November 24, 2012

“Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori.” (“It is sweet and fitting to die for one’s country.”)


THE FAMOUS PATRIOTIC LATIN QUOTATION:

“Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori.”
(“It is sweet and fitting to die for one’s country.”)

      
Horace (Quintas Horatius Flaccus; 65-8 B.C.) 
       Roman poet 
       From his poem
“Dulce Et Decorum Est,” in Odes, Bk. III, No. 2 (35 B.C.)
       This is one of the two most famous quotations from Horace’s Odes. (The other is “Carpe diem.”) The Latin word decorum has been variously translated as fitting, honorable, glorious and becoming. In the poem, Horace muses on patriotism and cowardice, saying: 
    
  ”It is sweet and fitting to die for one’s country. 
       Yet death chases after the soldier who runs, 
       and it won’t spare the cowardly back 
       or the limbs, of peace-loving young men.” 
Before becoming a poet, Horace briefly served as a soldier in the army of Brutus, one of the assassins of Julius Caesar. Marc Antony and Octavian (later Augustus Caesar) defeated Brutus at the Battle of Philippi in 42 B.C. It seems a bit ironic, given Horace’s brave words in “Dulce Et Decorum Est,” that he threw down his shield and fled the battlefield during the Battle of Philippi to save himself from death. After Augustus declared amnesty for Romans who served in armies used against him, Horace became a clerk in the government treasury and a poet in his spare time. His Odes, published in four volumes between 23 B.C. and 13 B.C., are considered to be among the greatest works of classic Latin literature. 


WILFRED OWEN’S FAMOUS POETIC COUNTERQUOTE:

“The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.”

      
Wilfred Owen (1893-1918)
       British poet and soldier in World War I
       In his poem
“Dulce et Decorum Est”
       Owen’s lines calling the patriotic quote by Horace “The old Lie” are nearly as famous as Horace’s original words. Owen volunteered for the British Army during World War I, but quickly became disillusioned by the horrors of The Great War, which included terrible carnage caused by modern guns and mustard gas. In the summer of 1917, Owens was sent to Craiglockhart War Hospital in Edinburgh to be treated for severe shell shock. While there, he wrote “Dulce et Decorum Est” and other moving poems that were published posthumously, years later. His famed “old Lie” lines come at the end of the poem, which describes the horrific effects of mustard gas on a fellow soldier: 
 
     “If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood 
       Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs, 
       Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
       Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues, 
       My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
       To children ardent for some desperate glory, 
       The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est 
       Pro patria mori.”

On November 4, 1918, a few months after returning to active service, Owens was killed in action at the age of twenty-five — just seven days before the war ended.


THE FAMOUS PATTON MOVIE QUOTE:

“I want you to remember that no bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country.”
      
General George S. Patton (as played played by actor George C. Scott)
      
In the 1970 film Patton (screenplay by Francis Ford Coppola and Edmund North)
       This well known quote is from a speech Patton (Scott) gives at the beginning of the film, while standing in front of a giant American flag. The movie speech is based on
a real speech Patton gave to American troops before D-Day on June 5, 1944. However, the famous movie quote is not in the recorded version of Patton’s 1944 speech.


A HISTORIAN’S OBSERVATION:

“Should America have gone to war after Pearl Harbor and should the French and British have decided to stop Hitler in 1939?...It is not sweet to die for one’s country. It is bitter. But it can be noble.”
      
Noel Annan (1916-2000)
       British educator, historian and critic 
       In his review of the book Wartime: Understanding Behavior in the Second World War by Paul Fussell (1989), published in the New York Review of Books, September 28, 1989. (Annan felt Fussell’s book had an overly simplistic, anti-war slant.)


MAJOR MULDOON’S OBSERVATION:

“Years ago some one wrote...‘Tis sweet to die for one's country. The writer hereof, in this contribution to his country's warlike literature, begs leave to differ with the cheerful idiot who originated that assertion. It is not sweet to do any such thing. Of course the writer has not died for his country to any great extent, so that he speaks not from actual experience. Yet he has seen several others die for their country and they seemed not to like it a bit.”
       Major H.A. Muldoon
       A possibly fictional American Civil War veteran
       In the story
“The Gun Shy Warrior,” published in Camp-fire Sketches and Battle-field Echoes (1886)


HEMINGWAY’S NOTES ON THE NEXT WAR:

“They wrote in the old days that it is sweet and fitting to die for one’s country. But in modern war there is nothing sweet nor fitting in your dying. You will die like a dog for no good reason.”
      
Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961)
       American novelist and journalist
       In his article
“Notes on the Next War,” published in Esquire magazine, Sept. 1935 
       Hemingway wrote this piece at a time when he opposed American involvement in the growing European tensions and conflicts created by Hitler and Mussolini. He said:
       “War is made or planned now by individual men, demagogues and dictators who play on the patriotism of their people to mislead them into a belief in the great fallacy of war when all their vaunted reforms have failed to satisfy the people they misrule. And we in America should see that no man is ever given, no matter how gradually or how noble and excellent the man, the power to put this country into a war which is now being prepared and brought closer each day with all the premeditation of a long planned murder. For when you give power to an executive you do not know who will be filling that position when the time of crisis comes.”
        By 1941, Hemingway had changed his mind and supported America’s involvement in World War II.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *    

Comments? Questions? Corrections? Post them on the Famous Quotations Facebook page.

Related reading and viewing…

 

November 17, 2012

“The opera ain’t over till the fat lady sings.”


THE FAMOUS SPORTS QUOTATION:

“The opera ain’t over till the fat lady sings.”
      
Dan Cook (1926-2008)
       San Antonio sports journalist and broadcaster
       Cook is widely credited as the person who popularized this saying, though he probably didn’t coin it. According to a June 3, 1978 article in the Washington Post (
cited by many sources), Cook first used it in his regular sports column in the San Antonio Express-News around 1975 or 1976.
       In 1978, he said it during a sports show on San Antonio’s KENS-TV, while discussing the Washington Bullets basketball team. Bullets coach Dick Motta heard Cook say it and started using the line himself when talking about his team’s odds of winning the NBA championship that year. It soon became a popular slogan among Bullets fans. When the Bullets won the championship on July 7, 1978, Motta crowed: “The Fat Lady is singing.” Dan Cook later said that the lady he envisioned was an iconic, hefty female opera singer, the popular image many people have of characters like
Brunnhilde in Richard Wagner’s Götterdämmerung).
       The opera version of the saying may have been inspired by an earlier one used by African-Americans in the southern United States:
“Church ain’t out till the fat lady sings” (a humorous reference to the sometimes plump ladies who sang hymns at church services).


THE TWINKIE OFFENSE:

“The fat lady – the one who apparently ate too many 150-calorie, nutrition-free Twinkies – has sung...Hostess announced early this morning that it would ‘promptly’ liquidate the company immediately and lay off its nearly 19,000 workers. The trigger was a strike this month by members of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union. ‘We deeply regret the necessity of today's decision," Hostess said in a statement, "but we don't have the financial resources to weather an extended nationwide strike.’”

      
David A. Kaplan 
       American journalist
     In a CNN/Fortune article about the news that Hostess Brands, maker of Wonder Bread, Ding Dongs, Ho Hos, and Twinkies, the “Golden Sponge Cake with Creamy Filling,” was planning to shut down due to financial woes and placing the blame on its union workers.



THE FEDERAL DEBT DEBATE VARIATION:

“It isn’t over until the Tea Party squeals.”
      
Taylor Marsh 
       Political analyst and blogger 
       A comment
on her blog about the debate over America’s federal debt problem and the reluctance of Republican conservatives to increase taxes as part of the solution.



THE FRENCH BIKE RACE VARIATION:

“[The] Tour de France...has been marred for years by performance-enhancing drug scandals. Forget ‘it ain’t over till the fat lady sings.’ In this event, ‘it ain’t over till the urine-sample lab results come back.’”
      
Greg Cote
       Sportswriter for the Miami Herald
       A quip about illegal “doping” by professional bike racers,
in a sidebar of his sports column in July 2011



THE JAPANESE BASEBALL VERSION:

“When the game is over, a fat lady will sing to us!” 
       A Japanese interpreter’s translation of the famed saying, as shown in subtitles, in the movie
Mr. Baseball (1992)


THE LAST RITES VERSION:

“It ain’t over till the fat priest reads extreme unction over your almost corpse. Oh, I forgot, the correct term has been changed from ‘extreme unction.’ Now it has been watered down to something like ‘anointing of the sick.’ God forbid that anyone might imply that the poor soul might actually be dying.”
      
David Skibbins
       American novelist and psychotherapist 
       Lines spoken by a character in Skibbins’ mystery novel The Hanged Man (2008)
       The quip refers to the Vatican II edicts issued by Pope Paul VI in 1965, which changed the name of the last rites Catholic priests give to dying people from the traditional phrase “Extreme Unction” to the nicer-sounding modern version,
“Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick.”

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *    

Comments? Corrections? Post them on on the Famous Quotations Facebook page.

Related reading…

November 10, 2012

“Living well is the best revenge.”


THE OLD PROVERBIAL SAW:

“Living well is the best revenge.” 
       Generally attributed to
George Herbert (1593-1633)
       English clergyman and poet
       A saying included in his collection of proverbs, first published in Outlandish Proverbs (1640)
      
Many books and websites credit “Living well is the best revenge” to Herbert. It’s one of hundreds of common proverbs from various languages that he collected and translated as a scholarly hobby, and as grist for sermons he gave as an Anglican priest. Seven years after Herbert died, 1,032 of the sayings he collected were assembled into a book published under the name Outlandish Proverbs. This was republished with some additional entries in 1651, with the title Jacula Prudentum (Latin for “javelins of the wise”). It’s likely that Herbert heard and recorded “Living well is the best revenge,” rather than coining it. But its inclusion in his widely-read, pioneering collection of proverbs certainly helped popularize this old saying.


A POLITICAL WINNER’S VARIATION (AND THE LOSER’S RESPONSE):

“Voting’s the best revenge.”
      
President Barack Obama
       In
a campaign speech four days before the 2012 presidential election 
       While Obama was speaking to a group of supporters in Springfield, Ohio on November 2, 2012, some people in the audience booed when he mentioned his Republican opponent,
Mitt Romney. Obama told them: “No, no, no! Don’t boo, vote. Vote! Voting’s the best revenge.” Romney and his political consultants thought Obama’s comment would somehow offend swing voters and tried to use it against him. Later that day, Romney said in campaign appearance: “Did you see what President Obama said today? He asked his supporters to vote for revenge. For revenge! Instead, I ask the American people to vote for love of country.” Romney’s campaign team quickly produced a TV ad showing Obama saying “Voting is the best revenge,” followed by Romney’s red-white-and-blue retort. It was aired heavily during the final few days of the campaign. Unfortunately for Romney, it did not seem to have the desired effect on swing voters.


THE HAPPY LOSERS ANTHEM:

“Everybody join the club,
Failure is the best revenge.
FAILURE!
Only one way of doing things right,
   but a thousand ways wrong.
So join the fight
   in showing the winners we don’t play their games
An army of losers, retarded and lame.”
      
The Vandals
       American punk rock band
       Lyrics from their song
“Failure Is The Best Revenge,” on their album The Quickening (1996)


THE HAPPY WINNERS QUIP:

“That’s the best revenge of all: happiness. Nothing drives people crazier than seeing someone have a good fucking life.” 
      
Chuck Palahniuk
       American novelist and journalist, best known for his novel Fight Club (1996)
       This quip is widely attributed to Palahniuk, though
a discussion on the biggest fan site for the author suggests he may not have said it.


GOSSIP GIRL’S POISON PEN VERSION:

“Sticks and stones may break bones, but a poison pen is the best revenge.”
      
Kristen Bell, as the voice of the unseen blogger “Gossip Girl”
       In a voiceover in the
“You've Got Yale!” episode of the TV series Gossip Girl (Season 2, Episode 16, first aired January 19, 2009)


A CARTOONIST’S CAUSTIC PEN VERSION:

“Living well is the best revenge...and by living well, I mean seeing my enemies die in agony.”
      
Mike Stivers
       American cartoonist 
       Word bubbles in a cartoon created by Stivers in 2003

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Comments? Corrections? Post them on the Famous Quotations Facebook page.

Related reading and viewing…

Copyrights, Disclaimers & Privacy Policy


Creative Commons License
Copyright © 2009-2014 by Subtropic Productions LLC

The Quote/Counterquote blog is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License. Any duplicative or remixed use of the original text written for this blog and any exact duplications the specific sets of quotations collected for the posts shown here must include an attribution to QuoteCounterquote.com and, if online, a link to http://www.quotecounterquote.com/

To the best of our knowledge, the non-original content posted here is used in a way that is allowed under the fair use doctrine. If you own the copyright to something we've posted and think we may have violated fair use standards, please let me know.

Subtropic Productions LLC and QuoteCounterquote.com are committed to protecting your privacy. We will not sell your email address, etc. For more details, read this blog's full Privacy Policy.