He who first uttered the boast was a public benefactor, and every man who repeated the aphorism, and believed it, furthered a good work, and helped to build up the structure of his country's greatness.
-- Charles Mackay, The gouty philosopher
The aphorism wants to deflate our pretensions, to pull us "back to earth," by challenging us to change the way we live.
-- Carl Rakosi, The collected prose of Carl Rakosi
Aphorism comes from the Greek aphorismós, "definition."