Quotations about:
    pride


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Violent zeal for truth has a hundred to one odds to be either petulancy, ambition, or pride.

Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) English writer and churchman
“Thoughts on Religion” (1726)
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Added on 23-Jan-23 | Last updated 23-Jan-23
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We alone are right-minded; everyone else is wrong.

[μόνοι γὰρ εὖ φρονοῦμεν, οἱ δ᾽ ἄλλοι κακῶς.]

Euripides (485?-406? BC) Greek tragic dramatist
Bacchæ [Βάκχαι], l. 196 [Teiresias/Τειρεσίας] (405 BC) [tr. Robinson (2014)]
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When asked by Cadmus about being the only men of Thebes attending the Bacchanal. (Source (Greek)). Alternate translation:

          Because ourselves alone
Are truly wise, but others judge amiss.
[tr. Wodhull (1809)]

Yes, for we alone think rightly, the rest wrongly.
[tr. Buckley (1850)]

All else misjudge; we only are the wise.
[tr. Milman (1865)]

Alone: For we are wise, the rest are fools.
[tr. Rogers (1872), l. 179]

Yea, for we alone are wise, the rest are mad.
[tr. Coleridge (1891)]

Yea, we alone are wise; the rest be fools.
[tr. Way (1898)]

Aye, Thebes is blinded. Thou and I can see.
[tr. Murray (1902)]

          They are all blind.
Only we can see.
[tr. Arrowsmith (1960)]

Yes, for only we are sane -- the rest are mad.
[tr. Kirk (1970)]

We are the only men right-minded; the rest are perverse.
[tr. Vellacott (1973)]

We alone think well, the others ill.
[tr. Neuburg (1988)]

The only ones with healthy minds. The rest are sick.
[tr. Cacoyannis (1982)]

Only we think right. The others vilely.
[tr. Blessington (1993)]

Yes, since only we reason well. The rest are fools!
[tr. Esposito (1998)]

The only ones in our right minds. The rest are mad.
[tr. Woodruff (1999)]

Yes, only we have any sense, the rest have none.
[tr. Gibbons/Segal (2000)]

Yes, we alone have sense, the others none.
[tr. Kovacs (2002)]

Yes, Kadmos because we are the only ones who can think straight. The rest of them? They are all wrong!
[tr. Theodoridis (2005)]

We alone've got it right; the others, wrongly.
[tr. Valerie (2005)]

          Yes, indeed,
for we're the only ones whose minds are clear.
As for the others, well, their thinking's wrong.
[tr. Johnston (2008), l. 247ff]

The rest are blind. Only we can see.
[tr. Robertson (2014)]

We’re the only ones wise enough. The rest ... less so.
[tr. Pauly (2019)]

Of course; no one else has enough sense.
[tr. Behr/Foster (2019)]

We alone are sensible, all the others foolish.
[tr. Buckley/Sens/Nagy (2020)]

 
Added on 17-Jan-23 | Last updated 17-Jan-23
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He that falls into sin is a man; that grieves at it, is a saint; that boasteth of it, is a devil.

Thomas Fuller
Thomas Fuller (1608-1661) English churchman, historian
The Holy State and the Profane State, Book 3, ch. 3 “Of Self-Praising” (1642)
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Added on 16-Jan-23 | Last updated 16-Jan-23
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We never get anywhere in this world without the forces of history and individual persons in the background helping us to get there.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, social activist, preacher
“Conquering Self-Centeredness,” sermon, Dexter Ave. Baptist Church, Montgomery, Ala. (11 Aug 1957)
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Added on 13-Jan-23 | Last updated 13-Jan-23
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Cleverness is not wisdom,
nor is thinking thoughts that are not mortal.
Life is short; this being so,
who would pursue great things
and not bear with what is at hand? These
are the ways of madmen and
men of evil counsel, at least
in my judgment.

[τὸ σοφὸν δ’ οὐ σοφία,
τό τε μὴ θνατὰ φρονεῖν
βραχὺς αἰών· ἐπὶ τούτωι
δὲ τίς ἂν μεγάλα διώκων
τὰ παρόντ’ οὐχὶ φέροι; μαι
νομένων οἵδε τρόποι καὶ
κακοβούλων παρ’ ἔμοιγε φωτῶν.]

Euripides (485?-406? BC) Greek tragic dramatist
Bacchæ [Βάκχαι], l. 395ff (Stasimon 1, Antiphon/Antistrophe 1) [Chorus/Χορός] (405 BC) [tr. Kirk (1970)]
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The chorus of Bacchantes is playing with the similarly-rooted sophon (cleverness) and sophia (wisdom). (Source (Greek)). Alternate translation:

That science which beyond the scope
Of frail humanity aspires.
Haunts not the bosom of the Sage.
Short is life, and they who follow
Ambition's splendid treacherous lure
Taste not the blessings of the present hour:
I deem their conduct frantic and unwise.
[tr. Wodhull (1809)]

But cleverness is not wisdom, nor is thinking on things unfit for mortals. Life is short, and on this account the one who pursues great things does not achieve that which is present. In my opinion, these are the ways of mad and ill-advised men.
[tr. Buckley (1850)]

Beyond the range of mortal eyes
'Tis not wisdom to be wise.
Life is brief, the present clasp,
Nor after some bright future grasp.
Such were the wisdom, as I ween,
Only of frantic and ill-counseled men.
[tr. Milman (1865)]

That wisdom is not wise Which aims beyond man’s power.
Short is our life; to grasp at much is but to lose the present good, --
And this to me seems like the deed of frenzied and of foolish men.
[tr. Rogers (1872), l. 378ff]

Ah, not with knowledge is Wisdom bought;
And the spirit that soareth too high for mortals
Shall see few days: whosoever hath caught
At the things too great for a man's attaining,
Even blessings assured shall he lose in the gaining.
Such paths as this, meseemeth, be sought
Of the witless folly that roves distraught.
[tr. Way (1898)]

