Welcome to our collection of quotes by Plutarch. We hope you enjoy pondering them and please share widely.
Plutarch (Greek: Πλούταρχος, Ploútarchos; Koine Greek: [ˈplutarkʰos]; AD 46–after AD 119) was a Greek Middle Platonist philosopher, historian, biographer, essayist, and priest at the Temple of Apollo. He is known primarily for his Parallel Lives, a series of biographies of illustrious Greeks and Romans, and Moralia, a collection of essays and speeches. Upon becoming a Roman citizen, he was named Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus (Λούκιος Μέστριος Πλούταρχος).
What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality.
If you hate your enemies, you will contract such a vicious habit of mind, as by degrees will break out upon those who are your friends, or those who are indifferent to you.
Come back with your shield -- or on it.
The Spartans do not ask how many are the enemy but where are they.
Choose what is best, and habit will make it pleasant and easy.
To the Dolphin alone, beyond all other, nature has granted what the best philosophers seek: friendship for no advantage.
He who reflects on another man's want of breeding, shows he wants it as much himself.
The poor go to war, to fight and die for the delights, riches, and superfluities of others.
Dionysius the Elder, being asked whether he was at leisure, he replied, God forbid that it should ever befall me!
The man who is completely wise and virtuous has no need of glory, except so far as it disposes and eases his way to action by the greater trust that it procures him.
The belly has no ears.
The future bears down upon each one of us with all the hazards of the unknown. The only way out is through.
Real excellence, indeed, is most recognized when most openly looked into.
If Nature be not improved by instruction, it is blind; if instruction be not assisted by Nature, it is maimed; and if exercise fail of the assistance of both, it is imperfect.
It was better to set up a monarchy themselves than to suffer a sedition to continue that must certainly end in one.
The measure of a man's life is the well spending of it, and not the length.
Why does pouring Oil on the Sea make it Clear and Calm? Is it that the winds, slipping the smooth oil, have no force, nor cause any waves?
Themistocles being asked whether he would rather be Achilles or Homer, said, Which would you rather be, a conqueror in the Olympic games, or the crier that proclaims who are conquerors?
It's a thing of no great difficulty to raise objections against another man's oration, it is a very easy matter; but to produce a better in its place is a work extremely troublesome.
The pilot cannot mitigate the billows or calm the winds.
But the Lacedaemonians, who make it their first principle of action to serve their country's interest, know not any thing to be just or unjust by any measure but that.
When one is transported by rage, it is best to observe attentively the effects on those who deliver themselves over to the same passion.
The conduct of a wise politician is ever suited to the present posture of affairs. Often by foregoing a part he saves the whole, and by yielding in a small matter secures a greater.
Riches for the most part are hurtful to them that possess them.
Another Spartan, when he saw men sitting on stools in a lavatory, declared: May I never sit where it is impossible for me to get up and offer my seat to an older man.
The first evil those who are prone to talk suffer, is that they hear nothing.
The talkative listen to no one, for they are ever speaking. And the first evil that attends those who know not to be silent is that they hear nothing.
But a man cannot by writing a bill of divorce to his vice get rid of all trouble at once, and enjoy tranquillity by living apart.
Wickedness is a wonderfully diligent architect of misery, of shame, accompanied with terror, and commotion, and remorse, and endless perturbation.
He who least likes courting favour, ought also least to think of resenting neglect; to feel wounded at being refused a distinction can only arise from an overweening appetite to have it.
God alone is entirely exempt from all want of human virtues, that which needs least is the most absolute and divine.
We ought to regard books as we do sweetmeats, not wholly to aim at the pleasantest, but chiefly to respect the wholesomest; not forbidding either, but approving the latter most.
Immoderate grief is selfish, harmful, brings no advantage to either the mourner or the mourned, and dishonors the dead.
God is the brave man's hope, and not the coward's excuse.
Politics is not like an ocean voyage or a military campaign... something which leaves off as soon as reached. It is not a public chore to be gotten over with. It is a way of life.
What most of all enables a man to serve the public is not wealth, but content and independence; which, requiring no superfluity at home, distracts not the mind from the common good.
