Quotations about   murder

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Fabius buries all his wives:
Chrestilla ends her husbands’ lives.
The torch which from the marriage-bed
They brandish soon attends the dead.
O Venus, link this conquering pair!
Their match will meet with issue fair,
Whereby for such a dangerous two
A single funeral will do!

[Effert uxores Fabius, Chrestilla maritos,
funereamque toris quassat uterque facem.
Victores committe, Venus: quos iste manebit
exitus, una duos ut Libitina ferat.]

Homer (fl. 7th-8th C. BC) Greek author
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 8, epigram 43 [tr. Duff (1929)]
    (Source)

Original Latin. Alternate translations:

Five wives hath he dispatch'd, she husbands five:
By both alike the undertakers thrive.
Venus assist! let them join hands in troth!
One common funeral, then, would serve them both.
[tr. Hay (1755)]

While Tom and Dolly many mates
Do carry off ('tis said)
Each shakes by turns (so will the Fates)
The Fun'ral torch in bed.
Oh fie, ma'am, Venus, end this rout,
Commit them to the Fleet,
And grant they may be carried out,
Both buried in one sheet.
[tr. Scott (1773)]

Both Fabby and Chrestil know well how to bury
A consort, and with sable torch to make merry.
Yoke, Venus, the victors; and, mutually loath,
Let one Libitana lay hold of them both.
[tr. Elphinston (1782), Book 6, Part 2, ep. 47]

Fabius buries his wives, Chrestilla her husbands; each shakes a funeral torch over the nuptial couch. Unite these conquerers, Venus, and the result will then be that Libitina will carry them both off together.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1860)]

Fabius has buried all his wives;
Short are Chrestilla's husbands' lives.
And 'tis a funeral torch this pair
Do, at their nuptials, wave in air.
These conquerors, Venus, sure 'twere fit
Against each other now to pit:
So shall such end await the two,
That for them both one bier may do.
[tr. Webb (1879)]

Chrestilla has buried her husbands,
While Fabius has buried his wives;
Since they're both sure to make
Every marriage a wake,
Pray, Venus, unite their two lives.
[tr. Nixon (1911)]

Fabius buried his wives, Chrestilla her husbands, and each of them waves the funeral torch over a marriage-bed. Match the victors, Venus; this is the end that will await them -- one funeral to convey the pair.
[tr. Ker (1920)]

He poisons wives, she husbands by the dozen,
With Pluto's torch the marriage-bed they cozen.
Unite them, Venus, in the marriage tether,
So death shall carry off the two together.
[tr. Pott & Wright (1921)]

They each took separate spouses to their bed,
Then swiftly to the graveyard each they led.
Conjoining both their marriage feats,
They'll serve each other funeral meats.[tr. Wills (2007)]

Added on 9-Jul-21 | Last updated 9-Jul-21
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And so I say that for brutality and infamy there is no one to equal a woman who can contemplate such deeds. Who else could conceive so hideous a crime as her deliberate butchery of her husband and her lord?

[ὣς οὐκ αἰνότερον καὶ κύντερον ἄλλο γυναικός,
ἥ τις δὴ τοιαῦτα μετὰ φρεσὶν ἔργα βάληται:
οἷον δὴ καὶ κείνη ἐμήσατο ἔργον ἀεικές,
κουριδίῳ τεύξασα πόσει φόνον.]

Homer (fl. 7th-8th C. BC) Greek author
The Odyssey [Ὀδύσσεια], Book 11, l. 427ff [Agamemnon] (c. 700 BC) [tr. Rieu (1946)]
    (Source)

Original Greek. Alternate translations:

Nothing so heap’d is with impieties,
As such a woman that would kill her spouse
That married her a maid.
[tr. Chapman (1616)]

Nothing so cruel as a woman yet
Did nature e’er produce; a thought so ill
In any other breast did never sit,
As her own loving husband’s blood to spill.
[tr. Hobbes (1675), l. 409ff]

O woman, woman, when to ill thy mind
Is bent, all hell contains no fouler fiend:
And such was mine! who basely plunged her sword
Through the fond bosom where she reign'd adored!
[tr. Pope (1725)]

So that the thing breathes not, ruthless and fell
As woman once resolv’d on such a deed
Detestable, as my base wife contrived,
The murther of the husband of her youth.
[tr. Cowper (1792), l. 519ff]

