Quotations about   stealing

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To have and not give is in some cases worse than stealing.

[Haben und nichts geben, ist in manchen Fällen schlechter als stehlen.]

Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach (1830-1916) Austrian writer
Aphorisms [Aphorismen], No. 41 (1880-1893) [tr. Wister (1882)]

(Source (German)). Alternate translation:

To have and not give is in some instances worse than stealing.
[tr. Scrase/Mieder (1994)]
Added on 2-Aug-22 | Last updated 2-Aug-22
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If fifty bands of men surrounded us
and every sword sang for your blood,
you could make off still with their cows and sheep.

[εἴ περ πεντήκοντα λόχοι μερόπων ἀνθρώπων
νῶϊ περισταῖεν, κτεῖναι μεμαῶτες Ἄρηϊ,
καί κεν τῶν ἐλάσαιο βόας καὶ ἴφια μῆλα.]

Homer (fl. 7th-8th C. BC) Greek author
The Odyssey [Ὀδύσσεια], Book 20, l. 49ff (20.49) [Athena to Odysseus] (c. 700 BC) [tr. Fitzgerald (1961)]

(Source (Greek)). Alternate translations:

If there were
Of divers-languag’d men an army here
Of fifty companies, all driving hence
Thy sheep and oxen, and with violence
Offer’d to charge us, and besiege us round,
Thou shouldst their prey reprise, and them confound.
[tr. Chapman (1616)]

Though fifty bands of men should us oppose,
You should their herds of cattle drive away.
[tr. Hobbes (1675), l. 37ff]

Were we hemm’d around
By fifty troops of shouting warriors bent
To slay thee, thou should’st yet securely drive
The flocks away and cattle of them all.
[tr. Cowper (1792), l. 54ff]

Though fifty bands stood threatening thee and me,
All breathing slaughter, their fat kine and sheep
Thou shouldst drive off, and take their wealth in fee.
[tr. Worsley (1861), st. 6]

If fifty troops of men, as good as thou
Surround us twain, and strive to slay in battle,
Of their fat kine and sheep should'st thou be captor!
[tr. Bigge-Wither (1869)]

Though fifty bands of mortals that in speech
Articulate use their tongues around us rose
In conflict fierce to kill us both intent,
Still should'st though prove the man that all those beeves
And fatten'd flocks should to thye homestall drive.
[tr. Musgrave (1869), l. 70ff]

Even should fifty companies of mortal men compass us about eager to slay us in battle, even their kine shouldst thou drive off and their brave flocks.
[tr. Butcher/Lang (1879)]

If fifty bands of menfolk, word-speaking wights that are,
Stood round about us, eager for our slaying in the war,
Yet their kine shouldst though be driving and their goodly fatted sheep.
[tr. Morris (1887)]

Should fifty troops of mortal men stand round about us, eager in the fight to slay, you still might drive them away from their oxen and sturdy sheep.
[tr. Palmer (1891)]

Even though there were fifty bands of men surrounding us and eager to kill us, you should take all their sheep and cattle, and drive them away with you.
[tr. Butler (1898)]

If fifty troops of mortal men should stand about us, eager to slay us in battle, even their cattle and goodly sheep shouldest thou drive off.
[tr. Murray (1919)]

Though fifty troops of humans hemmed us round, all mad to kill outright, yet shuld you win through to lift their flocks and herds.
[tr. Lawrence (1932)]

If you and I were surrounded by fifty companies of men-at-arms, all thirsting for your blood, you could drive away their cows and sheep beneath their very noses.
[tr. Rieu (1946)]

Even though there were fifty battalions of mortal people
standing around us, furious to kill in the spirit of battle,
even so you could drive away their cattle and fat sheep.
[tr. Lattimore (1965)]

Even if fifty bands of mortal fighters
closed around us, hot to kill us off in battle,
still you could drive away their herds and sleek flocks!
[tr. Fagles (1996)]

Even if there were fifty squadrons of armed men
All around us, doing their mortal best to kill us,
You would still be able to run off with their cattle!
[tr. Lombardo (2000)]

