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By Art and Nature, if thou well recall
How Genesis begins, man ought to get
His bread, and make prosperity for all.
But the usurer contrives a third way yet,
And in herself and in her follower, Art,
Scorns Nature, for his hope is elsewhere set.

[Da queste due, se tu ti rechi a mente
lo Genesì dal principio, convene
prender sua vita e avanzar la gente;
e perché l’usuriere altra via tene,
per sé natura e per la sua seguace
dispregia, poi ch’in altro pon la spene.]

Dante Alighieri the poet
Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) Italian poet
The Divine Comedy [Divina Commedia], Book 1 “Inferno,” Canto 11, l. 106ff (11.106-111) [Virgil] (1320) [tr. Sayers (1949)]
    (Source)

In Genesis (Gen. 2:15, 3:17-19), God ordains humanity is to survive gathering plants and resources (Nature) and through toil and "the sweat of his face" (Art or Industry) . Usurers are deemed evil because they gain wealth from interest on money-lending (or, by extension, any financial investments), producing money from money, not from productive work. They are considered in Dante's scheme as bad as blasphemers and perverts, and worse sinners than murderers or suicides. See commentary from Sayers and Durling.

(Source (Italian)). Alternate translations:

And if you recollect
Your Genesis, you'll know that from these two
Mankind should Life, Tillage the Earth receive.
But, because Us'ry takes another way,
Despising Nature and your daughter Art,
It God displeases, and incurs his wrath.
[tr. Rogers (1782), l. 101ff]

But from her hallow'd path the Miser strays,
Who lets pale A'rice warp his sordid ways,
Invet'rate foe to Nature's simple lore,
Beneath his influence grows the barren gold.
He speaks, and lo! the parent sums unfold
In monstrous births, a misbegotten store.
[tr. Boyd (1802), st. 16]

These two, if thou recall to mind
Creation’s holy book, from the beginning
Were the right source of life and excellence
To human kind. But in another path
The usurer walks; and Nature in herself
And in her follower thus he sets at nought,
Placing elsewhere his hope.
[tr. Cary (1814)]

Both these to man, if thou refresh thy mind
In Genesis' early writ, the Word ordains
His life to foster, and advance his kind.
But other way takes Usance to his gains,
And, choosing other hope, a scornful war
With Nature and her handmaid Art maintains.
[tr. Dayman (1843)]

By these two, if you recallest to thy memory Genesis at the beginning, it behoves man to gain his bread and [to prosper].
And because the usurer takes another way, he contemns Nature in herself and in her follower, placing elsewhere his hope.
[tr. Carlyle (1849)]

From these two, if right considered in the mind,
From first of Genesis the truth receive,
Life and advancement to the nations gave.
But usury has ta'en another way,
Despising nature and her handmaid Art,
Far other hopes his light of life impart.
[tr. Bannerman (1850)]

From these two, then, if thou in mem'ry hold'st
The earlier Genesis, it is decreed
That life must spring, and man's increase must come.
But then the usurer treads another path;
Nature and her attendant both he scorns,
Since in another means he places hope.
[tr. Johnston (1867)]

From these two, if thou bringest to thy mind
Genesis at the beginning, it behoves
⁠Mankind to gain their life and to advance;
And since the usurer takes another way,
⁠Nature herself and in her follower ⁠
⁠Disdains he, for elsewhere he puts his hope.
[tr. Longfellow (1867)]

From these two, if thou bring to thy mind Genesis, towards the beginning, it behoves folk to take their life, and to prosper. And because the usurer holds another course, he despises Nature both for herself and for her follower; because he places his hope in another thing.
[tr. Butler (1885)]

From Art and Nature, if thou bring'st to mind
The verse of Genesis, 'tis doomed alone
That man should live and carry on his kind.
And since to usurers other ways are known,
Both Nature and her follower stand confest
Outraged by those whose trust is elsewhere shown.
[tr. Minchin (1885)]

By means of these two, if thou bringest to mind Genesis at its beginning, it behoves mankind to obtain their livelihood and to thrive. But because the usurer takes another course, he despises Nature in herself, and in her follower, since upon other thing he sets his hope.
[tr. Norton (1892)]

By these two, if thou recallest to thy mind an early page in Genesis, doth it behove mankind to win their means of life, and to excel. And for that the usurer goeth another way, he slighteth nature both in herself and follower, putting his trust elsewhere.
[tr. Sullivan (1893)]

From these two, if thou bring' st to recollection
Genesis at its opening, it must needs be
That folk do take their living and make progress.
And, since the usurer keeps another pathway,
Nature, both for herself and for her daughter,
Contemns he, since his hope elsewhere he places.
[tr. Griffith (1908)]

By these two, if thou recall to mind Genesis near the beginning, it behoves mankind to gain their livelihood and their advancement, and because the usurer takes another way he despises nature both in herself and in her follower, setting his hope elsewhere.
[tr. Sinclair (1939)]

By these two, if thy memory Genesis
Recalls, and its beginning, man hath need
To gain his bread and foster earthly bliss.
But the usurer, since he will not thus proceed,
Flouts Nature's follower and herself also,
Setting his wealth another way to breed.
[tr. Binyon (1943)]

By this, recalling the Old Testament
near the beginning of Genesis, you will see
that in the will of Providence, man was meant
to labor and to prosper. But usurers,
by seeking their increase in other ways,
scorn Nature in herself and her followers.
[tr. Ciardi (1954)]

By these two, if you remember Genesis at the beginning, it behooves man to gain his bread and to prosper. But because the usurer takes another way, he contemns Nature in herself and in her follower, for he puts his hope elsewhere.
[tr. Singleton (1970)]

From Art and Nature man was meant to take
his daily bread to live -- if you recall
the book of Genesis near the beginning;
but the usurer, adopting another means,
scorns Nature in herself and in her pupil,
Art -- he invests his hope in something else.
[tr. Musa (1971)]

From these two, art and nature, it is fitting,
if you recall how Genesis begins,
for men to make their way, to gain their living;
and since the usurer prefers another
pathway, he scorns both nature in herself
and art, her follower; his hope is elsewhere.
[tr. Mandelbaum (1980)]

From these two, if you recall to mind
The beginning of Genesis, it is proper for man
To win his bread and to advance his race:
And because the usurer takes another way,
Treating nature and what follows from her
Contemptuously, he puts his hopes elsewhere.
[tr. Sisson (1981)]

By these two, man should thrive and gain his bread --
If you remember Genesis -- from the start
But since the usurer takes a different way,
He contemns Nature both in her own sort
And in her follower as well, while he
Chooses to invest his hope another place.
[tr. Pinsky (1994)]

From these two, if you bring to mind the beginning of Genesis, we must draw our life and advance our people. and because the usurer holds another way, he scorns Nature in herself and in her follower, since he puts his hope in something else.
[tr. Durling (1996)]

By these two, art and nature, man must earn his bread and flourish, if you recall to mind Genesis, near its beginning.
Because the usurer holds to another course, he denies Nature, in herself, and in that which follows her ways, putting his hopes elsewhere.
[tr. Kline (2002)]

From these two principles -- if you recall
the opening lines of Genesis -- we're bound to draw
our living strength and multiply our people.
But usurers adopt a different course.
They place their hopes in other things, and thus
make mock of Nature's self and her close kin.
[tr. Kirkpatrick (2006)]

By toil and nature, if you remember Genesis,
near the beginning, it is man's lot
to earn his bread and prosper.
The usurer, who takes another path,
scorns nature in herself and in her follower,
and elsewhere sets his hopes.
[tr. Hollander/Hollander (2007)]

Nature and human labor -- as Genesis teaches
In its very first pages -- combine to let man live
And thereby take his people forward. But those leeches
Who practice usury abandon the given
Path for another, despising Nature's way
And her honest pupils: gold, not God, is their living.
[tr. Raffel (2010)]

By this twin element
Of nature's force and human effort -- see
The book of Genesis, near the beginning, where
Men are enjoined to earn their bread by sweat --
Humanity needs must accept its share
Of effort to advance. The trade in debt
Ignores that pact. His course set otherwise
The usurer holds nature in contempt
Both in herself and in her human guise,
Simply by how he holds himself exempt
And sets his hopes elsewhere.
[tr. James (2013), l. 112ff]

 
Added on 31-Mar-23 | Last updated 31-Mar-23
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More quotes by Dante Alighieri

Of all malice that makes of Heaven a foe
The end is injury, and all such end won
By force or fraud worketh another’s woe.
But since fraud is a vice of man’s alone,
It more offends God: so are lowest set
The fraudulent, and the heavier is their groan.

[D’ogne malizia, ch’odio in cielo acquista,
ingiuria è ‘l fine, ed ogne fin cotale
o con forza o con frode altrui contrista.
Ma perché frode è de l’uom proprio male,
più spiace a Dio; e però stan di sotto
li frodolenti, e più dolor li assale.]

Dante Alighieri the poet
Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) Italian poet
The Divine Comedy [Divina Commedia], Book 1 “Inferno,” Canto 11, l. 22ff (11.22-27) [Virgil] (1320) [tr. Binyon (1943)]
    (Source)

(Source (Italian)). Alternate translations:

Of ev'ry Vice which odious is in Heav'n
To injure is the purport, and the end;
Either by Force, or Fraud. But as to Man
Fraud is peculiar, it more God offends:
Therefore the fraudulent are lower plac'd,
And greater punishment and pains endure.
[tr. Rogers (1782), l. 21ff]

Above the Sons of Violence reside,
The bands of Fraud below together hide;
(Vile Fraud! The heav'n-born soul's peculiar blot!)
For this, in fiercer pains, the traitors keep
Their horrid vigils far in yonder deep;
Hated of Heav'n, and fill the lowest lot.
[tr. Boyd (1802), st. 5]

Of all malicious act abhorr’d in heaven,
The end is injury; and all such end
Either by force or fraud works other’s woe
But fraud, because of man peculiar evil,
To God is more displeasing; and beneath
The fraudulent are therefore doom’d to’ endure
Severer pang.
[tr. Cary (1814)]

Of each malicious act, abhorred on high.
Injustice is the end: for others' woe
Must all such ends or force or fraud apply.
But fraud in man his proper vice doth show,
To God more odious; wherefore deeper here
The fraudful sink, and mourn a sharper throe.
[tr. Dayman (1843)]

Of all malice, which gains hatred in Heaven, the end is injury; and every such end, either by force or by fraud, aggrieveth others.
But because fraud is a vice peculiar to man, it more displeases God; and therefore the fraudulent are placed beneath, and more pain assails them.
[tr. Carlyle (1849)]

Of evil deed, that's stamped with hate in heaven,
Is injury the end. Each end's attained
With force or fraud, by which another's pained.
Since fraud is then the native ill of man,
It more displeases God; beneath the vault,
The fraudulent the deeper pains assault.
[tr. Bannerman (1850)]

Of ev'ry malice which just heav'n abhors,
To injure is the end; and each such end,
Either by force or fraud, makes others grieve.
But since of man fraud is the proper sin,
More it displeases God; and so beneath
Are plac'd the fraudulent with heavier pains.
[tr. Johnston (1867)]

Of every malice that wins hate in Heaven,
⁠Injury is the end; and all such end
⁠Either by force or fraud afflicteth others.
But because fraud is man's peculiar vice, ⁠
⁠More it displeases God; and so stand lowest
⁠The fraudulent, and greater dole assails them.
[tr. Longfellow (1867)]

Of every badness which earns hatred in heaven, injury is the end; and every such end either by force or by fraud causes grief to another.
But because fraud is an ill peculiar to man, it more displeases God; and for this cause the fraudulent have their station below, and woe assails them more.
[tr. Butler (1885)]

Of every malice that in Heaven wins hate
The end is injury, and each such plan
By force or fraud on some wreaks woeful fate.
Since fraud is ill peculiar unto man
God it displeases more, and hence more low
The fraudulent are doomed to greater pain.
[tr. Minchin (1885)]

Of every malice that wins hate in heaven injury is the end, and every such end afflicts others either by force or by fraud. But because fraud is the peculiar sin of man, it most displeaseth God; and therefore the fraudulent are the lower, and more woe assails them.
[tr. Norton (1892)]

Of every evil act that earneth hate in Heaven, the end is injury; and every such end, by either violence or fraud, heapeth sorrow upon others. But forasmuch as fraud is man's peculiar vice, it is the more displeasing unto God ; and therefore they who dealt in fraud are set beneath, and greater is the torture that doth afflict them.
[tr. Sullivan (1893)]

All wickedness that lays up hate in heaven
Injustice hath for end, and such end alway,
Either by force or fraud, afflicts another:
But, seeing that fraud is man's peculiar evil,
More it displeases God: therefore are lowest
The fraudulent, and greater woe assails them.
[tr. Griffith (1908)]

Every kind of wickedness that gains the hatred of Heaven has injustice for its end, and every such end afflicts someone either by force or fraud; but because fraud is sin peculiar to man it is more offensive to God, and for that reason the fraudulent have their place lower nad more pain assails them.
[tr. Sinclair (1939)]

Of all malicious wrong that earns Heaven's hate
The end is injury; all such ends are won
Either by force or fraud. Both perpetuate
Evil to others; but since man alone
Is capable of fraud, God hates that worst;
The fraudulent lie lowest, then and groan
Deepest.
[tr. Sayers (1949)]

Malice is the sin most hated by God
And the aim of malice is to injure others
whether by fraud or violence. But since fraud
is the vice fo which man alone is capable,
God loathes it most. Therefore, the fraudulent
are place below, and their torment is more painful.
[tr. Ciardi (1954)]

Of every malice that gains hatred in Heaven the end is injustice; and every such end, either by force or by fraud, afflicts another. But because fraud is an evil peculiar to man, it more displeases God, and therefore the fraudulent are the lower, and more pain assails them.
[tr. Singleton (1970)]

All malice has injustice as its end,
an end achieved by violence or by fraud;
while both are sins that earn the hate of Heaven,
since fraud belongs exclusively to man,
God hates it more and, therefore, far below,
the fraudulent are placed and suffer most.
[tr. Musa (1971)]

Of every malice that earns hate in Heaven,
injustice is the end; and each such end
by force or fraud brings harm to other men.
However, fraud is man's peculiar vice;
God finds it more displeasing -- and therefore,
the fraudulent are lower, suffering more.
[tr. Mandelbaum (1980)]

The object of all malice, which earns heaven's hatred,
Is injury; every object of that kind
Causes distress to others by force or fraud.
And because fraud is an evil peculiar to men,
It displeases God the more; and therefore the fraudulent
are placed beneath and greater pain assail them.
[tr. Sisson (1981)]

The end of every wickedness that feels
Heaven's s hatred is injustice -- and each end
Of this kind, whether by force or fraud, afflicts
Some other person. But since fraud is found
In humankind as its peculiar vice,
It angers God more: so the fraudulent
Are lower, and suffer more unhappiness.
[tr. Pinsky (1994), l. 21ff]

Of every malice gaining the hatred of Heaven, injustice is the goal, and efvery such goal injures someone either with force or with fraud.
But because fraud is an evil proper to man, it is more displeasing to God; and therefore the fraudulent have a lower place and greater pain assails them.
[tr. Durling (1996)]

The outcome of all maliciousness, that Heaven hates, is harm: and every such outcome, hurts others, either by force or deceit. But because deceit is a vice peculiar to human beings, it displeases God more, and therefore the fraudulent are placed below, and more pain grieves them.
[tr. Kline (2002)]

Malice is aimed in all its forms -- and thus
incurs the hatred of Heaven -- at gross injustice,
and, aiming so, harms others, by deceit or force.
Deceit, though, is specifically a human wrong,
and hence displeases God the more. Liars
are therefore deeper down, and tortured worse.
[tr. Kirkpatrick (2006)]

Every evil deed despised in Heaven
has as its end injustice. Each such end
harms someone else through either force or fraud.
But since the vice of fraud is man's alone,
it more displeases God, and thus the fraudulent
are lower down, assailed by greater pain.
[tr. Hollander/Hollander (2007)]

Hated by Heaven, every conscious
sin will end in injustice, and each new sin,
By force or fraud, creates the same result.
But since such fraud is a sin unique to men,
God hates it more. So sinners guilty of fraud
Go farther down, and deeper pain attacks them.
[tr. Raffel (2010)]

Crimes Heaven hates have for their end
Injustice, and that end afflicts someone
Either by force or fraud, and must offend
The Lord, for fraud is human, and ills done
By humans please Him least, and therefore they,
The tricksters, lie down and suffer more.
[tr. James (2013)]

 
Added on 10-Mar-23 | Last updated 10-Mar-23
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More quotes by Dante Alighieri

A sin takes on new and real terrors when there seems a chance that it is going to be found out. This gives it a fresh and most substantial and important aspect.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
“The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg,” ch. 4 (1899)
    (Source)
 
Added on 27-Feb-23 | Last updated 27-Feb-23
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Ah, God’s avenging justice! who could heap up
suffering and pain as strange as I saw here?
How can we let our guilt bring us to this?

