Reader’s Notebook


“He lives in fame that died in virtue’s cause.” (Titus Andronicus 1.1.393)

“if any fear/ Lesser his person than an ill report;/ If any think brave death outweighs bad life,/ And that his country’s dearer than himself;/ Let him alone, or so many so minded,/ Wave thus, to express his disposition,/ And follow Martius.” (Coriolanus 1.6.70-6)

“So our virtues/ Lie in th’interpretation of the time,/ And power, unto itself most commendable,/ Hath not a tomb so evident as a chair/ T’ extol what it had done.” (Coriolanus 4.7.49-53)

“It is held/ that valor is the chiefest virtue, and/ Most dignifies the haver.” (Coriolanus 2.2. 82-4)

“…a widow, who taught us by experience, that orphanage bringeth many discommodities to a child, but doth not hinder him to become an honest man, and to excel in vertue above the common sort: as they that are meanly born, wrongfully complain, that is it the occasion of their casting away, for that no man in their youth taketh any care of them to see them well brought up, and taught that were meet.” (Plutarch’s Life of Coriolanus 2)

“My heart laments that virtue cannot live/ Out of the teeth of emulation.” (Julius Ceaser 2.3.13-4)


“Ingratitude is monstrous;/ and for the multitude to be ingrateful were to make a/monster of the multitude; of the which we being mem-/ ber, should bring ourselves to be monstrous members.” (Coriolanus 2.3.9-12)

“Whether ‘twas pride,/ Which out of daily fortune ever taints/ the happy man; whether defect of judgment,/ To fail in the disposing of those chances/ Which he was lord of; or weather nature,/ Not to be other than one thing, not moving/ From th’casque to th’cushion, but commanding peace/ Even with the austerity and garb/ As he controlled the war…” (Coriolanus 4.7.37-45)


“You talk of pride: O that you could/ turn your eyes toward the napes of your necks, and/ make but an interior survey of your good selves!” (Coriolanus 2.1.36-8)

“With a proud heart he wore his humble weeds.” (Coriolanus 2.3.154)


“…we should treat [proverbs] not as food but as condiments, not to sufficiency but for delight.” (Introduction to Adages 19)

“Too modest are you,/ More cruel to your good report than grateful/ to us that give you truly.” (Coriolanus 1.9.52-4)


“…the talents of students are sometimes ruined by violent effort, whereas regularity in work has lasting effect just because of its temperance and produces by daily practices a greater result than you would expect.” (To Christian Norfolk 114)

“All bond and privilege of nature, break!/ Let it be virtuous to be obstinate.” (Coriolanus 5.3.25-6)

“With the consent of supreme Jove, inform/ Thy thoughts with nobleness, that thou mayst prove/ To shame unvulnerable, and stick i’ th’ wars/ Like a great sea mark, standing every flaw/ And saving those that eye thee!” (Coriolanus 71-5)

“The invulnerable thing is not that which is not struck, but that which is not hurt…” (Seneca’s On Firmness 55)


“But ‘tis the common proof/ That lowliness is young ambition’s ladder,/ Whereto the climber-upward turns his face; But when he once attains the upmost round,/ He then unto the latter turns his back,/ Looks into the clouds, scorning the base degrees/ By which he did ascend.” (Julius Caesar 2.1.21-7)

“O fair Alexis, don’t put too much trust/ In your complexion. Remember that the blossoms/ Of white privet fade and the darker blossoms/ Of hyacinth are what the gatherers gather.” (Virgil’s Eclogue II 11)

“As in the end, all men that are willfully given to a self-opinion and obstinate mind, and who will never yield to others’ reason, but to their own: remain without company, and forsaken of all men.” (Plutarch’s Life of Coriolanus 23)

“With every minute you do change a mind, And call him noble that was now your hate,/ Him vile that was your garland.” (Coriolanus 1.1.180-182)


“Fear conquered: the girl surrendered to fame./ Why gloat, victor? This victory will destroy you./ How much a single night cost your kingdom!” (Fasti 50)


“They said they were anhungry, sighed forth proverbs -/ That hunger broke stone walls, that dogs must eat,/ That meat was made for mouths, that the gods sent not/ Corn for the rich men only.” (Coriolanus 1.1.203-6)

“Some innocents scape not the thunderbolt.” (Antony and Cleopatra 2.5.77)

“Then Dido’s words are done, and her companions/ can see her fallen on the sword; the blade/ is foaming with her blood, her hands are bloodstained.” (Aeneid 4 lines 914-6)

Honorable Conduct

“…we see in the noble deeds of others what is fitting and likewise in the base ones what is not.” (To Christian Norfolk 115)

