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What is dishonorably got, is dishonorably squandered. ~ Cicero
Of a rich man who was mean and niggardly, he said, "That man does not possess his estate, but his estate possesses him." ~ Diogenes Laertius
An object in possession seldom retains the same charms which it had when it was longed for. ~ Pliny the Younger

Ownership is the state or fact of exclusive rights and control over property, which may be an object, land/real estate, intellectual property, or animals. Ownership involves multiple rights, collectively referred to as title, which may be separated and held by different parties. The concept of ownership has existed for thousands of years and in all cultures. Over the millennia, however, and across cultures what is considered eligible to be property and how that property is regarded culturally is very different. Ownership is the basis for many other concepts that form the foundations of ancient and modern societies such as money, trade, debt, bankruptcy, the criminality of theft and private vs. public property. Ownership is the key building block in the development of the capitalist socio-economic system.


  • Theft will be abolished with the elimination of privately owned property.
    • Agni Yoga, Leaves of Morya’s Garden II, 332, (1925)
  • The feeling of ownership is measured not by things but by thoughts...The Teacher sends the wish that evolution grow lawfully. The Teacher can distinguish those who have liberated their consciousness. Thus said the Blessed One; and He asked in general not to think about ownership of property, for renunciation is a cleansing of thought.
  • It is difficult to renounce the feeling of ownership; it is like wise difficult to overcome babbling.
  • I die,—but first I have possess'd,
    And come what may, I have been bless'd.
  • There's a reason education sucks, and it's the same reason it will never ever ever be fixed. It's never going to get any better. Don't look for it. Be happy with what you've got... because the owners of this country don't want that. I'm talking about the real owners now... the real owners. The big wealthy business interests that control things and make all the important decisions. Forget the politicians. The politicians are put there to give you the idea that you have freedom of choice. You don't. You have no choice. You have owners. They own you. They own everything. They own all the important land. They own and control the corporations. They've long since bought and paid for the Senate, the Congress, the state houses, the city halls. They got the judges in their back pockets and they own all the big media companies, so they control just about all of the news and information you get to hear. They got you by the balls. They spend billions of dollars every year lobbying. Lobbying to get what they want. Well, we know what they want. They want more for themselves and less for everybody else, but I'll tell you what they don't want. They don't want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking. They don't want well-informed, well-educated people capable of critical thinking. They're not interested in that. That doesn't help them. That's against their interests. That's right.
  • This is the truth as I see it, my dear,
    Out in the wind and the rain:
    They who have nothing have little to fear,—
    Nothing to lose or to gain.
    • Madison Cawein, "At the End of the Road", in The Cup of Comus (New York: The Cameo Press, 1915), p. 20.
  • A man is not really a true man until he owns his own home, and they that own their homes are made more honorable and honest and pure, true and economical and careful, by owning the home.
  • A man has not possession of that of the existence of which he is unaware.
    • Cow, J., The Queen v. Ashwell (1885), L. R. 16 Q. B. 201; reported in James William Norton-Kyshe, Dictionary of Legal Quotations (1904), p. 199.
  • Altera figlia
    Di quel monarca a cui
    Nè anco, quando annotta, il Sol tramonta.
    • The proud daughter of that monarch to whom when it grows dark [elsewhere] the sun never sets.
    • Giovanni Battista Guarini, Il pastor fido (1590). On the marriage of the Duke of Savoy with Catherine of Austria.
  • The landlord, qua landlord, performs no function in the economy of industry or of food production. He is a rent receiver; that, and nothing more. Were the landlord to be abolished, the soil and the people who till it would still remain, and the disappearance of the landowner would pass almost unnoticed. So too with the capitalist. ... By capitalist, I mean the investor who puts his money into a concern and draws profits there from without participating in the organisation or management of the business. Were all these to disappear in the night, leaving no trace behind, nothing would be changed.
  • Possession is very strong; rather more than nine points of the law.
    • Lord Mansfield, Corporation of Kingston-upon-Hull v. Horner (1774), Lofft. 591; reported in James William Norton-Kyshe, Dictionary of Legal Quotations (1904), p. 199.
  • It is preoccupation with possession, more than anything else, that prevents men from living freely and nobly.
  • That what we have we prize not to the worth
    Whiles we enjoy it, but being lack'd and lost,
    Why, then we rack the value, then we find
    The virtue that possession would not show us
    While it was ours.
  • I ne'er could any lustre see
    In eyes that would not look on me;
    I ne'er saw nectar on a lip
    But where my own did hope to sip.
  • The Illusion of Ownership. To “own” something – what does it really mean? What does it mean to make something “mine”? If you stand on a street in New York, point to a huge skyscraper and say, “That building is mine. I own it,” you are either very wealthy or you are delusional or a liar. In any case, you are telling a story in which the thought form “I” and the thought form “building” merge into one. That’s how the mental concept of ownership works. If everybody agrees with your story, there will be signed pieces of paper to certify their agreement with it. You are wealthy. If nobody agrees with the story, they will send you to a psychiatrist. You are delusional, or a compulsive liar.
    It is important to recognize here that the story and the thought forms that make up the story, whether people agree with it or not, have absolutely nothing to do with who you are. Even if people agree with it, it is ultimately a fiction. Many people don’t realize until they are on their deathbed and everything external falls away that no thing ever had anything to do with who they are. In the proximity of death, the whole concept of ownership stands revealed as ultimately meaningless. In the last moments of their life, they then also realize that while they were looking throughout their lives for a more complete sense of self, what they were really looking for, their Being, had actually always already been there, but had been largely obscured by their identification with things...
  • One of the unconscious assumptions is that by identifying with an object through the fiction of ownership, the apparent solidity and permanency of that material object will endow your sense of self with greater solidity and permanency. This applies particularly to buildings and even more so to land since it is the only thing you think you can own that cannot be destroyed. The absurdity of owning something becomes even more apparent in the case of land. In the days of the white settlement, the natives of North America found ownership of land an incomprehensible concept. And so they lost it when the Europeans made them sign pieces of paper that were equally incomprehensible to them. They felt they belonged to the land, but the land did not belong to them.
  • The ego tends to equate having with Being: I have, therefore I am. And the more I have, the more I am. The ego lives through comparison. How you are seen by others turns into how you see yourself. If everyone lived in a mansion or everyone was wealthy, your mansion or your wealth would no longer serve to enhance your sense of self... The ego’s sense of selfworth is in most cases bound up with the worth you have in the eyes of others. You need others to give you a sense of self, and if you live in a culture that to a large extent equates selfworth with how much and what you have, if you cannot look through this collective delusion, you will be condemned to chasing after things for the rest of your life in the vain hope of finding your worth and completion of your sense of self there.

