Quotes from the figures in GURPS Who's Who 1
Cyrus the Great
"From soft countries come soft men. It is not possible that from the same land stems a growth of wondrous fruit and men who are good soldiers."
Herodotus adds: "So the Persians took this to heart and went away; their judgment had been overcome by that of Cyrus, and they chose to rule, living in a wretched land, rather than to sow the level plains and be slaves to others."
"For through wondering human beings now and in the beginning have been led to philosophizing."
"If Plato is a fine red wine, then Aristotle is a dry martini."
"Wit is educated insolence."
"It is the mark of an instructed mind to rest satisfied with the degree of precision which the nature of the subject admits and not to seek exactness when only an approximation of the truth is possible."
"The moral virtues, then, are produced in us neither by nature nor against nature. Nature, indeed, prepares in us the ground for their reception, but their complete formation is the product of habit."
"They [young people] have exalted notions, because they have not been humbled by life or learned its necessary limitations; moreover, their hopeful disposition makes them think themselves equal to great things – and that means having exalted notions. They would always rather do noble deeds than useful ones: Their lives are regulated more by moral feeling than by reasoning – all their mistakes are in the direction of doing things excessively and vehemently. They overdo everything – they love too much, hate too much, and the same with everything else."
"Veni, vidi, vici." [I came, I saw, I conquered]
"Justice is the constant and perpetual wish to render to everyone his due."
"A good lover will behave just as elegantly at dawn as at any other time."
[on the women of Mali]
"One eare it heard, at the other out it went."
"Full wise is he that can himselven knowe."
"But all thing which that shineth as the gold Ne is no gold, as I have herd it told."
"When he reached the New World, Cortés burned his ships. As a result his crew was well-motivated."
"I answered, through the interpreters, that they were deceived in expecting any favors from idols, the work of their own hands, formed of unclean things; and that they must learn there was but one God, the universal Lord of all, who had created the heaven s and earth, and all things else, and had made them and us; that He was without beginning and immortal, and they were bound to adore and believe Him, and no other creature or thing."
[The next two are from Letters from Mexico, by Hernán Cortés. Translated by Anthony Pagden; as quoted by Peter Rashkin on thedagger.com.]
"These [Aztecs] then came and I told them to observe how they could not triumph, and how each day we did them great harm and killed many of them and we were burning and destroying their city; and that we would not cease until there was nothing left either of it or of them. They replied that they had indeed seen how much they had suffered and how many of them had died, but that they were all determined to perish or have done with us, and that I should look and see how full of people were all those streets and squares and roof tops. Furthermore, they had calculated that if 25,000 of them died for every one of us, they would finish with us first, for they were many and we were but few."
"They no longer had nor could find any arrows, javelins, or stones with which to attack us, and our allies fighting with us were armed with swords and bucklers, and slaughtered so many of them on land and in the water that more than forty thousand were killed or taken that day. So loud was the wailing of the women and children that there was not one man among us whose heart did not bleed at the sound . . . "
Very good overview of Hernán's conquest of Mexico: http://thedagger.com/archive/conquest/conquest1.html
Catherine Di Medici
"Ah, sentiments of mercy are in unison with a woman's heart."
"If things were even worse than they are after all this war they might have laid the lame upon the rule of a woman; but if such persons are honest they should only blame the rule of men who desire to play the part of kings."
"I know I have the body of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England, too."
"O! It offends me to the soul to hear a robustious periwig-pated fellow tear a passion to tatters, to very rags, to split the ears of the groundlings."
"If you give me six lines written by the most honest man, I will find in them something to hang him."
"Who will be my equal?"
"War is one of the scourges with which it has pleased God to afflict men."
"Did you think I was immortal?"
"Remark all these roughnesses, pimples, warts, and everything as you see me, otherwise I will never pay a farthing for it."
"In an honest service there is thin rations, low wages, and hard labor; in this [piracy], plenty, satiety, pleasure and ease, liberty and power; and who would not balance creditor on this side, when all the hazard that is run for it, at worst, is only a sour look or two at choking? No, a merry life and a short one shall be my motto."
"Well done is better than well said."
"In this world nothing can be certain, except death and taxes."
"I wish the bald eagle had not been chosen as the representative of our country; he is a bird of bad moral character."
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
"God first, then papa."
Aaron Burr, Jr.
"The rule of my life is to make business a pleasure, and pleasure my business."
"There is a maxim, 'Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.' It is a maxim for sluggards. A better reading of it is, 'Never do today what you can as well do tomorrow,' because something may occur to make you regret your premature action."
"This is the death I have in mind for you. The slayers will sharpen the projecting upright poles in this cattle-kraal – one for each of you. They will then lead you there, and four of them will pick you up singly and impale you on each of the sharpened poles. There you will stay till you die, and your bodies, or wha twill be left of them by the birds, will stay there as a testimony to all, what punishment awaits those who slander me and my mother."
"Up! children of Zulu, your day has come. Up! And destroy them all."
"I need no bodyguard at all, for even the bravest men who approach me get weak at the knees and their hearts turn to water, whilst their heads become giddy and incapable of thinking as the sweat of fear paralyzes them. They know no other will except that of their King, who is something above, and below, this earth."
"Man still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin."
"The highest possible stage in moral culture is when we recognize that we ought to control our thoughts."
"When I found I had crossed that line, I looked at my hands to see if I was the same person. There was such a glory over everything."
"I started with this idea in my head, 'There's two things I've got a right to . . . death or liberty.'"
"'Twant me, 'twas the Lord. I always told hm 'I trust to you. I don't know where to go or what to do, but I expect you to lead me,' and he always did."
Sir Richard Burton
"He noblest lives and noblest dies who makes and keeps his self-made laws."
"Not as a ladder from earth to Heaven, not as a witness to any creed, But simple service simply given to his own kind in their common need."
"Our loves are not given, but only lent, At compound interest of cent per cent."
"When your Daemon is in charge, do not try to think consciously. Drift, wait, and obey."
"Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind."
"Our shooting was awful. I grabbed a tommy gun from one of the guards and pumped away myself. They came right up the slope of the hill and it looked as if nothing could stop them. Then Yung Heh-ming put in his counter-attack, the whole battalion at once through a breach in the walls just beneath the pagoda. They rushed right past us and I had to stop firing for fear of hitting our own boys."
"The bullet that caught me in the left arm had made me think. Supposing it had been my right arm and I carried my gun that side, I'd not have been able to use it. As soon as we got back to Canton I got me a second gun, another Smith and Wesson revolver, a nd I packed it handy to my left hand. I practiced drawing and soon found that I was pretty well ambidextrous – one gun came out about as quick as the other."