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Ancient Greek Quotes

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Classic Ancient Greek quotes, proverbs, maxims and phrases.

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  Dreams
HomerΚαι γαρ τ' όναρ εκ Διός εστιν.

Dreams come from Zeus.

—  Homer, c. 800-750 BC, II ‐ Iliad I

  
  Necessity
Simonides of CeosΑνάγκα ουδέ Θεοί μάχονται.

Not even the gods fight necessity.

—  Simonides of Ceos, 556-468 BC, Ancient poet & author of epigrams

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EpicurusΚακόν ανάγκη, αλλ’ ουδεμία ανάγκη ζην μετά ανάγκης.

Necessity is a bad thing, but there is no necessity to live with necessity.

—  Epicurus, 341-270 BC, Ancient Greek philosopher

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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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HomerΠάντες δὲ θεών χατέουσ' άνθρωποι.

ll men need the gods.

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

  
  Hope
HeraclitusΕάν μη έλπηται ανέλπιστον, ουκ εξευρήσει.

He who does not hope for the unexpected, will not find it.

—  Heraclitus, 544-484 BC, Ancient Greek philosopher

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AristotleΕρωτηθείς τι έστιν ελπίς, « Εγρηγορότος», είπεν, «ενύπνιον. »

When asked what is hope, he said 'the dream of a waking man'.

—  Aristotle, 384-322 BC, Ancient Greek philosopher

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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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  Desire
HomerΑλλ' ου Ζεὺς άνδρεσσι νοήματα πάντα τελευτά.

But Zeus does not bring to accomplishment all thoughts in men's minds.

—  Homer, c. 800-750 BC, II

  
  Searching
DiogenesΆνθρωπον ζητώ.

I am looking for a human.

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

(walking around with a lamp in broad daylight)

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  Action
Pittacus of MytileneΓνους πράττε.

Act knowing.

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

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Bias of PrieneΒραδέως εγχείρει· ό δ᾽ αν άρξῃ, διαβεβαιού.

Be slow in considering, but resolute in action.

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

  
  Being Busy
Ancient Greek phraseΛίθος κυλινδόμενος το φύκος ου ποιεί.

A rolling stone gathers no moss .

—  Ancient Greek phrase

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  Doing
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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Pittacus of MytileneΟ μέλλεις πράττειν μη πρόλεγε, αποτυχών γαρ γελασθήση.

Do not say before hand what you are going to do; for if you fail, you will be laughed at.

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

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MenanderΟυδεὶς ό νοείς μεν οίδεν, ό δε ποιείς βλέπει.

Nodody knows what you think, but [everybody] sees what you do.

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

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MenanderΠράττων τα σαυτού, μη τα των άλλων σκόπει.

While you do what you have to do, don’t pay attention to what the others are doing.

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

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HomerΆλλοις γαρ τ’ άλλοισιν ανήρ επιτέρπεται έργοις.

Each man delights in the work that suits him best.

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

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  Effort
Ancient Greek phraseΧαλεπά τα καλά.

Good things are difficult.

—  Ancient Greek phrase

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  Change
HeraclitusΤα πάντα ρει και ουδέν μένει.

Everything flows, nothing stands still.

—  Heraclitus, 544-484 BC, Ancient Greek philosopher

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AristotleΜεταβολή δε πάντων γλυκύ.

In all things, change is sweet.

—  Aristotle, 384-322 BC, Ancient Greek philosopher

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HeraclitusΠοταμώ ουκ έστιν εμβήναι δις τω αυτώ.

No man can step twice into the same river.

—  Heraclitus, 544-484 BC, Ancient Greek philosopher

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  Opportunity
Pittacus of MytileneΚαιρόν γνώθι.

Know the right time.

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

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  Solutions
Alexander the GreatΌ,τι δεν λύεται κόπτεται.

What cannot be resolved, it is cut.

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

(cutting the Gordian Knot)

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  Tools
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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  Adversity
Bias of PrieneΑτυχή είναι τον ατυχίαν μη φέροντα.

It is misfortune not to be able to bear misfortune.

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

  
  Easiness
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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Ancient Greek phraseΟυδέν κακόν ραδίως απόλλυται.

Nothing bad can be lost easily.

—  Ancient Greek phrase

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  Teamwork
Ancient Greek phraseΜία μέλισσα μέλι ου ποιεί.

One bee alone does not make honey.

—  Ancient Greek phrase

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  Work
EpicurusΕξ εργασίας θηριώδους ουσίας μεν πλήθος συσσωρεύεται, βίος δε ταλαίπωρος συνίσταται.

A large fortune is accumulated by extremely hard work, but [thus] life becomes miserable.

—  Epicurus, 341-270 BC, Ancient Greek philosopher

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  Doctors
HomerΙητρὸς γαρ ανήρ πολλών αντάξιος άλλων.

A physician is worth more than several other men put together.

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

  
  Leadership
AgathonΤον άρχοντα τριών δει μέμνησθαι: Πρώτον ότι ανθρώπων άρχει. Δεύτερον ότι κατά νόμους άρχει. Τρίτον ότι ουκ αεί άρχει.

