Quotations about:
    shame


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I was ashamed of myself when i realized life was a costume party; and I attended with my real face.

Franz Kafka (1883-1924) Czech-Austrian Jewish writer
(Attributed)

Widely cited to Kafka, but a search has found no actual sourcing for the quotation. I consider it dubious.
 
Added on 3-Jan-23 | Last updated 3-Jan-23
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The vices of which we are full we carefully hide from others, and we flatter ourselves with the notion that they are small and trivial; we sometimes even embrace them as virtues.

John Calvin
John Calvin (1509-1564) French theologian and reformer
The Institutes of Christian Religion [Institutio Christianae Religionis], Book 3, ch. 7, sec. 4 (1541) [tr. Van Andel (1952)]
    (Source)

Also reprinted in an extract as The Christian Life [De Vita Hominis Christiani], or, in the case of the Van Andel translation, Golden Booklet of the True Christian Life, ch. 2, sec. 4, subsec. 2.

The vices in which we abound, we sedulously conceal from others, and flatter ourselves with the pretence that they are diminutive and trivial, and even sometimes embrace them as virtues.
[Source (1813)]

The very vices that infest us we take pains to hide from others, while we flatter ourselves with the pretense that they are slight and insignificant, and even sometimes embrace them as virtues.
[Source (1984)]

The vices with which we abound we both carefully conceal from others, and flatteringly represent to ourselves as minute and trivial, no, sometimes hug them as virtues.
[tr. Beveridge (2008)]

 
Added on 26-Dec-22 | Last updated 26-Dec-22
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Hey, you know something people?
I’m not black
but there’s a whole lots a times
I wish I could say I’m not white.

Frank Zappa (1940-1993) American singer-songwriter
“Trouble Every Day” (1965)
    (Source)

Zappa wrote the song during the Watts Riots of August 1966. It was released (as "Trouble Comin' Every Day") by Zappa's group, "The Mothers of Invention," on their debut album, Freak Out! in 1966.
 
Added on 13-Dec-22 | Last updated 13-Dec-22
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The existence of inequality exposes everyone to the risk of being inferior, which in turn stimulates aggressive competition to inflict the inferior status on others (such as by enslaving, impoverishing, or degrading them). In other words, inequality stimulates shame and shame stimulates inequality; shame stimulates violence and violence stimulates shame; inequality leads to violence and violence leads to inequality.

James Gilligan (b. c. 1936) American psychiatrist and author
Preventing Violence, ch. 2 (2001)
    (Source)
 
Added on 6-Sep-22 | Last updated 6-Sep-22
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What is at issue here is relative poverty, not absolute poverty. Inferiority is a relative concept. When everyone is poor together, there is no shame in being poor. As Marx said, it is not living in a hovel that causes people to feel ashamed, it is living in a hovel next to a palace. And as he also said, shame is the emotion of revolution, i.e. of violence. But one does not have to be a Marxist, or subscribe to everything he said (and I do not), in order to see how correct his insight was.

James Gilligan (b. c. 1936) American psychiatrist and author
Preventing Violence, ch. 5 (2001)
    (Source)
 
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I have yet to see a serious act of violence that was not provoked by the experience of feeling shamed or humiliated, disrespected and ridiculed.

James Gilligan (b. c. 1936) American psychiatrist and author
Interview in Jon Ronson, So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, ch. 13 (2015)
    (Source)
 
Added on 26-Jul-22 | Last updated 26-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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Pure Valour, if there were any such thing, would consist in the doing of that without witnesses, which it were able to do, if all the world were to be spectators thereof.

[La pure valeur (s’il y en avait) serait de faire sans témoins ce qu’on est capable de faire devant le monde.]

François VI, duc de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) French epigrammatist, memoirist, noble
Réflexions ou sentences et maximes morales [Maxims], ¶216 (1665-1678) [tr. Davies (1669), ¶97]
    (Source)

(Source (French, 1665 ed., ¶229)). In the final edition (1678, ¶216), the original French had been modified to:

La parfaite valeur est de faire sans témoins ce qu’on seroit capable de faire devant tout le monde.