[Ahi giustizia di Dio! tante chi stipa
nove travaglie e pene quant’io viddi?
e perché nostra colpa sì ne scipa?]

Dante Alighieri the poet
Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) Italian poet
The Divine Comedy [Divina Commedia], Book 1 “Inferno,” Canto 7, l. 19ff (7.19-21) (1320) [tr. Musa (1971)]
    (Source)

(Source (Italian)). Alternate translations:

Great is God's Justice; as increase with Crimes
Their Punishments, which here I many saw:
But why do we encourage this increase?
[tr. Rogers (1782)]

Justice of Heav'n, from thine avenging hand
What nameless toils and tortures fill the strand!
Ah! why on mortal failings so severe!
[tr. Boyd (1802), st. 4]

Almighty Justice! in what store thou heap’st
New pains, new troubles, as I here beheld!
Wherefore doth fault of ours bring us to this?
[tr. Cary (1814)]

Justice of God! who might such travail heap,
Such unimagined pangs as there I saw?
And wherefore drains our guilt the cup so deep?
[tr. Dayman (1843)]

Ah, Justice Divine! who shall tell in few the many fresh pains and travails that I saw? and why does guilt of ours thus waste us?
[tr. Carlyle (1849)]

Ah! justice of our God! how it heaps up
New troubles and new punishments I saw,
And fault of ours such penalty to draw!
[tr. Bannerman (1850)]

Oh, God's great justice! who heaps up the mass
Of pains and labors new which meet mine eye?
Why does our crime so tear and torture us?
[tr. Johnston (1867)]

Justice of God, ah! who heaps up so many
New toils and sufferings as I beheld?
And why doth our transgression waste us so?
[tr. Longfellow (1867)]

Ah justice of God! who crowds all the new labours and pains that I saw? and wherefore does our sin so bring us low?
[tr. Butler (1885)]

Justice of God! who heapeth up such store
Of novel toils and pains which I have seen!
And why doth sin in such profusion pour?
[tr. Minchin (1885)]

Ah, Justice of God! Who heapeth up so many new travails and penalties as I saw? And why doth our sin so waste us?
[tr. Norton (1892)]

Ah me! Justice of God, that heapeth up un-heard-of toils and tortures in numbers such as I beheld! And why doth man's transgression scourge man so?
[tr. Sullivan (1893)]

Justice of God! that it can pack together
Such novel pains and travails as I witnessed!
And why is our own fault thus our destruction?
[tr. Griffith (1908)]

Ah, Justice of God, who crams together
all the new toils and pains that I saw?
And why does our sin so lay us waste?
[tr. Sinclair (1939)]

Ah! Divine Justice! Who crowds throe on throe,
Toil upon toil, such as mine eyes now met?
And why doth guilt of ours consume us so?
[tr. Binyon (1943)]

God's justice! Who shall tell the agonies,
Heaped thick and new before my shuddering glance?
Why must our guilt smite us with strokes like this?
[tr. Sayers (1949)]

O Holy Justice,
who could relate the agonies I saw!
What guilt is man that he can come to this?
[tr. Ciardi (1954)]

Ah, justice of God! who crams together so many new travails and penalties as I saw? And why does our guilt so waste us?
[tr. Singleton (1970)]

Justice of God! Who has amassed as many
strange tortures and travails as I have seen?
Why do we let our guilt consume us so?
[tr. Mandelbaum (1980)]

Justice of God! Who except you could gather
As many pains and punishments as I saw?
And why is it our faults must so devour us?
[tr. Sisson (1981)]

Justice of God! Who is it hat heaps together
So much peculiar torture and travail?
How is it that we choose to sin and wither?
[tr. Pinsky (1994), ll. 17-19]

Ah, justice of God! who stuffs in so many strange
travails and punishments as I saw? and why does
our own guilt so destroy us?
[tr. Durling (1996)]

O Divine Justice! Who can tell the many new pains and troubles, that I saw, and why our guilt so destroys us?
[tr. Kline (2002)]

God in all justice! I saw there so many
new forms of travail, so tightly crammed. By whom?
How can our guilt so rend and ruin us?
[tr. Kirkpatrick (2006)]

Ah, Justice of God, who heaps up
such strange punishment and pain as I saw there?
And why do our sins so waste us?
[tr. Hollander/Hollander (2007)]

Ah, God of Justice, Who does this, scraping
Together the brand-new pains and punishments
I saw? And why should sinning cause such wastage?
[tr. Raffel (2010)]

Merciful God! Who gets it in,
This wretched harvest? What accounts for it?
And why to such pain are we led by sin?
[tr. James (2013), ll. 18-20]

 
Added on 10-Feb-23 | Last updated 10-Feb-23
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More quotes by Dante Alighieri

He that falls into sin is a man; that grieves at it, is a saint; that boasteth of it, is a devil.

Thomas Fuller
Thomas Fuller (1608-1661) English churchman, historian
The Holy State and the Profane State, Book 3, ch. 3 “Of Self-Praising” (1642)
    (Source)
 
Added on 16-Jan-23 | Last updated 16-Jan-23
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More quotes by Fuller, Thomas (1608)

There are no vices more dangerous than those which simulate virtue.

Desiderius Erasmus (1465-1536) Dutch humanist philosopher and scholar
The Handbook of the Christian Soldier [Enchiridion Militis Christiani], sec. 32b (1501) [tr. Fantazzi (1989)]
    (Source)

Alternate translation:

No sins are more dangerous than those which have the appearance of virtue.
[tr. Himelick (1963), ch. 14]

 
Added on 2-Jan-23 | Last updated 2-Jan-23
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More quotes by Erasmus, Desiderius

And even when life is over, all the evil
Ingrained so long, the adulterated mixture,
The plagues and pestilences of the body
Remain, persist. So there must be a cleansing,
By penalty, by punishment, by fire,
By sweep of wind, by water’s absolution,
Before the guilt is gone. Each of us suffers
His own peculiar ghost.

[Quin et supremo cum lumine vita reliquit,
non tamen omne malum miseris nec funditus omnes
corporeae excedunt pestes, penitusque necesse est
multa diu concreta modis inolescere miris.
Ergo exercentur poenis, veterumque malorum
supplicia expendunt: aliae panduntur inanes
suspensae ad ventos; aliis sub gurgite vasto
infectum eluitur scelus, aut exuritur igni;
quisque suos patimur Manes.]

Virgil (70-19 BC) Roman poet [b. Publius Vergilius Maro; also Vergil]
The Aeneid [Ænē̆is], Book 6, l. 735ff (6.735-743) [Anchises] (29-19 BC) [tr. Humphries (1951)]
    (Source)

Souls in the underworld purging their spirits so that they can enter Elysium. The Manes were minor underworld deities and/or the spirits of deceased ancestors. The last line (l. 743) is popularly paraphrased: "Each of us bears his own Hell."

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

Nor can the groveling mind,
In the dark dungeon of the limbs confin'd,
Assert the native skies, or own its heav'nly kind:
Nor death itself can wholly wash their stains;
But long-contracted filth ev'n in the soul remains.
The relics of inveterate vice they wear,
And spots of sin obscene in ev'ry face appear.
For this are various penances enjoin'd;
And some are hung to bleach upon the wind,
Some plung'd in waters, others purg'd in fires,
Till all the dregs are drain'd, and all the rust expires
All have their manes, and those manes bear.
[tr. Dryden (1697)]

Even when with the last beams of light their life is gone, yet not every ill, nor all corporeal stains, are quite removed from the unhappy beings; and it is absolutely necessary that many imperfections which have long been joined to the soul should be in marvelous ways increased and riveted therin. Therefore are they afflicted with punishments, and pay the penalties of their former ills. Some, hung on high, are spread out to the empty winds; in others the guilt not done away is washed out ina vast watery abyss, or burned away in fire. We each endure his own manes.
[tr. Davidson/Buckley (1854)]

Nay, when at last the life has fled,
And left the body cold and dead,
E'en then there passes not away
The painful heritage of clay;
Full many a long contracted stain
Perforce must linger deep in grain.
So penal sufferings they endure
For ancient crime, to make them pure:
Some hang aloft in open view
For winds to pierce them through and through,
While others purge their guilt deep-dyed
In burning fire or whelming tide.
Each for himself, we all sustain
The durance of our ghostly pain.
[tr. Conington (1866)]

Nor e'en when life's last ray
Has fled, does every ill depart, nor all
Corporeal taints quite leave their unhappy frames,
And needs must be that many a hardened fault
Inheres in wondrous ways. Therefore the pains
Of punishment they undergo, for sins
Of former times. Some in the winds are hung
Suspended and exposed. Others beneath
A waste of waters from their guilt are cleansed,
Or purified by fire. We all endure
Our ghostly retribution.
[tr. Cranch (1872), l. 918ff]

Nay, and when the last ray of life is gone, not yet, alas! does all their woe, nor do all the plagues of the body wholly leave them free; and needs must be that many a long ingrained evil should take root marvellously deep. Therefore they are schooled in punishment, and pay all the forfeit of a lifelong ill; some are hung stretched to the viewless winds; some have the taint of guilt washed out beneath the dreary deep, or burned away in fire. We suffer, each a several ghost.
[tr. Mackail (1885)]

Yea, e'en when out of upper day their life at last is borne,
Not all the ill of wretched men is utterly outworn,
Not all the bane their bodies bred; and sure in wondrous wise
The plenteous ill they bore so long engrained in them it lies:
So therefore are they worn by woes and pay for ancient wrong:
And some of them are hung aloft the empty winds among;
And some, their stain of wickedness amidst the water's heart
Is washed away; amidst the fire some leave their worser part;
And each his proper death must bear.
[tr. Morris (1900), l. 734ff]

Nor can the soul, in darkness and in chains,
Assert the skies, and claim celestial birth.
Nay, after death, the traces it retains
Of fleshly grossness, and corporeal stains,
Since much must needs by long concretion grow
Inherent. Therefore are they racked with pains,
And schooled in all the discipline of woe;
Each pays for ancient sin with punishment below.
Some hang before the viewless winds to bleach;
Some purge in fire or flood the deep decay
And taint of wickedness. We suffer each
Our ghostly penance.
[tr. Taylor (1907), st. 97-98, l. 866ff]

Nor when to life's last beam they bid farewell
May sufferers cease from pain, nor quite be freed
From all their fleshly plagues; but by fixed law,
The strange, inveterate taint works deeply in.
For this, the chastisement of evils past
Is suffered here, and full requital paid.
Some hang on high, outstretched to viewless winds;
For some their sin's contagion must be purged
In vast ablution of deep-rolling seas,
Or burned away in fire. Each man receives
His ghostly portion in the world of dark.
[tr. Williams (1910)]

Nay, when at their last day life is fled, still not all the evil, alas! not all the plagues of the body quit them utterly; and it must needs be that many a taint, long linked in growth, should in wondrous wise become deeply ingrained. Therefore are they schooled with penalties, and for olden sins pay punishment: some are hung stretched out to the empty winds; from some the stain of guilt is washed away under swirling floods or burned out in fire. Each of us suffers his own spirit.
[tr. Fairclough (1916)]

Yes, not even when the last flicker of life has left us,
Does evil, or the ills that flesh is heir to, quite
Relinquish our souls; it must be that many a taint grows deeply,
Mysteriously grained in their being from long contact with the body.
Therefore the dead are disciplined in purgatory, and pay
The penalty of old evil: some hang, stretched ot the blast of
Vacuum winds; for others, the stain of sin is washed
Away in a vast whirlpool or cauterized with fire.
Each of us finds in the next world his own level.
[tr. Day-Lewis (1952)]

Ane when the final day of life deserts them,
then, even then, not every ill, not all
the plagues of body quit them utterly;
and this must be, for taints so long congealed
cling fast and deep in extraordinary
ways. Therefore they are schooled by punishment
and pay with torments for their own misdeeds:
some there are purified by air, suspended
and stretched before the empty winds; for some
the stain of guilt is washed away beneath
a mighty whirlpool or consumed by fire.
First each of us must suffer his own Shade.
[tr. Mandelbaum (1971), l. 970ff]

In fact
Even when life departs on the last day
Not all the scourges of the body pass
From the poor souls, not all distress of life.
Inevitably, many malformations,
Growing together in mysterious ways,
Become inveterate. Therefore they undergo
The discipline of punishments and pay
In penance for old sins: some hang full length
To the empty winds, for some the stain of wrong
Is washed by floods or burned away by fire.
We suffer each his own shade.
[tr. Fitzgerald (1981), l. 988ff]

Even when life leaves them on their last day of light, they are not wholly freed from all the many ills and miseries of the body which must harden in them over the long years and become ingrained in ways we cannot understand. And so they are put to punishment, to pay the penalty for all their ancient sins. Some are stretched and hung out empty to dry in the winds. Some have the stain of evil washed out of them under a vast tide of water or scorched out by fire. Each of us suffers his own fate in the after-life.
[tr. West (1990)]

Why, when life leaves them at the final hour,
still all of the evil, all the plagues of the flesh, alas,
have not completely vanished, and many things, long hardened
deep within, must of necessity be ingrained, in strange ways.
So they are scourged by torments, and pay the price
for former sins: some are hung, stretched out,
to the hollow winds, the taint of wickedness is cleansed
for others in vast gulfs, or burned away with fire:
each spirit suffers its own.
[tr. Kline (2002)]

Nor, when the last gleam
Of life flickers out, are all the ills
That flesh is heir to completely uprooted.
But many corporal taints remain,
Ingrained in the soul in myriad ways.
And so we are disciplined and expiate
Our bygone sins. Some souls are hung
Spread to the winds; others are cleansed
Under swirling waters or purged by fire.
We each suffer our own ghosts.
[tr. Lombardo (2005)]

True,
but even on that last day, when the light of life departs,
the wretches are not completely purged of all the taints,
nor are they wholly freed of all the body’s plagues.
Down deep they harden fast -- they must, so long engrained
in the flesh -- in strange, uncanny ways. And so the souls
are drilled in punishments, they must pay for their old offenses.
Some are hung splayed out, exposed to the empty winds,
some are plunged in the rushing floods -- their stains,
their crimes scoured off or scorched away by fire.
Each of us must suffer his own demanding ghost.
[tr. Fagles (2006), l. 849ff]

Poor things, even when life leaves them on the day of death, not every sin or canker of the flesh fully recedes. Many habits harden over time, and in this way become ingrained. So they pay for former crimes by torment: exposed to hollow winds by crucifixion, washed clean of infection in a whirling flood, or cauterized by fire -- we all suffer our soul's cure.
[tr. Bartsch (2021)]

 
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More quotes by Virgil

Every other sin hath some pleasure annexed to it, or will admit of an excuse; envy alone wants both. Other sins last but for awhile; the gut may be satisfied, anger remits, hatred hath an end, envy never ceaseth.

[Omne peccatum aut excusationem secum habet, aut voluptatem, sola invidia utraque caret, reliqua vitia finem habent, ira defervescit, gala satiatur, odium finem habet, invidia nunquam quiescit.]

