The public

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The public, originating with the Latin "populus" or "poplicus", generally denotes some mass population ("the people") in association with some matter of common interest. In political science and history, a public is a population of individuals in association with civic affairs, or affairs of office or state. In social psychology, marketing, and public relations, a public has a more situational definition.


  • The way is not made easy for those who would defend the public interest
    • Rachel Carson Speech to Garden Club of America (Jan 8 1963) In Rachel Carson: Silent Spring & Other Writings on the Environment
  • When the public narrative significantly diverges from lived experience, the only outcome is more frustration among the people, who realise that on top of being poorly served, they’re also being lied to and manipulated.

Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations

Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 647-49.
  • Nec audiendi sunt qui solent dicere vox populi, vox dei; cum tumultus vulgi semper insaniæ proxima sit.
    • We would not listen to those who were wont to say the voice of the people is the voice of God, for the voice of the mob is near akin to madness.
    • Alcuin, Epistle to Charlemagne. Froben's Ed, Volume I, p. 191. (Ed. 1771). Also credited to Eadmer.
  • Vox populi habet aliquid divinum: nam quomo do aliter tot capita in unum conspirare possint?
    • The voice of the people has about it something divine: for how otherwise can so many heads agree together as one?
    • Francis Bacon, 9. Laus, Existimatio.
  • The individual is foolish; the multitude, for the moment is foolish, when they act without deliberation; but the species is wise, and, when time is given to it, as a species it always acts right.
    • Edmund Burke, speech, Reform of Representation in the House of Commons. May 7, 1782.
  • The tyranny of a multitude is a multiplied tyranny.
  • The public! why, the public's nothing better than a great baby.
    • Thomas Chalmers, letter. Quoted by Ruskin—Sesame and Lilies, Section I. 40.
  • Le public! le public! combien faut-il de sots pour faire un public?
    • The public! the public! how many fools does it require to make the public?
    • Nicolas Chamfort.
  • Qui ex errore imperitæ multitudinis pendet, hic in magnis viris non est habendus.
    • He who hangs on the errors of the ignorant multitude, must not be counted among great men.
    • Cicero, De Officiis (44 B.C.), I. 19.
  • Vulgus ex veritate pauca, ex opinione multa æstimat.
    • The rabble estimate few things according to their real value, most things according to their prejudices.
    • Cicero, Oratio Pro Quinto Roscio Comœdo, X. 29.
  • Mobile mutatur semper cum principe vulgus.
    • The fickle populace always change with the prince.
    • Claudianus, De Quarto Consulatu Honorii Augusti Panegyris, CCCII.
  • Hence ye profane; I hate you all;
    Both the great vulgar, and the small.
  • This many-headed monster, Multitude.
    • Samuel Daniel, History of the Civil War (1595), Book II, Stanza 13.
  • La clef des champs.
    • The key of the fields (street).
    • Used by Dickens in Pickwick Papers (1836), Chapter XLVII. Also by George Augustus Sala in Household Words, Sept. 6, 1851.
  • The multitude is always in the wrong.
  • For who can be secure of private right,
    If sovereign sway may be dissolved by might?
    Nor is the people's judgment always true:
    The most may err as grossly as the few.
    • John Dryden, Absalom and Achitophel (1681), Part I, line 779.
  • The man in the street does not know a star in the sky.
  • Bona prudentiæ pars est nosse stultas vulgi cupiditates, et absurdas opiniones.
    • It is a good part of sagacity to have known the foolish desires of the crowd and their unreasonable notions.
    • Erasmus, De Utilitate Colloquiorum, Preface.
  • A stiff-necked people.
    • Exodus, XXXIII. 3.
  • Classes and masses.
    • Used by Gladstone. See Moore, Fudges in England. Letter 4.
  • Ich wünschte sehr, der Menge zu behagen,
    Besonders weil sie lebt und leben lässt.
    • I wish the crowd to feel itself well treated,
      Especially since it lives and lets me live.
    • Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust Vorspiel auf dem Theater, line 5.
  • Wer dem Publicum dient, ist ein armes Thier;
    Er quält sich ab, niemand bedankt sich dafür.
    • He who serves the public is a poor animal; he worries himself to death and no one thanks him for it.
    • Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Sprüche in Reimen, III.
  • Knowing as "the man in the street" (as we call him at Newmarket) always does, the greatest secrets of kings, and being the confidant of their most hidden thoughts.
  • No whispered rumours which the many spread can wholly perish.
    • Hesiod, Works and Days, I. 763.
  • The leader, mingling with the vulgar host,
    Is with the common mass of matter lost!
    • Homer, The Odyssey, Book IV, line 397. Pope's translation.
  • Mobilium turba Quiritium.
    • The crowd of changeable citizens.
    • Horace, Odes, Book I. 1. 7.
  • Malignum
    Spernere vulgus.
    • To scorn the ill-conditioned rabble.
    • Horace, Odes, Book II. 16, 39.
  • Odi profanum vulgus et ardeo.
    Favete linguis.
    • I hate the uncultivated crowd and keep them at a distance. Favour me by your tongues (keep silence).
    • Horace, Odes, Book III. 1. ("Favete linguis" also found in Cicero, Ovid).
  • Reason stands aghast at the sight of an "unprincipled, immoral, incorrigible" publick; And the word of God abounds in such threats and denunciations, as must strike terror into the heart of every believer.
  • Venale pecus.
    • The venal herd.
    • Juvenal, Satires (early 2nd century), VIII. 62.
  • If I tried to imagine the public as a particular person (for although some better individuals momentarily belong to the public they nevertheless have something concrete about them, which holds them in its grip even if they have not attained the supreme religious attitude), I should perhaps think of one of the Roman emperors, a large well-fed figure, suffering from boredom, looking only for the sensual intoxication of laughter, since the divine gift of wit is not earthly enough. And so for a change he wanders about, indolent rather than bad, but with a negative desire to dominate. Every one who has read the classical authors knows how many things a Caesar could try out in order to kill time. In the same way the public keeps a dog to amuse it. That dog is the sum of the literary world. If there is some one superior to the rest, perhaps even a great man, the dog is set on him and the fun begins. The dog goes for him, snapping and tearing at his coat-tails, allowing itself every possible ill-mannered familiarity – until the public tires, and says it may stop. That is an example of how the public levels. Their betters and superiors in strength are mishandled – and the dog remains a dog which even the public despises. The leveling is therefore done by a third party; a non-existent public leveling with the help of a third party which in its significance is less than nothing, being already more than leveled.
  • There is in a religious sense no public, but only individuals, because the religious is earnestness, and earnestness is: the single individual: yet every human being, unconditionally every human being, which one indeed is, can be, yes, should be – the single individual.
    • The Point of View On My Work As An Author by Soren Kierkegaard (finished 1848) published by Peter Christian Kierkegaard 1859 translated by Howard and Edna Hong 1998 Princeton University Press P. 10
  • Paucite paucarum diffundere crimen in omnes.
    • Do not lay on the multitude the blame that is due to a few.
    • Ovid, Ars Amatoria, III. 9.
  • The people's voice is odd,
    It is, and it is not, the voice of God.
  • Trust not the populace; the crowd is many-minded.
  • The proverbial wisdom of the populace in the streets, on the roads, and in the markets, instructs the ear of him who studies man more fully than a thousand rules ostentatiously arranged.
    • Proverbs, or the Manual of Wisdom. On the Title Page. Printed for Tabart & Co., London. (1804).
  • Vox Populi, vox Dei.
    • The voice of the people, the voice of God.
    • Walter Reynolds, Archbishop of Canterbury. Text of Sermon when Edward III ascended the throne, Feb. 1, 1327. (Called also De Reynel and Reginald). See John Toland, Angelia Libera. Attributed also to Walter Mephan. See G. C. Lewis, Essay on Influence of Authority, p. 172. See Aphorismi Politici, (Simon given erroneously for Walter). Collected by Lambertum Danæum. Alluded to as an old proverb by William of Malmesbury, De Gestis Pont. Folio 114. (About 920). Hesiod, Works and Days, 763.
  • Who o'er the herd would wish to reign,
    Fantastic, fickle, fierce, and vain?
    Vain as the leaf upon the stream,
    And fickle as a changeful dream;
    Fantastic as a woman's mood,
    And fierce as Frenzy's fever'd blood—
    Thou many-headed monster thing,
    Oh, who would wish to be thy king?
  • Faith, there have been many great men that have flattered the people, who ne'er loved them; and there be many that they have loved, they know not wherefore; so that, if they love they know not why, they hate upon no better a ground.
  • The play, I remember, pleased not the million; 'twas caviare to the general.
  • Look, as I blow this feather from my face,
    And as the air blows it to me again,
    Obeying with my wind when I do blow,
    And yielding to another when it blows,
    Commanded always by the greater gust;
    Such is the lightness of you common men.
  • Laymen say, indeed,
    How they take no heed
    Their sely sheep to feed,
    But pluck away and pull
    The fleeces of their wool.
  • Grex venalium.
    • A flock of hirelings (venal pack).
    • Suetonius, De Clar. Rhet. I.
  • Vulgus ignavum et nihil ultra verba ausurum.
    • A cowardly populace which will dare nothing beyond talk.
    • Tacitus, Annales (AD 117), Book III. 58.
  • Neque mala, vel bona, quæ vulgus putet.
    • The views of the multitude are neither bad nor good.
    • Tacitus, Annales (AD 117), Book VI. 22.
  • The public be damned.
    • William Henry Vanderbilt's amused retort when asked whether the public should be consulted about luxury trains. As reported by Clarence Dresser in Chicago Tribune, about 1883. See Letter by Ashley W. Cole in N. Y. Times, Aug. 25, 1918. Also Letter in Herald, Oct. 1, 1918, which was answered in same, Oct. 28, 1918.
  • Sævitque animis ignobile vulgus,
    Jamque faces et saxa volant.
    • The rude rabble are enraged; now firebrands and stones fly.
    • Virgil, Æneid (29-19 BC), I. 149.
  • Scinditur incertum studia in contraria vulgus.
    • The uncertain multitude is divided by opposite opinions.
    • Virgil, Æneid (29-19 BC), II. 39.
  • Vox omnibus una.
    • One cry was common to them all.
    • Virgil, Æneid (29-19 BC), V. 616.
  • Les préjugés, ami, sont les rois du vulgaire.
    • Prejudices, friend, govern the vulgar crowd.
    • Voltaire, Le Fanatisme, II. 4.
  • Our supreme governors, the mob.
  • [The] public path of life
    Is dirty.

See also

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