On my bag, I have a quote: Be not inhospitable to strangers lest they be angels in disguise. I thought the quote was from Shakespeare on my bag.

However, it is also a quote from the bible.

If I repeat the quote, am I quoting the bible or my bag?

  • Is this an academic question or a hypothetical? Is there a particular citation style that you're following? Commented Dec 18, 2013 at 22:52
  • 2
    I'd say that you're quoting your bag and your bag is quoting the Bible; or that you are quoting the Bible indirectly.
    – Hellion
    Commented Dec 18, 2013 at 22:54
  • anotherdave: It was in casual conversation
    – Florence
    Commented Dec 18, 2013 at 23:12
  • hellion: thanks, if you had to be specific and say either bag or bible which do you think is better?
    – Florence
    Commented Dec 18, 2013 at 23:13
  • If you don't know the original source and only know it from your bag, then you're quoting your bag.
    – Hellion
    Commented Dec 18, 2013 at 23:16

1 Answer 1


The Bible was written long before the time of Shakespeare. Hebrews 13:2 (KJV):

Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

George Whitman, an American, bought Shakespeare & Company, a fabled English-language bookstore on the Left Bank in Paris, and a magnet for writers, poets and tourists for close to 60 years.

He welcomed visitors with large-print messages on the walls. “Be not inhospitable to strangers, lest they be angels in disguise,” was one. Though it has been mistakenly attributed to Yeats, it was not written by him, but by Mr. Whitman, who was quoting the Bible.

That may be why the name Shakespeare was on your bag.


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