“Was man, indeed, at once so powerful, so virtuous, and magnificent, yet so vicious and base? He appeared at one time a mere scion of the evil principle and at another as all that can be conceived of noble and godlike. To be a great and virtuous man appeared the highest honour that can befall a sensitive being; to be base and vicious, as many on record have been, appeared the lowest degradation, a condition more abject than that of the blind mole or harmless worm.”
—from Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
[Virgil speaking to Dante]:
“‘My son, there’s no Creator and no creature
Who ever was without love—natural
Or mental; and you know that,’ he began.
‘The natural is always without error,
But mental love may choose an evil object
Or err through too much or too little vigor.
As long as it’s directed toward the First Good
And tends toward secondary goods with measure,
It cannot be the cause of evil pleasure;
But when it twists toward evil, or attends
To good with more or less care than it should,
Those whom He made have worked against their Maker.
From this you see that—of necessity—
Love is the seed in you of every virtue
And of all acts deserving punishment.'”
—from Canto XVII Dante’s Purgatorio by Dante Alighieri
“”When you stopped believing in God . . . did you stop believing in good and evil?’
‘No. But I stopped believing there was a power of good and a power of evil that were outside us. And I came to believe that good and evil are names for what people do, not for what they are. All we can say is that this is a good deed, because it helps someone, or that’s an evil one, because it hurts them. People are too complicated to have simple labels.'”
—from The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman