List of Historical Quotes
Quotes About or From Ancient History
- "Tell me, Muse, of the man of many tricks, who wandered far and wide after he sacked Troy's sacred city, and saw the towns of many men and knew their mind."
--The Odyssey, i.1
- "You are the one who bakes the bappir in the big oven
Puts in order the piles of hulled grains,
Ninkasi, you are the one who bakes the bappir in the big oven,
Puts in order the piles of hulled grains."
--from The Hymn to Ninkasi (tr. by Miguel Civil)
- "Should one take each being singly and clarify its nature independently, making individual studies of, say man or lion, or ox and so on, or should one first posit the attributes common to all in respect of something common?"
--(Aristotle: Parts of Animals 639a16).
- "When the seventh day arrived, I sent forth and set free a dove. The dove went forth, but came back; There was no resting-place for it and she turned round. Then I sent forth and set free a swallow. The swallow went forth, but came back, There was no resting-place for it and she turned round. Then I sent forth and set free a raven. The raven went forth and, seeing that the waters had diminished, He eats, circles, caws, and turns not round."
--Translation by E. A. Speiser, in Ancient Near Eastern Texts from Epic of Gilgamesh
- "[The historian] affirming many things can, in the cloudy knowledge of mankind, hardly escape from many lies. But the poet...never maketh any circles about your imagination, to conjure you to believe for true what he writes."
--Sir Philip Sidney quoted in The Bearkeeper's Daughter
- "Here are the questions to which I should like every reader to give his close attention: what life and morals were like; through what men and what policies, in peace and in war, empire was established and enlarged. Then let him note how, with the gradual relaxation of discipline, morals first subsided, as it were, then sank lower and lower, and finally began the downward plunge which has brought us to our present time, when we can endure neither our vices nor their cure."
- "What chiefly makes the study of history beneficial and fruitful is this, that you behold the lessons of every kind of experience as upon a famous monument; from these you may choose for your own state what to imitate, and mark for avoidance what is shameful...."
- "It is the rare fortune of these days that a man may think what he likes and say what he thinks."
--Histories I.1 Tacitus
- "If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or your arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen."
- "Whereas external and deathless Nature has vouchsafed to men, as the greatest good and bringer of overwhelming benefaction, the emperor Augustus; the father who gives us happy life; the savior of all mankind in common whose provident care has not only fulfilled but even surpassed the hopes of all: for both land and sea are at peace, the cities are teeming with the blessings of concord, plenty, and respect for law, and the culmination and harvest of all good things bring fair hopes for the future and contentment with the present."
--The preamble to a provinical Asian decree
- 'Be quiet! The Roman calendar is the most perfect yet devised.
It has twelve months.'
'Except when it has thirteen, as this year.'
'And all of these months have either thirty-one or twenty-nine days.'
'Except Februarius, which has twenty-eight. Only this year, according to you, it has only twenty-four.'";
--Steven Saylor Murder on the Appian Way, p. 191.
- "And Lady Asherah of the Sea replies:
'Thy word, El, is wise;
Thou art wise unto eternity;
Lucky life is Thy word.
Our king is Aliyan Baal,
Our judge, and none is above Him.
Let both of Us drain His chalice;
Both of Us drain His cup!'"
--From Canaanite Seasonal Cycle Mythos
- "Besides this story of the rearing of the children, I also heard other things at Memphis in conversation with the priests of Hephaestus; and I visited Thebes and Heliopolis, too, for this very purpose, because I wished to know if the people of those places would tell me the same story as the priests at Memphis; for the people of Heliopolis are said to be the most learned of the Egyptians."
--Herodotus Book II.3.1
Head of a traveller, wherefore seeking whom
Whence by what way how purposed art thou come
To this well-nightingaled vicinity?
My object in enquiring is to know,
But if you happen to be deaf and dumb
And do not understand a word I say,
Then wave your hand to signify as much."
- "Fortunate Sophocles who after a long life died, a happy and a gifted man after writing many fine tragedies he made a good end, having endured no evil."
--By Phrynicus, a comic poet
- "There are three classes of citizens. The first are the rich, who are indolent and yet always crave more. The second are the poor, who have nothing, are full of envy, hate the rich, and are easily led by demagogues. Between the two extremes lie those who make the state secure and uphold the laws."
