A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from February 29, 2016
“It is better to live one year as a lion than 100 years as a sheep”

"It is better to live one year as a lion than 100 years as a sheep” is a popular quotation that has been used by many people over many years, often with slightly different words. Tipu Sultan (1750-1799), a ruler of the Kingdom of Mysore, was quoted in 1800 for having said “that in this world he would rather live two days like a tiger, than two hundred years like a sheep.”

“Better live a day like a lion, than twenty years like a sheep” was cited in a 1901 article, “Notes on Italian Educational Literature” by Alexander F. Chamberlain. In the World War I Battle of the Piave River, an Italian infantryman (Bernardo Vicario and Ignazio Pisciotta are two who have been credited) wrote on a wall: “Better live one hour like a lion than a hundred years like a sheep.” The Italian Fascist government under Benito Mussolini (1883-1945) celebrated the Piave campaign by printing “Better to live one day like a lion than 100 years like a sheep!” on a 20 lire silver coin.

The “one day as a tiger” proverb is sometimes identified as Tibetan, but no source is known. The entertainer Madonna said in a 1996 interview, “As my psychiatrist likes to say, better to live one year as a tiger than 100 as a sheep.”

2016 Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump retweeted on February 28, 2016, “It is better to live one day as a lion than 100 years as a sheep.” The tweet prompted many to compare Trump to Mussolini (who did not originally say it).

“Better to die on your feet than to live on your knees” is one of many quotations that are similar in theme.

[This entry was prepared with research assistance from the Quote Investigator.]


Wikipedia: Tipu Sultan
Tipu Sultan ( Urdu:ٹیپو سلطان, Kannada : ಟಿಪ್ಪು ಸುಲ್ತಾನ್ ) (20 November 1750 – 4 May 1799), (Sultan Fateh Ali Khan Shahab) also known as the Tiger of Mysore, and Tipu Sahib, was a ruler of the Kingdom of Mysore. He was the eldest son of Sultan Hyder Ali of Mysore. Tipu introduced a number of administrative innovations during his rule, including his coinage, a new Mauludi lunisolar calendar, and a new land revenue system which initiated the growth of Mysore silk industry. Tipu expanded the iron-cased Mysorean rockets and wrote the military manual Fathul Mujahidin, considered a pioneer in the use of rocket artillery. He deployed the rockets against advances of British forces and their allies in their 1792 and 1799 Siege of Srirangapatna.

Wikiquote: Benito Mussolini
Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini (29 July 1883 – 28 April 1945) was an Italian politician, one of the key figures in the creation of Fascism. Leading the National Fascist Party he was the prime minister of Italy under Victor Emmanuel III of Italy, from 1922 until 1943, when he was overthrown; rescued by German commandos, he then became the leader of the Italian Social Republic from 1943 to until his summary execution by members of the Italian resistance in 1945.
(...)
Better to live a day as a lion than 100 years as a sheep.
. Attributed in “Duce (1922-42)” in TIME magazine (2 August 1943)
. Also quoted by Generale Armando Diaz in “Il pensiero dei leoni” in Il Carroccio. The Italian review (1922) attributed to graffiti by an unknown soldier
. Though not precisely a repetition of any of them, this is somewhat resembles far earlier remarks attributed to others:
. An army of sheep led by a lion is better than an army of lions led by a sheep.
. . Attributed to Alexander the Great, in The British Battle Fleet : Its Inception and Growth Throughout the Centuries to the Present Day (1915) by Frederick Thomas Jane
. To live like a lion for a day is far better than to live like a jackal for a hundred years.
.. Tipu Sultan, as quoted in Encyclopedia of Asian History (1988) Vol. 4, p. 104
. It is far better to live like a tiger for a day than to live like a jackal for a hundred years.
. . Tipu Sultan, as quoted in Tipu Sultan : A Study in Diplomacy and Confrontation (1982) by B. Sheikh Ali, p. 329
. I should prefer an army of stags led by a lion, to an army of lions led by a stag.
.. Chabrias , as quoted in A Treatise on the Defence of Fortified Places (1814) by Lazare Carnot, p. 50

Google Books
The Asiatic Annual Register,
Or, A View of the History of Hindustan, and of the Politics, Commerce and Literature of Asia, For the Year 1800

London: Printed for J. Debrett
1801
Pg. 164 (text states pg. 12):
He (Tippoo Sultaun—ed.) has been frequently heard to say, that in this world he would rather live two days like a tiger, than two hundred years like a sheep.

