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Painter Carl Larsson playing with his laughing daughter Brita

Quotes on fathers, male parents.


  • I have discovered very little in life that I am adept at doing. I cannot fix your car, repair your roof, or even drive a nail straight. However, I have given everything I have to being a father, and I happily stand back to see the results.
  • Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him.
  • Your Lord has ordained that you must not worship anything other than Him and that you must be kind to your parents. If either or both of your parents should become advanced in age, do not express to them words which show your slightest disappointment. Never yell at them but always speak to them with kindness.
    Be humble and merciful towards them and say, "Lord, have mercy upon them as they cherished me in my childhood."
  • Whoever does not talk to his father never knows what his grandfather said.
  • The fundamental defect of fathers is that they want their children to be a credit to them.
    • Bertrand Russell, Sceptical Essays (1928), Ch. 14: Freedom Versus Authority in Education.
  • The place of the father in the modern suburban family is a very small one – particularly if he plays golf.
  • Interea dulces pendent circum oscula nati,
    Casta pudicitiam servat domus.
    • His cares are eased with intervals of bliss;
      His little children, climbing for a kiss,
      Welcome their father's late return at night;
      His faithful bed is crown'd with chaste delight.
    • Virgil, Georgics (29 BC), Book II, lines 523-524 (translated by John Dryden).
  • Sequiturque patrem non passibus aequis.
    • He follows his father, but not with equal steps.
    • Virgil, Aeneid (29–19 BC), Book II, line 724; of Ascanius (Aeneas's son), when escaping from burning Troy.
Quotes reported in James William Norton-Kyshe, The Dictionary of Legal Quotations (1904), p. 188-189.
  • Human society was so constituted, for human nature was so constituted, that the honour and dignity of a father were connected with that of a son; and there was no son who must not be disturbed and disquieted by imputations on his father.
    • Abbott, C.J., King v. Hunt (1824), 2 St. Tr. (N. S.) 100.
  • The authority of a father to guide and govern the education of his child is a very sacred thing, bestowed by the Almighty, and to be sustained to the uttermost by human law. It is not to be abrogated or abridged, without the most coercive reason. For the parent and the child alike, its maintenance is essential, that their reciprocal relations may be fruitful of happiness and virtue; and no disturbing intervention should be allowed between them whilst those relations are pure and wholesome and conducive to their mutual benefit.
    • Lord O'Hagan, In re Meades (1870), 5 Ir. L. R. Eq. 103.
  • As a man of the world, and speaking as a father, I am satisfied that solitary children are not so happy, and not so likely to make good men and women, as children brought up in the society of brothers and sisters in early life.
    • Jessel, M.R., In re Besant (1879), L. R. 11 0. D. 512.
  • A father, by the law of God and nature, is bound to support his son, and è contra, in case the father is empoverished.
    • Wyndham, J., Manby v. Scott (1672), 1 Levinz, 4; 2 Sm. L. C. (8th ed.) 472.
  • The rights of a father are sacred rights because his duties are sacred duties.
    • Brett, M.R., In re Agar-Ellis, Agar-Ellis v. Lascelles (1883), id., L. H. 24 C. D. 329.

