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Daily Quote

The following words of wisdom are selected because they deal with living well. Enjoy today's inspirational quotation from an ancient writer or philosopher:

How to Live Better


Ancient philosophers gave a lot of thought to how to make the most out of life. Components of a good life include pleasure, happiness, wisdom, and virtue. A happy, good person will not harm his fellows. His life will be better than that of a less than happy person and so will be that of those in his sphere of influence.

"As to pleasure the philosophers of old expressed varying opinions. Epicurus made pleasure the highest good and defined it as 'a well balanced condition of body.' Antisthenes the Socratic called it the greatest evil and used this expression: May I go mad rather than feel pleasure. Speusippus and all the Old Academy declared that pleasure and pain are two evils opposed to each other and what lay midway between was the good. Zeno thought that pleasure was indifferent, neutral, neither good nor evil. Critolaus the Peripatetic declared that pleasure is an evil that gives birth to other evils: injustice, sloth, forgetfulness, and cowardice. Earlier than any of these, Plato discoursed in so many and varied ways about pleasure, that all the opinions I have set forth may seem to have flowed from the fount of his discourses. Whenever Epicurus was mentioned, Taurus would always quote the Stoic Hierocles: Pleasure an end, a harlot's creed; there is no Providence, not even a harlot's creed."
Aulus Gellius Attic Nights. 2.IX.V.

Reading Is Not the Answer

For some philosophers, the good person will not be distressed when he can't keep up with the Joneses, but will probably try to avoid going too far in any direction, even those that seem good. Epictetus had words to say about those who pursued a life devoted to reading, which, although joltingly contrary to today's accepted wisdom, is probably easier for bibliophiles and scholars to accept than some of the words on a related topic by Heraclitus criticizing some of the greats of ancient literature:
Much learning does not teach understanding, otherwise it would have taught Hesiod and Pythagoras, Xenophanes and Hecataeus.

Homer deserves to be thrown out of the contests and flogged and Archilochus too.
Heraclitus, by William Harris

Do Everything in Moderation

Some ancient philosophers explain that too much austerity rivals too much indulgence in its capacity to divert one from the good life. None of the "you can't be too rich or too skinny" for these ancient sages. Thus, in addition to wisdom and virtue-building, moderation is a key element.

Be Polite

From the East come passages eschewing rudeness:

"The Master [Confucius] said, "Respectfulness, without the rules of propriety, becomes laborious bustle; carefulness, without the rules of propriety, becomes timidity; boldness, without the rules of propriety, becomes insubordination; straightforwardness, without the rules of propriety, becomes rudeness."

It's not unique to Confucianism. The Greek Stoic Epictetus comes close in his attention to grooming (e.g., "It was impossible for men's feet not to be made muddy and dirty when they pass through mud and dirt; for this reason nature provided water and hands to wash with.").

Notice the Contradictory Advice

It is impossible to follow all the prescribed behaviors while avoiding the proscribed, but following those that seem right/on track and that you can follow, may lead you to a personally better life or one that helps the world.

I hope these daily citations inspire you to a noble and philosophical life.

Bookmark this page so you can return frequently or even daily to read another inspirational quote. There is an entire year's worth.

More on Major Philosophers or Compilers of Philosophy


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