Quotations about   woman

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And so I say that for brutality and infamy there is no one to equal a woman who can contemplate such deeds. Who else could conceive so hideous a crime as her deliberate butchery of her husband and her lord?

[ὣς οὐκ αἰνότερον καὶ κύντερον ἄλλο γυναικός,
ἥ τις δὴ τοιαῦτα μετὰ φρεσὶν ἔργα βάληται:
οἷον δὴ καὶ κείνη ἐμήσατο ἔργον ἀεικές,
κουριδίῳ τεύξασα πόσει φόνον.]

Homer (fl. 7th-8th C. BC) Greek author
The Odyssey [Ὀδύσσεια], Book 11, l. 427ff [Agamemnon] (c. 700 BC) [tr. Rieu (1946)]
    (Source)

Original Greek. Alternate translations:

Nothing so heap’d is with impieties,
As such a woman that would kill her spouse
That married her a maid.
[tr. Chapman (1616)]

Nothing so cruel as a woman yet
Did nature e’er produce; a thought so ill
In any other breast did never sit,
As her own loving husband’s blood to spill.
[tr. Hobbes (1675), l. 409ff]

O woman, woman, when to ill thy mind
Is bent, all hell contains no fouler fiend:
And such was mine! who basely plunged her sword
Through the fond bosom where she reign'd adored!
[tr. Pope (1725)]

So that the thing breathes not, ruthless and fell
As woman once resolv’d on such a deed
Detestable, as my base wife contrived,
The murther of the husband of her youth.
[tr. Cowper (1792), l. 519ff]

Since nought exists more horrible and bold
Than evil in the breast of womankind,
When she to her own lust herself hath sold,
Even as this fell monster in her mind
Against the husband of her youth designed
Black murder.
[tr. Worsley (1861), st. 60]

Thus there is nought more horrible and shameless,
Than woman, who such deeds as these could think on!
Like as she compassed this unseemly deed --
Blood -- murder 'gainst the husband of her youth!
[tr. Bigge-Wither (1869)]

So surely is there nought more terrible and shameless than a woman who imagines such evil in her heart, even as she too planned a foul deed, fashioning death for her wedded lord.
[tr. Butcher/Lang (1879)]

Nought more shameless or more fearful than a woman may ye find
When she at last conceiveth such deeds within her mind.
E'en such a deed so unseemly as she imagined for me,
To murder her wedded husband!
[tr. Morris (1887), l. 427ff]

Ah, what can be more horrible and brutish than a woman when she admits into her thoughts such deeds as these! And what a shameless deed she plotted to bring about the murder of the husband of her youth!
[tr. Palmer (1891)]

For there is nothing in this world so cruel and so shameless as a woman when she has fallen into such guilt as hers was. Fancy murdering her own husband!
[tr. Butler (1898)]

So true is it that there is nothing more dread or more shameless than a woman who puts into her heart such deeds, even as she too devised a monstrous thing, contriving death for her wedded husband.
[tr. Murray (1919)]

I tell you, there is nought more awful and inhuman than a woman who can fondle in her heart crimes so foul as this conception of my wife's to murder the husband of her youth.
[tr. Lawrence (1932)]

So,
there’s nothing more deadly, bestial than a woman
set on works like these -- what a monstrous thing
she plotted, slaughtered her own lawful husband!
[tr. Fagles (1996)]

Nothing
Is more grim or more shameless than a woman
Who sets her mind on such an unspeakable act
As killing her own husband.
[tr. Lombardo (2000), l. 443ff]

There is nothing more terrible, nor anything more shameless, than a woman who can plan deeds like this in her heart, deeds like this ugly crime that Clytemnestra plotted: the murder of her lawfully wedded husband.
[tr. Verity (2016)]

Added on 16-Jun-21 | Last updated 16-Jun-21
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And power must ne’er be yielded to a woman.
For if we must succumb, ’twere better far
To crouch before a man; and thus at least
No one could taunt us with a woman’s rule.

