Quotations by Aristotle


It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
(Attributed)
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Whatsoever that be within us that feels, thinks, desires, and animates, is something celestial, divine, and, consequently, imperishable.

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
(Attributed)
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The gods, too, are fond of a joke.

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
(Attributed)
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Dignity does not consist in possessing honors, but in deserving them.

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
(Attributed)
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How many a dispute could have been deflated into a single paragraph if the disputants had dared to define their terms?

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
(Attributed)
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There is a foolish corner in the brain of the wisest man.

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
(Attributed)
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Bad men are full of repentance.

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
(Attributed)
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Misfortune shows those who are not friends really but only because of some casual utility.

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Eudemian Ethics, Book 7, sec. 1238a, l. 20 [tr. Rackham]
    (Source)

Alt. trans.: "Misfortune shows those who are not really friends, but friends only for some accidental utility." [tr. Solomon]
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Hence a young man is not a proper hearer of lectures on political science; for he is inexperienced in the actions that occur in life, but its discussions start from these and are about these; and, further, since he tends to follow his passions, his study will be vain and unprofitable, because the end aimed at is not knowledge but action.

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Nichomachean Ethics I:3: 1095a2-5
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What lies in our power to do, it lies in our power not to do.

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Nichomachean Ethics, 3.5 [tr. Thomson (1953)]
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The brave man is the man who faces or fears the right thing for the right purpose in the right manner at the right moment.

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Nichomachean Ethics, 3.7 [tr. J. Thomson (1953)]
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A good man thinks it more blessed to give than to receive.

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Nichomachean Ethics, 4.1 [tr. Thomson (1953)]
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Anyone can become angry — that is easy, but to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way — that is not easy.

[οὕτω δὲ καὶ τὸ μὲν ὀργισθῆναι παντὸς καὶ ῥᾴδιον, καὶ τὸ δοῦναι ἀργύριον καὶ δαπανῆσαι· τὸ δ᾽ ᾧ καὶ ὅσον καὶ ὅτε καὶ οὗ ἕνεκα καὶ ὥς, οὐκέτι παντὸς οὐδὲ ῥᾴδιον]

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Nichomachean Ethics, Book 2 [II.1109a27] (c. 350 BC)

Alt trans.:
  • "Any one can get angry — that is easy — or give or spend money; but to do this to the right person, to the right extent, at the right time, with the right motive, and in the right way, that is not for every one, nor is it easy."
  • "The man who gets angry at the right things and with the right people, and in the right way and at the right time, and for the right length of time, is commended."
  • "It is easy to fly into a passion -- anybody can do that -- but to be angry with the right person and to the right extent and at the right time and with the right object and in the right way -- that is not easy, and it is not everyone who can do it." [tr.  Thompson (1953); cited as "2.9"]
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For the things we have to learn before we can do, we learn by doing.

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Nichomachean Ethics, II.1103a33 (c. 350 BC)
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The vices respectively fall short of or exceed what is right in both passions and actions, while virtue both finds and chooses that which is intermediate.

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Nichomachean Ethics, II.1107a4 (c. 350 BC)

Alt. trans.: "Some vices miss what is right because they are deficient, others because they are excessive, in feelings or in actions, while virtue finds and chooses the mean."

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It is the mark of an educated man to look for precision in each class of things just so far as the nature of the subject admits; it is evidently equally foolish to accept probable reasoning from a mathematician and to demand from a rhetorician scientific proofs.

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Nicomachean Ethics, I.1094b24 (c. 325 BC)

Alt trans.: "It is the mark of an instructed mind to rest satisfied with the degree of precision which the nature of the subject admits and not to seek exactness where only an approximation is possible."
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It is not always the same thing to be a good man and a good citizen

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Nicomachean Ethics (325 BC)
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We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit.

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Nicomachean Ethics (c. 350 BC) (paraphrase)

Variants: "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." "We are what we repeatedly do, therefore excellence is not an act, but a habit."

Not actually Aristotle, but a summary by  Will Durant,  The Story of Philosophy: The Lives and Opinions of the World's Greatest Philosophers (1926), ch. II "Aristotle and Greek Science," Part VII "Ethics and the Nature of Happiness" (1926):
Excellence is an art won by training and habituation: we do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have these because we have acted rightly; 'these virtues are formed in man by his doing the actions'; we are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit: 'the good of man is a working of the soul in the way of excellence in a complete life... for as it is not one swallow or one fine day that makes a spring, so it is not one day or a short time that makes a man blessed and happy.'"
The quoted phrases are from the Nicomachean Ethics, Book 2, ch. 4; Book 1, ch. 7.
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The generality of men are naturally apt to be swayed by fear rather than reverence, and to refrain from evil rather because of the punishment that it brings than because of its own foulness.

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Nicomachean Ethics, bk. 10, ch. 9
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We will more easily accomplish what is proper if, like archers, we have a target in sight.

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Nicomachean Ethics, Book 1 (350 BC)
    (Source)

Alt. trans.:
  • “It concerns us to know the purposes we seek in life, for then, like archers aiming at a definite mark, we shall be more likely to attain what we want.”
  • Shall we not, like archers who have a mark to aim at, be more likely to hit upon what is right?" [tr. Ross]
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For the man who is truly good and wise, we think, bears all the chances life becomingly and always makes the best of circumstances, as a good general makes the best military use of the army at his command and a good shoemaker makes the best shoes out of the hides that are given him; and so with all other craftsmen.

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Nicomachean Ethics, Book 1, ch. 10, sec. 13 [1101a] (350 BC) [tr. Ross (1908)]
    (Source)

Alt. trans.:
  • "For we hold that the man who is truly good and wise will bear with dignity whatever fortune sends, and will always make the best of his circumstances, as a good general will turn the forces at his command to the best account, and a good shoemaker will make the best shoe that can be made out of a given piece of leather, and so on with all other crafts." [tr. Peters (1893)]
  • "For our conception of the truly good and sensible man is that he bears all the chances of life with decorum and always does what is noblest in the circumstances, as a good general uses the forces at his command to the best advantage in war, a good cobbler makes the best shoe with the leather that is given him, and so on through the whole series of the arts." [tr. Weldon (1892)]
  • "We hold that the truly good and wise man will bear all kinds of fortune in a seemly way, and will always act in the noblest manner that the circumstances allow; even as a good general makes the most effective use of the forces at his disposal, and a good shoemaker makes the finest shoe possible out of the leather supplied him, and so on with all the other crafts and professions." [tr. Rackham (1926)]
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Nevertheless even under these [misfortunes] the force of nobility shines out, when a man bears calmly many great disasters, not from insensibility, but because he is generous and of a great soul. Setting happiness then, as we do, not in the outward surroundings of man, but in his inward state, we may fairly say that no one who has attained to the bliss of virtue will ever justly become an object of pity or contempt.

[ὅμως δὲ καὶ ἐν τούτοις διαλάμπει τὸ καλόν, ἐπειδὰν φέρῃ τις εὐκόλως πολλὰς καὶ μεγάλας ἀτυχίας, μὴ δι᾽ ἀναλγησίαν, ἀλλὰ γεννάδας ὢν καὶ μεγαλόψυχος. εἰ δ᾽ εἰσὶν αἱ ἐνέργειαι κύριαι τῆς ζωῆς, καθάπερ εἴπομεν, οὐδεὶς ἂν γένοιτο τῶν μακαρίων ἄθλιος]

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Nicomachean Ethics, Book 1, ch. 11 (1100b.13–14) (c. 325 BC) [tr. Stock (1897)]
    (Source)

In St. George William Joseph Stock, Lectures in the Lyceum or Aristotle's ethics for English readers, Lecture 6 (1897).

Often highly paraphrased: "Suffering becomes beautiful when anyone bears great calamities with cheerfulness, not through insensibility but through greatness of mind."

Alt. trans.:
  • "But nevertheless, even in these [misfortunes], nobility of the soul is conspicuous, when a man bears and digests many and great misfortunes, not from insensibility, but because he is high spirited and magnanimous. But if the energies are the things that constitute the bliss or the misery of life, as we said, no happy man can ever become miserable." [tr. Vincent (1835)]
  • "Yet even in these [misfortunes] nobility shines through, when a man bears with resignation many great misfortunes, not through insensibility to pain but through nobility and greatness of soul. If activities are, as we said, what gives life its character, no happy man can become miserable." [tr. Ross (1908), Book 1, ch. 10]
  • "But nevertheless true worth shines out even here, in the calm endurance of many great misfortunes, not through insensibility, but through nobility and greatness of soul. And if it is what a man does that determines the character of his life, as we said, then no happy man will become miserable." [tr. Peters (1893), Book 1, ch. 10, 13]
  • "Still even in these circumstances nobility shines out, when a person bears the weight of accumulated misfortunes with calmness, not from insensibility but from innate dignity and magnanimity. But if it is the activities which determine the life, as we said, nobody who is fortunate can become miserable." [tr. Weldon (1892), Book 1, ch. 11]
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For though we love both the truth and our friends, piety requires us to honor the truth first.

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Nicomachean Ethics, Book 1, ch. 6 (I.1096a16) [tr. T. Irwin (1985)]

Alt trans.: "Piety requires us to honor truth above our friends."
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For one swallow does not make a summer, nor does one day; and so too one day, or a short time, does not make a man blessed and happy.

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Nicomachean Ethics, Book 1, Sec. 7 (1098a) (350 BC) [tr. Ross (1908)]
    (Source)

Alt. trans.:
  • "For one swallow or one fine day does not make a spring, nor does one day or any small space of time make a blessed or happy man." [tr. Peters (1893)]
  • "For one swallow does not make a spring, nor does one day. Nor, similarly, does one day or a short time make someone blessed and happy." [tr. Reeve (2014)]
  • "For as one swallow or one day does not make a spring, so one day ora short time does not make a fortunate or happy man." [tr. Weldon (1892)]
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It is also characteristic of the great-souled man … to be haughty towards men of position and fortune, but courteous towards those of moderate station, because it is difficult and distinguished to be superior to the great, but easy to outdo the lowly, and to adopt a high manner with the former is not ill-bred, but it is vulgar to lord it over humble people: it is like putting forth one’s strength against the weak.

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Nicomachean Ethics, Book 4, ch. 3, l. 26 – 1124b.19 [tr. Rackham]
    (Source)

Sometimes paraphrased: "It is not ill-bred to adopt a high manner with the great and the powerful, but it is vulgar to lord it over humble people."

Alt. trans.: "Towards those in high position and prosperity he bears himself with pride, but towards ordinary men with moderation; for in the former case it is difficult to show superiority, and to do so is a lordly mater; whereas in the latter case it is easy. To be haughty among the great is no proof of bad breeding, but haughtiness among the lowly is as base-born a thing as it is to make trial of great strength upon the weak." [tr. Williams (1869)]
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The least initial deviation from the truth is multiplied later a thousandfold.

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
On the Heavens, Book I, ch. v
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We therefore must not recoil with childish aversion from the examination of the humbler animals. Every realm of nature is marvelous: and as Heraclitus, when the strangers who came to visit him found him warming himself at the furnace in the kitchen and hesitated to go in, reported to have bidden them not to be afraid to enter, as even in that kitchen divinities were present, so we should venture on the study of every kind of animal without distaste; for each and all will reveal to us something natural and something beautiful.

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Parts of Animals [De Partibus Animalium], Book 1, part 5 (645a.15) (c. 350 BC) [tr. Ogle (1912)]
    (Source)

Alt. trans.: "For this reason we should not be childishly disgusted at the examination of the less valuable animals. For in all natural things there is something marvelous. Even as Heraclitus is said to have spoken to those strangers who wished to meet him but stopped as they were approaching when they saw him warming himself by the oven -- he bade them enter without fear, "for there are gods here too" -- so too one should approach research about each of the animals without disgust, since in every one there is something natural and good." [tr. Lennox (2001)]
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Poetry is finer and more philosophical than history; for poetry expresses the universal, and history only the particular.

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Poetics, 1451b6
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Poetry demands a man with a special gift for it, or else one with a touch of madness in him.

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Poetics, 1455a33
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For the purposes of poetry a convincing impossibility is preferable to an unconvincing possibility.

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Poetics, 1461b11
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Such an event is probable in Agathon’s sense of the word: “It is probable,” he says, “that many things should happen contrary to probability.”

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Poetics, ch. 18
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Even when laws have been written down, they ought not always to remain unaltered. As in other sciences, so in politics, it is impossible that all things should be precisely set down in writing; for enactments must be universal, but actions are concerned with particulars.

