Quotes / Written by the Winners

"If I win, I'm a prodigy. If I lose, then I'm mad. That's the way history is written."

"The first casualty in war is always the truth."
Attributed to many, likely Aeschylus (perhaps he was the winner)

"If Kira is caught, then Kira is evil. If he wins and rules the world, Kira is justice."
Light Yagami, Death Note

“The difference between treason and patriotism is only a matter of dates.”

Eddard Stark: What you suggest is high treason.
Littlefinger: Only if we lose.

Londo: Mass drivers?? They have been outlawed by every civilized planet!
Lord Refa: These are uncivilized times.
Londo: We have treaties!
Refa: Ink on a page.
Babylon 5, "The Long, Twilight Struggle"

Dukat. It takes a great man to admit he's wrong. And that's what Ghemor did. I'm speaking of his last minute change of heart — his deathbed decision to embrace the new Dominion government.
Sisko: That's very moving, except for one small problem: It never happened.
Weyoun: As you say, it's a small problem.
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, "Ties of Blood and Water"'

"Traitors who prevail are patriots; usurpers who succeed are divine emperors.”

"I do not believe that the Roman lower classes deserve the vituperation they have received from Roman (and Greek) writers, especially Cicero, from whom so much of our historical tradition about Late Republican political life derives. If indeed they were to some extent demoralised and depraved, it was largely because the oligarchy had made it impossible for them to be anything else, and perhaps preferred them to be so, as our ancestors preferred to keep the English labouring classes ignorant and uneducated and without a voice in the government until well on in the nineteenth century. What chance did the humble Roman have of acquiring a sense of political responsibility? The unfortunate thing is that we can virtually never feel we are seeing things as they really were: our sources normally present us with a mere stock caricature."
G. E. M. de Ste. Croix, The Class Struggle in the Ancient Greek World.

The important thing is that the glory of the winners’ ascendant fortune gives everything of theirs — even their dress, their gait, their conversationa radiance that makes them desirable. And people do not merely adopt them, but are proud to adopt them. Then they bring forth, by means of intellectual arguments, many benefits of this.
Muḥammad Ḥusain Āzād, quoted in Nets of Awareness: Urdu Poetry and Its Critics by Frances Pritchett, reflecting on the triumph of The British Empire.

"He who controls the past, controls the future; he who controls the present, controls the past."

"Half of history is hiding the truth."
Malcolm Reynolds, Serenity

Elphaba, where I'm from, we believe all sorts of things that aren't true. We call it "history."
A man's called a traitor - or liberator
A rich man's a thief - or philanthropist
Is one a crusader - or ruthless invader?
It's all in which label
Is able to persist

There's an ancient Indian saying that something lives only as long as the last person who remembers it. My people have come to trust memory over history. Memory, like fire, is radiant and immutable while history only serves those who seek to control it, those who would douse the flame of memory in order to put out the dangerous fire of truth. Beware these men, for they are dangerous themselves ... and unwise. Their false history is written in the blood of those who might remember it and of those who seek the truth.
Albert Hosteen, The X-Files episode "The Blessing Way"

"Historians in England will say I am a liar, but history is written by those who have hanged heroes."
Robert the Bruce, Braveheart

"Our history is nothing more than what the losers settle for!"
The Death Eaters in A Very Potter Sequel

"It is easy to rewrite history when the few who know the truth are unable to make themselves heard."
Phantom, Last Scenario

Perhaps you will be proven correct. Perhaps not. Ultimately, the claim goes to the strongest, does it not? In the final sort of things, I mean. He who remains alive, remains alive to write the histories in a light favorable to him and his cause. Surely as worldly as you are, you know well the histories of the world, Master Wingham. Surely you recognize that armies carrying banners are almost always thieves-until they win.

And so it is true that we can manipulate our own reality. We can persuade, even deceive. We can make others view us in dishonest ways. We can hide selfishness with charity, make a craving for acceptance into magnanimity, and amplify our smile to coerce a hesitant lover. The world is illusion, and often delusion, as victors write the histories and the children who die quietly under the stamp of a triumphant army never really existed. The robber baron becomes philanthropist in the final analysis, by bequeathing only that for which he had no more use. The king who sends young men and women to die becomes beneficent with the kiss of a baby. Every problem becomes a problem of perception to those who understand that reality, in reality, is what you make reality to be.

"I'm talking ideals. ...Forget it, we've both heard enough speeches about higher causes by now. History will decide who is right. End of story."
Samuel 'Jetstream' Rodrigues to Raiden before Jetstream's Boss Battle, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance

"And he who controls the battlefield, controls history."

