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Ancestors are parent or (recursively) the parents of an ancestor (i.e., a grandparents, great-grandparents, great-great-grandparents, and so forth). Two individuals have a genetic relationship if one is the ancestor of the other, or if they share a common ancestor. Some cultures confer reverence to ancestors, both living and dead. In other cultural contexts, some people seek providence from their deceased ancestors; this practice is sometimes known as ancestor worship or ancestor veneration.


  • Teach them about the detestable things that their ancestors did. ... Abandon your detestable practices. You are not to defile yourselves with Egypt's idols. ... You are not to follow the statutes of your ancestors, observe their ordinances, or be defiled by their idols. I am the LORD your God.
  • All of them, my ancestors,/blood of my blood,/flame of my flame,/dead and living mixed together,/sad, grotesque, immense./They trample through me as through a dark house./Trampling with prayers, and curses, and wailing,/rattling my heart like a copper bell,/my tongue quivers,/I don't know my own voice-/My ancestors speak.
    • Drunk from the Bitter Truth: The Poems of Anna Margolin translated from Yiddish by Shirley Kumove (2017)
  • That is the nature of our ancestors: immensely courageous hunters, defenders, shepherds, voyagers, inventors, warriors, and founders of cities and states. That is the father you could rescue; the ancestor you could become.

Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations

Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 23-25.
  • The wisdom of our ancestors.
  • I am a gentleman, though spoiled i' the breeding. The Buzzards are all gentlemen. We came in with the Conqueror.
  • I look upon you as a gem of the old rock.
  • People will not look forward to posterity, who never look backward to their ancestors.
    • Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790), Volume III, p. 274.
  • The power of perpetuating our property in our families is one of the most valuable and interesting circumstances belonging to it, and that which tends the most to the perpetuation of society itself. It makes our weakness subservient to our virtue; it grafts benevolence even upon avarice. The possession of family wealth and of the distinction which attends hereditary possessions (as most concerned in it,) are the natural securities for this transmission.
    • Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790) Volume III, p. 298.
  • Some decent regulated pre-eminence, some preference (not exclusive appropriation) given to birth, is neither unnatural, nor unjust, nor impolitic.
    • Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790), Volume III, p. 299.
  • A degenerate nobleman, or one that is proud of his birth, is like a turnip. There is nothing good of him but that which is underground.
  • Born in the garret, in the kitchen bred.
  • Odiosum est enim, cum a prætereuntibus dicatur:—O domus antiqua, heu, quam dispari dominare domino.
    • It is disgraceful when the passers-by exclaim, "O ancient house! alas, how unlike is thy present master to thy former one."
    • Cicero, De Officiis (44 B.C.), CXXXIX.
  • I came up-stairs into the world; for I was born in a cellar.
  • D'Adam nous sommes tous enfants,
    La prouve en est connue,
    Et que tous, nos premier parents
    Ont mené la charrue.

    Mais, las de cultiver enfin
    La terre labourée,
    L'une a dételé le matin,
    L'autre l'après-dinée.
  • Great families of yesterday we show,
    And lords whose parents were the Lord knows who.
  • Born in a Cellar, * * * and living in a Garret.
  • Primus Adam duro cum verteret arva ligone,
    Pensaque de vili deceret Eva colo:
    Ecquis in hoc poterat vir nobilis orbe videri?
    Et modo quisquam alios ante locandus erir?
    • Say, when the ground our father Adam till'd,
      And mother Eve the humble distaff held,
      Who then his pedigree presumed to trace,
      Or challenged the prerogative of place?
    • Grobianus, Book I, Chapter IV. (Ed. 1661).
  • No, my friends, I go (always other things being equal) for the man that inherits family traditions and the cumulative humanities of at least four or five generations.
  • Few sons attain the praise of their great sires, and most their sires disgrace.
    • Homer, The Odyssey, Book II, line 315. Pope's translation.
  • Fortes creantur fortibus et bonis;
    Est in juvencis, est in equibus patrum
    Virtus; nec imbellem feroces
    Progenerant aquilæ columbam.
    • The brave are born from the brave and good. In steers and in horses is to be found the excellence of their sires; nor do savage eagles produce a peaceful dove.
    • Horace, Carmina, Book IV. 4.
  • "My nobility," said he, "begins in me, but yours ends in you."
    • Iphicrates. See Plutarch's Morals. Apothegms of Kings and Great Commanders. Iphicrates.
  • Ah, ma foi, je n'en sais rien; moi je suis mon ancetre.
    • Faith, I know nothing about it; I am my own ancestor.
    • Junot, Duc d'Abrantes, when asked as to his ancestry.
  • Stemmata quid faciunt, quid prodest, Pontice, longo,
    Sanguine censeri pictosque ostendere vultus.
    • Of what use are pedigrees, or to be thought of noble blood, or the display of family portraits, O Ponticus?
    • Juvenal, Satires (early 2nd century), VIII. 1.
  • Sence I've ben here, I've hired a chap to look about for me
    To git me a transplantable an' thrifty fem'ly-tree.
  • Sire, I am my own Rudolph of Hapsburg. (Rudolph was the founder of the Hapsburg family).
    • Napoleon to the Emperor of Austria, who hoped to trace the Bonaparte lineage to a prince.
  • The man who has not anything to boast of but his illustrious ancestors is like a potato,—the only good belonging to him is under ground.
  • Nam genus et proavos et quæ non fecimus ipsi
    Vix ea nostra voco.
    • Birth and ancestry, and that which we have not ourselves achieved, we can scarcely call our own.
    • Ovid, Metamorphoses, XIII. 140.
  • What can ennoble sots, or slaves, or cowards?
    Alas! not all the blood of all the Howards.
  • If there be no nobility of descent, all the more indispensable is it that there should be nobility of ascent,—a character in them that bear rule so fine and high and pure that as men come within the circle of its influence they involuntarily pay homage to that which is the one pre-eminent distinction,—the royalty of virtue.
    • Bishop Henry C. Potter, address to the Washington Centennial Service in St. Paul's Chapel, New York (Apr. 30, 1889).
  • That all from Adam first begun,
    None but ungodly Woolston doubts,
    And that his son, and his son's sons
    Were all but ploughmen, clowns and louts.