“When you first recognize your mother, whose/ Long nine-month travail brought you into the world./ That child who has not smiled thus for his parents/ No gods will welcome at their festive table/ Nor any goddess to her amorous bower.” (Virgil’s Eclogue IV 33)

“…men/ Of noble minds is honorable meed.” (Titus Andronicus 1.1.219)

“…the greatest benefit that leaning bringeth unto men, is this: that it teacheth men that be rude and rough of nature, by compass and rule of reason, to be civil and courteous, and to like better the mean state than the higher.” (Plutarch’s Life of Coriolanus 2)

“That when the people should see they had authority of life and death in their hands, they would not be so cruel and fierce but gentle and civil.” (Plutarch’s Life of Coriolanus 30)

“The principall end of making Theams, I take to be this, to furnish schollers with all store of the choisest matter, that they may thereby learn to understand, speak or write of any ordinary Theame, Morall or Politicall, such as ucually fall into discourse amongst men and in practice of life; especially concerning vertues and vices.” (The Grammar School 174-5)

“Even then, dying, she ensures her fall is seemly:/ That was her anxiety as she dropped.” (Fasti 52)

“If it be aught toward the general good,/ Set honor in one eye and death i’ th’ other,/ And I will look on both indifferently;/ For let the gods so speed me as I love/ The name of honor more than I fear death.” (Julius Ceaser 1.2.87-91)

Dishonorable Conduct

“Such a nature,/ Tickled with good success, disdains the shadow/ Which he treads on at noon.” (Coriolanus 1.1.257-259)

“Would Ulysses had been truly mad,/ or else had never had his trick unmasked,/ for then he never would have joined our ranks/ beneath the citadel of Troy – this man/ who’s only bent upon malevolence.” (Metamorphosis Book 8)

“On land,/ King Tereus drags the daughter of Pandion/ into a hut that’s hid in ancient woods:/ and there he locks her up – she shakes with fear;/ and pale, in tears, she asks to see her sister./ And he confesses his foul passion/ and rapes her.” (Metamorphosis book 6 Tereus, Procne, Philomela)

Magnanimity (Courage)

“Insane, I seize my weapon. There’s no sense/ in weapons, yet my spirit burns to gather/a band for battle, to rush out against/ the citadel with my companions. Rage/ and anger drive my mind. My only thought/ how fine a thing it is to die in arms.” (Aeneid 2 lines 428-33)

Pusillanimity (Cowardice)

“Cowards die many times before their deaths;/ The valiant taste of death but once./ Of all the wonders that I yet have heard,/ It seems to me most strange that men should fear,/ Seeing death, a necessary end,/ Will come when it will come.” (Julius Ceaser 2.3.33-7)


“Thus when the learned is drawn to the learned, the sober to the sober, the modest to the modest, the honest to the honest, each is drawn to nothing other than his own character as reflected in another person, that is, to himself in another form.” (The Method of Study 686)

“Nature teaches beasts to know their friends.” (Coriolanus 2.1.4)

“To they old friend never unfriendly prove;/ Though he be changed, forget not former love.” (Cato’s Distichs)


“Make it your rule to apply to the care of your mind the same rules the physician generally recommends for the care of the body…” (To Christian Norfolk 114)

“He was not taken well; he had not dined./ The veins unfilled, our blood is cold, and then/ We pout upon the mourning, are apt/ to give or to forgive; but when we have stuffed/ These pies and these conveyances of our blood/ With wine and feeding, we have suppler souls/ Than in our priestlike fasts.” (Coriolanus 5.1.49-56)

“…lesser enmities may give way to greater./ Weren’t not that we stand up against them all…” (Antony and Cleopatra 2.2.44-5)

“Every time/ Serves for the matter that is then born in’t./ But small to greater matters must give way.” (Antony and Cleopatra 2.2.9-11)

“Though it be honest, it is never good/ To bring bad news.” (Antony and Cleopatra 2.5.85-6)

“But things true and likely, he maketh to depend of our own free will and reason.” (Plutarch’s Life of Coriolanus 50)

“But wisdom leaves no room for evil, for the only evil it knows is baseness, which cannot enter where virtue and uprightness already abide. Consequently, if there can be no injury without evil, no evil without baseness, and it, moreover, baseness cannot reach a man already possessed by uprightness, then injury does not reach the wise man.” (Seneca’s On Firmness 55)

“When to poor judgment thou dost failure owe,/ Say not that Fortune’s blind, for ‘t is not so.” (Cato’s Distichs)

