Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Wickedness

"It is no sin to be tempted; the wickedness lies in being overcome." - Honoré de Balzac

"As faintness is a disease of the body, so is vice a sickness of the mind. Wherefore, since we judge those that have corporal infirmities to be rather worthy of compassion than hatred, much more are they to be pitied, and not abhorred, whose minds are oppressed with wickedness, the greatest malady that may be." - Boethius, fully Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius NULL

"In the government you called civilized, the happiness of the people is constantly sacrificed to the splendor of the empire. Hence the origin of your codes of criminal and civil laws; hence your dungeons and prisons. We have no prisons; we have no written laws; and yet judges are as highly revered among us as they are among you, and their decisions are as much regarded. We have among us no exalted villains above the control of our laws. Daring wickedness is here never allowed to triumph over helpless innocence. The estates of widows and orphans are never devoured by enterprising swindlers. We have no robbery under the pretext of law." - Joseph Brant, aka Thayendanegea

"Every successful wickedness is, to say the least, a scandal... The only lesson to be derived from the successful misdeeds of the strong is to hold life here and now in no higher esteem than it deserves." -

"Every human soul has the germ of some flowers within; and they would open, if they could only find sunshine and free air to expand in. I always told you that not having enough of sunshine was what ailed the world. Make people happy, and there will not be half the quarreling, or a tenth part of the wickedness there is." -

"Expel avarice, the mother of all wickedness, who, always thirst for more, opens wide her jaws for gold." -

"In morals, what begins in fear usually ends in wickedness; in religion, what begins in fear usually ends in fanaticism. Fear, either as a principle or a motive, is the beginning of all evil." - Anna Jameson

"The wickedness of the few is the calamity of the many." - Publius Syrus

"In the commission of evil, fear no man so much as thyself. Another is but one witness against thee; thou art a thousand. Another thou mayst avoid, thyself thou canst not. Wickedness is its own punishment." - Francis Quarles

"In the commission of evil, fear no man so much as thyself; another is but one witness against thee, thou art a thousand; another thou mayest avoid, thyself thou canst not. Wickedness is its own punishment." - Francis Quarles

"The aim that comedy has in view is the same as that of the highest destiny of man, and this consists in liberating himself from the influence of violent passions, and taking a calm and lucid survey of all that surrounds him, and also of his own being, and of seeing everywhere occurrence rather than fate or hazard, and ultimately rather smiling at the absurdities than shedding tears and feeling anger at sight of the wickedness of man." - Friedrich Schiller, fully Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller

"Wickedness, when properly punished, is disgraceful only to the offender; unpunished, it is disgraceful to the whole community." - Charles Simmons

"The disappointed man turns his thoughts toward a state of existence where his wiser desires may be fixed with the certainty of faith; the successful man feels that the objects which he has ardently pursued fail to satisfy the cravings of an immortal spirit; the wicked man turneth away from his wickedness, that he may save his soul alive." - Robert Southey

"Think’st thou there is no tyranny but that of blood and chains? The despotism of vice, the weakness and the wickedness of luxury, the negligence, the apathy, the evils of sensual sloth - produce then thousand tyrants, whose delegated cruelty surpasses the worst acts of one energetic master, however harsh and hard in his own bearing." -

"Weakness is oftentimes so palpable as to be equivalent to wickedness." -

"In every government on earth is some trace of human weakness, some germ of corruption and degeneracy, which cunning will discover, and wickedness insensibly open, cultivate and improve. Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves therefore are its only safe depositories." - Thomas Jefferson

"Wickedness may prosper for a while." - Roger L'Estrange, fully Sir Roger L'Estrange

"Every age and every nation has certain characteristic vices, which prevail almost universally, which scarcely any person scruples to avow, and which even rigid moralist but faintly change the fashion of their morals with the fashion of their hats and their coaches; take some other kind of wickedness under their patronage, and wonder at the depravity of their ancestors." -

"The world is full of wickedness and misery precisely because it is based on freedom – yet that freedom constitutes the whole dignity of man and of his world. Doubtless at the price of its repudiation evil and suffering could be abolished, and the world forced to be “good” and “happy”; but man would have lost his likeness to God, which primarily resides in his freedom." - Nikolai Berdyaev, fully Nikolai Alexandrovich Berdyaev, also spelled Nichlas Berdiaev

