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    temperance


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Few people remember having been young, and how hard they found it to be chaste and sober.

[Peu de gens se souviennent d’avoir été jeunes, et combien il leur était difficile d’être chastes et tempérants.]

Jean de La Bruyere
Jean de La Bruyère (1645-1696) French essayist, moralist
The Characters [Les Caractères], ch. 11 “Of Mankind [De l’Homme],” § 112 (11.112) (1688) [tr. Stewart (1970)]
    (Source)

(Source (French)). Alternate translations:

Few people remember that they have been young, and how hard it was then to live chaste and temperate.
[Bullord ed. (1696)]

Few People remember they have been Young, and how hard it was then to live Chaste and Temperate.
[Curll ed. (1713)]

Few remember that they have been young, and how hard it was then to live chaste and temperate.
[Browne ed. (1752)]

Few men remember that they have been young, and how hard it was then to live chaste and temperate.
[tr. Van Laun (1885)]

 
Added on 20-Dec-22 | Last updated 6-Jun-23
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The world belongs to the enthusiast who keeps cool.

William McFee (1881-1966) English writer
Casuals of the Sea, Book 1, ch. 13 (1916)
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Added on 21-May-21 | Last updated 21-May-21
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The good things of youth are strength and beauty, but the flower of age is moderation.

[Ἰσχὺς καὶ εὐμορφίη νεότητος ἀγαθά, γήραος δὲ σωφροσύνη ἄνθος.]

Democritus (c. 460 BC - c. 370 BC) Greek philosopher
Frag. 294 (Diels) [tr. Freeman (1948)]
    (Source)

Diels citation: "294. (205 N.)"; ; collected in Joannes Stobaeus (Stobaios) Anthologium IV, 115, 19.

Alternate translations:

  • "The good things of youth are strength and beauty; moderation is the flower of age." [Source]
  • "Strength and beauty are the blessings of youth; temperance, however, is the flower of old age."
 
Added on 26-Jan-21 | Last updated 23-Feb-21
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The way to avoid evil is not by maiming our passions, but by compelling them to yield their vigor to our moral nature. Thus they become, as in the ancient fable, the harnessed steeds which bear the chariot of the sun.

Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887) American clergyman and orator
Life Thoughts (1858)
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Added on 10-Jul-17 | Last updated 10-Jul-17
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No tendency is quite so strong in human nature as the desire to lay down rules of conduct for other people.

William Howard Taft (1857-1930) US President (1909-13) and Chief Justice (1921-1930)
Ladies Home Journal (May 1919)

Regarding the temperance movement. Quoted in Robert J. Schoenberg, Mr. Capone (1992).
 
Added on 17-Aug-15 | Last updated 17-Aug-15
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The period of Prohibition — called the noble experiment — brought on the greatest breakdown of law and order the United States has known until today. I think there is a lesson here. Do not regulate the private morals of people. Do not tell them what they can take or not take. Because if you do, they will become angry and antisocial and they will get what they want from criminals who are able to work in perfect freedom because they have paid off the police.

Gore Vidal (1925-2012) American novelist, dramatist, critic
“The State of the Union”, Esquire (May 1975)
 
Added on 6-Nov-12 | Last updated 28-Jan-20
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Virtues, however, we acquire by first exercising them. The same is true with skills, since what we need to learn before doing, we learn by doing; for example, we become builders by building, and lyre-players by playing the lyre. So too we become just by doing just actions, temperate by temperate actions, and courageous by courageous actions.

[τὰς δ’ ἀρετὰς λαμβάνομεν ἐνεργήσαντες πρότερον, ὥσπερ καὶ ἐπὶ τῶν ἄλλων τεχνῶν· ἃ γὰρ δεῖ μαθόντας ποιεῖν, ταῦτα ποιοῦντες μανθάνομεν, οἷον οἰκοδομοῦντες οἰκοδόμοι γίνονται καὶ κιθαρίζοντες κιθαρισταί· οὕτω δὴ καὶ τὰ μὲν δίκαια πράττοντες δίκαιοι γινόμεθα, τὰ δὲ σώφρονα σώφρονες, τὰ δ’ ἀνδρεῖα ἀνδρεῖοι.]