But the world's Wise are not wise,
Claiming more than mortal may.
Life is such a little thing;
Lo, their present is departed,
And the dreams to which they cling
Come not. Mad imagining
Theirs, I ween, and empty-hearted!
[tr. Murray (1902)]

Sophistry is not wisdom, and to indulge in thoughts beyond man’s ken is to shorten life; and if a man on such poor terms should aim too high, he may miss the pleasures in his reach. These, to my mind, are the ways of madmen and idiots.
[tr. Coleridge (1907)]

And what passes for wisdom is not;
unwise are those who aspire,
who outrange the limits of man.
Briefly, we live. Briefly,
then die. Wherefore, I say,
he who hunts a glory, he who tracks
some boundless, superhuman dream,
may lose his harvest here and now
and garner death. Such men are mad,
their counsels evil.
[tr. Arrowsmith (1960)]

To know much is not to be wise.
Pride more than mortal hastens life to its end;
And they who in pride pretend
Beyond man's limit, will lose what lay
Close to their hand and sure.
I count it madness, and know no cure can mend
The evil man and his evil way.
[tr. Vellacott (1973)]

Wisdom is not what is wise,
nor to think non-mortal thoughts.
Life is fleeting; can it be, then, that one seeks after what is greater,
not accepting circumstance?
These are the manners of a madman and, to me, of evil counsel'd persons.
[tr. Neuburg (1988)]

A knowing mind that ignores its own limits
has a very short span. And the man
who aims too high
never reaps what lies within his grasp.
Such is the folly --
and I know none worse --
of perversely ambitious, fanatical men.
[tr. Cacoyannis (1982)]

But shallow wisdom is untrue.
To think beyond this life
Cuts short our life. He who
Pursues the great, forfeits
What lies at hand. Such temperaments
According to my thought, belong
To madmen and the ill-advised.
[tr. Blessington (1993)]

So cleverness is not wisdom
nor is it wise to think thoughts unfit for mortals.
Life is short. Given such brevity
who would pursue ambitious ends
And lose what lies at hand?
These, in my opinion at least,
are the ways of madmen and evil counsellors.
[tr. Esposito (1998)]

Wisdom? It's not wise
to lift our thoughts too high;
we are human, and our time is short.
A man who aims at greatness
will not live to own what he has now.
That, I believe, is the belief of men
whose judgment is foul.
They are insane.
[tr. Woodruff (1999)]

Intellect is not wisdom.
And to think in a manner
not right for mortals means
Life will be short. Who
Would pursue great things
If doing so meant losing what
Is already his?
That is the way, as I see it,
And bad counsel, of madmen.
[tr. Gibbons/Segal (2000), l. 469ff]

Cleverness is not wisdom
nor is it wise to think thoughts not mortal.
Our life is short: this being so,
a man who pursues great things
may miss what lies at hand. To live thus
is to be, in my judgment
a madman and a fool.
[tr. Kovacs (2002)]

The wise are not wise if they don’t consider a human’s lot.
Life is short.
He who constantly pursues great achievements in this life, won’t have time to enjoy those he already has achieved.
So far as I can tell, these are the doings of madmen and evil minds.
[tr. Theodoridis (2005)]

Cleverness is not wisdom;
Thinking heavenly
Thoughts, short life; in that case,
Who, in hunting greater things,
Would not be content with present fortune?
These are ways of men insane, with-
out understanding, so it seems to me.
[tr. Valerie (2005)]

But being clever isn't wisdom.
And thinking deeply about things
isn't suitable for mortal men.
Our life is brief -- that's why
the man who chases greatness
fails to grasp what's near at hand.
That's what madmen do,
men who've lost their wits.
That's what I believe.
[tr. Johnston (2008), l. 497ff]

Cleverness is not wisdom,
that over-reaching mortals
simply shorten their lives.
Life is brief enough as it is,
so hold it all to hand.
Wild ambition is a kind of madness:
stretch too hard for the summit
and you will fail and fall
and plummet back to land.
[tr. Robertson (2014)]

Cleverness is not wisdom,
and neither is reaching beyond thoughts meant for mortals.
Our lives are short.
Spend all your time reaching
and you miss what’s in front of you.
This is the madman’s way.
Or at least the ill-counseled.
But that’s just my opinion.
[tr. Pauly (2019)]

Cleverness is not wisdom, and those who'd seem wise as the gods -- their live will be short. Those who seek greatness will not see the snake at their feet. Mad ways set all on the road to disaster.
[tr. Behr/Foster (2019)]

It is not wisdom [sophiā] to be overly sophos, and to think things unbefitting mortal men. Life is short, and in it he who pursues great things does not achieve that which is present. In my opinion, these are the ways of mad and ill-counseling men.
[tr. Buckley/Sens/Nagy (2020)]

Wisdom is not wit;
Nor is thinking thoughts which belong not to mortals.
Life is brief. And because of this
Whoever seeks out great accomplishments
May not grasp the things at hand.
These are the ways of madmen
And wicked fools, I think.
[tr. @sentantiq (2021)]

 
Added on 10-Jan-23 | Last updated 10-Jan-23
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But to give one’s advice to others, unasked, is, in effect, to declare that we are much wiser than those to whom we give it; and is a kind of reproaching them with their ignorance and inexperience.

[Il proferire il tuo consiglio non richiesto niuna altra cosa è che un dire di esser più savio di colui cui tu consigli, anzi un rimproverargli il suo poco sapere e la sua ignoranza.]

Giovanni della Casa
Giovanni della Casa (1503-1556) Florentine poet, author, diplomat, bishop
Galateo: Or, A Treatise on Politeness and Delicacy of Manners [Il Galateo overo de’ costumi], ch. 18 (1558) [tr. Graves (1774)]
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(Source (Italian)). Alternate translations:

To offer advise, unrequested: what is it els but to vaunt youre selfe wiser then he is, whom you do counsell : nay rather it is a plaine checke to him, for his Ignoraunce and folly.
[tr. Peterson (1576)]

To offer your advice unasked, is nothing else than to assert that you are wiser than he to whom you offer it.
[Source (1909)]

To offer your advice without having been asked is nothing else but a way of saying that you are wiser than the man to whom you are giving advice, and even a way of reprimanding him for his limited knowledge and his ignorance.
[tr. Eisenbichler/Bartlett (1986)]

 
Added on 7-Dec-22 | Last updated 7-Dec-22
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His nature is too noble for the world.
He would not flatter Neptune for his trident
Or Jove for ‘s power to thunder. His heart’s his mouth;
What his breast forges, that his tongue must vent,
And, being angry, does forget that ever
He heard the name of death.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
Coriolanus, Act 3, sc. 1, l. 326ff [Menenius] (c. 1608)
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Speaking of the title character.
 
