Quotations about   lust

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COUNTESS: Tell me thy reason why thou wilt marry.
FOOL: My poor body, madam, requires it. I am driven
on by the flesh, and he must needs go that the devil
drives.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
All’s Well That Ends Well, Act 1, sc. 3, l. 28ff (1602?)
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Added on 27-Jul-22 | Last updated 27-Jul-22
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Like almost everything else, sex education in Mechanicsburg has its own … unique take. As a result, Mechanicsburg girls tend to be rather forward, know what they want, and have no qualms about asking for it, especially when they are wearing their weasel pajamas.

Phil Foglio (b. 1956) American writer, cartoonist
Agatha H and the Voice of the Castle (2014) [with Kaja Foglio]
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Added on 24-Jan-22 | Last updated 24-Jan-22
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Wretchedness is caused by emotional disturbances, and the happy life by calmness, and disturbance takes two forms — anxiety and fear in expecting evils, ecstatic joy and lustful thoughts in misunderstanding good things, all of which are at variance with with wisdom and reason. Accordingly, if a man possesses self-control and consistency, and is without fear, distress, excitability, or lust, is he not happy? But this is the nature of the wise man always, so he is happy always.

[Atque cum perturbationes animi miseriam, sedationes autem vitam efficiant beatam, duplexque ratio perturbationis sit, quod aegritudo et metus in malis opinatis, in bonorum autem errore laetitia gestiens libidoque versetur, quae omnia cum consilio et ratione pugnent, his tu tam gravibus concitationibus tamque ipsis inter se dissentientibus atque distractis quem vacuum solutum liberum videris, hunc dubitabis beatum dicere? atqui sapiens semper ita adfectus est; semper igitur sapiens beatus est.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
Tusculan Disputations [Tusculanae Disputationes], Book 5, ch. 15 (5.15) / sec. 43 (45 BC) [tr. Davie (2017)]
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(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

Now since the Disturbances of the Soul render the Life miserable, but the composure of them happy; and there is a double rank of Passions; in that, Discontent and Fear are terminated on Evils conceiv'd; but excessive Mirth and Lust arise from the misapprehension of good things, since all are inconsistent with Advice and Reason, if you shall see any one clear, emancipated, free from these emotions so vehement, so discordant one with the other, and so distracting, can you make any question of calling him Happy? But the Wise man is always so dispos'd, therefore the Wise man is always Happy.
[tr. Wase (1643)]

But as the perturbations of the mind make life miserable, and tranquility renders it happy: and as these perturbations are of two sorts; grief and fear, proceeding from imagined evils, immoderate joy and lust, from the mistake of what is good; and all these are in opposition to reason and counsel; when you see a man at ease, quite free and disengaged from such troublesome commotions, which are so much at variance with one another, can you hesitate to pronounce such a one a happy man? Now the wise man is always in such a disposition: therefore the wise man is always happy.
[tr. Main (1824)]

But when the perturbations render life unhappy, while their repose makes it happy -- and since the mode of perturbation is twofold -- sorrow and fear having birth from reputed evils -- the delirium of joy and desire, from the delusion of good, -- when all these are repugnant to counsel and reason, and you see a man void, exempt, free from these excitements, so vehement, so discordant, so distracted by mutual conflicts, -- will you hesitate to pronounce him happy? But the wise man is always thus, and therefore always happy.
[tr. Otis (1839)]

But as the perturbations of the mind make life miserable, and tranquillity renders it happy; and as these perturbations are of two sorts, grief and fear, proceeding from imagined evils, and as immoderate joy and lust arise from a mistake about what is good, and as all these feelings are in opposition to reason and counsel; when you see a man at ease, quite free and disengaged from such troublesome commotions, which are so much at variance with one another can you hesitate to pronounce such an one a happy man? Now the wise man is always in such a disposition, therefore the wise man is always happy.
[tr. Yonge (1853)]

Now since perturbations of mind create misery, while quietness of mind makes life happy, and since there are two kinds of perturbations, grief and fear having their scope in imagined evils, inordinate joy and desire in mistaken notions of the good, all being repugnant to wise counsel and reason, will you hesitate to call him happy whom you see relieved, released, free from these excitements so oppressive, and so at variance and divided among themselves? Indeed one thus disposed is always happy. Therefore the wise man is always happy.
[tr. Peabody (1886)]

Added on 18-Nov-21 | Last updated 11-Aug-22
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And as those are base who are transported with gladness in the enjoyment of sensual pleasure, so are those scandalously vile whose minds are inflamed with desire for such indulgence. Indeed, all of what is commonly called “love” (nor, by Hercules, can I find any other name for it) is so trivial that I can see nothing to be compared with it.