Since nought exists more horrible and bold
Than evil in the breast of womankind,
When she to her own lust herself hath sold,
Even as this fell monster in her mind
Against the husband of her youth designed
Black murder.
[tr. Worsley (1861), st. 60]

Thus there is nought more horrible and shameless,
Than woman, who such deeds as these could think on!
Like as she compassed this unseemly deed --
Blood -- murder 'gainst the husband of her youth!
[tr. Bigge-Wither (1869)]

So surely is there nought more terrible and shameless than a woman who imagines such evil in her heart, even as she too planned a foul deed, fashioning death for her wedded lord.
[tr. Butcher/Lang (1879)]

Nought more shameless or more fearful than a woman may ye find
When she at last conceiveth such deeds within her mind.
E'en such a deed so unseemly as she imagined for me,
To murder her wedded husband!
[tr. Morris (1887), l. 427ff]

Ah, what can be more horrible and brutish than a woman when she admits into her thoughts such deeds as these! And what a shameless deed she plotted to bring about the murder of the husband of her youth!
[tr. Palmer (1891)]

For there is nothing in this world so cruel and so shameless as a woman when she has fallen into such guilt as hers was. Fancy murdering her own husband!
[tr. Butler (1898)]

So true is it that there is nothing more dread or more shameless than a woman who puts into her heart such deeds, even as she too devised a monstrous thing, contriving death for her wedded husband.
[tr. Murray (1919)]

I tell you, there is nought more awful and inhuman than a woman who can fondle in her heart crimes so foul as this conception of my wife's to murder the husband of her youth.
[tr. Lawrence (1932)]

So,
there’s nothing more deadly, bestial than a woman
set on works like these -- what a monstrous thing
she plotted, slaughtered her own lawful husband!
[tr. Fagles (1996)]

Nothing
Is more grim or more shameless than a woman
Who sets her mind on such an unspeakable act
As killing her own husband.
[tr. Lombardo (2000), l. 443ff]

There is nothing more terrible, nor anything more shameless, than a woman who can plan deeds like this in her heart, deeds like this ugly crime that Clytemnestra plotted: the murder of her lawfully wedded husband.
[tr. Verity (2016)]

Added on 16-Jun-21 | Last updated 16-Jun-21
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War makes murderers out of otherwise decent people. All wars, and all decent people.

Benjamin Ferencz (b. 1920) American lawyer, international legal scholar, activist
“What the last Nuremberg prosecutor alive wants the world to know,” interview with Leslie Stahl, 60 Minutes (7 May 2017)
    (Source)

Ferencz served as chief prosecutor of twenty Einsatzgruppen officers during the Nuremberg war crimes trials. Longer excerpt:

STAHL: Did you meet a lot of people who perpetrated war crimes who would otherwise in your opinion have been just a normal, upstanding citizen?
FERENCZ: Of course, is my answer. These men would never have been murderers had it not been for the war. These were people who could quote Goethe, who loved Wagner, who were polite --
STAHL: What turns a man into a savage beast like that?
FERENCZ: He's not a savage. He's an intelligent, patriotic human being.
STAHL: He's a savage when he does the murder though.
FERENCZ: No. He's a patriotic human being acting in the interest of his country, in his mind.
STAHL: You don't think they turn into savages even for the act?
FERENCZ: Do you think the man who dropped the nuclear bomb on Hiroshima was a savage? Now I will tell you something very profound, which I have learned after many years. War makes murderers out of otherwise decent people. All wars, and all decent people.
Added on 8-Jan-21 | Last updated 8-Jan-21
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For laws are silent when arms are raised.

[Silent enim leges inter arma.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
Pro Milone, ch. 4, sec. 11 [tr. Yonge (1891)]
    (Source)

In context, Cicero is asserting that self-defense is a valid defense for killing, even though that principle was not written into Roman law. It has been extended in legal terms to times of war being exempt from normal laws regarding killing.

