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Adversity is the universal human experience of facing obstacles and setbacks.


  • Prosperity is the blessing of the Old Testament; adversity is the blessing of the New.
  • If thou faint in the day of adversity thy strength is small.
  • And these vicissitudes come best in youth;
    For when they happen at a riper age,
    People are apt to blame the Fates, forsooth,
    And wonder Providence is not more sage.
    Adversity is the first path to truth:
    He who hath proved war, storm or woman's rage,
    Whether his winters be eighteen or eighty,
    Has won the experience which is deem'd so weighty.
  • Adversity is sometimes hard upon a man; but for one man who can stand prosperity, there are a hundred that will stand adversity.
    • Thomas Carlyle, Heroes and Hero-Worship, The Hero as Man of Letters (1840).
  • was ihn nicht umbringt, macht ihn stärker
    • What does not kill him, makes him stronger.
    • Friedrich Nietzsche, Ecce Homo (1888), "Why I Am So Wise", 2; this is often paraphrased as: What does not kill me, makes me stronger.
  • Sweet are the uses of adversity,
    Which like the toad, ugly and venomous,
    Wears yet a precious jewel in his head;
    And this our life, exempt from public haunt,
    Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
    Sermons in stones, and good in every thing.
  • Prosperity makes friends, adversity tries them.
  • It is the duty of all persons, when affairs are the most prosperous, then in especial to reflect within themselves in what way they are to endure adversity.
    • Terence, Phormio, Act II, scene i (166 BC).

Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations[edit]

Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 9-10.
  • It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.
    • Acts, IX. 5.
  • Adversity is sometimes hard upon a man; but for one man who can stand prosperity, there are a hundred that will stand adversity.
  • Aromatic plants bestow
    No spicy fragrance while they grow;
    But crush'd or trodden to the ground,
    Diffuse their balmy sweets around.
  • Thou tamer of the human breast,
    Whose iron scourge and tort'ring hour
    The bad affright, afflict the best!
  • Dans l'adversité de nos meilleurs amis nous trouvons toujours quelque chose qui ne nous deplaist pas.
    • In the adversity of our best friends we often find something which does not displease us.
    • François de La Rochefoucauld, Maxim 99 (Ed. 1665. Suppressed in 3rd ed. Quoted as old saying).
  • Adversæ res admonent religionum.
    • Adversity reminds men of religion.
    • Livy, Annales, V. 51.
  • The Good are better made by Ill,
    As odours crushed are sweeter still.
  • Ecce spectaculum dignum, ad quod respiciat intentus operi suo Deus. Ecce par Deo dignum, vir fortis cum mala fortuna compositus.
    • Behold a worthy sight, to which the God, turning his attention to his own work, may direct his gaze. Behold an equal thing, worthy of a God, a brave man matched in conflict with evil fortune.
    • Seneca the Younger, Lib. de Divina Providentia.
  • Gaudent magni viri rebus adversis non aliter, quam fortes milites bellis.
    • Great men rejoice in adversity just as brave soldiers triumph in war.
    • Seneca the Younger, De Providentia, IV.
  • A wretched soul, bruis'd with adversity,
    We bid be quiet when we hear it cry;
    But were we burthen'd with like weight of pain,
    As much, or more, we should ourselves complain.
  • His overthrow heap'd happiness upon him;
    For then, and not till then, he felt himself,
    And found the blessedness of being little.
  • A wise man struggling with adversity is said by some heathen writer to be a spectacle on which the gods might look down with pleasure.
  • In all distresses of our friends
    We first consult our private ends.

Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895)[edit]

Quotes reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895).
  • God kills thy comforts from no other design but to kill thy corruptions; wants are ordained to kill wantonness, poverty is appointed to kill pride, reproaches are permitted to destroy ambition.
  • In the day of prosperity we have many refuges to resort to; in the day of adversity, only one.
  • Adversity borrows its sharpest sting from impatience.

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