Cowardice

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There's no way I'll back down, like a goddamn coward. I can't. ~ Marshall Bruce Mathers III
How would I look? As a man bowing to his knees? ~ Marshall Bruce Mathers III

Cowardice is the perceived failure to demonstrate sufficient mental robustness and courage in the face of a challenge. Under many military codes of justice, cowardice in the face of combat is a crime punishable by death (cf. shot at dawn). The term describes a personality trait which is viewed as a negative characteristic and has been shunned and disdained (see norms) within most, if not all cultures, while courage, typically viewed as its direct opposite, is generally rewarded and encouraged. Persons who demonstrate cowardice are called cowards, and are usually seen to have avoided or refused to engage in a confrontation or struggle which has been deemed good or righteous by the wider culture in which they live. On a more mundane level, the label may be applied to those who are regarded as too frightened or overwhelmed to defend their rights or those of others from aggressors in their lives.

Quotes[edit]

  • Folly such as yours,
    Grac'd with a sword, and worthier of a fan,
    Has made what enemies could ne'er have done.
    Our arch of empire, stedfast but for you,
    A mutilated structure, soon to fall.
  • Cowards are cruel, but the brave
    Love mercy, and delight to save.
    • John Gay, Fables (1727), Part I. Fable 1.
  • Cowardice asks the question, 'Is it safe?' Expediency asks the question, 'Is it politic?' Vanity asks the question, 'Is it popular?' But, conscience asks the question, 'Is it right?' And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe or politic, nor popular but take it because one’s conscience tells one that it is right.
  • You souls of geese,
    That bear the shapes of men, how have you run
    From slaves that apes would beat!
  • So bees with smoke and doves with noisome stench
    Are from their hives and houses driven away.
    They call'd us for our fierceness English dogs;
    Now like to whelps, we crying run away.
  • So cowards fight when they can fly no further;
    As doves do peck the falcon's piercing talons;
    So desperate thieves, all hopeless of their lives,
    Breathe out invectives 'gainst the officers.
  • Thou slave, thou wretch, thou coward!
    Thou little valiant, great in villany!
    Thou ever strong upon the stronger side!
    Thou Fortune's champion, that dost never fight
    But when her humorous ladyship is by
    To teach thee safety!
  • Dost thou now fall over to my foes?
    Thou wear a lion's hide! doff it for shame,
    And hang a calf's skin on those recreant limbs.
  • Milk-liver'd man!
    That bear'st a cheek for blows, a head for wrongs,
    Who hast not in thy brows an eye discerning
    Thine honor from thy suffering.
  • Wouldst thou have that
    Which thou esteem'st the ornament of life,
    And live a coward in thine own esteem,
    Letting "I dare not" wait upon, "I would";
    Like the poor cat i' the adage?
  • How many cowards, whose hearts are all as false
    As stairs of sand, wear yet upon their chins
    The beards of Hercules and frowning Mars,
    Who, inward search'd, have livers white as milk.
  • That which in mean men we entitle patience
    Is pale cold cowardice in noble breasts.
  • By this good light, this is a very shallow monster!—I afear'd of him!—A very weak monster!—The man i' the moon!—A most poor, credulous monster!—Well drawn, monster, in good sooth!
  • Ignavissimus quisque, et ut res docuit, in periculo non ausurus, nimis verbis et lingua feroces.
    • Every recreant who proved his timidity in the hour of danger, was afterwards boldest in words and tongue.
    • Tacitus, Annales (AD 117), IV. 62.
  • To sin by silence, when they should protest, makes cowards of men.

Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations[edit]

Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 145-46.
  • To see what is right and not to do it is want of courage.
    • Confucius, Analects, Book II, Chapter XXIV.
  • That all men would be cowards if they dare,
    Some men we know have courage to declare.
  • The coward never on himself relies,
    But to an equal for assistance flies.
  • Der Feige droht nur, wo er sicher ist.
  • When desp'rate ills demand a speedy cure,
    Distrust is cowardice, and prudence folly.
  • He
    That kills himself to avoid misery, fears it,
    And, at the best, shows but a bastard valour.
    This life's a fort committed to my trust,
    Which I must not yield up, till it be forced:
    Nor will I. He's not valiant that dares die,
    But he that boldly bears calamity.
  • Men lie, who lack courage to tell truth—the cowards!
  • Timidi est optare necem.
    • To wish for death is a coward's part.
    • Ovid, Metamorphoses, IV. 115.
  • Virtutis expers verbis jactans gloriam
    Ignotos fallit, notis est derisui.
    • A coward boasting of his courage may deceive strangers, but he is a laughing-stock to those who know him.
    • Phaedrus, Fables, I. 11. 1.
  • Vous semblez les anguilles de Melun; vous criez devant qu'on vous escorche.
    • You are like the eels of Melun; you cry out before you are skinned.
    • François Rabelais, Gargantua.
  • Canis timidus vehementius latrat quam mordet.
    • A cowardly cur barks more fiercely than it bites.
    • Quintus Curtius Rufus, De Rebus Gestis Alexandri Magni, VII, 4, 13.
  • When all the blandishments of life are gone,
    The coward sneaks to death, the brave live on.
  • Timidus se vocat cautum, parcum sordidus.
    • The coward calls himself cautious, the miser thrifty.
    • Syrus, Maxims.
  • The man that lays his hand on woman,
    Save in the way of kindness, is a wretch
    Whom 'twere gross flattery to name a coward.
  • Adieu, canaux, canards, canaille.
    • Voltaire, summing up his Impressions de Voyage, on his return from the Netherlands.

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