This above all: to thine own self be true, / And it must follow, as the night the day, / Thou canst not then be false to any man.
– William Shakespeare, Hamlet
The nonpermanent appearance of happiness and distress, and their disappearance in due course, are like the appearance and disappearance of winter and summer seasons. They arise from sense perception, and one must learn to tolerate them without being disturbed. – Anonymous, The Bhagavad Gita
So, the gods don’t hand out all their gifts at once, not build and brains and flowing speech to all. One man may fail to impress us with his looks but a god can crown his words with beauty, charm, and men look on with delight when he speaks out. Never faltering, filled with winning self-control, he shines forth at assembly grounds and people gaze at him like a god when he walks through the streets. Another man may look like a deathless one on high but there’s not a bit of grace to crown his words. – Homer, The Odyssey
Anyone with gumption and a sharp mind will take the measure of two things: what’s said and what’s done. – Seamus Heaney, Beowulf: A New Verse Translation
Fear? What has a man to do with fear? Chance rules our lives, and the future is all unknown. Best live as we may, from day to day. – Sophocles, Oedipus Rex
He oft finds med’cine, who his griefe imparts; / But double griefs afflict concealing harts, / As raging flames who striveth to supresse.
– Edmund Spenser, The Fairie Queene
Do not believe that you alone can be right.
The man who thinks that,
The man who maintains that only he has the power
To reason correctly, the gift to speak, the soul—
A man like that, when you know him, turns out empty.
– Sophocles, Antigone
It is easy to go down into Hell;
Night and day, the gates of dark death stand wide;
But to climb back again, to retrace one’s steps to the upper air—
There’s the rub, the task.
Virgil, The Aeneid
When one with honeyed words but evil mind persuades the mob, great woes befall the state. – Euripides, Orestes
“Why have you let your mind get so entwined,”
my master said, “that you have slowed your walk?
Why should you care about what’s whispered here?
Come, follow me, and let these people talk:
stand like a sturdy tower that does not shake
its summit though the winds may blast; always
the man in whom thought thrusts ahead of thought
allows the goal he’s set to move far off—
the force of one thought saps the other’s force.”
– Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy
The mind is its own place, and in itself / Can make a heav’n of hell, a hell of heav’n.
– John Milton, Paradise Lost
We can know only that we know nothing. And that is the highest degree of human wisdom. – Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace
A rogue does not laugh in the same way that an honest man does; a hypocrite does not shed the tears of a man of good faith. All falsehood is a mask; and however well made the mask may be, with a little attention we may always succeed in distinguishing it from the true face. – Alexandre Dumas, The Three Musketeers
But words are things and a small drop of ink,
Falling like a dew, upon a thought produces
That which makes thousands, perhaps millions think;
‘Tis strange, the shortest letter which man uses
Instead of speech, may form a lasting link
Of ages; to what straits old time reduces
Frail man, when paper—even a rag like this—
Survives himself, his tomb and all that’s his.
George Gordon Byron, Don Juan
Methinks we have hugely mistaken this matter of life and death. Methinks that what they call my shadow here on Earth is my true substance. Methinks that in looking at things spiritual, we are too much like oysters observing the sun through the water, and thinking that thick water the thinnest of air. Methinks my body is but the lees of my better being. In fact take my body who will, take it I say, it is not me. – Herman Melville, Moby Dick
And this I believe: that the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world. And this I would fight for: the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected. – John Steinbeck, East of Eden
Give every man thine ear, but few thy voice: / Take each man’s censure, but reserve thy judgment. – William Shakespeare, Hamlet
It is one thing to write as poet and another to write as a historian: the poet can recount or sing about things not as they were, but as they should have been, and the historian must write about them not as they should have been, but as they were, without adding or subtracting anything from the truth. – Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote
We imagine that when we are thrown out of our usual ruts all is lost, but it is only then that what is new and good begins. While there is life there is happiness. There is much, much before us. – Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace
In all creation
Nothing endures, all is in endless flux,
Each wandering shape a pilgrim passing by.
And time itself glides on in ceaseless flow,
A rolling stream—and streams can never stay,
Nor lightfoot hours. As wave is driven by wave
And each, pursued, pursues the wave ahead,
So time flies on and follows, flies, and follows,
Always, for ever and new. What was before
Is left behind; what never was is now;
And every passing moment is renewed.
– Ovid, Metamorphoses
Do you hear the people sing
Lost in the valley of the night?
It is the music of a people
Who are climbing to the light.
For the wretched of the Earth
There is a flame that never dies.
Even the darkest night will end
And the sun will rise.
– Victor Hugo, Les Misérables