Adversity Quotes

According to the Dictionary of the Royal Spanish Academy of Language you can define the word “adversity” as the unfortunate situation or moment that someone transits. In this sense, in the Spanish language, the word adversity can be used as a synonym for misfortune, backhand or simple bad luck.

On this occasion we wanted to gather adversity quotes, pronounced or written by the greatest intellectuals, writers and artists of all time, so that we could have an idea of how they have perceived this situation over generations. Here are some of the highlights about Adversity:


There is no one less fortunate than the man to whom adversity forgets, for he has no chance to test himself. (Seneca)

In this prayer, this Latin Philosopher who lived during the years 2 BC until 65 AD, expresses the formative character that adversity has in life. In this sense, Seneca states that setbacks or problems should not be seen as bad luck, but as the opposite, because they are the opportunity in which the individual can prove, while discovering what he is made of, that is to say what his qualities and strengths are , as well as their weaknesses.

For this reason an individual who does not present problems in his life, difficultly – unlike the popular feeling – can be considered fortunate, for mistakes and adversities will not give him the experience necessary to accumulate wisdom.

Rainer Maria Rilke

Turn your wall into a rung. (Rainer Maria Rilke)

For his part, this Austecan author of the early twentieth century, expresses in a rather metaphorical phrase what the individual can do to turn setbacks into opportunities.

In this way Rilke expresses that one of the ways in which we can solve the walls or walls against which we collide, is to climb or climb them, to turn them into steps that make us ascend. With the same sense of opportunity and education, Rilke also points out in adversity, the perfect opportunity to grow in life.


Adversity is our mother; prosperity is only our stepmother. (Montesquieu)

With the same formative sense that Seneca, this 18th-century writer, affirms that we are children of adversity. Montesquieu probably means that life is designed to train the human based on adversity, because it is this that brings the most experience to the individual, who, trying to get around it, learns how to assume life, while forming his character and he knows himself likewise.

Likewise, Montesquieu’s intention may be related to warning the human being not to get used to moments of happiness and fortune, for this is just a stepmother that we see from time to time, while our real mother – with whom we have a a real and deep bond- is adversity, which stops us, educates us and forms us throughout life.


We test gold on fire, we distinguish our friends in adversity. (Isocrates)

In another order of ideas, this Athenoan speaker who lived between 436 BC and 338 BC talks about the importance of having good friends during adverse moments, as well as the revelatory nature of adversity to really show us who we can Count.

Thus, as popular wisdom now says today, at the time Isocrates also compared good friends to Gold, to whom the fire of adversity subjects to the harshest trials, and yet they continue to be gold and worth what he does.


The most insolent in prosperity are in adversity the most fearful. (Fénelon)

So too, this 17th-century French writer recalls a rather peculiar situation that occurs with those individuals full of ego and arrogance, who during moments of happiness and success humiliate and spread insolence in their surroundings, not counting with which life turns and nothing is eternal, which causes when the days when adversity reigns appear to become the most cowardly beings, for – if we rely on Fenelon’s thought – the insolent are only brave when they have the wind in favor.

Manuel Machado

Fatigues, but not so many, that by force of many blows until the iron is broken. (Manuel Machado)

However, unlike his predecessors who praised adversity, this contemporary Spanish poet, who lived between 1874 and 1947, presents a different vision, where he accepts the need for fatigues and setbacks in life, at the same time he states that it is also not good to abuse them, because just as the blacksmith’s blows serve to strengthen the iron, so this – referring to the human spirit – can end up weakening and breaking.

In this sense we can infer from Machado’s phrase the need of the human heart to drink from sources other than adversity, pain or sadness, for sometimes it is also necessary to nourish our souls with happiness, joy, satisfaction and other positive feelings, for not only adversity has the ability to feed our character.

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Bibliography ► (September 18, 2019). Adversity Quotes. Bogotá: E-Cultura Group. Recovered from