Greatness or preeminence are terms used to emphasize the perceived superiority of a person or thing, with concepts of such heavily dependent on personal and social perspectives and biases. In Europe the most lauded rulers were given the attribute the Great (e.g. Alfred the Great, Peter the Great), and during the Roman Era and Middle Ages, the Latin title for the Great (Magnus) was used (e.g. Albertus Magnus).
- Burn to be great,
Pay not thy praise to lofty things alone.
The plains are everlasting as the hills,
The bard cannot have two pursuits; aught else
Comes on the mind with the like shock as though
Two worlds had gone to war, and met in air.
- Philip James Bailey, Festus (1813), scene Home.
- Les grands ne sont grands que parce que nous sommes à genoux: Levons-nous.
Ní uasal aon uasal ach sinne bheith íseal: Éirímis.
The great appear great because we are on our knees: Let us rise.
- Inscription in French, Irish, and English on a monument to James (Big Jim) Larkin on O'Connell Street in Dublin, Ireland. Although Larkin used it in a famous speech, the slogan is usually attributed to the French revolutionary Camille Desmoulins, as reported in Antoine Eugene de Genoude (abbe.), Histoire de France (1848), p. 140.
- Magna est veritas et praevalebit.
- Great is Truth and it will prevail.
- Thomas Brooks is said to have been the first to use the expression (1662); Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), reports it to be found in Walter Scott, Talisman, Chapter XIX; Bishop John Jewel, Samuel Purchas, Microcosmus, and William Thackeray, Roundabout Papers. It may be derived from "O magna vis verities" found in Cicero, Oratio Pro Cœlio Rufo, XXVI.
- Variant translations:
- Truth is mighty and shall prevail.
- Truth is mighty and will prevail.
- Truth is mighty and it will prevail
- No great deed is done
By falterers who ask for certainty.
- George Eliot, The Spanish Gypsy (1868), Book I. 56th line from end.
- Are not great
Men the models of nations?
- Owen Meredith (Lord Lytton), Lucile (1860), Part II, Canto VI, Stanza 29.
- Of what is great one must either be silent or speak with greatness. With greatness — that means cynically and with innocence.
- As if Misfortune made the throne her seat,
And none could be unhappy but the great.
- Nicholas Rowe, The Fair Penitent (1703), Prolog.
- I have touched the highest point of all my greatness:
And, from that full meridian of my glory,
I haste now to my setting.
- Farewell! a long farewell, to all my greatness!
This is the state of man: to-day he puts forth
The tender leaves of hope; to-morrow blossoms,
And bears his blushing honours thick upon him:
The third day comes a frost, a killing frost,
And, when he thinks, good easy man, full surely
His greatness is a-ripening, nips his root,
And then he falls, as I do.
- Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world
Like a Colossus, and we petty men
Walk under his huge legs and peep about
To find ourselves dishonorable graves.
- Are yet two Romans living such as these?
The last of all the Romans, fare thee well!
- But thou art fair, and at thy birth, dear boy,
Nature and Fortune join'd to make thee great.
- Your name is great
In mouths of wisest censure.
- They that stand high have many blasts to shake them;
And if they fall, they dash themselves to pieces.
- Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon 'em.
- There are two alternatives, and only two, before us. First, which is unlikely, is that we unscramble our modern interdependent culture, returning to separate and isolationist lives … Such a world would not demand greatness. The other alternative is to so expand our spiritual powers that we vastly increase the range of our understanding and sympathy. There is no middle way. It is greatness — universalism — or perish.
- Clarence Skinner, in The Universalist Leader, Vol. 125, Issue 24 (1943), p. 748.
- High stations, tumult, but not bliss, create;
None think the great unhappy, but the great.
- Edward Young, Love of Fame (1725-28), Satire I, line 237.
Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations
- Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 340-42.
- Nothing can cover his high fame but heaven;
No pyramids set off his memories,
But the eternal substance of his greatness,—
To which I leave him.
- Beaumont and Fletcher, The False One, Act II, scene 1.
- Man's Unhappiness, as I construe, comes of his Greatness; it is because there is an Infinite in him, which with all his cunning he cannot quite bury under the Finite.
- Thomas Carlyle, Sartor Resartus, The Everlasting Yea, Book II, Chapter IX.
- We have not the love of greatness, but the love of the love of greatness.
- Thomas Carlyle, Essays, Characteristics, Volume III.
- Nemo vir magnus aliquo afflatu divino unquam fuit.
- No man was ever great without divine inspiration.
- Cicero, De Natura Deorum, II. 66.
- The great man who thinks greatly of himself, is not diminishing that greatness in heaping fuel on his fire.
- Isaac D'Israeli, The Literary Character, Illustrated by the History of Men of Genius (1795-1822), Chapter XV.
- So let his name through Europe ring!
A man of mean estate,
Who died as firm as Sparta's king,
Because his soul was great.
- Sir Francis Hastings Doyle, The Private of the Buffs.
- He is great who is what he is from Nature, and who never reminds us of others.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson, Essays, Second Series. Uses of Great Men.
- Nature never sends a great man into the planet, without confiding the secret to another soul.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson, Uses of Great Men.
- He who comes up to his own idea of greatness, must always have had a very low standard of it in his mind.
- William Hazlitt, Table Talk, Whether Genius is Conscious of its own Power.
