Miscellaneous Quotations

Tis a native surface quality which shows in mere children and animals that some of them have no self-restraint in the matter of pleasures, and others have—a quality, as we have said, of no great account when divorced from various other goods.
— Plato, Laws, Bk. 4, 710a–710b

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Do you imagine that I should call all little children courageous, who fear no dangers because they have no understanding?
— Plato, Laches, 197a–197b

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That is not hard to be shown, he said for that much one can see in children, that they are from their very birth chock-full of rage and high spirit, but as for reason, some of them, to my thinking, never participate in it, and the majority are quite late.
— Plato, Republic, Bk. 4, 441a–441b

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The name self-indulgence is applied also to childish faults; for they bear a certain resemblance to what we have been considering. Which is called after which, makes no difference to our present purpose; plainly, however, the later is called after the earlier. The transference of the name seems not a bad one; for that which desires what is base and which develops quickly ought to be kept in a chastened condition, and these characteristics belong above all to appetite and to the child, since children in fact live at the beck and call of appetite, and it is in them that the desire for what is pleasant is strongest."
— Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, Bk. 3, 119b

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Since, then, happiness is a complete good and end, we must not fail to observe that it will be found in that which is complete. For it will not be found in a child (for a child is not happy) but in a man; for he is complete.
— Aristotle, Magna Moralia, Bk. 1, 1185a

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Pleasure is the worst of all impostors, and according to the accounts, when it is a question of the pleasures of love, which are commonly reckoned as the greatest, even perjury is forgiven by the gods—pleasures being presumably, like children, completely destitute of reason. Reason, on the other hand, if not identical with truth, is all things most like it, the truest thing in the world.
— Plato, Philebus, 65c–65d

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Children, just as they have no control over other parts, so have no control, at first, over the tongue; but it is so far imperfect, and only detaches itself by degrees, so that in the interval children for the most part lisp and stutter.
— Aristotle, History of Animals, Bk. 4, 536b

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Of all animals man is most given to dreaming. Children and infants do not dream, but in most cases dreaming comes on at the age of four or five years.
— Aristotle, History of Animals, Bk. 4, 537b

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It must be admitted that we cannot consider all those to be citizens who are necessary to the existence of the state; for example, children who are not citizens equally with grown-up men, who are citizens absolutely, but children, not being grown up, are only citizens on a certain assumption.
— Aristotle, Politics, Book 3, 1278a

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Then, if anyone older or younger than the prescribed age meddles with the procreation for the state, we shall say that his error is an impiety and an injustice, since he is begetting for the city a child whose birth, if it escapes discovery, will not be attended by the sacrifices and the prayers which the priests and priestesses and the entire city prefer at the ceremonial marriages, that ever better offspring may spring from good sires and from fathers helpful to the state have sons more helpful still. But this child will be born in darkness and conceived in foul incontinence.
— Plato, Republic, Bk. 5, 461a–461b

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Very good. We are agreed then, Glaucon, that the state which is to achieve the height of good government must have community of wives and children and all education, and also that the pursuits of men and women must be the same in peace and war, and that the rulers or kings over them are to be those who have proved themselves the best in both war and philosophy.
— Plato, Republic, Bk. 8, 543a

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But we; dishonored, old in our bones,
Cast off even then from the gathering horde,
Stay here, to prop up
On staves the strength of a baby.
Since the young vigor that urges
Inward to the heart
Is frail as age, no warcraft yet perfect,
While beyond age, leaf
Withered, man goes three footed
No stronger than a child is,
A dream that falters in daylight.
— Aeschylus, Agamemnon, 72–82


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Chorus: It has been made long since and grown old among men,
this saying: human wealth
grown to fulness of stature
breeds again nor dies without issue.
From high good fortune in the blood
blossoms the quenchless agony.
Far from other I hold my own
mind; only the act of evil
breeds others to follow,
young sins in its own likeness.
Houses clear in their right are given
children in all loveliness.
— Aeschylus, Agamemnon, 750–762

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Hermes: You mock me like a child!
Prometheus: And are you not
a child, and sillier than a child, to think
that I should tell you anything?
— Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound, 986–88

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Mnesilochus: I knew a woman, I won’t mention names,
Remained ten days in childbirth. Why do you think?
Because she couldn’t buy a baby sooner.
Her husband runs to every medicine man
In dreadful agitation; while he’s out,
They bring a little baby in a basket,
Bunging its mouth up that it mayn’t cry out,
And stow it safe away till he comes home.
Then at a given sigh she feebly says,
My time is come: please, husband, go away.
He goes; they open basket; baby cries.
O, what delight, surprise, congratulations!
The man runs in; the nurse comes running out,
(The same that brought the baby in the basket),
A prodigy! A lion! Such a boy!
Your form, your features: just the same expression:
Your very image: lucky, lucky man!
— Aristophanes, Thesmophoriazusae, p. 345

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Dicaeopolis: Then I’ll make you suffer too.
For my safety I’ve a hostage,
One that’s very dear to you.
Now I’ll bring him out and slay him;
You shall see your darling’s end.
Chorus: O Acharnian fellow burghers,
What can words like these portend
to our noble band of brethren?
Think you that the man can hold
Any child of ours in durance?
What can make him wax so bold?
— Aristophanes, Acharnians, p. 24–25


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Old Man: Come, you are the man’s son. The task is more
than my strength can manage. You must help. Your strength
can easily do more for him than I.
— Sophocles, Women of Trachis, 1018–1020

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Odysseus: You are a good man’s son.
I was young, too, once, and then I had a tongue
very inactive and a doing hand.
Now as I go forth to the test, I see
that everywhere among the race of men
it is the tongue that wins and not the deed.
— Sophocles, Philoctetes, 95–99

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My child, what suffering is mine! But you sleep, and with babyish heart slumber in the dismal boat with its brazen bolts, sent forth in the unlit night and dark blue murk. You pay no attention to the deep spray above your hair as the wave passes by nor to the sound of the wind, lying in your purple blanket, a lovely face. If this danger were danger to you, why, you would turn your tiny ear to my words. Sleep, my baby, I tell you; and let the sea sleep, and let our vast trouble sleep.
— Simonides, fragment 543, 7–22

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