As debauchery often causes weakness and sterility in the body, so the intemperance of the tongue makes conversation empty and insipid.

Plutarch, Parallel Lives – Lycurgus »

We come from night, we go into night. Why live in night?

John Fowles, The Magus »

Beauty is a form of genius — is higher, indeed, than genius, as it needs no explanation.

Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray »

And here is the more violent type of progression. A girl quits going to school and Sunday school, begins going to dives. She gets coarse and vulgar, while her parents stand by and do nothing, and when a policeman attempts to reason with her, she throws a brick at him. She is sent to a training school, then released. Within a few weeks she is back in the hands of the law again, for picking up men and blackjacking them.

J. Edgar Hoover, Youth… Running Wild »

Is that all I am ever to do in life — dress myself carefully, put leaves in my hair, and think about the effect?

Maria Bashkirtseva, Journals »

Better our work unfinished than all bad.

John Ruskin, The Seven Lamps of Architecture »

There is no law, no principle, based on past practice, which may not be overthrown in a moment, by the arising of a new condition, or the invention of a new material; and the most rational, if not the only, mode of averting the danger of an utter dissolution of all that is systematic and consistent in our practice, or of ancient authority in our judgment, is to cease, for a little while, our endeavours to deal with the multiplying host of particular abuses, restraints, or requirements; and endeavour to determine, as the guides of every effort, some constant, general, and irrefragable laws of right — laws, which based upon man’s nature, not upon his knowledge, may possess so far the unchangeableness of the one, as that neither the increase nor imperfection of the other may be able to assault or invalidate them.

John Ruskin, The Seven Lamps of Architecture »

God made the earth, but the earth had no base and so under the earth he made an angel. But the angel had no base and so under the angel’s feet he made a crag of ruby. But the crag had no base and so under the crag he made a bull endowed with four thousand eyes, ears, nostrils, mouths, tongues, and feet. But the bull had no base and so under the bull he made a fish named Bahamut, and under the fish he put water, and under the water he put darkness, and beyond this men’s knowledge does not reach.

Jorge Luis Borges, The Book of Imaginary Beings (Bahamut) »

Few words have more than one literal and serviceable meaning, however many metaphorical, derivative, related, or even unrelated, meanings lexicographers may think it worth while to gather from all sorts and conditions of men, with which to bloat their absurd and misleading dictionaries. This actual and serviceable meaning–not always determined by derivation, and seldom by popular usage–is the one affirmed, according to his light, by the author of this little manual of solecisms. Narrow etymons of the mere scholar and loose locutions of the ignorant are alike denied a standing.

Ambrose Bierce, Write It Right »

Say not ‘This is the truth’ but
‘So it seems to me to be
as I now see the things I think I see.’

Inscription above Officers’ School in Kiel (tr. David Love) »

There are eyes everywhere. There is no blind spot left.“

"But what shall we dream of when everything becomes visible?”

“We’ll dream of being blind.

Paul Virilio (and interviewer) »

When it came to such a pitch as this, she was not able to refrain from a start, or a heavy sigh, or even from walking about the room for a few seconds; and the only source whence any thing like consolation or composure could be drawn, was in the resolution of her own better conduct, and the hope that, however inferior in spirit and gaiety might be the following and every future winter of her life to the past, it would yet find her more rational, more acquainted with herself, and leave her less to regret when it were gone.

Jane Austen, Emma (a magnificent sentence) »

Almost everything that men have said best has been said in Greek. There are, I know, other languages, but they are petrified, or have yet to be born.

Marguerite Yourcenar, Memoirs of Hadrian »

A man who had been in motion since eight o’clock in the morning, and might now have been still — who had been long talking, and might have been silent — who had been in more than one crowd, and might have been alone! Such a man to quit the tranquility and independence of his own fireside, and on the evening of a cold sleety April day rush out again into the world!

Jane Austen, Emma »

Nailed to the beloved body like a slave to a cross, I have learned some secrets of life which are now dimmed in my memory by the operation of that same law which ordains that the convalescent, once cured, ceases to understand the mysterious truths laid bare by illness, and that the prisoner, set free, forgets his torture, or the conqueror, his triumph passed, forgets his glory.

Marguerite Yourcenar, Memoirs of Hadrian »

Riches are held in esteem, but may be enjoyed by the worst as well as the best of men; Glory is a thing deserving of respect, but unstable; Beauty is a prize that men fight to obtain, but, once obtained, is of little continuance; Health is precious, but easily impaired; Strength is a thing desirable, but apt to be the prey of disease and old age. (And, in general, let any man who values himself upon strength of body know that he makes a great mistake; for what indeed is any proportion of human strength compared to that of other animals, such as elephants and bulls and lions?)

But learning alone, of all things in our possession, is immortal and divine. For reason alone grows youthful by age; and time, which decays all other things before it carries them away with it, leaves learning alone behind.

Pseudo-Plutarch, De liberis educandis »

What mean you, fellow-citizens, that you thus turn every stone to scrape wealth together, yet take so little care of your children, to whom, one day, you must relinquish it all?

attributed to Socrates »

Even as a young officer he was such a hard drinker that his name, Tiberius Claudius Nero, was displaced by the nickname ‘Biberius Caldius Mero’ – meaning: ‘Drinker of hot wine with no water added’.

Suetonius – The Twelve Caesars (Tiberius) »

Is crime consonant with nobility?
Then noblest is the crime of tyranny.

Euripides »

The written word has taught me to listen to the human voice, much as the great unchanging statues have taught me to appreciate bodily motion. On the other hand, but more slowly, life has thrown light for me on the meaning of books.

Marguerite Yourcenar, Memoirs of Hadrian »