The Moral Sayings of Publius Syrus

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Man's life is a loan, not a gift.

The Moral Sayings of Publius Syrus is a collection of aphorisms attributed to Publius Syrus.

Quotes[edit]

as translated from the Latin by D. Lyman (1856)
  • Even when we get what we wish, it is not ours.
    • # 15
  • A wise man rules his passions, a fool obeys them.
    • # 49
  • Human reason grows rich by self-conquest.
    • # 53
  • Tension weakens the bow; the want of it, the mind.
    • # 59
  • When Gold argues the cause, eloquence is impotent.
    • # 65
  • To receive a favor is to pawn your freedom.
    • # 87
  • The more skillfully the language of goodness is assumed, the greater the depravity.
    • # 114
  • In the presence of a good man, anger is speedily cooled.
    • # 118
  • It is well to moor your bark with two anchors.
    • # 119
  • Consult your conscience, rather than popular opinion.
    • # 147
  • Consider what you ought to say, and not what you think.
    • # 148
  • Wisdom had rather be buffeted than not be listened to.
    • # 152
  • Folly had rather be unheard than be buffeted.
    • # 153
  • Reproach in misfortune is an unseasonable cruelty.
    • # 161
  • He who can get more than belongs to him is apt to accommodate his desires to his opportunity.
    • # 167
  • Every man is a master in his own calling
    • # 169
  • Patience is a remedy for every sorrow.
    • # 170
  • The greatest of comforts is to be free from blame.
    • # 173
  • One day treats us like a hireling nurse, another, like a mother.
    • # 193
  • Pleasant is the remembrance of the ills that are past.
    • # 209
  • Avoid cupidity, and you conquer a kingdom.
    • # 212
  • A kindness should be received in the spirit that prompted it.
    • # 215
  • Speed itself is slow when cupidity waits.
    • # 218
  • The party to which the rabble belong is ever the worst.
    • # 223
  • Even calamity becomes virtue's opportunity.
    • # 224
  • The good to which we have become accustomed, is often an evil.
    • # 227
  • He who takes counsel of good faith, is just even to an enemy.
    • # 230
  • It is sometimes expedient to forget who we are.
    • # 233
  • We may with advantage at times forget what we know.
    • # 234
  • Pecuniary gain first suggested to men to make Fortune a goddess.
    • # 239
  • Many consult their reputation; but few their conscience.
    • # 254
  • The master is a slave when he fears those whom he rules.
    • # 255
  • Prosperity is the nurse of ill temper.
    • # 257
  • Bear without murmuring what cannot be changed.
    • # 260
  • Fortune has no lawful control over men's morals.
    • # 268
  • An over-taxed patience gives way to fierce anger.
    • # 289
  • A noble steed is not annoyed by the barking of dogs.
    • # 293
  • It is a useless defense which cannot find a fair trial.
    • # 299
  • The most formidable enemy lies hid in one's own heart.
    • # 300
  • There are some remedies worse than the disease.
    • # 301
  • Repentance for our past deeds is a severe mental punishment.
    • # 303
  • Powerful indeed is the empire of habit.
    • # 305
  • The severest affliction is the one which has never been tried.
    • # 307
  • Do not take part in the council, unless you are called.
    • # 310
  • Man's life is a loan, not a gift.
    • # 324
  • Would you have a great empire? Rule over yourself.
    • # 345
  • The sinner who repented after the offense, was a little imprudent.
    • # 346
  • Avarice is kind to no one, and most cruel toward itself.
    • # 355
  • To be not too sanguine of our conclusions, is one half of wisdom.
    • # 363
  • To forget the wrongs you receive, is to remedy them.
    • # 383
  • To do good you should know what good is.
    • # 389
  • There is more venom than truth in the words of envy.
    • # 390
  • The rancor of envy is concealed, but is none the less hostile.
    • # 391
  • To withstand the assaults of envy, you must be either a hero or a saint.
    • # 392
  • Shun an angry man for a moment — your enemy forever.
    • # 396
  • Anger thinks crime justifiable.
    • # 397
  • Every word of an angry man conveys a reproach.
    • # 398
  • When the angry man grows cool, he is angry with himself.
    • # 399
  • Anger is apt to forget the existence of law.
    • # 419
  • The Law keeps her eye on the angry man, when he does not see the Law.
    • # 424
  • He who chases two hares will catch neither.
    • # 426
  • He who lives in solitude may make his own laws.
    • # 432
  • A noble spirit finds a cure for injustice in forgetting it.
    • # 441
  • Mighty rivers may easily be leaped at their source.
    • # 442
  • Hard to bear is the poverty which follows misuse of riches.
    • # 445
  • It is bad management when we suffer fortune to be our guide.
    • # 451
  • They live ill who expect to live always.
    • # 457
  • He who is bent on doing evil, can never want occasion.