Alternate translations:

True Valour would do all that, when alone, that it could do, if all the World were by.
[tr. Stanhope (1694), ¶217]

Perfect valour consists in doing without witnesses all we should be capable of doing before the whole world.
[pub. Donaldson (1783), ¶431]

Perfect valour consists in doing, without witness, all that we should be capable of doing before the whole world.
[ed. Carville (1835), ¶367]

Perfect valor is to do unwitnessed what we should be capable of doing before all the world.
[ed. Gowens (1851), ¶225]

Perfect valour is to do without witnesses what one would do before all the world.
[tr. Bund/Friswell (1871)]

Perfect valor accomplishes without witnesses what anyone could do before the eyes of the world.
[tr. Heard (1917), ¶221]

Perfect courage consists in doing unobserved what what we could do in the eyes of the world.
[tr. Stevens (1939)]

Perfect valour is to behave, without witnesses, as one would act were all the world watching.
[tr. FitzGibbon (1957)]

Perfect courage means doing unwitnessed what we would be capable of with the world looking on.
[tr. Kronenberger (1959)]

Perfect valour consists in doing without witnesses what one would be capable of doing before the world at large.
[tr Tancock (1959)]

Perfect courage is to do without witnesses what one would do before all the world.
[tr. Whichello (2016)]

Perfect courage is to do without witnesses what one would be capable of doing with the world looking on.
[Source]

 
Added on 15-Jul-22 | Last updated 15-Jul-22
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The most dangerous men on earth are those who are afraid that they are wimps.

James Gilligan (b. c. 1936) American psychiatrist and author
Violence: Reflections on a National Epidemic, ch. 3 (1997)
    (Source)
 
Added on 12-Jul-22 | Last updated 12-Jul-22
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Few love to hear the sins they love to act.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
Pericles, Act 1, sc. 1, l. 95 [Pericles] (1607) [with George Wilkins]
    (Source)
 
Added on 3-Nov-21 | Last updated 29-Jun-22
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To jest at physical deformities is to prove Yourself Unfit to breathe the air of Decency.

No picture available
Minna Antrim (1861-1950) American epigrammatist, writer
Don’ts for Bachelors and Old Maids (1908)
    (Source)
 
Added on 29-Oct-21 | Last updated 29-Oct-21
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Nothing I accept about myself can be used against me to diminish me.

Audre Lorde (1934-1992) American writer, feminist, civil rights activist
“Eye to Eye: Black Women, Hatred, and Anger,” Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches (1984)
    (Source)
 
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Men are willing to keep their evil characters if they can but get rid of their evil reputations. They are scrupulously studious of appearances.

Frank W. Boreham (1871-1959) Anglo-Australian preacher
“The Leopard’s Skin,” sec. 4, The Three Half-Moons (1929)
    (Source)
 
Added on 20-Jul-21 | Last updated 20-Jul-21
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There are crimes I don’t commit mainly because I don’t want to find out I could.

James Richardson (b. 1950) American poet
Vectors: Aphorisms and Ten-Second Essays #124 (2001)
    (Source)
 
Added on 13-Jul-21 | Last updated 13-Jul-21
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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)
    (Source)
 
Added on 3-Jun-21 | Last updated 10-Mar-22
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Throughout our nervous history, we have constructed pyramidic towers of evil, ofttimes in the name of good. Our greed, fear and lasciviousness have enabled us to murder our poets, who are ourselves, to castigate our priests, who are ourselves. The lists of our subversions of the good stretch from before recorded history to this moment. We drop our eyes at the mention of the bloody, torturous Inquisition. Our shoulders sag at the thoughts of African slaves lying spoon-­fashion in the filthy hatches of slave-ships, and the subsequent auction blocks upon which were built great fortunes in our country. We turn our heads in bitter shame at the remembrance of Dachau and the other gas ovens, where millions of ourselves were murdered by millions of ourselves. As soon as we are reminded of our actions, more often than not we spend incredible energy trying to forget what we’ve just been reminded of.

Maya Angelou (1928-2014) American poet, memoirist, activist [b. Marguerite Ann Johnson]
“Facing Evil,” Interview by Bill Moyers (1982)
    (Source)
 
Added on 30-Apr-21 | Last updated 30-Apr-21
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Lots of people would be as cowardly as me if they were brave enough.

Terry Pratchett (1948-2015) English author
The Last Hero (2001)

See also Fuller.
 
