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[ Also see Age Antiquity Beginnings Birth Blood Character Childhood Courtiers Family Gentility Gentlemen Heirs Heredity Inheritance Nobility Parents Pedigree Posterity Race Rank ]

Sence I've ben here, I've hired a chap to look about for me,
  To git me a transplantable an' thrifty fem'ly-tree.
      - James Russell Lowell, The Biglow Papers
         (2nd series, no. 3, III)

Some men by ancestry are only the shadow of a mighty name.
      - Lucanus (Marcus Annaeus Lucan)

People who take no pride in the noble achievements of remote ancestors will never achieve anything worthy to be remembered with pride by remote descendants.
      - Thomas Babington Macaulay

It has long seemed to me that it would be more honorable to our ancestors to praise them in words less, but in deeds to imitate them more.
      - Horace Mann

Let him speak of his own deeds, and not of those of his forefathers. High birth is mere accident; and not virtue; for if reason had controlled birth, and given empire only to the worthy, perhaps Arbaces would have been Xerxes, and Xerxes Arbaces.
      - Metastasio (pseudonym of Antonio Domenico Bonaventura Trapassi Pietro)

Sire, I am my own Rudolph of Hapsburg.
      - Napoleon Bonaparte (Napoleon I),
        said to the Emperor of Austria, who hoped to trace Napoleon's lineage

The man who has nothing to boast of but his illustrious ancestry is like a potato,--the only good belonging to him is underground.
      - Sir Thomas Overbury

The man who has not anything to boast of but his illustrious ancestors is like a potato,--the only good belonging to him is under ground.
      - Sir Thomas Overbury, Characters

Birth and ancestry, and that which we have not ourselves achieved, we can scarcely call our own.
  [Lat., Nam genus et proavos et quae non fecimus ipsi
    Vix ea nostra voco.]
      - Ovid (Publius Ovidius Naso), Metamorphoses
         (XIII, 140)

I am one who finds within me a nobility that spurns the idle pratings of the great, and their mean boasts of what their fathers were, while they themselves are fools effeminate.
      - James Gates Percival

Being well satisfied that, for a man who thinks himself to be somebody, there is nothing more disgraceful than to hold himself up as honored, not on his own account, but for the sake of his forefathers. Yet hereditary honors are a noble and splendid treasure to descendants.
      - Plato (originally Aristocles}

It is indeed a desirable thing to be well descended, but the glory belongs to our ancestors.
      - Plutarch

What can ennoble sots, or slaves, or cowards?
  Alas! not all the blood, of all the Howards.
      - Alexander Pope, Essay on Man
         (ep. IV, l. 215)

If there be no nobility of descent, all the more indispensable is that there should be nobility of ascent,--a character in them that bear rule so fine and high and pure that as men come within the circle of its influence they involuntarily pay homage to that which is the one pre-eminent distinction,--the royalty of virtue.
      - Bishop Henry Codman Potter,
        in address at Washington Chapel Service in St. Paul's Chapel, New York

That all from Adam first begun,
  None but ungodly Woolston doubts,
    And that his son, and his son's sons
      Were all but ploughmen, clowns and louts.
        Each when his rustic pains began,
          To merit pleaded equal right,
            'Twas only who left off at noon,
              Or who went on to work till night.
      - Matthew Prior, The Old Gentry

One always retains the traces of one's origin.
  [Fr., On garde toujours la marque de ses origines.]
      - Joseph Ernest Renan, La Vie de Jesus

Our greatest responsibility is to be good ancestors.
      - Jonas Salk

The glory of ancestors sheds a light around posterity; it allows neither good nor bad qualities to remain in obscurity.
  [Lat., Majorum gloria posteris lumen est, neque bona neque mala in occulto patitur.]
      - Sallust (Caius Sallustius Crispus),
        Jugurtha (LXXXV)

What can they see in the longest kingly line in Europe, save that it s runs back to a successful soldier?
      - Sir Walter Scott

It was the saying of a great man, that if we could trace our descents, we should find all slaves to come from princes, and all princes from slaves; and fortune has turned all things topsy-turvy in a long series of revolutions; beside, for a man to spend his life in pursuit of a title, that serves only when he dies to furnish out an epitaph, is below a wise man's business.
      - Seneca (Lucius Annaeus Seneca)

No man is nobler born than another, unless he is born with better abilities and a more amiable disposition. They who make such a parade with their family pictures and pedigrees, are, properly speaking, rather to be called noted or notorious than noble persons. I thought it right to say this much, in order to repel the insolence of men who depend entirely upon chance and accidental circumstances for distinction, and not at all on public services and personal merit.
      - Seneca (Lucius Annaeus Seneca)

Philosophy does not regard pedigree; she did not receive Plato as a noble, but she made him so.
      - Seneca (Lucius Annaeus Seneca)

The origin of all mankind was the same; it is only a clear and good conscience that makes a man noble, for that is derived from heaven itself.
      - Seneca (Lucius Annaeus Seneca)

It [Philosophy] does not pay attention to pedigree. All, if their first origin be in question, are from the Gods.
  [Lat., Stemma non inspicit. Omnes, si ad primam originem mala in occulto patitur.]
      - Seneca (Lucius Annaeus Seneca), Epistles

He who boasts of his descent, praises the deeds of another.
  [Lat., Qui genue jactat suum
    Aliena laudat.]
      - Seneca (Lucius Annaeus Seneca),
        Hercules Furens (act II, 340)

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