Quotations about   promise

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In all such oaths we are not to attend to the mere form of words, but the true design and intention of them.

[Semper autem in fide quid senseris, non quid dixeris, cogitandum.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
De Officiis [On Duties; On Moral Duty; The Offices], Book 1, ch. 13 (1.13) / sec. 40 (44 BC) [tr. Cockman (1699)]
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(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

In obligations of faith, it is the meaning always, not the words that are to be considered.
[tr. McCartney (1798)]

In a promise, what you thought, and not what you said, is always to be considered.
[tr. Edmonds (1865)]

In a promise, what you mean, not what you say, is always to be taken into account.
[tr. Peabody (1883)]

A promise must be kept not merely in the letter, but in the spirit.
[ed. Harbottle (1906)]

In the matter of a promise one must always consider the meaning and not the mere words.
[tr. Miller (1913)]

You should always, in a matter of trust, think of what you mean, not of what you say.
[tr. Edinger (1974)]

Added on 28-Jul-22 | Last updated 11-Aug-22
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You’re running away — from me? Oh, I pray you
by these tears, by the faith in your right hand —
what else have I left myself in all my pain? —
by our wedding vows, the marriage we began,
if I deserve some decency from you now,
if anything mine has ever won your heart,
pity a great house about to fall, I pray you,
if prayers have any place — reject this scheme of yours!

[Mene fugis? Per ego has lacrimas dextramque tuam te
(Quando aliud mihi jam miserae nihil ipsa reliqui)
Per connubia nostra, per inceptos Hymenaeos;
Si bene quid de te merui, fuit aut tibi quidquam
Dulce meum, miserere domus labentis, et istam,
Oro, si quis adhuc precibus locus, exue mentem.]

Virgil (70-19 BC) Roman poet [b. Publius Vergilius Maro; also Vergil]
The Aeneid [Ænē̆is], Book 4, l. 314ff (3.314-319) [Dido] (29-19 BC) [tr. Fagles (2006), l. 390ff]
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Dido begging Aeneas not to desert her. (Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

See whom you fly! am I the foe you shun?
Now, by those holy vows, so late begun,
By this right hand, (since I have nothing more
To challenge, but the faith you gave before;)
I beg you by these tears too truly shed,
By the new pleasures of our nuptial bed;
If ever Dido, when you most were kind,
Were pleasing in your eyes, or touch'd your mind;
By these my pray'rs, if pray'rs may yet have place,
Pity the fortunes of a falling race.
[tr. Dryden (1697)]

Wilt thou fly from me? By these tears, by that right hand, (since I have left nothing else to myself now, a wretch forlorn,) by our nuptial rights, by our conjugal loves begun; if I have deserved any thanks at they hand, or if ever you saw any charms in me, take pity, I implore thee, on a falling race, and, if yet there is any room for prayers, lay aside your resolution.
[tr. Davidson/Buckley (1854)]

From me you fly! Ah! let me crave,
By these poor tears, that hand you gave --
Since, parting with my woman's pride,
My madness leaves me nought beside --
By that our wedlock, by the rite
Which, but begun, could yet unite,
If e'er my kindness held you bound,
If e'er in me your joy you found,
Look on this falling house, and still,
If prayer can touch you, change your will.
[tr. Conington (1866)]

Fly'st thou from me?
Ah, by these tears, and by this hand of thine
(Since to me, wretched, nothing else is left).
By our marriage tie, our nuptial rites begun.
If any favor I deserved of thee,
Or if in anything I have been sweet
And dear to thee, pity this falling house!
I do beseech thee, if there yet be room
For entreaty, change, ah, change that fixed intent!
[tr. Cranch (1872), l. 406ff]

Fliest thou from me? me who by these tears and thine own hand beseech thee, since naught else, alas! have I kept mine own—by our union and the marriage rites preparing; if I have done thee any grace, or aught of mine hath once been sweet in thy sight,—pity our sinking house, and if there yet be room for prayers, put off this purpose of thine.
[tr. Mackail (1885)]

