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Plato Quotes

58 of the best book quotes from Plato
  1. #1
    “And now, Athenians, I am not going to argue for my own sake, as you may think, but for yours, that you may not sin against the God by condemning me, who am his gift to you.”
  2. #2
    “I showed, not in word only but in deed, that, if I may be allowed to use such an expression, I cared not a straw for death, and that my great and only care was lest I should do an unrighteous or unholy thing.”
  3. #3
    “A man who is good for anything ought not to calculate the chance of living or dying; he ought only to consider whether in doing anything he is doing right or wrong—acting the part of a good man or of a bad.”
    author
    Plato
    book
    Apology
    character
    Socrates
    concepts
    goodrightwrong
  4. #4
    “This, O men of Athens, is the truth and the whole truth; I have concealed nothing, I have dissembled nothing.”
    author
    Plato
    book
    Apology
    character
    Socrates
    concepts
    truthliesconcealment
  5. #5
    “I am that gadfly which God has attached to the state, and all day long and in all places am always fastening upon you, arousing and persuading and reproaching you.”
  6. #6
    “I am certain, O men of Athens, that if I had engaged in politics, I should have perished long ago, and done no good either to you or to myself.”
  7. #7
    “I swear to you, Athenians, by the dog I swear!”
  8. #8
    “God only is wise; and by his answer he intends to show that the wisdom of men is worth little or nothing; he is not speaking of Socrates, he is only using my name by way of illustration, as if he said, He, O men, is the wisest, who, like Socrates, knows that his wisdom is in truth worth nothing.”
    author
    Plato
    person
    God
    book
    Apology
    character
    Socrates
    concepts
    wisdomtruthvalue
  9. #9
    “For the fear of death is indeed the pretence of wisdom, and not real wisdom, being a pretence of knowing the unknown; and no one knows whether death, which men in their fear apprehend to be the greatest evil, may not be the greatest good.”
    author
    Plato
    book
    Apology
    character
    Socrates
    concepts
    wisdomgoodevil
  1. #10
    “When I began to talk with him, I could not help thinking that he was not really wise, although he was thought wise by many, and still wiser by himself.”
  2. #11
    “Some one may wonder why I go about in private giving advice and busying myself with the concerns of others, but do not venture to come forward in public and advise the state. I will tell you why. You have heard me speak at sundry times and in divers places of an oracle or sign which comes to me, and is the divinity which Meletus ridicules in the indictment. This sign, which is a kind of voice, first began to come to me when I was a child; it always forbids but never commands me to do anything which I am going to do. This is what deters me from being a politician.”
  3. #12
    “I tell you that virtue is not given by money, but that from virtue comes money and every other good of man, public as well as private.”
  4. #13
    “I go about the world, obedient to the god, and search and make enquiry into the wisdom of any one, whether citizen or stranger, who appears to be wise; and if he is not wise, then in vindication of the oracle I show him that he is not wise; and my occupation quite absorbs me, and I have no time to give either to any public matter of interest or to any concern of my own, but I am in utter poverty by reason of my devotion to the god.”
  5. #14
    “I know that my plainness of speech makes them hate me, and what is their hatred but a proof that I am speaking the truth?”
    author
    Plato
    book
    Apology
    character
    Socrates
    concepts
    hatredtrutharguments
  6. #15
    “The strong arm of that oppressive power did not frighten me into doing wrong.”
    author
    Plato
    book
    Apology
    character
    Socrates
    concepts
    couragepowerTyranny
  7. #16
    “If a man were really able to instruct mankind, to receive money for giving instruction would, in my opinion, be an honour to him.”
    author
    Plato
    book
    Apology
    character
    Socrates
    concepts
    teachingmoneyHonor
  8. #17
    “Then I knew that not by wisdom do poets write poetry, but by a sort of genius and inspiration; they are like diviners or soothsayers who also say many fine things, but do not understand the meaning of them.”
    author
    Plato
    book
    Apology
    character
    Socrates
    concepts
    poetrywisdompoets
  9. #18
    “I can give you convincing evidence of what I say, not words only, but what you value far more—actions.”
    author
    Plato
    book
    Apology
    character
    Socrates
    concepts
    valueevidenceactions

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  1. #19
    “So I left him, saying to myself, as I went away: Well, although I do not suppose that either of us knows anything really beautiful and good, I am better off than he is,—for he knows nothing, and thinks that he knows; I neither know nor think that I know.”
    author
    Plato
    book
    Apology
    character
    Socrates
    concepts
    beautyknowledgegood
  2. #20
    “I found that the men most in repute were all but the most foolish; and that others less esteemed were really wiser and better.”