  • The pronouns "my" and "mine" look innocent enough in print, but their constant and universal use is significant. They express the real nature of the old Adamic man better than a thousand volumes of theology could do. They are verbal symptoms of our deep disease. The roots of our hearts have grown down into things, and we dare not pull up one rootlet lest we die. Things have become necessary to us, a development never originally intended. God's gifts now take the place of God, and the whole course of nature is upset by the monstrous substitution.
  • For why? because the good old rule
    Sufficeth them, the simple plan
    That they should take, who have the power,
    And they should keep, who can.
    • William Wordsworth, Memorials of a Tour in Scotland (1803), Rob Roy's Grave; motto of Scott's Rob Roy.
  • Nothing but what has visible substance, is capable of actual possession.
    • Joseph Yates, J., dissenting, Millar v. Taylor (1769), 4 Burr. Part IV., 2384; reported in James William Norton-Kyshe, Dictionary of Legal Quotations (1904), p. 199.

Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations

Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 615-17.
  • When I behold what pleasure is Pursuit,
    What life, what glorious eagerness it is,
    Then mark how full Possession falls from this,
    How fairer seems the blossom than the fruit,—
    I am perplext, and often stricken mute,
    Wondering which attained the higher bliss,
    The wing'd insect, or the chrysalis
    It thrust aside with unreluctant foot.
  • La propriété exclusive est un vol dans la nature.
  • Quand on n'a pas ce que l'on aime,
    Il faut aimer ce que l'on a.
    • When we have not what we love, we must love what we have.
    • Bussy-Rabutin, Lettre à Mme. de Sevigné (1667).
  • Britannia needs no bulwarks, no towers along the steep:
    Her march is o'er the mountain waves; her home is on the deep.
  • Providence has given to the French the empire of the land, to the English that of the sea, to the Germans that of—the air!
  • Male parta, male dilabuntur.'
    • What is dishonorably got, is dishonorably squandered.
    • Cicero, Philippicæ, II. 27.
  • As having nothing, and yet possessing all things.
    • II Corinthians, VI. 10.
  • Ah, yet, e'er I descend to th' grave,
    May I a small House and a large Garden have.
    And a few Friends, and many Books both true,
    Both wise, and both delightful too.
    And since Love ne'er will from me flee,
    A Mistress moderately fair,
    And good as Guardian angels are,
    Only belov'd and loving me.
  • Of a rich man who was mean and niggardly, he said, "That man does not possess his estate, but his estate possesses him."
  • Property has its duties as well as its rights.
    • Thomas Drummond, letter to the Tipperary Magistrates (May 22, 1838). Letter composed jointly by Drummond, Wolfe and Pigot. Phrase quoted by Gladstone, also by Disraeli, Sybil, Book I, Chapter 11.
  • My apple trees will never get across
    And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
    He only says, "Good fences make good neighbors."
  • It maybe said of them [the Hollanders], as of the Spaniards, that the sun never sets upon their Dominions.
    • Thomas Gage, New Survey of the West Indies, Epistle Dedicatory (London, 1648). Alexander the Great claimed the same for his dominions. See Williams—Life—Chapter XIII. Howell—Familiar Letters claimed for Philip II. Also in Fuller—Life of Drake; in The Holy State, and in Camden—Summary of Career of Philip, II. Annals. Ed. Hearne, p. 778. Claimed for Portugal by Camoens—Luciad. I. 8. Claimed for Rome by Claudian, XXIV. 138. Minutius Felix—Octavius, VI. 3. Ovid—Fasti, II. 136. Rutilius. I. 53. Tibullus—Elegiæ, Book II. V. Vergil, Æneid (29-19 BC), VI. 795.
  • Denn was man schwarz auf weiss besitzt
    Kann man getrost nach Hause tragen.
  • Wouldst thou both eat thy cake and have it?
  • Possession means to sit astride the world
    Instead of having it astride of you.
  • Un tiens vaut, ce dit-on, mieux que deux tu l'auras.
    L'un est sûr, l'autre ne l'est pas.
    • It is said, that the thing you possess is worth more than two you may have in the future. The one is sure and the other is not.
    • Jean de La Fontaine, Fables, V. 3.
  • Les Anglais, nation trop fière,
    S'arrogent l'empire des mers;
