Quotations about   moderation

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“Neither does this please me, nothing in excess;” for we ought to hate in excess those that are bad to excess.

[οὐδὲ τὸ μηδὲν ἄγαν· δεῖ γὰρ τούς γε κακοὺς ἄγαν μισεῖν.]

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Rhetoric [Ῥητορική; Ars Rhetorica], Book 2, ch. 21, sec. 14 (2.21.14) / 1395a.33 (350 BC) [Source (1847)]
    (Source)

On developing one's own maxims and proverbs, and how to present them. (Source (Greek)). Alternate translations:

Nor again [does this please me], that we ought to carry nothing to excess; since 'tis our duty to hate the wicked at least to the very extreme.
[tr. Buckley (1850)]

No do I like the saying, Do nothing excessively. Bad men should be hated excessively.
[tr. Jebb (1873)]

Nor do I approve of the saying "nothing in excess": we are bound to hate bad men excessively.
[tr. Rhys Roberts (1924)]

Nor do I approve the maxim "Nothing in excess," for one cannot hate the wicked too much."
[tr. Freese (1926)]

Neither is "nothing in excess" [satisfying to me]. For one must tate to excess at least those who are evil.
[tr. Bartlett (2019)]

[I do not] commend the saying “nothing in excess” because one must hate evil men to the extreme.
[tr. @sentantiq (2019)]

Added on 7-Jun-22 | Last updated 13-Jun-22
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It is the mark of a child not an adult to desire without measure.

[Παιδός, οὐκ ἀνδρὸς τὸ ἀμέτρως ἐπιθυμεῖν.]

Democritus (c. 460 BC - c. 370 BC) Greek philosopher
Frag. 70 (Diels) [tr. @sententiq (2018), fr. 69]
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Diels citation "70. (62N.) Demokrates. 35." Alternate translations:

  • "Immoderate desire is the mark of a child, not a man." [tr. Freeman (1948)]
  • "It is a characteristic of a child, not a man, to desire without measure." [tr. Chitwood (2004)]
Added on 30-Mar-21 | Last updated 30-Mar-21
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The good things of youth are strength and beauty, but the flower of age is moderation.

[Ἰσχὺς καὶ εὐμορφίη νεότητος ἀγαθά, γήραος δὲ σωφροσύνη ἄνθος.]

Democritus (c. 460 BC - c. 370 BC) Greek philosopher
Frag. 294 (Diels) [tr. Freeman (1948)]
    (Source)

Diels citation: "294. (205 N.)"; ; collected in Joannes Stobaeus (Stobaios) Anthologium IV, 115, 19.

Alternate translations:

  • "The good things of youth are strength and beauty; moderation is the flower of age." [Source]
  • "Strength and beauty are the blessings of youth; temperance, however, is the flower of old age."
Added on 26-Jan-21 | Last updated 23-Feb-21
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A love of order, seemliness, and good taste has led the Anglican Church along a middle path between what a seventeenth-century divine called “the meretricious gaudiness of the Church of Rome and the squalid sluttery of fanatic conventicles.”

William Ralph Inge (1860-1954) English prelate [Dean Inge]
“Bishop Gore and the Church of England” (1908), Outspoken Essays, First Series (1919)
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The reference is to "S. P. of Cambridge," believed to be the later Bishop Simon Patrick, who published in 1662 the pamphlet "A Brief Account of the new Sect of Latitude-men," lauding "that virtuous mediocrity which our Church observes between" the alternatives quoted by Inge. Reprinted in John Dunton, The Phenix, Vol. 2, ch. 4 (1707).
Added on 13-Apr-20 | Last updated 13-Apr-20
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A word of caution to neophyte Martini drinkers: When taken to excess, this perfectly civilized drink can lead directly to uncivilized behavior. … The purpose of the Martini is to enhance the evening, not to obliterate it.

Barnaby Conrad III (b. 1952) American author, artist, editor
“Martini Madness,” Cigar Aficionado (Spring 1996)
    (Source)
Added on 8-Sep-17 | Last updated 8-Sep-17
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These things are good in little measure and evil in large; yeast, salt, and hesitation.

The Talmud (AD 200-500) Collection of Jewish rabbinical writings
Babylonian Talmud, Berakoth 34a

Alt. trans.: "Our Rabbis taught: If one is asked to pass before the Ark, he ought to refuse, and if he does not refuse he resembles a dish without salt; but if he persists too much in refusing he resembles a dish which is over-salted. How should he act? The first time he should refuse; the second time he should hesitate; the third time he should stretch out his legs and go down. Our Rabbis taught: There are three things of which one may easily have too much while a little is good, namely, yeast, salt, and refusal."

