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One who seeks fame and thereby loses his real self is no gentleman. ~ Zhuangzi

Fame is the state of being well-known and spoken of.

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  • Even a master of the three knowledges,
    who has conquered death, and is without defilements,
    is looked down on for being unknown
    by ignorant fools.

    But any person here
    who gets food and drink
    is honored by them
    even if they are of bad character.


  • Ah! who can tell how hard it is to climb
    The steep where Fame's proud temple shines afar!
  • FAMOUS, adj. Conspicuously miserable.
    • Ambrose Bierce, The Cynic's Dictionary (1906); republished as The Devil's Dictionary (1911).
  • A celebrity is a person who is known for his well-knownness.
    • Daniel J. Boorstin, The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America (1961), Chapter 3, p. 57.
  • Is it any wonder I reject you first?
    Fame, fame, fame, fame
    Is it any wonder you are too cool to fool
    Fame (fame).
  • I think fame itself is not a rewarding thing. The most you can say is that it gets you a seat in restaurants.
  • In the past, ... when a bhikkhu was a forest dweller and spoke in praise of forest dwelling; ... when he was secluded and spoke in praise of solitude; when he was aloof from society and spoke in praise of aloofness from society; … the elder bhikkhus would invite him to a seat. ... Now it is the bhikkhu who is well known and famous ... that the elder bhikkhus invite to a seat. ... Then it occurs to the newly ordained bhikkhus: ‘It seems that when a bhikkhu is well known and famous, ... the elder bhikkhus invite him to a seat.’ ... They practise accordingly, and that leads to their harm and suffering for a long time.
  • Artists shouldn't be made famous.
    • Kate Bush, Profiles in Rock interview (December 1980).
  • What is the end of Fame? 'tis but to fill
    A certain portion of uncertain paper:
    Some liken it to climbing up a hill,
    Whose summit, like all hills, is lost in vapour:
    For this men write, speak, preach, and heroes kill,
    And bards burn what they call their "midnight taper,"
    To have, when the original is dust,
    A name, a wretched picture, and worse bust.


  • Ó glória de mandar! Ó vã cobiça
    Desta vaidade, a quem chamamos Fama!
  • Je ne dois qu'à moi seul toute ma renommée.
  • I am not concerned that I have no place; I am concerned how I may fit myself for one. I am not concerned that I am not known; I seek to be worthy to be known.


  • Being a star has made it possible for me to get insulted in places where the average Negro could never hope to go and get insulted.
  • How dreary — to be — Somebody!
    How public — like a Frog —
    To tell one's name — the livelong June —
    To an admiring Bog!
    • Emily Dickinson, "I'm Nobody! Who are you?" (1891). In some editions "June" has been altered to "day".
  • Fame is a food that dead men eat —
    I have no stomach for such meat.


  • Fame! I'm gonna live forever
    I'm gonna learn how to fly (high!)
    I feel it coming together
    People will see me and cry!
  • “There is fame and there is infamy,” she said. “The impatient and the prideful are often driven to reach for the one and find that, in their haste, they have grabbed the other.”
  • All this fame and money, which have so thrilled me when they came to others, leave me cold when they come to me. I am not an ascetic, but I don't know what to do with them, and my daily life has never been so trying, and there is no one to fill it emotionally.
    • E. M. Forster, Selected Letters: Letter 251, to Florence Barger, 23 December 1924.
  • He doth raise his country's fame with his own
    And in the mouths of nations yet unborn
    His praises will be sung; Death comes to all,
    But great achievements build a monument
    Which shall endure until the sun grows cold.
    • Georg Fabricius, in praise of Georg Agricola in De Metallicis Rebus (1566); as translated by Herbert Clark Hoover and Lou Henry Hoover in the introduction to their 1912 translation of Agricola's De Re Metallica (1556); also quoted in prose form as "Death comes to all, but great achievements build a monument which shall endure until the sun grows cold".


  • If that thy fame with ev'ry toy be pos'd,
    'Tis a thin web, which poysonous fancies make;
    But the great souldier's honour was compos'd
    Of thicker stuf, which would endure a shake.
    Wisdom picks friends; civility plays the rest;
    A toy shunn'd cleanly passeth with the best.
  • Nothing is so common-place as to wish to be remarkable. Fame usually comes to those who are thinking about something else, – very rarely to those who say to themselves, "Go to, now, let us be a celebrated individual!"
  • There is a proud undying thought in man,
    That bids his soul still upward look
    To fame's proud cliff!
    • Sam Houston, "There is a proud undying thought in man", lines 1–3, in Donald Day and Harry H. Ullom, eds., The Autobiography of Sam Houston (1954), p. 56.