Yea, me thou fleest. O by these tears, by that right hand of thine,
Since I myself have left myself unhappy nought but this,
And by our bridal of that day and early wedding bliss,
If ever I were worthy thanks, if sweet in aught I were,
Pity a falling house! If yet be left a space for prayer,
O then I pray thee put away this mind of evil things!
[tr. Morris (1900)]

"Me dost thou fly? O, by these tears, thy hand
Late pledged, since madness leaves me naught beside,
By lovers' vows and wedlock's sacred band,
Scarce knit and now too soon to be untied;
If aught were pleasing in a new-won bride,
If sweet the memory of our marriage day,
O by these prayers -- if place for prayer abide --
In mercy put that cruel mind away.
Pity a falling house, now hastening to decay.
[tr. Taylor (1907), st. 40, l. 352ff]

Is it from me
thou takest flight? O, by these flowing tears,
by thine own plighted word (for nothing more
my weakness left to miserable me),
by our poor marriage of imperfect vow,
if aught to me thou owest, if aught in me
ever have pleased thee -- O, be merciful
to my low-fallen fortunes! I implore,
if place be left for prayer, thy purpose change!
[tr. Williams (1910)]

From me dost thou flee? By these tears and thy right hand, I pray thee -- since naught else, alas! have I left myself -- by our marriage, by the wedlock begun, if ever I deserved well of thee, or if aught of mine has been sweet in thy sight, pity a falling house, and if yet there be any room for prayers, put away this purpose of thine.
[tr. Fairclough (1916)]

I am the one you flee from: true? I beg you
By my own tears, and your right hand -- (I have nothing
Else left my wretchedness) -- by the beginnings
Of marriage, wedlock, what we had, if ever
I served you well, if anything of mine
Was ever sweet to you, I beg you, pity
A falling house; if there is room for pleading
As late as this, I plead, put off that purpose.
[tr. Humphries (1951)]

Am I your reason for going? By these tears, by the hand you gave me --
They are all I have left, today, in my misery -- I implore you,
And by our union of hearts, by our marriage hardly begun,
If I have ever helped you at all, if anything
About me pleased you, be sad for our broken home, forgo
Your purpose, I beg you, unless it's too late for prayers of mine!
[tr. Day Lewis (1952)]

Do you flee me? By tears, by your right hand --
This sorry self is left with nothing else --
by wedding, by the marriage we began,
if I did anything deserving of you
or anything of mine was sweet to you,
take pity on a fallen house, put off
your plan, I pray -- if there is still place for prayers.
[tr. Mandelbaum (1971), l. 422ff]

Do you go to get away from me? I beg you,
By these tears, by your own right hand, since I
Have left my wretched self nothing but that --
Yes, by the marriage that we entered on,
If ever I did well and you were grateful
Or found some sweetness in a gift from me,
Have pity now on a declining house!
Put this plan by, I beg you, if a prayer
Is not yet out of place.
[tr. Fitzgerald (1981), l. 429ff]

Is it me you are running away from? I beg you, by these tears, by the pledge you gave me with your own right hand -- I hav enothing else left me now in my misery -- I beg you by our union, by the marriage we have begun -- if I have deserved any kindness from you, if you have ever loved anything about me, pity my house that is falling around me, and I implore you, if it is not too late for prayers, give up this plan of yours.
[tr. West (1990)]

Is it me you are fleeing?
By these tears, I beg you, by your right hand,
Which is all I have left, by your wedding vows,
Still so fresh -- if I have ever done anything
To deserve your thanks, if there is anything in me
That you found sweet, pity a house destined to fall,
And if there is still room for prayers, I beg you,
Please change your mind.
[tr. Lombardo (2005)]

Is it me you run from? Byu my tears and your promise (nothing else is left me in my grief), by our wedding, by the marriage we've begun, if I deserve anything from you, if you found me at all pleasing, pity my poor home, I beg, if there's still time to beg.
[tr. Bartsch (2021)]

Added on 27-Jul-22 | Last updated 27-Jul-22
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Whom the gods wish to destroy, they first call promising. Young writers if they are to mature require a period of between three and seven years in which to live down their promise. Promise is like the mediaeval hangman who after settling the noose, pushed his victim off the platform and jumped on his back, his weight acting a drop while his jockeying arms prevented the unfortunate from loosening the rope. When he judged him dead he dropped to the ground.

