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He that cannot obey cannot command proverbial saying, late 15th century, meaning that the experience of being under orders teaches one how they should be given; the same idea is found earlier in the writings of the Roman philosopher and poet Seneca the Younger (c. 4 bc–ad 65), as ‘no one can rule unless he can also be ruled.’

obey orders, if you break owners proverbial saying, late 18th century; the saying is nautical, and means that orders should be followed even if it is clear that they are wrong.

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