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As I See It

Over the years, I have managed to collect within my brain a number of quotes and quotables I have picked up here and there. I am a firm believer in both the educational value, as well as the economy of a good quote.

Over the years, I have managed to collect within my brain a number of quotes and quotables I have picked up here and there.

I am a firm believer in both the educational value, as well as the economy of a good quote.

I say that quotes have educational values, because I believe they do. They often pass some pretty sincere, thoughtful, and honest concepts along.

I say economy, because a good quote manages to pass along these deep thoughts in very few words.

'If every day was a sunny day, what would a sunny day be?' - Anon

Take for example the quote above. Within a very short space, using very few words, some rather large concepts about the 'relative value' of things gets passed along.

In fact, to describe everything that quote should say to the reader would take the rest of this column, so as I said, quotes are very economic ways to pass thoughts and information.

Another of the great facets about quotes is that they can apply to almost any situation.

Just about anything that comes along, I can often find a quote to, and as I said above, usually the quotes are both profound in meaning while short in statement.

'Vae Victis' - Brennus of Gaul

The Latin phrase stated above was attributed by the Roman writer Livy to Brennus of Gaul, a general who had led a Gaulish army to Rome in the late 300s B.C.

Brennus and his army demanded a ransom of 1,000 pounds of gold be paid to break the siege of Rome, which the Romans agreed to pay.

However, upon arriving at the assigned place with their gold in tow, the Romans found that the scale the Gauls were using was weighted improperly, and it would end up being much more than 1,000 pounds of gold.

The Romans therefore complained to Brennus about the scales. Striding to the weights, Brennus drew his sword, and threw it upon the side of the scale which held the weights, adding yet more weight to how much gold the Romans had to produce to ransom their city.

Turning to the senators who had level the accusations of cheated scales to Brennus, Brennus of Gaul looked at them and announced, "Woe to the conquered."

Or as a Latin would say it, "Vae Victis."

Sometimes, you see the sentiment expressed by one quote appear in another quote, separated often by a great length of time, or a great geographical distance.

An excellent example of this exists in the Melian Dialogues, written by the Grecian writer Thucydides.

The Dialogues form part of a total work written by Thucydides that documented the Peloponnesian Wars between Sparta, Athens, and their allies.

During one incident, the small city-state of Melos, on an island of the same name, was confronted with an overwhelmingly superior Athenian force.

The Melian Dialogues records the diplomatic discourse between the representatives of the two armies.

At one point during the exchange, the Melians complain of the unfairness of the situation, that massive Athens should be bullying weak Melos in such a way.

Responding to this, much in the vein of 'Vae Victis,' the Athenian commander stated to his Melian adversaries, "The strong do as they will, and the weak accept what they must."

Of course, not every quote has to do with realpolitik, many quotes exist for work.

"The best way to appreciate your job is to imagine yourself without one." - Oscar Wilde

Then there are quotes for family life.

"An ounce of blood is worth a pound of friendship." - Spanish proverb

There are even quotes about pets.

"It doesn't matter if a cat is black or white, so long as it catches mice." - Deng Xiaoping

If when reading any of the quotes I have quoted here today, you find some meaning that stretches beyond the obvious, then don't worry and indulge yourself.

In the end the absolute best thing about quotes is that the meaning that you take from them can be a meaning for you alone. You don't need to share the understanding with anyone else.

"This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning." - Sir Winston Churchill

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