Google Books
A Full and Circumstantial Account of the Memorable Battle of Waterloo
By Christopher Kelly
London: Printed for Thomas Kelly
1817
His (Tippoo Sultan—ed.) thoughts were constantly occupied by war and military preparations: and he has frequently asserted, that he would rather live two days like a tiger, than two hundred years like a sheep; and, on this principle, he adopted the figure of the royal tiger, as the emblem of his state.

Google Books
F.D. Guerrazzi e le sue opere:
Studio storico-critico

By Ferdinando Bosio
Livorno: Tip A. B. Zecchini
1865
... perciocche niuna sentenza a cotest uomo paresse ne piu bella ne pie grande di quella che fece a caratteri di gemme scolpire intorne al gradino del suo trono il famoso Tipoo Saib; la quale suona cosi:  “Meglio vale vivere un giorno come un leone che venti anni come una pecora.”
(English: “the famous Tipoo Saib; which sounds like this: ‘It is better to live one day as a lion that twenty years as a sheep.’")

Google Books
January 1901, Pedagogical Seminary, “Notes on Italian Educational Literature” by Alexander F. Chamberlain, pg. 416:
Not in brutal, but in human terms, the school can verify the proverb, “better live a day like a lion, than twenty years like a sheep.”

Google Books
January 1917, The International Military Digest, pg. 43, col. 2:
The Centaur of Bourges pronounced in a few words his philosophy of life and death: “What is man? Nothing. What is existence? Nothing. Better to live one day as a lion than one hundred years as a rat.”
(General Nivelle in 1914.—ed.)

Google Books
The Story-teller’s Handbook
New York, NY: Italian Bureau of Public Information
1918
Pg. ?:
The writing was crude, the meaning was sublime. No doubt it confirmed the readers in the resolution to resist to the death rather than to give way, to give the full measure of their valor when the hour of the fray had come.

The simple words he wrote were: “Better live one hour like a lion than a hundred years like a sheep.” Simple words, epic words; simplicity and the epic go hand in hand and have a telling effect on the unsophisticated Italian soldiers, by whom any appeal to their better, higher nature is promptly obeyed.

21 November 1921. Chicago (IL) Daily Tribune, “Tribute Is Paid Italy’s Hero as Chicago’s Own,” pg. 1, col. 1:
“A few months later I read the inscriptions printed on two walls along the Piave. One was, ‘All heroes or all dead,’ and the other, ‘Better to live one day as a lion than 100 years as a sheep.’”
(Generalissimo Armando Diaz.—ed.)

3 July 1928, Washington (DC) Post, “Italy to Strike Coin For War Anniversary,” pg. 3, col. 4:
Rome, July 2 (A.P.).—Coin collectors will soon have a novelty on the market when the new Italian 20 lire silver piece, just ordered struck to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the war victory, makes its appearance.

It will bear as motto the saying of an unknown infantryman of the Piave campaign: “Better to live one day like a lion than 100 years like a sheep!” The Fascist emblem of the ax and lictor’s rods will figure in the design, with the dates “1918-1926 and the Year VI” of the Fascist era. The value of the issue will be 500,000,000 lire, or about $26,315,000.

Google Books
The Medical Critic and Guide
Volumes 30-31
1932
Pg. 146:
It is better to live one day as a lion than a hundred years as a sheep. (Thus does Mussolini try to infuse courage into the Italians.)

Google Books
2 September 1966, Life magazine, “Days of Wine and Machiavelli” (book review),
“BETTER LIVE ONE DAY AS A LION than 100 years as a lamb” he edits with a paintbrush to “BETTER TO LIVE 100 YEARS—Bombolini, Mayor.”

Google Books
January 1996, SPIN, pg. 94, col. 3:
“Or, as my psychiatrist likes to say, better to live one year as a tiger than 100 as a sheep.”
(Madonna.—ed.)