Added on 30-Nov-22 | Last updated 30-Nov-22
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FIRST OFFICER: That’s a brave fellow, but he’s vengeance proud and loves not the common people.

SECOND OFFICER: ’Faith, there hath been many great men that have flattered the people who ne’er loved them; and there be many that they have loved they know not wherefore; so that, if they love they know not why, they hate upon no better a ground. Therefore, for Coriolanus neither to care whether they love or hate him manifests the true knowledge he has in their disposition and, out of his noble carelessness, lets them plainly see ’t.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
Coriolanus, Act 2, sc. 2, l. 5ff (c. 1608)
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Added on 23-Nov-22 | Last updated 23-Nov-22
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We long for self-confidence, till we look at the people who have it.

Mignon McLaughlin (1913-1983) American journalist and author
The Neurotic’s Notebook, ch. 4 (1963)
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Added on 9-Nov-22 | Last updated 9-Nov-22
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There are some who turn everything into warfare, who behave like social bandits and would like to conquer others in everything they do. They have no idea how to live peaceably.

[Hay algunos que todo lo reducen a guerrilla; bandoleros del trato, cuanto ejecutan querrían que fuese vencimiento, no saben proceder pacíficamente.]

Baltasar Gracián y Morales (1601-1658) Spanish Jesuit priest, writer, philosopher
The Art of Worldly Wisdom [Oráculo Manual y Arte de Prudencia], § 218 (1647) [tr. Maurer (1992)]
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(Source (Spanish)). Alternate translations:

There are some who turn every thing into a kind of skirmishing. They are Ruffians in Conversation; and would make a triumph of every thing they doe. They know not what it is to be peacefull.
[Flesher ed. (1685)]

There are persons who make a war out of everything, real banditti of intercourse. All that they undertake must end in victory; they do not know how to get on in peace.
[tr. Jacobs (1892)]

There are those who reduce everything to war, veritable highwaymen of friendly intercourse; they seek that all they push through be made a victory; and they know not peaceful pursuit.
[tr. Fischer (1937)]

 
Added on 26-Sep-22 | Last updated 19-Dec-22
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Satan’s greatest sin, his greatest mistake, wasn’t pride or rebelling against God. His greatest mistake was believing that God would not forgive him if he asked for forgiveness. His sin wasn’t just pride — it was self-pity. I think in some ways every single person, human, vampire, whatever, has a choice to make: to be full of rage about what happens to you or to reconcile with it, to strive for the most honorable existence you can despite the odds. Do you believe in a God who understands and forgives or one who doesn’t? What it comes down to is, this is between you and God, and you’ll have to work that out for yourself.

Carrie Vaughn
Carrie Vaughn (b. 1973) American writer
Kitty and the Midnight Hour, ch. 1 (2005)
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Added on 27-Jul-22 | Last updated 27-Jul-22
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All violence is an attempt to replace shame with self-esteem.

James Gilligan (b. c. 1936) American psychiatrist and author
(Attributed)
    (Source)

Quoted by Jon Ronson in "Jon Ronson: By the Book," New York Times (9 Apr 2015). When asked what one book he would require a US President to read, he named Gilligan's Violence: Reflections on a National Epidemic, and then, having said he's talked with Gilligan, Ronson gives the quotation above, and this is the form it's usually given, often then cited to the book.

In the actual book, Violence: Reflections on a National Epidemic, ch. 5 (1997), Gilligan has:

The different forms of violence, whether toward individuals or entire populations, are motivated (caused) by the feeling of shame. The purpose of violence is to diminish the intensity of shame and replace it as far as possible with its opposite, pride, thus preventing the individual from being overwhelmed by the feeling of shame. Violence toward others, such as homicide, is an attempt to replace shame with pride.

 
Added on 19-Jul-22 | Last updated 19-Jul-22
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Pride is not a wise counselor. People who believe themselves to be the incarnation of good have a distorted view of the world. The absence of any obstacle to the deployment of strength is dangerous for the strong themselves: passion takes precedence over reason. “No power without limit can be legitimate,” as Montesquieu wrote long ago. Political wisdom does not consist in seeking only immediate victory, nor does it require systematic preference of “us” over “them.”

Tzvetan Todorov
Tzvetan Todorov (1939-2017) Bulgarian-French historian, philosopher, literary critic, sociologist
Hope and Memory: Reflections on the Twentieth Century, Preface to the English edition (2003)
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Added on 25-Apr-22 | Last updated 1-Jun-22
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Our profession is dreadful, writing corrupts the soul. Every author is surrounded by an aura of adulation which he nurses so assiduously that he cannot begin to judge his own worth or see when it starts to decline.

Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910) Russian novelist and moral philosopher
Letter to Nikolay Strakhov (1876)
    (Source)

Quoted in Henri Troyat, Tolstoy (1967).
 
Added on 26-Jan-22 | Last updated 26-Jan-22
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His mistaken belief in his own superiority cut him off from reality as completely as if he were living in a colored glass jar.

Margery Allingham
Margery Allingham (1904-1966) English writer
Traitor’s Purse (1941)
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Added on 4-Jan-22 | Last updated 4-Jan-22
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It is only an error in judgment to make a mistake, but it argues an infirmity of character to stick to it.

Adela Rogers St Johns
Adela Rogers St. Johns (1894-1988) American journalist, novelist, screenwriter.
Some Are Born Great (1974)
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Added on 31-Dec-21 | Last updated 31-Dec-21
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The mistakes I made from weakness do not embarrass me nearly so much as those I made insisting on my strength.

