Great Throughts Treasury

This site is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Alan William Smolowe who gave birth to the creation of this database.

Pliny the Elder, full name Casus Plinius Secundus NULL

Roman Author, Naturalist, Natural Philosopher, Naval and Army Commander

"Envy always implies conscious inferiority wherever it resides."

"Home is where the heart is."

"In sickness the mind reflects upon itself."

"Let honor be to us as strong an obligation as necessity is to others."

"Lust is an enemy to the purse, a foe to the person, a canker to the mind, a corrosive to the conscience, a weakness of the wit, a besotter of the senses, and finally a mortal bane to all the body."

"Most men are afraid of a bad name, but few fear their consciences."

"The lust of avarice has so totally seized upon mankind that their wealth seems rather to possess them than they possess their wealth."

"We ought to be guarded against every appearance of envy, as a passion that always implies inferiority wherever it resides."

"As land is improved by sowing it with various seeds so is the mind by exercising it with different studies."

"In these matters the only certainty is that there is nothing certain."

"No one is wise at all times."

"Love is the best instructor."

"A dear bargain is always disagreeable, particularly as it is a reflection upon the buyer's judgment."

"Accustom yourself to master and overcome things of difficulty; for if you observe, the left hand for want of practice is insignificant, and not adapted to general business; yet it holds the bridle better than the right, from constant use."

"All men possess in their bodies a poison which acts upon serpents; and the human saliva, it is said, makes them take to flight, as though they had been touched with boiling water. The same substance, it is said, destroys them the moment it enters their throat. "

"Always act in such a way as to secure the love of your neighbor. "

"An object in possession seldom retains the same charm that it had in pursuit."

"As in our lives so also in our studies, it is most becoming and most wise, so to temper gravity with cheerfulness, that the former may not imbue our minds with melancholy, nor the latter degenerate into licentiousness."

"Better do nothing than do ill."

"Chance is a second master."

"Compassion and shame come over one who considers how precarious is the origin of the proudest of living beings: often the smell of a lately extinguished lamp is enough to cause a miscarriage. And to think that from such a frail beginning a tyrant or butcher may be born! You who trust in your physical strength, who embrace the gifts of fortune and consider yourself not their ward but their son, you who have a domineering spirit, you who consider yourself a god as soon as success swells your breast, think how little could have destroyed you!"

"Everything that is unknown is taken to be grand."

"Fortune favors the brave."

"From the end spring new beginnings. "

"Grief has limits, whereas apprehension has none. For we grieve only for what we know has happened, but we fear all that possibly may happen."

"Hope is the pillar that holds up the world. Hope is the dream of a waking man."

"Human nature craves [is fond of] novelty."

"I think it is the most beautiful and humane thing in the world, so to mingle gravity with pleasure that the one may not sink into melancholy, nor the other rise up into wantonness."

"In comparing various authors with one another, I have discovered that some of the gravest and latest writers have transcribed, word for word, from former works, without making acknowledgment. "

"In time of sickness the soul collects itself anew."

"In wine, there's truth. "

"Indeed, what is there that does not appear marvelous when it comes to our knowledge for the first time? How many things, too, are looked upon as quite impossible until they have been actually affected?"

"It [the earth] alone remains immoveable, whilst all things revolve round it. "

"It has been observed that the height of a man from the crown of the head to the sole of the foot is equal to the distance between the tips of the middle fingers of the two hands when extended in a straight line."

"It is a maxim universally agreed upon in agriculture, that nothing must be done too late; and again, that everything must be done at its proper season; while there is a third precept which reminds us that opportunities lost can never be regained."

"It is advantageous that the gods should be believed to attend to the affairs of man; and the punishment of evil deeds, though sometimes late, is never fruitless."

"It is by the aid of iron that we construct houses, cleave rocks, and perform so many other useful offices of life. But it is with iron also that wars, murders, and robberies are effected, and this, not only hand to hand, but from a distance even, by the aid of missiles and winged weapons, now launched from engines, now hurled by the human arm, and now furnished with feathery wings. This last I regard as the most criminal artifice that has been devised by the human mind; for, as if to bring death upon man with still greater rapidity, we have given wings to iron and taught it to fly. ... Nature, in conformity with her usual benevolence, has limited the power of iron, by inflicting upon it the punishment of rust; and has thus displayed her usual foresight in rendering nothing in existence more perishable, than the substance which brings the greatest dangers upon perishable mortality. "

"It is far from easy to determine whether she [Nature] has proved to him a kind parent or a merciless stepmother. "

"It is generally much more shameful to lose a good reputation than never to have acquired it. "

"It is ridiculous to suppose that the great head of things, whatever it be, pays any regard to human affairs."

"It is this earth that, like a kind mother, receives us at our birth, and sustains us when born; it is this alone, of all the elements around us, that is never found an enemy of man."

"Let not things, because they are common, enjoy for that the less share of our consideration."

"Let that which is wanting in income be supplied by economy."

"Man alone at the very moment of his birth, cast naked upon the naked earth, does she [Nature] abandon to cries and lamentations."

"Man is unique in that he knows nothing. He can learn nothing without being taught. He can neither speak nor walk nor eat, in fact he can do nothing by natural instinct alone except weep."

"Man naturally yearns for novelty."

"Many dishes bring many diseases."

"Men are most apt to believe what they least understand; and through the lust of human wit obscure things are more easily credited."

"Nature makes us buy her presents at the price of so many sufferings that it is doubtful whether she deserves most the name of parent or stepmother."

"No man's abilities are so remarkably shining as not to stand in need of a proper opportunity, a patron, and even the praises of a friend to recommend them to the notice of the world."