Quotations about   lese majeste

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Idiot, not to know
his days are numbered who would fight the gods!
His children will not sing around his knees
“Papa! Papa!” on his return from war.

Ὅττι μάλ’ οὐ δηναιὸς ὃς ἀθανάτοισι μάχηται,
οὐδέ τί μιν παῖδες ποτὶ γούνασι παππάζουσιν
ἐκ πολέμοιο καὶ αἰνῆς δηϊοτῆτος.

Homer (fl. 7th-8th C. BC) Greek author
The Iliad, Book 5, ll. 407-409 (c. 750 BC) [tr. Fitzgerald (1974)]
    (Source)

Alt. trans.:

No man who fights with gods will live long or hear his children prattling about his knees when he returns from battle.
[tr. Butler (1898)]

Know thou, whoe'er with heavenly power contends,
Short is his date, and soon his glory ends;
From fields of death when late he shall retire,
No infant on his knees shall call him sire.
[tr. Pope (1715-20)]

Unknowing he how short his term of life
Who fights against the Gods! for him no child
Upon his knee shall lisp a father's name,
Safe from the war and battle-field return'd.
[tr. Derby (1864), ll. 463-466]

Verily he endureth not for long who fighteth with the immortals, nor do his children prattle about his knees when he is come back from war and the dread conflict.
[tr. Murray (1924)]

That man who fights the immortals lives for no long time, his children do not gather to his knees to welcome their father when he returns home after the fighting and the bitter warfare.
[tr. Lattimore (1951)]
Added on 9-Sep-20 | Last updated 9-Sep-20
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Never strike a king unless you are sure you shall kill him.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
Journal (Sep. 1843)
    (Source)

In addition to the noted source, see also here. However, according to the reliable Ralph Keyes, the quotation is spurious. Keyes also suggests an inspiration from the 17th Century English proverb, "Whosoever draws his sword against the prince must throw the scabbard away."

A variant, "When you strike at a king you must kill him," is attributed to Emerson by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., in Max Lerner, The Mind and Faith of Justice Holmes (1943).
Added on 31-Jul-18 | Last updated 31-Jul-18
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