“Not strength alone, but wisdom, too, posses;/ Thus thou canst gain a name for manliness.” (Cato’s Distichs)


“we shall not send/ O’er the vast world to seek a single man,/ And lose advantage, which doth ever cool/ I’ the’ absence of the needer.” (Coriolanus 4.1.42-4)

“I have heard/ it said, the fittest time to corrupt a man’s wife is when/ she’s fall’n out with her husband.” (Coriolanus 4.3.29-31)

“Better to leave undone than by our deed/ Acquire too high a fame when him we serve’s away.” (Antony and Cleopatra 3.1.13-4)

“For quick accumulation of renown,/ Which he achieved by th’ minute, lost his favor./ Who does i’ th’ wars more than his captain can/ Becomes his captain’s captain, and ambition,/ The soldier’s virtue, rather makes choice of loss/ Than gain which darkens him.” (Antony and Cleopatra 3.2.19-24)

“The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,/ But ourselves, that we are underlings.” (Julius Caesar 1.2.141-2)


“‘Tis fond to wail inevitable strokes,/ As ‘tis to laugh at ‘em” (Coriolanus 4.1.26-7)

“Celerity is never more admired/ Than by the negligent.” (Antony and Cleopatra 3.7.24-5)

“A single tree is not remarkable if the whole forest rises to the same height.” (The Epistles of Seneca 233)

“…those who have never attained their mental independence begin, in the first place, by following the leader in cases where everyone has deserted the leader; then, in the second place, they follow him in matters where the truth is still being investigated.” (The Epistles of Seneca 239)


“…or galled up his surly nature,/ Which easily endures not article/ Trying him to aught. So putting him to rage,/ You should have ta’en the advantage of his choler/ And passed him unelected.” (2.3.195-9)

“Touch you the sourest points with sweetest terms,/ Nor curstness grow th’ matter.” (Antony and Cleopatra 2.2.25-6)

“Fortune knows/ We scorn her most when most she offers blows.” (Antony and Cleopatra 3.12.73-4)

“To be furious/ Is to be frightened out of fear, and in that mood/ The dove will peck the estridge; and I see still/ A diminution in our captain’s brain/ Restores his heart. When valor preys on reason,/ It eats the sword it fights with.” (Antony and Cleopatra 3.13.105-200)

“For a man that will live in the world, must needs have patience, which lusty bloods make a mock at.” (Plutarch’s Life of Coriolanus 23)

“For when sorrow is set on fire, then it is converted into spite and malice, and driveth away for that time all faintness of heart and natural fear.” (Plutarch’s Life of Coriolanus 33)

“As heavenly things escape the hands of man and divinity suffers no harm from those who demolish temples and melt down images, so every wanton, insolent, or haughty act directed against the wise man is essayed in vain.” (Seneca’s On Firmness 59)

“But Procne’s rage can’t be contained: she flames;/ she scolds her tearful sister; she exclaims:/ ‘No tears are needed her; it’s time for steel,/ or if you know of something harder still,/ then give me that. I’m ready now to kill/ in any way, however criminal:/ I’ll fire this ppalace with a torch and fling/ into the flames that artifex of sins;/ or I’ll cut out his tongue or else his eyes/ and hack the limb that brought such shame to you;/ I’ll drive his soul out through a thousand wounds -/ however horrible.” (Metamorphosis book 6 Tereus, Procne, Philomela)


“The words of Jupiter are done. He sends/ The son of Maia down from heaven that/ the newfound lands and fortresses of Carthage/ be opened wide in welcome to the Trojans; that Dido, ignorant of destiny, not drive away Aeneas from her boundaries.” (Aeneid Book 1 lines 416-423)

“The Dido softly, briefly answers him:/ ‘O Teucrians, enough of fear, cast out/ your cares./…I shall send you safe/ with escort, I shall help you with my wealth./ And if you want to settle in this kingdom/ on equal terms with me, then all the city/ I am building now is yours.” (Aeneid Book 1 lines 791-3 and 803-7)

“Sweet mercy is nobility’s true badge…” (Titus Andronicus 1.1.121)

“I minded him how royal ‘twas to pardon/ When it was less expected.” (Coriolanus 5.1.18-9)

“You have won a happy victory to Rome;/ But for your son – believe it, O believe it -/ Most dangerously you have with him prevailed,/ If not most mortal to him. But let it come./ Aufidius, though I cannot make true wars,/ I’ll frame convenient peace.” (Coriolanus 5.4.186-192)

“…he that first made blankets, and gave money to the common people, was the first that took away authority, and destroyed common wealth.” (Plutarch’s Life of Coriolanus 21)