The present offers itself to our touch for only an instant of time and then eludes the senses.
We are more sensible of what is done against custom than against nature.
The usual disease of princes, grasping covetousness, had made them suspicious and quarrelsome neighbors.
In human life there is constant change of fortune; and it is unreasonable to expect an exemption from the common fate. Life itself decays, and all things are daily changing.
Distressed valor challenges great respect, even from an enemy.
The fact is that men who know nothing of decency in their own lives are only too ready to launch foul slanders against their betters and to offer them up as victims to the evil deity of popular envy.
Being summoned by the Athenians out of Sicily to plead for his life, Alcibiades absconded, saying that that criminal was a fool who studied a defence when he might fly for it.
A prating barber asked Archelaus how he would be trimmed. He answered, In silence.
Nature and wisdom never are at strife.
Cato requested old men not to add the disgrace of wickedness to old age, which was accompanied with many other evils.
Lampis, the sea commander, being asked how he got his wealth, answered, My greatest estate I gained easily enough, but the smaller slowly and with much labour.
It is a difficult task, O citizens, to make speeches to the belly, which has no ears.
Let a prince be guarded with soldiers, attended by councillors, and shut up in forts; yet if his thoughts disturb him, he is miserable.
Lysander, when Dionysius sent him two gowns, and bade him choose which he would carry to his daughter, said, She can choose best, and so took both away with him.
Knowledge of divine things for the most part, as Heraclitus says, is lost to us by incredulity.
Children ought to be led to honorable practices by means of encouragement and reasoning, and most certainly not by blows and ill treatment.
For the correct analogy for the mind is not a vessel that needs filling, but wood that needs igniting.
A man must have a less than ordinary share of sense that would furnish such plain and common rooms with silver-footed couches and purple coverlets and gold and silver plate.
Zeno first started that doctrine, that knavery is the best defence against a knave.
Wickedness frames the engines of her own torment. She is a wonderful artisan of a miserable life.
For it was not so much that by means of words I came to a complete understanding of things, as that from things I somehow had an experience which enabled me to follow the meaning of words.
Pompey bade Sylla recollect that more worshipped the rising than the setting sun.
Courage stands halfway between cowardice and rashness, one of which is a lack, the other an excess of courage.
The ripeness of adolescence is prodigal in pleasures, skittish, and in need of a bridle.
A warrior carries his shield for the sake of the entire line.
Silence is an answer to a wise man.
These Macedonians are a rude and clownish people; they call a spade a spade.
Statesmen are not only liable to give an account of what they say or do in public, but there is a busy inquiry made into their very meals, beds, marriages, and every other sportive or serious action.
There is never the body of a man, how strong and stout soever, if it be troubled and inflamed, but will take more harm and offense by wine being poured into it.
It is the admirer of himself, and not the admirer of virtue, that thinks himself superior to others.
As bees extract honey from thyme, the strongest and driest of herbs, so sensible men often get advantage and profit from the most awkward circumstances.
Instead of using medicine, better fast today.
The process may seem strange and yet it is very true. I did not so much gain the knowledge of things by the words, as words by the experience I had of things.
As small letters hurt the sight, so do small matters him that is too much intent upon them; they vex and stir up anger, which begets an evil habit in him in reference to greater affairs.
The giving of riches and honors to a wicked man is like giving strong wine to him that hath a fever.
Lamentation is the only musician that always, like a screech-owl, alights and sits on the roof of any angry man.
It is the usual consolation of the envious, if they cannot maintain their superiority, to represent those by whom they are surpassed as inferior to some one else.
There are two sentences inscribed upon the Ancient oracle... Know thyself and Nothing too much; and upon these all other precepts depend.
Grief is like a physical pain which must be allowed to subside somewhat on its own before medical treatment is applied.
Demosthenes overcame and rendered more distinct his inarticulate and stammering pronunciation by speaking with pebbles in his mouth.
Speech is like cloth of Arras opened and put abroad, whereby the imagery doth appear in figure; whereas in thoughts they lie but as packs.
Where the lion's skin will not reach, you must patch it out with the fox's.