A deity, god or goddess, is a being, natural, supernatural or preternatural, with superhuman powers or qualities, and who may be thought of as holy, divine, or sacred. Those with faith in the notions and myths about deities may perceive or believe that they can communicate with such beings, which can respond to their entreaties. Some religions and philosophical traditions have only one deity, others have multiple deities of various ranks, and some actively promote skepticism or rejection of many theistic notions and embrace forms of agnosticism or atheism.
- Gods are condemned to live the dream of the imperishable.
- Before the gods that made the gods
Had seen their sunrise pass,
The White Horse of the White Horse Vale
Was cut out of the grass.
- Gods are fragile things, they may be killed by a whiff of science or a dose of common sense.
- This fellow Paul has convinced and led astray large numbers of people here in Ephesus and in practically the whole province of Asia. He says that man-made gods are no gods at all.
- I do not know whether there are gods, but there ought to be.
- Diogenes, as quoted in The Home Book of Quotations, Classical and Modern (1937) by Burton Egbert Stevenson
- The gods were different, the suffering was the same.
- Marjory Stoneman Douglas, The Everglades: River of Grass.
- With ravish'd ears
The monarch hears,
Assumes the god,
Affects to nod,
And seems to shake the spheres.
- John Dryden, Alexander's Feast (1697), line 37.
- The heathen in his blindness
Bows down to wood and stone.
- Reginald Heber, Missionary Hymn, st. 2 (1819).
- Men rarely (if ever) manage to dream up a god superior to themselves. Most gods have the manners and morals of a spoiled child.
- Nature loves to hide her secrets, and she does not suffer the hidden truth about the essential nature of the gods to be flung in naked words to the ears of the profane…
- Emperor Julian, in "Oration VII": "To the Cynic Heracleios", as quoted in The Works of the Emperor Julian (1923) by Wilmer Cave France Wright, p. 105; also in Hidden Wisdom: Esoteric Traditions and the Roots of Christian Mysticism (2005) by Gedaliahu A. G. Stroumsa, p. 25.
- Choose your friends, then treat them as friends; do not regard them like slaves or servants, but associate with them frankly and simply and generously; not saying one thing of them and thinking something else. See how distrust towards friends has damaged yonder heritor. Love your subjects as we love you. Let respect toward us take precedence of all goods: for we are your benefactors and friends and saviours. … we shall be with you everywhere, I and Athene and Hermes here, and with us all the Gods that are in Olympus, and Gods of the air and of the earth, and all manner of deities everywhere, so long as you are holy toward us, loyal to your friends, kindly to your subjects, ruling and guiding them for their good. Never yield yourself a slave to your own desires or theirs.
- Helios, personification of the Sun, in a story at the end of Julian's oration to the cynic Heracleios, as translated in The Emperor Julian : Paganism and Christianity (1879) by Gerald Henry Rendall, Ch. VI : Julian's Personal Religion, p. 138.
- That swarm of ants that I observed, each one following the one ahead, have every one been Indra in the world of the gods by virtue of their own past action. And now, by virtue of their deeds done in the past, they have gradually fallen to the state of ants.
- Krsna, Indra and the Ants Indra and the Ants, Classical Hindu Mythology: A Reader in the Sanskrit Puranas, Pg. 321 by Cornelia Dimmitt
- Who knows not Circe,
The daughter of the Sun, whose charmed cup
Whoever tasted, lost his upright shape,
And downward fell into a groveling swine?
- Le seigneur Jupiter sait dorer la pilule.
- My lord Jupiter knows how to gild the pill.
- Molière, Amphitryon (1690), III. 11.
- Nevertheless they could never be imagined save in the most radiant bloom of youth. For the Hellenic idea of god this is very significant and serves as a symbol of their peculiar essence. Other peoples have felt no compunction in thinking of their deity as old, indeed as very ancient; no image could more forcefully suggest the venerable wisdom they possessed. But for the Greek his inmost feelings resisted such a notion. For him old age was a condition of the weariness, impoverishment, and darkening of nature, that vital and holy nature from which he could never at all separate the spirit. Even the highest wisdom must belong not to a region beyond life but to life's most buoyant energy, and knowledge must dwell not on the hoary countenance turned away from the world but on the bright and youthful brow and the blooming lips of Apollo.
