Sophocles quotes

496 BC – 406 BC


Do not grieve yourself too much for those you hate, nor yet forget them utterly.

How How dreadful knowledge of the truth can be
when there’s no help in the truth.

It is terrible to speak well and be wrong.

One who knows how to show and to accept kindness will be a friend better than any possession.

There is no witness so terrible and no accuser so powerful as conscience which dwells within us.

Wisdom outweighs any wealth.

A soul that is kind and intends justice discovers more than any sophist.

For the dead there are no more toils.

If one begins all deeds well, it is likely that they will end well too.

Men of ill judgment ignore the good that lies within their hands, till they have lost it.

No speech can stain what is noble by nature.

The dice of Zeus always fall luckily.

War never takes a wicked man by chance, the good man always.

It is best to live however one can be.

Children are the anchors that hold a mother to life.

A short saying often contains much wisdom.

Best to live lightly, unthinkingly.

For shameful deeds are taught by shameful deeds.

If my body is enslaved, still my mind is free.

Men may know many things by seeing; but no prophet can see before the event, nor what end waits for him.

No one who errs unwillingly is evil.

Success Is To be doing good deeds is man’s most glorious task.

Trust dies but mistrust blossoms.

Hide nothing, for time, which sees all and hears all, exposes all.

A word does not frighten the man who, in acting, feels no fear.

Fortune raises up and fortune brings low both the man who fares well and the one who fares badly; and there is no prophet of the future for mortal men.

Ignorant men don’t know what good they hold in their hands until they’ve flung it away.

Much wisdom often goes with fewest words.

Not even old age knows how to love death.

The rewards of virtue alone abide secure.

There is an ancient saying among men that you cannot thoroughly understand the life of mortals before the man has died, then only can you call it good or bad.

Whoever lives among many evils just as I,
how can dying not be a source of gain?

Alas, how quickly the gratitude owed to the dead flows off,
how quick to be proved a deceiver.

God’s dice always have a lucky roll.

In a just cause the weak will beat the strong.

No enemy is worse than bad advice.

Not knowing anything is the sweetest life.

There is no greater evil for men than the constraint of fortune.

Whoever neglects the arts when he is young has lost the past and is dead to the future.

Deem no man happy until he passes the end of his life without suffering grief.

Bear up, my child, bear up; Zeus who oversees and directs all things is still mighty in heaven.

A man growing old becomes a child again.

Every man can see things far off but is blind to what is near.

For death is not the worst, but when one wants to die and is not able even to have that.

I see that all of us who live
are nothing but images or insubstantial shadow.

If it were possible to cure evils by lamentation and to raise the dead with tears, then gold would be a less valuable thing than weeping.

It’s a terrible thing to speak well and be wrong.

Man is not constituted to take pleasure in the same things always.

No one longs to live more than someone growing old.

Quick decisions are unsafe decisions.

Success is dependent on effort.

Those whose life is long still strive for gain,
and for all mortals all things take second place to money.

To live without evil belongs only to the gods.

You win the victory when you yield to friends.

A state is not a state if it belongs to one man.

Always desire to learn something useful.

For the wretched one night is like a thousand;
for someone faring well death is just one more night.

If we are to keep our democracy, there must be one commandment: ‘Thou shalt not ration justice.’

Men should pledge themselves to nothing; for reflection makes a liar of their resolution.

No treaty is ever an impediment to a cheat.

The gods plant reason in mankind, of all good gifts the highest.

There are some who praise a man free from disease; to me no man who is poor seems free from disease but to be constantly sick.

What house, bloated with luxury, ever became prosperous without a woman’s excellence?

Who seeks shall find.

Old age and the passage of time teach all things.

There is no success without hardship.

Wisdom is the supreme part of happiness.

A day lays low and lifts up again all human things.

Evil counsel travels fast.

I see the state of all of us who live, nothing more than phantoms or a weightless shadow.

It’s impossible to speak what it is not noble to do.

Rather fail with honor than succeed by fraud.

Time alone reveals the just man; but you might discern a bad man in a single day.

All a man’s affairs become diseased when he wishes to cure evils by evils.

Gratitude to gratitude always gives birth.

Isn’t it the sweetest mockery to mock our enemies?

No lie ever reaches old age.

Not to be born is, past all prizing, best.

There is no greater evil than anarchy.

Whoever thinks that he alone has speech, or possesses speech or mind above others, when unfolded such men are seen to be empty.

A wise doctor does not mutter incantations over a sore that needs the knife.

Enemies’ gifts are no gifts and do no good.

For those whose wit becomes the mother of villainy, those it educates to be evil in all things.

How sweet for those faring badly to forget their misfortunes even for a short time.

If you have done terrible things, you must endure terrible things; for thus the sacred light of injustice shines bright.

It is the task of a good man to help those in misfortune.

Money is the worst currency that ever grew among mankind. This sacks cities, this drives men from their homes, this teaches and corrupts the worthiest minds to turn base deeds.

Not all things are to be discovered; many are better concealed.

Our happiness depends on wisdom all the way.

The keenest sorrow is to recognize ourselves as the sole cause of all our adversities.

There is a point at which even justice does injury.

There is some pleasure even in words, when they bring forgetfulness of present miseries.

When a man has lost all happiness, he’s not alive. Call him a breathing corpse.

Whoever gets up and comes to grips with Love like a boxer is a fool.

Without labor nothing prospers.

A wise man does not chatter with one whose mind is sick.

Fortune cannot aid those who do nothing.

If you were to offer a thirsty man all wisdom, you would not please him more than if you gave him a drink.

Much speech is one thing, well-timed speech is another.

Not even Ares battles against necessity.

The oaths of a woman I inscribe on water.

There is a time when even justice brings harm.

When trouble ends even troubles please.

Whoever grows angry amid troubles applies a drug worse than the disease and is a physician unskilled about misfortunes.

A human being is only breath and shadow.

Don’t you know that silence supports the accuser’s charge?

Evil gains work their punishment.

How Reverence does not die with mortals, nor does it perish whether they live or die.

I would prefer even to fail with honor than win by cheating.

It is the merit of a general to impart good news, and to conceal the truth.

Kindness is ever the begetter of kindness.

One word frees us of all the weight and pain in life. That word is love.

Reason is God’s crowning gift to man.

There is nothing more hateful than bad advice.

To give birth is a fearsome thing; there is no hating the child one has borne even when injured by it.

Wise thinkers prevail everywhere.

All is disgust when a man leaves his own nature and does what is unfit.

He who throws away a friend is as bad as he who throws away his life.

It is a base thing for a man among the people not to obey those in command. Never in a state can the laws be well administered when fear does not stand firm.

No man loves the bearer of bad tidings.

Now I see that going out into the testing ground of men it is the tongue and not the deed that wins the day.

There is no sense in crying over spilt milk. Why bewail what is done and cannot be recalled?

Whoever understands how to do a kindness when he fares well would be a friend better than any possession.

Better not to exist than live basely.

A lie never lives to be old.

Foolishness is indeed the sister of wickedness.

I would rather miss the mark acting well than win the day acting basely.

Look and you will find it – what is unsought will go undetected.

Silence is an ornament for women.

To him who is in fear everything rustles.

But this is a true saying among men: the gifts of enemies are no gifts and profitless.

Despair often breeds disease.

Even a poor man can receive honors.

Hush! Check those words. Do not cure ill with ill and make your pain still heavier than it is.

It was my care to make my life illustrious not by words more than by deeds.

Profit is sweet, even if it comes from deception.

Things gained through unjust fraud are never secure

You should not consider a man’s age but his acts.