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With great power comes great responsibility
With great power comes great responsibility
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"With great power comes great responsibility" is an ancient adage, at least as old as the first century BC in the allusion of the Sword of Damocles. The formulation has been used by journalists, authors, and other writers; and in politics, monarchic rhetoric, law enforcement, public safety, and in various media.
The paraphrase was further popularized following its appearance in Marvel Comics featuring the character Spider-Man, as well as its feature film adaptations.
1 History 1.1 Use in 2 See also 3 References 4 Further reading 5 External links
Screenshot of Wikimedia using the phrase for its guidelines for how to edit Wikipedia.
The adage particularly bears a close resemblance to the Christian bible verse of Parable of the Faithful Servant (Luke 12:48): "From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked." (Another translation: "To whomever much is given, of him will much be required; and to whom much was entrusted, of him more will be asked.")
Another expression about correlation between power of leadership and responsibility also found in a saying by Muhammad that, "Everyone of you is a leader and everyone of you will be held responsible about his subjects."
Usage of the particular wording ("great power" and "great responsibility"), however, dates back to the time of the French Revolution at the very least, as the following sentence is found in the "" ('Work, surveillance and correspondence plan') proposed by the Comité de Salut Public ('Committee of Public Safety') during the 1793 French National Convention:
Ils doivent envisager qu'une grande responsabilité est la suite inséparable d'un grand pouvoir.
They [the Representatives] must contemplate that a great responsibility is the inseparable result of a great power
However this phrase is borrowed from the works of Voltaire Volume 48 which was written before the French philosopher's passing in 1778. Complicating the matter, all the works of Voltaire, 54 volumes were not copyrighted until 1829 (first known copyright of his manuscripts). However, since Volume 48 makes the first ever direct use of this phrase "with great power comes great responsibility" and it was written during Voltaire's life (1694-1778) it follows the Comité de Salut Public manifesto was only borrowing the expression from him. Further perplexing is that Voltaire was an extremely famed writer and philosopher during his lifetime whose influence reached Catherine The Great of Russia, rumored to be one his students and disciples.
Over two decades later, in 1817, British Member of Parliament William Lamb, also known as Lord Melbourne, is recorded saying, "the possession of great power necessarily implies great responsibility."
In 1885, in his memoirs, Ulysses S. Grant wrote "In positions of great responsibility every one should do his duty to the best of his ability."
In 1899, U.S. President William McKinley used the following in his State of the Union address: "Presented to this Congress are great opportunities. With them come great responsibilities."
In 1906, Winston Churchill, as Under-Secretary of the Colonial Office, said: "Where there is great power there is great responsibility," even indicating that it was already a cultural maxim invoked toward government at the time. In 1943, now as Prime Minister, Churchill evoked the proverb once again, though less exactly: "The price of greatness is responsibility."
Though not the exact phrase, U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt wrote in a 1908 letter that "responsibility should go with power."
Meant to criticize the media barons who owned British newspapers of the time, British Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin evoked the proverb in a March 1937 speech: "Power without responsibility — the prerogative of the harlot throughout the ages.”
In his 1945 State of the Union address, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt stated that "In a democratic world, as in a democratic Nation, power must be linked with responsibility, and obliged to defend and justify itself within the framework of the general good."
Use in 
"Peter Parker principle" redirects here. Not to be confused with Peter principle.
The thematic and often-quoted phrase "with great power comes great responsibility" is widely attributed to the character Uncle Ben in comic books published by Marvel Comics featuring Spider-Man.
The phrase first appeared in #15 (1962), in which it is not spoken by any character; instead, it appears in a narrative caption of the comic's last panel (emphasis not in the original):
And a lean, silent figure slowly fades in the gathering darkness, aware at last that in this world, with great power there must also come -- great responsibility!
While Uncle Ben incidentally had just two lines in that entire comic, later stories and flashbacks that took place when Ben was still alive retroactively made the phrase one of the many homilies he would lecture Peter with. The first mention of Ben saying the phrase to Peter was in 1972, when Ron Dante (of The Archies) included it in his album . However, this attribution would not catch on in the comics for at least another decade; the earliest appearance of a direct reference to Ben telling Peter the phrase is figured to be in #1 (1987) by Jim Owsley, M. D. Bright, and Al Williamson. Even so, the first time that the phrase is explicitly spoken by Ben in a comic would not be until February 2002, when it appears in (vol. 2) #38.
With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility – Quote Investigator
With Great Power Comes Great ResponsibilityVoltaire? Spider-Man? Winston Churchill? Theodore Roosevelt? Franklin D. Roosevelt? Lord Melbourne? John Cumming? Hercules G. R. Robinson? Henry W. Haynes? Anonymous?
Dear Quote Investigator: There is a popular saying about the relationship between ascendancy and obligation:
With great power comes great responsibility.
This expression has been attributed to two very different sources: Voltaire and the Spider-Man comic book. Would you please examine its provenance?Quote Investigator: QI and other researchers have been unable to locate this statement in the oeuvre of Voltaire who died in 1778, and currently that linkage is unsupported.QI has found a strong match during the period of the French Revolution. The following passage appeared with a date of May 8, 1793 in a collection of the decrees made by the French National Convention. Boldface has been added to excerpts:
Les Représentans du peuple se rendront à leur destination, investis de la plus haute confiance et de pouvoirs illimités. Ils vont déployer un grand caractère. Ils doivent envisager qu’une grande responsabilité est la suite inséparable d’un grand pouvoir. Ce sera à leur énergie, à leur courage, et sur-tout à leur prudence, qu’ils devront leur succès et leur gloire.
Here’s one possible translation into English:
The people’s representatives will reach their destination, invested with the highest confidence and unlimited power. They will show great character. They must consider that great responsibility follows inseparably from great power. To their energy, to their courage, and above all to their prudence, they shall owe their success and their glory.