Robert Burton
Robert Burton (1577-1640) English scholar
The Anatomy of Melancholy, 1.2.3.7 (1621-51)
    (Source)

Burton is quoting here, but it is unclear whom.
 
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No, not if I had a hundred tongues and a hundred mouths
and a voice of iron too — I could never capture
all the crimes or run through all the torments,
doom by doom.

[Non, mihi si linguae centum sunt oraque centum
Ferrea vox, omnis scelerum comprendere formas,
Omnia poenarum percurrere nomina possim.]

Virgil (70-19 BC) Roman poet [b. Publius Vergilius Maro; also Vergil]
The Aeneid [Ænē̆is], Book 6, l. 625ff (6.625-627) [The Sybil] (29-19 BC) [tr. Fagles (2006), l. 724ff]
    (Source)

The punishments in Tartarus. Virgil uses a similar metaphor in Georgics 2.43.

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

Had I a hundred mouths, a hundred tongues,
And throats of brass, inspired with iron lungs,
I could not half those horrid crimes repeat,
Nor half the punishments those crimes have met.
[tr. Dryden (1697)]

Had I a hundred tongues, and a hundred mouths, and a voice of iron, I could not comprehend all the species of their crimes, nor enumerate the names of all their punishments.
[tr. Davidson/Buckley (1854)]

No -- had I e'en a hundred tongues
A hundred mouths, and iron lungs,
Those types of guilt I could not show,
Nor tell the forms of penal woe.
[tr. Conington (1866)]

Not if I had a hundred tongues, a voice
Of iron, could I tell thee all the forms
Of guilt, or number all their penalties.
[tr. Cranch (1872), l. 780ff]

Not had I an hundred tongues, an hundred mouths, and a voice of iron, could I sum up all the shapes of crime or name over all their punishments.
[tr. Mackail (1885)]

Nor, had I now an hundred mouths, an hundred tongues at need,
An iron voice, might I tell o'er all guise of evil deed,
Or run adown the names of woe those evil deeds are worth.
[tr. Morris (1900)]

Ne'er had a hundred mouths, if such were mine,
Nor hundred tongues their endless sins declared,
Nor iron voice their torments could define,
Or tell what doom to each the avenging gods assign.
[tr. Taylor (1907), st. 83, l. 744ff]

          I could not tell,
Not with a hundred mouths, a hundred tongues,
Or iron voice, their divers shapes of sin,
Nor call by name the myriad pangs they bear.
[tr. Williams (1910)]

Nay, had I a hundred tongues, a hundred mouths, and voice of iron, I could not sum up all the forms of crime, or rehearse all the tale of torments.
[tr. Fairclough (1916)]

If I had a hundred tongues,
A hundred iron throats, I could not tell
The fullness of their crime and punishment.
[tr. Humphries (1951)]

No, not if I had a hundred tongues, a hundred mouths
And a voice of iron, could I describe all the shapes of wickedness,
Catalogue all the retributions inflicted here.
[tr. Day-Lewis (1952)]

          A hundred tongues,
a hundred mouths, an iron voice were not
enough for me to gather all the forms
of crime or tell the names of all the torments.
[tr. Mandelbaum (1971), l. 829ff]

          If I had
A hundred tongues, a hundred mouths, a voice
Of iron, I could not tell of all the shapes
Their crimes had taken, or their punishments.
[tr. Fitzgerald (1981)]

If I had a hundred tongues, a hundred mouths and a voice of iron, I could not encompass all their different crimes or speak the names of all their different punishments.
[tr. West (1990)]

Not if I had a hundred tongues, a hundred mouths,
a voice of iron, could I tell all the forms of wickedness
or spell out the names of every torment.
[tr. Kline (2002)]

Not if I had a hundred mouths, a hundred tongues,
And a voice of iron, could I recount
All the crimes or tell all their punishments.
[tr. Lombardo (2005)]

A hundred tongues and mouths, an iron voice, wouldn't let me cover the varieties of evil, nor all the names for punishments.
[tr. Bartsch (2021)]

 
Added on 30-Nov-22 | Last updated 30-Nov-22
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More quotes by Virgil

It is great sin to swear unto a sin,
But greater sin to keep a sinful oath.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
Henry VI, Part 2, Act 5, sc. 1, l. 186ff [Salisbury] (1591)
    (Source)
 
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Timely advis’d, the coming Evil shun:
Better not do the Deed, than weep it done.

Matthew Prior
Matthew Prior (1664-1721) English poet and diplomat
“Henry and Emma,” l. 310ff [Henry] (1709)
    (Source)
 
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I am the spirit, ever, that denies!
And rightly so: since everything created,
In turn deserves to be annihilated:
Better if nothing came to be.
So all that you call Sin, you see,
Destruction, in short, what you’ve meant
By Evil is my true element.

[Ich bin der Geist, der stets verneint!
Und das mit Recht; denn alles, was entsteht,
Ist wert, daß es zugrunde geht;
Drum besser wär’s, daß nichts entstünde.
So ist denn alles, was ihr Sünde,
Zerstörung, kurz, das Böse nennt,
Mein eigentliches Element.]

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) German poet, statesman, scientist
Faust: a Tragedy [eine Tragödie], Part 1, sc. 6 “The Study,” l. 1337ff [Mephistopheles] (1808-1829) [tr. Kline (2003)]
    (Source)

Some translations (and this site) include the Declaration, Prelude on the Stage, and Prologue in Heaven as individual scenes; others do not, leading to their Part 1 scenes being numbered three lower.

(Source (German)). Alternate translations:

I am the Spirit that Denies!
And rightly so, for all that from the Void
Wins into life, deserves to be destroyed;
Thus it were better nothing life should win.
And so is all that you as Sin,
Destruction, in a word, as Evil represent,
My own peculiar element.
[tr. Latham (1790)]

I am the Spirit that denies!
And rightly too; for all that doth begin
Should rightly to destruction run;
'Twere better then that nothing were begun.
Thus everything that you call Sin,
Destruction -- in a word, as Evil represent --
That is my own, real element.
[tr. Priest (1808)]

I am the spirit who says "nay" to all,
And rightly so; for all that have existence
Deserve that they should perish; so 'twere better
That nothing earthly should enjoy existence.
All, therefore, that you mortals mean by Sin,
Destruction, in a word, what you call Evil,
Is my peculiar element.
[tr. Coleridge (1821)]

I am the spirit which constantly denies, and that rightly; for everything that has originated, deserves to be annihilated. Therefore better were it that nothing should originate. Thus, all that you call sin, destruction, in a word. Evil, is my proper element.
[tr. Hayward (1831)]

The spirit I, which evermore denies!
And justly; for whate'er to light is brought
Deserves again to be reduced to naught;
Then better 'twere that naught should be.
Thus all the elements which ye
Destruction, Sin, or briefly, Evil, name,
As my peculiar element I claim.
[tr. Swanwick (1850)]

I am the spirit that denies!
And justly so; for all that time creates,
He does well who annihilates!
Better, it ne'er had had beginning;
And so, then, all that you call sinning,
Destruction, -- all you pronounce ill-meant, --
Is my original element.
[tr. Brooks (1868)]

I am the Spirit that Denies!
And justly so: for all things, from the Void
Called forth, deserve to be destroyed:
'Twere better, then, were naught created.
Thus, all which you as Sin have rated, --
Destruction, -- aught with Evil blent, --
That is my proper element.
[tr. Taylor (1870)]

I am the Spirit of Negation:
And justly so; for all that is created
Deserves to be annihilated.
’Twere better, thus, that there were no creation.
Thus everything that you call evil,
Destruction, ruin, death, the devil,
Is my pure element and sphere.
[tr. Blackie (1880)]

I am the spirit that negates.
And rightly so, for all that comes to be
Deserves to perish wretchedly;
'Twere better nothing would begin.
Thus everything that your terms, sin,
Destruction, evil represent --
That is my proper element.
[tr. Kaufmann (1961)]

