"Brick by brick" : what is the entire quote & who says it?The website for Seabiscuit says that Red Pollard is quoting Shakespeare when he says "brick by brick." This does not necessarily mean...

"Brick by brick" : what is the entire quote & who says it?

The website for Seabiscuit says that Red Pollard is quoting Shakespeare when he says "brick by brick." This does not necessarily mean it is so, but I am guessing it probably is.

Expert Answers
poetrymfa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The quote you are referring to is "Brick by brick, my fellow citizens, brick by brick."

This quote is originally attributed to Emperor Hadrian, who allegedly said it while urging his people to re-build Rome after a horrific fire, encouraging them to do so in a methodical manner so that it may stand the test of time.

We have to acknowledge a caveat with this information; there are no reliable sources that back up the claim that Hadrian said this, nor are there any fires recorded historically during Hadrian's reign aside from the burning of the Pantheon.

However, the suggested meaning behind this quote is still relevant; a herculean task is best managed one task or step at a time, with great patience and focus. 

Red Pollard, the iconic jockey, references this quote in the film Seabiscuit. While addressing the titular horse, he states, "I know. I know. l'm in a hurry too, Pops. But you know what Hadrian said about Rome: 'Brick by brick, my citizens.'"

nyinfomom | Student

Although Shakespeare used the term "brick by brick" it was first used by the Roman Emperor Hadrian and I think Red even says that is who said it when he uses the quote.  I think he means "one step at a time to reach your goal"  since that's how Rome was built "brick by brick."

thequeen | Student

There are three plays that I found in my database when I put in the phrase "brick by brick." The first is Henry the VI, act IV scene X.  The second is from Measure for Measure act IV scene I.  The final mention I found of a brick is from The Winters Tale, act IV scene III. None of the passages have the exact word "brick by brick"  

My best estimation is that Red Pollard is actually misquoting "A Midsummer Nights Dream" where  Helena says "O, when she's angry, she is keen and shrewd: She was a vixen when she went to school; And, though she be but little, she is fierce."  This is actually meant as a biting insult in the play however, in the novel I believe that Red meant it as a compliment.

I hope you find this information useful.  Best of luck to you.

Read the study guide:
Seabiscuit: An American Legend

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