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Ancient Greek Quotes

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Classic Ancient Greek quotes, proverbs, maxims and phrases.

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  Ego
MenanderΦιλεί δ’ εαυτού πλείον ουδείς ουδένα.

Nobody loves anybody more than himself.

—  Menander, 4th cent. BC, Ancient Greek dramatist (New Comedy)

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  Character
HeraclitusΉθος ανθρώπω δαίμων.

Character is destiny.

—  Heraclitus, 544-484 BC, Ancient Greek philosopher

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Κατά τον δαίμονα εαυτού.

True to his own spirit.

—  Inscription, in Greek, on Jim Morrison’s tombstone in Paris

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  Soul
AristotleΦιλία εστί μία ψυχή εν δυσί σώμασιν ενοικουμένη.

Friendship is one soul living in two bodies.

—  Aristotle, 384-322 BC, Ancient Greek philosopher

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  Name
DiogenesΚαγώ, φησίν, Διογένης ο κύων.

And I, as they say, am Diogenes the dog.

—  Diogenes, 410-323 BC, Ancient Greek Cynic philosopher

(introducing himself to Alexander the Great)

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HomerΟύτις εμοί γ' όνομα.

Nobody is my name.

—  Homer, c. 800-750 BC, II ‐ Odyssey IX

  
  Opinion
HeraclitusΤα ανθρώπων δοξάσματα παίδων αθύρματα.

The opinions of men are toys for boys.

—  Heraclitus, 544-484 BC, Ancient Greek philosopher

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  Laughter
Pittacus of MytileneΓελά ο μωρός καν τι μη γελοίον ή.

A fool laughs even when there is nothing funny.

—  Pittacus of Mytilene, 650-570 BC, one of the 7 sages of Ancient Greece

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  Smile
HomerΔακρυόεν γελάσασα.

Smiling through tears.

—  Homer, c. 800-750 BC, II ‐ Iliad VI

(of Andromache)

  
  Appearance
DiogenesΔιότι τηλικούτος ών, κιθαρωδεί και ου ληστεύει!

Because he is like this and plays the guitare instead of robbing.

—  Diogenes, 410-323 BC, Ancient Greek Cynic philosopher

(explaining why he applauded a big ferocious guy who was playing very badly the lyre)

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  Beauty
AristotleΤο κάλλος παντός επιστολίου συστατικώτερον.

Beauty is better than any recommendation letter.

—  Aristotle, 384-322 BC, Ancient Greek philosopher

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  Health
MenanderΥγεία και νους εσθλά τω βίω δύο.

Health and intellect are the two blessings of life.

—  Menander, 4th cent. BC, Ancient Greek dramatist (New Comedy)

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  Habit
AristotleΈξις δευτέρα φύσις.

Habit is second nature.

—  Aristotle, 384-322 BC, Ancient Greek philosopher

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  Luck
ThucydidesΤοις τολμώσιν η τύχη ξύμφορος.

Fortune helps the brave.

—  Thucydides, 460-394 BC, Ancient Greek historian

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AgathonΤέχνη τύχην έστερξε και τύχη τέχνην.

Art favored luck and luck favored art.

—  Agathon, 450-400 BC, Ancient Greek tragic poet

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Ancient Greek phraseΘεού θέλοντος καν επί ριπός πλέοις.

If god wills, you can sail even on a mat.

—  Ancient Greek phrase

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  Destiny
Ancient Greek phraseΤο πεπρωμένον φυγείν αδύνατον.

One cannnot evade destiny.

—  Ancient Greek phrase

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HeraclitusΉθος ανθρώπω δαίμων.

Character is destiny.

—  Heraclitus, 544-484 BC, Ancient Greek philosopher

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PlatoΤην ειμαρμένην ουδ’ αν είς εκφύγοι.

Nobody can escape destiny.

—  Plato, 427-347 BC, Ancient Greek philosopher

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  Admiration
AristotleΕν πάσι γαρ τοις φυσικοίς ενεστί τι θαυμαστόν.

In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous.

—  Aristotle, 384-322 BC, Ancient Greek philosopher

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Alexander the GreatΕι μη Αλέξανδρος ήμην, Διογένης αν ήμην.

If I were not Alexander, I should wish to be Diogenes.

—  Alexander the Great, 356-323 BC, King of Macedon

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  Astonishment
HomerΠοίον σε έπος φύγεν έρκος οδόντων;

What is this word that broke through the fence of your teeth?

—  Homer, c. 800-750 BC, II ‐ Iliad IV

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Julius CaesarΚαι συ, τέκνον Βρούτε;

And you, son Brutus?

—  Julius Caesar, 101-14 BC, Roman general & Consul

(his last words, spoken in Greek)

  
  Shame
MenanderΠας ερυθριών χρηστός είναι μοι δοκεί.

Anybody who blushes is a good man, me thinks.

—  Menander, 4th cent. BC, Ancient Greek dramatist (New Comedy)

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HomerΑιδώς δ’ ουκ αγαθή κεχρημένω ανδρί παρείναι.

Shame is not good for a man in need.

