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Ancient Greek Quotes

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Classic Ancient Greek quotes, proverbs, maxims and phrases.

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  Justice
MenanderΈστι δίκης οφθαλμός, ος τα πάνθ’ ορά.

There is an eye of justice that sees everything.

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

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  Laws
Ancient Greek phraseΞένος ών ακολούθει τοις επιχωρίοις νόμοις.

If you are s stranger, follow the local laws.

—  Ancient Greek phrase

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  Power
Bias of PrieneΑρχή άνδρα δείκνυσι.

Power shows the man.

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

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Bias of PrieneΔει τον αγαθόν άνδρα παυόμενον της αρχής μη πλουσιώτερον, αλλά μάλλον ενδοξότερον γεγονέναι.

When a good man steps down from power, he shouldn’t have become more rich, but more honored.

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

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  Politics
AristotleΟ άνθρωπος φύσει πολιτικόν ζώον.

Man is by nature a political animal.

—  Aristotle, 384-322 BC, Ancient Greek philosopher

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AntisthenesΤότε τας πόλεις απόλλυσθαι, όταν μη δύνωνται τους φαύλους από των σπουδαίων διακρίνειν.

Cities are doomed when they are unable to distinguish the great men from the bad.

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

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  Democracy
Bias of PrieneΚρατίστην είναι δημοκρατίαν εν ή πάντες ως τύραννον φοβούνται τον νόμον.

The best democracy is where everybody is afraid of the law like a tyrant.

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

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  Freedom
EpicurusΕκλυτέον εαυτούς εκ του περί τα εγκύκλια και τα πολιτικά δεσμωτηρίου.

We must free ourselves from the daily routine and the bonds of politics.

—  Epicurus, 341-270 BC, Ancient Greek philosopher

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  Totalitarianism
Ancient Greek phraseΜακραί τυράννων χείρες.

The hands of the tyrants reach long.

—  Ancient Greek phrase

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  Patriotism
HomerΕίς οιωνός άριστος, αμύνεσθαι περί πάτρης.

This is the best omen, to fight for your country.

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

(words of Hector)

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  War & Peace
HeraclitusΠόλεμος πάντων μεν πατήρ εστί, πάντων δε βασιλεύς. Και τους μεν θεούς έδειξε, τους δε ανθρώπους, τους μεν δούλους εποίησε, τους δε ελευθέρους.

War is the father and king of all: some he has made gods, and some men; some slaves and some free.

—  Heraclitus, 544-484 BC, Ancient Greek philosopher

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ThucydidesΟ δε πόλεμος... βίαιος διδάσκαλος.

War is a violent teacher.

—  Thucydides, 460-394 BC, Ancient Greek historian

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ThucydidesΈστιν ο πόλεμος ουχ όπλων το πλέον, αλλά δαπάνης.

War is a matter not so much of arms as of expenditure.

—  Thucydides, 460-394 BC, Ancient Greek historian

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PindarΝεύρα πολέμου χρυσός.

Gold is the nerves of the war.

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

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PindarΓλυκύ δ᾽απείρῳ πόλεμος.

War is sweet to those who have no experience of it.

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

  
  Greeks
PlatoΌμηρος την Ελλάδα επεπαιδεύκει.

Homer has educated Greece.

—  Plato, 427-347 BC, Ancient Greek philosopher

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  Revelations
MenanderΆγει δε προς φως την αλήθειαν χρόνος.

Time leads truth toward the light.

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

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  Words
HomerΈπεα πτερόεντα.

Winged words.

—  Homer, c. 800-750 BC, II ‐ Iliad E’ 871

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AntisthenesΑρχή Σοφίας ονομάτων επίσκεψις.

The investigation of the meaning of words is the beginning of wisdom.

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

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PindarΡήμα δ᾽ εργμάτων χρονιώτερον βιοτεύει.

For words live longer down the years than deeds.

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

  
  Knowledge
HeraclitusΠολυμαθίη νόον ου διδάσκει.

Much learning does not teach the mind.

—  Heraclitus, 544-484 BC, Ancient Greek philosopher

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PlatoΕπιστήμη ποιητική ευδαιμονίας.

Knowledge creates happiness.

—  Plato, 427-347 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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  Learning
PlatoΌμηρος την Ελλάδα επεπαιδεύκει.

Homer has educated Greece.

—  Plato, 427-347 BC, Ancient Greek philosopher

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AntisthenesΜαθημάτων αναγκαιότατον τα κακά απομαθείν.

The most necessary lesson is to unlearn all the wrong things.

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

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Alexander the GreatΣτους γονείς οφείλομεν το ζην, στους δε διδασκάλους το ευ ζην.

We are indebted to our parents for living, but to our teachers for living well.

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

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  Music
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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  First phrases
HomerΆνδρα μοι έννεπε, Μούσα, πολύτροπον, ός μάλα πολλά
πλάγχθη, επεὶ Τροίης ιερόν πτολίεθρον έπερσε·

Sing to me of the man, Muse, the man of twists and turns driven time and again off course, once he had plundered the hallowed heights of Troy.

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

  
  Writing
TheocritusΩς μεν βούλομαι ου δύναμαι, ως δε δύναμαι ου βούλομαι.

[I don’t write because] I cannot write as I want and I wouldn’t write as I can.

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

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  Science
ArchimedesΔως μοι πα στω και ταν γαν κινάσω.

Give me a place to stand and I shall move the earth.

—  Archimedes, 287-212 BC, Ancient Greek mathematician & inventor

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  Discovery
ArchimedesΕύρηκα! Εύρηκα!

Eureka! (I found! I found!)

—  Archimedes, 287-212 BC, Ancient Greek mathematician & inventor

(running naked from his bath after dicovering the 'Archimedes principle')

  
  Mathematics
PlatoAεί ο θεός γεωμετρεί

God always geometrizes.

—  Plato, 427-347 BC, Ancient Greek philosopher

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EucliidΜη είναι βασιλικήν ατραπόν επί γεωμετρίαν.

There is no royal road to geometry.

—  Eucliid, 4th-3rd cent. BC, Greek mathematician, the “father of geometry”

(his answer to the king of Egypt Ptolemy, who asked for a shorter way to learn Geometry)

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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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ArchimedesΜη μου τους κύκλους τάραττε.

Do not disturb my circles!

—  Archimedes, 287-212 BC, Ancient Greek mathematician & inventor

(his last words to the Roman soldier who killed him)

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  Thinking
Bias of PrieneΝόει το πραττόμενον.

Think what you are doing.

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

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CleobulusΦρόνει τι κεδνόν.

Think of something worthy.

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

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  Philosophy
AntisthenesΕρωτηθείς τι αυτώ περιγέγονεν εκ φιλοσοφίας, έφη, «το δύνασθαι εαυτώ ομιλείν».

When he was asked what advantage had accrued to him from philosophy, his answer was, “The ability to hold converse with myself.”

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

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Ancient Greek quotes

 
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