The best of all rulers is but a shadowy presence to his subjects.


You have all the characteristics of a popular politician: a horrible voice, bad breeding, and a vulgar manner.

—Aristophanes, c. 424 BC

Envy is the basis of democracy.

—Bertrand Russell, 1930

Let him who desires peace prepare for war.

—Vegetius, c. 385

It is a certain sign of a wise government and proceeding, when it can hold men’s hearts by hopes, when it cannot by satisfaction.

—Francis Bacon, 1625

The most hateful torment for men is to have knowledge of everything but power over nothing.

—Herodotus, c. 425 BC

Treaties, you see, are like girls and roses: they last while they last.

—Charles de Gaulle, 1963

It is impossible to tell which of the two dispositions we find in men is more harmful in a republic, that which seeks to maintain an established position or that which has none but seeks to acquire it.

—Niccolò Machiavelli, c. 1515

I say violence is necessary. It is as American as cherry pie.

—H. Rap Brown, 1967

Conservative, n. A statesman who is enamored of existing evils, as distinguished from the liberal, who wishes to replace them with others.

—Ambrose Bierce, 1906

O citizens, first acquire wealth; you can practice virtue afterward.

—Horace, c. 8 BC

There is nothing more tyrannical than a strong popular feeling among a democratic people.

—Anthony Trollope, 1862

The more corrupt the republic, the more numerous the laws.

—Tacitus, c. 117