  3. #21
    “But, whether true or false, my opinion is that in the world of knowledge the idea of good appears last of all, and is seen only with an effort; and, when seen, is also inferred to be the universal author of all things beautiful and right, parent of light and of the lord of light in this visible world, and the immediate source of reason and truth in the intellectual; and that this is the power upon which he who would act rationally either in public or private life must have his eye fixed.”
  4. #22
    “Is there anything surprising in one who passes from divine contemplations to the evil state of man, misbehaving himself in a ridiculous manner; if, while his eyes are blinking and before he has become accustomed to the surrounding darkness, he is compelled to fight in courts of law, or in other places, about the images or the shadows of images of justice, and is endeavouring to meet the conceptions of those who have never yet seen absolute justice?”
  5. #23
    “Neither the uneducated and uninformed of the truth, nor yet those who never make an end of their education, will be able ministers of State; not the former, because they have no single aim of duty which is the rule of all their actions, private as well as public; nor the latter, because they will not act at all except upon compulsion, fancying that they are already dwelling apart in the islands of the blest.”
  6. #24
    “When he remembered his old habitation, and the wisdom of the den and his fellow-prisoners, do you not suppose that he would felicitate himself on the change, and pity them?”
  7. #25
    “He will require to grow accustomed to the sight of the upper world. And first he will see the shadows best, next the reflections of men and other objects in the water, and then the objects themselves; then he will gaze upon the light of the moon and the stars and the spangled heaven; and he will see the sky and the stars by night better than the sun or the light of the sun by day?”
  8. #26
    “Any one who has common sense will remember that the bewilderments of the eyes are of two kinds, and arise from two causes, either from coming out of the light or from going into the light, which is true of the mind’s eye, quite as much as of the bodily eye.”
  9. #27
    “Look again, and see what will naturally follow if the prisoners are released and disabused of their error. At first, when any of them is liberated and compelled suddenly to stand up and turn his neck round and walk and look towards the light, he will suffer sharp pains; the glare will distress him, and he will be unable to see the realities of which in his former state he had seen the shadows; and then conceive some one saying to him, that what he saw before was an illusion, but that now, when he is approaching nearer to being and his eye is turned towards more real existence, he has a clearer vision,—what will be his reply?”
  1. #28
    “The power and capacity of learning exists in the soul already; and that just as the eye was unable to turn from darkness to light without the whole body, so too the instrument of knowledge can only by the movement of the whole soul be turned from the world of becoming into that of being, and learn by degrees to endure the sight of being, and of the brightest and best of being, or in other words, of the good.”
  2. #29
    “You must not wonder that those who attain to this beatific vision are unwilling to descend to human affairs; for their souls are ever hastening into the upper world where they desire to dwell; which desire of theirs is very natural, if our allegory may be trusted.”
  3. #30
    “Wherefore each of you, when his turn comes, must go down to the general underground abode, and get the habit of seeing in the dark.”
  4. #31
    “If I am right, certain professors of education must be wrong when they say that they can put a knowledge into the soul which was not there before, like sight into blind eyes.”
  5. #32
    “Will he not fancy that the shadows which he formerly saw are truer than the objects which are now shown to him?”
  6. #33
    ″‘And if there were a contest, and he had to compete in measuring the shadows with the prisoners who had never moved out of the den, while his sight was still weak, and before his eyes had become steady (and the time which would be needed to acquire this new habit of sight might be very considerable), would he not be ridiculous? Men would say of him that up he went and down he came without his eyes; and that it was better not even to think of ascending; and if any one tried to loose another and lead him up to the light, let them only catch the offender, and they would put him to death.’
    ‘No question,’ he said.”
  7. #34
    “Let me show in a figure how far our nature is enlightened or unenlightened:—Behold! human beings living in a underground den, which has a mouth open towards the light and reaching all along the den; here they have been from their childhood, and have their legs and necks chained so that they cannot move, and can only see before them, being prevented by the chains from turning round their heads. Above and behind them a fire is blazing at a distance, and between the fire and the prisoners there is a raised way; and you will see, if you look, a low wall built along the way, like the screen which marionette players have in front of them, over which they show the puppets.”