    Each when his rustic pains began,
    To merit pleaded equal right,
    'Twas only who left off at noon,
    Or who went on to work till night.
  • On garde toujours la marque de ses origines.
  • Majorum gloria posteris lumen est, neque bona neque mala in occulto patitur.
    • The glory of ancestors sheds a light around posterity; it allows neither their good nor bad qualities to remain in obscurity.
    • Sallust, Jugurtha, LXXXV.
  • Stemma non inspicit. Omnes, si ad primam originem revocentur, a Diis sunt.
    • It [Philosophy] does not pay attention to pedigree. All, if their first origin be in question, are from the Gods.
    • Seneca the Younger, Epistles, XLIV.
  • Qui genus jactat suum
    Aliena laudat.
    • He who boasts of his descent, praises the deeds of another.
    • Seneca the Younger, Hercules Furens, Act II. 340.
  • Our ancestors are very good kind of folks; but they are the last people I should choose to have a visiting acquaintance with.
  • I make little account of genealogical trees. Mere family never made a man great. Thought and deed, not pedigree, are the passports to enduring fate.
    • General Skobeleff, in Fortnightly Review (October 1882).
  • The Smiths never had any arms, and have invariably sealed their letters with their thumbs.
  • Each has his own tree of ancestors, but at the top of all sits Probably Arboreal.
  • 'Tis happy for him that his father was born before him.
  • From yon blue heavens above us bent,

    The gardener Adam and his wife
    Smile at the claims of long descent.
    Howe'er it be, it seems to me
    'Tis only noble to be good.
    Kind hearts are more than coronets,
    And simple faith than Norman blood.
    • Alfred Tennyson, Lady Clara Vere de Vere, Stanza 7. ("The Grand Old Gardener" in 1st Ed.).
  • He seems to be a man sprung from himself.
    • Tiberius. See Annals of Tacitus, Book XI, scene 21.
  • As though there were a tie,
    And obligation to posterity!
    We get them, bear them, breed and nurse.
    What has posterity done for us,
    That we, lest they their rights should lose,
    Should trust our necks to grip of noose?
  • Bishop Warburton is reported to have said that high birth was a thing which he never knew any one disparage except those who had it not, and he never knew any one make a boast of it who had anything else to be proud of.
  • Rank is a farce: if people Fools will be
    A Scavenger and King's the same to me.
    • John Wolcot, (Peter Pindar). Title Page, Peter's Prophecy.
  • He stands for fame on his forefather's feet,
    By heraldry, proved valiant or discreet!
  • They that on glorious ancestors enlarge,
    Produce their debt, instead of their discharge.
  • Like lavish ancestors, his earlier years
    Have disinherited his future hours,
    Which starve on orts, and glean their former field.
    • Edward Young, Night Thoughts (1742-1745), Night III, line 310.
  • My tutor I have already mentioned, Marcus Porcius Cato who was, in his own estimation at least, a living embodiment of that ancient Roman virtue which his ancestors had one after the other shown. He was always boasting of his ancestors, as stupid people do who are aware that they have done nothing themselves to boast about.
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