Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Baltasar Gracián

Spanish Jesuit Writer and Philosopher

"A brand new mediocrity is thought more of than accustomed excellence."

"A man of honor should never forget what he is because he sees what others are."

"A bad manner spoils everything, even reason and justice; a good one supplies everything, gilds a No, sweetens truth, and adds a touch of beauty to old age itself."

"Always act as if your acts were seen."

"Avoid familiarities in intercourse. Neither use them nor permit them. The stars keep their brilliance by not making themselves common. Every familiarity breeds contempt."

"Attempt easy tasks as if they were difficult, and difficult tasks as if they were easy: in the one case that confidence may not fall asleep, in the other that it may not be dismayed."

"A fine retreat is as good as a gallant attack."

"A single lie destroys a whole reputation for integrity."

"Be master over yourself if you would be master over others."

"Character and intellect: the two poles of our capacity. One without the other is but half-way to happiness."

"Distinguish the man of words from the man of deeds."

"Excellence resides in quality, not in quantity."

"It requires as much caution to tell the truth as to conceal it."

"Exaggeration is a branch of lying."

"Do not be inaccessible. None is so perfect that he does not need at times the advice of others. He is an incorrigible ass who will never listen to any one... A friend must be free to advise, and even to upbraid, without feeling embarrassed."

"If to talk to oneself when alone is folly, it must be doubly unwise to listen to oneself in the presence of others... In conversation discretion is more important than eloquence."

"Know yourself - in talents and capacity, in judgment and inclination."

"Know how to use your enemies. A wise man gets more use from his enemies than a fool from his friends."

"Just as virtue is its own reward, so is vice its own punishment."

"Mediocrity obtains more with application than superiority without it."

"Most do violence to their natural aptitude, and thus attain superiority in nothing."

"One deceit needs many others, and so the whole house is built in the air and must soon come to the ground."

"Politeness is the chief sign of culture."

"Reputation depends more on what is hidden than on what is done."

"Put a grain of boldness in everything you do."

"Superiority is always detested."

"A wise reserve seasons the aims and matures the means."

"Respect yourself if you would have others respect you."

"All victories breed hate, and that over your superior is foolish or fatal."

"An ounce of wisdom is worth more than tons of cleverness."

"Anticipate injuries and turn them into favors."

"Better mad with everybody than wise alone."

"At twenty the will rules; at thirty the intellect; at forty the judgment."

"Better be cheated in the price than in the [quality of the] goods."

"Exaggeration is a prodigality of the judgment which shows the narrowness of one's knowledge or one's taste."

"Even knowledge has to be in fashion and where it is not it is wise to affect ignorance."

"Freedom is more precious than any gifts for which you may be tempted to give it up."

"Great ability develops and reveals itself increasingly with every new assignment."

"Good things are twice as good when they are short."

"Folly consists not in committing folly, but in not hiding it when committed."

"For the victor, there is no necessity for explanations."

"Friends provoked become the bitterest of enemies."

"Have friends. 'Tis a second existence."

"He is as great a fool who laughs at everything as he who weeps at everything."

"He that communicates his secret to another makes himself that other's slave."

"Hope is a great falsifier of truth."

"Hurry is the failing of fools."

"In prosperity prepare for adversity. It is both wiser and easier to collect winter stores in summer."

"It is a great misfortune to be of use to nobody; scarcely less to be of use to everybody."

"It is far easier to prevent than to cure."