- “I was not, I was, I am not, I care not.”
- “I had not been, I am not, I know not.”
- “What I have eaten and drunk is my own; I have had my life.”
- “I believe in nothing beyond the grave.”
- “There is no Hades, no Charon, no Cerberus.”
- “Now I need never fear hunger, need never pay rent, and am at least free from gout.”
- “The elements out of which he was formed take possession of their own again. Life is only lent to man; he cannot keep it forever. By his death he pays his debt to Nature.”
—Evidence of widespread religious skepticism in ancient Rome from the tombstones of the poor. Found in Friedländer, III, 283.
“Cursed be the soil for your sake,
with pangs shall you eat from it all the days of your life.
Thorn and thistle shall it sprout for you
and you shall eat the plants of the field.
By the sweat of your brow shall you eat bread
till you return to the soil,
for from there were you taken,
for dust you are
and dust shall you return.”
—The Hebrew Bible, from Genesis 1-3. The Creation—The Fall. Trans. Robert Alter.
”..I find this conclusion more impressed upon me,—that the greatest thing a human soul ever does in this world is to see something, and tell what it saw in a plain way. Hundreds of people can talk for one who can think, but thousands can think for one who can see. To see clearly is poetry, prophecy, and religion,—all in one.”
—John Ruskin, Modern Painters. “Of Modern Landscape.” Vol. III, Part 4, Chap. 16.
“Complacencies of the peignoir, and late
Coffee and oranges in a sunny chair,
And the green freedom of a cockatoo
Upon a rug mingle to dissipate
The holy hush of ancient sacrifice.”
—Wallace Stevens, “Sunday Morning.” St. 1.