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The Elder Pliny Quotes


Roman naturalist
(23 - 79)

As in a man's life, so in his studies, it is the most beautiful and humane thing in the world so to mingle gravity with pleasure, that the one may not sink into melancholy, nor the other rise up into wantonness.
 

As in our lives, so also in our studies, it is most becoming and most wise to temper gravity with cheerfulness, that the former may not imbue our minds with melancholy, nor the latter degenerate into licentiousness.
 

Envy always implies conscious inferiority wherever it resides.
[Envy]
 

He picked something valuable out of everything he read.
[Reading]
 

I would have a man generous to his country, his neighbors, his kindred, his friends, and most of all his poor friends. Not like some who are most lavish with those who are able to give most to them.
[Generosity]
 

Let honor be to us as strong an obligation as necessity is to others.
[Honor]
 

Lust is an enemy to the purse, a foe to the person, a canker to the mind, a corrosive to the conscience, a weakness of the wit, a besotter of the senses, and, finally, a mortal bane to all the body.
 

Never do anything concerning the rectitude of which you have a doubt.
[Doubt]
 

No man possesses a genius so commanding that he can attain eminence, unless a subject suited to his talents should present itself, and an opportunity occur for their development.
[Opportunity]
 

Our youth and manhood are due to our country, but our declining years are due to ourselves.
[Age]
 

Simple diet is best; for many dishes bring many diseases; and rich sauces are worse than even heaping several meats upon each other.
[Eating]
 

The great business of man is to improve his mind, and govern his manners; all other projects and pursuits, whether in our power to compass or not, are only amusements.
[Mind]
 

The lust of avarice has so totally seized upon mankind that their wealth seems rather to possess them, than they to possess their wealth.
 

The waters deluge man with rain, oppress him with hail, and drown him with inundations; the air rushes in storms, prepares the tempest, or lights up the volcano; but the earth, gentle and indulgent, ever subservient to the wants of man, spreads his walks with flowers, and his table with plenty; returns, with interest, every good committed to her care; and though she produces the poison, she still supplies the antidote; though constantly teased more to furnish the luxuries of man than his necessities, yet even to the last she continues her kind indulgence, and, when life is over, she piously covers his remains in her bosom.
[Earth]
 

There is no book so bad but something valuable may be derived from it.
[Books]
 

True glory consists in doing what deserves to be written; in writing what deserves to be read; and in so living as to make the world happier and better for our living in it.
[Glory]
 

When a man is laboring under the pain of any distemper, it is then that he recollects there is a God, and that he himself is but a man. No mortal is then the object of his envy, his admiration, or his contempt; and, having no malice to gratify, the tales of slander excite him not.
[Sickness]
 

Wine maketh the hand quivering, the eye watery, the night unquiet, lewd dreams, a stinking breath in the morning, and an utter forgetfulness of all things.