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Politics [Πολιτικά], Book 2, Part 8 [1269a.9] [tr. Jowett (1885)]
    (Source)

Alt. trans.
  • "Nor is it, moreover, right to permit written laws always to remain without alteration; for as in all other sciences, so in politics, it is impossible to express everything in writing with perfect exactness; for when we commit anything to writing we must use general terms, but in every action there is something particular to itself, which these may not comprehend." [tr. Ellis (1912)]
  • "Moreover even written codes of law may with advantage not be left unaltered. For just as in the other arts as well, so with the structure of the state it is impossible that it should have been framed aright in all its details; for it must of necessity be couched in general terms, but our actions deal with particular things." [tr. Rackham (1932)]
  • "In addition t this, it is not best to leave written laws unchanged. For just as in the case of the other arts, so with respect to political arrangements it is impossible for everything to be written down precisely; for it is necessary to write them in universal fashion, while actions concern particulars." [tr. Lord (1984)]
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Their guards also are such as are used in a kingly government, not a despotic one; for the guards of their kings are his citizens, but a tyrant’s are foreigners. The one commands, in the manner the law directs, those who willingly obey; the other, arbitrarily, those who consent not. The one, therefore, is guarded by the citizens, the other against them.

[οἱ γὰρ πολῖται φυλάττουσιν ὅπλοις τοὺς βασιλεῖς, τοὺς δὲ τυράννους ξενικόν: οἱ μὲν γὰρ κατὰ νόμον καὶ ἑκόντων οἱ δ᾽ ἀκόντων ἄρχουσιν, ὥσθ᾽ οἱ μὲν παρὰ τῶν πολιτῶν οἱ δ᾽ ἐπὶ τοὺς πολίτας ἔχουσι τὴν φυλακήν.]

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Politics [Πολιτικά], Book 3, ch. 14 [1285a25] [tr. Ellis (1776)]
    (Source)

Alt. trans.:
  • "The guard of the king is, for the same cause, one that belongs to a monarch and not to a tyrant, for the citizens protect their kings with their arms; but it is aliens who guard despots. For the former rule legally over willing subjects, the latter over unwilling; so that the former are guarded by their subjects, the latter against them." [tr. Bolland (1877)]
  • "Wherefore also their guards are such as a king and not such as a tyrant would employ, that is to say, they are composed of citizens, whereas the guards of tyrants are mercenaries. For kings rule according to the law over voluntary subjects, but tyrants over involuntary; and the one are guarded by their fellow-citizens, the others are guarded against them." [tr. Jowett (1921)]
  • "Also their bodyguard is of a royal and not a tyrannical type for the same reason; for kings are guarded by the citizens in arms, whereas tyrants have foreign guards, for kings rule in accordance with law and over willing subjects, but tyrants rule over unwilling subjects, owing to which kings take their guards from among the citizens but tyrants have them to guard against the citizens." [tr. Rackham (1944)]
  • "For the same reason, their bodyguard is of a kingly rather than a tyrannical sort. For the citizens guard kings with their own arms, while a foreign element guards the tyrant, since the former rule willing persons in accordance wit the law, while the latter rule unwilling persons. So the ones have a bodyguard provided by the citizens, the other one that is directed against them." [tr. Lord (1984)]
  • "And their bodyguards are kingly and not tyrannical due to the same cause. For citizens guard kings with thier weapons, whereas a foreign contingent guards tyrants. For kings rule in accord with the law and rule voluntary subjects, whereas the latter rule involuntary ones, so that the former have bodyguards drawn from the citizens, whereas the latter have bodyguards to protect them against the citizens." [tr. Reeve (2007)]
  • "Citizens guard their kings with arms; foreigners protect tyrants. This is because kings rule according to the law and with willing citizens while tyrants rule the unwilling. As a result, kings have guards from their subjects and tyrants keep guards against them." [tr. @sentantiq]
Original Greek.
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Well begun is half done.

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Politics, V.1303b30 (c. 350 BC)

Quoting a proverb.
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A tyrant must put on the appearance of uncommon devotion to religion. Subjects are less apprehensive of illegal treatment from a ruler whom they consider god-fearing and pious. On the other hand, they do less easily move against him, believing that he has the gods on his side.