[Et ut turpes sunt qui efferunt se laetitia tum, cum fruuntur Veneriis voluptatibus, sic flagitiosi, qui eas inflammato animo concupiscunt. Totus vero iste, qui vulgo appellatur amor — nec hercule invenio quo nomine alio possit appellari — tantae levitatis est, ut nihil videam quod putem conferendum.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
Tusculan Disputations [Tusculanae Disputationes], Book 4, ch. 32 (4.32) / sec. 68 (45 BC) [tr. Peabody (1886)]
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(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

And as those are base who are elevated in Mirth, upon the satisfaction of their Lust, so are they scandalous, who are carried forth after it with an enflamed Concupiscence, and that whole affection commonly called Love (nor in truth do I find by what other name it may be call'd) hath so much of Levity in it, that I know nothing which I can think comparable to it.
[tr. Wase (1643)]

And as they are very shameful, who are immoderately delighted with enjoyment of venereal pleasures; so are they very scandalous, who lust vbehemently after them. And all that which is commonly called love (and believe me I can find no other name to call it by) is of such levity that nothing, I think, is to be compared to it.
[tr. Main (1824)]

And, as the brand of baseness attaches to those who glory in the shame of forbidden pleasures; so they are flagitious, who covet them with unbridled appetite. And, indeed, the whole of what vulgarly passes under the name of love -- and, by Hercules, I find no other name by which it can be called -- is of a levity which sets all comparison at defiance.
[tr. Otis (1839)]

And as they are very shameful who are immoderately delighted with the enjoyment of venereal pleasures, so are they very scandalous who lust vehemently after them. And all that which is commonly called love (and, believe me, I can find out no other name to call it by) is of such a trivial nature that nothing, I think, is to be compared to it.
[tr. Yonge (1853)]

Not only is it shameful to be carried away with gladness when enjoying the pleasures of Venus, but it is also disgraceful to have the mind aflame with desire for those pleasures. Indeed, speaking of what is popularly called love (not that I have any other name to call it!), all of it is so frivolous that I scarcely know what to compare with it.
[tr. Graver (2002)]

And as those who are carried away with joy when they enjoy Venus’ pleasures are filthy, those who share their desire with a burning spirit are criminal. Indeed, the whole thing which is commonly called "love" -- and by god it is impossible to name it anything else -- is of such meaninglessness that I know of nothing I think is comparable.
[tr. @sentantiq (2019)]

Added on 25-Oct-21 | Last updated 11-Aug-22
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Helpless lust and unreasoning anxiety were just part of growing up.

Octavia Butler (1947-2006) American writer
Imago, ch. 2, sec. 9 (1989)
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Added on 3-Jun-21 | Last updated 3-Jun-21
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Virtuous love consists in decorous desire for the beautiful.

[Δίκαιος ἔρως ἀνυβρίστως ἐφίεσθαι τῶν καλῶν]

Democritus (c. 460 BC - c. 370 BC) Greek philosopher
Frag. 73 (Diels) [tr. Freeman (1948)]
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Diels citation "73. (87 N.) DEMOKRATES. 38."; collected in Joannes Stobaeus (Stobaios) Anthologium III, 5, 23. Freeman notes this as one of the Gnômae, from a collection called "Maxims of Democratês," but because Stobaeus quotes many of these as "Maxims of Democritus," they are generally attributed to the latter. Alternate translations:

  • "Rightful love is longing without violence for the noble." [tr. Barnes (1987)]
  • "Just lust is longing for noble things without arrogance." [tr. @sententiq (2018)]
Added on 13-Apr-21 | Last updated 19-Apr-21
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There is the heat of Love,
the pulsing rush of Longing, the lover’s whisper,
irresistible — magic to make the sanest man go mad.

[Ἔνθ’ ἔνι μὲν φιλότης, ἐν δ’ ἵμερος, ἐν δ’ ὀαριστὺς
πάρφασις, ἥ τ’ ἔκλεψε νόον πύκα περ φρονεόντων.]

Homer (fl. 7th-8th C. BC) Greek author
The Iliad [Ἰλιάς], Book 14, l. 216ff (14.216) (c. 750 BC) [tr. Fagles (1990), l. 259ff]
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Referring to Venus' girdle (cestus). Original Greek. Alternate translations:

In whose sphere
Were all enticements to delight, all loves, all longings were,
Kind conference, fair speech, whose pow’r the wisest doth inflame.
[tr. Chapman (1611), l. 181ff]

In this was every art, and every charm,
To win the wisest, and the coldest warm:
Fond love, the gentle vow, the gay desire,
The kind deceit, the still reviving fire,
Persuasive speech, and more persuasive sighs,
Silence that spoke, and eloquence of eyes.
[tr. Pope (1715-20)]

It was an ambush of sweet snares, replete
With love, desire, soft intercourse of hearts,
And music of resistless whisper’d sounds
That from the wisest steal their best resolves
[tr. Cowper (1791), l. 256ff]