—  Homer, c. 800-750 BC, II ‐ Odyssey XVII

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  Regret
MenanderΜόνη σιγή μεταμέλειαν ου φέρει.

Silence alone is not an apology.

—  Menander, 4th cent. BC, Ancient Greek dramatist (New Comedy)

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  Value
Ancient Greek phraseΑετού γήρας κορύδου νεότης.

The old age of the eagle is the youth of the skylark.

—  Ancient Greek phrase

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Alexander the GreatΤω κρατίστω.

To the strongest!

—  Alexander the Great, 356-323 BC, King of Macedon

(about who he thought was worthy enough to succeed him)

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  Virtue
AristotleΠόλεμος γαρ σχολείον αρετής εστί.

War is a school for virtue.

—  Aristotle, 384-322 BC, Ancient Greek philosopher

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AntisthenesΤον σοφόν ού κατά τους κειμένους νόμους πολιτεύσεσθαι, αλλά κατά τον της αρετής.

The wise man would regulate his conduct as a citizen, not according to the established laws, but according to the law of virtue.

—  Antisthenes, 445-360 BC, Ancient Greek Cynic philosopher

  
  Innocence
ThucydidesΜακαρίσαντες υμών το απειρόκακον ού ζηλούμεν το άφρον.

Although we bless your ignorance of evil, we do not envy your stupidity.

—  Thucydides, 460-394 BC, Ancient Greek historian

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  Wisdom
HomerΠολλών δ’ ανθρώπων ίδεν άστεα και νόον έγνων.

Many cities of men he saw and learned their minds.

—  Homer, c. 800-750 BC, II ‐ Odyssey I

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PindarΣοφὸς ο πολλά ειδώς φυά.

Wise is he who knows much by nature.

—  Pindar, 522-438 BC, Ancient Greek lyric poet

  
  Courage
HomerΘαρσαλέος ανήρ εν πάσιν αμείνων.

The courageous man is the best in everything.

—  Homer, c. 800-750 BC, II ‐ Odyssey VIII

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ThucydidesΤοις τολμώσιν η τύχη ξύμφορος.

Fortune helps the brave.

—  Thucydides, 460-394 BC, Ancient Greek historian

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TheocritusΘαρσείν χρη, τάχ’ αύριον έσσετ’ άμεινον. Eλπίδες εν ζωοίσιν, ανέλπιστοι δε θανόντες.

You need to have courage, because tomorrow will be better. While there's life there’s hope, and only the dead have none.

—  Theocritus, 3rd cent. BC, Ancient Greek poet

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  Self-reliance
Κατά τον δαίμονα εαυτού.

True to his own spirit.

—  Inscription, in Greek, on Jim Morrison’s tombstone in Paris

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  Bravery
ThucydidesΑνδρών επιφανών πάσα η γη τάφος.

Great men have the whole earth for their tomb.

—  Thucydides, 460-394 BC, Ancient Greek historian

(in Pericles' Funeral Oration)

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HomerΏλετο μεν μοι νόστος, ατάρ κλέος άφθιτον έστα.

My return home is lost, but my glory will never die.

—  Homer, c. 800-750 BC, II ‐ Iliad IX

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  Self-knowledge
HeraclitusΕδιζησάμην εμεωυτόν.

I searched for myself.

—  Heraclitus, 544-484 BC, Ancient Greek philosopher

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PindarΓένοι' οίος εσσί μαθών.

Be what you know you are.

—  Pindar, 522-438 BC, Ancient Greek lyric poet

  
  Humility
EpicurusΛάθε βιώσας.

Live in obscurity.

—  Epicurus, 341-270 BC, Ancient Greek philosopher

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Bias of PrieneΌ,τι αν αγαθόν πράσσης, θεούς. μη σεαυτόν αιτιώ.

For whatever good you do, praise the gods not yourself.

—  Bias of Priene, 625-540 BC, Greek philosopher, one of the 7 sages of Ancient Greece

  
  Prudence
CleobulusΜέτρον άριστον.

Moderation is best.

—  Cleobulus, 6th cent. BC, Ancient Greek Poet, one of the 7 sages

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  Resilience
EpicurusΆφοβον ο θεός, ανύποπτον ο θάνατος και το αγαθόν μεν εύκτητον, το δε δεινόν ευκαρτέρητον.

God is not to be feared, death is not to be expected and what is good is easy to get and what is terrible is easy to endure.

—  Epicurus, 341-270 BC, Ancient Greek philosopher

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  Excellence
HomerΑιέν αριστεύειν.

Ever to excel.

—  Homer, c. 800-750 BC, II ‐ Iliad VI

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  Laziness
TheocritusΑεργοίς αιέν εορτά.

For the lazy it is always the holidays.

—  Theocritus, 3rd cent. BC, Ancient Greek poet

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  Ignorance
SolonΕν οίδα ότι ουδέν οίδα.

I know one thing, that I know nothing.

—  Solon, 630-560 BC, Ancient Greek lawmaker & philosopher

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Αγεωμέτρητος μηδείς εισίτω.

Let no one untrained in geometry enter.

—  Motto over the entrance to Plato's Academy

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HeraclitusΚρύπτειν αμαθίην κρέσσον, ή ες το μέσον φέρειν.