  • I think that there is this idea that what you should go after is fame. That is a hugely mistaken idea because fame means absolutely nothing. This whole culture of wanting to become famous is on a hiding to nothing, a sign of a society that's lost its way and will only judge people as being valid if they're famous, which of course is all bull----. As Tom Stoppard said, the only thing that fame means is that more people know you than you know."




  • How fever'd is that Man who cannot look
Upon his mortal days with temperate blood
Who vexes all the leaves of his Life's book
And robs his fair name of its maidenhood.
It is as if the rose should pluck herself
Or the ripe plum finger its misty bloom,
As if a clear Lake meddling with itself
Should cloud its pureness with a muddy gloom.
But the rose leaves herself upon the Briar
For winds to kiss and grateful Bees to feed,
And the ripe plum still wears its dim attire,
The undisturbed Lake has crystal space—
Why then should man teasing the world for grace,
Spoil his salvation by a fierce miscreed?
  • John Keats, "On Fame" (1819), in The Letters of John Keats, p. 329


  • It is the veriest madness man
    In maddest mood can frame,
    To feed the earth with human gore,
    And then to call it fame.


  • Why were they all so eager for fame? Surely nothing was ever less worth thinking about.
  • Fame, fame, fatal fame
    It can play hideous tricks on the brain
    But still I'd rather be famous than righteous or holy
    Any day, any day, any day
  • Nolo virum facili redimit qui sanguine famam;
    Hunc volo laudari qui sine morte potest.
    • I do not like the man who squanders life for fame; give me the man who living makes a name.
    • Martial, Epigrams (c. 80-104 AD), I. 9. 5.
  • Si post fata venit gloria non propero.
    • If fame comes after death, I am in no hurry for it.
    • Martial, Epigrams (c. 80-104 AD), V. 10. 12.
  • Since when has mental illness ever interfered with superstardom? Since when has delusion impeded huge fame?
    • Lisa Mason, Transformation and the Postmodern Identity Crisis in Fantastic Alice (1995 trade paperback edition edited by Margaret Weis), p. 179
  • Fame is the spur that the clear spirit doth raise
    (That last infirmity of noble mind)
    To scorn delights, and live laborious days.
  • I always like to say to people who want to be rich and famous, try being rich first. See if that doesn't cover most of it.
  • Fame is not creativity, it’s the industrial disease of creativity.
    • Mike Myers, in the introduction to his memoir Canada (2016)


  • The courage to stand alone as if others didn't exist and think only of what you're doing. Not to get scared if people ignore you. You have to wait for years, have to die. Then after you're dead, if you're lucky, you become somebody.
  • Posthumous fame, book fame, nerd fame is not like the good kind of fame. It might last for centuries and let antique egg heads torture the young from the grave, but it just doesn't pay the bills.
    • Laura Penny, More Money Than Brains, Chapter Seven, If You're So Smart, Why Ain't You Rich?, p. 206 (2010).
  • Scarce any Tale was sooner heard than told;
    And all who told it, added something new,
    And all who heard it, made Enlargements too,
    In ev'ry Ear it spread, on ev'ry Tongue it grew.
  • Nor Fame I slight, nor her favors call;
    She comes unlooked for, if she comes at all.
  • Unblemish'd let me live or die unknown;
    Oh, grant an honest fame, or grant me none!
  • What's fame? a fancy'd life in others' breath.
    A thing beyond us, e'en before our death.
  • If parts allure thee, think how Bacon shin'd,
    The wisest, brightest, meanest of mankind:
    Or, ravish'd with the whistling of a name,
    See Cromwell, damn'd to everlasting fame.


  • Judas: Nazareth's most famous son
    Should have stayed a great unknown
    Like his father carving wood
    He'd have made good
    Table chairs and oaken chests
    Would have suited Jesus best
    He'd have caused nobody harm, no one alarm.


  • Honor … means that a man is not exceptional; fame, that he is. Fame is something which must be won; honor, only something which must not be lost.
    • Variant translation: Fame is something which must be won; honor is something which must not be lost.
    • Arthur Schopenhauer, Aphorisms on the Wisdom of Life.
  • Fame's a weed, but repute is a slow-growing oak, and all we can do during our lifetimes is hop around like squirrels and plant acorns.