In it were love, and desire, converse, seductive speech, which steals away the mind even of the very prudent.
[tr. Buckley (1860)]

There Love, there young Desire,
There fond Discourse, and there Persuasion dwelt,
Which oft enthralls the mind of wisest men.
[tr. Derby (1864)]

Therein are love, and desire, and loving converse, that steals the wits even of the wise.
[tr. Leaf/Lang/Myers (1891)]

Love, desire, and that sweet flattery which steals the judgement even of the most prudent.
[tr. Butler (1898)]

Therein is love, therein desire, therein dalliance -- beguilement that steals the wits even of the wise.
[tr. Murray (1924)]

Allurement of the eyes, hunger of longing, and the touch of lips that steals all wisdom from the coolest men.
[tr. Fitzgerald (1974)]

There upon it is affection, upon it desire and seductive dalliance with robs even a sensible person of wisdom.
[tr. Merrill (2007)]

Added on 20-Jan-21 | Last updated 1-Dec-21
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And thus it passed on from Candlemass until after Easter, that the month of May was come, when every lusty heart beginneth to blossom, and to bring forth fruit; for like as herbs and trees bring forth fruit and flourish in May, in likewise every lusty heart that is in any manner a lover, springeth and flourisheth in lusty deeds. For it giveth unto all lovers courage, that lusty month of May ….

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Thomas Malory (c. 1415-1471) English writer
Le Morte d’Arthur, Book 18, ch. 25 (1485)
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Added on 6-Oct-20 | Last updated 6-Oct-20
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Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale
Her infinite variety; other women cloy
The appetites they feed, but she makes hungry
Where most she satisfies.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
Antony and Cleopatra, Act 2, sc. 2, l. 276ff [Enobarbus] (1607)
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Added on 10-Nov-17 | Last updated 27-Jun-22
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Ambition is a Lust that’s never quench’d,
Grows more inflam’d and madder by Enjoyment.

Thomas Otway (1652-1685) English dramatist
The History and Fall of Caius Marius, Act 5, sc. 4 (1680)
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The young man appeared disconcerted at the vehemence of Phryne’s discourse, and she changed the subject. One did not wantonly disconcert young men on whom one might be having designs in future.

Kerry Greenwood (b. 1954) Australian author and lawyer
Murder on the Ballarat Train (1991)
Added on 3-Aug-17 | Last updated 4-Aug-17
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If God didn’t want women to be looked at, he would have made ’em ugly — that’s reasonable, isn’t it? God isn’t a cheat; He set up the game Himself — He wouldn’t rig it so that the marks can’t win, like a flat joint wheel in a town with the fix on. He wouldn’t send anybody to Hell for losing in a crooked game.

Robert A. Heinlein (1907-1988) American writer
Stranger in a Strange Land, ch. 27 [Patty] (1961)
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Added on 21-Jul-17 | Last updated 21-Jul-17
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Phryne Fisher had a taste for young and comely men, but she was not prone to trust them with anything but her body.

Kerry Greenwood (b. 1954) Australian author and lawyer
Cocaine Blues (1989)
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Added on 15-Jun-17 | Last updated 15-Jun-17
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King David and King Solomon
Led merry merry lives,
With many, many lady friends,
And many many wives;
But when old age crept over them —
With many, many qualms! —
King Solomon wrote the Proverbs
And King David wrote the Psalms.

James Ball Naylor (1860-1945) American physician, writer, poet, politician
“King David and King Solomon” (1935)
Added on 5-Jan-17 | Last updated 5-Jan-17
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It must be added, lest we be reproached for leaving out details important to our readers’ understanding of subsequent events, that the lady seemed to have all the attributes of beauty, grace and charm that make a young man’s heart beat faster and cause his eyes to widen, lest they miss the least nuance of expression or gesture. It need hardly be added that Khaavren was just of the type to appreciate all of these qualities; that is to say, he was young and a man, and had, moreover, a vivid imagination which allowed his thoughts to penetrate, if not the mind of the lady opposite him, at least the folds and angles of her gown.

Steven Brust (b. 1955) American writer, systems programmer
The Phoenix Guards (1991)
Added on 21-Oct-16 | Last updated 21-Oct-16
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What we call ‘being in love’ is a glorious state, and, in several ways, good for us. It helps to make us generous and courageous, it opens our eyes not only to the beauty of the beloved but to all beauty, and it sub-ordinates (especially at first) our merely animal sexuality; in that sense, love is the great conqueror of lust. No one in his senses would deny that being in love is far better than either common sensuality or cold self-centredness.

