50 Authentic Quotes From Ancient Philosophers To Make You Think

quotes from ancient philosophers

Is your world filled with noise and distractions like mine? Sometimes, we need to pause and listen to the wisdom of the ages. Ancient philosophers left us with timeless insights that are still relevant today.

From Socrates to Seneca, these quotes from ancient philosophers have the power to inspire us, challenge our perspectives, and guide us toward a deeper understanding of ourselves and the world around us. I’ve included two stoic philosophers, Marcus Aurelius and Seneca. They believed that

  1. Ethics: Stoics believed that the path to happiness and fulfillment is found in accepting the moment as it presents itself by not allowing oneself to be controlled by the desire for pleasure or by the fear of pain.
  2. Logic: Stoics emphasized the importance of understanding the processes of nature and the reasoning behind all things.
  3. Physics: Stoics held a materialistic worldview, believing that all things are composed of matter and are ultimately governed by reason.
  4. Virtue: Stoics believed that virtue is the only true good and should be the ultimate aim of human beings. Virtues such as wisdom, justice, courage, and self-control were highly valued.
  5. Emotions: Stoics sought to attain a state of apatheia, or freedom from passion, by training themselves to separate their feelings from their reasoning.
  6. Cosmopolitanism: Stoics believed in the unity of all people and saw themselves as citizens of the world rather than any particular nation or state.

I tend to spend more time than I should reading deep quotes from ancient philosophers. Maybe I’m a philosopher at heart. Let’s uncover these bits of wisdom together and discover the beauty of ancient thought that continues to echo through the passages of time.

Quotes From Ancient Philosophers


Aristotle was an ancient Greek Philosopher who studied under Plato and wrote many books.

  1. “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.”
  2. “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”
  3. “Happiness depends upon ourselves.”
  4. “Anybody can become angry – that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way – that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy.”
  5. “Excellence is never an accident. It is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, and intelligent execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives – choice, not chance, determines your destiny.”
  6. “Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.”
  7. “Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work.”
  8. “What is a friend? A single soul dwelling in two bodies.”
  9. “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”
  10. “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

Marcus Aurelius

Marcus Aurelius was a Roman emperor and Philosopher. His book Meditations is excellent.

  1. “You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”
  2. “Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.”
  3. “Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one.”
  4. “If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.”
  5. “The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.”
  6. “When you arise in the morning think of what a privilege it is to be alive, to think, to enjoy, to love…”
  7. “The best revenge is to be unlike him who performed the injury.”
  8. “It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live.”
  9. “Our life is what our thoughts make it.”
  10. “If it is not right do not do it; if it is not true do not say it.”

Sun Tzu

Sun Tzu was an ancient Chinese Military strategist noted for his book The Art of War.

  1. “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.”
  2. “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”
  3. “Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt.”
  4. “All warfare is based on deception.”
  5. “Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.”
  6. “In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity.”
  7. “Appear weak when you are strong, and strong when you are weak.”
  8. “The greatest victory is that which requires no battle.”
  9. “Treat your men as you would your own beloved sons. And they will follow you into the deepest valley.”
  10. “There is no instance of a nation benefiting from prolonged warfare.”


Born in Spain, he is known as a Stoic Philosopher

  1. “We suffer more in imagination than in reality.”
  2. “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”
  3. “All cruelty springs from weakness.”
  4. “Difficulties strengthen the mind, as labor does the body.”
  5. “It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare, it is because we do not dare that they are difficult.”
  6. “As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters.”
  7. “He who is brave is free.”
  8. “True happiness is to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future, not to amuse ourselves with either hopes or fears but to rest satisfied with what we have, which is sufficient.”
  9. “You act like mortals in all that you fear, and like immortals in all that you desire.”
  10. “It is not the man who has too little, but the man who craves more, that is poor.”


  1. The beginning is the most important part of the work.”
  2. “Wise men speak because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something.”
  3. “We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.”
  4. “The greatest wealth is to live content with little.”
  5. “The measure of a man is what he does with power.”
  6. “One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.”
  7. “Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws.”
  8. “Only the dead have seen the end of war.”
  9. “The price good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.”
  10. “The first and greatest victory is to conquer yourself; to be conquered by yourself is of all things most shameful and vile.”

Use these quotes to inspire yourself. Write about your philosophies in your journal. Decide how to integrate them into your life. Journaling is a great way to get your thoughts, ideas, and plans down on paper.

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