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Ancient Quotes

  




Requested in By Subject by poetron
edited by Write On

45 Quotes

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From Marcus Aurelius:

A Man makes no noise over a good deed, but on to another as a vine to bear grapes again in season.


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Observe always that everything is a result of a change, and become used to thinking that there is nothing Nature loves so well as to change existing forms to make new ones.

By Marcus Aurelius
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"Festina lente"   Make haste slowly

by Caesar Augustus
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"Fortune favors the brave"

 

by Terence Phormio
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"For himslf doth a man work evil in working evils for another."

 

From Hesiod, Works & Days

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"Not lost, but gone before."

From Seneca, Epislulae
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"Gratitude is the sign of noble souls">

 

From Aesop's Fables

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"Rigorous law is often rigorous injustice".

 

From Tenence Heauton Timoroumenos

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"It has been related that dogs drink at the river Nile running along, that they may not be seized by the crocodiles".

From Phaedus

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"The mountains will be in labour; an absurd mouse will be born."

 

From Horace - Ars Poetica

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"Vitrues should not be ignored, while the perpetrators of wrong actions should be threatened with disgrace before posterity."

 

By Tacitus, concerning the assassination of Julius Caesar.

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"It is the duty of all persons, when affairs are most prosperous, then in especial to reflect within themselves in what way they are to endure adversity."

 

From Terence Phormio

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" Octavaian ( nephew of Julius Caesar ) was merely a youngster to be praised, honored and disposed of."

By Cicero 44 BC

 

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" I would not accept any office inconsistent with the custom of our ancestors."

Caesar Augustus

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" I extended the territory of all those provinces of the Roman people on whose borders lay peoples not subject to our rule."

Caesar Augustus

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" Baths, wine, and lovemaking destroy our bodies,

  Yet lovemaking, wine, and baths make life worth living."

 

epigram Palatine Anthology 2nd century AD

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" For the secret of empire is now revealed, that it was possible to make an emperor elsewhere than Rome." 

 

Tacitus, early 2nd century history of Rome

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"Deem not life a thing of consequence. For look at the yawning void of the future, and that other limitless space, the past."

 

From Marcus Aurelius,  Meditations

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"Wisdom is the virtue of guardians in our state, as it is the virtue relating to the proper use of the reason in the soul. Courage is the virtue of auxiliaries in the state as is the virtue relating to the proper exercise of the will in the soul."

Plato quotes from his master Aristotle (who never wrote a word)

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"Attempt not impossibilities."

 

From Aesops Fables

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"Now that the whole empire had devolved on Constantine, his arrogance increased and he was carried away with his success."

 

From Zosimus, 5th Century AD

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"Exedit esse deos, et ut expedit esse putemus."

"It is convenient that there should be gods, and that we should think they exist."

 

Ovid, approximately 12 BC

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"Where the publicani* are, there is no respect for public law and no freedom for the allies."

From Livy

*publicans; they were a class of Roman citizens assigned by Sulla to collect taxes in the provinces.

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Nero was the stepson of the Emperor Claudius. During his reign, Agrippina, Nero's mother, plotted to remove all family members that were in line for the imperial purple. Upon the death of Claudius, all of Agrippina's work came to bear fruit and Nero became ruler of the Roman Empire. Nero was quite insane, and initiated several failed plots to have his mother murdered.

Years before this, Agrippina had consulted astrologers and she was told that Nero would one day become emperor. They warned her that Nero would also kill her. Agrippina was intent upon the elevation of her son, she uttered these words,

"Let him kill her, provided he is emperor."

Nero's last plot on his mother's life succeeded.

From Tacitus, ancient Roman historian.

 

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"I do not want to be emperor, please

 to tramp around among the Britons

 or in Scythian frosts to freeze."

From the Roman poet Florus, making fun of the Emperor Hadrian's trips to England and other places. Hadrian spent most of his time visiting the Provinces, rather than staying in Rome for as most emperors did.

As can be seen, humor existed in the time of Hadrian, early part of the 2nd century AD.

Below is Hadrian's response to Florus, who spent a good deal of time being lazy & living in Rome:

"And I do not want to be Florus, please

to tramp around in pubs and bars,

and get myself infested with fleas."

 

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"Everyone is bound to bear patiently the results of his own example."

 

--Phanaedrus

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"Caesar was a man of great goodnessand clemency."

 

Pompey, after his defeat by Julius Caesar
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"How often will the glory of your ancestors save you from destruction?"

Julius Caesar's words to Athenians asking for mercy

 

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" The Tiber was full of the corpses of citizens, the public sewers were stuffed with them, and slaves had to mop up with sponges the blood that streamed from the Forum."

 

Cicero, during the Roman civil war,  53 BC

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" Iacta est alea."

"the die is cast."

 

Julius Caesar crossing the Rubicon on his way to Rome, 49 BC

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" What is the best death?"

" A sudden one. "

 

Julius Caesar asks the question at a gathering in his home, then answers his own question.  40 BC

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" Sed fugit interea, fugit irreparabile tempus,

   Singula dum capti circum vectamur amore--"

 

" But meanwhile time flies, flies irreparably,

while we, charmed with love linger around each single detail."

