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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Monument of Alexander The Great in Štip, Republic of Macedonia

Greatness is a concept heavily dependent on a person's perspective and biases. Whether someone or something is Great or not depends from subjective judgements of the value of one person or thing as compared to another.[1]

The concept can be used to emphasise perceived superiority of a person or thing. In Europe, lauded rulers were given the attribute "the Great" (as in Alfred the Great and Peter the Great); during the Roman era and Middle Ages, meanwhile, the Latin equivalent "Magnus" was used (as in Albertus Magnus and Alexander the Great). The greatest art and literary works, similarly, have entered the English language as magna opera, literally " Great works" in Latin.


Naming Great

Naming examples of Great people, things, and places is by its nature subjective. Lists or labels are often formulated by panels of experts, polls or, individuals. These attempts are never definitive as they are subject to opinion. Some examples are:


  1. ^ Jerry L. Walls (2007). "The Wizard versus The General". in Jerry L. Walls, Gregory Bassham, and Dick Vitale. Basketball and philosophy. University Press of Kentucky. pp. 129. ISBN 0813124352. 

Further reading

  • Hans J. Morgenthau (1995). "The Nature of Greatness". in Kenneth W. Thompson. Great American presidents. Lanham, MD: University Press of America. ISBN 0819198854. 
  • Voltaire (1838). "Grand, Grandeur". Dictionnaire philosophique. Paris: Imprimerie de Cosse et Gaultier-Laguionie. pp. 563–564.  — available in translation as:
    • Voltaire (1843). "Great — Greatness". A Philosophical Dictionary from the French of M. Voltaire. I. London: W. Dugdale. pp. 596–598. 

See also



Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Greatness or preeminence is a concept that is heavily dependent on a person's perspective and biases. The term can be used to emphasize perceived superiority of a person or thing. In Europe the most lauded rulers were given the attribute the Great (e.g. Alfred the Great, Peter the Great, Taylor the Great), or during the Roman Era and Middle Ages, the Latin title for the Great (Magnus) was used (e.g. Albertus Magnus).


Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895)

Reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895).

  • The greatest man is he who chooses the right with the most invincible resolution; who resists the sorest temptation from within and without; who bears the heavest burdens cheerfully; who is calmest in storms, and most fearless under menaces and frowns; whose reliance on truth, on virtue, and on God is most unfaltering.
  • Greatness lies not in being strong, but in the using of strength.
  • True greatness does not consist so much in doing extraordinary things, as in conducting ordinary affairs with a noble demeanor and from a right motive. It is necessary and most profitable to remember the advice to Titus, " Showing all good fidelity in all things."
    • Elias Lyman Magoon, p. 292.
  • A solemn and religious regard to spiritual and eternal things is an indispensable element of all true greatness.
  • He who does the most good is the greatest man. Power, authority, dignity; honors, wealth, and station,— these are so far valuable as they put it into the hands of men to be more exemplary and more useful than they could be in an obscure and private life. But then these are means conducting to an end, and that end is goodness.
    • Bishop Jortin, p. 293.
  • A great man, I take it, is a man so inspired and permeated with the ideas of God and the Christly spirit as to be too magnanimous for vengeance, and too unselfish to seek his own ends.
  • He is truly great that is great in charity. He is truly great that is little in himself, and maketh no account of any height of honor. And he is truly learned that doeth the will of God, and forsaketh his own will.
  • It is, in a great measure, by raising up and endowing great minds that God secures the advance of human affairs, and the accomplishment of His own plans on earth.
  • There is but one method, and that is hard labor.


  • To accomplish great things, we must dream as well as act.
  • It's not the great who are strong, it's the strong who are great.
  • All great things are simple, and many can be expressed in single words: freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope.
  • Be not afraid of greatness: some men are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them.
  • Greatness, in spite of its name, appears not to be so much a certain size as a certain quality in human lives. It may be present in lives whose range is very small.
Look up greatness in Wiktionary, the free dictionary


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