50 Famous Quotes by Plato

Plato is perhaps one of the most influential Classical philosophers of all time. Buzzle brings you a selection of some of the most famous quotes by Plato.
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Plato quote on courage
"There are two things a person should never be angry at, what they can help, and what they cannot."
― Plato

Plato was a 4th century BCE Greek philosopher, known for his outstanding works such as the Republic and the Symposium, amongst others. He was also a renowned mathematician and rhetorician. Considered to be one of the most important people who helped in founding a solid base for the Western philosophical tradition, Plato inspired the world with his sophisticated understanding of politics, and continues to do so even today. In fact, historical references tell us that Plato hailed from one of the most affluent and politically active Athenian families, a social background that is reflected through most of his writings. There is an entire philosophical school of thought, known as Platonism, which is based on his ideals and doctrines.

Buzzle has compiled some of the most striking and famous quotes by Plato in this write-up. We hope that these quotes inspire you to understand politics, love, and life in a better way.

Plato's Quotes from "The Republic"

Quote on work

The heaviest penalty for declining to rule is to be ruled by someone inferior to yourself.

If women are expected to do the same work as men, we must teach them the same things.

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

The beginning is the most important part of the work.

Musical innovation is full of danger to the State, for when modes of music change, the laws of the State always change with them.

Quote on liberty

The soul takes nothing with her to the next world but her education and her culture. At the beginning of the journey to the next world, one's education and culture can either provide the greatest assistance, or else act as the greatest burden, to the person who has just died.

Bodily exercise, when compulsory, does no harm to the body; but knowledge which is acquired under compulsion obtains no hold on the mind.

There is in every one of us, even those who seem to be most moderate, a type of desire that is terrible, wild, and lawless.

The society we have described can never grow into a reality or see the light of day, and there will be no end to the troubles of states, or indeed, my dear Glaucon, of humanity itself, till philosophers become rulers in this world, or till those we now call kings and rulers really and truly become philosophers, and political power and philosophy thus come into the same hands.

Either we shall find what it is we are seeking or at least we shall free ourselves from the persuasion that we know what we do not know.

Quote on money-makers

Excess of liberty, whether it lies in state or individuals, seems only to pass into excess of slavery.

Nothing beautiful without struggle.

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.

It is only just that anything that grows up on its own should feel it has nothing to repay for an upbringing which it owes no one.

Money-makers are tiresome company, as they have no standard but cash value.

Plato's Quotes About Politics

Quote on rulers

The price good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.

In politics we presume that everyone who knows how to get votes knows how to administer a city or a state. When we are ill ... we do not ask for the handsomest physician, or the most eloquent one.

Dictatorship naturally arises out of democracy, and the most aggravated form of tyranny and slavery out of the most extreme liberty.

Tyranny naturally arises out of democracy.

Our object in the construction of the state is the greatest happiness of the whole, and not that of any one class.

Quote on democracy

Whatever deceives men seems to produce a magical enchantment.

The rulers of the state are the only persons who ought to have the privilege of lying, either at home or abroad; they may be allowed to lie for the good of the state.

We are twice armed if we fight with faith.

Those who tell the stories rule society.

Democracy... is a charming form of government, full of variety and disorder; and dispensing a sort of equality to equals and unequals alike.

Plato on Philosophy, Love, and More ...

Quote on kindness

Wise men speak because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something.

Every heart sings a song, incomplete, until another heart whispers back. Those who wish to sing always find a song. At the touch of a lover, everyone becomes a poet.

Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.

Books are immortal sons defying their sires.

Ignorance, the root and stem of every evil.

Quote on life

The madness of love is the greatest of heaven's blessings.

Human behavior flows from three main sources: desire, emotion, and knowledge.

There are three classes of men; lovers of wisdom, lovers of honor, and lovers of gain.

Courage is knowing what not to fear.

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.

Quote on life

Necessity is the mother of invention.

"Excellence" is not a gift, but a skill that takes practice. We do not act "rightly" because we are "excellent"; in fact we achieve "excellence" by acting "rightly".

People are like dirt. They can either nourish you and help you grow as a person or they can stunt your growth and make you wilt and die.

A hero is born among a hundred, a wise man is found among a thousand, but an accomplished one might not be found even among a hundred thousand men.

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.

Quote on love

Poets utter great and wise things which they do not themselves understand.

Man is a being in search of meaning.

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

Those who are able to see beyond the shadows and lies of their culture will never be understood, let alone believed, by the masses.

Poetry is nearer to vital truth than history.

Quote on wealth

True friendship can exist only between equals.

Beauty of style and harmony and grace and good rhythm depend on simplicity.

Ideas are the source of all things.

Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, a charm to sadness, gaiety and life to everything. It is the essence of order and lends to all that is good and just and beautiful.

Wealth is the parent of luxury and indolence, and poverty of meanness and viciousness, and both of discontent.

Plato breathed his last sometime in the middle of the 4th century BCE. Sources tell us that he died at the age of 80. While there is no conclusive theory on how the philosopher might have actually died, the world definitely lost one of the most enlightened minds that walked our planet. Nevertheless, Plato's works in different fields still motivates and influences us, and will surely continue doing so in the years to come.
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Published: April 5, 2014
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