Quotations about   secrets

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Fear is a prison. But when you combine it with secrets, it becomes especially toxic, vicious. It puts us all into solitary, unable to hear one another clearly.

Jim Butcher (b. 1971) American author
Peace Talks (2020)
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Added on 21-Mar-22 | Last updated 21-Mar-22
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Listen to me, Eumaeus and all of you.
I am going to boast and tell you a story. This is the effect of wine —
it makes people do crazy things; it sets the wisest man
singing and giggling stupidly; it lures him on to dance
and it makes him blurt out what’s better left unsaid.

[κέκλυθι νῦν, Εὔμαιε καὶ ἄλλοι πάντες ἑταῖροι,
εὐξάμενός τι ἔπος ἐρέω: οἶνος γὰρ ἀνώγει
ἠλεός, ὅς τ᾽ ἐφέηκε πολύφρονά περ μάλ᾽ ἀεῖσαι
καί θ᾽ ἁπαλὸν γελάσαι, καί τ᾽ ὀρχήσασθαι ἀνῆκε,
καί τι ἔπος προέηκεν ὅ περ τ᾽ ἄρρητον ἄμεινον.]

Homer (fl. 7th-8th C. BC) Greek author
The Odyssey [Ὀδύσσεια], Book 14, l. 462ff (14.462) [Odysseus] (c. 700 BC) [tr. DCH Rieu (2002)]
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(Source (Greek)). Alternate translations:

Hear me, Eumæus, and my other friends,
I’ll use a speech that to my glory tends,
Since I have drunk wine past my usual guise.
Strong wine commands the fool and moves the wise,
Moves and impels him too to sing and dance,
And break in pleasant laughters, and, perchance,
Prefer a speech too that were better in.
[tr. Chapman (1616)]

Hear me, Eumæus, says he, and you folk,
I have a tale to tell. This foolish wine
To laugh and dance is able to provoke
Grave men sometimes that have no such design,
And to speak that which better were unspoke.
[tr. Hobbes (1675), l. 448ff]

Hear me, my friends! who this good banquet grace;
'Tis sweet to play the fool in time and place,
And wine can of their wits the wise beguile,
Make the sage frolic, and the serious smile,
The grave in merry measures frisk about,
And many a long-repented word bring out.
[tr. Pope (1725)]

Hear now, Eumæus, and ye other swains
His fellow-lab’rers! I shall somewhat boast,
By wine befool’d, which forces ev’n the wise
To carol loud, to titter and to dance,
And words to utter, oft, better suppress’d.
[tr. Cowper (1792), l. 567ff]

Hear now, Eumæus, and thy comrades all!
I speak for glory, since by wine made bold
Often to singing even the wise will fall,
Light laughter and the dance, nor can withhold
Words that in sooth were better far untold.
[tr. Worsley (1861), st. 59]

Hear, now, the words,
Eumaeus! and all you who with him serve!
To which, although to vaunt I may appear,
I must give utt'rance; for that crazing wine
Has set me on, which oft the wisest man
Ere now hat stirr'd up into noisy song,
or into burst of friv'lous laughter thrown,
Nay, even rous'd to dancing, or some speech
Impulsive prompted, which 'twere better far
Had ne'er been utter'd.
[tr. Musgrave (1869), l. 772ff]

Now list! Eumæus! and ye comrades all!
I'll glory somewhat in the tale I'll tell you;
For crazy wine urges me on to speak,
Which e'en a sage hat set to noisy singing;
And urged the shy to laughter loud and dancing;
And uttered words far better left unsaid!
[tr. Bigge-Wither (1869)]

Listen now, Eumaeus, and all of you his companions, with a prayer will I utter my word; so bids me witless wine, which drives even the wisest to sing and to laugh softly, and rouses him to dance, yea and makes him to speak out a word which were better unspoken.
[tr. Butcher/Lang (1879)]

Now hearken ye, Eumæus, and all our fellows here,
And a boasting word will I say; for befooling wine is strong
Within me: he who eggeth e'en the wise to raise the song
And laugh out softly, and dance for very lustihead,
And to say the word, it may be, that were better left unsaid.
[tr. Morris (1887)]

