Weird History
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12 Quotes From History So Savage They Sound Made Up - But Aren't

Updated September 23, 2021 117.3k votes 21k voters 1.1m views12 items

List RulesVote up the historical quotes you can't believe someone said - but are glad they did.

Some of the most savage quotes from history come from people you may know. It's no secret that men like Teddy Roosevelt and Gen. George S. Patton were willing to speak their minds. The origin of the laconic phrase, however, is derived from the pure terse nature of Spartan dialogue - resulting in some pretty savage quotes from other historical figures, as well.

When Redditors offered their favorite savage history quotes for consideration, it was a mix of lore, movie quotes, and actual lines uttered by people from the past. Mostly made up of revolutionary and battlefield quotes, the phrases below may strike you as brave or defiant. They could very well offer some historical truth and validity. Regardless, which ones are you pretty glad entered historical consciousness at all? 

  • Photo: US Army / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    From Redditor u/Gimli_the-White

    Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower to Patton: "You are to bypass the city of Trier, as it will take four divisions to capture it."

    Gen. George S. Patton's reply: "Have taken Trier with two divisions. What do you want me to do? Give it back?"

    Context: From his expletive-laden speeches intended to rally troops to comments made back to his colleague, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, Gen. George Patton was never one to mince words. After seizing the city of Trier on March 1, 1945, Patton received orders from Eisenhower telling him that he needn't take the city for the Allies.

    Eisenhower was aware of Patton's fighting style and aggressive tactics, even referring to him as a "problem child," but also considered Patton "indispensable to the war effort and one of the guarantors of our victory." Patton's reply, perhaps, came as no surprise to his superior officer.

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  • 2

    Sparta's Clear - And Dismissive - Response To Philip II Of Macedon

    From Redditor u/AxtionJaxon07

    Phillip II of Macedon to Sparta: "You are advised to submit without further delay, for if I bring my army into your land, I will destroy your farms, slay your people, and raze your city."

    Sparta: "If."

    Context: As Philip II of Macedon (d. 336 BC) made his way through Greece during the fourth century BC, he systematically brought individual city-states under his control. When he wrote to Sparta to offer them a peaceful alternative to destruction, he was met with a single word.

    Characteristic of Spartan asceticism and recorded in Plutarch's De Garrulitate, "the laconic way of speech has nothing of bark upon it, but by cutting off all superfluity of words, it becomes steeled and sharpened to pierce the understanding of the hearers."

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  • Photo: Pach Bros. / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    From Redditor u/KiltMan34: "Friends, I shall ask you to be as quiet as possible. I don’t know whether you fully understand that I have just been shot - but it takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose."

    Context: On a presidential campaign stop in Milwaukee, WI, in 1912, Teddy Roosevelt was shot in the chest as he made his way to a speaking event - an obligation he met before going to the hospital. The folded pages of his speech - some 50 pieces of paper - and the case for his glasses were both in his breast pocket, slowing the bullet and, ultimately, saving his life. 

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  • Photo: Caroline Watson and Jean-François Gilles Colson / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
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    18th-Century Humorist Samuel Foote Taking Verbal Jabs At Everyone, Statesmen Included

    From Redditor u/azdac7

    The Earl of Sandwich: "You, sir, will certainly either die upon the gallows or of some sexual disease."

    John Wilkes: "That depends, sir, upon whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

    Context: The Redditor attributes these lines to John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich, and John Wilkes, a radical member of Parliament. These two people may have entered into the exchange, but the earliest accounts of the back-and-forth come from The European Magazine in 1784. In this publication, the disease comment is posed as more of a question and the witty retort comes from actor Samuel Foote. 

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