The ungodly ... reasoned unsoundly, saying to themselves,... we were born by mere chance, and hereafter we shall be as though we had never been. ... Thus they reasoned, but they were led astray, ... for God created us for incorruption, and made us in the image of his own eternity. ~ Wisdom of Solomon

Mortality is the condition of being mortal, susceptible to death.



  • Man is but a reed, the most feeble thing in nature, but he is a thinking reed. The entire universe need not arm itself to crush him. A vapor, a drop of water suffices to kill him. But, if the universe were to crush him, man would still be more noble than that which killed him, because he knows that he dies and the advantage which the universe has over him; the universe knows nothing of this.
All our dignity consists then in thought. By it we must elevate ourselves, and not by space and time which we cannot fill. Let us endeavor to think well; this is the principle of morality.
  • Blaise Pascal, Pensées, #347, W. F. Trotter, trans. (New York: 1958)
  • You must drink quickly as from a rapid stream that will not always flow.
    • Seneca, “On the Shortness of Life”
  • The ungodly ... reasoned unsoundly, saying to themselves,...
we were born by mere chance,
and hereafter we shall be as though we had never been,
for the breath in our nostrils is smoke,
and reason is a spark kindled by the beating of our hearts
when it is extinguished, the body will turn to ashes,
and the spirit will dissolve like empty air. ...
Thus they reasoned, but they were led astray, ...
for God created us for incorruption,
and made us in the image of his own eternity.
  • At thirty, man suspects himself a fool,
    Knows it at forty, and reforms his plan;
    At fifty, chides his infamous delay,
    Pushes his prudent purpose to resolve,
    In all the magnanimity of thought;
    Resolves, and re-resolves, then dies the same.
    And why? because he thinks himself immortal,
    All men think all men mortal but themselves.
    • Edward Young, Night Thoughts (1742-1745), Night I, line 417.

Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical QuotationsEdit

Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 530.
  • "O Charidas, what of the underworld?"
    "Great darkness."
    "And what of the resurrection?"
    "A lie."
    "And Pluto?"
    "A fable; we perish utterly."
    • Callimachus, translation by Macnail in Select Epigrams from the Greek Anthology. See also Callimachus, Epigrams, XIV, line 3. Anthologia Palatina, VII. 524.
  • That flesh is but the glasse, which holds the dust
    That measures all our time; which also shall
    Be crumbled into dust.
  • Consider
    The lilies of the field whose bloom is brief:—
    We are as they;
    Like them we fade away
    As doth a leaf.
  • Hier ist die Stelle wo ich sterblich bin.
  • The immortal could we cease to contemplate,
    The mortal part suggests its every trait.
    God laid His fingers on the ivories
    Of her pure members as on smoothèd keys,
    And there out-breathed her spirit's harmonies.

Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations (1989)Edit

  • I wrote my name upon the sand,
    And trusted it would stand for aye;
    But, soon, alas! the refluent sea
    Had washed my feeble lines away.
    • Horatio Alger, "Carving a Name", lines 1–4, Alger Street: The Poetry of Horatio Alger, Jr., ed. Gilbert K. Westgard II, p. 53 (1964).
  • The paths of glory lead but to the grave.
    • Thomas Gray, "Elegy Written in a Country Church Yard", line 36, The Complete Poems of Thomas Gray, ed. H. W. Starr and J. R. Hendrickson, p. 38 (1966). Originally published in 1751. "Nobody knew that [Major General James] Wolfe, reciting Gray's Elegy in 1759 as he rowed up the St. Lawrence [to Quebec] the night before his death, said that 'he would prefer being the author of that poem to the glory of beating the French tomorrow,' until in 1815, in Vol. VII of the Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, appeared a biography of its secretary, John Robison, LL. D., professor of natural philosophy in the University of Edinburgh, who as a young man had been a midshipman in Wolfe's flotilla".—Carroll A. Wilson, "Familiar 'Small College' Quotations, II: Mark Hopkins and the Log", The Colophon, spring 1938, p. 204.
  • Don't strew me with roses after I'm dead.
    When Death claims the light of my brow,
    No flowers of life will cheer me: instead
    You may give me my roses now!
    • Thomas F. Healey, "Give Me My Roses Now". The Home Book of Quotations, ed. Burton Stevenson, 10th ed., p. 1578 (1967). Reported as unverified in Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations (1989).
  • Faded the flower and all its budded charms,
    Faded the sight of beauty from my eyes,
    Faded the shape of beauty from my arms,
    Faded the voice, warmth, whiteness, paradise!
    Vanish'd unseasonably …
    • John Keats, "Sonnet to Fanny Brawne", lines 5–9, The Complete Poetical Works of John Keats, p. 379 (1900).
  • So fleet the works of men, back to their earth again;
    Ancient and holy things fade like a dream.
  • It is said an Eastern monarch once charged his wise men to invent him a sentence, to be ever in view, and which should be true and appropriate in all times and situations. They presented him the words: "And this, too, shall pass away". How much it expresses! How chastening in the hour of pride!—how consoling in the depth of affliction!
    • Abraham Lincoln, address before the Wisconsin State Agricultural Society, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, September 30, 1859; in Roy P. Basler, ed., The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln (1953), vol. 3, p. 481–82. Many versions of this story exist. Another one is: "The Sultan asked for a Signet motto, that should hold good for Adversity or Prosperity. Solomon gave him, 'This also shall pass away.'"—Edward Fitzgerald, Polonius: A Collection of Wise Saws and Modern Instances, item 112, p. 80 (1901). The words In neez bogzarad, which can be translated, "This also shall pass", appear in the Diven of the twelfth century Persian poet and philosopher, Sana' of Ghazn, ed. Mahir Muaffa, p. 92 (1957).
  • Above all, Hubert was a man with a good heart. And on this sad day it would be good for us to recall Shakespeare's words:

A good leg will fall. A straight back will stoop. A black beard will turn white. A curled pate will grow bald. A fair face will wither. A full eye will wax hollow. But a good heart is the sun and the moon. Or rather the sun and not the moon, for it shines bright and never changes, but keeps its course truly. He taught us all how to hope and how to live, how to win and how to lose, he taught us how to live, and finally, he taught us how to die.

    • Walter Mondale, eulogy for former Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey, January 15, 1978, in the rotunda of the Capitol.—The Washington Post, January 16, 1978, p. 1. The Shakespeare quotation is a slight variation from Henry V, act V, scene ii.
  • Philip, remember that thou art mortal.
    • Author unknown. Supposedly, words Philip of Macedon had a servant repeat in the audience-room. Reported in Samuel A. Bent, Short Sayings of Great Men (1882), p. 437. Similarly, "Remember thou, too, art a man". Words a slave would be bidden to whisper now and again to the triumphal conqueror returning in state to Rome. John L. Stoddard, Lectures, vol. 8 (1911), p. 263–64.

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