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Nicomachean Ethics [Ἠθικὰ Νικομάχεια], Book 2, ch. 1 (2.1, 1103a.32ff) (c. 325 BC) [tr. Crisp (2000)]
    (Source)

(Source (Greek)). Alternate translations:

But the Virtues we get by first performing single acts of working, which, again, is the case of other things, as the arts for instance; for what we have to make when we have learned how, these we learn how to make by making: men come to be builders, for instance, by building; harp-players, by playing on the harp: exactly so, by doing just actions we come to be just; by doing the actions of self-mastery we come to be perfected in self-mastery; and by doing brave actions brave.
[tr. Chase (1847)]

But the virtues we acquire by previous practice of their acts, exactly as we acquire our knowledge of the various arts. For, in the case of the arts, that which we have to be taught to do, that we learn by doing it. We become masons, for instance, by building; and harpers b y playing upon the harp. And so, in like manner, we become just by doing what is just, temperate by doing what is temperate, and brave by doing what is brave.
[tr. Williams (1869), sec. 23]

But the virtues we acquire by first exercising them, as is the case with all the arts, for it is by doing what we ought to do when we have learnt the arts that we learn the arts themselves; we become e.g. builders by building and harpists by playing the harp. Similarly it is by doing just acts that we become just, by doing temperate acts that we become temperate, by doing courageous acts that we become courageous.
[tr. Welldon (1892)]

But the virtues we acquire by doing the acts, as is the case with the arts too. We learn an art by doing that which we wish to do when we have learned it; we become builders by building, and harpers by harping. And so by doing just acts we become just, and by doing acts of temperance and courage we become temperate and courageous.
[tr. Peters (1893)]

But the virtues we get by first exercising them, as also happens in the case of the arts as well. For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them, e.g. men become builders by building and lyreplayers by playing the lyre; so too we become just by doing just acts, temperate by doing temperate acts, brave by doing brave acts.
[tr. Ross (1908)]

The virtues on the other hand we acquire by first having actually practised them, just as we do the arts. We learn an art or craft by doing the things that we shall have to do when we have learnt it: for instance, men become builders by building houses, harpers by playing on the harp. Similarly we become just by doing just acts, temperate by doing temperate acts, brave by doing brave acts.
[tr. Rackham (1934), ch. 1, sec. 4]

The virtues, by contrast, we acquire by first engaging in the activities, as is also true in the case of the various crafts. For the things we cannot produce without learning to do so are the very ones we learn to produce by producing them -- for example, we become builders by building houses and lyre players by playing the lyre. Similarly, then, we become just people by doing just actions, temperate people by doing temperate actions, and courageous people by doing courageous ones.
[tr. Reeve (1948)]

In the case of the virtues, on the other hand, we acquire them as a result of prior activities; and this is like the case of the arts, for that which we are to perform by art after learning, we first learn by performing, e.g., we become builders by building and lyre-players by playing the lyre. Similarly, we become just by doing what is just, temperate by doing what is temperate, and brave by doing brave deeds.
[tr. Apostle (1975)]

Virtues, by contrast, we acquire, just as we acquire crafts, by having previously activated them. For we learn a craft by producing the same product that we must produce when we have learned it, becoming builders, for instance, by building and harpists by playing the harp, so also, then, we become just by doing just actions, temperate by doing temperate actions, brave by doing brave actions.
[tr. Irwin/Fine (1995)]

For as regards those things we must learn how to do, we learn by doing them -- for example by building houses, people become house builders, and by playing the cithara, they become cithara players. So too, then, by doing just things become just; moderate things, moderate; and courageous things, courageous.
[tr. Bartlett/Collins (2011)]

We develop virtues after we have practiced them beforehand, the same way it works with the other arts. For, we learn as we do those very things we need to do once we have learned the art completely. So, for example, men become carpenters by building homes and lyre-players by practicing the lyre. In the same way, we become just by doing just things, prudent by practicing wisdom, and brave by committing brave deeds.
[tr. @sentantiq (2017)]

 
Added on 24-Jan-11 | Last updated 14-Dec-21
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I have not been afraid of excess: excess on occasion is exhilarating. It prevents moderation from acquiring the deadening effect of a habit.