- Still I hear a voice saying that the gods cannot be deceived, neither can they be compelled. But what if there are no gods? or, suppose them to have no care of human things.
- Concerning the gods, I have no means of knowing whether they exist or not or of what sort they may be, because of the obscurity of the subject, and the brevity of human life.
- The basest horn of his hoof is more musical than the pipe of Hermes.
- As flies to wanton boys, are we to the gods;
They kill us for their sport.
- The gods are just, and of our pleasant vices
Make instruments to plague us.
- This senior-junior, giant-dwarf, Dan Cupid:
Regent of love-rhymes, lord of folded arms,
The anointed sovereign of sighs and groans,
Liege of all loiterers and malcontents.
- Cupid is a knavish lad,
Thus to make poor females mad.
- Wilt thou draw near the nature of the gods?
Draw near them in being merciful;
Sweet mercy is nobility's true badge.
- And now I will try to defend myself against them: these new accusers must also have their affidavit read. What do they say? Something of this sort: — That Socrates is a doer of evil, and corrupter of the youth, and he does not believe in the gods of the state, and has other new divinities of his own.
- I will obey the god rather than you, and as long as I draw breath and am able, I shall not cease to practice philosophy.
- Heu nihil invitis fas quemquam fidere divis.
- Jamque dies, ni fallor adest quem semper acerbum
Semper honoratum (sic dii voluistis) habeo.
- Habitarunt Di quoque sylvas.
- The gods also dwelt in the woods.
- Virgil, Eclogues (c. 37 BC), II. 60.
- Oh, meet is the reverence unto Bacchus paid!
We will praise him still in the songs of our fatherland,
We will pour the sacred wine, the chargers lade,
And the victim kid shall unresisting stand,
Led by his horns to the altar, where we turn
The hazel spits while the dripping entrails burn.
- Virgil, Georgics (c. 29 BC), Book II, Stanza 17, line 31. H. W. Preston's translation.
- His followers called him Mahasamatman and said he was a god. He preferred to drop the Maha- and the -atman, and called himself Sam. He never claimed to be a god. But then, he never claimed not to be a god. Circumstances being what they were, neither admission could be of any benefit. Silence, though, could.
Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations
- Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 321-25.
- Great is Diana of the Ephesians.
- Acts, XIX. 28.
- The Ethiop gods have Ethiop lips,
Bronze cheeks, and woolly hair;
The Grecian gods are like the Greeks,
As keen-eyed, cold and fair.
- Walter Bagehot, Literary Studies, II. 410. Ignorance of Man.
- Speak of the gods as they are.
- And that dismal cry rose slowly
And sank slowly through the air,
Full of spirit's melancholy
And eternity's despair!
And they heard the words it said—
Pan is dead! great Pan is dead!
Pan, Pan is dead!
- Elizabeth Barrett Browning, The Dead Pan.
- The Graces, three erewhile, are three no more;
A fourth is come with perfume sprinkled o'er.
'Tis Berenice blest and fair; were she
Away the Graces would no Graces be.
- Callimachus, Epigram V. Goldwin Smith's rendering.
- Two goddesses now must Cyprus adore;
The Muses are ten, and the Graces are four;
Stella's wit is so charming, so sweet her fair face,
She shines a new Venus, a Muse, and a Grace.
- Callimachus, Epigram V. Swift's rendering. See Meleager of Gadara, in Anthologia Græca, IX. 16, Volume II, p. 62 (Ed. 1672).
- Omnia fanda, nefanda, malo permista furore,
Justificam nobis mentem avertere deorum.
- The confounding of all right and wrong, in wild fury, has averted from us the gracious favor of the gods.
- Catullus, Carmina, LXIV. 406.
- O dii immortales! ubinam gentium sumus?
- Ye immortal gods! where in the world are we?
- Cicero, In Catilinam, I, 4.
- Never, believe me,
Appear the Immortals,
- Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Visits of the Gods. Imitated from Schiller.
- Nature's self's thy Ganymede.
- Abraham Cowley, Anacreontics, The Grasshopper, line 8.
- Creator Venus, genial power of love,
The bliss of men below, and gods above!