From Virgil's Georgics  29 BC

 

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Caesar:  "Who is it in the press that calls on me?

                  I hear a tongue shriller than all the music

                  Cry 'Caesar!'  Speak, Caesar is turned to hear.

Soothsayer:  "Beware the ides of March.

 

Caesar:  " What man is that?"

Brutus: " A soothsayer bids you beware the ides of March."

 

This dialogue is from Shakspeare's Julius Caesar. I cannot let this infamous date slide by with no comment. As an aside, Abraham Lincoln died on the ides of April.

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" If you find your wife in the act of adultry, the law permits you to kill her without trial. If by chance she surprises you in the condition she must not touch you even with the tips of her fingers; the law forbids her. "

 

Cato   2nd Century BC

The first part of this law is seen in many ancient civilizations. Ancient Judea comes to mind. The second part of Roman law regarding the husband committing  adultry I can find nowhere but in Rome.

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" The life of animals is preferable to man's for they never think about glory, money, amibition or death."

 

From Pliny the Elder, 1st century AD

Full name in Latin: Gaius Plinius Secundus

Pliny died in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius  79 AD

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" All the provinces mourn, all free peoples cry out, all kingdoms protest under our cruelty; from one ocean to another there is no place, however hidden or remote, that has not felt our lust and our iniquity."

From Cicero, late 1st century BC

 

For students of ancient Rome, here the great orator & statesman, Cicero speaks about one aspect of the ancient Roman Republic (empire for all practical purposes). The Republic was wealthy because no taxes were collected from cities and individuals on the Itlalian peninsula.  Instead the conquered areas paid heavy taxes to support the operations of the ever expanding Republic. The tax burden was heavy, so Rome cut regions it conquered into smaller pieces, and forbade these regions from having political contact with one another. By doing this it lessened the chances of revolt. This method succeeded, however, certain members of the Republic, such as Cicero, protested the loss of freedom that previously these conquered provinces once had. In particular, the Provinces had more freedom when they had more money. In today's world, power & wealth must be combined. Rome did this, to the reduction of the Provinces.

 

 

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" Why, just now in the Forum I worked on a couple of

   fellows I knew, young lawyers, and, " Going to lunch, then?"

   I in my innocence ask. And a terrible silence

   settles upon us. Does anyone say "You come too!"?

   Heads begin shaking. I tell them a nice little story,

    one of my best. God knows how often it's fed me.

    Laughter then? No. Smiles? No. "

 

From Titus Maccius Plautus, a Roman playwright, middle of the 2nd century BC, describing a once prosperous middle class person's story of lament in the midst of ancient Rome's growing wealth. The growing capital at the time, as example had 100 public baths fed by a new aqueduct called the Aqua Marcia.

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" Sell worn out oxen, blemished cattle, blemished sheep, wool,

   hides, an old wagon, old tools, an old slave, a sickly slave, and

   whatever else is superfluous. The master should have the selling 

    habit, not the buying habit."

 

From Cato the Elder, 2nd century BC  Here the reader sees Cato and his mean - spiritedness and intellectual dishonesty.

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" There is nothing of which I so much feel the want as of him with whom I can communicate everything that concerns me; and you, who have so often relieved my cares and anxieties by your counsel who used to be my companion in all public matters, where are you?"

 

Cicero middle of the 1st century BC

Here we find Cicero, in a quote from a letter by to his friend wisely living in Greece, during the Roman Civil War. The war,  would in the end, cause him to killed by Mark Antony because of Cicero's particpation in the assassination of Julius Caesar.

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" Plato says that from the exagerated license which people call liberty, tyrants spring up as from a root.... and that at last such liberty reduces a nation to slavery. Everything in excess is changed into the opposite....For out of such an ungoverned populace one is usually chosen as leader....someone bold and unscrupulous...who curries favor with the people by giving them other men's property. To such a man, because he has much reason for fear if he remains a private citizen, the protection of public office is given, and continulously renewed. He surrounds himself with an armed guard, and emerges as a tyrant over the very people who raised him topower."

From Cicero middle of the 1st century BC

Here we see Cicero critizing Julius Caesar, whom he brands as a tyant. Cicero later joins the conspiracy to kill Caesar. Later, after Caesar's assassination, Mark Antony has Cicero executed in a cruel manner.

 

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" But thou, O Roman, must the people rule.

   Thine arts shall be to teach the ways of peace,

    To spare the humbled, and throw down the proud."

 

From Virgil  1st century BC. Here Virgil is demonstrating the glory he sees in the Roman empire.

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" If you have a garden and a library, you have everthing you need."

 

Cicero  mid 1st century BC

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" With us childlessness gives more power than it takes away."

 

Seneca, 1st century AD

Seneca here is consoling a woman who has lost her ony child.

Seneca was the tutor of Nero. Because of Nero's insanity later in life, he forced his former teacher to commit suicide or be put to death.

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" Times are bad. Children no longer obey their parents, and everyone is writing a book."

 

Cicero mid 1st century BC

Here we see that in ancient Rome, we have the same problems 2,000 years later.

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" Laws are silent in times of war."

 

Cicero, 1st century BC

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