Great Throughts Treasury

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

Plutarch, named Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus after becoming Roman citizen NULL

Greek Biographer, Essayist, Historian and Middle Platonist

"All warriors may see an example of their common frailty, and learn a lesson that there is nothing durable or constant? For what time can men select to think themselves secure, when that of victory itself forces us more than any to dread our own fortune?"

"As in fact nothing is less unusual than for a people, even while offering compliments, to be disgusted with those who accept them greedily, or arrogantly, or without respect tot he free-will of the givers."

"Good fortune will elevate even petty minds, and give them the appearance of a certain greatness and stateliness, as from their high place they look down upon the world; but the truly noble and resolved spirit raises itself, and becomes m ore conspicuous in times of disaster and ill fortune."

"Blinded as they are as to their true character by self-love, every man is his own first and chiefest flatterer."

"As small letters hurt the sight, so do small matters him that is too much intent upon them: they vex and stir up anger, which begets an evil habit in him in reference to greater affairs."

"Character is long-standing habit."

"Courage consists not in hazarding without fear, but being resolutely minded in a just cause."

"Confidence begets confidence, and love, love."

"Courage and wisdom are, indeed, rarities amongst men, but of all that is good, a just man it would seem is the most scarce."

"Evidence of trust begets trust, and love is reciprocated by love."

"Distressed valor challenges great respect, even from enemies."

"For him that would attain to true happiness which for the most part is placed in the qualities and disposition of the mind."

"It is worse to be sick in the soul than in body, for those afflicted in body only suffer, but those afflicted in soul both suffer and do ill."

"Medicine, to produce health, has to examine disease, and music, to create harmony, must investigate discord; and the supreme arts of temperance, of justice, and of wisdom, as they are acts of judgment and selection, exercised not on good and just and expedient only, but also on wicked, unjust, and inexpedient objects, do not give their commendations to the mere innocence whose boast is its inexperience of evil, and whose utter name is, by their award, simpleness and ignorance of what all men who live aright should know."

"Poverty is dishonorable, not in itself, but when it is a proof of laziness, intemperance, luxury, and carelessness; whereas in a person that is temperate, industrious, just and valiant, and who uses all his virtues for the public good, it shows a great and lofty mind."

"It is the admirer of himself, and not the admirer of virtue, that thinks himself superior to others."

"Our worst enemies are those we carry about with us in our own hearts."

"It is perhaps not to be wondered at, since fortune is ever changing her course and time is infinite, that the same incidents should occur many times, spontaneously. For, if the multitude of elements is unlimited, fortune has in the abundance of her material an ample provider of coincidences; and if, on the other hand, there is a limited number of elements from which events are interwoven, the same things must happen many times, being brought to pass by the same agencies. "

"It is an observation no less just than common, that there is no stronger test of a man’s real character than power and authority, exciting, as they do, every passion, and discovering every latent vice."

"It is no flattery to give a friend a due character; for commendation is as much the duty of a friend as reprehension."

"Nothing is more intractable than man when in felicity, nor anything more docile, when he has been reduced and humbled by fortune."

"Pain, it is true, transmuted, so to say, by its own fiery heat into anger, loses every appearance of depression and feebleness; the angry man makes a show of energy, as the man in a high fever does of natural heat, while, in fact, all this action of soul is but mere diseased palpitation, distention, and inflammation."

"The state of life is most happy where superfluities are not required and necessities are not wanting."

"When one is transported by rage it is best to observe attentively the effects on those who deliver themselves over to the same passion."

"The richest soil, if uncultivated, produces the rankest weeds."

"When malice is joined to envy, there is given forth poisonous and feculent matter, as ink from the cuttlefish."

"Those who are greedy of praise prove that they are poor in merit."

"Whenever anything is spoken against you that is not true, do not pass by or despise it because it is false; but forthwith examine yourself, and consider what you have said or done that may administer a just occasion of reproof."

"The man who is completely wise and virtuous has no need at all of glory, except so far as it disposes and eases his way to action by the greater trust that it procures him."

"The talkative listen to no one, for they are ever speaking. And the first evil that attends those who know not how to be silent, is, that they hear nothing."

"Why do you look so sharp, malignant man, at others' faults, yet overlook your own?"

"A few vices are sufficient to darken many virtues."

"A mere law to give all men equal rights is but useless, if the poor man must sacrifice those rights to their debts, and, in the very seats and sanctuaries of equality, the courts of justice, the offices of state, and the public discussions, be more than anywhere at the beck and bidding of the rich."

"Wickedness is a wonderfully diligent architect of misery, of shame, accompanied with terror, and commotion, and remorse, and endless perturbation."

"A bow, they say, breaks when too tightly stretched, but a soul when too much relaxed."

"A pleasant and happy life does not come from external things. Man draws from within himself as from a spring, pleasure and joy."

"A shortcut to riches is to subtract from one's desires."

"Authority and place demonstrate and try the tempers of men, by moving every passion and discovering every frailty."

"Education and study, and the favors of the muses, confer no greater benefit on those that seek them than these humanizing and civilizing lessons, which teach our natural qualities to submit to the limitations prescribed by reason, and to avoid the wildness of extremes."

"All life is but a moment in time."

"As soft wax is apt to take the stamp of the seal, so are the minds of young children to receive the instruction imprinted on them."

"God is the brave man's hope, and not the coward's excuse."

"He can never speak well, who knows not how to hold his peace."

"He who least likes courting favor, ought also least to think of resenting neglect; to feel wounded at being refused a distinction can only arise from an overweening appetite to have it."

"If we traverse the world, it is possible to find cities without walls, without letters, without kings, without wealth, without coin, without schools and theatres; but a city without a temple or that practiseth not worship, prayer, and the like, no one ever saw."

"In human life there is a constant change of fortune; and it is unreasonable to expect an exemption from the common fate. Life itself decays, and all things are daily changing."

"If our own conscience protests and refuses to accept praise then it is proof against the flatterer. "

"It is a common saying that nature has given to each of us two ears and one tongue, because we ought to do less talking than listening."

"It is easy to utter what has been kept silent, but impossible to recall what has been uttered."

"It is a true proverb that if you live with a lame man you will learn to halt."