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Retribution is punishment inflicted in the spirit of moral outrage or personal vengeance. Retribution differs from revenge in that retribution is inherently limited to equaling the seriousness of the wrong for which it is sought, and is not necessarily personal to the seeker.


  • God's mills grind slow,
    But they grind woe.
  • Retribution often means that we eventually do to ourselves what we have done unto others.
    • Eric Hoffer, "Thoughts of Eric Hoffer, Including: 'Absolute Faith Corrupts Absolutely'", The New York Times Magazine (April 25, 1971), p. 57.
  • To be left alone
    And face to face with my own crime, had been
    Just retribution.

Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations[edit]

Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 671.
  • The divine power moves with difficulty, but at the same time surely.
  • The ways of the gods are long, but in the end they are not without strength.
  • Ut sit magna tamen certe lenta ira deorum est.
    • But grant the wrath of Heaven be great, 'tis slow.
    • Juvenal, Satires, XIII. 100. Gifford's translation.
  • Though the mills of God grind slowly, yet they grind exceeding small;
    Though with patience He stands waiting, with exactness grinds He all.
    • Friedrich von Logau, Retribution. From the Sinngedichte. See Longfellow's translation. Poetic Aphorisms. First line from the Greek Oracula Sibyllina, VIII. 14. Same idea in Plutarch, Sera Humanis Vindicta, Chapter VIII, quoting Sextus Empiricus, Adversus Grammaticos, I. 13. Sect. 287. Found also in Proverbia e cad. Coisl. in Gaisford, Parœm. Græc. Oxon. 1836, p. 164. Horace, Carmina, III. 2. 31. Tibullus, Elegies, I. 9.
  • Lento quidem gradu ad vindictam divina procedit ira, sed tarditatem supplicii gravitate compensat.
    • The divine wrath is slow indeed in vengeance, but it makes up for its tardiness by the severity of the punishment.
    • Valerius Maximus, I. 1. 3.
  • But as some muskets so contrive it
    As oft to miss the mark they drive at,
    And though well aimed at duck or plover
    Bear wide, and kick their owners over.

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