Quotations about   self-preservation

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No shame in running,
fleeing disaster, even in pitch darkness.
Better to flee from death than feel its grip.

[Οὐ γάρ τις νέμεσις φυγέειν κακόν, οὐδ’ ἀνὰ νύκτα.
βέλτερον ὃς φεύγων προφύγῃ κακὸν ἠὲ ἁλώῃ.]

Homer (fl. 7th-8th C. BC) Greek author
The Iliad, Book 14, l. 80ff [Agamemnon] (c. 750 BC) [tr. Fagles (1990), l. 96ff]
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Original Greek. Alternate translations:

Better from evils, well foreseen, to run
Than perish in the danger we may shun.
[tr. Pope (1715-20)]

For there is no disgrace in flying from evil, not even during the night. It is better for a flying man to escape from evil, than to be taken.
[tr. Buckley (1860)]

For there is no shame in fleeing from ruin, yea, even in the night. Better doth he fare who flees from trouble, than he that is overtaken.
[tr. Leaf/Lang/Myers (1891)]

There is nothing wrong in flying ruin even by night. It is better for a man that he should fly and be saved than be caught and killed.
[tr. Butler (1898)]

There is no shame in running, even by night, from disaster.
The man does better who runs from disaster than he who is caught by it.
[tr. Lattimore (1951)]

There's no disgrace in getting away from ruin, not by a night retirement. Better a man should leave the worst behind him than be caught.
[tr. Fitzgerald (1974)]
Added on 14-Jan-21 | Last updated 14-Jan-21
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The disturbing factor in the success of totalitarianism is rather the true selflessness of its adherents: it may be understandable that a Nazi or Bolshevik will not be shaken in his conviction by crimes against people who do not belong to the movement or are even hostile to it; but the amazing fact is that neither is he likely to waver when the monster begins to devour its own children, and not even if he becomes a victim of persecution himself, if he is framed and condemned, if he is purged from the party and sent to a forced-labor or concentration camp. On the contrary, to the wonder of the whole civilized world, he may even be willing to help in his own prosecution and frame his own death sentence if only his status as a member of the movement is not touched.

Hannah Arendt (1906-1975) German-American philosopher, political theorist
The Origins of Totalitarianism, Part 3, ch. 1, sec. 1 (1951)
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Added on 9-Jun-20 | Last updated 9-Jun-20
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The paradox of courage is that a man must be a little careless of his life even in order to keep it.

Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936) English journalist and writer
All Things Considered, “The Methuselahite” (1908)
Added on 20-Feb-12 | Last updated 12-Oct-17
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To those peoples in the huts and villages of half the globe struggling to break the bonds of mass misery, we pledge our best efforts to help them help themselves, for whatever period is required — not because the communists may be doing it, not because we seek their votes, but because it is right. If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Inaugural Address (20 Jan 1961)
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Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 29-Mar-17
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To condemn spontaneous and delightful occupations because they are useless for self-preservation shows an uncritical prizing of life regardless of its contents.

George Santayana (1863-1952) Spanish-American poet and philosopher [Jorge Agustín Nicolás Ruíz de Santayana y Borrás]
The Sense of Beauty, Part 1 “The Nature of Beauty,” sec. 4 “Work and Play” (1896)
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Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 16-Mar-20
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