Beneath the sliding sun thou runn'st thy race,
Dost fairest shine, and best become thy place;
For thee the winds their eastern blasts forbear,
Thy mouth reveals the spring, and opens all the year;
Thee, goddess, thee, the storms of winter fly,
Earth smiles with flowers renewing, laughs the sky.
- John Dryden, Palamon and Arcite, Book III, line 1405.
- Cupid is a casuist, a mystic, and a cabalist,—
Can your lurking thought surprise,
And interpret your device,
* * * * *
All things wait for and divine him,—
How shall I dare to malign him?
- Ralph Waldo Emerson, Initial Dæmonic and Celestial Love, Part I.
- Either Zeus came to earth to shew his form to thee,
Phidias, or thou to heaven hast gone the god to see.
- In Greek Anthology.
- I, Phœbus, song those songs that gained so much renown
I, Phœbus, sang them; Homer only wrote them down.
- In Greek Anthology.
- Say, Bacchus, why so placid? What can there be
In commune held by Pallas and by thee?
Her pleasure is in darts and battles; thine
In joyous feasts and draughts of rosy wine.
- In Greek Anthology.
- Some thoughtlessly proclaim the Muses nine:
A tenth is Sappho, maid divine.
- In Greek Anthology.
- Though men determine, the gods do dispose.
- Greene, Perimedes (1588).
- There's a one-eyed yellow idol to the north of Khatmandu,
There's a little marble cross below the town,
There's a broken-hearted woman tends the grave of Mad Carew,
And the yellow god forever gazes down.
- J. Milton Hayes, The Green Eye of the Yellow God.
- Who hearkens to the gods, the gods give ear.
- Homer, The Iliad, Book I, line 280. Bryant's translation.
- The son of Saturn gave
The nod with his dark brows. The ambrosial curls
Upon the Sovereign One's immortal head
Were shaken, and with them the mighty mount,
- Homer, The Iliad, Book I, line 666. Bryant's translation.
- Shakes his ambrosial curls, and gives the nod,
The stamp of fate, and sanction of the god.
- Homer, The Iliad, Book I, line 684. Pope's translation.
- The ox-eyed awful Juno.
- Homer, The Iliad, Book III, line 144, also, Book VII, line 10;, Book XVIII, line 40.
- Yet verily these issues lie on the lap of the gods.
- Homer, The Iliad, Book XVII. 514. Odyssey. I. 267. Butcher and Lang's translation. That lies in the laps of the gods. (Nearest to the original, which is "in" not "on.") Other translations are: "But these things in the God's Knees are repos'd. / And yet the period of these designes, lye in the Knees of Gods. / It lies in the lap of the Norns. [Fates.]" From the Scandinavian.
- Where'er he moves, the goddess shone before.
- Homer, The Iliad, Book XX, line 127. Pope's translation.
- The matchless Ganymede, divinely fair.
- Homer, The Iliad, Book XX, line 278. Pope's translation.
- Jove weighs affairs of earth in dubious scales,
And the good suffers while the bad prevails.
- Homer, The Odyssey, Book VI, line 229. Pope's translation.
- Nec deus intersit nisi dignus vindice nodus.
- Nor let a god come in, unless the difficulty be worthy of such an intervention.
- Horace, Ars Poetica (18 BC), CXCI.
- Junctæque Nymphis Gratiæ decentes.
- And joined with the Nymphs the lovely Graces.
- Horace, Carmina, I. 4. 6.
- Di me tuentur.
- The gods my protectors.
- Horace, Carmina, I. 17. 13.
- Neque semper arcum
- Nor does Apollo keep his bow continually drawn.
- Horace, Carmina, II. 10.
- Quanto quisque sibi plura negaverit,
A dis plura feret.
- The more we deny ourselves, the more the gods supply our wants.
- Horace, Carmina, III. 16. 21.
- Scire, deos quoniam propius contingis, oportet.
- Thou oughtest to know, since thou livest near the gods.
- Horace, Satires, XXI. 6. 52.
- Of Pan we sing, the best of leaders Pan,
That leads the Naiads and the Dryads forth;
And to their dances more than Hermes can,
Hear, O you groves, and hills resound his worth.
- Ben Jonson, Pan's Anniversary Hymn, I.
- Nam pro jucundis aptissima quæque dabunt di,
Carior est illis homo quam sibi.