James Richardson (b. 1950) American poet
“Vectors: 56 Aphorisms and Ten-second Essays,” Michigan Quarterly Review, #27 (Spring 1999)
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Added on 7-Dec-21 | Last updated 7-Dec-21
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For the fascist, schools and universities are there to indoctrinate national or racial pride, conveying for example (where nationalism is racialized) the glorious achievements of the dominant race.

Jason Stanley (b. 1969) American philosopher, epistemologist, academic
How Fascism Works: The Politics of Us and Them, ch. 4 (2018)
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Added on 18-Nov-21 | Last updated 18-Nov-21
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It is in vain to Say that Democracy is less vain, less proud, less selfish, less ambitious or less avaricious than Aristocracy or Monarchy. It is not true in Fact and no where appears in history. Those Passions are the same in all Men under all forms of Simple Government, and when unchecked, produce the same Effects of Fraud Violence and Cruelty. When clear Prospects are opened before Vanity, Pride, Avarice or Ambition, for their easy gratification, it is hard for the most considerate Phylosophers and the most conscientious Moralists to resist the temptation. Individuals have conquered themselves, Nations and large Bodies of Men, never.

John Adams (1735-1826) American lawyer, Founding Father, statesman, US President (1797-1801)
Letter to John Taylor (17 Dec 1814)
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Added on 19-Oct-21 | Last updated 19-Oct-21
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Though I called you “My lord,” you’ve no reason for pride:
For so to your slaves I have often replied.

[Cum voco te dominum, noli tibi, Cinna, placere:
Saepe etiam servum sic resaluto tuum.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 5, epigram 57 (5.57) [tr. Pott & Wright (1921)]
    (Source)

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

When I call you "My lord," do not be vain, Cinna. I often return your slave's salutation in a similar way.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1897)]

When I call you "master" don't pride yourself, Cinna. I often return even your slave's greeting so.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

I call you "Boss"? Don't show wild joy.
That's what I call my slaves' head boy.
[tr. Wills (2007)]

When I call you "Boss," Cinna, don't be so pleased with yourself; I often reply that way when your slave says hello, even.
[tr. Nisbet (2015)]

When "Sir" I call you, be not pleased; for know,
Cinna, I often call your servant so.
[tr. Wright]

Variation:
Though I do "Sir" thee, be not vain, I pray:
I "Sir" my monkey Jacko every day.
-- Cyrus Redding, "N. M. Mag., 1828"

 
Added on 24-Sep-21 | Last updated 14-Jan-22
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Beware:
All too often,
We say
What we hear others say.
We think
What we’re told that we think.
We see
What we’re permitted to see.
Worse!
We see what we’re told that we see.
Repetition and pride are the keys to this.
To hear and to see
Even an obvious lie
Again
And again and again
May be to say it,
Almost by reflex
Then to defend it
Because we’ve said it
And at last to embrace it
Because we’ve defended it
And because we cannot admit
That we’ve embraced and defended
An obvious lie.

Thus, without thought,
Without intent,
We make
Mere echoes
Of ourselves —
And we say
What we hear others say.

Octavia Butler (1947-2006) American writer
Parable of the Talents, ch. 18, epigram (1998)
    (Source)

Internally cited to the book's scripture, Earthseed: The Books of the Living,, and to a poem, "Warrior," written by the protagonist's uncle, Marcos Duran.
 
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When a man boasted in his presence that he was a native of an illustrious city, he said, “That is not what one ought to look at, but whether one is worthy of a great city.”

[πρὸς τὸν καυχώμενον ὡς ἀπὸ μεγάλης πόλεως εἴη, “οὐ τοῦτο,” ἔφη, “δεῖ σκοπεῖν, ἀλλ᾽ ὅστις μεγάλης πατρίδος ἄξιός ἐστιν.”]

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Attributed in Diogenes Laërtius, Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers [Vitae Philosophorum], Book 5, sec. 11 [tr. Yonge (1853)]
    (Source)

(Source (Greek)). Alternate translations:

To one who boasted that he belonged to a great city his reply was, "That is not the point to consider, but who it is that is worthy of a great country."
[tr. Hicks (1925), sec. 19]

To a man boasting that he was from a great city, he said “Don’t look at this, but instead who is worthy of a great country.”
[tr. @sentantiq (2016)]

To someone who boasted that he came from a great city, he said, "That is not what one should consider, but who it is that is worthy of a great country."
[tr. Mensch (2018)]

 
Added on 7-Sep-21 | Last updated 7-Sep-21
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Man forgives woman anything save the wit to outwit him.

No picture available
Minna Antrim (1861-1950) American epigrammatist, writer
Naked Truth and Veiled Allusions (1901)
 
Added on 3-Sep-21 | Last updated 3-Sep-21
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I’m afraid to win, and afraid to lose; I hate a draw and can’t stop competing; otherwise I’m fine.

Mignon McLaughlin (1913-1983) American journalist and author
The Neurotic’s Notebook, ch. 4 (1963)
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Added on 24-Jun-21 | Last updated 10-Mar-22
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Our strength is often composed of the weakness that we’re damned if we’re going to show.

Mignon McLaughlin (1913-1983) American journalist and author
The Second Neurotics Handbook, ch. 10 (1966)
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Added on 3-Jun-21 | Last updated 10-Mar-22
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I think I am actually humble. I think I’m much more humble than you would understand.

Donald J. Trump (b. 1946) American businessman, media personality, US President (2017-21)
Interview by Leslie Stahl, 60 Minutes (18 Jul 2016)
    (Source)
 
Added on 20-May-21 | Last updated 20-May-21
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Man the master, ingenious past all measure,
past all dreams the skills within his grasp —
   he forges on, now to destruction,
now again to greatness. When he weaves in
the laws of the land, and the justice of the gods
that bind his oaths together
   he and his city rise high —
      but the city casts out
that man who weds himself to inhumanity
thanks to reckless daring. Never share my hearth,
never think my thoughts, whoever does such things.