"The legends paint the Antarans as ruthless, xenophobic killers, but we all know that history is written by the victors."
Ectron Victor, Master of Orion

Commander: "You cheated. Even the knights of the North will not shake your hand."
Dunedain: "Of course they won’t, since they will be kneeling before the new King of Gondor! I beat you in an honest fight, one on one – so it shall be written in all the history books. As for you, they won’t even remember your name, I’ll make sure of that. Actually, we can make it even more interesting: let you be killed by a midget, some tiny little dwarf with hairy paws. Or by a broad... yes, that’s how we’ll do it."
Aragorn in The Last Ringbearer

"History is a procession of victories by the strong over the weak. It is not that the weak never win, but only that, in winning, they become the strong. In winning they control the writing of history. So, they were always strong. History is strength."
Trevor Goodchild, the Herodotus File(Ćon Flux)

Dakh'thoulan Aegis: History is written by the strong and influential.
Player Character: What does that mean?
Dakh'thoulan Aegis: It means we cannot always believe what we are told to believe. You would do well to remember that.

"This is for the record. History is written by the victor. History is filled with liars. If he lives and we die, his truth becomes written - and ours is lost. Shepherd will be a hero. 'Cause all you need to change the world is one good lie and a river of blood. He's about to complete the greatest trick a liar ever played on history. His truth will be the truth. But only if he lives, and we die."
Captain Price, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

Chrom: That was Arvis... the villain in every Jugdrali saga I've ever heard. ...So why does he come across as so pleasant?
Avatar: History decides heroes and villains on a different basis than reality. Perhaps the stories got Arvis wrong. He did lose out in the end, after all...
— Intro dialogue for Lost Bloodlines 2, Fire Emblem Awakening

“I love how the so-called ‘good’ guys get to revise events to make stuff more convenient for them.”
Skitter, Worm Colony 15.6

“Until lions have their historians, tales of the hunt shall always glorify the hunter.”
African proverb

"History does not speak of the weak." ("Dos fracos não reza a história")
Portuguese proverb

"Treason doth never prosper, what's the reason? Why, if it prosper, none dare call it treason."
Sir John Harrington

"Of course history will be kind to me, for I intend to write it."
Winston Churchill (Newsflash: he did. Literally.)

"History would be something extraordinary, if only it were true.”

"It is not truth that matters, but victory."

"...in Samuel Eliot Morison's history of Columbus—you know, big Harvard historian—he talks about what a great man Columbus was, terrific person and so on, and then he has this little line saying, of course Columbus did set off a program of what he calls 'complete genocide', and he was a major mass-murder himself, but that was only a minor flaw, he was really a terrific seaman, this and that and the other thing."
Noam Chomsky, Understanding Power

"We will go down in history either as the world's greatest statesmen or its worst villains."

As a young man, I revered historical records and treated them as fact. I followed in the footsteps of Herodotus, and I sought to experience history first-hand, even when it meant taking dangerous leaps through time and space, aided by chemical agents that are, at best, prohibited. I came to realise at last something fundamental: history is interpretation. There's no singular truth. There are no facts. History isn't only written by the victor; it's rewritten by subsequent victors, or losers who come into possession of the victors' texts, or-or-or the mistresses of victors who figured they'd write themselves into history to ensure immortality!
Iain Tibet Gladstone, The Secret World

What I'm doing here is good for my people if I get results. If I save them. Y'see, there is no H and Younger. There's only victory and defeat. The winner gets to take the moral high-ground because they get to write the history books. The loser just loses.
H, Unthinkable

Waging war is no sin — losing a war is
Walter Gerlitz, Dies Irae

"Nations are not communities and never have been. The history of any country, presented as the history of a family, conceals the fierce conflicts of interest (sometimes exploding, often repressed) between conquerors and conquered, masters and slaves, capitalists and workers, dominators and dominated in race and sex. And in such as world of conflict, a world of victims and executioners, it is the job of thinking people, as Albert Camus suggested, not to be on the side of the executioners.”
Howard Zinn, A People's History of the United States

"And all these things are swept aside
By bloody hands time can't deny
And are washed away by your genocide
And history hides the lies of our civil wars"
Guns N' Roses, "Civil War"

Crusher: Washington was a military general, not a terrorist.
Finn: The difference between generals and terrorists, Doctor, is only the difference between winners and losers. You win, you're called a general. You lose...
Crusher: You are killing innocent people! Can't you see the immorality of what you're doing, or have you killed so much you've become blind to it?
Star Trek: The Next Generation, "The High Ground"

Gregers: There's two sides to every story.
Gregers: Then it's up to us, I guess.

"Rewrite the book and rule the pages,
Saving face, secured in faith.
Bury, burn the waste behind you."
R.E.M., "Cuyahoga"

"Though its face may change throughout the ages, history is written from the hand of the victor.
By your actions this day... You ensure our people a glorious tomorrow."
Sid Meier's Civilization VI, if you win a Domination victory

Mido: Losing the proxy battle means I withdraw our forces, relinquish Hokuto, and that Pandora's Box is the shared property of the three nations! I agreed to those conditions!
Nanba: Then you can ignore those conditions. Winners write history. If you take control, you can make any justifications you want afterwards.
Kamen Rider Build, "The Genius Arrives With a Tank"