Added on 16-Mar-21 | Last updated 16-Mar-21
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Shame is not of his soul; nor understood,
The greatest evil and the greatest good.

[οὐδέ οἱ αἰδὼς
γίγνεται, ἥ τ᾽ ἄνδρας μέγα σίνεται ἠδ᾽ ὀνίνησι.]

Homer (fl. 7th-8th C. BC) Greek author
The Iliad [Ἰλιάς], Book 24, l. 44ff (24.44) [Apollo] (c. 750 BC) [tr. Pope (1715-20)]
    (Source)

Speaking of Achilles' mistreatment of Hector's corpse. Pope footnotes: "This is obscure. The original is, 'He has no shame, shame which harms men much, and profits them much.' Dr. Leat, following an ancient critic, thinks the passage an interpolation."

Alternate translations:

And shame, a quality
Of so much weight, that both it helps and hurts excessively
Men in their manners, is not known, nor hath the pow’r to be,
In this man’s being.
[tr. Chapman (1611), l. 47ff]

Shame, man’s blessing or his curse.
[tr. Cowper (1791), l. 58]

Cowper footnotes: "His blessing, if he is properly influenced by it; his curse in its consequences if he is deaf to its dictates."

Nor in him is there sense of shame, which greatly hurts and profits men.
[tr. Buckley (1860)]

Conscience, arbiter of good and ill.
[tr. Derby (1864)]

Neither hath he shame, that doth both harm and profit men greatly.
[tr. Leaf/Lang/Myers (1891)]

That conscience which at once so greatly banes yet greatly boons him that will heed it.
[tr. Butler (1898)]

Neither is shame in his heart, the which harmeth men greatly and profiteth them withal.
[tr. Murray (1924)]

There is not in him any shame; which does much harm to men but profits them also.
[tr. Lattimore (1951)]

He has no shame -- that gift that hinders mortals but helps them, too.
[tr. Fitzgerald (1974)]

No shame in the man,
shame that does great harm or drives men on to good.
[tr. Fagles (1990), l. 52ff]

Shame and respect no
longer he has, which harm men greatly but profit them also.
[tr. Merrill (2007)]
 
Added on 3-Mar-21 | Last updated 1-Dec-21
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Oh friends, be men! Deep treasure in your hearts
An honest shame, and, fighting bravely, fear
Each to incur the censure of the rest.
Of men so minded more survive than die,
While dastards forfeit life and glory both.

[ὦ φίλοι ἀνέρες ἔστε, καὶ αἰδῶ θέσθ᾽ ἐνὶ θυμῷ,
ἀλλήλους τ᾽ αἰδεῖσθε κατὰ κρατερὰς ὑσμίνας.
αἰδομένων δ᾽ ἀνδρῶν πλέονες σόοι ἠὲ πέφανται:
φευγόντων δ᾽ οὔτ᾽ ἂρ κλέος ὄρνυται οὔτέ τις ἀλκή.]

Homer (fl. 7th-8th C. BC) Greek author
The Iliad [Ἰλιάς], Book 15, l. 561ff (15.561) [Ajax] (c. 750 BC) [tr. Cowper (1791), l. 679ff]
    (Source)

Original Greek. Alternate translations:

Good friends, bring but yourselves to feel the noble stings of shame
For what ye suffer, and be men. Respect each other’s fame;
For which who strives in shame’s fit fear, and puts on ne’er so far,
Comes oft’ner off. Then stick engag’d; these fugitives of war
Save neither life, nor get renown, nor bear more mind than sheep.
[tr. Chapman (1611), l. 508ff]

O Greeks! respect your fame,
Respect yourselves, and learn an honest shame:
Let mutual reverence mutual warmth inspire,
And catch from breast to breast the noble fire.
On valour's side the odds of combat lie,
The brave live glorious, or lamented die;
The wretch that trembles in the field of fame,
Meets death, and worse than death, eternal shame.
[tr. Pope (1715-20)]

O my friends, be men, and set honour in your hearts, and have reverence for each other during the vehement conflicts. For more of those men who reverence each other are saved than slain; but of the fugitives, neither glory arises, nor any defence.
[tr. Buckley (1860)]

