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Unsourced Plutarch quotations for checking[edit]

  • Youths throw stones at frogs in sport, but the frogs die in earnest.
  • “What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality.” - Widely quoted on the web, but I haven't seen a source.


I am looking for the source of "The correct analogy for the mind is not a vessel that needs filling..." which is given as Listening to Lectures. I'd like to know the context of this quote. Does anyone know where I can find the full text? See also wikiversity:Main page learning project/QOTD --mikeu 04:21, 10 September 2008 (UTC)


Wikiquote no longer allows unsourced quotations, and they are in process of being removed from our pages (see Wikiquote:Limits on quotations); but if you can provide a reliable, precise and verifiable source for any quote on this list please move it to Plutarch. --Antiquary 17:51, 17 August 2009 (UTC)

  • An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics.

I have (briefly) looked for this, without immediate success. The nearest I can come is in Plutarch's "Lives", where he mentions in his discussion of Solon that "They tell us, too, that a saying of his [Solon's], which he had let fall some time before, that - 'equality causes no war,' was then much repeated, and pleased both the rich and the poor ...". This whole discussion of Solon is loosely reminiscent of the supposed quote, but it would still require quite a leap to gloss it in this way. Bmcm 20:00, 18 December 2011 (UTC)

Another quote from the Solon chapter of "Lives" might be the source: "The disparity of fortune between the rich and the poor, at that time, also reached its height; so that the city seemed to be in a truly dangerous condition, and no other means for freeing it from disturbances and settling it, to be possible but a despotic power." (From: [1].) My guess is that the "quote" is a gloss on this passage from some as-yet unidentified source. --Potosino (talk) 14:43, 10 August 2015 (UTC)
And now I think I have found the original source of the misquotation. George Whitney Martin, writing in his book The red shirt and the cross of Savoy: the story of Italy's Risorgimento, 1748-1871 (1969), p. 159, says that Ugo Fuscolo (1778-1827) illustrated a point about inequality "with a citation from Plutarch: 'An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of a republic.'" (See here: [2].) The next time the "citation" appears, several years later, "a republic" is changed to "all republics" and the source is identified as "Plutarch," not Foscolo. Kevin Phillips uses it as an epigraph to his 1993 book Boiling Point, and from there it enters into free circulation as an alleged quote from Plutarch. --Potosino (talk) 15:19, 10 August 2015 (UTC)
I now have the original source of the quotation. It is indeed a paraphrase found in an editorial by Ugo Foscolo in the Monitore Italiano (Milan, 5 Feb. 1798): " 'Le ricchezze e la povertà sono le più antiche e mortali infermità delle repubbliche.' - Plutarco in Licurgo." (See reprinted here: [3].) So, I will try adding the original quotation from "Life of Lycurgus" and a note about the paraphrase to the list of quotations, and see if it isn't erased. --Potosino (talk) 14:27, 15 August 2015 (UTC)
  • And when Alexander saw the breadth of his domain he wept, for there were no more lands to conquer.
  • Prosperity is no just scale; adversity is the only balance to weigh friends.
  • Wickedness frames the engines of her own torment. She is a wonderful artisan of a miserable life.