Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Voltaire, pen name of François-Marie Arouet NULL

French Satirist, Essayist, Dramatist, Philosopher and Historian

"The ideal form of government is democracy tempered with assassination."

"The husband who decides to surprise his wife is often very much surprised himself."

"The infinitely little have a pride infinitely great."

"The interest I have to believe a thing is no proof that such a thing exists."

"The instinct of a man is to pursue everything that flies from him, and to fly from all that pursue him."

"The Jewish nation dares to display an irreconcilable hatred toward all nations, and revolts against all masters; always superstitious, always greedy for the well-being enjoyed by others, always barbarous — cringing in misfortune and insolent in prosperity."

"The instruction we find in books is like fire. We fetch it from our neighbors, kindle it at home, communicate it to others, and it becomes the property of all."

"The little may contrast with the great, in painting, but cannot be said to be contrary to it. Oppositions of colors contrast; but there are also colors contrary to each other, that is, which produce an ill effect because they shock the eye when brought very near it."

"The malevolence of men revealed itself to his mind in all of its ugliness."

"The longer we dwell on our misfortunes, the greater is their power to harm us."

"The man visited by ecstasies and visions, who takes dreams for realities is an enthusiast; the man who supports his madness with murder is a fanatic."

"The man who says to me, 'Believe as I do, or God will damn you,' will presently say, 'Believe as I do, or I shall assassinate you.'"

"The man who leaves money to charity in his will is only giving away what no longer belongs to him."

"The man, who in a fit of melancholy, kills himself today, would have wished to live had he waited a week."

"The more a man knows, the less he talks."

"The most beautiful of all emblems is that of God, whom Timaeus of Locris describes under the image of "A circle whose centre is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere.""

"The more I read many, many more I thought; many more I learn, the more I realized that I did not know nothing"

"The mouth obeys poorly when the heart murmurs."

"The most important decision you make is to be in a good mood."

"The multiplicity of facts and writings is become so great that everything must soon be reduced to extracts."

"The multitude of books is making us ignorant."

"The only reward to be expected from the cultivation of literature is contempt if one fails and and hatred if one succeeds."

"The only way to make men speak well of us is to do it."

"The only way to comprehend what mathematicians mean by Infinity is to contemplate the extent of human stupidity."

"The opportunity for doing mischief is found a hundred times a day, and of doing good once in a year."

"The parents own everything and people do not have anything, it is the masterpiece of reason and justice. I cannot find anything as extraordinary as the Padres, who are fighting here against the king of Spain and Portugal, and that here in Europe confess those same kings kill Spanish here, and in Madrid send them to heaven: is something portentous"

"The passions are the winds that fill the sails of the vessel. - They sink it at times; but without them it would be impossible to make way. - Many things that are dangerous here below, are still necessary."

"The person ready to believe unlikely and unproved things is readily made a slave of by the crafty"

"The perfect is the enemy of the good."

"The Pope is an idol whose hands are tied and whose feet are kissed."

"The poor man is never free; he serves in every country"

"The progress of rivers to the ocean is not so rapid as that of man to error."

"The punishment of criminals should be useful. A hanged man is good for nothing and a man condemned to public labor still serves the fatherland and is a living lesson."

"The public is a ferocious beast -- one must either chain it up or flee from it."

"The pursuit of pleasure must be the goal of every rational person."

"The punishment of criminals should serve a purpose. When a man is hanged he is useless."

"The pursuit of what is true and the practice of what is good are the two most important objects of philosophy."

"The right of commanding is no longer an advantage transmitted by nature; like an inheritance, it is the fruit of labors, the price of courage."

"The safest course is to do nothing against one's conscience. With this secret, we can enjoy life and have no fear from death."

"The road to the heart is the ear."

"The secret of being a bore (tiresome) is to tell everything."

"The richest endowments of the mind are temperance, prudence, and fortitude. Prudence is a universal virtue, which enters into the composition of all the rest; and where she is not, fortitude loses its name and nature."

"The shrieks were coming from two quite naked girls, who were pursued by a pair of apes snapping at their bottoms. .. So he now raises his double-barrelled Spanish rifle, fires and kills both apes. 'God be praised, my dear Calambo! I have delivered these two poor creatures from grave peril; if it was a sin to kill an Inquisitor and a Jesuit, I have made ample amends by saving the lives of two girls… He was about to continue, but words failed him when he saw the two girls throw their arms lovingly around the two apes and collapse in tears over their corpses, filling the air with the most pitiful lamentations. 'I was not expecting quite so much tenderness of heart,' he said at last to Cacambo, who replied: 'You've excelled yourself this time, Master; you have just despatched the two lovers of these young ladies.' '-Their lovers! Is it possible? You're making fun of me, Cacambo; how could anyone believe in such a thing?' - 'My dear Master,' retorted Cacambo, 'you are always astounished by everything; why do you find it so strange that in some countries it is apes who enjoy the favours of young ladies? After all, they are one-quarter human, just as I am one-quarter Spanish."

"The secret of the arts is to correct nature."

"The sovereign is called a tyrant who knows no laws but his caprice."

"The supper was like most Parisian suppers: silence at first, then a burst of unintelligible chatter, then witticisms that were mostly vapid, false rumors, bad reasonings, a little politics and a great deal of slander; they even spoke about new books."

"The tolerance of all religions is a law of nature, stamped on the hearts of all men."

"The superstitious man is to the rogue what the slave is to the tyrant."

"The true triumph of reason is that it enables us to get along with those who do not possess it."

"The true character of liberty is independence, maintained by force"