasures, or else he endures pains to avoid worse pains.

[At vero eos et accusamus et iusto odio dignissimos ducimus, qui blanditiis praesentium voluptatum deleniti atque corrupti, quos dolores et quas molestias excepturi sint, obcaecati cupiditate non provident, similique sunt in culpa, qui officia deserunt mollitia animi, id est laborum et dolorum fuga. et harum quidem rerum facilis est et expedita distinctio. nam libero tempore, cum soluta nobis est eligendi optio, cumque nihil impedit, quo minus id, quod maxime placeat, facere possimus, omnis voluptas assumenda est, omnis dolor repellendus. temporibus autem quibusdam et aut officiis debitis aut rerum necessitatibus saepe eveniet, ut et voluptates repudiandae sint et molestiae non recusandae. itaque earum rerum hic tenetur a sapiente delectus, ut aut reiciendis voluptatibus maiores alias consequatur aut perferendis doloribus asperiores repellat.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
De Finibus Bonorum et Malorum [On the Ends of Good and Evil], Book 1, sec. 33 (ch. 10) (44 BC) [tr. Rackham (1914)]
    (Source)

Alt. trans.:

  • "Then again we criticize and consider wholly deserving of our odium those who are so seduced and corrupted by the blandishments of immediate pleasure that they fail to foresee in their blind passion the pain and harm to come. Equally blameworthy are those who abandon their duties through mental weakness -- that is, through the avoidance of effort and pain. It is quite simple and straightforward to distinguish such cases. In our free time, when our choice is unconstrained and there is nothing to prevent us doing what most pleases us, every pleasure is to be tasted, every pain shunned. But in certain circumstances it will often happen that either the call of duty or some sort of crisis dictates that pleasures are to be repudiated and inconveniences accepted. And so the wise person will uphold the following method of selecting pleasures and pains: pleasures are rejected when this results in other greater pleasures; pains are selected when this avoids worse pains." [On Moral Ends, tr. Woolf (2001)]

  • "But in truth we do blame and deem most deserving of righteous hatred the men who, enervated and depraved by the fascination of momentary pleasures, do not foresee the pains and troubles which are sure to befall them, because they are blinded by desire, and in the same error are involved those who prove traitors to their duties through effeminacy of spirit, I mean because they shun exertions and trouble. Now it is easy and and simple to mark the difference between these cases. For at our seasons of ease, when we have untrammelled freedom of choice, and when nothing debars us from the power of following the course that pleases us best, then pleasure is wholly a matter for our selection and pain for our rejection. On certain occasions however either through the inevitable call of duty or through stress of circumstances, it will often come to pass that we must put pleasures from us and must make no protest against annoyance. So in such cases the principle of selection adopted by the wise man is that he should either by refusing cerftain pleasures attain to other and greater pleasures or by enduring pains should ward off pains still more severe." [tr. Reid (1883)]

  • "But we do accuse those men, and think them entirely worthy of the greatest hatred, who, being made effeminate and corrupted by the allurements of present pleasure, are so blinded by passion that they do not foresee what pains and annoyances they will hereafter be subject to; and who are equally guilty with those who, through weakness of mind, that is to say, from eagerness to avoid labour and pain, desert their duty. And the distinction between these things is quick and easy. For at a time when we are free, when the option of choice is in our own power, and when there is nothing to prevent our being able to do whatsoever we choose, then every pleasure may be enjoyed, and every pain repelled. But on particular occasions it will often happen, owing whether to the obligations of duty or the necessities of business, that pleasures must be declined and annoyances must not be shirked. Therefore the wise man holds to this principle of choice in those matters, that he rejects some pleasures, so as, by the rejection to obtain others which are greater, and encounters some pains, so as by that means to escape others which are more formidable." [On the Chief Good and Evil, tr. Yongue (1853)]
 
Added on 17-Aug-20 | Last updated 8-Feb-21
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It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!

Upton Sinclair (1878-1968) American writer, journalist, activist, politician
I, Candidate for Governor: And How I Got Licked, ch. 20 (1935)
    (Source)

A regular comment of his on the campaign trail. The wording is Sinclair's, though there are earlier references with the same sentiment (see here for more discussion).

Often misattributed to H. L. Mencken. (e.g., "Never argue with a man whose job depends on not being convinced") though not found in his work.
 
Added on 16-Jul-20 | Last updated 16-Jul-20
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Long books, when read, are usually overpraised, because the reader wants to convince others and himself that he has not wasted his time.

E. M. Forster (1879-1970) English novelist, essayist, critic, librettist [Edward Morgan Forster]
Commonplace Book (1985) [ed. Gardner]
    (Source)
 
Added on 13-May-20 | Last updated 13-May-20
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I took such pains not to keep my money in the house, but to put it out of the reach of burglars by buying stock, and had no guess that I was putting it into the hands of these very burglars now grown wiser and standing dressed as Railway Directors.

Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
Journal (1857)
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Added on 10-Mar-20 | Last updated 10-Mar-20
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Markets can remain irrational a lot longer than you and I can remain solvent.

John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946) English economist
(Attributed)

Generally credited to Keynes, but the earliest reference found is by financial analyst A. Gary Shilling, "Scoreboard," Forbes (15 Feb 1993). More discussion here.

Sometimes given as "Markets can remain irrational longer than you can remain solvent" or "Markets can stay irrational longer than you can stay solvent."
 
Added on 11-Apr-17 | Last updated 11-Apr-17
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Books constitute capital. A library book lasts as long as a house, for hundreds of years. It is not, then, an article of mere consumption but fairly of capital. and often in the case of professional men, setting out in life, it is their only capital.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) American political philosopher, polymath, statesman, US President (1801-09)
Letter to James Madison (16 Sep 1821)
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Added on 19-Jan-17 | Last updated 11-Jul-22
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The old saying holds. Owe your banker £1000 and you are at his mercy; owe him £1 million and the position is reversed.

John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946) English economist
“Overseas Financial Policy in Stage III” (15 May 1945)

Unpublished memo distributed to the British Cabinet. Variant: "If you owe your bank a hundred pounds, you have a problem. But if you owe a million, it has."
 
Added on 20-Dec-16 | Last updated 20-Dec-16
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The ignorance of even the best-informed investor about the more remote future is much greater than his knowledge, and he cannot but be influenced to a degree which would seem wildly disproportionate to anyone who really knew the future, and be forced to seek a clue mainly here to trends further ahead. But if this is true of the best-informed, the vast majority of those who are concerned with the buying and selling of securities know almost nothing whatever about what they are doing. They do not possess even the rudiments of what is required for a valid judgement, and are the prey of hopes and fears easily aroused by transient events and as easily dispelled.

John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946) English economist
A Treatise on Money, Vol. 2 (1930)
 
Added on 6-Dec-16 | Last updated 6-Dec-16
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Remember that children, marriages, and flower gardens reflect the kind of care they get.

Brown - reflect the kind of care they get - wist_info quote

H. Jackson "Jack" Brown, Jr. (b. 1940) American writer
Life’s Instructions for Wisdom, Success, and Happiness (2001)
 
Added on 30-Aug-16 | Last updated 30-Aug-16
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Investment must be rational. If you can’t understand it, don’t do it.

Warren Buffett (b. 1930) American investor and financier
“About Investing: Only Buy Securities That You Understand,” Warren Buffett Speaks (1997)
 
Added on 17-Jul-14 | Last updated 17-Jul-14
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Buy old masters. They fetch a better price than old mistresses.

Max Aitken, Lord Beaverbrook (1879-1964) Anglo-Canadian business tycoon, publisher, politician, writer
(Attributed)
 
Added on 29-Apr-14 | Last updated 29-Apr-14
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October: This is one of the peculiarly dangerous months to speculate in stocks. The others are: July, January, September, April, November, May, March, June, December, August, and February.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
The Tragedy of Pudd’nhead Wilson, ch. 13, epigraph (1894)
 
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Private enterprise did not get us atomic energy.

John Kenneth Galbraith (1908-2006) Canadian-American economist, diplomat, author
The Affluent Society, ch. 25, sec. 3 (1958)
 
Added on 11-May-12 | Last updated 14-Jan-20
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One generation plants the trees, and another gets the shade.

(Other Authors and Sources)
Chinese proverb
 
Added on 7-Dec-07 | Last updated 11-Feb-20
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I am rarely happier than when spending entire day programming my computer to perform automatically a task that it would otherwise take me a good ten seconds to do by hand.

Douglas Adams (1952-2001) English writer
Last Chance to See, ch. 2 (1991)
 
Added on 30-Oct-07 | Last updated 26-Aug-14
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Lending to a spendthrift is like pelting a trespassing dog with meat dumplings.

(Other Authors and Sources)
Chinese proverb
 
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A man builds a fine house; and now he has a master, and a task for life; he is to furnish, watch, show it, and keep it in repair, the rest of his days.

Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Works and Days,” Society and Solitude, ch. 7 (1870)
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Good manners are the settled medium of social, as specie is of commercial, life; returns are equally expected for both.

Lord Chesterfield (1694-1773) English statesman, wit [Philip Dormer Stanhope]
Letter to his son, #304 (25 Dec 1758)
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Dig the well before you are thirsty.

(Other Authors and Sources)
Chinese proverb
 
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