- For the gods, instead of what is most pleasing, will give what is most proper. Man is dearer to them than he is to himself.
- Juvenal, Satires, X. 349.
- High in the home of the summers, the seats of the happy immortals,
Shrouded in knee-deep blaze, unapproachable; there ever youthful
Hebé, Harmonié, and the daughter of Jove, Aphrodité,
Whirled in the white-linked dance, with the gold-crowned Hours and Graces.
- Charles Kingsley, Andromeda.
- Le trident de Neptune est le sceptre du monde.
- The trident of Neptune is the sceptre of the world.
- Hoeder, the blind old god
Whose feet are shod with silence.
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Tegner's Drapa, Stanza 6.
- Janus am I; oldest of potentates!
Forward I look and backward and below
I count—as god of avenues and gates—
The years that through my portals come and go.
I block the roads and drift the fields with snow,
I chase the wild-fowl from the frozen fen;
My frosts congeal the rivers in their flow,
My fires light up the hearths and hearts of men.
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, written for the Children's Almanac.
- Estne Dei sedes nisi terra, et pontus, et aer,
Et cœlum, et virtus? Superos quid quærimus ultra?
Jupiter est, quodcunque vides, quodcunque moveris.
- Has God any habitation except earth, and sea, and air, and heaven, and virtue? Why do we seek the highest beyond these? Jupiter is wheresoever you look, wheresoever you move.
- Lucanus, Pharsalia, Book IX. 578.
- A boy of five years old serene and gay,
Unpitying Hades hurried me away.Mbr<Yet weep not for Callimachus: if few
The days I lived, few were my sorrows too.
- Lucian, reported in Greek Anthology.
- Apparet divom numen, sedesque quietæ;
Quas neque concutiunt ventei, nec nubila nimbeis.
Aspergunt, neque nix acri concreta pruina
Cana cadens violat; semper sine nubibus æther
Integer, et large diffuso lumine ridet.
- The gods and their tranquil abodes appear, which no winds disturb, nor clouds bedew with showers, nor does the white snow, hardened by frost, annoy them; the heaven, always pure, is without clouds, and smiles with pleasant light diffused.
- Lucretius, De Rerum Natura, III. 18.
- No wonder Cupid is a murderous boy;
A fiery archer making pain his joy.
His dam, while fond of Mars, is Vulcan's wife,
And thus 'twixt fire and sword divides her life.
- Meleager, Greek Anthology.
- Deus ex machina.
- A god from a machine (artificial or mechanical contrivance).
- Menander. (From the Greek.) Theop. 5. Lucan—Hermo. Plato—Bratylus. 425. Quoted by Socrates.
- Man is certainly stark mad; he cannot make a flea, and yet he will be making gods by dozens.
- Michel de Montaigne, Apology for Raimond Sebond, Book II, Chapter XII.
- To be a god
First I must be a god-maker:
We are what we create.
- James Oppenheim, Jottings, To Be a God, In War and Laughter.
- Expedit esse deos: et, ut expedit, esse putemus.
- It is expedient there should be gods, and as it is expedient, let us believe them to exist.
- Ovid, Ars Amatoria, Book I, line 637. According to Tertullian—Ad Nationes, Book II, Chapter 2, Diogenes said, "I do not know, only there ought to be gods".
- Vilia miretur vulgus; mihi flavus Apollo
Pocula Castalia plena ministret aqua.
- Let the crowd delight in things of no value; to me let the golden-haired Apollo minister full cups from the Castalian spring (the fountain of Parnassus).
- Ovid, Amorum (16 BC), Book I. 15. 35. Motto on title-page of Shakespeare's "Venus and Adonis." Another reading: "Castaliæ aquæ," of the Castalian spring.
- The god we now behold with opened eyes,
A herd of spotted panthers round him lies
In glaring forms; the grapy clusters spread
On his fair brows, and dangle on his head.
- Ovid, Metamorphoses, Book III, line 789. Addison's translation.
- Jocos et Dii amant.
- Even the gods love jokes.
- Plato, Cratylus. (Translation from Greek).
- The Graces sought some holy ground,
Whose sight should ever please;
And in their search the soul they found
- Plato, Greek Anthology.
