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  • Some favorite quotes and passages

  • But it is always a selection of the past, and not the complete past, which is in fact what shapes the future.

        J.M. Roberts [Triumph of the West]

  • Many and strange are the universes that drift like bubbles in the foam upon the River of Time.

        Arthur C. Clarke [Wall of Darkness]

  • Twentieth-century mathematics is beginning to reveal the discipline as representing the ultimate in abstraction, formalization, and artistic creativity. An exciting new mathematics began to evolve in the middle of the nineteenth century, when men's minds were forced to abandon some of the custom-bound interpretations of traditional expressions. From the renunciation of many of the taboos associated with these expressions, there has resulted a new freedom and a whole new perspective. This freedom allows the mind not only to construct abstract systems which reflect the traditional concepts with new fidelity and fruitfulness, but also to construct systems for whose support there may be no known extra-mental realities.

        C.B. Hanneken [Introduction to Abstract Algebra]

  • Gentlemen! I propose we be ashamed of nothing!

        Fyodor Dostoevsky [Bobok]

  • Rome at the beginning was ruled by kings [...] The despotisms of Cinna and Sulla were brief; the rule of Pompeius and of Crassus soon yielded before Caesar; the arms of Lepidus and Antonius before Octavian, who, when the world was wearied by civil strife, subjected it to empire under the title of "Prince."

        Tacitus [Annals, Brodribb and Church translation]

  • From the intrinsic evidence of his creation, the Great Architect of the Universe now begins to appear as a pure mathematician.

        Sir James Jeans [Mysterious Universe]

  • Now get out there and conquer the doggone universe!

        Chris Laws

  • Look round the habitable world! How few know their own good, or knowing it, pursue.

        Juvenal [Satire X, Dryden translation]

  • I have always put the good name and honor of the state first and have regarded them as more valuable than life itself. What distressed me was to find that my enemies in the most insulting manner were taking from me a privilege that had been granted to me by the Roman people; I was being deprived of six months of my command and was being dragged back to Rome [...] Troops are being raised all over Italy; two legions, stolen from me on the pretext that they were to be used against Parthia, are still in the country; the whole state is under arms. How can all this be explained except on the assumption that there is a plan to destroy me?

        Julius Caesar [Civil Wars, Warner translation]

  • Je le vois, mais je ne le crois pas! [I see it, but I don't believe it!]

        Georg Cantor [letter to Richard Dedekind]

  • All mathematical species have a primary subsistence in the soul, so that, before sensible numbers, there are to be found in her inmost recesses self-moving numbers; ideal proportions of harmony previous to concordant sounds; invisible orbs prior to the bodies which revolve in a circle [...] We must follow the doctrine of Timaeus, who derives the origin, and consummates the fabric of the soul, from mathematical forms, and reposes in her nature the causes of everything which exists.

        Proclus [Platonic Theology, Taylor translation]

  • "And this also," said Marlow suddenly, "has been one of the dark places of the earth. [...] I was thinking of very old times, when the Romans first came here, nineteen hundred years ago--the other day [...] Light came out of this river since [...] But darkness was here yesterday. Imagine the feelings of a commander of a fine--what d'ye call 'em?--trireme in the Mediterranean, ordered suddenly to the north; run overland across the Gauls in a hurry [...] Imagine him here--the very end of the world, a sea the colour of lead, a sky the colour of smoke, a kind of ship about as rigid as a concertina--and going up this river with stores, or orders, or what you like. Sand-banks, marshes, forests, savages--precious little to eat fit for a civilized man, nothing but Thames water to drink. No Falernian wine here, no going ashore. Here and there a military camp lost in a wilderness, like a needle in a bundle of hay--cold, fog, tempests, disease, exile, and death--death skulking in the air, in the water, in the bush. They must have been dying like flies here. Oh, yes--he did it. Did it very well, too, no doubt, and without thinking much about it either, except afterwards to brag of what he had gone through in his time, perhaps. They were men enough to face the darkness. And perhaps he was cheered by keeping his eye on a chance of promotion to the fleet at Ravenna by and by, if he had good friends in Rome and survived the awful climate [...] Land in a swamp, march through the woods, and in some inland post feel the savagery, the utter savagery, had closed round him--all that mysterious life of the wilderness that stirs in the forest, in the jungles, in the hearts of wild men. There's no initiation either into such mysteries. He has to live in the midst of the incomprehensible, which is also detestable. And it has a fascination, too, that goes to work upon him. The fascination of the abomination--you know, imagine the growing regrets, the longing to escape, the powerless disgust, the surrender, the hate..."

        Joseph Conrad [Heart of Darkness]

  • Then, dying, Hektor of the shining helm spoke to him:
    "I know you well as I look upon you, I know that I could not
    persuade you, since indeed in your breast is a heart of iron.
    Be careful now; for I might be made into the gods' curse
    upon you, on that day when Paris and Phoibos Apollo
    destroy you in the Skaian gates, for all your valour."
    He spoke, and as he spoke the end of death closed in upon him,
    and the soul fluttering free of the limbs went down into Death's house,
    mourning her destiny, leaving youth and manhood behind her.
    Now though he was a dead man brilliant Achilleus spoke to him:
    "Die: and I will take my own death at whatever time
    Zeus and the rest of the immortals choose to accomplish it."

        Homer [Iliad, Lattimore translation]

  • Muses, now
    throw wide the gates of Helicon, your mountain,
    now lift up your song, to tell what kings
    were stirred to war, what troops in each command
    filled all the lowlands, fighting men in whom
    even in those days bounteous Italy
    had come to flower, in whom her spirit blazed.
    For you remember, you can bring to life
    that time, immortal ones, while to ourselves
    faint wraiths of history barely transpire.


        Virgil [Aeneid, Fitzgerald translation]