    • # 459
  • It is a bad plan that admits of no modification.
    • # 469
  • He should be called bad, who is good only for selfish ends.
    • # 474
  • He will become wicked himself, who feasts with the wicked.
    • # 476
  • Fear, and not kindness, restrains the vicious.
    • # 489
  • The master who fears his slave, is the greater slave.
    • # 493
  • To depend on another's nod for a livelihood, is a sad destiny.
    • # 501
  • Methinks you are unhappy, if you never have been so.
    • # 503
  • Delay is always vexatious, but it is wisdom's opportunity.
    • # 505
  • Understand your friend's character, but do not hate it.
    • # 506
  • The fear of death is more to be dreaded than death itself.
    • # 511
  • Every thing which has birth, must pay tribute to death.
    • # 513
  • We should bear our destiny, not weep over it.
    • # 538
  • Avarice never lacks a reason for refusing a favor.
    • # 542
  • No one should be judge in his own cause.
    • # 545
  • Be the first to laugh at your own blunder, and no one will laugh at you.
    • # 548
  • Depravity is its own greatest punishment.
    • # 550
  • Fortune takes nothing away but her own gifts.
    • # 554
  • There is no more shameful sight, than an old man commencing life.
    • # 566
  • The truth is lost when there is too much contention about it.
    • # 568
  • It is only the ignorant who despise education.
    • # 571
  • It is vain to be the pupil of a sage if you have no brains yourself.
    • # 572
  • He can best avoid a snare who knows how to set one.
    • # 573
  • Do not despise the lowest steps in the ascent to greatness.
    • # 579
  • He is not likely to perish in the ruins who trembles at a crack in the wall.
    • # 582
  • To control a man against his will, is not to correct him, but injure him.
    • # 583
  • That is not yours which fortune made yours.
    • # 590
  • You will find it difficult to be sole guardian over that which multitudes covet.
    • # 592
  • He bids fair to grow wise, who has discovered that he is not so.
    • # 598
  • Don't consider how many you can please, but whom.
    • # 599
  • It is not safe to indulge in a play of wits with kings.
    • # 601
  • To yield to our friends is not to be overcome, but to conquer.
    • # 603
  • There is no pleasure which continued enjoyment cannot render disgusting.
    • # 604
  • He is never happy whose thoughts always run with his fears.
    • # 614
  • The kind attentions of the wife, speedily gender disgust for the concubine.
    • # 622
  • He is a despicable sage whose wisdom does not profit himself.
    • # 629
  • A cheerful obedience is universal, when the worthy bear rule.
    • # 632
  • Every day should be passed as if it were to be our last.
    • # 633
  • Be at war with men's vices, at peace with themselves.
    • # 636
  • Craft, and not sorrow, is seen in a hypocrite's tears.
    • # 637
  • We find something of the favor sought in a graceful refusal.
    • # 642
  • Patience and fortitude create their own happiness.
    • # 646
  • You do well to consider your friend's error your own.
    • # 654
  • Be your money's master, not its slave.
    • # 657
  • To take refuge with an inferior, is to betray one's self.
    • # 667
  • Hearken rather to your conscience than to opinion.
    • # 679
  • Freedom alone is the source of noble action.
    • # 691
  • When you have good materials, employ good workmen.
    • # 699
  • He who is eager to condemn, takes delight in condemning.
    • # 707
  • A hasty verdict betrays a desire to find a crime committed.
    • # 708
  • Wit itself is folly in a sage.
    • # 710
  • He will yield to fear, who has no regard for honor.
    • # 713
  • God looks at the clean hands, not the full ones.
    • # 715
  • In being modest there is a slight touch of servility.
    • # 717
  • He who violates another's honor loses his own.
    • # 718
  • How happy the life unembarrassed by the cares of business!
    • # 725
  • How unhappy is he who cannot forgive himself!
    • # 729
  • How often must he ask for pardon who has refused it when asked!
    • # 740
  • How timid is he who stands in terror of poverty!
    • # 741
  • Consider the useful agreeable, even though if were not.
    • # 743
  • He who hesitates to take the right course, deliberates to no purpose.
    • # 756
  • It is no vice to keep a vice out of sight.
    • # 761
  • He who can play the fool at pleasure can be wise if he will.
    • # 762
  • He who has the power to harm is dreaded when he does not intend harm.
    • # 764
  • He gets through too late who goes too fast.
    • # 767
  • He who praises himself will speedily find a censor.
    • # 769
  • He who fears his friend teaches his friend to fear him.
    • # 772
  • Virtue's deeds are glory's deeds.
    • # 778
  • It takes a long time to bring excellence to maturity.
    • # 780
  • They pass peaceful lives who ignore mine and thine.