  • Erant quibus appetentior famæ videretur, quando etiam sapientibus cupido gloriæ novissima exuitur
    • Some might consider him as too fond of fame, for the desire of glory clings even to the best of men longer than any other passion.
    • Tacitus, Historia, iv. 6; said of Helvidius Priscus.
  • Sweet were the days when I was all unknown,
    But when my name was lifted up, the storm
    Brake on the mountain and I cared not for it.
    Right well know I that Fame is half-disfame.
  • The Fame that follows death is nothing to us;
    And what is Fame in life but half-disfame,
    And counterchanged with darkness?


  • In the future everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.
    • Andy Warhol, catalogue of an exhibition of his art in Stockholm, Sweden (1968).
  • In our overcrowded modern world a hit record, a best-selling book, a successful film, can reach more people in a week than Shakespeare or Beethoven reached in a whole lifetime. And so fame has become the most romantic, the most desirable of all commodities, the dream for which a modern Faust might sell his soul to the Devil. Once attained, fame is never as easy to hold on to as some people believe. The people who achieve fame by some accident of fashion are usually forgotten within a week; the ones who remain on top have to work to stay there. But few people understand this. The result is that anyone who achieves sudden notoriety arouses envy and hostility. The greater the success, the greater the reaction.


  • With fame, in just proportion, envy grows.
    • Edward Young, Epistle to Mr. Pope (1730), Epistle I, line 27.
  • Men should press forward, in fame's glorious chase;
    Nobles look backward, and so lose the race.
  • Wouldst thou be famed? have those high acts in view,
    Brave men would act though scandal would ensue.
  • Fame is the shade of immortality,
    And in itself a shadow. Soon as caught,
    Contemn'd; it shrinks to nothing in the grasp.
    • Edward Young, Night Thoughts (1742-1745), Night VII, line 363.


  • One who seeks fame and thereby loses his real self is no gentleman.

Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations

Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 256-59.
  • A niche in the temple of Fame.
    • Owes its origin to the establishment of the Pantheon (1791) as a receptacle for distinguished men.
  • Were not this desire of fame very strong, the difficulty of obtaining it, and the danger of losing it when obtained, would be sufficient to deter a man from so vain a pursuit.
  • And what after all is everlasting fame? Altogether vanity.
  • 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.
  • The best-concerted schemes men lay for fame,
    Die fast away: only themselves die faster.
    The far-fam'd sculptor, and the laurell'd bard,
    Those bold insurancers of deathless fame,
    Supply their little feeble aids in vain.
  • Herostratus lives that burnt the temple of Diana; he is almost lost that built it.
  • I awoke one morning and found myself famous.
  • Folly loves the martyrdom of fame.
    • Lord Byron, Monody on the Death of Sheridan, line 68.
  • O Fame!—if I e'er took delight in thy praises,
    'Twas less for the sake of thy high-sounding phrases,
    Than to see the bright eyes of the dear one discover
    She thought that I was not unworthy to love her.
    • Lord Byron, Stanzas Written on the Road Between Florence and Pisa.
  • Fame, we may understand, is no sure test of merit, but only a probability of such: it is an accident, not a property of a man.
  • Scarcely two hundred years back can Fame recollect articulately at all; and there she but maunders and mumbles.
  • Men the most infamous are fond of fame,
    And those who fear not guilt, yet start at shame.
  • The aspiring youth that fired the Ephesian dome
    Outlives, in fame, the pious fool that rais'd it.
  • Je ne dois qu'à moi seul toute ma renommée.
  • Non é il mondam romore altro che un fiato
    Di vento, che vien quinci ed or vien quindi,
    E muta nome, perchè muta lato.
    • The splendors that belong unto the fame of earth are but a wind, that in the same direction lasts not long.
    • Dante Alighieri, Purgatoria, XI. 100.
  • La vostra nominanza é color d'erba,
    Che viene e va; e quei la discolora
    Per cui ell' esce della terra acerba.
    • All your renown is like the summer flower that blooms and dies; because the sunny glow which brings it forth, soon slays with parching power.
    • Dante Alighieri, Purgatoria, XI. 115.
  • What shall I do to be forever known,
    And make the age to come my own?
  • Who fears not to do ill yet fears the name,
    And free from conscience, is a slave to fame.
  • The Duke of Wellington brought to the post of first minister immortal fame; a quality of success which would almost seem to include all others.
  • Fame then was cheap, and the first courier sped;
    And they have kept it since, by being dead.
  • 'Tis a petty kind of fame
    At best, that comes of making violins;
    And saves no masses, either. Thou wilt go
    To purgatory none the less.
  • From kings to cobblers 'tis the same;
    Bad servants wound their masters' fame.
    • John Gay, Fables (1727), The Squire and his Cur, Part II.
  • Der rasche Kampf verewigt einen Mann,
    Er falle gleich, so preiset ihn das Lied.
    • Rash combat oft immortalizes man.
      If he should fall, he is renowned in song.
    • Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Iphigenia auf Tauris, V. 6. 43.
  • The temple of fame stands upon the grave: the flame that burns upon its altars is kindled from the ashes of dead men.
  • Thou hast a charmed cup, O Fame!
    A draught that mantles high,
    And seems to lift this earthly frame
    Above mortality.
    Away! to me—a woman—bring
    Sweet water from affection's spring.
  • Short is my date, but deathless my renown.
    • Homer, The Iliad, Book IX, line 535. Pope's translation.
  • The rest were vulgar deaths unknown to fame.
    • Homer, The Iliad, Book XI, line 394. Pope's translation.
  • The life, which others pay, let us bestow,
    And give to fame what we to nature owe.
    • Homer, The Iliad, Book XII, line 393. Pope's translation.
  • Earth sounds my wisdom, and high heaven my fame.
    • Homer, The Odyssey, Book IX, line 20. Pope's translation.
  • But sure the eye of time beholds no name,
    So blest as thine in all the rolls of fame.
    • Homer, The Odyssey, Book XI, line 591. Pope's translation.
  • Where's Cæsar gone now, in command high and able?
    Or Xerxes the splendid, complete in his table?
    Or Tully, with powers of eloquence ample?
    Or Aristotle, of genius the highest example?
    • Jacopone, De Contemptu Mundi. Translation by Abraham Coles.
  • Fame has no necessary conjunction with praise: it may exist without the breath of a word: it is a recognition of excellence which must be felt but need not be spoken. Even the envious must feel it: feel it, and hate it in silence.
  • Reputation being essentially contemporaneous, is always at the mercy of the Envious and the Ignorant. But Fame, whose very birth is posthumous, and which is only known to exist by the echo of its footsteps through congenial minds, can neither be increased nor diminished by any degree of wilfulness.
  • Miserum est aliorum incumbere famæ.
    • It is a wretched thing to live on the fame of others.
    • Juvenal, Satires (early 2nd century), VIII. 76.
  • "Let us now praise famous men"—
    Men of little showing—
    For their work continueth,
    And their work continueth,
    Greater than their knowing.
    • Rudyard Kipling, words prefixed to Stalky & Co. First line from Ecclesiasticus. XLIV. 1.
  • His fame was great in all the land.
  • Though the desire of fame be the last weakness
    Wise men put off.
  • Read but o'er the Stories
    Of men most fam'd for courage or for counsaile
    And you shall find that the desire of glory
    Was the last frailty wise men put of;
    Be they presidents.
  • Fame lulls the fever of the soul, and makes
    Us feel that we have grasp'd an immortality.
  • Fame is the spur that the clear spirit doth raise,
    (That last infirmity of noble mind)
    To scorn delights, and live laborious days;
    But the fair guerdon when we hope to find,