Hearken, Eumaeus, and all you other men, and I will boast a bit and tell a story; for crazy wine so bids, which sets a man, even if wise, to skinging loud and laughing lightly, and makes him dance and brings out stories really better left untold.
[tr. Palmer (1891)]

Listen to me, Eumæus and the rest of you; when I have said a prayer I will tell you something. It is the wine that makes me talk in this way; wine will make even a wise man fall to singing; it will make him chuckle and dance and say many a word that he had better leave unspoken
[tr. Butler (1898)]

Listen to me now, Eumaios and all you other companions [hetairoi]! Speaking proudly, I will tell you a wording [epos]. The wine, which sets me loose, is telling me to do so. Wine impels even the thinking man to sing and to laugh softly. And it urges him on to dance. It even prompts an epos that may be better left unsaid.
[tr. Butler (1898), rev. Kim/McCray/Nagy/Power (2018)]

Hear me now, Eumaeus and all the rest of you, his men, with a wish in my heart will I tell a tale; for the wine bids me, befooling wine, which sets one, even though he be right wise, to singing and laughing softly, and makes him stand up and dance, aye, and brings forth a word which were better unspoken.
[tr. Murray (1919)]

Hear me now, O Eumaeus and you others, while I let myself go as your wine's intoxication tempts me. Drink will set the most solid man singing or giggling with laughter; if indeed it does not push him forward to dance or make him blurt out something better left unsaid.
[tr. Lawrence (1932)]

Listen to me, Eumaeus and you men of his. I am going to put a wish of mine into the form of a story. This is the effect of your wine -- for wine is a crazy thing. It sets the wisest man singing and giggling like a girl; it lures him on to dance and it makes him blurt out what were better left unsaid.
[tr. Rieu (1946)]

Eumaios, and you others, here's a wishful
tale I shall tell. The wine's behind it,
vaporing wine, that makes a serious man
break down and sing, kick up his heels and clown,
or tell some story that were best untold.
[tr. Fitzgerald (1961)]

Hear me now, Eumaios and all you other companions.
What I say will be a bit of boasting. The mad wine tells me
to do it. Wine sets even a thoughtful man to singing,
or sets him into softly laughing, sets him to dancing.
Sometimes it tosses out a word that was better unspoken.
[tr. Lattimore (1965)]

Listen, Eumaeus, and all you comrades here,
allow me to sing my praises for a moment.
Say it's the wine that leads me on, the wild wine
that sets the wisest man to sing at the top of his lungs,
laugh like a fool -- it drives the man to dancing ... it even
tempts him to blurt out stories better never told.
[tr. Fagles (1996)]

Hear me now, Eumaeus, and the rest of you men,
While I boast a little. It must be the wine
Befuddling me, which gets even sensible men
Singing and laughing and up to dance,
And sometimes say things better left unsaid.
[tr. Lombardo (2000), l. 500ff]

Eumaeus and you others, all of you, I want to brag a little. I am dizzy, under the influence fo wine, which makes even the wisest people sing and giggle, and dance, and say things best not spoken.
[tr. Wilson (2017), l. 461ff]

Hear me out now, Eumaios, and you, all his other comrades, while I tell you a boastful story. It's the wine that's urging me -- mind-crazing stuff, that sets on even the quick-witted to singing and gentle laughter, drives him to get up and dance, or make some remark better left unspoken.
[tr. Green (2018)]

Eumaeus and you others, his work mates,
hear me now -- I wish to tell a story,
prompted by this wine, which addles our wits.
Wine can make a man, even though he’s wise,
sing out loud, or laugh softly to himself,
or leap up and dance. It can bring out words
which were better left unspoken.
[tr. Johnston (2019), l. 601ff]

 
Added on 14-Jul-21 | Last updated 29-Dec-21
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It is so much easier to tell intimate things in the dark.