    Les Français, nation légère,
    S'emparent de celui des airs.
    • The English, a spirited nation, claim the empire of the sea; the French, a calmer nation, claim that of the air.
    • Louis XVIII, when Comte de Provence (1783). Impromter sur nos decouverte ærostatiques. Year of the aeronautical experiments of the brothers Montgolfier, Pilatre de Rozier, and Marquis d'Arlandes.
  • Aspiration sees only one side of every question; possession, many.
  • Cleon hath ten thousand acres,—
    Ne'er a one have I;
    Cleon dwelleth in a palace,—
    In a cottage I.
  • Property in land is capital; property in the funds is income without capital; property in mortgage is both capital and income.
  • Extra fortunam est, quidquid donatur amicis;
    Quas dederis, selas semper habebis opes.
    • Who gives to friends so much from Fate secures,
      That is the only wealth for ever yours.
    • Martial, Epigrams (c. 80-104 AD), V. 42.
  • Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own?
    • Matthew, XX. 15.
  • Unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance; but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.
    • Matthew, XXV. 29.
  • Ce chien est à moi, disaient ces pauvres enfants; c'est là ma place au soleil. Voilà le commencement et l'image de l'usurpation de toute la terre.
    • That dog is mine said those poor children; that place in the sun is mine; such is the beginning and type of usurpation throughout the earth.
    • Blaise Pascal, La Pensées, Chapter VII. 1.
  • Male partum, male disperit.
    • Badly gotten, badly spent.
    • Plautus, Pœn, IV. 2. 22.
  • What is yours is mine, and all mine is yours.
    • Plautus, Trinummus, Act II, scene 2. Riley's translation.
  • on tibi illud apparere si sumas potest.
    • If you spend a thing you can not have it.
    • Plautus, Trinummus, II. 4. 12.
  • Nihil enim æque gratum est adeptis, quam concupiscentibus.
    • An object in possession seldom retains the same charms which it had when it was longed for.
    • Pliny the Younger, Epistles, II, 15.
  • La propriété, c'est le vol.
    • Property, it is theft.
    • Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, Principle of Right, Chapter I. Attributed to Fournier by Louis Blanc, Organization du Travail.
  • The goods we spend we keep; and what we save
    We lose; and only what we lose we have.
    • Francis Quarles, Divine Fancies, Book IV. Art. 70. Early instances of same in Seneca, De Beneficiis, LVI, Chapter III. Gesta Romanorum, Chapter XVI. Ed. 1872, p. 300. Jeremy Taylor, Note to Holy Dying, Chapter II, Section XIII, Volume III. of Works. C. P. Eden's ed.
  • Ich heisse
    Der reichste Mann in der getauften Welt;
    Die Sonne geht in meinem Staat nicht unter.
    • I am called the richest man in Christendom. The sun never sets on my dominions.
    • Friedrich Schiller, Don Carlos, I, 6, 60.
  • The king of Spain is a great potentate, who stands with one foot in the east and the other in the west; and the sun never sets that it does not shine on some of his dominions.
  • The sun never sets on the immense empire of Charles V.
  • Why should the brave Spanish soldiers brag? The sunne never sets in the Spanish dominions, but ever shineth on one part or other we have conquered for our king.
    • Captain John Smith, Advertisements for the Unexperienced, etc., Massachusetts Historical Society Collection, Third Series, Volume III, p. 49.
  • Possession, they say, is eleven points of the law.
    • Jonathan Swift, Works, Volume XVII, p. 270. Colley Cibber—Woman's Wit, Act I.
  • Others may use the ocean as their road;
    Only the English make it their abode.
  • A power which has dotted over the surface of the whole globe with her possessions and military posts, whose morning drum-beat, following the sun, and keeping company with the hours, circles the earth with one continuous and unbroken strain of the martial airs of England.
  • Germany must have her place in the sun.
    • Attributed to Wilhelm II, German Kaiser, July, 1908.
  • People may have too much of a good thing:
    Full as an egg of wisdom thus I sing.
    • John Wolcot (Peter Pindar), Subjects for Painters, The Gentleman and his Wife.
  • Lord of himselfe, though not of lands,
    And having nothing, yet hath all.

See also

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