May 18, 2015

“The evil that men do…”


“The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones.”
       William Shakespeare (1564-1616) 
       Lines said by Mark Antony in Act 3, Scene 2 of Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar
       This is one of several well-known quotes in the funeral oration Mark Antony gives for Julius Caesar after Caesar is assassinated.
It follows the famous opening words: “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears. I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.” The oration in the play is loosely based on a real speech Antony gave at Caesar’s funeral, a few days after Caesar was stabbed to death by his political enemies on March 15, 44 B.C. (the “Ides of March”). An account of what Antony said was recorded by the Greek-born Roman historian Appian in his history of Rome’s civil wars. It does not include any of the famous lines in Shakespeare’s play. According to Appian, the Roman masses became so angry after hearing Antony’s subtly inflammatory speech that they burnt down the Senate building where Caesar was killed and went hunting for his murderers, who were forced to flee Rome.


“If, as the theologians say, ‘the very act of free choice is traced to God as to a cause’...if ‘everything happening from the exercise of free choice must be subject to divine providence,’ must not the evil that men do be attributed to God as cause?”
       From a commentary on the philosophical debate over free will in
The Great Ideas volume of Encyclopedia Britannica’s multi-volume series about the great books and ideas of the Western World, which was edited by Mortimer J. Adler and first published in 1952.


“It is sins of omission, not commission, that are most fruitful of harm; not the evil that men do, but the good they did not do, that lives after them.”
       Editorial comment in an 1889 issue of
The Railway Conductor’s Monthly
       Included in The Conductor and Brakeman Vol. 6, compiled by The Order of Railway Conductors and Brakemen


“It’s not the evil that men do that outlives them; it’s the mischief that computers and genetic research can get us into when they are spliced together that we need to worry about.” 
From the book
Taking Sides: Clashing Views in Business Ethics and Society (2006), written by Lisa Newton, Elaine Englehardt and Michael Pritchard 
       Paraphrasing of the views of technology critics like Jeremy Rifkin


“Parson Fawcett said: the evil that men do lives after them; but the evil that women do goes on for countless generations through their breeding.”
Catherine Cookson (1906-1998)
       British novelist
       In her period romance novel The Love Child (1990)

See more takeoffs and variations on “The evil that men do...” 

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *    

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

Related reading…

May 8, 2015

“Where the West begins” – and the East peters out…


“Out where the handclasp’s a little stronger,
Out where the smile dwells a little longer,
            That’s where the West begins;
Out where the sun is a little brighter,
Where the snows that fall are a trifle whiter;
Where the bonds of home are a wee bit tighter;
            That’s where the West begins.”
      Arthur Chapman (1873-1935)
       American journalist, poet and editor
       His poem
“Out Where the West Begins,” first printed in the Denver Republican, December 3, 1911.


“Fort Worth is where the West begins and Dallas is where the East peters out.”
       Will Rogers (1879-1935)
       American humorist
       A famous quip
generally attributed to Rogers. 
       The city of Forth Worth has long used the official slogan “Where the West Begins.” An old nickname of Dallas is “where the East ends.”


“As Fort Worth has grown into a very big city, the cultural identity of our fair burg is changing. City leaders like to trot out ‘Cowtown’ and ‘Where the West Begins’ as cultural touchstones, but neither has been true for some time. We don’t slaughter cattle for beef anymore, and I don’t know where the West begins now, but it certainly isn’t here.”
       Dan McGraw
       Texas journalist and author 
In his column in the Fort Worth Weekly, March 28, 2007


“First port of call, out where the wet begins.”
       Prohibition-era marketing slogan for
Sloppy Joe’s Bar in Havana, Cuba 
       Noted in the excellent book
Havana Before Castro by Peter Moruzzi


“Out where the zest begins, in the Hawaiian islands, grow these royal pineapples...brought to you by Dole.”
an ad for Dole Pineapples in LIFE magazine, May 8, 1939


“Where the North Begins”
       Title of the
first film starring the first Rin-Tin-Tin, released in 1923. (A silent film set in the “Great White North” – the north woods of Canada.)

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

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

Related reading and listening: classic examples of Cowboy – and Cowgirl – poetry

May 1, 2015

“Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.” (And maybe 90% mental?)


“Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.”
       Attributed to
Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1931)
       American inventor and businessman 
       This oft-cited line is traditionally credited to Edison and he did say some things like it. However, the familiar version of the quote is not included in his writings or in his recorded speeches or interviews. The first mention of a definition of genius by Edison is in an article about him in
the April 1898 issue of the Ladies Home Journal. A paragraph in that article says:
       “Once, when asked to give his definition of genius, Mr. Edison replied: ‘Two per cent is genius and ninety-eight per cent is hard work.’ At another time, when the argument that genius was inspiration was brought before him, he said: ‘Bah! Genius is not inspired. Inspiration is perspiration.’” 
       An article
in a 1902 issue of Scientific American claimed that Edison once remarked: “Genius is 2 percent inspiration and 98 percent perspiration,” but it gave no source for the quote. That 2%/98% definition was also mentioned in a 1908 biography of Edison and a 1911 article in Chamber’s Journal — without providing any information on when Edison supposedly said it. Then in 1932, a year after Edison died, an article Harper's Monthly Magazine noted that sometime around 1902 or 1903 Edison said: “Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration.” No source for the quote was given by Harper’s. However, this version became legendary and is cited by many books and websites (often giving Harper’s Monthly Magazine as the source).


“Baseball is ninety percent mental. The other half is physical.”
       Yogi Berra
       US baseball catcher, manager and coach known for his funny, linguistically unique sayings
       This is one of the famous “Yogisms” that Yogi is generally believed to have actually said, though various versions have been cited and he used somewhat different wording at various times. In The Yogi Book: I Really Didn't Say Everything I Said! (1998), he quotes himself as saying: “90% of the game is half mental.” In What Time Is It? You Mean Now? (2010) he cites it as “Ninety percent of this game is half-mental.” In a commencement speech at Montclair State University (New Jersey) in 1996, Yogi gave the line a twist, telling the graduating students: “Remember that whatever you do in life, 90 percent of it is half mental.” In Baseball's Greatest Quotations, quotation maven Paul Dickson notes that baseball outfielder Jim Wolford may have used a version of the line before Yogi made it his own. 


“Genious is one per cent inspiration and ninety nine per cent perspiration.”
       A version on the Edison saying printed on a t-shirt with the word genius misspelled, offered for sale by the upscale European fashion store chain H & M.
       (Spotted and mocked by the site in April 2015.)


“Successful Washington speechwriting is one percent literary talent and ninety-nine percent political infighting.” 
       Attributed to Will Sparks
       Former speechwriter for President Johnson
       Quoted by Bradley H. Patterson Jr. in his book The Ring of Power: the White House Staff and Its Expanding Role in Government


“Real police work is ninety-nine percent facts, one percent inspiration.”
       Glover Wright
       British author and former rock ‘n’ roll guitarist 
       Line said by a character in his novel The Torch (1980)

For more variations of Edison’s famed quote, see this previous Quote/Counterquote post.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

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

Related reading…

Copyrights, Disclaimers & Privacy Policy

Creative Commons License
Copyright © 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 and, if online, a link to

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