Casually inserting a quote from a famous person in the middle of a conversation is usually a quick way to impress our interlocutor and communicate what we are thinking.
But are you sure that the quote you are repeating is correct?
These, for example, are Five Popular Quotes From Historical Figures That Are Incorrect Or Even Never Said!
“Be the change you want to see in the world” – Mahatma Gandhi
Mahatma Gandhi, leader of the independence movement against British rule in India, is the source of many frequently quoted lines.
Among them is this one, which emphasizes personal responsibility as a starting point for global change.
The problem is that there is no record of him saying this or writing it.
The closest thing he said to this was published in 1913 in the Indian Opinion newspaper (founded by him): “We only reflect the world. All the tendencies present in the external world are found in the world of our body. If only we could change ourselves themselves, the trends in the world would also change.
“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it” – Voltaire
This quote, purportedly from the French writer and philosopher Voltaire, is often used by free speech advocates.
Simply put, it says that if you strongly believe in the right of people to express what they think, you will stand up for them even when they say something that you really don’t want to hear or that you find offensive.
Voltaire, who lived from 1694 to 1778, certainly believed in free speech.
Much of his texts attacked the attempts of the Catholic Church to restrict the freedom of the people at that time. But it is almost certain that he never expressed his views in his most ‘quoted’ comment.
The quote originated from a biography of Evelyn Beatrice Hall published in 1906, more than a century after Voltaire’s death.
In it, the author tries to summarize Voltaire’s thoughts on freedom of expression and wrote that sentence to convey the idea.
“For evil to triumph, it only takes good men to do nothing” – Edmund Burke
Edmund Burke was an 18th century Irish philosopher, statesman and writer and an MP for the Whig Party for over 20 years. Among his most quoted phrases is this one.
It sounds impressive, but there are those who argue that its meaning is doubtful.
As David Bromwich, author of “The Intellectual Life of Edmund Burke,” told Reuters, “What is striking about this saying… is how little sense it makes: the silence of good men is not the only necessary for the triumph of evil. Those who promote evil…must be strong and determined; and the lukewarm must be cowed into submission or willing to join in.”
What Burke did say, in 1770, was: “When bad men come together, good men must associate, or else they will fall, one by one, a relentless sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.”
The quote seems to have been distorted soon after, and was even referred to by US President John F. Kennedy in a famous speech in 1961.
“I can’t tell a lie. I cut down the cherry tree” – George Washington
Among his followers, George Washington (the first president of the United States) was famous for his honesty.
This is often illustrated by a story in which 6-year-old Washington cut down his father’s prized cherry tree, but when its vandalism was discovered, the boy immediately admitted to doing it.
It is a beloved and often told story that became a symbol of Washington’s virtues.
It first appeared in biographer Mason Locke Weems’s account of Washington’s life, which was published a year after Washington’s death in 1799.
But strangely enough, the story was not even included in Weems’s book until the fifth edition in 1806.
With no other evidence before that, some argue that the story could have been completely fabricated.
“Let them eat cake!” – Marie Antoinette
It is said that when Marie Antoinette, Queen of France during the period leading up to the French Revolution (1789), was informed that her subjects no longer had bread to eat, she said “Let them eat cakes!”
The phrase is meant to show how out of touch she was with the reality of the poor French, or simply didn’t care about them.
The story seems to have arisen in the writings of the Enlightenment philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau around 1767, but he only attributes it to “a great princess”.
But since Marie Antoinette was a child at the time, it’s unlikely that it was the princess she was referring to.
Furthermore, similar stories about different indifferent aristocrats had been going around for years.
She was first specifically connected to Marie Antoinette in a pamphlet by writer Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr published 50 years after her death, and even then that meant the rumor that she was saying it was not true.
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BBC-NEWS-SRC: https://www.bbc.com/mundo/noticias-60039888, IMPORTING DATE: 2022-01-23 13:10:05