Giacomo Leopardi

“Creatures naturally hate their fellow-creatures, and whenever their own interest requires it, harm them. We cannot therefore avoid hatred and injuries from men, while to a great extent we can avoid their scorn. This is why there is usually little point in the respect which young people and those new to the world pay to those they come across, not through mean-mindedness or any other form of self-interest, but through a benevolent desire not to provoke enmity and to win hearts. They do not fulfill this desire, and in some ways they harm their own repute, because the person who is so respected comes to have a greater idea of himself, and he who pays the respect a lesser idea of himself. He who does not look to men for usefulness or fame, should not look for love either, since he will not obtain it. If he wants my opinion, he should preserve his own dignity completely, giving to everyone no more than his due. Thus he will be somewhat more hated and persecuted than otherwise, but not often despised.”


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