Tracing the origin of an internet quote
So I saw this quote on twitter
"Justice will only be achieved when those who are not injured by crime feel as indignant as those who are."
–Solomon (635-577 B.C.)
Which I though was a real effective quote relating the importance of those with privilege to understand the problems that they don't experience themselves.
However, I wondered if this was a real quote.
But they only cite the who and sometimes when, but I could not find a citation of the written volume this quote would be from. It certainly has not been passed by word of mouth for 2,500 years, not to mention wikipedia has Solomon's reign 970–931 BC. So it seems pretty safe to say this was not a factual citation.
I searched more for just the elements of the quote, I came across
"Justice will not come to Athens until those who are not injured are as indignant as those who are injured."
–Thucydides (c.460 - 400 BC) The History of the Peloponnesian War, 431—413 BC.
This time I had a text citation! It was a slightly different quote referencing athens, but it looked better for having a real text listed. However, I searched this text on project gutenberg, I discovered that the quote was not there. I try searching just the references of justice or indignant...nothing. I also found many more erroneous internet citations of Thucydides.*******
At this point I come across another version of the quote
"Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are."
Including a blog posting skepticism of the quote.
"A nice quotation but not from Ben Franklin (as usually attributed)."
–James C Morton Past President of the Ontario Bar Association.
The comments amusingly included this:
"The problem with internet quotes is that you can't always depend on their accuracy"
–Abraham Lincoln, 1864
Which made me wonder is there a way to figure out legitimate quotes. I found an interesting article Misquotes: Searching for Authenticity Online. It referenced some good online sources, in particular Google Books. What I found facinating when I started using google books search was that the quote didn't have to be exact for the search to work. And I found many books, all after the late 90s, misattributed to Solomon**, Thucydides***, and again Ben Franklin*****.
But in that search I also found something published in 1983. * A Conference on criminal justice reform: the proceedings : an edited transcript of a conference held by the Free Congress Foundation's Institute for Government and Politics on September 27, 1983*:
there is a quote from Plato that seems a appropriate. "Justice will be achieved when those who are not injured fee as indigant as those who are"
Now Plato! I decided this demonstrated that misattribution is not an internet only artifact. But at least it gave me another avenue to search for. And somehow with the plato search Google took me to an internet site that had a legitimate citation for this quote.
Solon (the Lawgiver) c640 - c556 BC Statesman of Athens, writer of its compassionate legal code.
Wrongdoing can only be avoided if those who are not wronged feel the same indignation at it as those who are. –Greek Wit (F. Paley)
Eurkea! Greek Wit, 1881 is available on the Internet Archive!
Greek Wit cites that the quote is from Iohannis Stobaei Florilegium however I could not find a published translation into english online, but I'll take Frederick Apthorp Paley's word for it that this is the actual source of the quote.
There really needs to be a Stack Exchange site for determining the origin of quotes on the internet.