W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965) English novelist and playwright [William Somerset Maugham]
The Summing Up, ch. 15 (1938)
 
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 10-Mar-16
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For he that makes any thing his chiefest good, wherein justice or virtue does not bear a part, and sets up profit, not honesty, for the measure of his happiness; as long as he acts in conformity with his own principles, and is not overruled by the mere dictates of reason and humanity, can never do the offices of friendship, justice, or liberality: nor can he ever be a man of courage, who thinks that pain is the greatest evil; or he of temperance, who imagines pleasure to be the sovereign good.

[Nam qui summum bonum sic instituit, ut nihil habeat cum virtute coniunctum, idque suis commodis, non honestate metitur, hic, si sibi ipse consentiat et non interdum naturae bonitate vincatur neque amicitiam colere possit nec iustitiam nec liberalitatem; fortis vero dolorem summum malum iudicans aut temperans voluptatem summum bonum statuens esse certe nullo modo potest.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
De Officiis [On Duties; On Moral Duty; The Offices], Book 1, ch. 2 (1.2) / sec. 5 (44 BC) [tr. Cockman (1699)]
    (Source)

Attacking the Epicurean "highest good" of avoiding pain and seeking personal detachment; Cicero supported the Stoic virtues of courage and moderation.

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

He who teaches that to be the chief good which hath no connection with virtue, which is measured by personal advantage, and not by honor; if he be consistent with himself, and not sometimes overcome by the benignity of nature, can neither cultivate friendship nor practice justice nor liberality. That man cannot be brave who believes pain the greatest evil; nor temperate, who believes pleasure the supreme good.
[tr. McCartney (1798)]

For if a man should lay down as the chief good, that which has no connexion with virtue, and measure it by his own interests, and not according to its moral merit; if such a man shall act consistently with his own principles, and is not sometimes influenced by the good ness of his heart, he can cultivate neither friendship, justice, nor generosity. In truth, it is impossible for the man to be brave who shall pronounce pain to be the greatest evil, or temperate who shall propose pleasure as the highest good.
[tr. Edmonds (1865)]

For he who so interprets the supreme good as to disjoin it from virtue, and measures it by his own convenience, and not by the standard of right, -- he, I say, if he be consistent with himself, and be not sometimes overcome by natural goodness, can cultivate neither friendship, nor justice, nor generosity; nor can he possibly be brave while he esteems pain as the greatest of evils, or temperate while he regards pleasure as the supreme good.
[tr. Peabody (1883)]

He who severs the highest good from virtue and measures it by interest and not by honour, if he were true to his principles and did not at times yield to his better nature, could not cultivate friendship, justice or liberality; and no one can be brave who declares pain the greatest evil, or temperate who maintains pleasure to be the highest good.
[tr. Gardiner (1899)]

For he who posits the supreme good as having no connection with virtue and measures it not by a moral standard but by his own interests -- if he should be consistent and not rather at times over-ruled by his better nature, he could value neither friendship nor justice nor generosity; and brave he surely cannot possibly be that counts pain the supreme evil, nor temperate he that holds pleasure to be the supreme good.
[tr. Miller (1913)]

Take, for example, the man who has established the kind of highest good that has nothing to do with virtue, that is, measured by the individual's convenience, not by his morality. If that man is consistent and is not in the meantime overcome by natural goodness, he cannot cultivate friendship, or justice, or openness of character. In fact, a man of courage who considers pain the greatest evil, or a temperate man who declares indulgence to be the greatest good, is surely an impossible contradiction.
[tr. Edinger (1974)]

No man can be brave who thinks pain the greatest evil; nor temperate, who considers pleasure the highest good.
[Source]

 
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 8-Sep-22
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