“But then all-able Juno pitied her/ long sorrow and hard death and from Olympus/ sent Iris down to free the struggling spirit/ from her entwining limbs.” (Aeneid 4 lines 955-8)

“We grant life to his tears and, more, our mercy./ And Priam is the first to have the fetters/ and tight chains taken off the fugitive…” (Aeneid 2 lines 204-6)

“When servants thou hast brought, remember then,/ Altho’ thou term’st them slave, they are still men.” (Cato’s Distichs)


“Extremity of griefs would make men mad/ And I have read that Hecuba of Troy/ Ran mad for sorrow.” (Titus Andronicus 4.1.19-21)

“But sorrow flouted at is double death.” (Titus Andronicus 3.1.245)


“The Hurricane/ is howling from the north; it hammers full/ against his sails. The seas are heaved to heaven./ The oars are cracked; the prow sheers off; the waves/ attack broadside; against his hull the swell/ now shatters in a heap, mountainous, steep.” (Aeneid 1 lines 144-149)

“You were used/ to say extremities was the trier of spirits;/ That common chances common men could bear;/ That when the sea was calm all boats alike/ Showed mastership in floating; fortune’s blows/ When most struck home, being gentle wounded craves/ A noble cunning. You were used to load me/ With precepts that would make invincible/ The heart that coined them.” (Coriolanus 4.1.3-11)

“Cheer your heart;/ Be you not troubled with the time, which drives/ O’er your content these strong necessities;/ But let determined things to destiny/ Hold unbewailed their way.” (Antony and Cleopatra 3.6.82-6)

“The loyalty well held to fools does make/ Our faith mere folly; yet he that can endure/ To follow with allegiance a fallen lord/ Does conquer him that did his master conquer/ And earns a place i’ th’ story.” (Antony and Cleopatra 3.13.42-6).

“But thou he longs to soften, soothe her sorrow/ and turn aside her troubles with sweet words,/ though groaning long and shaken in his mind/ because of his great love, nevertheless/ pious Aeneas carries out the gods’/ instructions. Now he turns back to his fleet.” (Aeneid 4 lines 540-5)

Desire/ Passion

“The fierce lioness follows after the wolf,/ The wolf pursues the goat, the wanton goat/ Seeks out the flowering clover in the field,/ And Corydon, Alexis, follows you./ Each creature is led by that which it most longs for.” (Virgil’s Eclogue II 15)

“…luckless Dido -doomed to face catastrophe-/ can’t sate her soul, inflamed by what she sees;/ the boy, the gifts excite her equally.” (Aeneid 1 lines 993-996)

“There’s a great spirit gone! Thus did I desire it./ What our contepts doth often hurl from us,/ We wish it ours again. The present pleasure,/ By revolution lowering, does become/ The opposite of itself: she’s good, being gone;/ The hand could pluck her back that shoved her on./ I must from this enchanting queen break off;/ Ten thousand harms, more than the ills I know,/ My idleness doth hatch.” (Antony and Cleopatra 1.2.121-9)

“As we rate boys who, being mature in knowledge,/ Pawn their experience to their present pleasure/ And so rebel against judgment.” (Antony and Cleopatra 1.4.31-3)

“Women are not/ In their best fortunes strong, but want will perjure/ The ne’er-touched vestal.” (Antony and Cleopatra 3.12.29-31)

“For it is far more commendable, to use riches well, than to be valiant: and yet it is better not to desire them than to use them well.” (Plutarch’s Life of Coriolanus 15)

“Too late. The queen is caught between love’s pain/ and presses. She feeds the wound within her veins;/ she is eaten by a secret flame. Aeneas’/ high name, all he has done, again, again/ come like a flood. His face, his words hold fast/ her breast. Care strips her limps of calm and rest.” (Aeneid 4 lines 1-6)

“That sight was quite enough; the flame of love/ had taken Tereus, as if one had set/ afire ripe grain, dry leaves, or a haystack./ It’s true she’s fair, but he is also spurred/ by venery, an inborn tribal urge./ The vice inflaming him is both his own/ and that dark fire which burns in Thracian souls./ His impulse was to buy his way to her,/ to bribe her closest friends or faithful nurse/ and then, when he’d corrupted then, to tempt/ the girl himself, though that might cost his kingdom;/ or else to ravish her, and then defend/ his rape by waging unrelenting war.” (Metamorphosis book 6 Tereus, Procne, Philomela)


“Now we have shown our power,/ Let us seem humbler after it is done/ Than when it was a-doing.” (Coriolanus 4.2.3-5)