--From The Suppliants
- "If horses or oxen or lions had hands and could produce works of art, they too would represent the gods after their own fashion (fr. 15)."
--Xenophanes (Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
Zeus and Hera
- "But Zeus himself gave birth from his own head to bright-eyed Tritogeneia (29), the awful, the strife-stirring, the host-leader, the unwearying, the queen, who delights in tumults and wars and battles. But Hera without union with Zeus -- for she was very angry and quarrelled with her mate -- bare famous Hephaestus, who is skilled in crafts more than all the sons of Heaven."
--Hesiod Theogony 924ff
- "A long, long time ago. If I were there then, I would not be there now. If I were there now and at that time, I would have a new story...or an old story...or I might have no story at all..."
- "If sailor tales to sailor tunes,
Storm and adventure, heat and cold,
If schooners, islands, and maroons,
And buccaneers, and buried gold,
And all the old romance, retold
Exactly in the ancient way,
Can please, as me they pleased of old,
The wiser youngsters of today:
--So be it, and fall on!"
--R.L. Stevenson, Treasure Island
- "We should "come clean" with our world civ students and admit that we have no real idea about the relationships that existed between the civilizations of the ancient world - that its all speculation, myth draped in the shabby mantel of speculation and called TRUTH."
--Bill Schell, Murray State University
- "Before the Trojan war there is no indication of any common action in Hellas, nor indeed of the universal prevalence of the name .... The best proof of this is furnished by Homer. Born long after the Trojan War, he nowhere calls all of them by that name, nor indeed any of them except the followers of Achilles from Phthiotis, who were the original Hellenes: in his poems they are called Danaans, Argives, and Achaeans"
- "You think that YOU must therefore excel others in counsel; but you cannot thus claim preeminence in all things. Heaven has made one man an excellent soldier; of another it has made a dancer or a singer and player on the lyre; while yet in another Jove has implanted a wise understanding of which men reap fruit to the saving of many, and he himself knows more about it than any one ...."
--Iliad XIII, translated by Samuel Butler
- "The Wrath of Peleus' Son, the direful Spring of all the Grecian Woes, O Goddess, sing! that Wrath which hurl'd to Pluto's gloomy Reign the Souls of mighty Chiefs untimely slain; whose Limbs unbury'd on the naked Shore devouring Dogs and hungry Vultures tore. Since great Achilles and Atrides strove, such was the Sov'reign Doom, and such the Will of Jove."
--From The Iliad, translated by Pope
- "For a particular society the Amazon becomes the Other, the being upon whom are projected all of the society's doubts, fears and prejudices; the Amazon is the exact opposite of what a proper woman should be, her culture is the unnatural opposite of the natural order."
- "The simultaneous existence of nomadic warrior women and subjugated Athenian housewives suggests that two thousand years ago, relations between the sexes varied enormously from one population to the next."
- "We shoot the bow and throw the javelin and ride, but have never learned women's work ...."
--Herodotus Histories 4.114.1
- "He alone is the sage, the others only act as shadows."
- "Wisdom hasn't come a step further since Epicurus but has often gone many thousands of steps backwards."
- "It is impossible to live a pleasant life without living wisely and honorably and justly, and it is impossible to live wisely and honorably and justly without living pleasantly. Whenever any one of these is lacking, when, for instance, the man is not able to live wisely, though he lives honorably and justly, it is impossible for him to live a pleasant life."
--By Epicurus, from Principal Doctrines
- "The magnitude of pleasure reaches its limit in the removal of all pain. When such pleasure is present, so long as it is uninterrupted, there is no pain either of body or of mind or of both together."
--By Epicurus, from Principal Doctrines
- "All desires that do not lead to pain when they remain unsatisfied are unnecessary, but the desire is easily got rid of, when the thing desired is difficult to obtain or the desires seem likely to produce harm."
--Epicurus Principal Doctrines
- "Men make gods in their own image; those of the Ethiopians are black and snub-nosed, those of the Thracians have blue eyes and red hair (fr 16)."
--Xenophanes (Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy)