Quintus Curtius Rufus

Quintus Curtius Rufus was a Roman historian, writing probably during the reign of the Emperor Claudius (41–54 AD) or Vespasian. His only surviving work, De Rebus Gestis Alexandri Magni, or Historiae Alexandri Magni, is a biography of Alexander the Great in Latin in ten books, of which the first two are lost, and the remaining eight are incomplete. His work is fluidly written, and while superficial study reveals the authors errors regarding geography, chronology and technical military knowledge, a detailed study reveals his focusing instead on character and protests against those Emperors of his times whom he considered tyrants.


Often to have ignored a tiny spark has roused a great conflagration.
Prosperity can change man's nature; and seldom is any one cautious enough to resist the effects of good fortune
The deepest rivers flow with the least sound.

Historiarum Alexandri Magni Macedonis Libri Qui SupersuntEdit

Book IVEdit

  • Ad deteriora credenda proni metu.
    • Fear makes men believe the worst.
      • IV, 3, 22.
  • Efficacior omni arte imminens necessitas.
    • Necessity when threatening is more powerful than device of man.
      • IV, 3, 23.
  • Ubi explorari vera non possunt, falsa per metum augentur.
    • When the truth cannot be clearly made out, what is false is increased through fear.
      • IV, 10, 10.
  • Sæpe calamitas solatium est nosse sortem suam.
    • It is often a comfort in misfortune to know our own fate.
      • IV, 10, 27.
  • Nihil potest esse diuturnum cui non subest ratio.
    • Nothing can be lasting when reason does not rule.
      • IV, 14, 19.
  • Breves et mutabiles vices rerum sunt, et fortuna nunquam simpliciter indulget.
    • The fashions of human affairs are brief and changeable, and fortune never remains long indulgent.
      • IV, 14, 20.
  • Ubi intravit animos pavor, id solum metuunt, quod primum formidare cœperunt.
    • When fear has seized upon the mind, man fears that only which he first began to fear.
      • IV, 16, 17.

Book VEdit

  • Consuetudo natura potentior est.
    • Habit is stronger than nature.
      • V, 5, 21.
  • Sed medici quoque graviores morbos asperis remediis curant, et gubernator, ubi nafraugium timet, iactura quidquid servari potest redimit.
    • But physicians also cure more desperate maladies by harsh remedies, and a pilot, when he fears shipwreck, rescues by jettison whatever can be saved.
      • V, 9, 3; translation by John Carew Rolfe
  • Equidem æterna constitutione crediderim nexuque causarum latentium et multo ante destinatarum suum quemque ordinem immutabili lege percurrere.
    • For my own part I am persuaded that everything advances by an unchangeable law through the eternal constitution and association of latent causes, which have been long before predestinated.
      • V, 11, 10.

Book VIEdit

  • Sicut in corporibus aegris, milites, nihil quod nociturum est medici relinquunt, sic nos quidquid obstat imperio recidamus. Parva sæpe scintilla contempta magnum excitavit incendium. Nil tuto in hoste despicitur; quem spreveris, valentiorem neglentia facias.
    • Just as in ailing bodies, my soldiers, physicians leave nothing which will do harm, so let us cut away whatever stands in the way of our rule. Often to have ignored a tiny spark has roused a great conflagration. Nothing is safely despised in an enemy; one whom you have scorned you make stronger by neglect.
      • VI, 3, 11; translation by John Carew Rolfe
  • Patria est ubicumque vir fortis sedem elegerit.
    • A brave man's country is wherever he chooses his abode.
      • VI, 4, 13.

Book VIIEdit

  • Altissima quæque flumina minimo sono labuntur.
    • The deepest rivers flow with the least sound.
      • VII, 4, 13.
  • Canis timidus vehementius latrat quam mordet.
    • A cowardly cur barks more fiercely than it bites.
      • VII, 4, 13.
  • Stultus est qui fructus magnarum arborum spectat, altitudinem non metitur.
    • He is a fool who looks at the fruit of lofty trees, but does not measure their height.
      • VII, 8.

Book VIIIEdit

  • Non est diuturna possessio in quam gladio ducimus; beneficiorum gratia sempiterna est.
    • That possession which we gain by the sword is not lasting; gratitude for benefits is eternal.
      • VIII, 8, 11.

Book IXEdit

  • Desperatio magnum ad honeste moriendum incitamentum.
    • Despair is a great incentive to honorable death.
      • IX, 5, 6.
  • Sed in tumultu festinatio quoque tarda est
    • But in times of tumult haste is even slow.
      • IX, 9, 12
  • Equidem plura transcribo quam credo; nam nec affirmare sustineo de quibus dubito, nec subducere quae accepi.
    • As for myself, I report more things than I believe; for I cannot bring myself to vouch for that which I am in doubt, nor to suppress what I have heard.
      • IX, 1, 34; translation by John Carew Rolfe
  • Numquam ad liquidum fama perducitur; omnia illa tradente maiora sunt vero. Nostra quoque gloria, cum sit ex solido, plus tamen habet nominis quam operis.
    • Repute is never transmitted with certainty; all things that she reports are exaggerated. Even our glory, although it rests on a solid foundation, is greater in name than in fact.
      • IX, 2, 14; translation by John Carew Rolfe

Book XEdit

  • Res secundæ valent commutare naturam, et raro quisquam erga bona sua satis cautus est.
    • Prosperity can change man's nature; and seldom is any one cautious enough to resist the effects of good fortune.
      • X, 1, 40.

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