    And think to burst out into sudden blaze,
    Comes the blind Fury with th' abhorred shears,
    And slits the thin-spun life.
  • Fame is no plant that grows on mortal soil.
  • Fame, if not double fac'd, is double mouth'd,
    And with contrary blast proclaims most deeds;
    On both his wings, one black, the other white,
    Bears greatest names in his wild aery flight.
  • "Des humeurs desraisonnables des hommes, il semble que les philosophes mesmes se desfacent plus tard et plus envy de cette cy que de nulle autre: c'est la plus revesche et opiniastre; quia etiam bene proficientes animos tentare non cessat."
    • Of the unreasoning humours of mankind it seems that (fame) is the one of which the philosophers themselves have disengaged themselves from last and with the most reluctance: it is the most intractable and obstinate; for [as St. Augustine says] it persists in tempting even minds nobly inclined."
    • Michel de Montaigne, Essays, Book I, Chapter XLI. Quoting the Latin from St. Augustine, De Civit. Dei. 5. 14.
  • I'll make thee glorious by my pen
    And famous by my sword.
  • Ingenio stimulos subdere fama solet.
    • The love of fame usually spurs on the mind.
    • Ovid, Tristium. V. 1. 76.
  • At pulchrum est digito monstrari et dicier hic est.
    • It is pleasing to be pointed at with the finger and to have it said, "There goes the man."
    • Persius, Satires, I. 28.
  • To the quick brow Fame grudges her best wreath
    While the quick heart to enjoy it throbs beneath:
    On the dead forehead's sculptured marble shown,
    Lo, her choice crown—its flowers are also stone.
  • Who grasp'd at earthly fame,
    Grasped wind: nay, worse, a serpent grasped that through
    His hand slid smoothly, and was gone; but left
    A sting behind which wrought him endless pain.
  • All crowd, who foremost shall be damn'd to fame.
  • Let humble Allen, with an awkward shame,
    Do good by stealth, and blush to find it Fame.
  • Above all Greek, above all Roman fame.
  • And what is Fame? the Meanest have their Day,
    The Greatest can but blaze, and pass away.
  • Omnia post obitum fingit majora vetustas:
    Majus ab exsequiis nomen in ora venit.
    • Time magnifies everything after death; a man's fame is increased as it passes from mouth to mouth after his burial.
    • Sextus Propertius, Elegiæ, III. 1. 23.
  • Your fame shall (spite of proverbs) make it plain
    To write in water 's not to write in vain.
  • May see thee now, though late, redeem thy name,
    And glorify what else is damn'd to fame.
  • I'll make thee famous by my pen,
    And glorious by my sword.
  • Death makes no conquest of this conqueror:
    For now he lives in fame, though not in life.
  • Fame is the perfume of heroic deeds.
  • Sloth views the towers of fame with envious eyes,
    Desirous still, still impotent to rise.
  • No true and permanent Fame can be founded except in labors which promote the happiness of mankind.
    • Charles Sumner, Fame and Glory, An Address before the Literary Societies of Amherst College (Aug. 11, 1847).
  • Censure is the tax a man pays to the public for being eminent.
  • Etiam sapientibus cupido gloriæ novissima exuitur.
    • The love of fame is the last weakness which even the wise resign.
    • Tacitus, Annales (AD 117), IV.
  • Modestiæ fama neque summis mortalibus spernenda est.
    • Modest fame is not to be despised by the highest characters.
    • Tacitus, Annales (AD 117), XV. 2.
  • The whole earth is a sepulchre for famous men.
  • Fama est obscurior annis.
    • The fame (or report) has become obscure through age.
    • Virgil, Æneid (29-19 BC), 7. 205.
  • Ingrediturque solo, et caput inter nubila condit.
    • She (Fame) walks on the earth, and her head is concealed in the clouds.
    • Virgil, Æneid (29-19 BC), 4. 177.
  • In tenui labor, at tenuis non gloria.
    • The object of the labor was small, but not the fame.
    • Virgil, Georgics (c. 29 BC), IV. 6.
  • Tel brille au second rang, qui s'eclipse au premier.
    • He shines in the second rank, who is eclipsed in the first.
    • Voltaire, Henriade, I.
  • C'est un poids bien pesant qu'un nom trop tôt fameux.
    • What a heavy burden is a name that has become too famous.
    • Voltaire, Henriade, III.
  • What rage for fame attends both great and small!
    Better be d—n'd than mentioned not at all.
    • John Wolcot (Peter Pindar), To the Royal Academicians. Lyric Odes for the Year 1783. Ode IX.

Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895)


Quotes reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895).

  • No true and permanent fame can be founded, except in labors which promote the happiness of mankind.
  • The highest greatness, surviving time and stone, is that which proceeds from the soul of man. Monarchs and cabinets, generals and admirals, with the pomp of court and the circumstance of war, in the lapse of time disappear from sight; but the pioneers of truth, though poor and lowly, especially those whose example elevates human nature, and teaches the rights of man, so that "a government of the people, by the people, for the people, may not perish from the earth;" such a harbinger can never be forgotten, and their renown spreads co-extensive with the cause they served so well.
  • Live for something! Do good and leave behind you a monument of virtue that the storm of time can never destroy. Write your name in kindness, love, and mercy on the hearts of the thousands you come in contact with, year by year, and you will never be forgotten. Your name, your deeds, will be as legible on the hearts you leave behind, as the stars on the brow of evening. Good deeds will shine as the stars of heaven.
  • I have learned to prize the quiet, lightning deed, not the applauding thunder at its heels that men call fame.
  • How idle a boast, after all, is the immortality of a name! Time is ever silently turning over his pages; we are too much engrossed by the story of the present to think of the character and anecdotes that gave interest to the past; and each age is a volume thrown aside and forgotten.

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