Alt. trans.: "There are three things that are harmful in excess but are beneficial when used sparingly. They are: Leavening in dough, salt in a cooked dish and refusal for the sake of propriety." [William Davidson Talmud]

Alt. trans.: "There are three things of which you may easily have too much, while a little is good: yeast, salt, and hesitation." [Joshua of the South, Berakot 5.3]

Alt trans.: "Three things are disagreeable when used in excess, and pleasant when moderately indulged in: yeast, salt, and hesitancy in accepting proffered honours." [Paul Isaac Hershon, The Pentateuch According to the Talmud: Genesis, Part 1, Genesis 19:26, Synoptical Notes: "Salt"]
Added on 13-Jul-17 | Last updated 13-Jul-17
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Solitude is naught and society is naught. Alternate them and the good of each is seen.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
Journal (1838)
Added on 17-Oct-16 | Last updated 17-Oct-16
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Moderation in all things.

Cleobulus (6th C BC) Greek poet, sage [Kleoboulos]
(Attributed)
Added on 10-Mar-16 | Last updated 10-Mar-16
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Good and bad men are each less so than they seem.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834) English poet and critic
Table Talk, “19 April 1830” (1835)
Added on 22-Dec-15 | Last updated 22-Dec-15
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I am aware that many object to the severity of my language, but is there not cause for severity? I will be as harsh as truth, and as uncompromising as justice. On this subject, I do not wish to think, or speak, or write in moderation. No! No! Tell a man whose house is on fire, to give a moderate alarm; tell him to moderately rescue his wife from the hands of the ravisher; tell the mother to gradually extricate her babe from the fire into which it has fallen — but urge me not to use moderation in a cause like the present. I am in earnest — I will not equivocate — I will not excuse — I will not retreat a single inch; and I will be heard.

William Lloyd Garrison (1805-1879) American abolitionist, journalist, suffragist, social reformer
The Liberator, #1 (1 Jan 1831)

On slavery.
Added on 10-Jul-14 | Last updated 10-Jul-14
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I like to have a martini,
Two at the very most.
After three I’m under the table,
After four I’m under my host.

Dorothy Parker (1893-1967) American writer
(Spurious)

Variants:
  • "I'd love to have a martini, / Two at the very most. / With three I'm under the table, / With four I'm under my host."
  • "I like to have a Martini / But only two at the most, / After three I'm under the table, / After four I'm under my host."
Frequently attributed to Parker (the main quatrain quoted is in The Collected Dorothy Parker), but originally an anonymous gag in found in the University of Virginia Harlequin (1959): "I wish I could drink like a lady. / 'Two or three,' at the most. / But two, and I'm under the table -- / And three, I'm under the host."

The confusion apparently comes from Bennett Cerf, Try and Stop Me (1944), where he related an anecdote in which Parker commented about a cocktail party, more straightforwardly, "Enjoyed it? One more drink and I'd have been under the host!" See here for more discussion.
Added on 21-Jun-13 | Last updated 13-Apr-20
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The Prodigal robs his Heir, the Miser himself.

Thomas Fuller (1654-1734) English writer, physician
Gnomologia: Adages and Proverbs, #4722 (1732)
    (Source)
Added on 25-Jan-12 | Last updated 26-Jan-21
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Moderation in all things.

[Ne quid nimis.]

Terence (186?-159 BC) African-Roman dramatist [Publius Terentius Afer]
The Lady of Andros [Andria], l. 61

See Cleobulus.
Added on 4-Aug-10 | Last updated 10-Mar-16
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Those words, “temperate and moderate,” are words either of political cowardice, or of cunning, or seduction. A thing moderately good, is not so good as it ought to be. Moderation in temper, is always a virtue; but moderation in principle, is a species of vice.

Thomas Paine (1737-1809) American political philosopher and writer
“Letter Addressed to the Addressers on the Late Proclamation” (1791)
    (Source)
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Half the vices that the world condemns most loudly have seeds of good in them and require moderate use rather than total abstinence.

Samuel Butler (1835-1902) English novelist, satirist, scholar
The Way of All Flesh, ch. 52 (1903)
    (Source)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 5-Sep-19
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Hampden, on the other hand, was for vigorous and decisive measures. When he drew the sword, as Clarendon has well aid, he threw away the scabbard. He had shown that he knew better than any public man of his time how to value and how to practice moderation. He knew that the essence of war is violence, and that moderation in war is imbecility.

Thomas Babington Macaulay (1800-1859) English writer and politician
“John Hampden,” Essays Contributed to the Edinburgh Review, Vol. 1 (1843)
    (Source)

Review of Lord Nugent, Some Memorials of John Hampden, His Party, and His Times (1831).
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 15-Jan-20
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I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.

Barry Goldwater (1909-1998) American politician
Speech, accepting the GOP Presidential Nomination, San Francisco (16 Jul 1964)
    (Source)

Goldwater believed the phrase originated in Cicero, though the source he used is questionable. Karl Hess was Goldwater's speech writer, and he said he derived the turn of phrase from Lincoln's "House Divided" speech. A closer match is this Thomas Paine passage.