William McFee (1881-1966) English writer
Casuals of the Sea, Book 1, ch. 4 (1916)
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Added on 4-Jun-21 | Last updated 4-Jun-21
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For virtue, not secrecy, is sought by good men.

[Honesta enim bonis viris, non occulta quaeruntur.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
De Officiis [On Duties; On Moral Duty; The Offices], Book 3, ch. 9 (3.9) / sec. 38 (44 BC) [tr. Edmonds (1865)]
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(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

For good men desire to be virtuous and honest, and not to be secret, that so they may sin without danger.
[tr. Cockman (1699)]

What is honorable, and not what is concealed, is the object of pursuit with wise men.
[tr. McCartney (1798)]

For it is right things, not hidden things, that are sought by good men.
[tr. Peabody (1883)]

The good man seeks to do what is right, not to hide what he does.
[tr. Gardiner (1899)]

For good men aim to secure not secrecy but the right.
[tr. Miller (1913)]

Good men seek right conduct, not conduct that has to remain concealed.
[tr. Edinger (1974)]

Honorable things, not secretive things, are sought by good men.

 
Added on 2-Nov-20 | Last updated 8-Sep-22
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There are a lot of things we don’t want to know about the people we love.

Chuck Palahniuk (b. 1962) American novelist and freelance journalist
Fight Club ch. 13 (1996)
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Added on 21-Jul-20 | Last updated 21-Jul-20
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Lesson to the Indiscreet: They who say all they think, and tell all they know, put others on their guard and prevent themselves from being told anything of consequence.

Horace Walpole (1717-1797) English novelist, letter writer
A Note Book of Horace Walpole, “1781” (1927)
 
Added on 12-Apr-17 | Last updated 12-Apr-17
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Don’t express your ideas too clearly. Most people think little of what they understand, and venerate what they do not.

[No allanarse sobrado en el concepto. Los más no estiman lo que entienden, lo que no perciben lo veneran. Las cosas, para que se estiman, han de costar; será celebrado cuando no fuese entendido.]

Baltasar Gracián y Morales (1601-1658) Spanish Jesuit priest, writer, philosopher
The Art of Worldly Wisdom [Oráculo Manual y Arte de Prudencia], § 253 (1647) [tr. Maurer (1982)]


Alt. trans.: "Do not Explain overmuch. Most men do not esteem what they understand, and venerate what they do not see. ... Many praise a thing without being able to tell why, if asked. The reason is that they venerate the unknown as a mystery, and praise it because they hear it praised." [tr. Jacobs (1892)]
 
Added on 31-Mar-17 | Last updated 4-Apr-22
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That is what trust is, you know: if we never had secrets from our friends and loved ones, there would never be any need for them to trust us.

Steven Brust (b. 1955) American writer, systems programmer
Orca [Kiera] (1996)
 
Added on 30-Jul-16 | Last updated 30-Jul-16
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Many men and many women enjoy popular esteem, not because they are known, but because they are not.

Nicolas Chamfort (1741-1794) French writer, epigrammist (b. Nicolas-Sébastien Roch)
(Attributed)
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Attributed in Maturin M. Ballou, Notable Thoughts About Women, #3144 (1882).
 
Added on 27-Apr-16 | Last updated 27-Apr-16
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Your silence will not protect you.

Audre Lorde (1934-1992) American writer, feminist, civil rights activist
“The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action,” The Cancer Journals (1980)
 
Added on 7-Mar-16 | Last updated 7-Mar-16
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The secret demerits of which we alone, perhaps, are conscious, are often more difficult to bear than those which have been publicly censured in us, and thus in some degree atoned for.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) American poet
Kavanagh: A Tale, ch. 30 (1849)
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Added on 14-Apr-15 | Last updated 16-Apr-21
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There’re things we keep hidden from one another. Things we hide from ourselves. Things that are kept hidden from us. And things no one knows. You always learn the damnedest things at the worst possible times.

Jim Butcher (b. 1971) American author
Changes (2010)
 
Added on 30-Sep-14 | Last updated 30-Sep-14
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