[σοφόν τι τὸ μηχανόεν τέχνας ὑπὲρ ἐλπίδ᾽ ἔχων
τοτὲ μὲν κακόν, ἄλλοτ᾽ ἐπ᾽ ἐσθλὸν ἕρπει,
νόμους γεραίρων χθονὸς θεῶν τ᾽ ἔνορκον δίκαν,
370ὑψίπολις: ἄπολις ὅτῳ τὸ μὴ καλὸν
ξύνεστι τόλμας χάριν. μήτ᾽ ἐμοὶ παρέστιος
γένοιτο μήτ᾽ ἴσον φρονῶν ὃς τάδ᾽ ἔρδει.]

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Antigone, l. 365ff, Stasimon 1, Antistrophe 2 [Chorus] (441 BC) [tr. Fagles (1982)]
    (Source)

Original Greek. Alternate translations:

Wise in his craft of art
Beyond the bounds of expectation,
The while to good he goes, the while to evil.
Honouring his country's laws and heaven's oathbound right,
High is he in the state!
But cityless is he with whom inherent baseness dwells;
When boldness dares so much,
No seat by me at festive hearth,
No seat by me in sect or party,
For him that sinneth!
[tr. Donaldson (1848)]

Passing the wildest flight thought are the cunning and skill,
That guide man now to the light, but now to counsels of ill.
If he honors the laws of the land, and reveres the Gods of the State
Proudly his city shall stand; but a cityless outcast I rate
Whoso bold in his pride from the path of right doth depart;
Ne'er may I sit by his side, or share the thoughts of his heart.
[tr. Storr (1859)]

Inventive beyond wildest hope, endowed with boundless skill,
One while he moves toward evil, and one while toward good,
According as he loves his land and fears the Gods above.
Weaving the laws into his life and steadfast oath of Heaven,
High in the State he moves but outcast he,
Who hugs dishonour to his heart and follows paths of crime
Ne'er may he come beneath my roof, nor think like thoughts with me.v [tr. Campbell (1873)]

Possessing resourceful skill, a subtlety beyond expectation he moves now to evil, now to good. When he honors the laws of the land and the justice of the gods to which he is bound by oath, his city prospers. But banned from his city is he who, thanks to his rashness, couples with disgrace. Never may he share my home, never think my thoughts, who does these things!
[tr. Jebb (1891)]

Cunning beyond fancy's dream is the fertile skill which brings him, now to evil, now to good. When he honours the laws of the land, and that justice which he hath sworn by the gods to uphold, proudly stands his city: no city hath he who, for his rashness, dwells with sin. Never may he share my hearth, never think my thoughts, who doth these things!
[tr. Jebb (1917)]

O clear intelligence, force beyond all measure!
O fate of man, working both good and evil!
When the laws are kept, how proudly his city stands!
When the laws are broken, what of his city then?
Never may the anarchic man find rest at my hearth,
Never be it said that my thoughts are his thoughts.
[tr. Fitts/Fitzgerald (1939), l. 285ff]

O wondrous subtlety of man, that draws
To good or evil ways! Great honor is given
And power to him who upholdeth his country’s laws
And the justice of heaven.
But he that, too rashly daring, walks in sin
In solitary pride to his life’s end.
At door of mine shall never enter in
To call me friend.
[tr. Watling (1947)]

Clever beyond all dreams
the inventive crat that he has
which may drive him one time or another to well or ill.
When he honors the laws of the land and the gods' sworn right
high indeed is his city; but stateless is the man
who dares to dwell with dishonor. Not by my fire,
never to share my thoughts, who does these things.
[tr. Wyckoff (1954)]

Surpassing belief, the device and
Cunning that Man has attained,
And it bringeth him now to evil, now to good.
If he observe Law, and tread
The righteous path God ordained,
Honored is he; dishonored, the man whose reckless heart
Shall make him join hands with sin:
May I not think like him,
Nor may such an impious man
Dwell in my house.
[tr. Kitto (1962)]

He has cunning contrivance,
Skill surpassing hope,
And so he slithers into wickedness sometimes,
Other times into doing good.
If he honors the law of the land
And the oath-bound justice of the gods,
Then his city shall stand high.
But no city for him if he turns shameless out of daring.
He will be no guest of mine,
He will never share my thoughts,
If he goes wrong.
[tr. Woodruff (2001)]

Possessing a means of invention, a skillfulness beyond expectation,
now toward evil he moves, now toward good.
By integrating the laws of the earth
and justice under oath sworn to the gods,
he is lofty of city. Citiless is the man with whom ignobility
because of his daring dwells.
May he never reside at my hearth
or think like me,
whoever does such things.
[tr. Tyrell/Bennett (2002)]

And though his wisdom is great in discovery -- wisdom beyond all imaginings!
Yet one minute it turns to ill the next again to good.
But whoever honours the laws of his land and his sworn oaths to the gods, he’ll bring glory to his city.
The arrogant man, on the other hand, the man who strays from the righteous path is lost to his city. Let that man never stay under the same roof as me or even be acquainted by me!
[tr. Theodoridis (2004)]

The qualities of his inventive skills
bring arts beyond his dreams and lead him on,
sometimes to evil and sometimes to good.
If he treats his country’s laws with due respect
and honours justice by swearing on the gods,
he wins high honours in his city.
But when he grows bold and turns to evil,
then he has no city. A man like that --
let him not share my home or know my mind.
[tr. Johnston (2005), l. 415ff]

With clever creativity beyond expectation, he moves now to evil, now to good. The one who observes the laws of the land and justice, our compat with the gods, is honored in the city, but there is no city for one who participates in what is wrong for the sake of daring. Let him not share my hearth, nor let me share his ideas who had done these things.
[tr. Thomas (2005)]

 
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Wisdom is by far the greatest part of joy,
and reverence toward the gods must be safeguarded.
The mighty words of the proud are paid in full
with mighty blows of fate, and at long last
those blows will teach us wisdom.