But, as I said before, ‘the most dangerous thing you can do is to take any one impulse of our own nature and set it up as the thing you ought to follow at all costs’. Being in love is a good thing, but it is not the best thing. There are many things below it, but there are also things above it. You cannot make it the basis of a whole life. It is a noble feeling, but it is still a feeling. Now no feeling can be relied on to last in its full intensity, or even to last at all. Knowledge can last, principles can last, habits can last; but feelings come and go. And in fact, whatever people say, the state called ‘being in love’ usually does not last.

C.S. Lewis (1898-1963) English writer and scholar [Clive Staples Lewis]
Mere Christianity, Book 3, ch. 6 “Christian Marriage” (1952)
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The desire of knowledge, like the thirst of riches, increases ever with the acquisition of it.

Sterne - desire of knowledge - wist_info quote

Laurence Sterne (1713-1786) Anglo-Irish novelist, Anglican clergyman
Tristam Shandy, Book 1, ch. 3 (1760-1767)
Added on 3-Mar-16 | Last updated 3-Mar-16
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‘Why has sex become man’s chief stumbling block?’ But has it? Or is it only the most recognisable of the stumbling blocks? I mean, we can mistake pride for a good conscience, and cruelty for zeal, and idleness for the peace of God et cetera. But when lust is upon us, then, owing to the obvious physical symptoms, we can’t pretend it is anything else. Is it perhaps only the least disguisable of our dangers.

C.S. Lewis (1898-1963) English writer and scholar [Clive Staples Lewis]
Letter (27 Sep 1954)
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The problem is that God gives men a brain and a penis, and only enough blood to run one at a time.

Robin Williams (1951-2014) American comedian and actor
(Attributed)
Added on 22-Oct-15 | Last updated 22-Oct-15
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Lust of absolute power is more burning than all the passions.

[Cupido dominandi cunctis affectibus flagrante est.]

Tacitus (c.56-c.120) Roman historian, orator, politician [Publius or Gaius Cornelius Tacitus]
Annals, 15.53 (AD 117)
Added on 28-Jul-15 | Last updated 28-Jul-15
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A pretty girl is like a melody
That haunts you night and day,
Just like the strain of a haunting refrain,
She’ll start upon a marathon
And run around your brain.

Irving Berlin (1888-1989) American songwriter [b. Isidore Beilin]
“A Pretty Girl is Like a Melody” (1919)
Added on 17-Dec-14 | Last updated 17-Dec-14
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It is only when it takes the form of physical addiction that sex is evil. It is also evil when it manifests itself as a way of satisfying the lust for power or the climber’s craving for position and social distinction.

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) English novelist, essayist and critic
Ends and Means (1937)
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I think if the church put in half the time on covetousness that it does on lust, this would be a better world for all of us.

Garrison Keillor (b. 1942) American entertainer, author
Lake Wobegon Days (1985)
Added on 2-Oct-14 | Last updated 2-Oct-14
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Want is a growing giant whom the coat of Have was never large enough to cover.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Wealth,” The Conduct of Life, ch. 3 (1860)
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I have never seen anyone who loves virtue as much as he loves beautiful women.

9.18 吾未見好德、如好色者也。

15.13 吾未見好德如好色者也。

Confucius (c. 551- c. 479 BC) Chinese philosopher, sage, politician [孔夫子 (Kǒng Fūzǐ, K'ung Fu-tzu, K'ung Fu Tse), 孔子 (Kǒngzǐ, Chungni), 孔丘 (Kǒng Qiū, K'ung Ch'iu)]
The Analects [Lun Yü], 9.18 and 15.13 (6th C. BC) [ed. Lao-Tse; tr. Huang (1997)]
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The phrase is repeated in both locations in the Analects. Alt. trans.:
  • "I have not seen one who loves virtue as he loves beauty." [as 9.17 and 15.12, tr. Legge (1930)]
  • "I have never seen anyone who loved virtue as much as sex." [tr. Leys (1997)]
  • "I have never met a person who loved virtue as much as he loved physical beauty." [tr. Chin (2014)]
  • "I have yet to meet a man as fond of high moral conduct as he is of outward appearances." [tr. Ware (1950)]
Added on 18-Apr-14 | Last updated 5-Jul-20
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MACDUFF: What three things does drink especially provoke?

PORTER: Marry, sir, nose-painting, sleep, and urine. Lechery, sir, it provokes and unprovokes. It provokes the desire, but it takes away the performance. Therefore much drink may be said to be an equivocator with lechery. It makes him, and it mars him; it sets him on, and it takes him off; it persuades him and disheartens him; makes him stand to and not stand to; in conclusion, equivocates him in a sleep and, giving him the lie, leaves him.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
Macbeth, Act 2, sc. 3, l. 27ff (1606)
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We desire nothing so much as what we ought not to have.

Publilius Syrus (d. 42 BC) Assyrian slave, writer, philosopher [less correctly Publius Syrus]
Sententiae [Moral Sayings], # 559
Added on 10-Oct-08 | Last updated 20-Feb-17
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