    • # 790
  • The wise man guards against future evils as if they were present.
    • # 796
  • What we admire, we never cease commending to ourselves.
    • # 802
  • It matters not with what purpose you do it, if the act itself be bad.
    • # 806
  • He can have what he wishes who wishes just enough.
    • # 809
  • When the soul rules over itself its empire is lasting.
    • # 810
  • He is condemned every day who stands in daily fear of condemnation.
    • # 814
  • When you are in love you are not wise, and when you are wise you are not in love.
    • # 816
  • When you forgive an enemy you gain many friends.
    • # 818
  • It is robbery to receive a favor which you cannot return.
    • # 822
  • Youth should be governed by reason, not by force.
    • # 826
  • Good health and good sense are two of life's greatest blessings.
    • # 827
  • He who imposes his own talk on the circle, does not converse; he plays the master.
    • # 831
  • It is not a hard lot to be obliged to return to the state whence we came.
    • # 843
  • I should not be pleased to be king, if I must therefore be pleased to be cruel.
    • # 844
  • You can obey a request much better than a command.
    • # 846
  • The eyes and ears of the mob are often false witnesses.
    • # 852
  • Vain is that wisdom which does not profit the possessor.
    • # 860
  • You are eloquent enough if truth speaks through you.
    • # 861
  • Better be ignorant of a matter than half know it.
    • # 865
  • The angry think their power greater than it is.
    • # 869
  • Speak well of your friend in public, admonish him in secret.
    • # 870
  • Kindness of heart is always happy.
    • # 876
  • Always shun whatever may make you angry.
    • # 879
  • He punishes himself who repents of his deeds.
    • # 889
  • The greatest of empires, is the empire over one's self.
    • # 891
  • Guilt's assistant is guilt's participant.
    • # 893
  • In critical junctures, temerity is wont to take the place of prudence.
    • # 895
  • Glory is apt to follow when industry has prepared the road.
    • # 897
  • There is hope of improvement so long as a man is alive to shame.
    • # 899
  • It is folly to censure him whom all the world adores.
    • # 903
  • It is folly to punish your neighbour by fire when you live next door.
    • # 910
  • Benevolence tries persuasion first, and then severer measures.
    • # 916
  • Avarice is as destitute of what it has, as what it has not.
    • # 927
  • Suspicion begets suspicion.
    • # 928
  • He is much to be dreaded who stands in dread of poverty.
    • # 933
  • Timidity styles itself caution; stinginess frugality.
    • # 934
  • The poor man is ruined as soon as he begins to ape the rich.
    • # 941
  • When the elder do wrong, the younger learn the lesson.
    • # 950
  • The wounds of the soul should be cured before those of the body.
    • # 953
  • Either be silent, or say something better than silence.
    • # 960
  • Why do we not hear the truth? Because we don't speak it.
    • # 963
  • It is better to trust virtue than fortune.
    • # 974
  • Would you be known by every body? Then you know nobody.
    • # 979
  • He is not considered a dupe who understood that he was deceived.
    • # 1001
  • The little vices of the great must needs be accounted very great.
    • # 1004
  • It is an advantage not to possess that which you must hold against your will.
    • # 1005
  • Anger would inflict punishment on another; meanwhile, it tortures itself.
    • # 1009
  • The happy man is not he who seems thus to others, but who seems thus to himself.
    • # 1010
  • Error and repentance are the attendants on hasty decisions.
    • # 1012
  • How terrible is that anguish which can find no voice
    • # 1017
  • It is a bitter dose to be taught obedience after you have learned to rule.
    • # 1019
  • He who subdues his temper vanquishes his greatest enemy.
    • # 1027
  • He abounds in virtues who loves those of others.
    • # 1037
  • Reason avails nothing when passion has the mastery.
    • # 1044
  • Death ever uncertain gets the start of such as are always beginning to live.
    • # 1053
  • Money is a servant if you know how to use it; if not, it is a master.
    • # 1057
  • When we speak evil of others, we generally condemn ourselves.
    • # 1058
  • The later in life evil courses are begun, the more disgraceful they are.
    • # 1061
  • The same man can rarely say a great deal, and say it to the purpose.
    • # 1065
  • Not the criminals, but their crimes, it is well to extirpate.
    • # 1067
  • In our hatred of guilt, it is folly to ruin innocence.
    • # 1068
  • Let your life be pleasing to the multitude, and it can not be so to yourself.
    • # 1075
  • If you gain new friends, don't forget the old ones.
    • # 1076
  • Avarice is as destitute of what it has, as poverty of what it has not.
    • # 1079

See also[edit]