  8. #35
    “The prison-house is the world of sight, the light of the fire is the sun, and you will not misapprehend me if you interpret the journey upwards to be the ascent of the soul into the intellectual world according to my poor belief, which, at your desire, I have expressed—whether rightly or wrongly God knows.”
  9. #36
    “Whereas the truth is that the State in which the rulers are most reluctant to govern is always the best and most quietly governed, and the State in which they are most eager, the worst.”

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  1. #37
    “You have shown me a strange image, and they are strange prisoners.”
  2. #38
    “Did you never observe the narrow intelligence flashing from the keen eye of a clever rogue—how eager he is, how clearly his paltry soul sees the way to his end; he is the reverse of blind, but his keen eye-sight is forced into the service of evil, and he is mischievous in proportion to his cleverness?”
  3. #39
    “I think that he would rather suffer anything than entertain these false notions and live in this miserable manner.”
  4. #40
    “There will be no injustice in compelling our philosophers to have a care and providence of others.”
  5. #41
    “For certainly old age has a great sense of calm and freedom; when the passions relax their hold, then, as Sophocles says, we are freed from the grasp not of one mad master only, but of many. The truth is, Socrates, that these regrets, and also the complaints about relations, are to be attributed to the same cause, which is not old age, but men’s characters and tempers; for he who is of a calm and happy nature will hardly feel the pressure of age, but to him who is of an opposite disposition youth and age are equally a burden.”
  6. #42
    “I see that you are indifferent about money, which is a characteristic rather of those who have inherited their fortunes than of those who have acquired them; the makers of fortunes have a second love of money as a creation of their own, resembling the affection of authors for their own poems, or of parents for their children, besides that natural love of it for the sake of use and profit which is common to them and all men. And hence they are very bad company, for they can talk about nothing but the praises of wealth.”
  7. #43
    “And so of all other things;—justice is useful when they are useless, and useless when they are useful?”
  8. #44
    “For let me tell you, that the more the pleasures of the body fade away, the greater to me is the pleasure and charm of conversation.”
  9. #45
    “For the highest reach of injustice is, to be deemed just when you are not.”
  1. #46
    “Listen, then, he said; I proclaim that justice is nothing else than the interest of the stronger.”
  2. #47
    “Then justice is the art which gives good to friends and evil to enemies.”
  3. #48
    “There is nothing which for my part I like better, Cephalus, than conversing with aged men; for I regard them as travellers who have gone a journey which I too may have to go, and of whom I ought to enquire, whether the way is smooth and easy, or rugged and difficult.”
  4. #49
    “A young person cannot judge what is allegorical and what is literal; anything that he receives into his mind at that age is likely to become indelible and unalterable; and therefore it is most important that the tales which the young first hear should be models of virtuous thoughts.”
  5. #50
    “They ought to be dangerous to their enemies, and gentle to their friends; if not, they will destroy themselves without waiting for their enemies to destroy them.”
  6. #51
    “Have you never observed how invincible and unconquerable is spirit and how the presence of it makes the soul of any creature to be absolutely fearless and indomitable?”
  7. #52
    “What fault do you find with them? A fault which is most serious, I said; the fault of telling a lie, and, what is more, a bad lie.”
  8. #53
    “There is the situation of the city—to find a place where nothing need be imported is wellnigh impossible.”
  9. #54
    “I suspect that many will not be satisfied with the simpler way of life.”
  10. #55
    “One man cannot practise many arts with success.”
  11. #56
    “People who are to be comfortable are accustomed to lie on sofas, and dine off tables, and they should have sauces and sweets in the modern style.”
    author
    Plato
    book
    Republic
    character
    Glaucon
    concepts
    comfortwealthsarcasm
  12. #57
    “Shall we just carelessly allow children to hear any casual tales which may be devised by casual persons, and to receive into their minds ideas for the most part the very opposite of those which we should wish them to have when they are grown up?”
  13. #58
    “The tools which would teach men their own use would be beyond price.”
    author
    Plato
    book
    Republic
    character
    Glaucon
    concepts
    toolsteachingvalue
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