Barbarians Quotes

Quotes tagged as "barbarians" (showing 1-24 of 24)
Susan Sontag
“[O]ne person's 'barbarian' is another person's 'just doing what everybody else is doing.”
Susan Sontag, Regarding the Pain of Others

Hilaire Belloc
“The Barbarian hopes — and that is the mark of him, that he can have his cake and eat it too.He will consume what civilization has slowly produced after generations of selection and effort, but he will not be at pains to replace such goods, nor indeed has he a comprehension of the virtue that has brought them into being. Discipline seems to him irrational, on which account he is ever marvelling that civilization, should have offended him with priests and soldiers.... In a word, the Barbarian is discoverable everywhere in this, that he cannot make: that he can befog and destroy but that he cannot sustain; and of every Barbarian in the decline or peril of every civilization exactly that has been true.

We sit by and watch the barbarian. We tolerate him in the long stretches of peace, we are not afraid. We are tickled by his irreverence; his comic inversion of our old certitudes and our fixed creed refreshes us; we laugh. But as we laugh we are watched by large and awful faces from beyond, and on these faces there are no smiles.”
Hilaire Belloc

Mohsin Hamid
“Four thousand years ago, we, the people of the Indus River basin, had cities that were laid out on grids and boasted underground sewers, while the ancestors of those who would invade and colonize America were illiterate barbarians.”
Mohsin Hamid, The Reluctant Fundamentalist

Terry Pratchett
“No enemies had ever taken Ankh-Morpork. Well technically they had, quite often; the city welcomed free-spending barbarian invaders, but somehow the puzzled raiders found, after a few days, that they didn't own their horses any more, and within a couple of months they were just another minority group with its own graffiti and food shops.”
Terry Pratchett, Eric

Adrianne Ambrose
“Some people fight fire with fire. I've found water to be more effective.”
Adrianne Ambrose, Confessions of a Virgin Sacrifice

Robert Graves
“But that so many scholars are barbarians does not much matter so long as a few of them are ready to help with their specialized knowledge the few independent thinkers, that is to say the poets, who try to to keep civilization alive.”
Robert Graves, The White Goddess: A Historical Grammar of Poetic Myth

Jeanette Winterson
“There is always a city. There is always a civilization. There is always a barbarian with a pickaxe. Sometimes you are the city, sometimes you are the civilization, but to become that city, that civilization, you once took a pickaxe and destroyed what you hated, and what you hated is what you did not understand.”
Jeanette Winterson, The Powerbook

“O [Roman] people be ashamed; be ashamed of your lives. Almost no cities are free of evil dens, are altogether free of impurities, except the cities in which the barbarians have begun to live...

Let nobody think otherwise, the vices of our bad lives have alone conquered us...

The Goths lie, but are chaste, the Franks lie, but are but are generous, the Saxons are savage in cruelty...but are admirable in chastity...what hope can there be [for the Romans] when the barbarians are more pure [than they]?"

-Salvian”
William J. Federer, Change to Chains-The 6,000 Year Quest for Control -Volume I-Rise of the Republic

Constantinos P. Cavafis
“What are we waiting for, assembled in the forum?
The barbarians are due here today.
Why isn't anything happening in the senate?
Why do the senators sit there without legislating?
Because the barbarians are coming today.
What laws can the senators make now?
Once the barbarians are here, they'll do the legislating.
Why did our emperor get up so early,
and why is he sitting at the city's main gate
on his throne, in state, wearing the crown?
Because the barbarians are coming today
and the emperor is waiting to receive their leader.
He has even prepared a scroll to give him,
replete with titles, with imposing names.
Why have our two consuls and praetors come out today
wearing their embroidered, their scarlet togas?
Why have they put on bracelets with so many amethysts,
and rings sparkling with magnificent emeralds?
Why are they carrying elegant canes
beautifully worked in silver and gold?
Because the barbarians are coming today
and things like that dazzle the barbarians.
Why don't our distinguished orators come forward as usual
to make their speeches, say what they have to say?
Because the barbarians are coming today
and they're bored by rhetoric and public speaking.
Why this sudden restlessness, this confusion?
(How serious people's faces have become.)
Why are the streets and squares emptying so rapidly,
everyone going home so lost in thought?
Because night has fallen and the barbarians have not come.
And some who have just returned from the border say
there are no barbarians any longer.
And now, what's going to happen to us without barbarians?
They were, those people, a kind of solution”
Constantinos P. Cavafis

Alexander the Great
“Youths of the Pellaians and of the Macedonians and of the Hellenic Amphictiony and of the Lakedaimonians and of the Corinthians… and of all the Hellenic peoples, join your fellow-soldiers and entrust yourselves to me, so that we can move against the barbarians and liberate ourselves from the Persian bondage, for as Greeks we should not be slaves to barbarians.”
Alexander the Great

Ian Livingstone
“Friend, we are well met indeed. I think we are a pair of fools and that we should hasten to Nildren's Peak, where I shall buy ye such a dinner as even your great frame will find sufficient. And then we shall see who can drink the other under the table. Is that good by ye?”
Ian Livingstone, Firestorm

Bangambiki Habyarimana
“As man becomes more technologically advanced, his barbarity becomes even more lethal”
Bangambiki Habyarimana, The Great Pearl of Wisdom

M.F. Moonzajer
“What more you expect from a nation that honors a barbarian.”
M.F. Moonzajer

Dean Koontz
“Everything barbarians do is nothing, no matter how loudly they insist it's something.”
Dean Koontz, Saint Odd