Classical and Foreign Quotations

Quotes reported in W. Francis H. King, Classical and Foreign Quotations, 3rd ed. (1904), nos. 171, 2045, 2494, 2827, 3003, 3013; 1212, 2818, 3005; 2420; 110, 1602; 646
  • Patriæ pietatis imago.
  • The picture of paternal affection.
  • Sequiturque patrem non passibus æquis.
  • He follows his father with unequal steps.
    • Virgil, Æneid 2, 724.
    • Said of Iulus trying to keep pace with his father Æneas.
    • Applicable to the son of any distinguished man who “follows in his father’s steps,” but not with as great a “stride” of progress and power: e.g., Richard Cromwell, Louis Racine, the younger Kean, etc.
  • Un frére est un ami donné par la nature.
  • A brother is a friend given us by nature.
    • Baudouin (L’aîné), Demetrius, 5, 2 (1785).
    • According to Fournier (L.D.A., pp. 351–8), this line (with two more) was with Baudouin’s consent made a present of to Gabriel Legouvé for insertion in his Mort d’ Abel (3, 3), where, singularly enough, the words are put into the mouth of Cain! Parody has turned the saying into Un pére est un banquier donné par la nature.“A father is a banker that nature supplies us with.”
    • Comp. Cum his (propinquis) amicitiam natura ipsa peperit. Cicero, Laelius de Amicitia 5, 19.—“With relatives nature herself creates for us friends.”
  • Wer seinen Kindern giebt das Brot,
    Und leidet nachmals selber Not.
    Den soll man schlagen mit der Keule tot.
  • Who gives his children all his bread,
    And comes himself to grievous need,
    Shall with the club be smitten dead.
    • Rüdiger v. Hünchhover (1290), Der Schlägel.
    • Georg Büchmann, Geflügelte Worte, 19th ed., 1898 (whom see, p. 119, for the fable connected with these lines) says that they are to be found affixed to many town-gates in Northern Germany, side by side with a massive club for emblem.
  • Ζηλωτὸς ὅστις εὐτύχησεν ἐς τέκνα.
  • He is to be envied who has prospered with his children.
Like father, like son
  • Κακοῦ κόρακος κακὸν ὠὸv.
  • A bad crow lays a bad egg.
    • E. L. von Leutsch and F. G. Schneidewin, Corpus Paroemiographorum Graecorum, ii. p. 466. “Ne’er was good son of evil father born,” as runs the saying, quoted by Euripides, Fragment 342 (Dictys, 11).
      φεῦ φεῦ, παλαιὸς αἶνος ὡς καλῶς ἔχει,
      οὐκ ἂν γένοιτο χρηστὸς ἐκ κακοῦ πατρός.
  • Unde tibi frontem libertatemque parentis,
    Quum facias pejora senex?
  • When you do worse yourself, can you expect
    Your son should hold your grey hairs in respect?
  • Wie die Alten sungen, so zwitschern auch die Jungen.
  • As the elders sing, so will the young ones twitter.
Father of his country
  • Roma parentem,
    Roma patrem patriæ Ciceronem libera dixit.
  • Parent and father of the fatherland,
    Was Cicero styled by liberated Rome.
    • Juvenal 8, 243. Pater Patriæ.
    • On the defeat of Catiline in 63 BC, Cicero was hailed as “Father of his country,” in the general relief felt at the suppression of the conspiracy, and he was hardly the man to forget the public distinction thus conferred (see Pro Sestio, 57). Lucan (9, 601) also salutes Cato Uticensis as Ecce parens verus patrie! (“Behold the true parent of his country!”), in his admiration of the single-handed opponent of Cæsar’s advance to power. Romulus was the first so dubbed (Ovid, Fasti 2, 127), and under the Cæsars the title denoted the paternal “clemency” of the sovereign (Seneca, De Clementia 1, 14, 2).
Father’s death
  • Amissum non flet, quum sola est Gellia, patrem;
    Si quis adest jusse prosiliunt lacrymæ.
    Non dolet hie quisquis laudari, Gellia, quærit,
    Ille dolet vere, qui sine teste dolet.
  • Jane weeps not for her dad when none is by,
    Yet when one enters she begins to cry.
    Not by its wish for praise is true grief shown:
    He mourns indeed who mourns when he’s alone.
    • Martial 1, 34, 1.
    • Cf. Plerique enim lacrimas fundunt, ut ostendant; et toties siccos oculos habent, quoties spectator defuit. Seneca, De Tranquillitate Animi 15.—“Very many shed tears merely for show; and have perfectly dry eyes when no one is looking on.”
  • Nam jam non domus accipiet te læta, neque uxor
    Optuma, nec dulces occurrent oscula nati
    Præripere, et tacita pectus dulcedine tangent.
  • No more shall thy family welcome thee home,
    Nor around thee thy wife and sweet little ones come;
    All clamouring joyous to snatch the first kiss,
    Transporting thy bosom with exquisite bliss.
    • Lucretius 3, 907. A Father’s Death.
    • Cf. Thomas Gray, Elegy in a Country Churchyard, st. 6:—
      For them no more the blazing hearth shall burn,
      Or busy housewife ply her evening care:
      No children run to lisp their sire's return,
      Or climb his knees the envied kiss to share.
‘We’re better than our fathers’
  • Ημεῖς τοι πατέρων μέγ᾽ ἀμείνονες εὐχόμεθ᾽ εἶναι.
  • We pride ourselves on being far better men than our fathers.

See also

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