Age of the Sage site banner

The pen is mightier than the sword

The origin, or source, of this quotation

The origin, or source, of the " The pen is mightier than the sword " quotation is attributed by Edward Bulwer-Lytton and appears in his play Richelieu; Or the Conspiracy of 1839:
True, This! -
Beneath the rule of men entirely great,
The pen is mightier than the sword. Behold
The arch-enchanters wand! - itself a nothing! -
But taking sorcery from the master-hand
To paralyse the Caesars, and to strike
The loud earth breathless! - Take away the sword -
States can be saved without it!

Some undeniably famous persons have suggested that ~ The pen is mightier than the sword ~ even where the qualifying circumstance ~ beneath the rule of men entirely great ~ does not hold.

"…many wearing rapiers are afraid of goose-quills and dare scarce come thither."
William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act II, Scene II, 1600.
(Shakespeare wrote his works with goose-quill pens).

"Give me twenty-six lead soldiers and I will conquer the world."
This is often attributed to Benjamin Franklin.
(Franklin had worked in a printing business, with alphabetic movable type ~ to compose words, sentences, and finished articles ~ as a youth and as a young man in the middle years of the eighteenth century).

"Go on doing with your pen what in other times was done with the sword: shew that reformation is more practicable by operating on the mind than on the body of man…"
Thomas Jefferson in a letter to Thomas Paine of 1796.

"There are only two powers in the world, sabre and mind; at the end, sabre is always defeated by mind.
Napoleon Bonaparte ~ Soldier, and Emperor of France, in the early nineteenth century.

"…the ink of the wise is a match for the sword of the strong."
Giuseppe Mazzini ~ who was a political and social activist in the Italian peninsula, and Europe, from circa 1830.

"The pen is mightier than the sword if the sword is very short, and the pen is very sharp."
Terry Pratchett

page content divider


Some food for thought:

"The pen is mightier than the sword, but the tongue is mightier than them both put together."
Marcus Garvey

page content divider


More food for thought:

"There's neither honesty, manhood, nor good fellowship in thee."
William Shakespeare

metaphysics, tripartite human nature and darwinism


Much more consideration is possible on this:-

Plato, Socrates and Shakespeare endorse a Tripartite Soul view of Human Nature