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Politics,, Book 5, ch. 9 [V.1314b39]

Alt. trans.:
  • "Also he should appear to be particularly earnest in the service of the Gods; for if men think that a ruler is religious and has a reverence for the Gods, they are less afraid of suffering injustice at his hands, and they are less disposed to conspire against him, because they believe him to have the very Gods fighting on his side." [tr. Jowett (1921)]
  • "... always to seem particularly attentive to the worship of the gods; for from persons of such a character men entertain less fears of suffering anything illegal while they suppose that he who governs them is religious and reverences the gods; and they will be less inclined to raise insinuations against such a one, as being peculiarly under their protection ...." [tr. Ellis (1912)]
  • "And further he must be seen always to be exceptionally zealous as regards religious observances (for people are less afraid of suffering any illegal treatment from men of this sort, if they think that their ruler has religious scruples and pays regard to the gods, and also they plot against him less, thinking that he has even the gods as allies) ...." [tr. Rackham (1932)]
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The male is by nature superior, and the female inferior; and the one rules, and the other is ruled; this principle, of necessity, extends to all mankind.

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Politics, 1.5 [tr. B. Jowett (1885)]
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From these things therefore it is clear that the city-state is a natural growth, and that man is by nature a political animal, and a man that is by nature and not merely by fortune citiless is either low in the scale of humanity or above it, like the “clanless, lawless, hearthless” man reviled by Homer, for one by nature unsocial is also ‘a lover of war’ inasmuch as he is solitary, like an isolated piece at draughts.

[ἐκ τούτων οὖν φανερὸν ὅτι τῶν φύσει ἡ πόλις ἐστί, καὶ ὅτι ὁ ἄνθρωπος φύσει πολιτικὸν ζῷον, καὶ ὁ ἄπολις διὰ φύσιν καὶ οὐ διὰ τύχην ἤτοι φαῦλός ἐστιν, ἢ κρείττων ἢ ἄνθρωπος: ὥσπερ καὶ ὁ ὑφ᾽ Ὁμήρου λοιδορηθεὶς “ἀφρήτωρ ἀθέμιστος ἀνέστιος:” ἅμα γὰρ φύσει τοιοῦτος καὶ πολέμου ἐπιθυμητής, ἅτε περ ἄζυξ ὢν ὥσπερ ἐν πεττοῖς.]

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Politics, Book 1, ch. 2 / 1253a.2 [tr. Rackham (1932)]
    (Source)

See Homer. Original Greek. Alt. trans.:

From these considerations, therefore, it is clear that the State is one of Nature's productions, and that man is by nature a social animal, and that a man who is without a country through natural taste and not misfortune is certainly degraded (or else a being superior to man), like that man reviled by Homer as clanless, lawless, homeless. For he is naturally of this character and desirous of war, since he has no ties, like an exposed piece in the game of backgammon.
[tr. Bolland (1877)]

Hence it is evident that the state is a creation of nature, and that man is by nature a political animal. And he who by nature and not by mere accident is without a state, is either a bad man or above humanity; he is like the "tribeless, lawless, hearthless one," whom Homer denounces -- the natural outcast is forthwith a lover of war; he may be compared to an isolated piece at draughts.
[tr. Jowett (1885)]

Hence it is evident that a city is a natural production, and that man is naturally a political animal, and that whosoever is naturally and not accidentally unfit for society, must be either inferior or superior to man: thus the man in Homer, who is reviled for being "without society, without law, without family." Such a one must naturally be of a quarrelsome disposition, and as solitary as the birds.
[tr. Ellis (1912)]

From these things it is evident, then, that the city belongs among the things that exist by nature, and that man is by nature a political animal. He who is without a city through nature rather than chance is either a mean sort or superior to man; he is "without clan, without law, without hearth," like the person reproved by Homer; for the one who is such by nature has by this fact a desire for war, as if he were an isolated piece in a game of backgammon.
[tr. Lord (1984)]
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But he who is unable to live in society, or who has no need because he is sufficient for himself, must be either a beast or a god: he is no part of a state.

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Politics, Book 1, ch. 2 / 1253a.27 [tr. Jowett (1885)]
    (Source)

Alt. trans.:
  • "He that is incapable of society, or so complete in himself as not to want it, makes no part of a city, as a beast or a god." [tr. Ellis (1912)]
  • "A man who is incapable of entering into partnership, or who is so self-sufficing that he has no need to do so, is no part of a state, so that he must be either a lower animal or a god." [tr. Rackham (1932)]
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For as man is the best of the animals when perfected, so he is the worst of all when sundered from law and justice. For unrighteousness is most pernicious when possessed of weapons, and man is born possessing weapons for the use of wisdom and virtue, which it is possible to employ entirely for the opposite ends. Hence when devoid of virtue man is the most unholy and savage of animals, and the worst in regard to sexual indulgence and gluttony.