Susan Sontag
“But maybe they were barbarians. Maybe this is what most barbarians look like. They look like everybody else.”
Susan Sontag

J.M. Coetzee
“Calf-deep in the soothing water I indulge myself in the wishful vision. I am not unaware of what such daydreams signify, dreams of becoming an unthinking savage, of taking the cold road back to the capital, of groping my way out to the ruins in the desert, of returning to the confinement of my cell, of seeking out the barbarians and offering myself to them to use as they wish. Without exception they are dreams of ends: dreams not of how to live but of how to die. And everyone, I know, in that walled town sinking now into darkness (I hear the two thin trumpet calls that announce the closing of the gates) is similarly preoccupied. What has made it impossible for us to live in time like fish in the water, like birds in air, like children? It is the fault of Empire! Empire has created the time of history. Empire has located its existence not in the smooth recurrent spinning time of the cycle of the seasons but in the jagged time of rise and fall, of beginning and end, of catastrophe. Empire dooms itself to live in history and plot against history. One thought alone preoccupies the submerged mind of Empire: how not to end, how not to die, how to prolong its era. By day it pursues its enemies. It is cunning and ruthless, it sends its bloodhounds everywhere. By night it feeds on images of disaster: the sack of cities, the rape of populations, pyramids of bones, acres of desolation. A mad vision yet a virulent one: I, wading in the ooze, am no less infected with it than the faithful Colonel Joll as he tracks the enemies of Empire through the boundless desert, sword unsheathed to cut down barbarian after barbarian until at last he finds and slays the one whose destiny it should be (or if not his then his son's or unborn grandson's) to climb the bronze gateway to the Summer Palace and topple the globe surmounted by the tiger rampant that symbolizes eternal domination, while his comrades below cheer and fire their muskets in the air.”
J.M. Coetzee, Waiting for the Barbarians

Stephen Fry
“The Guti were a band of mountain barbarians. It's always the way, isn't it? Everything is blamed on 'the barbarians”
Stephen Fry, Stephen Fry's Incomplete and Utter History of Classical Music

“By Duraden, I have trolls dancing in my head this morning!' Stubble grumbled, screwing his eyes into a squint at the bright morning light.”
Carl Sargent, Firestorm

Neal Ascherson
“By the middle twentieth century, few European nation-states had not at one time or another figured themselves as 'the outpost of Western Christian civilisation': France, imperial Germany, the Habsburg Reich, Poland with its self-image as przedmurze (bastion), even tsarist Russia. Each of these nation-state myths identified "barbarism" as the condition or ethic of their immediate eastward neighbour: for the French, the Germans were barbarous, for the Germans it was the Slavs, for the Poles the Russians, for the Russians the Mongol and Turkic peoples of Central Asia and eventually the Chinese.”
Neal Ascherson, Black Sea

J. Paul Getty
“In my own opinion, the average American's cultural shortcomings can be likened to those of the educated barbarians of ancient Rome. These were barbarians who learned to speak--and often to read and write--Latin. They acquired Roman habits of dress and deportment. Many of them handily mastered Roman commercial, engineering and military techniques--but they remained barbarians nonetheless. They failed to develop any understanding, appreciation or love for the art and culture of the great civilization around them.”
J. Paul Getty, How to Be Rich

Diana Wynne Jones
“Barbarian Horde
This will be lot and lots of wild-screaming people advancing under a cloud of dust in order to devestate more civilized parts. They are a bit like locusts, except that they kill people direcly.”
Diana Wynne Jones, The Tough Guide to Fantasyland

Jeanette Winterson
“There is always a city. There is always a civilisation. There is always a barbarian with a pickaxe. Sometimes you are the city, sometimes you are the civilisation, but to become that city, that civilisation, you once took a pickaxe and destroyed what you hated, and what you hated was what you did not understand.”
Jeanette Winterson, The Powerbook

Jiang Rong
“Chen pointed to the cub. "There's your brute." Then he pointed to the pups. "And there's your domestication. For the most part, Westerners are descendants of barbarian, nomadic tribes such as the Teutons and the Anglo-Saxons. They burst out of the primeval forest like wild animals after a couple of thousand years of Greek and Roman civilization, and sacked ancient Rome. They eat steak, cheese, and butter with knives and forks, which is how they've retained more primitive wildness than the traditional farming races. Over the past hundred years, domesticated China has been bullied by the brutish West. It's not surprising that for thousands of years the Chinese colossus has been spectacularly pummeled by tiny nomadic peoples.”
Jiang Rong, Wolf Totem

R.A. Lafferty
“Here we come to a semantic difficulty. Other peoples who were of considerable civilization had been referred to as barbarians for more than a thousand years. Others had been called by the names of the wolves. When the wolves themselves came, there was no other name to give them. The Goths, who were kingdom-founding Christians, had been called barbarians. The Gauls of ancient lineage had been so called, and the talented Vandals.
Even the Huns had been called barbarians. This is a thing beyond all comprehension, and yet it is not safe to contradict the idea even today. The Huns were a race of over-civilized kings traveling with their Courts. In the ordering of military affairs and in overall organization they had no superiors in the world. They were skilled diplomats, filled with urbanity and understanding. All who came into contact with them, Persians, Armenians, Greeks, Romans, were impressed by the Huns' fairness in dealing—considering that they were armed invaders; by their restraint and adaptability; by their judgment of affairs; by their easy luxury. They brought a new elegance to the Empire peoples; and they had assimilated a half dozen cultures, including that of China. But the Huns were not barbarians; no more were any of the other violent visitors to the Empire heretofore.”
R.A. Lafferty, The Fall of Rome