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Antigone, l. 679ff [Creon] (441 BC) [tr. Donaldson (1848)]
    (Source)

Alternate translations:

And yield to title to a woman's will.
Better, if needs be, men should cast us out
Than hear it said, a woman proved his match.
[tr. Campbell (1873)]

And not go down before a woman's will.
Else, if I fall, 'twere best a man should strike me;
Lest one should say, 'a woman worsted him.'
[tr. Storr (1859)]

And in no way can we let a woman defeat us. It is better to fall from power, if it is fated, by a man's hand, than that we be called weaker than women.
[tr. Jebb (1891)]

We will not yield
To a weak woman; if we must submit,
At least we will be conquered by a man,
Nor by a female arm thus fall inglorious.
[tr. Werner (1892)]

In no wise suffer a woman to worst us. Better to fall from power, if we must, by a man's hand; then we should not be called weaker than a woman.
[tr. Jebb (1917)]

And no woman shall seduce us. If we must lose,
Let's lose to a man, at least! Is a woman stronger than we?
[tr. Fitts/Fitzgerald (1939), ll. 539-40]

... not let myself be beaten by a woman.
Better, if it must happen, that a man
should overset me.
I won't be called weaker than womankind.
[tr. Wyckoff (1954)]

We must not be
Defeated by a woman. Better far
Be overthrown, if need be, by a man
Than to be called the victim of a woman.
[tr. Kitto (1962)]

Never let some woman triumph over us.
Better to fall from power, if fall we must,
at the hands of a man -- never be rated
inferior to a woman, never.
[tr. Fagles (1982)]

And there must be no surrender to a woman.
No! If we call, better a man should take us down.
Never say that a woman bested us!
[tr. Woodruff (2001), l. 669 ff]

Defeat by a woman must never happen.
It is better, if it is bound to happen, to be expelled by a man.
We could not be called "defeated by women" -- could not.
[tr. Tyrell/Bennett (2002), l. 678ff]

Under no circumstances must he allow a woman to defeat him. It would be best -- if needs be -- to be defeated by a man, rather then allow it to be said that women have taken over.
[tr. Theodoridis (2004)]

And never let some woman beat us down.
If we must fall from power, let that come
at some man's hand -- at least, we won't be called
inferior to any woman.
[tr. Johnston (2005), l. 770ff]
Added on 14-Jan-21 | Last updated 9-May-21
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           Laugh if you will,
My queen, but let me be a woman still.
You fairies love where love is wise and just;
We mortal women love because we must.

Charlton Miner Lewis (1866-1923) American scholar of English literature, author
Gawayne and the Green Knight, Canto 2 “Elfinhart” (1903)
    (Source)
Added on 29-Dec-20 | Last updated 29-Dec-20
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Lesbian: Any uppity woman, regardless of sexual preference. If they don’t call you a lesbian, you’re probably not accomplishing anything.

Marie Shear (1940-2017) American writer and feminist activist
“Media Watch: Celebrating Women’s Words,” New Directions for Women (May/Jun 1986)
    (Source)
Added on 14-May-20 | Last updated 14-Apr-21
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O woman! lovely woman! Nature made thee
To temper man: we had been brutes without you.
Angels are painted fair, to look like you:
There’s in you all that we believe of heaven, —
Amazing brightness, purity, and truth,
Eternal joy, and everlasting love.

Thomas Otway (1652-1685) English dramatist
Venice Preserv’d, Act 1, sc. 1 (1682)
    (Source)
Added on 24-Oct-17 | Last updated 24-Oct-17
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The Woman tempted me — and tempts me still!
Lord god, I pray You that she ever will!

Edmund Vance Cooke (1866-1932) Canadian poet
“Adam”
    (Source)
Added on 8-May-17 | Last updated 8-May-17
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The silliest woman can manage a clever man; but it needs a very clever woman to manage a fool!

Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) English writer
Plain Tales from the Hills, “Three and — an Extra” (1888)
Added on 17-Mar-17 | Last updated 17-Mar-17
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A man must have something to grumble about; and if he can’t complain that his wife harries him to death with her perversity and ill-humour, he must complain that she wears him out with her kindness and gentleness.

