Estienne de la Boétie Quote

“However, there is satisfaction in examining what they get out of all this torment, what advantage they derive from all the trouble of their wretched existence. Actually the people never blame the tyrant for the evils they suffer, but they do place responsibility on those who influence him; peoples, nations, all compete with one another, even the peasants, even the tillers of the soil, in mentioning the names of the favorites, in analyzing their vices, and heaping upon them a thousand insults, a thousand obscenities, a thousand maledictions. All their prayers, all their vows are directed against these persons; they hold them accountable for all their misfortunes, their pestilences, their famines; and if at times they show them outward respect, at those very moments they are fuming in their hearts and hold them in greater horror than wild beasts. This is the glory and honor heaped upon influential favorites for their services by people who, if they could tear apart their living bodies, would still clamor for more, only half satiated by the agony they might behold. For even when the favorites are dead those who live after are never too lazy to blacken the names of these people-eaters with the ink of a thousand pens, tear their reputations into bits in a thousand books, and drag, so to speak, their bones past posterity, forever punishing them after their death for their wicked lives.”

~ Estienne de la Boétie

Discours de la servitude volontaire (1574-1576), in Oeuvres complètes d'Estienne de la Boétie, Vol. 1, William Blake and Co. Edit., 1991, p. 96; English translation: The Discourse of Voluntary Servitude

Ratings and Comments

J Carlton, Calgary

I'm thinking this particular French Judge had a lot of difficulty expressing himself. I don't berlieve there is one sentence in this quote that is pertinent or actually makes any sense at all. Morphine addict maybe?

Mike, Norwalk

Very wordy (maybe a cultural translation thing) It brings to mind a liberal attribute; blame corporations for all the problems, not the government (government is a liberal's god) when in fact, its all the same.

  • Reply
RBESRQ    2/15/11
Legalize Freedom, Sarasota

This quote is so full of generalities and run-on thoughts that whatever coherent thought de la Boetie might have started out to express is lost in the excess verbosity. What is it with all the populist quotes this site is sending all of a sudden? I thought this site was about Liberty, not Populist pandering to the masses.


Get a Quote-a-Day!

Liberty Quotes sent to your mail box daily.