Ancient Greek Philosphers and Scholars

Aesop - 620 to 560 BC

Ancient Greek fabulist and author of a collection of Greek fables.

Every truth has two sides; it is as well to look at both, before we commit ourselves to either.

The level of our success is limited only by our imagination and no act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted.

We often give our enemies the means for our own destruction.

United we stand; divided we fall.

Familiarity breeds contempt.

Union gives strength.

It is thrifty to prepare today for the wants of tomorrow.

Example is the best precept.

Persuasion is often more effectual than force.

Little by little does the trick.

Archimedes - 280 to 211 BC

Mathematician and inventor from ancient Greece

Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world.

Give me a place to stand, and I will move the Earth.

Eureka! - 'I have found it!'



Aristotle - 384 - 322 BC

Ancient Greek philosopher, scientist and physician.

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.

Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work.

Happiness belongs to the self-sufficient.

Art not only imitates nature, but also completes its deficiencies.

No great genius has ever existed without some touch of madness.

The aim of art is not to represent the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.

You will never do anything in this world without courage. It is the greatest quality of the mind next to honour.

The whole is more than the sum of its parts.

All that we do is done with an eye to something else.

The energy of the mind is the essence of life.

The young are permanently in a state resembling intoxication.

The worst form of inequality is to try to make unequal things equal.

The soul cannot think without a picture.

In the arena of human life the honours and rewards fall to those who show their good qualities in action.

A democracy is a government in the hands of men of low birth, no property, and vulgar employment.

Republics decline into democracies and democracies degenerate into despotisms.

The basis of a democratic state is liberty.

A good style must, first of all, be clear. It must... be appropriate.

With regard to excellence, it is not enough to know, but we must try to have and use it.

Diogenes - 412 to 323 BC

Ancient Greek Philosopher; said to be the Founder of Cynicism.

He has the most who is most content with the least.

The foundation of every state is the education of its youth.

There is only a finger's difference between a wise man and a fool.

No man is hurt but by himself.

Modesty is the colour of virtue.

Of what use is a philosopher who doesn't hurt anybody's feelings?

Euripides - 480 to 406 BC

Greek playwright.

Along with success comes a reputation for wisdom.

Leave no stone unturned.

Judge a tree from its fruit, not from its leaves.

Much effort, much prosperity.

One loyal friend is worth ten thousand relatives.

Joint undertakings stand a better chance when they benefit both sides.

There is the sky, which is all men's together.

Herodotus - 484 to 430 / 420 BC

Ancient Greek author.

The destiny of man is in his own soul.

All men's gains are the fruit of venturing.

Of all men's miseries the bitterest is this, to know so much and to have control over nothing.

Some men give up their designs when they have almost reached the goal. While others, on the contrary, obtain a victory by exerting, at the last moment, more vigorous efforts than ever before.

Men's fortunes are on a wheel, which in its turning suffers not the same man to prosper for ever.

Pericles - 495 to 429 BC

Ancient Greek politician, general and statesman, of the aristocratic Alcmaeonid family.

What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.

We do not imitate, but are a model to others.

Having knowledge but lacking the power to express it clearly is no better than never having any ideas at all.

Freedom is the sure possession of those alone who have the courage to defend it.

Our love of what is beautiful does not lead to extravagance; our love of the things of the mind does not make us soft.

Fishes live in the sea, as men do on land: the great ones eat up the little ones.

Pindar - 518 to 446 BC

Lyrical poet of ancient Greece, the master of epinicia (poems that celebrate champions of athletic festivals throughout the ancient Greek world).

The test of any man lies in action.

Not every truth is the better for showing its face undisguised; and often silence is the wisest thing for a man to heed.

The present will not long endure.

Even wisdom has to yield to self-interest.

Every noble deed dieth, if suppressed in silence.

The days that are still to come are the wisest witnesses.

Great deeds give choice of many tales. Choose a slight tale, enrich it large, and then let wise men listen.

Whatever is beautiful is beautiful by necessity.

The best of healers is good cheer.

Plato - 428 to 348 BC

Ancient Greek and one of the world's most influential philosophers.

Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.

Music and rhythm find their way into the secret places of the soul.

The beginning is the most important part of the work.

It is right to give every man his due.

Excellent things are rare.

Knowledge is true opinion.

Beauty of style and harmony and grace and good rhythm depend on simplicity.

Do not train a child to learn by force or harshness; but direct them to it by what amuses their minds, so that you may be better able to discover with accuracy the peculiar bent of the genius of each.

The measure of a man is what he does with power.

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.

Dictatorship naturally arises out of democracy, and the most aggravated form of tyranny and slavery out of the most extreme liberty.

Plutarch - 46 to 119 AD

Ancient Greek biographer and author.

I don't need a friend who changes when I change and who nods when I nod; my shadow does that much better.

Fate leads him who follows it, and drags him who resists.

To find fault is easy; to do better may be difficult.

Know how to listen, and you will profit even from those who talk badly.

Nothing is cheap which is superfluous, for what one does not need, is dear at a penny.

If all the world were just, there would be no need of valour.

When the candles are out all women are fair.

Let us carefully observe those good qualities wherein our enemies excel us; and endeavour to excel them, by avoiding what is faulty, and imitating what is excellent in them.

No man ever wetted clay and then left it, as if there would be bricks by chance and fortune.

The measure of a man is the way he bears up under misfortune.

The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled.

Character is long-standing habit.

Prosperity is no just scale; adversity is the only balance to weigh friends.

Pythagoras - 580 to 500 BC

Ancient Greek philosopher and mathematician.

Do not say a little in many words but a great deal in a few.

A thought is an idea in transit.

Concern should drive us into action and not into a depression. No man is free who cannot control himself.

Anger begins in folly, and ends in repentance.

Choose always the way that seems the best, however rough it may be; custom will soon render it easy and agreeable.

Wisdom thoroughly learned will never be forgotten.

Rest satisfied with doing well, and leave others to talk of you as they will.

No one is free who has not obtained the empire of himself.

Choose rather to be strong of soul than strong of body.

Socrates - 470 to 399 BC

Ancient Greek philosopher.

Let him that would move the world, first move himself.

To do is to be.

An honest man is always a child.

The way to gain a good reputation is to endeavour to be what you desire to appear.

Man's life is like a drop of dew on a leaf.

I know that I am intelligent, because I know that I know nothing.

The nearest way to glory is to strive to be what you wish to be thought to be.

The beginning of wisdom is the definition of terms.

See one promontory, one mountain, one sea, one river, and see all.

Think not those faithful who praise all thy words and actions; but those who kindly reprove thy faults.

He who is not contented with what he has, would not be contented with what he would like to have.

I cannot teach anybody anything, I can only make them think.

True wisdom comes to each of us when we realise how little we understand about life, ourselves, and the world around us.

Sophocles - 496 to 406 BC

One of classical Athens' three great tragic playwrights.

Rather fail with honour than succeed by fraud.

Success is dependent on effort.

A short saying oft contains much wisdom.

Look and you will find it - what is unsought will go undetected.

Quick decisions are unsafe decisions.

No enemy is worse than bad advice.

One learns by doing the thing; for though you think you know it, you have no certainty until you try.

Success, remember is the reward of toil.

Though a man be wise it is no shame for him to live and learn.

There are many wonderful things, but none is more wonderful than man.

He who throws away a friend is as bad as he who throws away his life.