Quotations about:
    retribution


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The guest who deliberately wounds his Host strikes a Manacled Man.

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Minna Antrim (1861-1950) American epigrammatist, writer
Don’ts for Bachelors and Old Maids (1908)
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Added on 19-Nov-21 | Last updated 19-Nov-21
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No one heals himself by wounding another.

St. Ambrose (339-397) Roman prelate, Bishop of Milan [Aurelius Ambrosius]
(Attributed)
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Added on 29-Dec-20 | Last updated 29-Dec-20
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Never strike a king unless you are sure you shall kill him.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
Journal (Sep. 1843)
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In addition to the noted source, see also here. However, according to the reliable Ralph Keyes, the quotation is spurious. Keyes also suggests an inspiration from the 17th Century English proverb, "Whosoever draws his sword against the prince must throw the scabbard away."

A variant, "When you strike at a king you must kill him," is attributed to Emerson by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., in Max Lerner, The Mind and Faith of Justice Holmes (1943).
 
Added on 31-Jul-18 | Last updated 31-Jul-18
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KARMA’S A BITCH. No, let me rephrase that: Karma is your vengeful bunny-boiler ex, lurking in your darkened front hallway wearing an ice-hockey mask and carrying a baseball bat inscribed with BET YOU DIDN’T SEE THIS COMING.

Charles "Charlie" Stross (b. 1964) British writer
The Rhesus Chart (2014)
 
Added on 23-May-17 | Last updated 23-May-17
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If people were always kind and obedient to those who are cruel and unjust; the wicked people would have it all their own way: they would never feel afraid, and so they would never alter, but would grow worse and worse. When we are struck at without a reason, we should strike back again very hard; I am sure we should — so hard as to teach the person who struck us never to do it again.

Charlotte Brontë (1816-1855) British novelist [pseud. Currer Bell]
Jane Eyre, ch. 6 [Jane] (1847)
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Added on 21-Apr-17 | Last updated 21-Apr-17
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We must meet hate with love. We must meet physical force with soul force. There is still a voice crying out through the vista of time, saying: “Love your enemies , bless them that curse you, pray for them that despitefully use you.” Then, and only then, can you matriculate into the university of eternal life. That same voice cries out in terms lifted to cosmic proportions: “He who lives by the sword will perish by the sword.” And history is replete with the bleached bones of nations that failed to follow this command. We must follow nonviolence and love.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, social activist, preacher
“Give Us the Ballot,” Speech, Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom, Washington, DC (1957)
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Added on 20-Jan-17 | Last updated 20-Jan-17
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Treachery and violence are spears pointed at both ends — they wound those who resort to them worse than their enemies.

Emily Brontë (1818-1848) British novelist, poet [pseud. Ellis Bell]
Wuthering Heights, ch. 17 [Isabella Linton] (1847)
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Added on 5-Jan-17 | Last updated 5-Jan-17
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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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Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing.

Robert E. Howard (1906-1936) American author
“The Tower of the Elephant” (1933)
 
Added on 26-Feb-16 | Last updated 26-Feb-16
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What has occurred in this case must ever recur in similar cases. Human nature will not change. In any future great national trial, compared with the men of this, we shall have as weak and as strong, as silly and as wise, as bad and as good. Let us, therefore, study the incidents of this, as philosophy to learn wisdom from, and none of them as wrongs to be revenged.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
Speech, Washington, DC (10 Nov 1964)
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Added on 4-May-15 | Last updated 4-May-15
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We should be wanting to ourselves, we should be perfidious to posterity, we should be unworthy that free ancestry from which we derive our descent, should we submit with folded arms to military butchery & depredation ….

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) American political philosopher, polymath, statesman, US President (1801-09)
“Declaration of the Causes and Necessity for Taking Up Arms” (6 Jul 1775) [with John Dickinson]
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Final draft as approved by the Continental Congress.
 
Added on 31-Mar-15 | Last updated 4-Jul-22
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Mistrust all in whom the urge to punish is strong!

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) German philosopher and poet
Thus Spoke Zarathustra, “Of the Tarantulas” (1892) [tr. Hollingdale (1961)]
 
Added on 24-Mar-15 | Last updated 24-Mar-15
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It is an open question whether any behavior based on fear of eternal punishment can be regarded as ethical or should be regarded as merely cowardly.

Margaret Mead (1901-1978) American anthropologist
(Attributed)

Quoted in Redbook (Feb 1971)
 
Added on 18-Sep-14 | Last updated 18-Sep-14
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He who has injured thee was either stronger or weaker than thee. If weaker, spare him; if stronger, spare thyself.

Seneca the Younger (c. 4 BC-AD 65) Roman statesman, philosopher, playwright [Lucius Annaeus Seneca]
Moral Essays, “On Anger [De ira],” 3
 
Added on 24-Jan-14 | Last updated 24-Jan-14
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Passion and anger are the causes of acts of revenge. But there is a difference between revenge and punishment; the latter is inflicted in the interest of the sufferer, the former in the interest of him who inflicts it, that he may obtain satisfaction.

[διὰ θυμὸν δὲ καὶ ὀργὴν τὰ τιμωρητικά. διαφέρει δὲ τιμωρία καὶ κόλασις: ἡ μὲν γὰρ κόλασις τοῦ πάσχοντος ἕνεκά ἐστιν, ἡ δὲ τιμωρία τοῦ ποιοῦντος, ἵνα πληρωθῇ.]

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Rhetoric [Ῥητορική; Ars Rhetorica], Book 1, ch. 10, sec. 16-17 (1.10.16) / 1369b (350 BC) [tr. Roberts (1924)]
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(Source (Greek)). Alternate translations:

In feeling and anger originate acts of revenge. Now punishment and revenge differ; for punishment is inflicted for the sake of him that suffers it; but revenge for the sake of him that deals it, in order that he may be satisfied.
[Source (1847)]

Through the medium of anger and excited feeling arise acts of vengeance. Now, between revenge and punishment there is a difference; for punishment is for the sake of the sufferer, but revenge for that of the person inflicting it, in order that he may be satiated.
[tr. Buckley (1850)]

The acts done through passion and anger are acts of retribution. There is a difference between retribution and chastisement; chastisement being inflicted for the sake of the patient, retribution for the satisfaction of the agent.
[tr. Jebb (1873)]

Passion and anger are the causes of acts of revenge. But there is a difference between revenge and punishment; the latter is inflicted in the interest of the sufferer, the former in the interest of him who inflicts it, that he may obtain satisfaction.
[tr. Freese (1926)]

Passion and anger are responsible for acts of retaliation. Retaliation and punishment are different: one punishes for the sake of the person being punished, but one retaliates for one's own sake, to obtain satisfaction.
[tr. Bartlett (2019)]

 
Added on 30-Oct-13 | Last updated 1-Feb-22
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Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction […] The chain reaction of evil — hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars — must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, social activist, preacher
Strength To Love, ch. 5 “Loving Your Enemies,” sec. 2 (1963)
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See also this.
 
Added on 20-Apr-12 | Last updated 16-Jan-23
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Kindness, nobler ever than revenge.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
As You Like It, Act 4, sc. 3, l. 135 [Oliver] (1599)
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Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 27-Jun-22
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Rabbi Jannai said: “It is beyond our power to explain either the prosperity of the wicked or the afflictions of the righteous.”

The Talmud (AD 200-500) Collection of Jewish rabbinical writings
The Mishnah (c. AD 200)
 
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 12-Jul-16
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Miss Manners’ meager arsenal consists only of the withering look, the insistent and repeated request, the cold voice, the report up the chain of command, and the tilted nose. Also the ability to dismiss inferior behavior from her mind as coming from inferior people. You will perhaps point out that she will never know the joy of delivering a well-deserved sock in the chops. True — but she will never inspire one either.

Judith Martin (b. 1938) American author, journalist [a.k.a. Miss Manners]
“Miss Manners,” syndicated column (18 May 1980)
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Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 23-Mar-17
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A man that studieth revenge keeps his own wounds green, which otherwise would heal and do well.

Francis Bacon (1561-1626) English philosopher, scientist, author, statesman
“Of Revenge,” Essays, No. 4 (1625)
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Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 25-Mar-22
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