Anne Brontë (1820-1849) British novelist, poet [pseud. Acton Bell]
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, ch. 32 [Ralph to Milicent] (1848)
Added on 23-Feb-17 | Last updated 23-Feb-17
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It must be added, lest we be reproached for leaving out details important to our readers’ understanding of subsequent events, that the lady seemed to have all the attributes of beauty, grace and charm that make a young man’s heart beat faster and cause his eyes to widen, lest they miss the least nuance of expression or gesture. It need hardly be added that Khaavren was just of the type to appreciate all of these qualities; that is to say, he was young and a man, and had, moreover, a vivid imagination which allowed his thoughts to penetrate, if not the mind of the lady opposite him, at least the folds and angles of her gown.

Steven Brust (b. 1955) American writer, systems programmer
The Phoenix Guards (1991)
Added on 21-Oct-16 | Last updated 21-Oct-16
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Hell to ships, hell to men, hell to cities.

Aeschylus (525-456 BC) Greek dramatist (Æschylus)
Agamemnon

Speaking of Helen of Troy. The literal translation is "Ship-destroyer, man-destroyer, city-destroyer."
Added on 10-Oct-16 | Last updated 10-Oct-16
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Character contributes to beauty. It fortifies a woman as her youth fades. A mode of conduct, a standard of courage, discipline, fortitude and integrity can do a great deal to make a woman beautiful.

Jacqueline Bisset (b. 1944) English actress.
In “Actress with 3 Countries,” Los Angeles Times (16 May 1974)
Added on 4-Oct-16 | Last updated 4-Oct-16
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A city is in many respects a great business corporation, but in other respects it is enlarged housekeeping. … May we not say that city housekeeping has failed partly because women, the traditional housekeepers, have not been consulted as to its multiform activities?

Jane Addams (1860-1935) American reformer, suffragist, philosopher, author
Newer Ideals of Peace, “Utilization of Women in City Government” (1907)
Added on 30-Aug-16 | Last updated 30-Aug-16
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ALICK. What IS charm, exactly, Maggie?

MAGGIE. Oh, it’s — it’s a sort of bloom on a woman. If you have it, you don’t need to have anything else; and if you don’t have it, it doesn’t much matter what else you have.

James Barrie (1860-1937) Scottish novelist and dramatist
What Every Woman Knows (1918)

Usually quoted in an elided format ("Charm, it's a sort of bloom on a woman ...:).
Added on 18-Jul-16 | Last updated 18-Jul-16
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Phileas Fogg had won his wager, and had made his journey around the world in eighty days. To do this he had employed every means of conveyance — steamers, railways, carriages, yachts, trading-vessels, sledges, elephants. The eccentric gentleman had throughout displayed all his marvellous qualities of coolness and exactitude. But what then? What had he really gained by all this trouble? What had he brought back from this long and weary journey?

Nothing, say you? Perhaps so; nothing but a charming woman, who, strange as it may appear, made him the happiest of men!

Truly, would you not for less than that make the tour around the world?

[Phileas Fogg avait gagné son pari. Il avait accompli en quatre-vingts jours ce voyage autour du monde! Il avait employé pour ce faire tous les moyens de transport, paquebots, railways, voitures, yachts, bâtiments de commerce, traîneaux, éléphant. L’excentrique gentleman avait déployé dans cette affaire ses merveilleuses qualités de sang-froid et d’exactitude. Mais après ? Qu’avait-il gagné à ce déplacement? Qu’avait-il rapporté de ce voyage?

Rien, dira-t-on? Rien, soit, si ce n’est une charmante femme, qui — quelque invraisemblable que cela puisse paraître — le rendit le plus heureux des hommes!

En vérité, ne ferait-on pas, pour moins que cela, le Tour du Monde?]

Jules Verne (1828-1905) French novelist, poet, playwright
Around the World in Eighty Days, ch. 37 (1873)
    (Source)
Added on 22-Apr-16 | Last updated 22-Apr-16
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The body of a young woman is God’s greatest achievement. […] Of course, He could have built it to last longer but you can’t have everything.

Neil Simon (1927-2018) American playwright and screenwriter
The Gingerbread Lady (1970)
Added on 15-Feb-16 | Last updated 15-Feb-16
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Ought not every woman, like every man, to follow the bent of her own talents?

Germaine de Staël (1766-1817) Swiss-French writer, woman of letters, critic, salonist [Anne Louise Germaine de Staël-Holstein, Madame de Staël, Madame Necker]
Corinne, Book 14, ch. 1 (1807)
Added on 9-Feb-16 | Last updated 9-Feb-16
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The girl that I will marry
Will be like a fine wine
That will become better
A bit every morning.

[La fille que j’aimera
Sera comme bon vin
Qui se bonifiera
Un peu chaque matin.]

Brel - like a fine wine - wist_info quote

Jacques Brel (1929-1978) Belgian singer, songwriter, actor
“Bachelor’s Dance [La Bourrée Du Célibataire]” (1957)

More commonly translated for English (by Eric Blau): "The girl that I will marry / Will age without a fear / And like the wine grow mellower / With every passing year."
Added on 5-Feb-16 | Last updated 5-Feb-16
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Man is always looking for someone to boast to; woman is always looking for someone to complain to.

H.L. Mencken (1880-1956) American writer and journalist [Henry Lewis Mencken]
The New York Evening Mail (15 Nov 1917)

A year later he wrote: "Man is always looking for someone to boast to; woman is always looking for a shoulder to put her head on." [In Defense of Women (1918)]
Added on 13-Jan-16 | Last updated 13-Jan-16
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Patriotism in the female sex is the most disinterested of all virtues. Excluded from honors and from offices, we cannot attach ourselves to the State or Government from having held a place of eminence. Even in the freest countries our property is subject to the control and disposal of our partners, to whom the laws have given a sovereign authority. Deprived of a voice in legislation, obliged to submit to those laws which are imposed upon us, is it not sufficient to make us indifferent to the public welfare? Yet all history and every age exhibit instances of patriotic virtue in the female sex; which considering our situation equals the most heroic of yours.

Abigail Adams (1744-1818) American correspondent, First Lady (1797-1801)
Letter to John Adams (17 June 1782)
Added on 17-Jul-15 | Last updated 17-Jul-15
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To tell a woman who is forty, “You look like sixteen,” is baloney. The blarney way of saying it is: “Tell me how old you are, I should like to know at what age women are most beautiful.”

Fulton Sheen (1895-1979) American Catholic archbishop, preacher, televangelist
Life Is Worth Living, s.5 (1957)
Added on 6-Jul-15 | Last updated 6-Jul-15
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Theology being the work of males, original sin was traced to the female.

Barbara W. Tuchman (1912-1989) American historian and author
A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century, ch. 9 (1978)
    (Source)
Added on 30-Jun-15 | Last updated 24-Jun-15
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That your Sex are Naturally Tyrannical is a Truth so thoroughly established as to admit of no dispute, but such of you as wish to be happy willingly give up the harsh title of Master for the more tender and endearing one of Friend. Why, then, not put it out of the power of the vicious and the Lawless to use us with cruelty and indignity with impunity? Men of Sense in all Ages abhor those customs which treat us only as the vassals of your sex; regard us then as Beings placed by Providence under your protection, and in imitation of the Supreme Being make use of that power only for our happiness.

Abigail Adams (1744-1818) American correspondent, First Lady (1797-1801)
Letter to John Adams (31 Mar 1776)
Added on 5-Jun-15 | Last updated 5-Jun-15
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No woman can call herself free who cannot choose the time to be a mother or not as she sees fit.

Margaret Sanger (1879-1966) American birth control activist, sex educator, nurse
“The Case for Birth Control” Physical Culture (Apr 1917)
Added on 1-Jun-15 | Last updated 1-Jun-15
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Trust no friend without faults,
And love a maiden, but no angel.

[Trau keinem Freunde sonder Mängel,
Und leib’ ein Mädchen, kienem Engel.]

Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (1729-1781) German playwright, philosopher, dramiturg, writer
Note in a Family Register (1778)

Alt. trans.: "Trust in no friend, rather forebear; / Love a sweet maid, no angel rare."
Added on 2-Apr-15 | Last updated 2-Apr-15
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I stand and rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a wheel. It gives her a feeling of freedom, self-reliance and independence. The moment she takes her seat she knows she can’t get into harm while she is on her bicycle, and away she goes, the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood.

Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906) American reformer, aboltionist, sufferagist
Letter to the editor of “Sidepath” magazine (1898)
Added on 30-Jan-15 | Last updated 30-Jan-15
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So, why do you write these strong female characters?

Because you’re still asking me that question.

Joss Whedon (b. 1964) American screenwriter, author, producer [Joseph Hill Whedon]
Equality Now Tribute Address (15 May 2006)
    (Source)
Added on 22-Jan-15 | Last updated 22-Jan-15
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A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.

Virginia Woolf (1882-1941) English modernist writer [b. Adeline Virginia Stephen]
A Room of One’s Own, ch. 1 (1929)
Added on 23-Jun-14 | Last updated 23-Jun-14
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TANNER: Of all human struggles there is none so treacherous and remorseless as the struggle between the artist man and the mother woman. Which shall use up the other? That is the issue between them. And it is all the deadlier because, in your romanticist cant, they love one another.
OCTAVIUS: Even if it were so — and I don’t admit it for a moment — it is out of the deadliest struggles that we get the noblest characters.
TANNER: Remember that the next time you meet a grizzly bear or a Bengal tiger, Tavy.
OCTAVIUS: I meant where there is love, Jack.
TANNER: Oh, the tiger will love you. There is no love sincerer than the love of food. I think Ann loves you that way: she patted your cheek as if it were a nicely underdone chop.

George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) British playwright and critic
Man and Superman, Act 1, l. 184-188 (1903)
    (Source)

Often just the "There is no love sincerer than the love of food" portion is quoted.
Added on 6-Jun-14 | Last updated 6-Jun-14
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Women are random clusters of vagaries.

Rex Stout (1886-1975) American writer
The Father Hunt, ch. 8 [Wolfe] (1968)
Added on 1-May-14 | Last updated 1-May-14
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If God created the world, He created sex, and one way to construe our inexhaustible sexual interest is as a form of the praise of creation. Says the Song of Solomon, “The joints of thy thighs are like jewels; the work of the hands of a cunning workman.”

John Updike (1932-2009) American writer
“Even the Bible is Soft on Sex,” New York Times Book Review (20 Jun 1993)

Song of Solomon 7:1 (KJV)
Added on 26-Dec-13 | Last updated 26-Dec-13
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You had better be the emperor of one loving and tender heart, and she the empress of yours, than to be king of the world. The man who has really won the love of one good woman in this world, I do not care if he dies in the ditch a beggar, his life has been a success.

Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-1899) American lawyer, agnostic, orator
“The Liberty of Man, Woman, and Child” (1877)
    (Source)
Added on 23-Sep-08 | Last updated 4-Feb-16
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And then, do you know, I like to think that love is eternal; that if you really love the woman, for her sake, you will love her no matter what she may do; that if she really loves you, for your sake, the same; that love does not look at alterations, through the wrinkles of time, through the mask of years — if you really love her you will always see the face you loved and won. And I like to think of it. If a man loves a woman she does not ever grow old to him. And the woman who really loves a man does not see that he is growing older. He is not decrepit to her. He is not tremulous. He is not old. He is not bowed. She always sees the same gallant fellow that won her hand and heart. I like to think of it in that way, and as Shakespeare says: “Let Time reach with his sickle as far as ever he can; although he can reach ruddy cheeks and ripe lips, and flashing eyes, he can not quite reach love.” I like to think of it. We will go down the hill of life together, and enter the shadow one with the other, and as we go down we may hear the ripple of the laughter of our grandchildren, and the birds, and spring, and youth, and love will sing once more upon the leafless branches of the tree of age. I love to think of it in that way — absolute equals, happy, happy, and free, all our own.

Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-1899) American lawyer, agnostic, orator
“Lecture on Skulls”
    (Source)

See also here.
Added on 7-Aug-08 | Last updated 4-Feb-16
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When the candles are out, all women are fair.

Plutarch (AD 46-127) Greek historian, biographer, essayist [Mestrius Plutarchos]
Morals [Moralia], “Conjugal Precepts” #46
    (Source)

Alt. trans.: "All women are alike when the lamp is put out."
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 8-Apr-15
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