Quotations about   stubbornness

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No,
it’s no disgrace for a man, even a wise man,
to learn many things and not to be too rigid.
You’ve seen trees by a raging winter torrent,
how many sway with the flood and salvage every twig,
but not the stubborn — they’re ripped out, roots and all.

[ἀλλ᾽ ἄνδρα, κεἴ τις ᾖ σοφός, τὸ μανθάνειν
πόλλ᾽, αἰσχρὸν οὐδὲν καὶ τὸ μὴ τείνειν ἄγαν.
ὁρᾷς παρὰ ῥείθροισι χειμάρροις ὅσα
δένδρων ὑπείκει, κλῶνας ὡς ἐκσῴζεται,
τὰ δ᾽ ἀντιτείνοντ᾽ αὐτόπρεμν᾽ ἀπόλλυται.]

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Antigone, ll. 710-714 [Haemon] (441 BC) [tr. Fagles (1982), l. 794ff]
    (Source)

Ancient Greek. Alternate translations:

But that a man, how wise soe'er, should learn
In many things and slack his stubborn will,
This is no derogation. When the streams
Are swollen by mountain-torrents, thou hast seen
That all the trees wich bend them to the flood
Preserve their branches from the angry current,
While those which stem it perish root and branch.
[tr. Donaldson (1848)]

The wisest man will let himself be swayed
By others' wisdom and relax in time.
See how the trees beside a stream in flood
Save, if they yield to force, each spray unharmed,
But by resisting perish root and branch.
[tr. Campbell (1873)]

'Tis no disgrace even to the wise to learn
And lend an ear to reason. You may see
The plant that yields where torrent waters flow
Saves every little twig, when the stout tree
Is torn away and dies.
[tr. Storr (1859)]

No, even when a man is wise, it brings him no shame to learn many things, and not to be too rigid. You see how the trees that stand beside the torrential streams created by a winter storm yield to it and save their branches, while the stiff and rigid perish root and all?
[tr. Jebb (1891)]

True wisdom will be ever glad to learn,
And not too fond of power. Observe the trees,
That bend to wintry torrents, how their boughs
Unhurt remain; while those that brave the storm,
Uprooted torn, shall wither and decay.
[tr. Werner (1892)]

No, though a man be wise, 'tis no shame for him to learn many things, and to bend in season. Seest thou, beside the wintry torrent's course, how the trees that yield to it save every twig, while the stiff-necked perish root and branch?
[tr. Jebb (1917)]

It is not reason never to yield to reason!
In flood time you can see how some trees bend,
And because they bend, even their twigs are safe,
While stubborn trees are torn up, roots and all
[tr. Fitts/Fitzgerald (1939), l. 570ff]

It is no weakness for the wisest man
To learn when he is wrong, know when to yield.
So, on the margin of a flooded river
Trees bending to the torrent live unbroken,
While those that strain against it are snapped off.
[tr. Watling (1947), l. 608ff]

A man, though wise, should never be ashamed
of learning more, and must unbend his mind.
Have you not seen the trees beside the torrent,
the ones that bend them saving every leaf,
while the resistant perish root and branch?
[tr. Wyckoff (1954)]

There's no disgrace, even if one is wise,
In learning more, and knowing when to yield.
See how the trees that grow beside a torrent
Preserve their branches, if they bend; the others,
Those that resist, are torn out, root and branch.
[tr. Kitto (1962)]

But a wise man can learn a lot and never be ashamed;
He knows he does not have to be rigid and close-hauled.
You've seen trees tossed by a torrent in a flash flood:
If they bend, they're saved, and every twig survives,
But if they stiffen up, they're washed out from the roots.
[tr. Woodruff (2001)]

But for a man, even if he is wise, to go on learning
many things and not to be drawn too taut is no shame.
You see how along streams swollen from winter floods
some trees yield and save their twigs,
but others resist and perish, root and branch.
[tr. Tyrell/Bennett (2002)]

On the contrary, it is no shame for even a wise man to continue learning. Nor should a man be obstinate. One can see the trees on the heavy river-banks. Those that bend with the rushing current, survive, whereas those bent against it are torn, roots and all.
[tr. Theodoridis (2004)]

For any man,
even if he’s wise, there’s nothing shameful
in learning many things, staying flexible.
You notice how in winter floods the trees
which bend before the storm preserve their twigs.
The ones who stand against it are destroyed,
root and branch.
[tr. Johnston (2005), l. 804ff]

No, it's no disgrace for a man, even a wise man, to learn many things and not to be too rigid. You see how, in the winter storms, the trees yield that save even their twigs, but those who oppose it are destroyed root and branch.
[tr. Thomas (2005)]
Added on 21-Jan-21 | Last updated 21-Jan-21
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He is onstage now to die, unrepentant to the last, and breathing the belief of all extremists always — that all misfortune comes from compromise and that only unyieldingness can win out.

Isaac Asimov (1920-1992) Russian-American author, polymath, biochemist
Asimov’s Guide to Shakespeare, “Henry VI, Part III” (1970)
    (Source)

Regarding Clifford, the Lancastrian fanatic, in Act 2, sc. 6.
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Every fool is fully convinced, and every one fully persuaded is a fool: the more erroneous his judgment, the more firmly he holds it.

Baltasar Gracián y Morales (1601-1658) Spanish Jesuit priest, writer, philosopher
The Art of Worldly Wisdom [Oráculo Manual y Arte de Prudencia], #183 (1647) [tr. Jacobs (1892)]
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BOB: But that’s okay, because what’s important is that Mommy and I are always a team. We’re always united, against, uh, the forces of, uh —
HELEN: Pig-headed-ness?
BOB: Uh, I was gonna say, “Evil.”

Brad Bird (b. 1957) American director, animator and screenwriter [Phillip Bradley Bird]
The Incredibles (2004)
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Added on 29-Jan-20 | Last updated 29-Jan-20
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Like all weak men he laid an exaggerated stress on not changing one’s mind.

W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965) English novelist and playwright [William Somerset Maugham]
Of Human Bondage, ch. 39 (1915)
    (Source)
Added on 15-Jun-17 | Last updated 15-Jun-17
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Thanks to God that he gave me stubbornness when I know I am right.

John Adams (1735-1826) American lawyer, Founding Father, statesman, US President (1797-1801)
Letter to Edmund Jennings (1782)
Added on 2-Nov-16 | Last updated 2-Nov-16
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Obstinacy in a bad cause is but consistency in a good.

Thomas Browne (1605-1682) English physician and author
Religio Medici, Part 1, sec. 25 (1642) [ed. Symonds (1886)]
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Added on 18-May-16 | Last updated 17-Sep-20
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The world is made up for the most part of morons and natural tyrants, sure of themselves, strong in their own opinions, never doubting anything.

Clarence Darrow (1857-1938) American lawyer
Personal Liberty (1928)
Added on 25-Apr-16 | Last updated 25-Apr-16
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Few things are so immutable as the addiction of political groups to the ideas by which they have once won office.

John Kenneth Galbraith (1908-2006) Canadian-American economist, diplomat, author
The Affluent Society, ch. 13, sec. 4 (1958)
Added on 22-Jun-12 | Last updated 14-Jan-20
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You can’t reason someone out of something they weren’t reasoned into.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
(Attributed)
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O my son!
These are no trifles! Think: all men make mistakes,
But a good man yields when he knows his course is wrong,
And repairs the evil. The only crime is pride.

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Antigone, l. 1022ff [Tiresias] (441 BC) [tr. Fitts/Fitzgerald (1939), ll. 803ff]
    (Source)

Alt. trans.:

Then take these things to heart, my son: for error
Is as the universal lot of man;
But whenso'er he errs, that man no longer
Is witless or unblessed, who, having fallen
Into misfortune, seeks to mend his ways
And is not obstinate: the stiffneckt temper
Must oft plead guilty to the charge of folly.
[tr. Donaldson (1848)]

Now, then, my son, take thought. A man may err;
But he is not insensate or foredoomed
To ruin, who, when he hath lapsed to evil,
Stands not inflexible, but heals the harm.
The obstinate man still earns the name of fool.
[tr. Campbell (1873)]

O ponder this, my son. To err is common
To all men, but the man who having erred
Hugs not his errors, but repents and seeks
The cure, is not a wastrel nor unwise.
No fool, the saw goes, like the obstinate fool.
[tr. Storr (1859)]

Think, therefore, on these things, my son. All men are liable to err. But when an error is made, that man is no longer unwise or unblessed who heals the evil into which he has fallen and does not remain stubborn. Self-will, we know, invites the charge of foolishness.
[tr. Jebb (1891)]

Consider this, my son! and, O remember,
To err is human; 'tis the common lot
Of frail mortality; and he alone
Is wise and happy, who, when ills are done,
Persists not, but would heal the wound he made.
[tr. Werner (1892)]

Think, then, on these things, my son. All men are liable to err; but when an error hath been made, that man is no longer witless or unblest who heals the ill into which he hath fallen, and remains not stubborn. Self-will, we know, incurs the charge of folly.
[tr. Jebb (1917)]

Mark this, my son: all men fall into sin.
But sinning, he is not forever lost
Hapless and helpless, who can make amends
And has not set his face against repentance.
Only a fool is governed by self-will.
[tr. Watling (1939)]

Think of these things, my son. All men may err
but error once committed, he's no fool
nor yet unfortunate, who gives up his stiffness
ad cures the trouble he has fallen in.
Stubbornness and stupidity are twins.
[tr. Wyckoff (1954)]

Be warned, my son, No man alive is free
From error, but the wise and prudent man
When he has fallen into evil courses
Does not persist, but tries to find amendment ....
[tr. Kitto (1962)]

Take these things to heart, my son, I warn you.
All men make mistakes, it is only human.
But once the wrong is done, a man
can turn his back on folly, misfortune too,
if he tries to make amends, however low he's fallen,
and stops his bullnecked ways. Stubbornness
brands you for stupidity -- pride is a crime
[tr. Fagles (1982), l. 1131ff]

Therefore, think about this, child. For men,
all of them, it is common to make mistakes.
Whenever he does make a mistake, that man is still not
foolish or unhappy who, fallen into evil,
applies a remedy and does not become immovable.
Stubborn self-will incurs a charge of stupidity.
[tr. Tyrell/Bennett (2002)]

Understand this: All men make mistakes. But when they do, it would be a wise and well acting man who corrected that mistake and moved on rather than stayed there stubbornly and unrepentant. The stubborn man is rewarded with more errors.
[tr. Theodoridis (2004)]

Consider this, my son.
All men make mistakes -- that's not uncommon.
But when they do, they’re no longer foolish
or subject to bad luck if they try to fix
the evil into which they’ve fallen,
once they give up their intransigence.
Men who put their stubbornness on show
invite accusations of stupidity.
[tr. Johnston (2005), l. 1138ff]

Therefore, think on these things, my child; for every human being makes mistakes, but when he has made a mistake, that man is no longer foolish and unhappy who remedies the evil into which he has fallen and is not stubborn. Obstinacy brings the charge of stupidity.
[tr. Thomas (2005)]

Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 21-Dec-20
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