- Di nos quasi pilas homines habent.
- The gods play games with men as balls.
- Plautus, Captivi Prologue, XXII.
- Cui homini dii propitii sunt aliquid objiciunt lucri.
- The gods give that man some profit to whom they are propitious.
- Plautus, Persa, IV. 3. 1.
- Miris modis Di ludos faciunt hominibus.
- In wondrous ways do the gods make sport with men.
- Plautus, Rudens, Act III. 1. 1; Mercator, Act II.
- Keep what goods the Gods provide you.
- Plautus, Rudens, Act IV, scene 8. Riley's translation.
- Dum homo est infirmus, tunc deos, tunc hominem esse se meminit: invidet nemini, neminem miratur, neminem despicit, ac ne sermonibus quidem malignis aut attendit, aut alitur.
- When a man is laboring under the pain of any distemper, it is then that he recollects there are gods, and that he himself is but a man; no mortal is then the object of his envy, his admiration, or his contempt, and having no malice to gratify, the tales of slander excite not his attention.
- Pliny the Younger, Epistles, VII. 26.
- Themistocles told the Adrians that he brought two gods with him, Persuasion and Force. They replied: "We also, have two gods on our side, Poverty and Despair."
- Plutarch, Herodotus.
- Thamus … uttered with a loud voice his message, "The great Pan is dead."
- Plutarch, Why the Oracles cease to give Answers.
- Or ask of yonder argent fields above
Why Jove's satellites are less than Jove.
- Alexander Pope, Essay on Man, I. 42.
- Of the Gods some are of the world, cosmic, and some above the world, hypercosmic. By the cosmic I mean those who make the cosmos. Of the hypercosmic Gods some create essence, some mind, and some soul.
- Sallustius, On the Gods and the Cosmos (c. 360), VI. On Gods Cosmic and Hypercosmic.
- The arts of prophecy and of healing, which are part of the cosmos, come of the good providence of the Gods.
- Sallustius, On the Gods and the Cosmos (c. 360), IX. On Providence, Fate, and Fortune.
- Mundus est ingens deorum omnium templum.
- The world is the mighty temple of the gods.
- Seneca the Younger, Epistolæ Ad Lucilium, X.
- Me goatfoot Pan of Arcady—the Median fear,
The Athenian's friend, Miltiades placed here.
- Simonides, Greek Anthology.
- A glimpse of Breidablick, whose walls are light
As e'en the silver on the cliff it shone;
Of dark blue steel its columns azure height
And the big altar was one agate stone.
It seemed as if the air upheld alone
Its dome, unless supporting spirits bore it,
Studded with stars Odin's spangled throne,
A light inscrutable burned fiercely o'er it;
In sky-blue mantles,
Sat the gold-crowned gods before it.
- Esaias Tegnér, Fridthjof's Saga, Canto XXIII, Stanza 13.
- Speak to Him, thou, for He hears, and Spirit with Spirit can meet;
Closer is He than breathing, and nearer than hands and feet.
- Alfred Tennyson, The Higher Pantheism.
- But a bevy of Eroses apple-cheeked
In a shallop of crystal ivory-beaked.
- Alfred Tennyson, The Islet.
- Here comes to-day
Pallas and Aphrodite, claiming each
This meed of fairest.
- Alfred Tennyson, Œnone, Stanza 9.
- Or sweet Europa's mantle blew unclasped
From off her shoulder backward borne;
From one hand drooped a crocus: one hand grasped
The mild bull's golden horn.
- Alfred Tennyson, Palace of Art, Stanza 30.
- Or else flushed Ganymede, his rosy thigh
Half buried in the Eagle's down,
Sole as a flying star, shot thro' the sky,
Above the pillared town.
- Alfred Tennyson, Palace of Art, Stanza 31.
- Atlas, we read in ancient song,
Was so exceeding tall and strong,
He bore the skies upon his back,
Just as the pedler does his pack;
But, as the pedler overpress'd
Unloads upon a stall to rest,
Or, when he can no longer stand,
Desires a friend to lend a hand,
So Atlas, lest the ponderous spheres
Should sink, and fall about his ears,
Got Hercules to bear the pile,
That he might sit and rest awhile.
- Jonathan Swift, Atlas; or, the Minister of State.