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Imitation is an advanced behavior whereby an individual observes and replicates another's. The word can be applied in many contexts, ranging from animal training to international politics.


  • “To imitate Socratesmeant, in other words, to staunchly refuse imitation; refuse imitation of the person “Socrates”—or any other person, however worthy. The model of life Socrates selected, painstakingly composed and laboriously cultivated for himself might have perfectly suited his kind of person, but it would not necessarily suit all those who made a point of living as Socrates did. A slavish imitation of the specific mode of life that Socrates constructed on his own, and to which he remained unhesitatingly, steadfastly loyal throughout, would amount to a betrayal of his legacy, to the rejection of his message—a message calling people first and foremost to listen to their own reason, and calling thereby for individual autonomy and responsibility. Such an imitation could suit a copier or a scanner, but it will never result in an original artistic creation, which (as Socrates suggested) human life should strive to become.
  • Emulation can be positive, if you succeed in avoiding imitation.
    • Fausto Cercignani in: Brian Morris, Simply Transcribed. Quotations from Fausto Cercignani, 2014, p. 27.
  • You can only live for yourself: Your action is good only whilst it is alive—whilst it is in you. The awkward imitation of it by your child or your disciple, is not a repetition of it, is not the same thing but another thing. The new individual must work out the whole problem of science, letters, and theology for himself, can owe his fathers nothing.
  • L'imitazione del male supera sempre l'esempio; come per il contrario, l'imitazione del bene è sempre inferiore.
    • He who imitates what is evil always goes beyond the example that is set; on the contrary, he who imitates what is good always falls short.
    • Francesco Guicciardini, Storia d' Italia (1537-1540).
  • Imitation can acquire pretty much everything but the power which created the thing imitated.
  • To do the opposite of something is also a form of imitation.
  • He who lets the world, or his own portion of it, choose his plan of life for him, has no need of any other faculty than the ape-like one of imitation. He who chooses his plan for himself, employs all his faculties.
    • J.S. Mill, On Liberty (Henry Holt, New York: 1895), Chapter 3, p. 106.
  • Der Mensch ist ein nachahmendes Geschöpf.
    Und wer der Vorderste ist, führt die Heerde.
    • An imitative creature is man; whoever is foremost, leads the herd.
    • Friedrich Schiller, Wallenstein's Tod (1798), III, 4, 9.

Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations[edit]

Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 387-88.
  • Respicere exemplar vitæ morumque jubebo
    Doctum imitatorem, et veras hinc ducere voces.
    • I would advise him who wishes to imitate well, to look closely into life and manners, and thereby to learn to express them with truth.
    • Horace, Ars Poetica, CCCXVII.
  • Pindarum quisquis studet æmulari,
    Iule ceratis ope Dædalea
    Nititur pennis, vitreo daturus
    Nomina ponto.
    • He who studies to imitate the poet Pindar, O Julius, relies on artificial wings fastened on with wax, and is sure to give his name to a glassy sea.
    • Horace, Carmina, IV, 2, 1.
  • Dociles imitandis
    Turpibus ac pravis omnes sumus.
    • We are all easily taught to imitate what is base and depraved.
    • Juvenal, Satires, XIV. 40.
  • C'est un bétail servile et sot à mon avis
    Que les imitateurs.

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