I am the spirit that denies forever!
And rightly so! What has arisen from the void
deserves to be annihilated. It would be best if
nothing ever would arise. And thus what you call
havoc, deadly sin, or briefly stated: Evil,
that is my proper element.
[tr. Salm (1962)]

The spirit which eternally denies!
And justly so; for all that which is wrought
Deserves that it should come to naught;
Hence it were best if nothing were engendered.
Which is why all things you have rendered
By terms like sin, destruction -- evil, in brief --
Are my true element-in-chief.
[tr. Arndt (1976)]

I am the spirit of perpetual negation;
And rightly so, for all things that exist
Deserve to perish, and would not be missed.
Much better it would be if nothing were
Brought into being, Thus, what you men call
Destruction, sin, evil in short, is all
My sphere, the element I most prefer.
[tr. Luke (1987)]

I am the spirit that says no, no,
Always! And how right I am! For surely
It's right that everything that comes to be
Should cease to be. And so they do. Still better
Would be nothing ever was. Hence sin
And havoc and ruin -- all you call evil, in sum --
For me's the element in which I swim.
[tr. Greenberg (1992)]

I am the spirit of perpetual negation.
And that is only right; for all
That's made is fit to be destroyed.
Far better if it were an empty void!
So -- everything that you would call
Destruction, sin, and all that's meant
By evil, is my proper element.
[tr. Williams (1999)]

 
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THE LORD
And do you have no other news?
Do you come always only to accuse?
Does nothing please you ever on the earth?

MEPHISTOPHELES
No, Lord! I find it still of precious little worth.
I feel for mankind in their wretchedness,
It almost makes me want to plague them less.

DER HERR
Hast du mir weiter nichts zu sagen?
Kommst du nur immer anzuklagen?
Ist auf der Erde ewig dir nichts recht?

MEPHISTOPHELES
Nein Herr! ich find es dort, wie immer, herzlich schlecht.
Die Menschen dauern mich in ihren Jammertagen,
Ich mag sogar die armen selbst nicht plagen.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) German poet, statesman, scientist
Faust: a Tragedy [eine Tragödie], Part 1, sc. 3 “Prologue in Heaven,” l. 301ff (1808-1829) [tr. Arndt (1976)]
    (Source)

(Source (German)). Alternate translations:

THE LORD
You've nothing more to say to me?
You come but to complain unendingly?
Is never aught right to your mind?

MEPHISTOPHELES
No, Lord! All is still downright bad, I find.
Man in his wretched days makes me lament him;
I am myself reluctant to torment him.

[tr. Priest (1808)]

THE LORD
Have you no more to say. Do you come here
Always to scold, and cavil, and complain?
Seems nothing ever right to you on earth?

MEPHISTOPHELES
No, Lord! I find all there, as ever, bad at best.
Even I am sorry for man's days of sorrow;
I could myself almost give up the pleasure
Of plaguing the poor things.

[tr. Shelley (1815)]

THE LORD: Have you nothing else to say to me? Are you always coming for no other purpose than to complain? Is nothing ever to your liking upon earth?
MEPHISTOPHELES: No, Lord! I find things there, as ever, miserably bad. Men, in their days of wretchedness, move my pity; even I myself have not the heart to torment the poor things.
[tr. Hayward (1831)]

THE LORD
Hast thou naught else to say? Is blame
In coming here, as ever, thy sole aim?
Does nothing on the earth to thee seem right?

MEPHISTOPHELES
No, Lord! I find things there, as ever, in sad plight.
Men, in their evil days, move my compassion;
Such sorry things to plague is nothing worth.

[tr. Swanwick (1850)]

THE LORD
Hast nothing for our edification?
Still thy old work of accusation?
Will things on earth be never right for thee?

MEPHISTOPHELES
No, Lord! I find them still as bad as bad can be.
Poor souls! their miseries seem so much to please 'em,
I scarce can find it in my heart to tease 'em.

[tr. Brooks (1868)]

THE LORD
Hast thou, then, nothing more to mention?
Com'st ever, thus, with ill intention?
Find'st nothing right on earth, eternally?

MEPHISTOPHELES
No, Lord! I find things, there, still bad as they can be.
Man's misery even to pity moves my nature;
I've scarce the heart to plague the wretched creature.

[tr. Taylor (1870)]

THE LORD
Hast thou then nothing more to say?
And art thou here again to-day
To vent thy grudge in peevish spite
Against the earth, still finding nothing right?

MEPHISTOPHELES
True, Lord; I find things there no better than before;
I must confess I do deplore
Man’s hopeless case, and scarce have heart myself
To torture the poor miserable elf.

[tr. Blackie (1880)]

THE LORD
Is that the sum of thy narration?
Hast never aught but accusation?
Still upon Earth is nothing to thy mind?

MEPHISTOPHELES
No, Lord! all things on Earth still downright bad I find.
Mortals their piteous fate upon the rack so stretches,
Myself have scarce the heart to plague the wretches.

[tr. Latham (1908)]

THE LORD
Can you not speak but to abuse?
Do you come only to accuse?
Does nothing on the earth seem to you right?

MEPHISTO:
No, Lord. I find it still a rather sorry sight.
Man moves me to compassion, so wretched is his plight.
I have no wish to cause him further woe.

[tr. Kaufmann (1961)]

THE LORD
Is this all you can report?
Must you come forever to accuse?
Is nothing ever right for you on earth?

MEPHISTOPHELES
No, my Lord. I find it there, as always, thoroughly revolting.
I pity men in all their misery
and actually hate to plague the wretches.

[tr. Salm (1962)]

THE LORD
And that is all you have to say?
Must you complain each time you come my way?
Is nothing right in your terrestrial scene?

MEPHISTOPHELES
No, sir! The earth's as bad as it has always been.
I really feel quite sorry for mankind;
Tormenting them myself's no fun, I find.

[tr. Luke (1987)]

THE LORD
Is that all you have got to say to me?
Is that all you can do, accuse eternally?
Is nothing ever right for you down there, sir?

MEPHISTOPHELES
No, nothing, Lord -- all's just as bad as ever.
I really pity humanity's myriad miseries,
I swear I hate tormenting the poor ninnies.

[tr. Greenberg (1992)]

THE LORD
Why are you telling me all this again?
Do you always come here to complain?
Could there be something good on earth that you've forgotten?

MEPHISTOPHELES
No, Lord! I'm pleased to say it's still completely rotten.
I feel quite sorry for their miserable plight;
When it's as bad as that, tormenting them's not right.

[tr. Williams (1999), l. 293ff]

GOD
Have you nothing else to name?
Do you always come here to complain?
Does nothing ever go right on the Earth?

MEPHISTOPHELES
No, Lord! I find, as always, it couldn’t be worse.
I’m so involved with Man’s wretched ways,
I’ve even stopped plaguing them, myself, these days.

[tr. Kline (2003)]

 
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Character is made by many acts; it may be lost by a single one.

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
(Spurious)

Frequently attributed to Aristotle, but not found in his works. One of the earliest references is in J. A. Haigh, "Character," Great Thoughts from Master Minds (5 Oct 1907). Haigh does not present it as his own thought ("Character, it has been well said, is made up ..."). John Christensen notes that the sentiment of the quote is very non-Aristotelian, feeling more like a Christian teaching about sin than a philosophical commentary. Aristotle generally speaks about developing a habit toward virtue (1, 2, 3), not some sort of all-or-nothing moral imperative.
 
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There is no sin punished more implacably by nature than the sin of resistance to change. For change is the very essence of living matter. To resist change is to sin against life itself.

Anne Morrow Lindbergh (1906-2001) American writer, pilot
The Wave of the Future (1940)
    (Source)
 
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A little sin is a big sin when committed by a big man.

Abraham Ibn Ezra
Abraham Ibn Ezra (1092-1167) Spanish Jewish poet, philosopher, Biblical exegete [ר׳ אַבְרָהָם בֶּן מֵאִיר אִבְּן עֶזְרָא‎]
Sefer ha-Yashar (c. 1160)

Commentary on Genesis 32.9. Alternate translation:

Therefore, a minor sin committed by a great personality is considered a major transgression.
[tr. Strickman and Silver (1988)]

 
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All things being equal, those who have more power are liable to sin more; no theorem in geometry is more certain than this.

