Great Throughts Treasury

This site is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Alan William Smolowe who gave birth to the creation of this database.

Diogenes Laërtius, aka "Diogenes the Cynic"

Greek Philosopher and Biographer

"No man is hurt but by himself."

"The sun visits cesspools without being defiled."

"The wise do all things well."

"The vicious obey their passions as slaves do their masters."

"To arrive at perfection, a man should have very sincere friends, or inveterate enemies; because he would be made sensible of his good or ill conduct either by the censures of the one or the admonitions of the others."

"We have two ears and only one tongue in order that we may hear more and speak less."

"An animal's first impulse is self-preservation."

"As a matter of self-preservation, a man needs to be supplied with good friends or ardent enemies, for the former instruct him and the latter take him to task."

"Make wisdom your provision for the journey from youth to old age, for it is a more certain support than all other possessions."

"Of a rich man who was mean and niggardly, he said, "That man does not possess his estate, but his estate possesses him.""

"The only good is knowledge, and the only evil is ignorance."

"Time is the most valuable thing a man can spend."

"To reach perfection, we must be made sensible of our failings, either by the admonitions of friends, or the invectives of enemies."

"One ought to seek out virtue for its own sake, without being influenced by fear or hope, or by any external influence. Moreover, that in that does happiness consist."

"When a man reproached Diogenes for going into unclean places he said, “The sun too penetrates into privies, but it is not polluted by them.”"

"The foundation of every state is the education of its youth."

"Why not whip the teacher when the student misbehaves?"

"We are more curious about the meaning of dreams than about things we see when awake."

"One original thought is worth a thousand mindless quotings."

"One day a man invited him into a richly furnished house, saying 'be careful not to spit on the floor.' Diogenes, who needed to spit, spat in his face, exclaiming that it was the only dirty place he could find where spitting was permitted."

"Man is the most intelligent of animals -- and the most silly."

"Discourse on virtue and they pass by in droves. Whistle and dance and shimmy, and you've got an audience!"

"The most beautiful thing in the world is freedom of speech."

"One ought to seek out virtue for its own sake, without being influenced by fear or hope, or by any external influence. Moreover, that in that does happiness consist. "

"The market is a place set apart where men may deceive each other."

""Know thyself," was counted one of the oracles of the Greeks. It was inscribed as one of their three great precepts, in letters of gold, on the temple at Delphos, and regarded as divine."

"A blush is the color of virtue."

"A friend is one soul abiding in two bodies."

"A man should live with his superiors as he does with his fire,--not too near, lest he burn; nor too far off, lest he freeze."

"A tyrant never tasteth of true friendship, nor of perfect liberty."

"Aristophanes turns Socrates into ridicule . . . as making the worse appear the better reason."

"As houses well stored with provisions are likely to be full of mice, so the bodies of those that eat much are full of diseases."

"Blushing is the color of virtue."

"Calumny is only the noise of madmen."

"Dogs and philosophers do the greatest good and get the fewest rewards."

"He calls drunkenness an expression identical with ruin."

"He has the most who is most content with the least."

"I am a citizen of the world."

"I am called a dog because I fawn on those who give me anything, I yelp at those who refuse, and I set my teeth in rascals."

"I am not an Athenian or a Greek, but a citizen of the world."

"I do not know whether there are gods, but there ought to be."

"I have nothing to ask but that you would remove to the other side, that you may not, by intercepting the sunshine, take from me what you cannot give."

"I know nothing, except the fact of my ignorance."

"I threw my cup away when I saw a child drinking from his hands at the trough."

"In a rich man's house there is no place to spit but his face."

"It is the privilege of the gods to want nothing, and of godlike men to want little."

"It is used to be a common saying of Myson's that men ought not to seek for things in words, but for words in things; for that things are not made on account of words but that words are put together for the sake of things."

"It takes a wise man to discover a wise man."

"It was a favorite expression of Theophrastus that time was the most valuable thing that a man could spend."

"Modesty is of the color of virtue."