La Rochefoucauld’s Birthday

Today we mark the birth of one of the 17th century’s most influential French philosophers, François VI, Duc de La Rochefoucauld, Prince de Marcillac, who was born on this day, 15th of September, 1613 in Paris, France.

François de La Rochefoucauld

My husband, who graduated from Durham University with a First in Philosophy (I’m not boasting, just proud of him) has a few very good books of La Rochefoucauld’s writings in his collection, so I’ve stolen one of them from him for today.

In honour of this philosopher, I am going to include excerpts from a 1959 Penguin Books copy of La Rochefoucauld’s “Maxims.” Translations by Leonard Tancock.

Maxim 157 (page 57)

“The Glory of great men must always be measured against the means they have used to acquire it.”

Maxim 28 (page 40)

“Jealousy is in some measure just and reasonable, since it merely aims at keeping something that belongs to us or we think belongs to us. whereas envy is a frenzy that cannot bear anything that belongs to others.”

Maxim 557 (page 110)

“Nothing is more natural or deceptive than to believe one is loved.”

Maxim 507 (page 104)

“The world is full of pots jeering at kettles.”

Maxim 475 (page 97)

“Desire for sympathy or admiration is usually the main reason for our confiding in others.”

Perhaps he may be regarded as having been too cynical, but I believe de la Rochefoucauld was merely a rationalist and I quite agree with most of the Maxims. De la Rochefoucauld would die in Paris, 1680, from gout.

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