Brave comrades, quit ye now like men;
Bear a stout heart; and in the stubborn fight
Let each to other mutual succour give;
By mutual succour more are sav’d than fall;
In timid flight nor fame nor safety lies.
[tr. Derby (1864)]

My friends, be men, and fear dishonour; quit yourselves in battle so as to win respect from one another. Men who respect each other's good opinion are less likely to be killed than those who do not, but in flight there is neither gain nor glory.
[tr. Butler (1898)]

My friends, be men, and take ye shame in your hearts, and have shame each of the other in the fierce conflict. Of men that have shame more are saved than are slain; but from them that flee springeth neither glory nor any avail.
[tr. Murray (1924)]

Friends, respect yourselves as men,
respect each other in the moil of battle!
Men with a sense of shame survive
more often than they perish. Those who run
have neither fighting power nor any honor.
[tr. Fitzgerald (1974)]

Be men, my friends! Discipline fill your hearts!
Dread what comrades say of you here in bloody combat!
When men dread that, more men come through alive --
when soldiers break and run, good-bye glory,
good-bye all defenses!
[tr. Fagles (1990), l. 651ff]

Now, dear friends, be men, keep hold of your valorous spirit,
feel shame, each on account of the rest in the violent combats;
more of the men who feel such shame live safely than perish,
while from the ones who flee no glory nor any defense springs.
[tr. Merrill (2007), l. 529ff]
 
Added on 3-Feb-21 | Last updated 1-Dec-21
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Is there any stab as deep as wondering where and how much you failed those you love?

Florida Scott-Maxwell (1883-1979) American-British playwright, author, psychologist
The Measure of My Days (1968)
    (Source)
 
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“Why,” said La Belle Isode,”are ye a knight and are no lover? For sooth, it is a great shame to you; wherefore ye may not be called a good knight by reason but if ye make a quarrel for a lady.”

No picture available
Thomas Malory (c. 1415-1471) English writer
Le Morte d’Arthur, Book 10, ch. 56 (1485)
    (Source)

Often paraphrased, "The very purpose of a knight is to fight on behalf of a lady."
 
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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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I was a model child. It was the teacher’s mistake I am sure. The box was drawn on the blackboard and the names of misbehaving children were written in it. As I adored my teacher, Miss Smith, I was destroyed to see my name appear. This was just the first of the many humiliations of my youth that I’ve tried to revenge through my writing. I have never fully exorcised shames that struck me to the heart as a child except through written violence, shadowy caricature, and dark jokes.

Louise Erdrich (b. 1954) American author, poet
Interview with Lisa Halliday, “The Art of Fiction” #208, The Paris Review (Winter 2010)
    (Source)

On the inspiration behind Dot Adare's 1st Grade teacher putting her into the "naughty box" in The Beet Queen (1986).
 
Added on 8-Sep-20 | Last updated 8-Sep-20
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You know, that might be the answer — to act boastfully about something we ought to be ashamed of. That’s a trick that never seems to fail.

Joseph Heller (1923-1999) American novelist
Catch-22 [Col. Korn] (1961)
    (Source)
 
Added on 22-Jun-20 | Last updated 22-Jun-20
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I love being with people. But I need a script, a role, something that will help me overcome my fears of rejection and shame. Most religions and belief systems provide a blueprint for some sort of community. And the religion’s leaders model a way of being. For example, in my book Choke, a character enacts his own death and resurrection every night — as does the narrator in Fight Club. Here’s Jesus, allowing himself to look terrible in front of his peers. That’s the biggest purpose of religious gathering: permission to look terrible in public.

Chuck Palahniuk (b. 1962) American novelist and freelance journalist
“Those burnt tongue moments–Chuck Palahniuk in interview”, Interview by Andrew Lawless, Three Monkeys (May 2005)
    (Source)
 
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For the Communists offer one precious, fatal boon: they take away the sense of sin. It may or may not be debatable whether a man can live without God; but, if it were possible, we should pass a law forbidding a man to live without the sense of sin.

Murray Kempton (1917-1997) American journalist.
Part of Our Time: Some Ruins & Monuments of the Thirties, ch. 1 “The Sheltered Life” (1955)
    (Source)
 
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DORINE: Those who have the greatest cause for guilt and shame
Are quickest to besmirch a neighbor’s name.

