Great Throughts Treasury

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

Tacitus, fully Publius (or Gaius) Cornelius Tacitus NULL

Roman Senator and Historian

"Benefits received are a delight to us as long as we think we can requite them; when that possibility is far exceeded, they are repaid with hatred instead of gratitude."

"Custom adapts itself to expediency."

"Fear is not in the habit of speaking truth; when perfect sincerity is expected, perfect freedom must be allowed; nor has any one who is apt to be angry when he hears the truth, any cause to wonder that he does not hear it."

"The love of fame is the last weakness which even the wise resign."

"Candor and generosity, unless tempered by due moderation, lead to ruin."

"In season of tumult and discord bad men have most power; mental and moral excellence require peace and quietness."

"It is a principle of human nature to hate those whom you have injured."

"It is common to esteem most what is most unknown."

"Greater things are believed of those who are absent."

"Lust of power is the most flagrant of all passions."

"Prosperity is the touchstone of virtue: it is less difficult to bear misfortunes than to remain uncorrupted by pleasure."

"Reverence is greater from a distance."

"The worst of enemies, flatterers."

"When men are full of envy they disparage everything, whether it be good or bad."

"The worst poison of an honest heart, self-interest."

"Truth is strengthened by observation and time, pretenses by haste and uncertainty."

"It is human nature to hate him whom you have injured."

"The persecution of genius fosters its influence."

"There are odious virtues; such as inflexible severity, and an integrity that accepts of no favor."

"It is more religious and more reverent to believe in the works of the Deity than to comprehend them."

"The hatred of relatives is the most violent."

"The desire of glory is the last infirmity cast off even by the wise."

"The wider the scope of my reflection on the present and past, the more I am impressed by their mockery of human plans in every transaction."

"Truth is established by investigation and delay; falsehood prospers by precipitancy."

"To everything its use."

"When the state is most corrupt, then laws are most multiplied."

"What is safe is distasteful; in rashness there is hope."

"The more corrupt the state, the more numerous the laws."

"When perfect sincerity is expected, perfect freedom must be allowed."

"The desire for safety stands against every great and noble enterprise."

"A bad peace is even worse than war."

"A shocking crime was committed on the unscrupulous initiative of few individuals, with the blessing of more, and amid the passive acquiescence of all."

"A desire to resist oppression is implanted in the nature of man."

"All things atrocious and shameless flock from all parts to Rome."

"Be assured those will be thy worst enemies, not to whom thou hast done evil, but who have done evil to thee. And those will be thy best friends, not to whom thou hast done good, but who have done good to thee."

"All enterprises that are entered into with indiscreet zeal may be pursued with great vigor at first, but are sure to collapse in the end."

"Abuse if you slight it, will gradually die away; but if you show yourself irritated, you will be thought to have deserved it."

"As for myself, may the sweet Muses, as Virgil says, bear me away to their holy places where sacred streams do flow, beyond the reach of anxiety and care, and free from the obligation of performing each day some task that goes against the grain. May I no longer have anything to do with the mad racket and the hazards of the forum, or tremble as I try a fall with white-faced Fame. I do not want to be roused from sleep by the clatter of morning callers or by some breathless messenger from the palace; I do not care, in drawing my will, to give a money-pledge for its safe execution through anxiety as to what is to happen afterwards; I wish for no larger estate than I can leave to the heir of my own free choice. Some day or other the last hour will strike also for me, and my prayer is that my effigy may be set up beside my grave, not grim and scowling, but all smiles and garlands, and that no one shall seek to honor my memory either by a motion in the senate or by a petition to the Emperor."

"Crime, once exposed, has no refuge but in audacity."

"Conspicuous by his absence."

"Even the bravest men are frightened by sudden terrors."

"Forbidden things have a secret charm."

"Good habits are here more effectual than good laws elsewhere."

"Great empires are not maintained by timidity."

"He had a certain frankness and generosity, qualities indeed which turn to a man's ruin, unless tempered with discretion."

"In a state where corruption abounds, laws must be very numerous."

"I am my nearest neighbor."

"If we must fall, we should boldly meet the danger."

"Greater things are believed of those who are absent."

"He that fights and runs away, May turn and fight another day; But he that is in battle slain, Will never rise to fight again."