[πολλῷ τὸ φρονεῖν εὐδαιμονίας
πρῶτον ὑπάρχει. χρὴ δὲ τά γ᾽ εἰς θεοὺς
μηδὲν ἀσεπτεῖν. μεγάλοι δὲ λόγοι
μεγάλας πληγὰς τῶν ὑπεραύχων
ἀποτίσαντες
γήρᾳ τὸ φρονεῖν ἐδίδαξαν.]

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Antigone, l. 1348ff [Chorus] (441 BC) [tr. Fagles (1982), l. 1466ff]
    (Source)

Final lines of the play. Original Greek. Alternate translations:

Wisdom is first of the gifts of good fortune:
'Tis a duty, to be sure, the rites of the Gods
Duly to honor: but words without measure, the
Fruit of vain-glory, in woes without number their
Recompense finding,
Have lesson'd the agéd in wisdom.
[tr. Donaldson (1848)]

Of happiness the chiefest part
Is a wise heart:
And to defraud the gods in aught
With peril's fraught.
Swelling words of high-flown might
Mightily the gods do smite.
Chastisement for errors past
Wisdom brings to age at last.
[tr. Storr (1859)]

Wise conduct hath command of happiness
Before all else, and piety to Heaven
Must be preserved. High boastings of the proud
Bring sorrow to the height to punish pride: --
A lesson men shall learn when they are old.
[tr. Campbell (1873)]

Wisdom is provided as the chief part of happiness, and our dealings with the gods must be in no way unholy. The great words of arrogant men have to make repayment with great blows, and in old age teach wisdom.
[tr. Jebb (1891)]

Wisdom alone is man's true happiness.
We are not to dispute the will of heaven;
For ever are the boastings of the proud
By the just gods repaid, and man at last
Is taught to fear their anger and be wise.
[tr. Werner (1892)]

Wisdom is the supreme part of happiness; and reverence towards the gods must be inviolate. Great words of prideful men are ever punished with great blows, and, in old age, teach the chastened to be wise.
[tr. Jebb (1917)]

There is no happiness where there is no wisdom;
No wisdom but in submission to the gods.
Big words are always punished
And proud men in old age learn to be wise.
[tr. Fitts/Fitzgerald (1939), l. 1039ff]

Of happiness the crown
And chiefest part
Is wisdom, and to hold
The gods in awe.
This is the law
That, seeing the stricken heart
Of pride brought down,
We learn when we are old.
[tr. Watling (1947), Exodos, l. 1027ff]

Our happiness depends
on wisdom all the way.
The gods must have their due.
Great words by men of pride
bring greater blows upon them.
So wisdom comes to the old.
[tr. Wyckoff (1954)]

Of happiness, far the greatest part is wisdom,
and reverence towards the gods.
Proud words of arrogant man, in the end,
Meet punishment, great as his pride was great,
Till at last he is schooled in wisdom.
[tr. Kitto (1962)]

Wisdom is supreme for a blessed life,
And reference for the gods
Must never cease. Great words, sprung from arrogance.
Are punished by great blows.
So it is one learns, in old age, to be wise.
[tr. Woodruff (2001)]

By far is having sense the first part
of happiness. One must not act impiously toward
what pertains to gods. Big words
of boasting men,
paid for by big blows,
teach having sense in old age.
[tr. Tyrell/Bennett (2002)]

The most important thing in man’s happiness is good judgement and he must not treat with disdain the works of the gods.
The arrogant pay for their big proud words with great downfalls and it’s only then, in their old age that they gain wisdom!
[tr. Theodoridis (2004)]

The most important part of true success
is wisdom -- not to act impiously
towards the gods, for boasts of arrogant men
bring on great blows of punishment --
so in old age men can discover wisdom.
[tr. Johnston (2005)]

Knowledge truly is by far the most important part of happiness, but one must neglect nothing that the gods demand. Great words of the over-proud balanced by great falls taught us knowledge in our old age.
[tr. Thomas (2005)]
 
Added on 11-Mar-21 | Last updated 11-Mar-21
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I have now but one anxiety left, which is concerning you. I would have you be, what I know nobody is, perfect. As that is impossible, I would have you as near perfection as possible. I know nobody in a fairer way toward it than yourself, if you please. Never were so much pains taken for anybody’s education as for yours; and never had anybody those opportunities of knowledge and improvement which you have had, and still have. I hope, I wish, I doubt, and I fear alternately. This only I am sure of, that you will prove either the greatest pain, or the greatest pleasure of, Yours Always Truly.

Lord Chesterfield (1694-1773) English statesman, wit [Philip Dormer Stanhope]
Letter to his son, #141 (16 Feb 1748)
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The vanity of man revolts from the serene indifference of the cat.

Agnes Repplier (1855-1950) American writer
“The Grocer’s Cat,” Americans and Others (1912)
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There is another sort of lies, inoffensive enough in themselves, but wonderfully ridiculous; I mean those lies which a mistaken vanity suggests, that defeat the very end for which they are calculated, and terminate in the humiliation and confusion of their author, who is sure to be detected. These are chiefly narrative and historical lies, all intended to do infinite honor to their author. He is always the hero of his own romances; he has been in dangers from which nobody but himself ever escaped; he as seen with his own eyes, whatever other people have heard or read of; he has had more bonnes fortunes than ever he knew women; and has ridden more miles post in one day, than ever courier went in two. He is soon ridiculed, and as soon becomes the object of universal contempt and ridicule.

Lord Chesterfield (1694-1773) English statesman, wit [Philip Dormer Stanhope]
Letter to his son, #126 (21 Sep 1747)
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No,
it’s no disgrace for a man, even a wise man,
to learn many things and not to be too rigid.
You’ve seen trees by a raging winter torrent,
how many sway with the flood and salvage every twig,
but not the stubborn — they’re ripped out, roots and all.