[Ceux de qui la conduite offre le plus à rire
Sont toujours sur autrui les premiers à médire.]

Molière (1622-1673) French playwright, actor [stage name for Jean-Baptiste Poquelin]
Tartuffe, Act 1, sc. 1 (1664) [tr. Wilbur (1963)]
    (Source)

Alt. trans.:
  • "They whose own conduct is the most ridiculous are always the first to slander others." [tr. Van Laun (1876)]
  • "Since they are always talked about, / They're sniffing other scandal out." [tr. Bolt (2002)]
  • "Those whose conduct gives room for talk / Are always the first to attack their neighbors." [Bartlett's]
Original French.
 
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Most of the great results of history are brought about by discreditable means.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Considerations Along the Way,” The Conduct of Life (1860)
    (Source)
 
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If you want to know who your friends are, get yourself a jail sentence.

Charles Bukowski (1920-1994) German-American author, poet
Notes of a Dirty Old Man (1969)
    (Source)
 
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Nothing is more humiliating than seeing fools succeed where one has failed.

[Rien n’est humiliant comme de voir les sots réussir dans les entreprises où l’on échoue.]

Gustave Flaubert (1821-1880) French writer, novelist
Sentimental Education, Part 1, ch. 5 (1869) [tr. Baldick (1964)/Wall (2004)]
    (Source)

Alt. trans.:
  • "Nothing is more humiliating than to see idiots succeed in enterprises we have failed in."
  • "There is nothing so humiliating to see as blockheads succeed in undertakings in which we ourselves fail." [Ranout ed. (1922)]
  • "There is nothing so humiliating as to see blockheads succeed in undertakings in which we fail." [tr. Bouvard ed. rev. (2003)]
 
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And the man who is arrogant belittles his victim. For arrogance is doing and saying things which bring shame to the victim, not in order that something may come out of it for the doer other than the mere fact it happened, but so that he may get pleasure. […] The cause of the pleasure enjoyed by those who are arrogant is that they think that in doing ill they are themselves very much superior. That is why the young and the wealthy are arrogant. For they think that in being arrogant they are superior.

[καὶ ὁ ὑβρίζων δὲ ὀλιγωρεῖ: ἔστι γὰρ ὕβρις τὸ πράττειν καὶ λέγειν ἐφ᾽ οἷς αἰσχύνη ἔστι τῷ πάσχοντι, μὴ ἵνα τι γίγνηται αὑτῷ ἄλλο ἢ ὅ τι ἐγένετο, ἀλλ᾽ ὅπως ἡσθῇ […] αἴτιον δὲ τῆς ἡδονῆς τοῖς ὑβρίζουσιν, ὅτι οἴονται κακῶς δρῶντες αὐτοὶ ὑπερέχειν μᾶλλον (διὸ οἱ νέοι καὶ οἱ πλούσιοι ὑβρισταί: ὑπερέχειν γὰρ οἴονται ὑβρίζοντες)]

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Rhetoric [Ῥητορική; Ars Rhetorica], Book 2, ch. 2, sec. 5ff (2.2.5-6) / 1378b.23-39 (350 BC) [tr. Lord]
    (Source)

Freese notes, "In Attic law ὕβρις (insulting, degrading treatment) was a more serious offence than αἰκία (bodily ill-treatment). It was the subject of a State criminal prosecution (γραφή), αἰκία of a private action (δίκη) for damages. The penalty was assessed in court, and might even be death."

(Source (Greek)). Alternate translations:

The contumelious, too, commits slight -- for contumely is the infliction of injury and pain under such circumstances as cause shame to the sufferer, not that any good may accrue to himself (the agent) other than the act itself, but that he may be pleased. [...] The reason of pleasure accruing to the contumelious is, that they think themselves rendered far superior by thus acting injuriously. Whence the young and the rich are contumelious, for they think that to give affront shews their superiority.
[Source (1847)]

He, too, who acts contumeliously manifests slight; for contumely is the doing and saying of those things about which the person who is the subject of this treatment, has feelings of delicacy, not with a view that any thing should accrue to himself, other than what arises to him in the act, but in order that he may be gratified. [...] Now the cause of the pleasure felt by those who act contumeliously, is that, by injuring, they conceive themselves to be more decidedly superior: on which account young men and the rich are given to contumely, for in manifesting the contumely, they conceive themselves superior.
[tr. Buckley (1850)]

