Gotthold Ephraim Lessing

Gotthold Ephraim

German Dramatist and Playwright, Court Librarian, known as the "Fatehr of German Criticism"

Author Quotes

A Primer for children may fairly pass over in silence this or that important piece of knowledge or art which it expounds, respecting which the Teacher judged, that it is not yet fitted for the capacities of the children for whom he was writing. But it must contain absolutely nothing which blocks up the way towards the knowledge which is held back, or misleads the children from it.

For God rewards good deeds done here below--rewards them here.

It is the province of art to paint as plastic nature--if there is such a thing--intended her original design, without the defects which the unmanageable materials render inevitable, and free from the ravages which result from a conflict with time.

Pearls mean tears.

The lion is ashamed, it's true, when he hunts with the fox.

We seldom speak of the virtue which we have, but much oftener of that which we lack.

Absolute truth belongs to Thee alone.

For if the pious were absolutely happy, and it also of course was a necessary part of his happiness that his satisfaction should be broken by no uneasy thoughts of death, and that he should die old, and satisfied with life to the full: how could he yearn after another life? and how could he reflect upon a thing after which he did not yearn?

It's easier to swoon in pious dreams Than do good actions.

Precisely the way on which the species reaches its perfection, every individual human being (one earlier, one later) must have traversed, too.

The man who can wholly resign himself to the impressions which innocence and beauty make upon him is, in my opinion, rather to be envied than derided.

What can the Creator see with greater pleasure than a happy creature?

Ah! Prince, we painters expect that a portrait when finished will find the lover as warm as when he ordered it. We paint with eyes of love, and the eyes of love alone must judge our works.

For it is possible to be faithless to a national deity, but never to God, after He has once been recognized.

Joy makes us giddy, dizzy.

Pride, rank pride! The iron pot would with a silver prong be lifted from the furnace—to imagine itself a silver vase.

The miracles which He performed for the Jews, the prophecies which He caused to be recorded through them, were surely not for the few mortal Jews, in whose time they had happened and been recorded: He had His intentions therein in reference to the whole Jewish people, to the entire Human Race, which, perhaps, is destined to remain on earth forever, though every individual Jew and every individual man die forever.

What could a woman's head contrive which it would not know how to excuse?

Ah, would we could at once paint with the eyes! In the long way, from the eye through the arm to the pencil, how much is lost!

For me the greatest beauty always lies in the greatest clarity

Know this, that every country can produce good men.

Resist as much as thou wilt; heaven's ways are heaven's ways.

The most agreeable of all companions is a simple, frank man, without any high pretensions to an oppressive greatness; one who loves life, and understands the use of it; obliging alike at all hours; above all, of a golden temper and steadfast as an anchor. For such an one we gladly exchange the greatest genius, the most brilliant wit, the profoundest thinker.

What is a hero without love for mankind?

An example of what I mean by "previous exercising" for the doctrine of immortality, is the Divine threatenings of punishing the misdeeds of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation.

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Gotthold Ephraim
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German Dramatist and Playwright, Court Librarian, known as the "Fatehr of German Criticism"