Every ruler must remember three things. Firstly, that he rules men; secondly, that he rules according to law, and thirdly, that he does not rule for ever.

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

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HomerΟυκ αγαθόν πολυκοιρανίη. Είς κοίρανος έστω, είς βασιλεύς.

Many leaders is not a good thing. Let there be one ruler, one king.

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

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  Money
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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IsokratesΔόξα δε χρημάτων ουκ ωνητή.

You cannont buy glory with money.

—  Isokrates, 436-338 BC, Ancient Greek rhetorician

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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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MenanderΕάν δ’ έχωμεν χρήμαθ’, έξομεν φίλους

If we have money, we shall have friends.

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

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  Luxury
Ancient Greek phraseΟυ παντός πλειν ες Κόρινθον.

Sailing to Corinth is not for everyone.

—  Ancient Greek phrase

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  Measurements
ProtagorasΠάντων χρημάτων μέτρον έστιν άνθρωπος.

Man is the measure of all things.

—  Protagoras, 487-412 BC, Ancient Greek sophist

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  Debt
MenanderΤα δάνεια δούλους τους ελευθέρους ποιεί.

Loans make slaves out of free men.

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

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  Food
DiogenesΕι μεν πλούσιος, όταν θέλη· ει δε πένης, όταν έχη.

If a rich man, when you will; if a poor man, when you can.

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

(his idea for the proper time for lunch)

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SocratesΟι μεν λοιποί ζώσιν ίνα εσθιώσιν, αυτός δε εσθίω ίνα ζω.

Others live to eat, myself I eat to live.

—  Socrates, 469-399 BC, Ancient Geek Philosopher

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  Pleasures
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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PlatoΗδονήν, μέγιστον κακού δέλεαρ.

Pleasure, a most mighty lure to evil.

—  Plato, 427-347 BC, Ancient Greek philosopher

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AntisthenesΜανείην μάλλον ή ησθείην.

I'd rather be mad than seek pleasure.

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

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  Holidays
TheocritusΑεργοίς αιέν εορτά.

For the lazy it is always the holidays.

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

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  Drinking
HomerΑνδρί δε κεκμηώτι μένος μέγα οίνος αέξει.

When a man is exhausted, wine will build his strength.

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

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  Cause & Effect
AristotleΆνευ αιτίου ουδέν εστιν.

Nothing is without a cause.

—  Aristotle, 384-322 BC, Ancient Greek philosopher

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  Happiness
EpicurusMελετάν ουν χρη τα ποιούντα την ευδαιμονίαν, είπερ παρούσης μεν αυτής πάντα έχομεν, απούσης δε πάντα πράττομεν εις το ταύτην έχειν.

So we must exercise ourselves in the things which bring happiness, since, if that be present, we have everything, and, if that be absent, all our actions are directed towards attaining it.

—  Epicurus, 341-270 BC, Ancient Greek philosopher

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  Calmness
EpicurusO δίκαιος αταρακτότατος, ο δ’ άδικος πλείστης ταραχής γέμων.

The just man is most free from disturbance, while the unjust is full of the utmost disturbance.

—  Epicurus, 341-270 BC, Ancient Greek philosopher

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  Rise & Decline
MenanderΔρυός πεσούσης, πάς ανήρ ξυλεύεται.

When the oak tree is down, all men take wood.

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

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  Victory & Defeat
Pittacus of MytileneΤας νίκας άνευ αίματος ποιείσθαι.

Achieve your victories without blood.

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

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Alexander the GreatΟυ κλέπτω την νίκην.

I do not steal victory.

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

(reply to the suggestion by Parmenion, before the Battle of Gaugamela, that he attack the Persian camp during the night.)

  
  Fame & Glory
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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IsokratesΔόξα δε χρημάτων ουκ ωνητή.

You cannont buy glory with money.

—  Isokrates, 436-338 BC, Ancient Greek rhetorician

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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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  Mistakes
MenanderΤο δις εξαμαρτείν τ’ αυτόν ουκ ανδρός σοφού.

To make the same mistake twice is not wise.

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

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  Irreversible
Ancient Greek phraseΑνερρίφθω κύβος.

Let the die be cast.

—  Ancient Greek phrase

((similar to the phrase Alea iacta est by Julius Caesar according to Plutarch))

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MenanderΟ κύβος ερρίφθη.

The die is cast.

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

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  Troubles
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

  
  Degradation
HomerΚαι σε γέρον το πριν μεν ακούομεν όλβιον είναι.

And you, old man, we are told you prospered once.

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

(Achilles to Priam)

  
  Poverty
DiogenesΠενία αυτοδίδακτος αρετή.

Poverty is a self-taught virtue.

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

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DiogenesΕι μεν πλούσιος, όταν θέλη· ει δε πένης, όταν έχη.

If a rich man, when you will; if a poor man, when you can.

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

(his idea for the proper time for lunch)

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TheocritusΠενία τέχνας κατεργάζεται.

Poverty awakens the arts.

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

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  Hunger
Ancient Greek phraseΠεινώντι παν εστι χρήμα εδώδιμον.

For the hungry everything is edible.

—  Ancient Greek phrase

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Ancient Greek quotes

 
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