Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Ambition

"Honor is not that reward of virtue, for which the virtuous work, but they receive honor from men by way of reward, as from those who have nothing greater to offer. But virtue’s true reward is happiness itself, for which the virtuous work, whereas if they worked for honor, it would no longer be virtue, but ambition." -

"Ambition destroys its possessor." -

"Emulation is not rivalry. Emulation is the child of ambition; rivalry is the unlovable daughter of envy." - Honoré de Balzac

"To succeed, one must possess an effective combination of ability, ambition, courage, drive, hard work, integrity and loyalty." - Harry F. Banks, real name possibly Harry Band

"Ambition has not rest!" -

"He who opens his heart to ambition closes it to repose." - Charles Cahier

"By discharging our duty thoroughly and well, subordinating personal desires to principle, and personal ambition to an exalted love of country, we will not only receive the endorsement of the people, but, what is far better, we will deserve their endorsement." - Champ Clark, formally James Beauchamp Clark

"Ambition is like love, impatient both of delays and rivals." - John Denham, fully Sir John Denham

"Some people gauge their value by what they own. But in reality the entire concept of ownership of possessions is based on an illusion. When you obtain a material object, it does not become part of you. Ownership is merely your right to use specific objects whenever you wish and that no one has a right to take them away from you. How unfortunate is the person who has an ambition to cleave to something impossible to cleave to. Such a person will not obtain what he desires and will experience suffering." - Eliyahu Eliezer Dessler

"Fortunate is the person whose ambition is to acquire personal growth that is independent of external factors. Such a person will lead a happy and rewarding life." - Eliyahu Eliezer Dessler

"Jealousy and lust, and ambition drive a man out of the world." - Rabbi Eleazar ben Azariah NULL

"The only thing that brings a mother undiluted satisfaction is her relation to a son; it is quite the most complete relationship between human beings, and the one that is the most free from ambivalence. The mother can transfer to her son all the ambition which she has had to surpress in herself, and she can hope to get from him the satisfaction of all that has remained to her of her masculinity complex. Even a marriage is not firmly assured until the woman has succeeded in making her husband into her child and in acting the part of a mother towards him." - Sigmund Freud, born Sigismund Schlomo Freud

"Envy, appetite and ambition lead to ruin." - Eleazar ha-Kappar, alternate spelling Eliezer ha-Kappar

"Worldly ambition is founded on pride or envy, but emulation, or laudable ambition, is actually founded in humility; for it evidently implies that we have a low opinion of our present attainments, and think it necessary to be advanced." - Robert Hall

"The awakening of our best sympathies, the cultivation of our best and purest tastes, strengthening the desire to be useful and good, and directing youthful ambition to unselfish ends, such are the objects of true education." - J. T. Headley, fully Joel T. Headley

"It is universally acknowledged that there is a great uniformity among the actions of men, in all nations and ages, and that human nature remains still the same, in its principles and operations. The same motives always produce the same actions: the same events follow the same causes. Ambition, avarice, self-love, vanity, friendship, generosity, public spirit: these passions, mixed in various degrees, and distributed through society, have been from the beginning of the world, and still are, the source of all the actions and enterprises, which have ever been observed among mankind." - David Hume

"The spirit of the people must frequently be roused, in order to curb the ambition of the court; and the dread of rousing this spirit must be employed to prevent that ambition. Nothing so effectual to this purpose as the liberty of the press; by which all the learning, wit, and genius of the nation, may be employed on the side of freedom, and every one be animated to its defense." - David Hume

"Dependence begets subservience and venality, suffocates the germ of virtue, and prepares fit tools for the designs of ambition." - Thomas Jefferson

"The mischief of flattery is, not that it persuades any man that he is what he is not, but that it suppresses the influence of honest ambition by raising an opinion that honor may be gained without the toil of merit." -

"To be happy at home is the ultimate result of all ambition, the end to which every enterprise and labor tends and of which every desire prompts the prosecution." -

"Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved." - Garrison Keillor, fully Gary Edward "Garrison" Keillor

"It is admirable to die the victim of one’s faith; it is sad to die the dupe of one’s ambition." -

"Goodness does not more certainly make men happy, than happiness makes them good. We must distinguish between felicity and prosperity; for prosperity leads often to ambition, and ambition to disappointment; the course is then over, the wheel turns round but once; while the reaction of goodness and happiness is perpetual." - Walter Savage Landor

"It is a true observation of ancient writers, that as men are apt to be cast down by adversity, so they are easily satiated with prosperity, and that joy and grief produce the same effects. For whenever men are not obliged by necessity to fight they fight from ambition, which is so powerful a passion in the human breast that however high we reach we are never satisfied." - Niccolò Machiavelli, formally Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli

"Somewhere between my ambition and my ideals, I lost my ethical compass." -

"Other passions have objects to flatter the, and seem to content and satisfy them for a while; there is power in ambition, pleasure in luxury, and pelf in covetousness; but envy can gain nothing but vexation." - Michel de Montaigne, fully Lord Michel Eyquem de Montaigne

"Five great enemies of peace inhabit with us - avarice, ambition, envy, anger and pride; if these were to be banished, we should infallibly enjoy perpetual peace." - Petrarch, anglicized from Italian name Francesco Petrarca NULL

"Though ambition itself is a vice, it is often the parent of virtues." - Quintilian, fully Marcus Fabius Quintilianus, also Quintillian and Quinctilian NULL

"Show me a man who is not a slave. One is a slave to lust, another to greed, another to ambition, and all men are slaves to fear...no servitude is more disgraceful than that which is self-imposed." -

"Ambition is like hunger; it obeys no law but its appetite." -

"Vanity makes men ridiculous, pride odious, and ambition terrible." - Richard Steele, fully Sir Richard Steele

"Violent zeal for truth has a hundred to one odds to be either petulancy, ambition, or pride." - Jonathan Swift, pen names, M.B. Drapier, Lemuel Gulliver, Isaac Bickerstaff

"Be not content with the commonplace in character anymore than with the commonplace in ambition or intellectual attainment. Do not expect that you will make any lasting or very strong impression on the world through intellectual power without the use of an equal amount of conscience and heart." - William Jewett Tucker

"Any path is only a path. There is no affront to yourself or others in dropping it if that is what your heart tells you to do. But your decision to keep on the path or to leave it must be free of fear and ambition. I warn you, look at every path closely and deliberately. Try it as many times as you think necessary. Then ask yourself and yourself alone one question. It is this: Does the path have a heart? Does this path have a heart is the only question. If it does, then the path is good. If it doesn't, it is of no use." -

"Love's but the frailty of the mind, when 'tis not with ambition joined a sickly flame, which, if not fed, expires, and feeding, wastes in self-consuming fires." - William Congreve

"Pride, like ambition, is sometimes virtuous and sometimes vicious, according the character in which it is found, and the object to which it is directed. As a principle, it is the parent of almost every virtue and every vice - everything that pleases and displeases in mankind; and as the effects are so very different, nothing is more easy than to discover, even to ourselves, whether the pride that produces them is virtuous or vicious the first object of virtuous pride is rectitude, and the next independence." - Fulke Greville, 1st Baron Brooke, de jure 13th Baron Latimer and 5th Baron Willoughby de Broke

"Ambition is a spirit in the world that causes all the ebbs and flows of nations, keeps mankind sweet by action; without that, the world would be a filthy, settled mud." -

"Those who devote themselves to the peaceful study of nature have but little temptation to launch out upon the tempestuous sea of ambition; they will scarcely be hurried away by the more violent or cruel passions, the ordinary failings of those ardent persons who do not control their conduct; but, pure as the objects of their researches, they will feel for everything about them the same benevolence which they see nature display toward all her productions." - Georges Cuvier, fully Jean Léopold Nicolas Frédéric Cuvier

"Ambition has its disappointments to sour us, but never the good fortune to satisfy us. Its appetite grows keener by indulgence and all we can gratify it with at present serves but the more to inflame its insatiable desires." - Benjamin Franklin

"He that acts unjustly is the worst rebel to himself; and though now ambition’s trumpet and drum of power may drown the sound, yet conscience with one day speak loudly to him." - William Havard

"[The man is free] who is self-reliant... who masters his passions; who fears neither poverty nor death nor prison; who resists his appetites [and] despises worldly ambition." - Horace, full name Quintus Horatius Flaccus NULL

"If we look abroad upon the great multitude of mankind, and endeavor to trace out the principles of action in every individual, it will, I think, seem highly probably that ambition runs through the whole species, and that every man, in proportion to the vigor of his complexion, is more or less actuated by it." - Thomas Hughes

"A woman’s whole life is a history of the affections. The heart is her world; it is there her ambition strives for empire; it is there her avarice seeks for hidden treasures. She sends forth her sympathies on adventure, she embarks her soul in the traffic of affection; and, if shipwrecked, her case is hopeless, for it is a bankruptcy of the heart." - Washington Irving

"To be happy at home is the ultimate aim of all ambition; the end to which every enterprise and labor tends, and of which every desire prompts the prosecution." -

"We must distinguish between felicity and prosperity; for prosperity leads often to ambition, and ambition to disappointment; the course is then over, the wheel turns round but once, while the reaction of goodness and happiness is perpetual." - Walter Savage Landor

"Touch us gently, Time! We've not proud nor soaring wings: Our ambition, our content, lies in simple things." - Bryan Walter Procter, pseudonymn for Barry Cornwall

"One often passes from love to ambition but rarely returns from ambition to love." -

"We often pass from love to ambition, but we hardly ever pass from ambition to love." -