Cyril Connolly (1903-1974) English intellectual, literary critic and writer.
Enemies of Promise, Part 2, ch. 13 “The Poppies” (1938)
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Added on 12-Apr-22 | Last updated 12-Apr-22
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Dearer is love than life, and fame than gold;
But dearer than them both, your faith once plighted hold.

Edmund Spenser (c. 1552-1599) English poet
The Faerie Queene, Book 5, Canto 11, st. 63 (1589-96)
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Added on 27-Jul-20 | Last updated 27-Jul-20
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Men of all degrees should form this prudent habit:
Never serve a rabbit stew before you catch the rabbit.

James Thurber (1894-1961) American cartoonist and writer
“Ivory, Apes, and People,” Further Fables for Our Time (1956)
Added on 24-Apr-20 | Last updated 24-Apr-20
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Nobody ever knows the whole truth. That’s why promises mean something. Otherwise they’d be too easy, don’t you see? We look toward the unknown future and promise to be faithful no matter what comes.

Claudia Gray (contemp.) American writer [pseud. of Amy Vincent]
Lost Stars (2015)
Added on 27-Feb-17 | Last updated 27-Feb-17
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Every civilization rests on a set of promises: moral promises about how to behave toward each other, physical promises about how to use our economic system. If the promises are broken too often, the civilization dies, no matter how rich it may be, or how mechanically clever. Hope and faith depend upon promises; if hope and faith go, everything goes.

Herbert Agar (1897-1980) American journalist and historian
(Attributed)
Added on 23-Nov-16 | Last updated 23-Nov-16
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I believe that the present suffering is nothing compared to the coming glory that is going to be revealed to us. The whole creation waits breathless with anticipation for the revelation of God’s sons and daughters. Creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice — it was the choice of the one who subjected it — but in the hope that the creation itself will be set free from slavery to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of God’s children. We know that the whole creation is groaning together and suffering labor pains up until now. And it’s not only the creation. We ourselves who have the Spirit as the first crop of the harvest also groan inside as we wait to be adopted and for our bodies to be set free. We were saved in hope. If we see what we hope for, that isn’t hope. Who hopes for what they already see? But if we hope for what we don’t see, we wait for it with patience.

The Bible (14th C BC - 2nd C AD) Christian sacred scripture
Romans 8:18-25
Added on 25-Feb-15 | Last updated 25-Feb-15
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You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do.

Henry Ford (1863-1947) American industrialist
(Attributed)
Added on 24-Jul-13 | Last updated 17-Jun-16
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Promise Little, and do Much; so shalt thou have Thanks.

Thomas Fuller (1654-1734) English writer, physician
Introductio ad Prudentiam, # 111 (1725)
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Added on 14-Nov-12 | Last updated 26-Jan-21
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Vows made in Storms are forgot in Calms.

Thomas Fuller (1654-1734) English writer, physician
Gnomologia: Adages and Proverbs, #5408 (1732)
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Added on 31-Oct-12 | Last updated 26-Jan-21
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Promises may get Friends, but ’tis Performances that keep them.

Thomas Fuller (1654-1734) English writer, physician
Gnomologia: Adages and Proverbs, #3957 (1732)
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Added on 23-Oct-12 | Last updated 26-Jan-21
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What’s the good of being forgiven, if I have to promise not to do it again?

Ashleigh Brilliant (b. 1933) Anglo-American writer, epigramist, cartoonist
Pot-Shots, #1175
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 13-Nov-20
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