"It was and it is to do all that can be done to eradicate an evil thing out of our civilization… a thing so incredibly wicked that it would not have been believable of modern man if it had not actually occurred. This evil, this wickedness began with intolerance and hate in a few men’s hearts. It spread until it almost wrecked the world. Now the obligation is to remember, not in hate, not in the spirit of revenge, but so that this spirit cannot ever flourish again so long as man remains on earth. And to this end, let us begin, each of us, by looking into our own hearts." - New York Times Editorial on the Holocaust NULL

"[The Bible] is a history of wickedness that has served to corrupt and brutalize mankind; and, for my part, I sincerely detest it as I detest everything that is cruel." - Thomas Paine

"It is deliberate purpose that constitutes wickedness and criminal guilt." - Aristotle NULL

"To see and listen to the wicked is already the beginning of wickedness." - Confucius, aka Kong Qiu, Zhongni, K'ung Fu-tzu or Kong Fuzi NULL

"Lend your light to the blind. Why should the wickedness of men irritate you, when it is only blindness?" - Eugenio Maria de Hostos (y Bonilla)

"What is the true content of art, and with what aim is this content to be presented? On this subject our consciousness supplies us with the common opinion that it is the task and ima of art to bring in contact with our sense, our feeling, our inspiration, all that finds a place in the mind of man... Its aim is therefore placed in arousing and animating the slumbering emotions, inclinations, and passions; in filling the heart, in forcing the human being, whether cultured or uncultured, to feel the whole range of what man’s soul in its inmost and secret corners has power to experience and to create, and all that is able to move and to stir the human breast in its depths and in its manifold aspects and possibilities; to present as a delight to emotion and to perception all that the mind possesses of real and lofty in its thought and in the Idea - all the splendor of the noble, the eternal, and the true; and no less to make intelligible misfortune and misery, wickedness and crime; to make men realize the inmost nature of all that is shocking and horrible, as also of all pleasure and delight; and, finally, to set imagination roving in idle toyings of fancy, and luxuriating in the seductive spells of sense-stimulating visions." - Georg Hegel, fully Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

"There is no wickedness so desperate or deceptive - we can never foresee its consequences. Of all the evil spirits abroad in the world, insincerity is the most dangerous." - James Froude, fully James Anthony Froude

"It is a man’s own dishonesty, his crimes, his wickedness, and boldness, that takes away from him soundness of mind; these are the furies, these the flames and firebrands, of the wicked." - Cicero, fully Marcus Tullius Cicero, anglicized as Tully NULL

"Wickedness resides in the very hesitation about an act, even though it be not perpetrated." - Cicero, fully Marcus Tullius Cicero, anglicized as Tully NULL

"Wickedness is a wonderfully diligent architect of misery, of shame, accompanied with terror, and commotion, and remorse, and endless perturbation." - Plutarch, named Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus after becoming Roman citizen NULL

"Expel avarice, the mother of all wickedness, who, always thirst for more, opens wide her jaws for gold." - Claudian, latin Claudius Claudianus NULL

"Every successful wickedness is, to say the least, a scandal... The only lesson to be derived from the successful misdeeds of the strong is to hold life here and now in no higher esteem than it deserves." - Jacob Burckhardt, fully Carl Jacob (or Jakob) Christoph Burckhardt

"The whole effort for the past one hundred years has been to remove the moral responsibility from the individual and make him blame his own human wickedness on his society, but he helps to make his society, you see, and he will not take his responsibility for his part in it." - Katherine Anne Porter, born Callie Russell Porter

"It is right noble to fight with wickedness and wrong; the mistake is in supposing that spiritual evil can be overcome by physical means." - Lydia Maria Child