Google Books
A Dictionary of Proverbs
Edited by Jennifer Speake
New York, NY: Oxford University Press
2008
Pg. ?:
BETTER to live one day as a tiger than a thousand years as a sheep
Recorded as the view of Tipu Sahib c. 1750-99, sultan of Mysore in India; see quot. 1800.
1800 A BEATSON View of Origin and Conduct of War with Tippoo Sultaun x. 153 ‘In this world I would rather live two days like a tiger, than two hundred years like a sheep.’

Google+
Leodor Selenier
Shared publicly - Nov 27, 2015
Better to live one year as a Tiger,
than a hundred as a sheep.
~ Madonna
(...)
COMMENTS
Leodor Selenier Nov 28, 2015
Dear, +Tomek Tomix and +ibn e Adam, so far I found this proverb as:

1. “It is far better to live like a tiger for a day than to live like a jackal for a hundred years” by Sultan Tipu

2. “Better to live a day as a lion than 100 years as a sheep.” by Benito Mussolini

3. “It is better to live one day as a lion than a thousand days as a lamb.” - Roman proverb

4. “It is better to be a tiger for one day than a sheep for a thousand years.” - Tibetan Maxim.

5. ...
...But, well… to be honest, whatever the author is, the idea behind those words is the same. smile

Gawker
How We Fooled Donald Trump Into Retweeting Benito Mussolini
Alex Pareene
February 28, 2016 11:03am Filed to: DONALD TRUMP
Is Donald Trump a fascist? Experts, historians, and pundits have debated the question for months. One thing has been certain for a while now: He tweets like one. That’s why, last year, Gawker’s Ashley Feinberg created a Twitter bot that would post quotes from the writings and speeches of the Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, but with all of them attributed to businessman and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

The Local (Italy)
Trump sparks furore for tweeting Mussolini ‘lion’ quote
Published: 29 Feb 2016 11:41 GMT+01:00
Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for the US presidential elections, has created controversy by retweeting a quote from Italy’s Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini.

Trump’s official Twitter account retweeted a quote from an account under Mussolini’s nickname, Il Duce, which even has as its profile photo a portrait of the famously bald dictator with Trump’s wispy hair photo-shopped onto his hairless pate.

The quote read: “It’s better to live one day as a lion than a thousand years as a sheep,” a saying often attributed to Mussolini, who was fond of the expression and used it in a 1922 speech.

Antiwar.com
The Lion and the Sheep
Why they hate Trump

by Justin Raimondo, February 29, 2016
On June 14, 1918, a nineteen year old Italian soldier by the name of Bernardo Vicario was ordered by his commander, Carl Rigoli, to carry out a curious task. Outnumbered and outgunned, the Italian forces would soon be hit with a furious bombardment that would mean the death of most of them. Rigoli clearly knew this, which is why he told young Bernardo to write an inscription on the ruined wall of a home in the village of Fagare, where they were holed up:

“Better to live one day as a lion than a hundred years as a sheep.”

Rigoli perished in the battle: Bernardo lived to tell the tale. And almost a hundred years later, a researcher looking for ways to smear GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump stumbled across a reference to it and attributed it to Benito Mussolini, the Italian dictator.

Free Republic
The author of the line was Ignazio Pisciotta, an officer of Bersaglieri, serving as a staff officer at the Piave in 1918. He wrote the original grafitti. So on its face its Mussolini’s only at second hand.
However its not that simple. Mussolini, a veteran, led what amounted to a veterans movement, filled with, especially, ex-elite soldiers like the Arditi. A lot of the Great War military culture made its way into the fascist movement, including much of the wartime propaganda, and for that matter Italian fascism wasn’t much more than 19th century fanatical Italian nationalism-irredentism on steroids and out of patience.
This was a very common slogan of the regime, in fact it became a popular Italian saying. So its hard to say that there isn’t a fascist connection.
Of course the really silly thing is that people think anything of it. They quote Napoleon all the time, and he was a much nastier man than Mussolini.
3 posted on 2/29/2016, 5:39:23 PM by buwaya

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • Monday, February 29, 2016 • Permalink