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Politics, Book 1, ch. 2 / 1253a31 [tr. Rackham (1932)]
    (Source)

Alt. trans.:

  • "For man is an animal which, just as it is when fully perfected the best of all, so when separated from law and justice, is the worst of all. For injustice is most difficult to cope with when armed. Man is born into the world in the possession of arms, in the shape of practical wisdom and moral excellence, which he can use to the fullest degree for exactly contrary objects; when destitute of virtue, he is an animal most unholy and most savage, and most viciously disposed toward sensuality and gluttony." [tr. Bolland (1877)]

  • "For man, when perfected, is the best of animals, but, when separated from law and justice, he is the worst of all; since armed injustice is the more dangerous, and he is equipped at birth with arms, meant to be used by intelligence and virtue, which he may use for the worst ends. Wherefore, if he have not virtue, he is the most unholy and the most savage of animals, and the most full of lust and gluttony." [tr. Jowett (1885)]

  • "For as by the completion of it man is the most excellent of all living beings, so without law and justice he would be the worst of all, for nothing is so difficult to subdue as injustice in arms: but these arms man is born with, namely, prudence and valour, which he may apply to the most opposite purposes, for he who abuses them will be the most wicked, the most cruel, the most lustful, and most gluttonous being imaginable." [tr. Ellis (1912)]

  • "For just as man is the best of animals when completed, when separated from law and adjudication he is the worst of all. For injustice is harshest when it is furnished with arms, and man is born naturally possessing arms for prudence and virtue which nevertheless are very susceptible to being used for their opposites. That is why, without virtue, he is the most unholy and the most savage of animals, and the worst with regard to sex and food." [tr. Lord (1984)]
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It is of the nature of desire not to be satisfied, and most men live only for the gratification of it.

[ἄπειρος γὰρ ἡ τῆς ἐπιθυμίας φύσις, ἧς πρὸς τὴν ἀναπλήρωσιν οἱ πολλοὶ]

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Politics, Book 2, ch. 7, sec. 19 / 1267b.4 [tr. Jowett (1885)]
    (Source)

Original Greek. Alt. trans.:

  • "For it is the nature of our desires to be boundless, and many live only to gratify them." [tr. Ellis (1912)]

  • "For appetite is in its nature unlimited, and the majority of mankind live for the satisfaction of appetite." [tr. Rackham (1924)]

  • "For the nature of desire is without limit, and it is with a view to satisfying this that the many live. [tr. Lord (1984)]
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Everywhere inequality is a cause of revolution, but an inequality in which there is no proportion — for instance, a perpetual monarchy among equals; and always it is the desire of equality which rises in rebellion.

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Politics, Book 5, ch. 1 / 1301b [tr. Jowett (1865)]
    (Source)

Alt. trans.:
  • "Inequality is always the occasion of sedition, but not when those who are unequal are treated in a different manner correspondent to that inequality. Thus kingly power is unequal when exercised over equals. Upon the whole, those who aim after an equality are the cause of seditions." [tr. Ellis (1912)]
  • "For party strife is everywhere due to inequality, where classes that are unequal do not receive a share of power in proportion (for a lifelong monarchy is an unequal feature when it exists among equals); for generally the motive for factious strife is the desire for equality." [tr. Rackham (1932)]
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Therefore it is fitting for the women to be married at about the age of eighteen and the men at thirty-seven or a little before — for that will give long enough for the union to take place with their bodily vigor at its prime, and for it to arrive with a convenient coincidence of dates at the time when procreation ceases. Moreover the succession of the children to the estates, if their birth duly occurs soon after the parents marry, will take place when they are beginning their prime, and when the parents’ period of vigor has now come to a close, towards the age of seventy.

