Let’s find out adversity is the first path to truth meaning:
The pithy quote “Adversity is the first path to truth” is taken from English poet George Gordon Byron’s humorous and satiric poem “Don Juan“.
To be precise, the quote is from canto XII(12), stanza L(50). source
What does adversity is the first path to truth mean?
Let’s find out my definition of this adversity quote as taken from Lord Byron’s stanza:
The eight lines of stanza 50 reads:
And these vicissitudes tell best in youth;
For when they happen at a riper age,
People are apt to blame the Fates, forsooth,
And wonder Providence is not more sage.
Adversity is the first path to truth:
He who hath proved war, storm, or woman’s rage,
Whether his winters be eighteen or eighty,
Hath won the experience which is deem’d so weighty.
I will explain it in my own words, together with the key words from the stanza in the bracket.
It means the unpredictable and challenging changes that happen at different times during our life (vicissitudes) beginning in youth.
As people get older (riper age), they are likely to blame life’s ups and downs (Fate) and even start to doubt whether there is such a thing as care and control from God (Providence).
When people are faced with harsh reality (Adversity), they would inevitably (first path) have to deal with it realistically (truth).
Those who have experienced (proved) distressful, fearful or violent situations (war, storm, or woman’s rage) have overcome (won) daunting difficulties (winter, weighty) , regardless of one’s what age (eighteen or eighty).
So, from the line “Adversity is the first path to truth” above, it means, when we are in dire straits, our immediate solution is based on fact or the truth of the matter or situation as you see it.
Similarly, what Lord Byron could also mean that, when we face adversity (in a state or instance of serious or continued difficulty or misfortune), we would certainly turn to our true self to fix it.
Since we are the one who are struggling with the problem, we have to deal with it our way.
As a result, your hardship will instantly reveal your true self, character or temperament.
How you react and grapple with adversity, would show your strength, weaknesses, wisdom, intelligence, acuity or wit.
When life throws you lemons, it doesn’t matter, you make lemonade, go bananas, or you don’t give a fig.
How you bear the brunt of your setbacks or how you overcome your tribulations, or even evading your woes, all these speak volume about you.
I am sure you have read or heard the popular misquote:
“Adversity introduces a man to himself.” – Anonymous
Note: As you know the concept of truth is one truly (pun intended) big complex subject; discussed and debated in several contexts, including philosophy, art, theology, and science.
By the way, as according to American writer and orator Robert Green Ingersoll, it is power and not just adversity that really reveals our true self.
“Most people can bear adversity. But if you wish to know what a man really is, give him power. This is the supreme test.” – Robert Green Ingersoll
(The works Of Robert G. Ingersoll, Alexandria, Egypt: Library Of Alexandria, 1907, XIV) source
(The quote is also found in: The works Of Robert G. Ingersoll, Complete, Edited And Compiled By David Widger, In Twelve Volumes, New York: The Dresden Publication Co., 1900, Vol. III, Abraham Lincoln, XVI) source
Talking about power, you might like to check out the book “The 48 Laws of Power” by Robert Greene over here.
* Read my list of triumph over adversity quotes linking to reliable sources.