[Caeteris paribus, on trouvera tousjours que ceux qui ont plus de puissance sont sujets à pécher davantage; et il n’y a point de théorème de géométrie qui soit plus asseuré que cette proposition.]

Gottfried Leibniz
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716) German mathematician, philosopher, diplomat, polymath
Letter to Ernst, Landgrave of Hessen-Rheinfels (9 Jul 1688) [tr. Fasnacht (1952)]
    (Source)

Quoted by John Dalberg, Lord Acton (and thus often attributed to him).

Acton's quotation was in his Inaugural Lecture on History, Cambridge (11 Jun 1895). In the lecture, after mentioning the academic precept "never be surprised by the crumbling of an idol or the disclosure of a skeleton; judge talent at its best and character at its worst; suspect power more than vice," he footnotes this Leibniz quotation (in its source French, with the Latin introduction). This was in turn translated into English in G. E. Fasnacht, Acton's Political Philosophy, ch. 6 (1952), after which it became erroneously cited by others to Acton.

The source letter (in which Leibniz is discussing the Jesuits) is collected in Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, Sämtliche Schriften und Briefe, Series 2, vol. 2, p. 278 (2009), reprinted in Stephen Voss, The Leibniz Arnauld Correspondence (2016) (the Source noted), which offers this alternate translation:

Other things being equal, one will always find that those who have more power are subject to sin more. And there is no theorem of Geometry more sure than this proposition.
[tr. Voss (2016)]

 
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After the first blush of sin comes its indifference; and from immoral it becomes, as were unmoral, and not quite unnecessary to that life which we have made.

Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) American philosopher and writer
“On the Duty of Civil Disobedience” (1849)
    (Source)
 
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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)
 
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More quotes by Shakespeare, William

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)
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“And sin, young man, is when you treat people like things. Including yourself. That’s what sin is.”

“It’s a lot more complicated than that –”

“No. It ain’t. When people say things are a lot more complicated than that, they means they’re getting worried that they won’t like the truth. People as things, that’s where it starts.”

“Oh, I’m sure there are worse crimes –”

“But they starts with thinking about people as things …”

Terry Pratchett (1948-2015) English author
Carpe Jugulum [Granny Weatherwax, Rev. Mightily Oats] (1998)
 
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Christ died for our sins. Dare we make his martyrdom meaningless by not committing them?

Jules Feiffer (b. 1929) American cartoonist, authork, satirist
Little Murders, Act 1 (1967)
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Motto of "The First Existential Church."
 
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A society which reverences the attainment of riches as the supreme felicity will naturally be disposed to regard the poor as damned in the next world, if only to justify making their life a hell in this.

R. H. Tawney (1880-1962) English writer, economist, historian, social critic [Richard Henry Tawney]
Religion and the Rise of Capitalism, ch. 4: The Puritan Movement, sec. 4 “The New Medicine for Poverty” (1926)
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Originally delivered as Holland Lectures, Kings College (Feb-Mar 1922).
 
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We have a tendency to condemn people who are different from us, to define their sins as paramount and our own sinfulness as being insignificant.

Jimmy Carter (b. 1924) American politician, US President (1977-1981), Nobel laureate [James Earl Carter, Jr.]
“A Statesman And a Man Of Faith,” interview by Don Lattin, San Francisco Chronicle (12 Jan 1997)
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The mind sins, not the body; if there is no intention, there is no blame.

[Mentem peccare, non corpus, et unde consilium abfuerit, culpam abesse.]

Livy (59 BC-AD 17) Roman historian [Titus Livius]
Ab Urbe Condita [From the Founding of the City; The History of Rome], Book 1, ch. 58 (27-9 BC)

Reassurances given to Lucretia, wife of Collatinus, after her rape by Sextus Tarquin. She still kills herself.

Different sources use abfuerit or afuerit. Restated as a legal term, it's usually given as Mens peccat, non corpus, et unde consilium abfuit, culpa abest.

Alt. trans.:
  • "That it is the mind sins, not the body; and that where intention was wanting guilt could not be." [tr. Spillan (1896)]
  • "The mind sins, not the body, and there is no guilt when intent is absent." [tr. Luce]
  • "The mind sins, not the body; and where the power of judgment has been absent, guilt is absent." [Source]
  • "The mind alone was capable of sinning, not the body, and that where there was no such intention, there could be no guilt." [tr. Baker (1823)]
  • "It is the mind that sins, not the body, and where there has been no consent there is no guilt." [tr. Roberts (1905)]
  • "It is the mind that sins, not the body; and that where purpose has been wanting there is no guilt." [tr. Foster (1919)]
  • "It is the will only that is capable of sinning, not the body; and where there is no intention, there can be no guilt." [Source]
 
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More quotes by Livy

Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbor, “Let me take the speck out of your eye,” while the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.

The Bible (14th C BC - 2nd C AD) Christian sacred scripture
Matthew 7:3-5 [NRSV]
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Alt. trans.:
  • [KJV] "And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye."
  • [GNT] "Why, then, do you look at the speck in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the log in your own eye? How dare you say to your brother, 'Please, let me take that speck out of your eye,' when you have a log in your own eye? You hypocrite! First take the log out of your own eye, and then you will be able to see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.
 
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The moral is that it is probably better not to sin at all, but if
some kind of sin you must be pursuing,

Well, remember to do it by doing rather than by not doing.

Ogden Nash (1902-1971) American poet
“Portrait of the Artist as a Prematurely Old Man” (1959)
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It is common knowledge to every schoolboy and even every Bachelor of Arts,

That all sin is divided into two parts.

One kind of sin is called a sin of commission, and that is very important

And it is what you are doing when you are doing something you ortant.

And the other kind of sin is just the opposite and is called a sin of omission and is equally bad in the eyes of all right-thinking people, from Billy Sunday to Buddha,

And it consists of not having done something you shudda.

Ogden Nash (1902-1971) American poet
“Portrait of the Artist as a Prematurely Old Man”
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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)
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                        It is the wit,
The policy of sin, to hate those men
We have abus’d.

William Davenant (1606-1668) English poet and playwright [a.k.a. William D'Avenant]
The Just Italian, Act 3, sc. 1 [Sciolto] (1630)
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Natural inclinations are present in things from God, who moves all things. So it is impossible for the natural inclinations of a species to be toward evil in itself. But there is in all perfect animals a natural inclination toward carnal union. Therefore it is impossible for carnal union to be evil in itself.

Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) Italian friar, philosopher, theologian
Summa Contra Gentiles, Book 3, ch. 126, argument 3 [tr. Dominican (1923)]
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Alt. trans.: "Natural inclinations are put into things by God, who is the prime mover of all. Therefore it is impossible for the natural inclination of any species to be directed to an object in itself evil. But in all full-grown animals there is a natural inclination to sexual union, which union therefore cannot be in itself evil."
 
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RESPECTABILITY, n. The social status of people whose sins haven’t quite caught up with them.

Edmund H. Volkart (1919-1992) American sociologist, researcher, editor
The Angel’s Dictionary: A Modern Tribute to Ambrose Bierce (1986)
 
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Satchelmouth was by no means averse to the finger-foxtrot and the skull fandango, but he’d never murdered anyone, at least on purpose. Satchelmouth had been made aware that he had a soul and, though it had a few holes in it and was a little ragged around the edges, he cherished the hope that some day the god Reg would find him a place in a celestial combo. You didn’t get the best gigs if you were a murderer. You probably had to play the viola.

Terry Pratchett (1948-2015) English author
Soul Music (1994)
 
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For the holy are susceptible too to evil, even as you and I, signori; they too are helpless before sin without God’s aid. … And the holy can be fooled by sin as quickly as you or I, signori. Quicker, because they are holy.

William Faulkner (1897-1962) American novelist
“Mistral,” These 13 (1931)
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Man is a reasoning animal. Therefore, man’s highest good is attained if he has fulfilled the good for which nature designed him at birth. And what is it which this reason demands of him? The easiest thing in the world — to live in accordance with his nature. But this has turned into a hard task by the general madness of mankind; we push one
another into vice.

Seneca the Younger (c. 4 BC-AD 65) Roman statesman, philosopher, playwright [Lucius Annaeus Seneca]
Letters to Lucilius, Letter 41 (c. 65 AD)
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The arrogance of some Christians would close heaven to them if, to their misfortune, it existed.

Simone de Beauvoir (1908-1986) French author, existentialist philosopher, feminist theorist
All Said and Done (1972)
 
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That which we call sin in others, is experiment for us.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Experience,” Essays: Second Series (1844)
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A just man is not one who does no ill,
But he, who with the power, has not the will.

Philemon (c. 362 BC – c. 262 BC) Athenian poet and playwright
Sententiæ, II

Attributed in John Booth, Epigrams, Ancient and Modern (1863). .
 
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Ambition hath one heel nailed in hell, though she stretch her finger to touch the heavens.

John Lyly (c. 1553-1606) was an English writer [also Lilly or Lylie]
Midas: A Comedy, Act 2, sc. 1 [Sophronia] (1592)
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Sometimes misquoted as "nailed in well." Sometimes misattributed to Lao-tzu.
 
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For my own part, I consider the best and most finished type of man to be the person who is always ready to make allowances for others, on the ground that never a day passes without his being in fault himself, yet who keeps as clear of faults as if he never pardoned them in others.

[Atque ego optimum et emendatissimum existimo, qui ceteris ita ignoscit, tamquam ipse cotidie peccet, ita peccatis abstinet tamquam nemini ignoscat.]

Pliny the Younger (c. 61-c. 113) Roman politician, writer [Gaius Plinius Caecilius Secundus]
Epistles [Epistulae], Book 8, Letter 22 “To Geminus” [tr. J.B.Firth (1900)]
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Alt. trans.: "The highest of characters, in my estimation, is his, who is as ready to pardon the moral errors of mankind, as if he were every day guilty of some himself; and at the same time as cautious of committing a fault as if he never forgave one."
 
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If God didn’t want women to be looked at, he would have made ’em ugly — that’s reasonable, isn’t it? God isn’t a cheat; He set up the game Himself — He wouldn’t rig it so that the marks can’t win, like a flat joint wheel in a town with the fix on. He wouldn’t send anybody to Hell for losing in a crooked game.

Robert A. Heinlein (1907-1988) American writer
Stranger in a Strange Land, ch. 27 [Patty] (1961)
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‘Tis no Sin to be tempted, but to be overcome.

William Penn (1644-1718) English real estate entrepreneur, philosopher, statesman
Some Fruits of Solitude, #450 (1693)
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He who holds the ladder is as guilty as the thief.

(Other Authors and Sources)
German proverb
 
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What once were vices, are now the manners of the day.

Seneca the Younger (c. 4 BC-AD 65) Roman statesman, philosopher, playwright [Lucius Annaeus Seneca]
Moral Letters to Lucilius [Epistulae morales ad Lucilium], Letter 109
 
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Sin is a queer thing. It isn’t the breaking of divine commandments. It is the breaking of one’s own integrity.

lawrence-sin-is-a-queer-thing-wist_info-quote

David Herbert "D. H." Lawrence (1885-1930) English novelist
Studies in Classic American Literature, ch. 8 (1923)
 
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Children will imitate their fathers in their vices, seldom in their repentance.

Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892) British Baptist preacher, author [Charles Haddon (C.H.) Spurgeon]
Spurgeon’s Sermons, 3rd Series, Sermon 21, “Manasseh” (1883)
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We begin to notice, besides our particular sinful acts, our sinfulness; begin to be alarmed not only about what we do, but about what we are. This may sound rather difficult, so I will try to make it clear from my own case. When I come to my evening prayers and try to reckon up the sins of the day, nine times out of ten the most obvious one is some sin against charity; I have sulked or snapped or sneered or snubbed or stormed. And the excuse that immediately springs to my mind is that the provocation was so sudden and unexpected; I was caught off my guard, I had not time to collect myself.

Now that may be an extenuating circumstance as regards those particular acts: they would obviously be worse if they had been deliberate and premeditated. On the other hand, surely what a man does when he is taken off his guard is the best evidence for what sort of a man he is? Surely what pops out before the man has time to put on a disguise is the truth? If there are rats in a cellar you are most likely to see them if you go in very suddenly. But the suddenness does not create the rats: it only prevents them from hiding. In the same way the suddenness of the provocation does not make me an ill-tempered man; it only shows me what an ill-tempered man I am. The rats are always there in the cellar, but if you go in shouting and noisily they will have taken cover before you switch on the light.

C.S. Lewis (1898-1963) English writer and scholar [Clive Staples Lewis]
Mere Christianity, “Let’s Pretend” (1952)
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He spoke the following parable to some people who prided themselves on being virtuous and despised everyone else, “Two men went up to the Temple to pray, one a Pharisee, the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood there and said this prayer to himself, ‘I thank you, God, that I am not grasping, unjust, adulterous like the rest of mankind, and particularly that I am not like this tax collector here. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes on all I get.’ The tax collector stood some distance away, not daring even to raise his eyes to heaven; but he beat his breast and said, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner.’ This man, I tell you, went home again at rights with God; the other did not. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the man who humbles himself will be exalted.”

The Bible (14th C BC - 2nd C AD) Christian sacred scripture
Luke 18:9-14, “The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector” [Jerusalem]
    (Source)

And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
[KJV]

He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven but was beating his breast and saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other, for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.”
[NRSV]

Jesus also told this parable to people who were sure of their own goodness and despised everybody else. “Once there were two men who went up to the Temple to pray: one was a Pharisee, the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood apart by himself and prayed, ‘I thank you, God, that I am not greedy, dishonest, or an adulterer, like everybody else. I thank you that I am not like that tax collector over there. I fast two days a week, and I give you one tenth of all my income.’ But the tax collector stood at a distance and would not even raise his face to heaven, but beat on his breast and said, ‘God, have pity on me, a sinner!’ I tell you,” said Jesus, “the tax collector, and not the Pharisee, was in the right with God when he went home. For those who make themselves great will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be made great.” [GNT]

 
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Many a man is saved from being a thief by finding everything locked up.

howe-saved-from-being-a-thief-wist_info-quote

Edgar Watson "Ed" Howe (1853-1937) American journalist and author [E. W. Howe]
Ventures in Common Sense, 4.29 (1919)
 
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The devil’s voice is sweet to hear

Stephen King (b. 1947) American author
Needful Things (1991)
 
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Fashions in sin change.

Hellman - fashions in sin change - wist_info quote

Lillian Hellman (1905-1984) American playwright, screenwriter
Watch on the Rhine (1941)
 
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“You are fettered,” said Scrooge, trembling. “Tell me why?”

“I wear the chain I forged in life,” replied the Ghost. “I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it.”

Dickens - forged in life - wist_info quote

Charles Dickens (1812-1870) English writer and social critic
A Christmas Carol (1843)

Sometimes oddly paraphrased, "We forge the chains we wear in life."
 
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An evil-speaker differs from an evil-doer only in the want of opportunity.

[Maledicus a malefico non distat nisi occasione.]

Quintilian (39-90) Roman orator [Marcus Fabius Quintilianus]
De Institutione Oratorio, Book 12, ch. 9, l. 9
 
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‘T is pity though, in this sublime world, that
Pleasure’s a sin, and sometimes sin’s a pleasure.

Byron - pleasures a sin - wist_info quote

George Gordon, Lord Byron (1788-1824) English poet
Don Juan, Canto 1, st. 133 (1818)
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One of the temptations of upper-middle class life is to create sharp edges of our moral sensitivities that allows comfortable confusions about sin and virtue. The difference between rich and poor is not that the rich sin more than the poor, it is that the rich find it easier to call sin a virtue. When the poor sin, they call it sin; when they see holiness, they identify it as such. This intuitive clarity is often absent from the wealthy, and that absence easily leads to the atrophy of the moral sense.

Henri Nouwen (1932-1996) Dutch Catholic priest and writer
Encounters with Merton (2004)
 
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