[ἀλλ᾽ ἄνδρα, κεἴ τις ᾖ σοφός, τὸ μανθάνειν
πόλλ᾽, αἰσχρὸν οὐδὲν καὶ τὸ μὴ τείνειν ἄγαν.
ὁρᾷς παρὰ ῥείθροισι χειμάρροις ὅσα
δένδρων ὑπείκει, κλῶνας ὡς ἐκσῴζεται,
τὰ δ᾽ ἀντιτείνοντ᾽ αὐτόπρεμν᾽ ἀπόλλυται.]

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Antigone, l. 710ff [Haemon] (441 BC) [tr. Fagles (1982), l. 794ff]
    (Source)

Ancient Greek. Alternate translations:

But that a man, how wise soe'er, should learn
In many things and slack his stubborn will,
This is no derogation. When the streams
Are swollen by mountain-torrents, thou hast seen
That all the trees wich bend them to the flood
Preserve their branches from the angry current,
While those which stem it perish root and branch.
[tr. Donaldson (1848)]

The wisest man will let himself be swayed
By others' wisdom and relax in time.
See how the trees beside a stream in flood
Save, if they yield to force, each spray unharmed,
But by resisting perish root and branch.
[tr. Campbell (1873)]

'Tis no disgrace even to the wise to learn
And lend an ear to reason. You may see
The plant that yields where torrent waters flow
Saves every little twig, when the stout tree
Is torn away and dies.
[tr. Storr (1859)]

No, even when a man is wise, it brings him no shame to learn many things, and not to be too rigid. You see how the trees that stand beside the torrential streams created by a winter storm yield to it and save their branches, while the stiff and rigid perish root and all?
[tr. Jebb (1891)]

True wisdom will be ever glad to learn,
And not too fond of power. Observe the trees,
That bend to wintry torrents, how their boughs
Unhurt remain; while those that brave the storm,
Uprooted torn, shall wither and decay.
[tr. Werner (1892)]

No, though a man be wise, 'tis no shame for him to learn many things, and to bend in season. Seest thou, beside the wintry torrent's course, how the trees that yield to it save every twig, while the stiff-necked perish root and branch?
[tr. Jebb (1917)]

It is not reason never to yield to reason!
In flood time you can see how some trees bend,
And because they bend, even their twigs are safe,
While stubborn trees are torn up, roots and all
[tr. Fitts/Fitzgerald (1939), l. 570ff]

It is no weakness for the wisest man
To learn when he is wrong, know when to yield.
So, on the margin of a flooded river
Trees bending to the torrent live unbroken,
While those that strain against it are snapped off.
[tr. Watling (1947), l. 608ff]

A man, though wise, should never be ashamed
of learning more, and must unbend his mind.
Have you not seen the trees beside the torrent,
the ones that bend them saving every leaf,
while the resistant perish root and branch?
[tr. Wyckoff (1954)]

There's no disgrace, even if one is wise,
In learning more, and knowing when to yield.
See how the trees that grow beside a torrent
Preserve their branches, if they bend; the others,
Those that resist, are torn out, root and branch.
[tr. Kitto (1962)]

But a wise man can learn a lot and never be ashamed;
He knows he does not have to be rigid and close-hauled.
You've seen trees tossed by a torrent in a flash flood:
If they bend, they're saved, and every twig survives,
But if they stiffen up, they're washed out from the roots.
[tr. Woodruff (2001)]

But for a man, even if he is wise, to go on learning
many things and not to be drawn too taut is no shame.
You see how along streams swollen from winter floods
some trees yield and save their twigs,
but others resist and perish, root and branch.
[tr. Tyrell/Bennett (2002)]

On the contrary, it is no shame for even a wise man to continue learning. Nor should a man be obstinate. One can see the trees on the heavy river-banks. Those that bend with the rushing current, survive, whereas those bent against it are torn, roots and all.
[tr. Theodoridis (2004)]

For any man,
even if he’s wise, there’s nothing shameful
in learning many things, staying flexible.
You notice how in winter floods the trees
which bend before the storm preserve their twigs.
The ones who stand against it are destroyed,
root and branch.
[tr. Johnston (2005), l. 804ff]

No, it's no disgrace for a man, even a wise man, to learn many things and not to be too rigid. You see how, in the winter storms, the trees yield that save even their twigs, but those who oppose it are destroyed root and branch.
[tr. Thomas (2005)]
 
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The pain others give passes away in their later kindness, but that of our own blunders, especially when they hurt our vanity, never passes away.

William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) Irish poet and dramatist
Journal entry #105 (18 Mar 1909)
    (Source)

See also "Vacillation."
 
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We sometimes find ourselves changing our minds without any resistance or heavy emotion, but if we are told that we are wrong we resent the imputation and harden our hearts. We are incredibly heedless in the formation of our beliefs, but find ourselves filled with an illicit passion for them when anyone proposes to rob us of their companionship. It is obviously not the ideas themselves that are dear to us, but our self-esteem which is threatened.

James Harvey Robinson (1863-1936) American historian and educator
The Mind in the Making, ch. 4 “Rationalizing” (1921)
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One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.

Carl Sagan (1934-1996) American scientist and writer
The Demon-Haunted World, ch. 13 (1995)
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Many complain of their looks, but none of their brains.

(Other Authors and Sources)
Italian proverb

Also noted as a Jewish or Yiddish proverb.

This is also often cited to Sally Koslow, Little Pink Slips, ch. 5 (2007); it appears there as ""Many complain of their looks, few of their brains," but is described as an unoriginal needlepoint on a pillow cover.

See also La Rochefoucauld for a similar construction.
 
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Men of all races have always sought for a convincing explanation of their own astonishing excellence and they have frequently found what they were looking for.

Aubrey Menen (1912-1989) English writer
Dead Man in the Silver Market, ch. 1, opening lines (1954)
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For nothing is more blamefull to a Knight,
That court’sie doth as well as armes professe,
However strong and fortunate in fight,
Then the reproch of pride and cruelnesse:
In vain he seeketh others to suppresse,
Who hath not learned himself first to subdue:
All flesh is frayle and full of ficklenesse,
Subject to fortunes chance, still chaunging new;
What haps to-day to me to-morrow may to you.