More discussion of this quotation and its origins: On the Saying that "Extremism in Defense of Liberty is No Vice" - Niskanen Center
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 7-Jan-22
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So also anybody can become angry — that is easy, and so it is to give and spend money; but to be angry with or give money to the right person, and to the right amount, and at the right time, and for the right purpose, and in the right way — this is not within everybody’s power and is not easy; so that to do these things properly is rare, praiseworthy, and noble.

[οὕτω δὲ καὶ τὸ μὲν ὀργισθῆναι παντὸς καὶ ῥᾴδιον, καὶ τὸ δοῦναι ἀργύριον καὶ δαπανῆσαι: τὸ δ᾽ ᾧ καὶ ὅσον καὶ ὅτε καὶ οὗ ἕνεκα καὶ ὥς, οὐκέτι παντὸς οὐδὲ ῥᾴδιον: διόπερ τὸ εὖ καὶ σπάνιον καὶ ἐπαινετὸν καὶ καλόν.]

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Nicomachean Ethics [Ἠθικὰ Νικομάχεια], Book 2, ch. 9 (2.9, 1109a.27) (c. 325 BC) [tr. Rackham (1934)]
    (Source)

(Source (Greek)). Alternate translations:

Just so to be angry, to give money, and be expensive, is what any man can do, and easy: but to do these to the right person, in due proportion, at the right time, with a right object, and in the right manner, this is not as before what any man can do, nor is it easy; and for this cause goodness is rare, and praiseworthy, and noble.
[tr. Chase (1847)]

And so, too, to get angry is an easy matter, and in any man's power; or to give away money or to spend it: but to decide to whom to give it, and how large a sum, and when, and for what purpose, and how, is neither in every many's power, nor an easy matter. And hence it is that excellence herein is rare and praiseworthy and noble.
[tr. Williams (1869), sec. 37]

So too anybody can get angry -- that is an easy matter -- and anybody can give or spend money, but to give it to the right persons, to give the right amount of it and to give it at the right time and for the right cause and in the right way, this is not what anybody can do, nor is it easy. That is the reason why it is rare and laudable and noble to do well.
[tr. Welldon (1892)]

Thus anyone can be angry -- that is quite easy; anyone can give money away or spend it: but to do these things to the right person, to the right extent, at the right time, with the right object, and in the right manner, is not what everybody can do, and is by no means easy; and that is the reason why right doing is rare and praiseworthy and noble.
[tr. Peters (1893)]

So, too, anyone can get angry -- that is easy -- or give or spend money; but to do this to the right person, to the right extent, at the right time, with the right motive, and in the right way, that is not for everyone, nor is it easy; wherefore goodness is both rare and laudable and noble.
[tr. Ross (1908)]

In the same way, getting angry is also something everyone can do and something easy, as is giving or spending money. Determining whom to give it to, though, and how much, when, for the sake of what, and in what way -- that is no longer something everyone can do or something easy. That is why doing it well is a rare thing and a praiseworthy and noble one.
[tr. Reeve (1948)]

So, too, anyone can get angry or give money or spend it, and it is easy. But to give to the right person, the right amount, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right manner, this is not something anyone can do nor is it easy to do; and it is in view of this that excellence is rare and praiseworthy and noble.
[tr. Apostle (1975)]

So too it is easy to get angry -- anyone can do that -- or to give and spend money; but to feel or act towards the right person to the right extent at the right time for the right reason in the right way -- that is not easy, and it is not everyone that can do it. Hence to do these things well is a rare, laudable, and fine achievement.
[tr. Thomson/Tredennick (1976)]

So too anyone can get angry, or give and spend money -- these are easy, but doing them in relation to the right person, in the right amount, at the right time, with the right aim in view, and in the right way -- that is not something anyone can do, nor is it easy. This is why excellence in these things is rare, praiseworthy, and noble.
[tr. Crisp (2000)]

And so too, to become angry belongs to everyone and is an easy thing, as is also giving and spending money; but to whom [one ought to do so], how much, when for the sake fo what, and how -- these no longer belong to everyone nor are easy. Thus in fact acting well is rare, praiseworthy, and noble.
[tr. Bartlett/Collins (2011)]

Note that some translations paraphrase this only to speak of anger, e.g., Edith M. Leonard, et al., The Child: At Home and School (1944):

Anybody can become angry, that is easy; but to be angry with the right person, and to the right degree, and at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way, that is not within everybody's power and is not easy.
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 14-Dec-21
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I have not been afraid of excess: excess on occasion is exhilarating. It prevents moderation from acquiring the deadening effect of a habit.

W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965) English novelist and playwright [William Somerset Maugham]
The Summing Up, ch. 15 (1938)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 10-Mar-16
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There is, however, a limit at which forbearance ceases to be a virtue.

Edmund Burke (1729-1797) Anglo-Irish statesman, orator, philosopher
Observations on a Late Publication, “The Present State of the Nation” (1769)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 7-Jul-16
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