It is better to conceal ignorance than to expose it.

—  Heraclitus, 544-484 BC, Ancient Greek philosopher

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ThucydidesΑμαθία μεν θράσος, λογισμός δε όκνον φέρει.

Ignorance is bold, knowledge is reserved.

—  Thucydides, 460-394 BC, Ancient Greek historian

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  Stupidity
ThucydidesΜακαρίσαντες υμών το απειρόκακον ού ζηλούμεν το άφρον.

Although we bless your ignorance of evil, we do not envy your stupidity.

—  Thucydides, 460-394 BC, Ancient Greek historian

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HomerΡεχθέν δε τε νήπιος έγνω.

Once a thing has been done, even the fool sees it.

—  Homer, c. 800-750 BC, II ‐ Iliad XVII

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DemocritusΝηπίοισιν ου λόγος, αλλά ξυμφορή γίνεται διδάσκαλος.

To the fools, not reason but disaster becomes a teacher.

—  Democritus, 470-370 BC, Ancient Greek philosopher

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  Greed
AristotleΗ πενία πολλών εστιν ενδεής, η δ’ απληστία πάντων.

Poverty needs many things, but greed everything.

—  Aristotle, 384-322 BC, Ancient Greek philosopher

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  Wickedness
Bias of PrieneΟι πλείστοι άνθρωποι κακοί.

Most people are bad.

—  Bias of Priene, 625-540 BC, Greek philosopher, one of the 7 sages of Ancient Greece

  
  Envy
Ancient Greek proverbΦθονερόν αεί των γειτόνων όμμα.

Always envious the eye of the neighbor.

—  Ancient Greek proverb

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AntisthenesΏσπερ υπό του ιού τον σίδηρον, ούτω τους φθονερούς υπό του ιδίου ήθους κατεσθίεσθαι.

As iron is eaten away by rust, so the envious are consumed by their own passion.

—  Antisthenes, 445-360 BC, Ancient Greek Cynic philosopher

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PindarΚρέσσων γαρ οικτιρμού φθόνος.

It is better to be envied than pitied.

—  Pindar, 522-438 BC, Ancient Greek lyric poet

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SolonΤο Θείον φθονερόν και ταραχώδες.

The gods are envious and mess things.

—  Solon, 630-560 BC, Ancient Greek lawmaker & philosopher

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AristotleΓυνή ανδρός φθονερώτερον και μεμψιμοιρότερον.

Women are more envious and more querulous than men.

—  Aristotle, 384-322 BC, Ancient Greek philosopher

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  Hypocrisy
HomerΈσθλ' αγορεύοντες, κακά δε φρεσί βυσσοδόμευον.

Welcome words on their lips, and murder in their hearts.

—  Homer, c. 800-750 BC, II ‐ Odyssey XVII

  
  Indifference
Ancient Greek phraseΤων οικιών ημών εμπιμπραμένων, ημείς άδομεν.

We sing while our houses are on fire!

—  Ancient Greek phrase

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  Deprecation
TheocritusΆρχεται λέξεων μεν ποταμός, νου δε σταλαγμός.

Now begins a river of words and a trickling of sense.

—  Theocritus, 3rd cent. BC, Ancient Greek poet

(on one of his opponents who was about to make a public speech)

  
  Despite
Ancient Greek phraseΓραυς χορεύει.

Old woman dancing.

—  Ancient Greek phrase

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  Cunning
Ancient Greek phraseΑλωπεκίζειν προς ετέραν αλώπεκα.

Playing the fox to another fox.

—  Ancient Greek phrase

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  Contempt
Pittacus of MytileneΑτυχίαν μη ονειδίζειν, νέμεσιν αιδούμενον.

Do not reproach a man with his misfortunes, fearing lest Nemesis may overtake you.

—  Pittacus of Mytilene, 650-570 BC, one of the 7 sages of Ancient Greece

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  Criticism
AntisthenesΒασιλικόν, καλώς ποιούντα κακώς ακούειν.

It is a royal privilege to do good and be ill spoken of.

—  Antisthenes, 445-360 BC, Ancient Greek Cynic philosopher

(his comment when was told that Plato spoke badly about him)

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  Deception
Bias of PrieneΟι αγαθοί ευαπάτητοι.

Good men are easily deceived.

—  Bias of Priene, 625-540 BC, Greek philosopher, one of the 7 sages of Ancient Greece

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  Anger
HeraclitusΧαλεπώτερον ηδονῇ μάχεσθαι ή θυμῷ.

It is harder to fight against pleasure than against anger.

—  Heraclitus, 544-484 BC, Ancient Greek philosopher

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HomerΧόλος νόον οιδάνει.

Anger inflates the mind.

—  Homer, c. 800-750 BC, II ‐ Iliad X

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HomerΜένεα πνείοντες.

Breathing fury.

—  Homer, c. 800-750 BC, II ‐ Iliad II

  
  Running away
MenanderΑνήρ ο φεύγων και πάλι μαχήσεται.

The man who runs away will fight anyway.

—  Menander, 4th cent. BC, Ancient Greek dramatist (New Comedy)

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Ancient Greek quotes

 
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