Quotations about   unworthiness

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Nothing could be less worthy of you than to think anything worse than dishonor, infamous behavior, and wickedness. To escape these, any pain is not so much as to be avoided as to be sought voluntarily, undergone, and welcomed.

[Quid enim minus est dignum quam tibi peius quicquam videri dedecore flagitio turpitudine? Quae ut effugias, quis est non modo recusandus, sed non ultro adpetendus subeundus excipiendus dolor?]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
Tusculan Disputations [Tusculanae Disputationes], Book 2, ch. 5 / sec. 14 [Marcus] (45 BC) [tr. Douglas (1990)]

Original Latin. Alternate translations:

For what is more unsuitable to that high Character, than for you to think any thing worse, than dishonour, scandal, baseness? to avoid which, what Pain would not only not be declin'd, but also be eagerly pursu'd, undergone, encounter'd?
[tr. Wase (1643)]

For what is so unbecoming? What can appear worse to you, than disgrace, wickedness, immorality? To avoid which, what pain should we not only not refuse, but willingly take on ourselves?
[tr. Main (1824)]

For what is less worthy than for anything to appear worse to you than disgrace, turpitude, wickedness? which to escape, what pain is to be refused, or rather not to be welcomed, sought for, embraced?
[tr. Otis (1839)]

For what is so unbecoming -- what can appear worse to you, than disgrace, wickedness, immorality? To avoid which, what pain is there which we ought not (I will not say to avoid shirking, but even) of our own accord to encounter, and undergo, and even to court?
[tr. Yonge (1853)]

For what is more unworthy than that anything should seem to you worse than disgrace, crime, baseness? To escape these what pain should be not only not shunned, but voluntarily sought, endured, welcomed?
[tr. Peabody (1886)]

There is nothing more unworthy than for you to think anything worse than disgrace, criminal behavior, and infamous conduct. In order to escape these, any pain is not so to be rejected, as to be actively sought out, undergone, welcomed.
[tr. Davie (2017)]

Added on 12-Jul-21 | Last updated 12-Jul-21
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You can tell the man who rings true from the man who rings false, not by his deeds alone, but also by his desires.

[Δόκιμος ἀνὴρ καὶ ἀδόκιμος οὐκ ἐξ ὧν πράσσει μόνον, ἀλλὰ καὶ ἐξ ὧν βούλεται.]

Democritus (c. 460 BC - c. 370 BC) Greek philosopher
Frag. 68 (Diels) [tr. Bakewell (1907)]

Diels citation "68. (40 N.) DEMOKRATES. 33." Bakewell lists this under "The Golden Sayings of Democritus." Freeman notes this as one of the Gnômae, from a collection called "Maxims of Democratês," but because Stobaeus quotes many of these as "Maxims of Democritus," they are generally attributed to the latter.

Alternate translations:

  • "A man is approved or rejected not only by what he doth, but by what he wills." [Hammond (1845)]
  • "The worthy and the unworthy man are to be known not only by their actions, but also their wishes." [tr. Freeman (1948)]
  • "One of esteem and one without it do not only act for different reasons but they desire for different reasons too." [tr. @sententiq (2018), fr. 67]
  • "Accomplished or unaccomplished we shall call a man not only from what he does but from what he desires, too." [Source]
  • "The worthy and unworthy are known not only by their deeds, but also by their desires." [Source]
Added on 2-Mar-21 | Last updated 11-May-21
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