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Socrates was born around 470 BC, in Athens, Greece. Very little is known about him except through the writings of later people, predominantly his student Plato. He is the original founder of Ethics and western Philosophy, which was taken up and added to, by Plato, and Plato’s student Aristotle.

It is believed he started his early career as a stonemason, as was his father, and was a keen benefactor of the state of Athens. Socrates slowly became known as a wise man as he developed and tuned his way of thinking: logical inquiry, known as the Socratic method  - closely allied to today’s scientific method - using hypothesis to question what we know or believe. He found many willing to listen and learn from him and as a teacher he requested no payments.


Across the years, despite his altruistic nature, his questioning of political and influential citizens (with regard to ethical behavior) created many enemies. Following the defeat of Athens by the Spartans, Socrates spoke well of Sparta, angering many of his fellow citizens. Eventually he was arrested, found guilty of corrupting the youth and not believing in the state gods, and sentenced to death. His execution consisted of drinking poison (hemlock) around 399 BC, at the age of 71 (approximately).


A system of morality which is based on relative emotional values is a mere illusion, a thoroughly vulgar conception which has nothing sound in it and nothing true.

All mens souls are immortal, but the souls of the righteous are immortal and divine.

A multitude of books distracts the mind.

An education obtained with money is worse than no education at all.

An honest man is always a child.

As for me, all I know is that I know nothing.

As to marriage or celibacy, let a man take which course he will, he will be sure to repent.


Be as you wish to seem.

Beauty is a short-lived tyranny.

Beauty is the bait which with delight allures man to enlarge his kind.

Be of good cheer about death and know this as a truth - that no evil can happen to a good man, either in life or after death.

Be slow to fall into friendship; but when you are in, continue firm and constant.

Beware the barrenness of a busy life.

By all means, marry. If you get a good wife, you'll become happy; if you get a bad one, you'll become a philosopher.


Call no man unhappy until he is married.

Children today are tyrants. They contradict their parents, gobble their food, and tyrannize their teachers.

Contentment is natural wealth, luxury is artificial poverty.


Death may be the greatest of all human blessings.


Employ your time in improving yourself by other mens writings, so that you shall gain easily what others have labored hard for.

Enjoy yourself - it's later than you think.


False words are not only evil in themselves, but they infect the soul with evil.

Fame is the perfume of heroic deeds.

From the deepest desires often come the deadliest hate.


Give me beauty in the inward soul; may the outward and the inward man be at one.


Happiness is unrepentant pleasure.

He is a man of courage who does not run away, but remains at his post and fights against the enemy.

He is richest who is content with the least, for content is the wealth of nature.

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

How many are the things I can do without!


I am not an Athenian, nor a Greek, but a citizen of the world.

I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing.

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

I decided that it was not wisdom that enabled poets to write their poetry, but a kind of instinct or inspiration, such as you find in seers and prophets who deliver all their sublime messages without knowing in the least what they mean.

I don't know why I did it, I don't know why I enjoyed it, and I don't know why I'll do it again.

If all misfortunes were laid in one common heap whence everyone must take an equal portion, most people would be contented to take their own and depart.

If a man is proud of his wealth, he should not be praised until it is known how he employs it.

If you continue to take delight in idle argumentation you may be qualified to combat with the sophists, but will never know how to live with men.

I know nothing except the fact of my ignorance.

In childhood be modest, in youth temperate, in adulthood just, and in old age prudent.

I only wish that ordinary people had an unlimited capacity for doing harm; then they might have an unlimited power for doing good.

I pray to you, O God that I may be beautiful within.

It is not living that matters, but living rightly.

I was really too honest a man to be a politician and live.


Know yourself.


Let him that would move the world first move himself.

Life contains but two tragedies. One is not to get your heart's desire; the other is to get it.


My advice to you is get married: if you find a good wife you'll be happy; if not, you'll become a philosopher.


Nature has given us two ears, two eyes, and but one tongue - to the end that we should hear and see more than we speak.

No man undertakes a trade he has not learned, even the meanest; yet everyone thinks himself sufficiently qualified for the hardest of all trades, that of government.

Nothing is to be preferred before justice.

Not life, but good life, is to be chiefly valued.


Once made equal to man, woman becomes his superior.

One thing only I know, and that is that I know nothing.

One who is injured ought not to return the injury, for on no account can it be right to do an injustice; and it is not right to return an injury, or to do evil to any man, however much we have suffered from him.

Ordinary people seem not to realize that those who really apply themselves in the right way to philosophy are directly and of their own accord preparing themselves for dying and death.


Remember, no human condition is ever permanent. Then you will not be overjoyed in good fortune nor too scornful in misfortune.


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

Serenity, regularity, absence of vanity, sincerity, simplicity, veracity, equanimity, fixity, non-irritability, adaptability, humility, tenacity, integrity, nobility, magnanimity, charity, generosity, purity. Practise daily these eighteen "ities" You will soon attain immortality.

Slanderers do not hurt me because they do not hit me.


The beginning of wisdom is a definition of terms.

The comic and the tragic lie inseparably close, like light and shadow.

The envious person grows lean with the fatness of their neighbor.

The fewer our wants the more we resemble the Gods.

The greatest way to live with honor in this world is to be what we pretend to be.

The hottest love has the coldest end.

The hour of departure has arrived and we go our ways; I to die, and you to live. Which is better? Only God knows.

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

The only good is knowledge and the only evil is ignorance.

The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.

The poets are only the interpreters of the Gods.

The unexamined life is not worth living.

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

They are not only idle who do nothing, but they are idle also who might be better employed.

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

To fear death, my friends, is only to think ourselves wise, without being wise: for it is to think that we know what we do not know. For anything that men can tell, death may be the greatest good that can happen to them: but they fear it as if they knew quite well that it was the greatest of evils. And what is this but that shameful ignorance of thinking that we know what we do not know?

To find yourself, think for yourself.

To know, is to know that you know nothing. That is the meaning of true knowledge.

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


Wars and revolutions and battles are due simply and solely to the body and its desires. All wars are undertaken for the acquisition of wealth; and the reason why we have to acquire wealth is the body, because we are slaves in its service.

What you cannot enforce, do not command.

When desire, having rejected reason and overpowered judgment which leads to right, is set in the direction of the pleasure which beauty can inspire, and when again under the influence of its kindred desires it is moved with violent motion towards the beauty of corporeal forms, it acquires a surname from this very violent motion, and is called love.

Whenever, therefore, people are deceived and form opinions wide of the truth, it is clear that the error has slid into their minds through the medium of certain resemblances to that truth.

Where there is reverence there is fear, but there is not reverence everywhere that there is fear, because fear presumably has a wider extension than reverence.

Whom do I call educated? First, those who manage well the circumstances they encounter day by day. Next, those who are decent and honorable in their intercourse with all men, bearing easily and good naturedly what is offensive in others and being as agreeable and reasonable to their associates as is humanly possible to be... those who hold their pleasures always under control and are not ultimately overcome by their misfortunes... those who are not spoiled by their successes, who do not desert their true selves but hold their ground steadfastly as wise and sober-minded men.

Wind buffs up empty bladders; opinion, fools.

Wisdom begins in wonder.

Worthless people live only to eat and drink; people of worth eat and drink only to live.

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