"Mysticism intends a state of "possession," not action, and the individual is not a tool but a "vessel" of the divine. Action in the world must thus appear as endangering the absolutely irrational and other-worldly religious state. Active asceticism operates within the world; rationally active asceticism, in mastering the world, seeks to tame what is creatural and wicked through work in a worldly "vocation" (inner-worldly asceticism). Such asceticism contrasts radically with mysticism, if the latter draws the full conclusion of fleeing from the world (contemplative flight from the world). The contrast is tempered, however, if active asceticism confines itself to keeping down and to overcoming creatural wickedness in the actor's own nature. For then it enhances the concentration on the firmly established God-willed and active redemptory accomplishments to the point of avoiding any action in the orders of the world (asceticist flight from the world). Thereby active asceticism in external bearing comes close to contemplative flight from the world. The contrast between asceticism and mysticism is also tempered if the contemplative mystic does not draw the conclusion that he should flee from the world, but, like the inner-worldly asceticist, remain in the orders of the world (inner-worldly mysticism). In both cases the contrast can actually disappear in practice and some combination of both forms of the quest for salvation may occur. But the contrast may continue to exist even under the veil of external similarity. For the true mystic the principle continues to hold: the creature must be silent so that God may speak." - Max Weber, formally Maximilian Carl Emil Weber

"To kill one man is to be guilty of a capital crime, to kill ten men is to increase the guilt ten-fold, to kill a hundred men is to increase it a hundred-fold. This the rulers of the earth all recognize and yet when it comes to the greatest crime—waging war on another state—they praise it! It is clear they do not know it is wrong, for they record such deeds to be handed down to posterity; if they knew they were wrong, why should they wish to record them and have them handed down to posterity? If a man on seeing a little black were to say it is black, but on seeing a lot of black were to say it were white, it would be clear that such a man could not distinguish between black and white. Or if he were to taste a few bitter things were to pronounce them sweet, clearly he would be incapable of distinguishing between sweetness and bitterness. So those who recognize a small crime as such, but do not recognize the wickedness of the greatest crime of all—the waging of war on another state–but actually praise it—cannot distinguish between right and wrong. So as to right or wrong, the rulers of the world are in confusion." - Mozi or Mo-tze, Mocius or Mo-tzu, original name Mo Di, aka Master Mo NULL

"Every human soul has the germ of some flowers within; and they would open, if they could only find sunshine and free air to expand in. I always told you that not having enough of sunshine was what ailed the world. Make people happy, and there will not be half the quarreling or a tenth part of the wickedness there is." - Lydia Maria Child

"He that first started that doctrine, that knavery is the best defense against a knave, was but an ill teacher, advising us to commit wickedness to secure ourselves." - Plutarch, named Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus after becoming Roman citizen NULL

"A system of ethics may be based either on fear or on love, but not on both. When based on fear, the letter of the law, as a rule, will be executed, but not its spirit. Because of fear, men may deal honestly with one another, but they will not necessarily be honest men, they may speak truthfully even and not be truthful. Fear develops a dual personality, one manifested in the presence of the object feared, the other, perhaps of extremely opposite tendencies, unfolded in the secret chamber of the heart. In a system of ethics based on fear, man is persuaded that he is weak and untrustworthy, that his nature is hopelessly corrupt, unable to master itself except at the lash of a Force lying outside himself. Man, it then would seem, is innately wicked ; his wickedness must be chained by threats of divine wrath and punishment ; he, of his own accord, would not walk in the path that is straight ; he must be forced into it by the gaps and ditches that are lurking dangerously outside this path. Such a system, in which man is convinced that he is unable to take care of himself, build his own character, merely tends to generate moral weakness and cowardice. A system of ethics based on love develops a unified personality, a oneness between thought and action. It enhances, more and more, the moral courage which is basic to man. Through love, man becomes conscious of the great force of goodness and virtue that lie within him. He knows that he is possessed of inherent goodness and godliness, if he knows that in himself is a spark of the divine, a force that makes for perfection. All he needs to do is to allow this divine spark to illuminate and permeate his whole being, and darkness and evil will disappear from his heart." - Rabbi Morris Lichtenstein

"I don't withdraw a word of my initial statement. But I do now think it may have been incomplete. There is perhaps a fifth category, which may belong under insane but which can be more sympathetically characterized by a word like tormented, bullied, or brainwashed. Sincere people who are not ignorant, not stupid, and not wicked can be cruelly torn, almost in two, between the massive evidence of science on the one hand, and their understanding of what their holy book tells them on the other. I think this is one of the truly bad things religion can do to a human mind. There is wickedness here, but it is the wickedness of the institution and what it does to a believing victim, not wickedness on the part of the victim himself." - Richard Dawkins

"May it please Thee, O Lord my God, To return to me in mercy, And to bring me back to Thee in perfect repentance. O dispose my heart and turn Thine ear to supplication, And open my heart to Thy law, And plant in my thoughts the fear of Thee, And decree for me good decrees, And annul the evil decrees against me, And lead me not into the power of temptation, Nor into the power of contempt, And from all evil chances deliver me, And hide me in Thy shadow until the havoc pass by, And be with my mouth in my meditation, And keep my ways from sin through my tongue, And remember me when Thou rememberest and favourest Thy people, And when Thou rebuildest Thy Temple, That I may behold the bliss of Thy chosen ones, And purify me to seek diligently Thy Sanctuary devastated and ruined, And to cherish its stones and its dust, And the clods of its desolation, And rebuild Thou its wastes!" - Salomon ibn Gabirol, aka Solomon ben Judah or Avicebron

"You will not see anyone who is really striving after his advancement who is not given to spiritual reading. And as to him who neglects it, the fact will soon be observed by his progress." - Saint Athanasius, aka Athanasius of Alexandria, St. Athanasius the Great, St. Athanasius I of Alexandria, St. Athanasius the Confessor, St. Athanasius the Apostolic NULL

"I define charity as a motion of the soul whose purpose is to enjoy God for His own sake and one’s self and one’s neighbor for the sake of god. Lust, on the other hand is a motion of the soul bent upon enjoying one’s self, one’s neighbor, and any creature without reference to God." - Saint Augustine, aka Augustine of Hippo, St. Austin, Bishop of Hippo NULL

"I look forward, not to what lies ahead of me in this life and will surely pass away, but to my eternal goal. I am intent upon this one purpose, not distracted by other aims, and with this goal in view I press on, eager for the prize, God's heavenly summons. Then I shall listen to the sound of Your praises and gaze at Your beauty ever present, never future, never past. But now my years are but sighs. You, O Lord, are my only solace. You, my Father, are eternal. But I am divided between time gone by and time to come, and its course is a mystery to me. My thoughts, the intimate life of my soul, are torn this way and that in the havoc of change. And so it will be until I am purified and melted by the fire of Your love and fused into one with You." - Saint Augustine, aka Augustine of Hippo, St. Austin, Bishop of Hippo NULL

"It is said that the highest state of prayer is reached when the intellect goes beyond the flesh and the world, and while praying is utterly free from matter and form. He who maintains this state has truly attained unceasing prayer.”" - Saint Maximus the Confessor NULL

"For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord." - Saint Paul, aka The Apostle Paul, Paul the Apostle or Saul of Tarsus NULL

"We have icons in our houses, and venerate them, in order to show, amongst other things, that the eyes of God and of all the heavenly dwellers are constantly fixes upon us, and see not, only all our acts, but also our words, thoughts and desires." - Saint John of Kronstadt, fully John Il’ich Serguiev, aka Holy Father John of the Kronstadt NULL

"It is His good pleasure that we remain always in the holy joy of His love." - Saint Vincent de Paul

"Our Lord and the saints accomplished more by suffering than by acting." - Saint Vincent de Paul

"I have learned never to ridicule any man's opinion, however strange it may seem." - Arthur Conan Doyle, fully Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle

"Those who wish to learn the will of the Lord must first mortify their own will. Then having prayed to God with faith and guileless simplicity, and having asked the fathers or even the brothers with humility of heart and no thought of doubt, they should accept their advice as from the mouth of God, even if their advice be contrary to their own view, and even if those consulted are not very spiritual. For God is not unjust, and will not lead astray souls who with faith and innocence humbly submit to the advice and judgment of their neighbor. Even if those who were asked were brute beasts, yet He who speaks is the Immaterial and Invisible One. Those who allow themselves to be guided by this rule without having any doubts are filled with great humility." - John Climacus, fully Saint John Climacus, aka John of the Ladder, John Scholasticus and John Sinaites