The man who insults, again, slights; for insolence is to do and say things which shame the sufferer; not in order that anything may accrue to the insulter, or because anything has been done to him, but in order that he may have joy. [...] The source of pleasure to the insulters is this, -- they fancy that, by ill-treating the other people, they are showing the greater superiority. Hence young men and rich men are insolent; they fancy that, by insulting, they are superior.
[tr. Jebb (1873)]

Insolence is also a form of slighting, since it consists in doing and saying things that cause shame to the victim, not in order that anything may happen to yourself, or because anything has happened to yourself, but simply for the pleasure involved. [...] The cause of the pleasure thus enjoyed by the insolent man is that he thinks himself greatly superior to others when ill-treating them. That is why youths and rich men are insolent; they think themselves superior when they show insolence.
[tr. Roberts (1924)]

Similarly, he who insults another also slights him; for insult consists in causing injury or annoyance whereby the sufferer is disgraced, not to obtain any other advantage for oneself besides the performance of the act, but for one's own pleasure. [...] The cause of the pleasure felt by those who insult is the idea that, in ill-treating others, they are more fully showing superiority. That is why the young and the wealthy are given to insults; for they think that, in committing them, they are showing their superiority.
[tr. Freese (1926)]

And disparagement may be motivated by abusiveness, which is acting and speaking in such a way as to make your victim feel shame, not because you will gain from it, and not in response to anything that has happened to you, but just for the pleasure of it. [...] The reason why an abusive man feels pleasure is his belief that by treating others badly he increases his superiority to them. That is why youth and wealth make people abusive: they think that by insulting others they are establishing their superiority.
[tr. Waterfield (2018)]

And he who is insolent to someone also slights him, for insolence is doing and saying such things as are a source of shame to the person suffering them, not so that some other advantage may accrue to the insolent person or because something happened to him, but so that he may gain pleasure thereby. [...] And a cause of the pleasure the insolent feel is their supposing that, by inflicting harm, they themselves are to a greater degree superior. Hence the young and the wealthy are insolent, for they suppose that, by being insolent, they are superior.
[tr. Bartlett (2019)]

 
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Makeup: Western equivalent of the veil. A daily reminder that something is wrong with women’s normal looks. A public apology.

Marie Shear (1940-2017) American writer and feminist activist
“Media Watch: Celebrating Women’s Words,” New Directions for Women (May/Jun 1986)
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A strong man must be militant as well as moderate. He must be a realist as well as an idealist. If I am to merit the trust invested in me by some of my race, I must be both of these things. This is why nonviolence is a powerful as well as a just weapon. If you confront a man who has long been cruelly misusing you, and say, “Punish me, if you will; I do not deserve it, but I will accept it, so that the world will know I am right and you are wrong,” then you wield a powerful and a just weapon. This man, your oppressor, is automatically morally defeated, and if he has any conscience, he is ashamed. Wherever this weapon is used in a manner that stirs a community’s, or a nation’s, anguished conscience, then the pressure of public opinion becomes an ally in your just cause.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, social activist, preacher
Playboy interview (Jan 1965)
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By virtue of depression, we recall those misdeeds we buried in the depths of our memory. Depression exhumes our shames.

Emile Cioran (1911-1995) Romanian philosopher and essayist [E.M. Cioran]
Anathemas and Admirations, ch. 11 “That Fatal Perspicacity” (1986) [tr. R. Howard (1991)]
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There are several good protections against temptations, but the surest is cowardice.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Following the Equator, ch. 36, epigraph (1897)
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Guilt hath very quick ears to an accusation.

Henry Fielding (1707-1754) English novelist, dramatist, satirist
Amelia, ch. 11 (1751)
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What do I believe after all? What manner of man am I after all? What sort of show would I make after all, if the people around me knew my heart and all my secret thoughts? What sort of show then do I already make in the sight of Almighty God, who sees every man exactly as he is?