Prominent leaders such as Lord Melbourne, Winston Churchill, Teddy Roosevelt, and Franklin D. Roosevelt made similar statements in later years. Also, the appearance of an instance in a Spider-Man story in 1962 was influential in U.S. popular culture.
Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.
A thematic precursor appeared in a well-known Biblical verse: Luke 12:48. The meaning was somewhat different because it did not mention power. The New International and King James translations rendered the verse as follows:From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.
In 1793 the following statement appeared in a volume issued by the French National Convention as mentioned previously:Ils doivent envisager qu’une grande responsabilité est la suite inséparable d’un grand pouvoir.
English translation: They must consider that great responsibility follows inseparably from great power.
In 1817 a debate was held in the United Kingdom House of Commons concerning the suspension of habeas corpus, and a member named William Lamb spoke in favor of suspension. During the following decades Lamb became a powerful political figure, and ultimately he emerged as Prime Minister and now is better known as Lord Melbourne. The transcript of Lamb’s words in 1817 used quotation marks to enclose the maxim indicating that the expression was already in circulation. Please note that the modern reader will find the style of the transcript atypical because it was presented from a third-person perspective. The referent “he” was used to identify the speaker Mr. Lamb:
It was common to speak of the power of the press, and he admitted that its power was great. He should, however, beg leave to remind the conductors of the press of their duty to apply to themselves a maxim which they never neglected to urge on the consideration of government –“that the possession of great power necessarily implies great responsibility.” They stood in a high situation, and ought to consider justice and truth the great objects of their labours, and not yield themselves up to their interests or their passions.
In 1854 the Reverend John Cumming, a Minister of the Scottish National Church, published a religious text that included a thematic statement:
The order of God’s providence, and certainly the law of Christ’s Gospel, is, that wherever there is great power, lofty position, there is great responsibility, and a call to instant duty. If your house is very magnificent in its architectural splendors without, and in its furniture within, it is that you should look around you, and take care that the houses in the lanes behind shall not be so miserable and wretched as they are.
In 1858 a Masonic periodical called “The Ashlar” printed a thematic instance that re-ordered the sequence of the two key terms:
He cannot act on their judgment, but must be governed by his own. As he has great responsibility, he has great power, and is bound by the strongest obligations to maintain that power and the dignity of his office.
During a speech in 1879, Sir Hercules G. R. Robinson extended the saying by adding anxiety as an inescapable addendum:
What is the original source of the phrase 'With great power comes great responsibility'?
Answer (1 of 35): This doesn't seem to have a known origin. It is sometimes attributed to Voltaire, but evidence is lacking. It is also sometimes attributed to the character Uncle Ben in Spiderman comics in the early 1960s, from which it caught on in the USA. However, while similar sentiments wer...
What is the original source of the phrase "With great power comes great responsibility"?
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35 Answers Steve Duggan , knows English
Answered 2 years ago · Author has 1.5K answers and 4M answer views
This doesn't seem to have a known origin. It is sometimes attributed to Voltaire, but evidence is lacking. It is also sometimes attributed to the character Uncle Ben in Spiderman comics in the early 1960s, from which it caught on in the USA. However, while similar sentiments were expressed, the actual words don't appear in the comics. A number of historical figures have said similar things, that great power must be exercised with great responsibility, in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. A similar statement appears in the Bible, Luke 12:48: "From everyone who has been given much, much will be
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Jasmine Carpentieri , Student at French
Updated 2 years ago · Author has 385 answers and 885.3K answer views
It probably first appeared in a decree written during the French Revolution which, according to Quote Investigator
, dates back to 1793.
I'm going to quote Quote Investigator’s page on the matter now.
Ils doivent envisager qu’une grande responsabilité est la suite inséparable d’un grand pouvoir. Ce sera à leur énergie, à leur courage, et sur-tout à leur prudence, qu’ils devront leur succès et leur gloire.
It's just an excerpt, but it translates as: “They need to consider that great responsibility is the unavoidable consequence to a great power. That will be their energy, their courage, and most of
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Updated 2 years ago · Author has 450 answers and 2.5M answer views
Many others have provided you the answer you sought. The only thing I have to add is that the principle behind the thinking is reflected in the old French phrase, “noblesse oblige.” It reflects a fairness principle of moral economy whereby one’s personal and financial gains do not come at the loss of others’ well being.
In our own country look at existing philanthropic organizations— The Carnegie Foundation, the Ford Foundation, Kennedy Center, for example. Among the rich and the accomplished, it was an expected duty to give back to your lessors— stated in literature at least as far back as Hom
, Founder & Managing Partner at Cendana Capital
Answered 11 years ago · Author has 93 answers and 220.2K answer views
The often-quoted Spider-Man theme of "with great power comes great responsibility" is widely attributed to Uncle Ben. However, this was not initially true. In Amazing Fantasy #15, the original version of the phrase appears in a narrative caption in the comic's last panel, not as spoken dialogue. In fact, Ben has only two lines in the entire comic.
However, later stories and flashbacks that took place when Ben was still alive retroactively made the phrase one of Ben's many homilies he would lecture Peter with. Recent reinterpretations of Spider-Man, such
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, Police Officer, Mystery/True Crime Writer, Practicing Catholic, Movie Buff
Answered 2 years ago · Author has 22.4K answers and 14.3M answer views
In 1817, British Member of Parliament William Lamb said, “The possession of great power necessarily implies great responsibility.”
In 1906, this was echoed by Winston Churchill, then Under-Secretary of State for the Colonial Office, when he said, “Where there is great power, there is great responsibility.”
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Answered 2 years ago · Author has 111 answers and 35.8K answer views
May I point you to this website?
With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility