Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Voltaire, pen name of François-Marie Arouet NULL

French Satirist, Essayist, Dramatist, Philosopher and Historian

"He who is not just is severe, he who is not wise is sad."

"His face bespoke his soul."

"His reputation will go on increasing because scarcely anyone reads him."

"Hell: A cooking stove which heats the sacerdotal sauce-pan here below. It was founded on behalf of our priests, to the end that the latter may never be wanting in good cheer."

"History can be well written only in a free country."

"History is a pack of lies we play on the dead."

"History is only the pattern of silken slippers descending the stairs to the thunder of hobnailed boots climbing upward from below."

"History is only the register of crimes and misfortunes."

"History never repeats itself. Man always does."

"History is the study of the world's crime"

"History should be written as philosophy."

"History is the lie commonly agreed upon."

"Holy Scripture: A book sent down from heaven... Holy Scriptures contain all that a Christian should know and believe, provided he adds to it a million or so commentaries."

"How I like the boldness of the English, how I like the people who say what they think!"

"How inexpressible is the meanness of being a hypocrite! how horrible is it to be a mischievous and malignant hypocrite."

"how to play the cards in order to win the game."

"How pleasant it is for a father to sit at his child's board. It is like an aged man reclining under the shadow of an oak which he has planted."

"I advise you to go on living solely to enrage those who are paying your annuities. It is the only pleasure I have left."

"Humility is the modesty of the soul. It is the antidote to pride."

"I always made one prayer to God, a very short one. Here it is: O Lord, make our enemies quite ridiculous! God granted it."

"I already began to inspire the men with love. My breast began to take its right form, and such a breast! white, firm, and formed like that of the Venus de' Medici; my eyebrows were as black as jet, and as for my eyes, they darted flames and eclipsed the luster of the stars, as I was told by the poets of our part of the world. My maids, when they dressed and undressed me, used to fall into an ecstasy in viewing me before and behind; and all the men longed to be in their places."

"I am a little deaf, a little blind, a little impotent, and on top of this are two or three abominable infirmities, but nothing destroys my hope."

"I am convinced that everything has come down to us from the banks of the Ganges, - astronomy, astrology, metempsychosis, etc. It is very important to note that some 2,500 years ago at the least Pythagoras went from Samos to the Ganges to learn geometry...But he would certainly not have undertaken such a strange journey had the reputation of the Brahmins' science not been long established in Europe."

"I am the best-natured creature in the world, and yet I have already killed three, and of these three two were priests."

"I believe that there never was a creator of a philosophical system who did not confess at the end of his life that he had wasted his time. It must be admitted that the inventors of the mechanical arts have been much more useful to men that the inventors of syllogisms. He who imagined a ship towers considerably above him who imagined innate ideas."

"I am ignorant of how I was formed and how I was born. Through a quarter of my lifetime I was absolutely ignorant of the reasons for everything I saw and heard and felt, and was merely a parrot prompted by other parrots... When I sought to advance along that infinite course, I could neither find one single footpath or fully discover one single object, and from the upward leap I made to contemplate eternity I fell back into the abyss of my ignorance."

"I am very fond of truth, but not at all of martyrdom."

"I confess that when I consider this globe, or rather this globule, I think that God has abandoned it to some evil creature."

"I die adoring God, loving my friends, not hating my enemies, and detesting superstition."

"I do, it is true, expect more justice from one who believes in a God than from one who has no such belief."

"I detest what you write, but I would give my life to make it possible for you to continue to write."

"I cannot imagine how the clockwork of the universe can exist without a clockmaker."

"I do not agree with a word that you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it"

"I don’t know where I am going, but I am on my way."

"I hate women because they always know where things are."

"I have always made one prayer to God, a very short one. Here it is: My God, make our enemies very ridiculous! God has granted it to me."

"I envy the animals' two things: their ignorance of evil to come, and their ignorance of what is said about them."

"I have chosen to be happy because it is good for my health."

"I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short on: O Lord, make my enemies ridiculous. And God granted it."

"I have been a hundred times on the point of killing myself, but still was fond of life. This ridiculous weakness is perhaps one of our worst instincts. 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?"

"I have lived eighty years of life and know nothing for it, but to be resigned and tell myself that flies are born to be eaten by spiders and man to be devoured by sorrow."

"I have no morals, yet I am a very moral person."

"I have only ever made one prayer to God, a very short one: ‘O Lord, make my enemies ridiculous.’ And God granted it."

"I have no more than twenty acres of ground, he replied, the whole of other vegetation cultivate myself with the help of my children, and our labor keeps off from us the three great evils - boredom, vice, and want."

"I have only made but one prayer in my life: O Lord, make my enemies ridiculous. And God granted it."

"I have wanted to kill myself a hundred times, but somehow I am still in love with life. This ridiculous weakness is perhaps one of our more stupid melancholy propensities, for is there anything more stupid than to be eager to go on carrying a burden which one would gladly throw away, to loathe one’s very being and yet to hold it fast, to fondle the snake that devours us until it has eaten our hearts away?"

"I hold firmly to my original views. After all I am a philosopher."

"I have received your new book against the human race, and thank you for it. Never was such a cleverness used in the design of making us all stupid. One longs, in reading your book, to walk on all fours. But as I have lost that habit for more than sixty years, I feel unhappily the impossibility of resuming it. Nor can I embark in search of the savages of Canada, because the maladies to which I am condemned render a European surgeon necessary to me; because war is going on in those regions; and because the example of our actions has made the savages nearly as bad as ourselves. [in response to Rousseau's The Social Contract]"

"I know many books which have bored their readers, but I know of none which has done real evil."

"I keep to old books, for they teach me something; from the new I learn very little."