Charles Kingsley (1819-1875) English clergyman, historian, essayist, novelist (pseud. "Parson Lot")
The Good News of God, Sermon 6 “Worship [Isaiah 1:12-13]” (1881)
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And from your policy do not wholly banish fear,
For what man living, freed from fear, will still be just?

aeschylus-freed-from-fear-will-still-be-just-wist_info-quote

Aeschylus (525-456 BC) Greek dramatist (Æschylus)
The Eumenides
 
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Our character is what we do when we think no one is looking.

brown-character-no-one-is-looking-wist_info-quote

H. Jackson "Jack" Brown, Jr. (b. 1940) American writer
P.S. I Love You (1990)

Brown attributed this to a letter his mother wrote him.
 
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When you have discovered a stain in yourself, you eagerly seek for and gladly find stains in others.

Berthold Auerbach (1812-1882) German author
(Attributed)

Attributed in Maturin M. Ballou, Edge-Tools of Speech (1886).
 
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You couldn’t get hold of the things you’d done and turn them right again. Such a power might be given to the gods, but it was not given to women and men, and that was probably a good thing. Had it been otherwise, people would probably die of old age still trying to rewrite their teens.

Stephen King (b. 1947) American author
The Stand (1978)
 
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Under pressure, people admit to murder, setting fire to the village church, or robbing a bank, but never to being bores.

Maxwell - but never to being bores - wist_info quote

Elsa Maxwell (1883-1963) American gossip columnist, author, songwriter, professional hostess
How to Do It, or The Lively Art of Entertaining (1957)
 
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No man can humiliate me or disturb me. I won’t let him.

Bernard Baruch (1870-1965) American businessman and statesman
(Attributed)

Quoted in Dale Carnegie, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living (1948). When asked by Carnegie if he was troubled by his enemies' attacks.
 
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If you derive pleasure from the good which you have performed and you grieve for the evil which you have committed, you are a true believer.

Muhammad (570-632) Arabian merchant, prophet, founder of Islam [Mohammed]
The Sayings of Muhammed, #67 [tr. Al-Suhrawardy (1941)]
 
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The man that blushes is not quite a brute.

Edward Young (1683-1765) English poet
“The Complaint: or, Night-Thoughts on Life, Death, & Immortality,” Part 7 “The Infidel Reclaimed, Part 2,” l. 496 (1742–1745)
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Man is the Only Animal that Blushes. Or needs to.

Twain - animal that blushes - wist_info quote

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Following the Equator, ch. 27, epigraph (1897)
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It really hurts me very much to suppose that I have wronged anybody on earth.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
Lincoln-Douglas Debate, Quincy, Illinois (13 Oct 1858)
 
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Those whom they have injured they also hate.

Seneca the Younger (c. 4 BC-AD 65) Roman statesman, philosopher, playwright [Lucius Annaeus Seneca]
Moral Essays, “On Anger [De ira],” 2.33.1 [tr. Basore (1928)]
 
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A great many people feel “guilty” about things they shouldn’t feel guilty about, in order to shut out feelings of guilt about the things they should feel guilty about.

Sydney J. Harris (1917-1986) Anglo-American columnist, journalist, author
Column, Chicago Daily News (1971)
 
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If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part of yourself. What isn’t part of ourselves doesn’t disturb us.

Herman Hesse (1877-1962) German-born Swiss poet, novelist, painter
Demian, ch. 6 (1919)
 
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The abuse of greatness is, when it disjoins
Remorse from power.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
Julius Caesar, Act 2, sc. 1, l. 19ff [Brutus] (1599)
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The guilty think all talk is of themselves.

Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1343-1400) English poet, philosopher, astronomer, diplomat
The Canterbury Tales, “The Canon’s Yeoman’s Prologue” (1390?) [tr. Coghill (1951)]
 
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Laziness is the sin most willingly confessed to, since it implies talents greater than have yet appeared.

James Richardson (b. 1950) American poet
Vectors: Aphorisms and Ten-Second Essays (2001)
 
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Things said or done long years ago,
Or things I did not do or say
But thought that I might say or do,
Weigh me down, and not a day
But something is recalled,
My conscience or my vanity appalled.

William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) Irish poet and dramatist
“Vacillation,” st. 4 (1932), The Winding Stair and Other Poems (1933)
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Having been poor is no shame, but being ashamed of it, is.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher
Poor Richard’s Almanack (1749)
 
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