Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Voltaire, pen name of François-Marie Arouet NULL

French Satirist, Essayist, Dramatist, Philosopher and Historian

"True greatness consists in the use of a powerful understanding to enlighten oneself and others."

"Truth is a fruit that can only be picked when it is very ripe."

"Tyrants have always some slight shade of virtue; they support the laws before destroying them."

"Use, do not abuse; as the wise man commands. I flee Epictetus and Petronius alike. Neither abstinence nor excess ever renders man happy."

"Verses which do not teach men new and moving truths do not deserve to be read."

"Use, do not abuse; the wise man arrange things so. I flee Epictetus and Petronius alike. Neither abstinence nor excess ever renders man happy."

"Uncertainty is an uncomfortable position. But certainty is an absurd one."

"Very learned women are to be found, in the same manner as female warriors; but they are seldom or ever inventors."

"Very often, say what you will, a knave is only a fool."

"Virtuous men alone possess friends."

"We are all formed of frailty and error; let us pardon reciprocally each other's folly – that is the first law of nature."

"We all look for happiness, but without knowing where to find it: like drunkards who look for their house, knowing dimly that they have one"

"Virtue supposes liberty, as the carrying of a burden supposes active force. Under coercion there is no virtue, and without virtue there is no religion. Make a slave of me, and I shall be no better for it. Even the sovereign has no right to use coercion to lead men to religion, which by its nature supposes choice and liberty. My thought is no more subject to authority than is sickness or health."

"We have a natural right to make use of our pens as of our tongue, at our peril, risk and hazard."

"We are going to a new world... and no doubt it is there that everything is for the best; for it must be admitted that one might lament a little over the physical and moral happenings of our own world."

"We are intelligent beings: intelligent beings cannot have been formed by a crude, blind, insensible being: there is certainly some difference between the ideas of Newton and the dung of a mule. Newton's intelligence, therefore, came from another intelligence"

"We may not always oblige, but we may always speak obligingly"

"What can be feared when one is doing one's duty? I know the rage of my enemies. I know all their slanders; but when one only tries to do good to men and when one does not offend heaven, one can fear nothing, neither during life nor after death."

"What can be more absurd than choosing to carry a burden that one really wants to throw to the ground? To detest, and yet to strive to preserve our existence? To caress the serpent that devours us and hug him close to our bosoms till he has gnawed into our hearts?"

"What can we say to a man who tells you that he would rather obey God than men, and that therefore he is sure to go to heaven for butchering you? Even the law is impotent against these attacks of rage; it is like reading a court decree to a raving maniac. These fellows are certain that the holy spirit with which they are filled is above the law, that their enthusiasm is the only law that they must obey."

"What is called happiness is an abstract idea, composed of various ideas of pleasure; for he who has but a moment of pleasure is not a happy man, in like manner that a moment of grief constitutes not a miserable one."

"We owe respect to the living. To the dead we owe only truth."

"What a heavy burden is a name that has become too famous."

"What a pessimist you are! exclaimed Candide. That is because I know what life is, said Martin."

"We must cultivate our own garden. When man was put in the garden of Eden he was put there so that he should work, which proves that man was not born to rest."

"We offer up prayers to God only because we have made Him after our own image. We treat Him like a Pasha, or a Sultan, who is capable of being exasperated and appeased."

"We must distinguish between speaking to deceive and being silent to be reserved."

"What is history? The lie that everyone agrees on..."

"What is tolerance? -- it is the consequence of humanity. We are all formed of frailty and error; let us pardon reciprocally each other's folly -- that is the first law of nature."

"What most persons consider as virtue, after the age of 40 is simply a loss of energy."

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

"What! Have you no monks to teach, to dispute, to govern, to intrigue and to burn people who do not agree with them?"

"Whatever you do, stamp out abuses, and love those who love you."

"What is madness? To have erroneous perceptions and to reason correctly from them"

"What is not in nature can never be true."

"Whatever you do, crush the infamous thing, and love those who love you."

"What will the preachers say?... To teach men not to persecute men: for, while a few sanctimonious humbugs are burning a few fanatics, the earth opens and swallows up all alike."

"What's Optimism?' asked Cacambo. 'I'm afraid to say,' said Candide, 'that it's a mania for insisting that all is well when things are going badly."

"When a man is in love, jealous, and has been flogged by the Inquisition, he is beside himself."

"When it is a question of money, everybody is of the same religion."

"When his highness sends a ship to Egypt, does he trouble his head whether the mice on board are at their ease or not?"

"When he who hears does not know what he who speaks means, and when he who speaks does not know what he himself means, that is philosophy."

"When it comes to money, we are all one religion!"

"When one man speaks to another man who doesn't understand him, and when the man who's speaking no longer understands, it's metaphysics."

"When we have lost everything, including hope, life becomes a disgrace, and death a duty."

"When we hear news we should always wait for the sacrament of confirmation."

"When you were hanged, dissected, stunned with blows and made to row in the galleys, did you always think that everything was for the best in this world?"

"Where is the prince sufficiently educated to know that for seventeen hundred years the Christian sect has done nothing but harm?"

"Where lies friendship, there is one's homeland."

"Where there is friendship, there is our natural soil."