[Ads-l] Proverb: Seek revenge and you should dig two graves, one for yourself (Attributed to Confucius by Jeff Bezos, May 31, 2016)

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Thu Jun 2 02:17:04 UTC 2016

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos participated in an hour-long interview recently,
and he was asked about the billionaire Peter Thiel who funded a
lawsuit against the website Gawker. While discussing the topic Bezos
used an expression that he tentatively attributed to Confucius, and I
was asked to explore the provenance of the saying.

The Wikiquote webpage for Confucius places the saying into the
"Misattributed: Not Chinese" section and states that an English
language source in 1924 called the saying a Japanese proverb.
Wikiquote presented no citation to justify the claim.

In 1876 William Elliot Griffis published a history book about Japan
that contained a related expression that he labeled a Japanese
proverb. A close match to the modern saying appeared in 1915. At that
time it was also described as a Japanese saying. By 1951 an instance
was labeled Chinese.

Earlier evidence for these transitions/milestones would be great.
Dated evidence in Japanese or Chinese would be very interesting.

[ref] YouTube video, Title: Jeff Bezos vs. Peter Thiel and Donald
Trump | Jeff Bezos, CEO Amazon | Code Conference 2016, Uploaded on May
31, 2016, Uploaded by Recode, (Quotation starts at 24 minute 13
seconds of 1 hour 20 minutes 27 seconds) Description: Amazon CEO Jeff
Bezos talks with The Verge's Walt Mossberg, (Accessed on youtube.com
on June 1, 2016) link [/ref]


[Begin excerpt]
It's attributed to Confucius. Who knows if it's really Confucius or
not, but: "Seek revenge and you should dig two graves, one for
[End excerpt]

[ref] 1876, The Mikado's Empire, Book I: History of Japan From 660
B.C. to 1872 A.D., Book II: Personal Experiences, Observations, and
Studies in Japan: 1870-1874 by William Elliot Griffis (Late of the
Imperial University of Tokio, Japan), Chapter XIV: Japanese Proverbs,
Start Page 504, Quote Page 511, Harper & Brothers Publishers, New
York. (Google Books Full View) link [/ref]


[Begin excerpt]
If you call down a curse on any one, look out for two graves.
("Curses, like young chickens, always come home to roost.")
[End excerpt]

[ref] 1885 March 1, The Sun, Japanese Wise Sayings, Quote Page 3,
Column 6, New York, New York. (Newspapers_com)[/ref]

[Begin excerpt]
An American gentleman, lately returned to this city after a prolonged
residence in Japan, was recently discovered at the Stock Exchange by a
reporter for The Sun. . .  (Skip)
"Exactly. But you cannot call many of their proverbs stale or
unprofitable. For instance, 'Dig two graves before cursing a neighbor'
and 'Tell no secrets to thy servant' are not bad rules to follow."
[End excerpt]

[ref] 1885 March 22, The Detroit Free Press, Japanese Wise Sayings,
Quote Page 6, Column 3, Detroit, Michigan. (Newspapers_com)[/ref]

[Start excerpt]
Even a cur may bark at his own gate.

Dig two graves before cursing a neighbor.

The silent man is often worth listening to. He is a wise man who can
preach a short sermon.
[End excerpt]

[ref] 1915, Peloubet's Select Notes on the International Lessons for
1915 by Rev. F. N. Peloubet and Prof. Amos. R. Wells, Volume 41,
Second Quarter, Lesson VII: May 16, David Spares Saul: 1 Samuel 26,
Start Page 159, Quote Page 165, Published by W. A. Wilde Company,
Boston, Massachusetts. (Google Books Full View) link [/ref]


[Begin excerpt]
Illustrations. In the perfection of feudalism, the Japanese taught
vengeance as a part of ethics and the vendetta as a fine art; yet even
they out of long experience coined also the proverb, 'If you would
revenge yourself, dig two graves.' The plotter usually fell into his
own pit."—William Elliot Griffis.
[End excerpt]

[ref] 1951 May 12, Beckley Post-Herald, Waking 'Em Up by Eugene L.
Scott, Quote Page 4, Column 2, Beckley, West Virginia.

[Begin excerpt]
Sobs shook his slim body when he was freed. But afterwards, he said,
quoting a Chinese proverb: "He who seeks revenge digs two graves."
[End excerpt]

[ref] 1955 May 5, The Augusta Chronicle, Walter Winchell: Broadway,
the street of dreams, Quote Page 4A, Column 7, Augusta, Georgia.

[Begin excerpt]
At the Admiral: "Made his parents very happy. Changed his name" ... In
the Stork: "Before you seek Revenge with someone be sure and dig two
[End excerpt]

[ref] 1957 December 14, Albany Democrat-Herald, Bible in the classroom
(Letter to the Editor from A. W. Birky), Quote Page 6, Column 3,
Albany, Oregon. (Newspapers_com)[/ref]

[Begin excerpt]
It is fair to quote Socrates, "He that would take revenge better dig
two graves," and class as over-religious the quotation from the Bible,
"With what measure ye mete it shall be measured to you again"?
[End excerpt]

[ref] 1968 April 10, Anderson Daily Bulletin, Winchell Everywhere by
Walter Winchell, Quote Page 5, Column 2, Anderson, Indiana.

[Begin excerpt]
As the Chinese have said for centuries: When You Seek Revenge Dig Two Graves.
[End excerpt]

[ref] 1969 April 6, Omaha World Herald, Nasser's Policies Place Him
"at Point of Economic Death" by Ernest Cuneo, Quote Page 13B, Column
2, Omaha, Nebraska. (GenealogyBank)[/ref]

[Begin excerpt]
By and large, Nasser's policies have validated that old Chinese
proverb which declares that he who seeks revenge must dig two graves.
[End excerpt]


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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