Alt. trans.:
  • "For laws are silent among arms."
  • "In a time of war, the law falls silent."
  • "Laws are silent in time of war."
  • "The laws are silent in warfare."
  • "For among arms, the laws fall mute."
  • "The power of law is suspended during war."
Original Latin.
Added on 28-Sep-20 | Last updated 28-Sep-20
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What stuck in the minds of these men who had become murderers was simply the notion of being involved in something historic, grandiose, unique (“a great task that occurs once in two thousand years”), which must therefore be difficult to bear. This was important, because the murderers were not sadists or killers by nature; on the contrary, a systematic effort was made to weed out all those who derived physical pleasure from what they did. […] Hence the problem was how to overcome not so much their conscience as the animal pity by which all normal men are affected in the presence of physical suffering. The trick used by Himmler — who apparently was rather strongly afflicted by these instinctive reactions himself — was very simple and probably very effective; it consisted in turning these instincts around, as it were, in directing them toward the self. So that instead of saying: What horrible things I did to people!, the murderers would be able to say: What horrible things I had to watch in the pursuance of my duties, how heavily the task weighed upon my shoulders!

Hannah Arendt (1906-1975) German-American philosopher, political theorist
Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil, ch. 6 (1963)
    (Source)
Added on 7-Jul-20 | Last updated 7-Jul-20
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And just as the law in civilized countries assumes that the voice of conscience tells everybody, “Thou shalt not kill,” even though man’s natural desires and inclinations may at times be murderous, so the law of Hitler’s land demanded that the voice of conscience tell everybody: “Thou shalt kill,” although the organizers of the massacres knew full well that murder is against the normal desires and inclinations of most people. Evil in the Third Reich had lost the quality by which most people recognize it — the quality of temptation.

Hannah Arendt (1906-1975) German-American philosopher, political theorist
Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil, ch. 8 (1963)
    (Source)
Added on 30-Jun-20 | Last updated 30-Jun-20
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Satchelmouth was by no means averse to the finger-foxtrot and the skull fandango, but he’d never murdered anyone, at least on purpose. Satchelmouth had been made aware that he had a soul and, though it had a few holes in it and was a little ragged around the edges, he cherished the hope that some day the god Reg would find him a place in a celestial combo. You didn’t get the best gigs if you were a murderer. You probably had to play the viola.

Terry Pratchett (1948-2015) English author
Soul Music (1994)
Added on 13-Mar-20 | Last updated 13-Mar-20
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Don’t flang him off the bluff, boys. Tain’t christian.

Cormac McCarthy (b. 1933) American novelist, playwright, screenwriter
Outer Dark (1968)
    (Source)
Added on 27-Jan-20 | Last updated 27-Jan-20
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I may look calm, but in my head I’ve killed you five times.

Sig Lines
~
Added on 24-Oct-16 | Last updated 24-Oct-16
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“Now, Preshea,” reprimanded Dimity, “it’s no good choosing your first husband from a school for evil geniuses. Much too difficult to kill.”

Gail Carriger (b. 1976) American archaeologist, author [pen name of Tofa Borregaard]
Etiquette & Espionage (2013)
Added on 20-Oct-16 | Last updated 20-Oct-16
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In such a regime, I say, you died a good death if your life had inspired someone to come forward and shoot your murderer in the chest — without asking to be paid.

Chinua Achebe (1930-2013) Nigerian novelist, poet, professor, critic [Albert Chinualumogu Achebe]
A Man of the People (1966)
Added on 13-Sep-16 | Last updated 13-Sep-16
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To execute a murderer is simply to adopt his point of view.

Sydney J. Harris (1917-1986) Anglo-American columnist, journalist, author
Pieces of Eight (1982)
Added on 7-Apr-16 | Last updated 7-Apr-16
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Murder investigations start with the victim because usually in the first instance that’s all you’ve got. The study of the victim is called victimology because everything sounds better with an ology tacked on the end. To make sure that you make a proper fist of this, the police have developed the world’s most useless mnemonic: 5 x WH & H. Otherwise known as Who? What? Where? When? Why? & How? Next time you watch a real murder investigation on the TV and you see a group of serious-looking detectives standing around talking, remember that what they’re actually doing is trying to work out what sodding order the mnemonic is supposed to go in. Once they’ve sorted that out the exhausted officers will retire to the nearest watering hole for a drink and a bit of a breather.

Ben Aaronovitch (b. 1964) British author
Moon Over Soho (2011)
Added on 25-Nov-15 | Last updated 25-Nov-15
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I do not kill everyone with whom I have a difference of opinion and I would not want anyone reading this memoir to think that I do.

Robert A. Heinlein (1907-1988) American writer
Friday [Friday Jones] (1982)
Added on 27-Oct-15 | Last updated 27-Oct-15
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Whoever destroys a soul, it is considered as if he destroyed an entire world. And whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world.

The Talmud (AD 200-500) Collection of Jewish rabbinical writings
Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:9; Yerushalmi Talmud, Tractate Sanhedrin 37a
    (Source)

Alt. trans.: "Whoever destroys a single life is as guilty as though he had destroyed the entire world; and whoever rescues a single life earns as much merit as though he had rescued the entire world."
Added on 1-Sep-15 | Last updated 20-Dec-19
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ZOE: Preacher, don’t the Bible have some pretty specific things to say about killin’?

BOOK: Quite specific. It is, however, somewhat fuzzier on the subject of kneecaps.

Cheryl Cain (contemp.) American television screenwriter
Firefly, 1×10 “War Stories” (6 Dec 2002)
Added on 18-Jun-15 | Last updated 18-Jun-15
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SIMON: I’m trying to put this as delicately as I can. How do I know you won’t kill me in my sleep?
MAL: You don’t know me, son, so let me explain this to you once: If I ever kill you, you’ll be awake, you’ll be facing me, and you’ll be armed.
SIMON: Are you always this sentimental?
MAL: I had a good day.

Joss Whedon (b. 1964) American screenwriter, author, producer [Joseph Hill Whedon]
Firefly, 1×01 “Serenity” (pilot) (20 Dec 2002)
Added on 5-Mar-15 | Last updated 5-Mar-15
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Capital punishment is the most premeditated of murders, to which no criminal’s deed, however calculated, can be compared. For there to be an equivalency, the death penalty would have to punish a criminal who had warned his victim of the date on which he would inflict a horrible death on him and who, from that moment onward, had confined him at his mercy for months. Such a monster is not to be encountered in private life.

Albert Camus (1913-1960) Algerian-French novelist, essayist, playwright
“Reflections on the Guillotine” (1957)
Added on 15-Dec-14 | Last updated 15-Dec-14
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“So?” Bob said. “Hat up, go kill her. Problem solved.”
“Bob,” I said. “You can’t just go around killing people.”
“I know. That’s why you should do it.”
“No, no. I can’t go around killing people, either.”

Jim Butcher (b. 1971) American author
Grave Peril (2001)
Added on 19-Aug-14 | Last updated 19-Aug-14
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Nothing is simpler than to kill a man; the difficulties arise in attempting to avoid the consequences.

Rex Stout (1886-1975) American writer
Too Many Cooks, ch. 3 [Wolfe] (1938)
Added on 13-Mar-14 | Last updated 13-Mar-14
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DILBERT: Lately, the only think keeping me from being a serial killer is my distaste for manual labor.

Scott Adams (b. 1957) American cartoonist
Dilbert (11 Jan. 2001)
Added on 12-May-04 | Last updated 10-Oct-19
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I thoroughly disapprove of duels. I consider them unwise, and I know they are dangerous. Also, sinful. If a man should challenge me now, I would got to that man and take him kindly and forgivingly by the hand and lead him to a quiet, retired spot, and kill him.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
The Autobiography of Mark Twain, Vol. 1, 1864 (2010)
    (Source)

Seen paraphrased: "I thoroughly disapprove of duels. If a man should challenge me, I would take him kindly and forgivingly by the hand and lead him to a quiet place and kill him."
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
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Wherever they burn books they will also, in the end, burn human beings.

[Dort, wo man Bücher verbrennt, verbrennt man auch am Ende Menschen.]

Heine - burn human beings - wist_info quote

Heinrich Heine (1797-1856) German poet and critic
Almansor: A Tragedy, l. 245 (1823)

Alt trans:
  • "Where they burn books, at the end they also burn people."
  • "Where they burn books, they will also burn people."
  • "It is there, where they burn books, that eventually they burn people."
  • "Where they burn books, so too will they in the end burn human beings."
  • "Where they burn books, they also burn people."
  • "Them that begin by burning books, end by burning men."
  • "Wherever books are burned, sooner or later men are also burned."
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 6-Jan-16
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MERLIN: When a man lies, he murders some part of the world.

John Boorman (b. 1933) English film director, writer
Excalibur (1981) [with Rospo Pallenburg]
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 27-Sep-16
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