fake quotes

Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything. – Plato
This quote is given at the very start of Living in Worlds of Music by Minette Mans, Springer 2009. The first words of the book are “Plato, not usually described as a very musical man, manages to capture in his statement above the complexity of music in the many ways that it reaches into and around us.” Amazingly incompetent. Ah well, this quote appears on thousands of music-related sites online. Still, rather embarrassing that such an academic book, filled with references, academic jargon, and presumably read by a few academics in the field, as well as some people at Springer, was allowed to start with this total clanger. (It sounds nothing like Plato, and is from the 19th C apparently.)


The wikipedia page on Burke says (May 2016, until I changed it) rather hilariously:


False quotations[edit]
The statement that “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing” is often falsely attributed to Burke; this he never said.[167][168] In 1770, however, in Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents, Burke wrote that:

…when bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.[169][170]

John Stuart Mill later made a similar statement in an inaugural address delivered before the University of St. Andrews during 1867:

Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.[171]

The source of this idea is Plato who wrote “The price good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.”[172]

Burke is also sometimes credited with George Santayana’s quote: “Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it”. His attribution for this statement similarly cannot be corroborated by reliable sources.[173]


That doesn’t sound like Plato to me.. so I looked at the link – amazingly, to the Endless Greece Travel Guide ! On their Plato page, they give as Plato quotes:

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
“Never discourage anyone…who continually makes progress, no matter how slow.”
“The price good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.”
“You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.”
“Necessity, who is the mother of invention.”

My first guess is that 0/5 are Plato, but I dunno. Stay tuned.


This Mozart quote is apparently fake: (thank goodness)

My ideas come as they will, I don’t know how, all in a stream. If I like them I keep them in my head, & people say that I often hum them over to myself. Well, if I can hold on to them, they begin to join on to one another, as if they were bits that a pastry-cook should join together in his pantry. And now my soul gets heated, & if nothing disturbs me the piece grows larger & brighter until, however long it is, it is all finished together in my mind, so that I can see it at a glance, as if it were a pretty picture or a pleasing person. Then I don’t hear the notes one after another, as they are hereafter to be played, but it is as if in my fancy they were all at once. And that is a blast. While I’m inventing, it all seems to me like a fine vivid dream; but that hearing it all at once (when the invention is done), that’s the best. What I once so heard I don’t forget again, & perhaps this is the best gift that God has granted me. – Mozart

It appears e.g. on http://greatquotesonlifeandart.blogspot.com.au/ (yeah sorry, that’s my site.)


2017 update: Sadly for this page, I never read my facebook news feed any more, so..I almost never come across fake quotes. Oh well..maybe one day.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.