Quotes and Sayings from Cervantes

Novelists' writings touch on life, love, and wisdom

Cervantes
Miguel de Cervantes. Public domain

Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (1547-1616) is by far the most famous Spanish author, and his international influence on literature rivals that of his British contemporary, William Shakespeare. Here are some of the most well-known sayings and quotes that are attributed to him; note that not all translations are word for word:

Cervantes Quotes About Love and Friendship

Amor y deseo son dos cosas diferentes; que no todo lo que se ama se desea, ni todo lo que se desea se ama. (Love and desire are two different things; not everything that is loved is desired, and not everything that is desired is loved.)

Amistades que son ciertas nadie las puede turbar. (Nobody can disrupt true friendship.)

Puede haber amor sin celos, pero no sin temores. (There can be love without jealousy, but not without fear.)

Cervantes Quotes About Gratitude

La ingratitud es la hija de la soberbia. (Ingratitude is the daughter of pride.)

Entre los pecados mayores que los hombres cometen, aunque algunos dicen que es la soberbia, yo digo que es el desagradecimiento, ateniéndome a lo que suele decirse: que de los desagradecidos está lleno el infierno. (Of the worst sins that people commit, although some says it's pride, I say it is ingratitude. As the saying goes, hell is filled with the ungrateful.)

Cervantes Quotes About Living Wisely

Una onza de buena fama vale más que una libra de perlas. (An ounce of good reputation is worth more than a pound of pearls.)

El ver mucho y el leer mucho avivan los ingenios de los hombres. (Seeing much and reading much sharpens one's ingenuity.)

Lo que poco cuesta aún se estima menos. (What costs little is valued even less.)

El hacer bien a villanos es echar agua en la mar. (Doing good for low-lifes is throwing water in the sea.)

No hay ningún viaje malo, excepto el que conduce a la horca. (There is no bad trip except for the one that goes to the gallows.)

No puede haber gracia donde no hay discreción. (There cannot be grace where there is no discretion.)

La pluma es la lengua de la mente. (The pen is the tongue of the mind.)

Quien no madruga con el sol no disfruta de la jornada. (Whoever doesn't rise with the sun won't enjoy the day.)

Mientras se gana algo no se pierde nada. (As long as something is earned nothing is lost.)

El que no sabe gozar de la ventura cuando le viene, no debe quejarse si se pasa. (He who doesn't know how to enjoy good fortune when it comes to him shouldn't complain when it passes him by.)

Cervantes Quotes About Beauty

Hay dos maneras de hermosura: una del alma y otra del cuerpo; la del alma campea y se muestra en el entendimiento, en la honestidad, en el buen proceder, en la liberalidad y en la buena crianza, y todas estas partes caben y pueden estar en un hombre feo; y cuando se pone la mira en esta hermosura, y no en la del cuerpo, suele nacer el amor con ímpetu y con ventajas. (There are two kinds of beauty: one of the soul and the other of the body; that of the soul shows and demonstrates itself in understanding, in honesty, in good behavior, in generosity and in good breeding, and all these things can find room and exist in an ugly man; and when one looks at this type of beauty, and not bodily beauty, love is inclined to spring up forcefully and overpoweringly.)

Bien veo que no soy hermoso, pero también conozco que no soy disforme. (I see that I'm not handsome, but I also know that I'm not hideous.)

Cervantes Quotes About Memory

¡Oh, memoria, enemiga mortal de mi descanso! (Oh, memory, deadly enemy of my rest!)

No hay recuerdo que el tiempo no borre ni pena que la muerte no acabe. (There is no memory that time doesn't erase nor any sorrow that death doesn't extinguish.)

Cervantes Quotes About Foolishness

Más vale una palabra a tiempo que cien a destiempo. (One word at the right time is more valuable that 100 words at the wrong time.)

El más tonto sabe más en su casa que el sabio en la ajena. (The most foolish person knows more in his home than the wise person knows in someone else's.)

Cervantes Quotes Everyone Has Heard

Cuando una puerta se cierra, otra se abre. (When one door is closed, another is opened.)

Dijo la sartén a la caldera, quítate allá ojinegra. (The frying pan said to the cauldron, "Get out of here, black-eyed one." This is believed to be the source of the phrase "the pot calling the kettle black.")