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Politics, Book 7, ch. 16 / 1335a27 [tr. Rackham (1932)]
    (Source)

Alt. trans.:

And so it is best to unite women of about eighteen years of age and men of thirty-seven or less; for by such an arrangement the union will be during their greatest physical perfection, and will, as the years pass reach the limit of child-begetting at the right time. Again, the succession of children will be secured, as the younger generation will be having children at the beginning of their prime, supposing some to be born at once, as we may expect, and as the right age has passed away from the older generation as they approach the limit of seventy years.
[tr. Bolland (1877)]

Women should marry when they are about eighteen years of age, and men at seven and thirty; then they are in the prime of life, and the decline in the powers of both will coincide. Further, the children, if their birth takes place soon, as may reasonably be expected, will succeed in the beginning of their prime, when the fathers are already in the decline of life, and have nearly reached their term of three-score years and ten.
[tr. Jowett (1885)]

For which reason the proper time for a woman to marry is eighteen, for a man thirty-seven, a little more or less; for when they marry at that time their bodies are in perfection, and they will also cease to have children at a proper time; and moreover with respect to the succession of the children, if they have them at the time which may reasonably be expected, they will be just arriving into perfection when their parents are sinking down under the load of seventy years.
[tr. Ellis (1912)]

Hence it is fitting for women to unite in marriage around the age of eighteen, and for men at thirty-seven or a little before. At such an age, union will occur when their bodies are in their prime, and will arrive at its conclusion conveniently for both of them with respect to the cessation of procreation. Further, the succession of the offspring -- if birth occurs shortly after marriage, as can reasonably be expected -- will be for them at the beginning of their prime, while for the fathers it will be when their age has already run its course toward the seventieth year.
[tr. Lord (1984)]
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There is no great genius without a touch of madness.

[Nullum magnum ingenium sine mixtura dementiae fuit.]

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Problemata, 30.1

Attributed to Aristotle by Seneca the Younger, "On Tranquillity of Mind" (17.10). Variants:
  • "No excellent soul is exempt from a mixture of madness."
  • "No great genius has ever existed without some touch of madness." [tr. Basore (1932)]
  • "There is no great genius without a mixture of madness."
  • "There was never a genius without a tincture of madness."
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Revenge and punishment are different things: Punishment is inflicted for the sake of the person punished; revenge for that of the punisher, to satisfy his feelings.

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Rhetoric, 1.10 [tr. Roberts (1954)]
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It is deliberate purpose that constitutes wickedness and criminal guilt.

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Rhetoric, 1.13 [tr. W. Rhys Roberts (1954)]

Often given as "The intention makes the crime."
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We ought in fairness to fight our case with no help beyond the bare facts: nothing, therefore, should matter except the proof of these facts.

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Rhetoric, 3.1
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And the man who is arrogant belittles his victim. For arrogance is doing and saying things which bring shame to the victim, not in order that something may come out of it for the doer other than the mere fact it happened, but so that he may get pleasure. … The cause of the pleasure enjoyed by those who are arrogant is that they think that in doing ill they are themselves very much superior. That is why the young and the wealthy are arrogant. For they think that in being arrogant they are superior.

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Rhetoric, Book 2, ch. 2 (1378b23-29)

Alt. trans.:
  • "Insolence is also a form of slighting, since it consists in doing and saying things that cause shame to the victim, not in order that anything may happen to yourself, or because anything has happened to yourself, but simply for the pleasure involved. ... The cause of the pleasure thus enjoyed by the insolent man is that he thinks himself greatly superior to others when ill-treating them. That is why youths and rich men are insolent; they think themselves superior when they show insolence." [tr. Roberts (1924)]
  • "And he who is insolent to someone also slights him, for insolence is doing and saying such things as are a source of shame to the person suffering them, not so that some other advantage may accrue to the insolent person or because something happened to him, but so that he may gain pleasure thereby .... And a cause of the pleasure the insolent feel is their supposing that, by inflicting harm, they themselves are to a greater degree superior. Hence the young and the wealthy are insolent, for they suppose that, by being insolent, they are superior." [tr. Bartlett (2019)]
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The young have exalted notions, because they have not been humbled by life or learned its necessary limitations; moreover, their hopeful disposition makes them think themselves equal to great things — and that means having exalted notions. They would always rather do noble deeds than useful ones: Their lives are regulated more by moral feeling than by reasoning…. All their mistakes are in the direction of doing things excessively and vehemently. They overdo everything; they love too much, hate too much, and the same with everything else.

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Rhetoric, II.1389a31
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