Edmund Spenser (c. 1552-1599) English poet
The Faerie Queene, Book 6, canto 1, st. 41 (1590-96)
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In youth, it was a way I had
To do my best to please,
And change, with every passing lad,
To suit his theories.

But now I know the things I know,
And do the things I do;
And if you do not like me so,
To hell, my love, with you!

Dorothy Parker (1893-1967) American writer
“Indian Summer,” Enough Rope (1926)
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We are never so certain of our knowledge as when we’re dead wrong.

Adair Lara (b. 1952) American writer, columnist, teacher
“A Lot of Knowledge Is Dangerous, Too,” San Francisco Chronicle (9 Oct 1997)
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To expose vices to the ridicule of all the world is a severe blow to them. Reprehensions are easily suffered, but not so ridicule. People do not mind being wicked; but they object to being made ridiculous.

[C’est une grande atteinte aux vices que de les exposer à la risée de tout le monde. On souffre aisément des répréhensions, mais on ne souffre point la raillerie. On veut bien être méchant, mais on ne veut point être ridicule.]

Molière (1622-1673) French playwright, actor [stage name for Jean-Baptiste Poquelin]
Tartuffe, Preface (1664) [tr. Van Laun (1876)]
    (Source)

Alt. trans.: "To expose vices to everyone’s laughter is to deal them a mighty blow. People easily endure reproofs, but they cannot at all endure being made fun of. People have no objection to being considered wicked, but they are not willing to be considered ridiculous." [tr. Kerr]
 
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Natur iz a kind mother. She couldn’t well afford to make us perfekt, and so she made us blind to our failings.

[Nature is a kind mother. She couldn’t well afford to make us perfect, and so she made us blind to our failings.]

Josh Billings (1818-1885) American humorist [pseud. of Henry Wheeler Shaw]
Everybody’s Friend, Or; Josh Billing’s Encyclopedia and Proverbial Philosophy of Wit and Humor, “Lobstir Sallad” (1874)
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That seems to point up a significant difference between Europeans and Americans:

A European says: I can’t understand this, what’s wrong with me?
An American says: I can’t understand this, what’s wrong with him?

Terry Pratchett (1948-2015) English author
Post, alt.fan.pratchett (8 May 1994)
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One of the sure signs of maturity is the ability to rise to the point of self criticism.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, social activist, preacher
“The Rising Tide of Racial Consciousness,” Speech, National Urban League, New York (6 Sep 1960)
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I was often humiliated to see men disputing for a piece of bread, just as animals might have done. My feelings on this subject have very much altered since I have been personally exposed to the tortures of hunger. I have discovered, in fact, that a man, whatever may have been his origin, his education, and his habits, is governed, under certain circumstances, much more by his stomach than by his intelligence and his heart.

François Arago
François Arago (1786-1853) French Catalan mathematician, physicist, astronomer, politician
Biographies of Distinguished Scientific Men, “The History of My Youth” (1859) [tr. Smyth, Powell, Grant]
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Nothing is more embarrassing in the ordinary intercourse of life than this irritable patriotism of the Americans. A stranger may be well inclined to praise many of the institutions of their country, but he begs permission to blame some of the peculiarities which he observes — a permission which is however inexorably refused.

Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859) French writer, diplomat, politician
Democracy in America, Vol. 1, “Public Spirit in the United States” (1835) [tr. Reeve (1839)]
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Mules are always boasting that their ancestors are horses.

(Other Authors and Sources)
German Proverb
 
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The man who has nothing to boast of but his illustrious ancestry, is somewhat like a potatoe, the only good thing is under ground.

Thomas Overbury (1581-1613) English poet
Characters (1612)
    (Source)

Referenced in John Ireland, Letters and Poems by the Late Mr. John Henderson (1786). Variant: "The man who has not anything to boast of but his illustrious ancestors, is like a potatoe, the only good belonging to him is under ground." -- The Lady's Monthly Museum (June 1807).
 
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The arrogance of some Christians would close heaven to them if, to their misfortune, it existed.

Simone de Beauvoir (1908-1986) French author, existentialist philosopher, feminist theorist
All Said and Done (1972)
 
Added on 15-Oct-18 | Last updated 15-Oct-18
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Talent is God-given; be humble. Fame is man-given; be thankful. Conceit is self-given; be careful.

John Wooden (1910-2010) American basketball player and coach
They Call Me Coach (1972)
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Added on 4-Sep-18 | Last updated 4-Sep-18
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This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remember’d, —
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers.
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me,
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England, now a-bed,
Shall think themselves accurs’d, they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap, whiles any speaks,
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
Henry V, Act 4, sc. 3, l. 58ff [Henry] (1599)
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At twenty a man is a Peacock, at thirty a Lion, at forty a Camel, at fifty a Serpent, at sixty a Dog, at seventy an Ape, at eighty nothing.

Baltasar Gracián y Morales (1601-1658) Spanish Jesuit priest, writer, philosopher
The Art of Worldly Wisdom [Oráculo Manual y Arte de Prudencia], § 276 (1647) [tr. Jacobs (1892)]
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Added on 23-Oct-17 | Last updated 4-Apr-22
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You can tell the character of every man when you see how he gives and receives praise.

Seneca the Younger (c. 4 BC-AD 65) Roman statesman, philosopher, playwright [Lucius Annaeus Seneca]
Moral Letters to Lucilius [Epistulae morales ad Lucilium], Letter 52 “On choosing our teachers,” Sec. 12
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Added on 17-Oct-17 | Last updated 17-Oct-17
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Wisdom is corrupted by ambition, even when the quality of the ambition is intellectual. For ambition, even of this quality, is but a form of self-love ….

Henry Taylor (1800-1886) English dramatist, poet, bureaucrat, man of letters
Notes from Life, “Wisdom” (1847)
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Added on 3-Oct-17 | Last updated 3-Oct-17
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Another flaw in the human character is that everybody wants to build and nobody wants to do maintenance.

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. (1922-2007) American novelist, journalist
Hocus Pocus (1990)
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Added on 18-Aug-17 | Last updated 14-Jan-22
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