- No really great man ever thought himself so.
- William Hazlitt, Table Talk, Whether Genius is Conscious of its own Power.
- Ajax the great * * *
Himself a host.
- Homer, The Iliad, Book III, line 293. Pope's translation.
- Urit enim fulgore suo qui prægravat artes
Intra se positas; extinctus amabitur idem.
- That man scorches with his brightness, who overpowers inferior capacities, yet he shall be revered when dead.
- Horace, Epistles, II. 1. 13.
- Greatnesse on goodnesse loves to slide, not stand,
And leaves, for fortune's ice, vertue's firme land.
- Richard Knolles, Turkish History. Under a portrait of Mustapha I, line 13.
- Great is advertisement! 'tis almost fate;
But, little mushroom-men, of puff-ball fame.
Ah, do you dream to be mistaken great
And to be really great are just the same?
- Richard Le Gallienne, Alfred Tennyson.
- Il n'appartient qu'aux grands hommes d'avoir de grands défauts.
- It is the prerogative of great men only to have great defects.
- François de La Rochefoucauld, Maximes.
- The great man is the man who can get himself made and who will get himself made out of anything he finds at hand.
- Gerald Stanley Lee, Crowds (1913), Book II, Chapter XV.
- Great men stand like solitary towers in the city of God.
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Kavanagh: A Tale (1849), Chapter I.
- A great man is made up of qualities that meet or make great occasions.
- James Russell Lowell, My Study Windows, Garfield.
- The great man is he who does not lose his child's heart.
- Mencius, Works, Book IV, Part II, Chapter XII.
- That man is great, and he alone,
Who serves a greatness not his own,
For neither praise nor pelf:
Content to know and be unknown:
Whole in himself.
- Owen Meredith (Lord Lytton), A Great Man.
- Les grands ne sont grands que parceque nous, les portons sur nos épaules; nous n'avons qu' à les secouer pour en joncher la terre.
- The great are only great because we carry them on our shoulders; when we throw them off they sprawl on the ground.
- François de La Rochefoucauld, marquis de Montendre, Point de l'Ovale.
- Lives obscurely great.
- Henry J. Newboldt, Minora Sidera.
- Les grands ne sont grands que parceque nous sommes à genoux: relevons nous.
- The great are only great because we are on our knees. Let us rise up.
- Louis-Marie Prudhomme, Révolutions de Paris, Motto.
- Es ist der Fluch der Hohen, dass die Niedern
Sich ihres offnen Ohrs bemächtigen.
- The curse of greatness:
Ears ever open to the babbler's tale.
- Friedrich Schiller, Die Braut von Messina, I.
- The curse of greatness:
- Si vir es, suspice, etiam si decidunt, magna conantes.
- If thou art a man, admire those who attempt great things, even though they fail.
- Seneca, De Brevitate, XX.
- Not that the heavens the little can make great,
But many a man has lived an age too late.
- Richard Henry Stoddard, To Edmund Clarence Stedman.
- Censure is the tax a man pays to the public for being eminent.
- Jonathan Swift, Thoughts on Various Subjects.
- He fought a thousand glorious wars,
And more than half the world was his,
And somewhere, now, in yonder stars,
Can tell, mayhap, what greatness is.
- William Makepeace Thackeray, The Chronicle of the Drum, last verse.
- O, happy they that never saw the court,
Nor ever knew great men but by report!
- John Webster, The White Devil; or, Vittoria Corombona, Act V, scene VI.
- Great let me call him, for he conquered me.
- Edward Young, The Revenge, Act I, scene 1.
Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895)
Quotes reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895).
- The greatest man is he who chooses the right with the most invincible resolution; who resists the sorest temptation from within and without; who bears the heavest burdens cheerfully; who is calmest in storms, and most fearless under menaces and frowns; whose reliance on truth, on virtue, and on God is most unfaltering.
- Seneca the Younger, p. 292.
- Greatness lies not in being strong, but in the using of strength.
- Henry Ward Beecher, p. 292.
- True greatness does not consist so much in doing extraordinary things, as in conducting ordinary affairs with a noble demeanor and from a right motive. It is necessary and most profitable to remember the advice to Titus, "Showing all good fidelity in all things."
- Elias Lyman Magoon, p. 292.
- A solemn and religious regard to spiritual and eternal things is an indispensable element of all true greatness.
- Daniel Webster, p. 292.
- He who does the most good is the greatest man. Power, authority, dignity; honors, wealth, and station,— these are so far valuable as they put it into the hands of men to be more exemplary and more useful than they could be in an obscure and private life. But then these are means conducting to an end, and that end is goodness.
- Bishop Jortin, p. 293.
- A great man, I take it, is a man so inspired and permeated with the ideas of God and the Christly spirit as to be too magnanimous for vengeance, and too unselfish to seek his own ends.
- David Thomas, p. 293.
- He is truly great that is great in charity. He is truly great that is little in himself, and maketh no account of any height of honor. And he is truly learned that doeth the will of God, and forsaketh his own will.
- Thomas à Kempis, p. 293.
- It is, in a great measure, by raising up and endowing great minds that God secures the advance of human affairs, and the accomplishment of His own plans on earth.
- Albert Barnes, p. 293.
- There is but one method, and that is hard labor.
- Sydney Smith, p. 293.