If in fact there were fifty battalions of men who are mortal
Standing around us, eagerly striving to kill us in battle,
even from them you would drive their cattle away and their fat sheep.
[tr. Merrill (2002)]

You and I could be surrounded by fifty companies of men-at-arms, all thirsting for our blood, but you would still drive away their cows and sheep.
[tr. DCH Rieu (2002)]

If we were ambushed, surrounded by not one but fifty gangs of men who hoped to murder us -- you would escape, and even poach their sheep and cows.
[tr. Wilson (2017)]

If there were fifty troops of mortal men in ambush all around us, firmly determined to kill us, nevertheless even then you'd drive off their cattle and fattened sheep.
[tr. Green (2018)]

Even were fifty troops around us, to kill us, you'd end by driving off their cattle!
[tr. Green (2018), summary]

If there were fifty groups
of other men standing here around us,
intent on slaughter, even so, I say,
you’d still drive off their cattle and fine sheep.
[tr. Johnston (2019), l. 55ff]

Added on 20-Oct-21 | Last updated 1-Dec-21
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Stealing, of course, is a crime, and a very impolite thing to do. But like most impolite things, it is excusable under certain circumstances. Stealing is not excusable if, for instance, you are in a museum and you decide that a certain painting would look better in your house, and you simply grab the painting and take it there. But if you were very, very hungry, and you had no way of obtaining money, it might be excusable to grab the painting, take it to your house, and eat it.

Lemony Snicket (b. 1970) American author, screenwriter, musician (pseud. for Daniel Handler)
The Wide Window (2000)
Added on 30-Dec-20 | Last updated 30-Dec-20
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For de little stealin’ dey gits you in jail soon or late. For de big stealin’ dey makes you Emperor and puts you in de Hall o’ Fame when you croaks.


Eugene O'Neill (1888-1953) Irish American playwright, Nobel laureate
The Emperor Jones, 1 (1921)
Added on 23-Nov-16 | Last updated 23-Nov-16
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Many a man is saved from being a thief by finding everything locked up.


Edgar Watson "Ed" Howe (1853-1937) American journalist and author [E. W. Howe]
Ventures in Common Sense, 4.29 (1919)
Added on 21-Oct-16 | Last updated 21-Oct-16
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Money dishonestly acquired is never worth its cost, while a good conscience never costs as much as it is worth.

Jean-Antoine Petit-Senn (1792-1870) French-Swiss poet
Maxims and Ethical Sentences
Added on 26-Jul-16 | Last updated 26-Jul-16
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Accepting praize that iz not our due iz not mutch better than tew be a receiver of stolen goods.

[Accepting praise that is not our due is not much better than to be a receiver of stolen goods.]

Josh Billings (1818-1885) American humorist [pseud. of Henry Wheeler Shaw]
Everybody’s Friend, Or; Josh Billing’s Encyclopedia and Proverbial Philosophy of Wit and Humor, “Stray Children” (1874)
Added on 29-Apr-15 | Last updated 29-Apr-15
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Still, I do not mean to find fault with the accumulation of property, provided it hurts nobody, but unjust acquisition of it is always to be avoided.

[Nec vero rei familiaris amplificatio nemini nocens vituperanda est, sed fugienda semper iniuria est.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
De Officiis [On Duties; On Moral Duty; The Offices], Book 1, ch. 8 (1.8) / sec. 25 (44 BC) [tr. Miller (1913)]

Original Latin. Alt. trans.:
  • "Not but that a moderate desire of riches, and bettering a man's estate, so long as it abstains from oppressing of others, is allow enough; but a very great care ought alwys to be taken that we be not drawn to any injustice by it." [tr. Cockman (1699)]
  • "The enlargement of fortune is blameless, while no man suffers by its increase; but injury is forever to be avoided" [tr. McCartney (1798)]
  • "Nor indeed is the mere desire to improve one's private fortune, without injury to another, deserving of blame; but injustice must ever be avoided." [tr. Edmonds (1865)]
  • "Nor, indeed, is the increase of property, without harm to any one, to be blamed; but wrong-doing for the sake of gain is never to be tolerated." [tr. Peabody (1883)]
Added on 27-Sep-12 | Last updated 11-Aug-22
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