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The more we love our friends, the less we flatter them;
It is by excusing nothing that pure love shows itself.

Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, more famous as Molière (15 January 162217 February 1673) was a French theatre writer, director and actor, one of the masters of comic satire.


One must eat to live, and not live to eat.
Nearly all men die of their remedies, and not of their illnesses.
  • Tirer les marrons du feu avec la patte du chat.
    • To pull the chestnuts out of the fire with the cat's paw.
      • L'Étourdi (1655), Act III, sc. v.
  • On ne meurt qu'une fois; et c'est pour si longtemps!
    • We die only once, and for such a long time!
      • Le Dépit Amoureux (1656), Act V, sc. iii.
  • Je fais toujours bien le premier vers: mais j'ai peine à faire les autres.
  • Le monde, chère Agnès, est une étrange chose.
  • Une femme d'esprit est un diable en intrigue.
    • A witty woman is a devil at intrigue.
      • L'École des Femmes (1662), Act III, sc. iii.
  • Il y a fagots et fagots.
    • There are fagots and fagots.
    • Le Médecin malgré lui (1666), Act i, scene 6. In this context, a fagot is a bundle of sticks, twigs or small tree branches bound together.
  • Ah que je— Vous l'avez voulu, vous l'avez voulu, George Dandin, vous l'avez voulu, cela vous sied fort bien, et vous voilà ajusté comme il faut, vous avez justement ce que vous méritez.
    • Ah that I— You would have it so, you would have it so; George Dandin, you would have it so! This suits you very nicely, and you are served right; you have precisely what you deserve.
  • Que diable allait-il faire dans cette galère?
  • Ah! Il n'y a plus d'enfants!
  • Presque tous les hommes meurent de leurs remèdes, et non pas de leurs maladies.
    • Nearly all men die of their remedies, and not of their illnesses.
      • Le Malade Imaginaire (1673), Act III, sc. iii.
  • Quare Opium facit dormire: … Quia est in eo Virtus dormitiva.
    • Why Opium produces sleep: … Because there is in it a dormitive power.
      • Le Malade Imaginere (1673), Act III, sc. iii.

Tartuffe (1664)[edit]

Those whose conduct gives room for talk
Are always the first to attack their neighbors.
  • On veut bien être méchant, mais on ne veut point être ridicule.[1]
    • People do not mind being wicked; but they object to being made ridiculous.
    • Preface.
  • Vous êtes un sot en trois lettres, mon fils.
    • You are a fool in three letters, my son.
    • Act I, sc. i.
  • Contre la médisance il n'est point de rempart.
    • There is no rampart that will hold out against malice.
    • Act I, sc. i.
  • Ceux de qui la conduite offre le plus à rire
    Sont toujours sur autrui les premiers à médire.
    • Those whose conduct gives room for talk
      Are always the first to attack their neighbors.
    • Act I, sc. i.
  • À votre nez, mon frère, elle se rit de vous.
    • She is laughing up her sleeve at you, my brother.
    • Literal translation: At your nose, my brother, she laughs at you.
    • Act I, sc. v.
  • Une femme a toujours une vengeance prête.
    • A woman always has her revenge ready.
    • Act II, sc. ii.
  • Couvrez ce sein que je ne saurais voir.
    Par de pareils objets les âmes sont blessées.
    • Cover that bosom that I must not see:
      Souls are wounded by such things.
    • Act III, sc. ii.
  • Pour être dévot, je n'en suis pas moins homme.
    • Although I am a pious man, I am not the less a man.
    • Act III, sc. iii.
  • Le scandale du monde est ce qui fait l'offense,
    Et ce n'est pas pécher que pécher en silence.
    • To create a public scandal is what's wicked;
      To sin in private is not a sin.
    • Act IV, sc. v.
  • Je l'ai vu, dis-je, de mes propres yeux vu.
    • I saw him, I say, saw him with my own eyes.
    • Act V, sc. iii.

Le Misanthrope (1666)[edit]

My lord Jupiter knows how to sugarcoat the pill.
All that is not prose is verse; and all that is not verse is prose.
  • Sur quelque préférence une estime se fonde,
    Et c'est n'estimer rien qu'estimer tout le monde.
    • On some preference esteem is based;
      To esteem everything is to esteem nothing.
    • Act I, sc. i.
  • C'est un parleur étrange, et qui trouve toujours
    L'art de ne vous rien dire avec de grands discours.
    • He's a wonderful talker, who has the art
      Of telling you nothing in a great harangue.
    • Act II, sc. iv.
  • Que de son cuisinier il s'est fait un mérite,
    Et que c'est à sa table à qui l'on rend visite.
    • He makes his cook his merit,
      And the world visits his dinners and not him.
    • Act II, sc. iv.
  • On voit qu'il se travaille à dire de bons mots.
    • You see him laboring to produce bons mots.
    • Act II, sc. iv.
  • Plus on aime quelqu'un, moins il faut qu'on le flatte:
    À rien pardonner le pur amour éclate.
    • The more we love our friends, the less we flatter them;
      It is by excusing nothing that pure love shows itself.
    • Act II, sc. iv.
  • Les doutes sont fâcheux plus que toute autre chose.
    • Doubts are more cruel than the worst of truths.
    • Act III, sc. v.
  • On peut être honnête homme et faire mal des vers.
    • Anyone may be an honorable man, and yet write verse badly.
    • Act IV, sc. i.
  • Si de probité tout était revêtu,
    Si tous les cœurs était francs, justes et dociles,
    La plupart des vertus nous seraient inutiles,
    Puisqu'on en met l'usage à pouvoir sans ennui
    Supporter dans nos droits l'injustice d'autrui.
    • If everyone were clothed with integrity,
      If every heart were just, frank, kindly,
      The other virtues would be well-nigh useless,
      Since their chief purpose is to make us bear with patience
      The injustice of our fellows.
    • Act V, sc. i.
  • C'est un merveilleux assaisonnement aux plaisirs qu'on goûte que la présence des gens qu'on aime.
    • It is a wonderful seasoning of all enjoyments to think of those we love.
    • Act V, sc. iv.

Amphitryon (1666)[edit]

  • J'aime mieux un vice commode,
    Qu'une fatigante vertu.
    • I prefer an accommodating vice
      To an obstinate virtue.
    • Act I, sc. iv.
  • Le véritable Amphitryon,
    Est l'Amphitryon où l'on dine.
    • The true Amphitryon
      Is the Amphitryon who gives dinner.
    • Act III, sc. v.
  • Le Seigneur Jupiter sait dorer la pilule.
    • My lord Jupiter knows how to sugarcoat the pill.
    • Act III, sc. x.

L'Avare (1668)[edit]

  • [J]e veux que tu me dises à qui lu parles quand lu dis cela.
    Je parle... je parle à mon bonnet.
    • Tell me to whom you are addressing yourself when you say that.
      I am addressing myself—I am addressing myself to my cap.
    • Act I, scene iii.
  • Il faut manger pour vivre, et non pas vivre pour manger.
    • One must eat to live, and not live to eat.
      • Act III, scene i.
  • Les beaux yeux de ma cassette.
    • The beautiful eyes of my cash-box.
    • Act V, scene iii.
  • Vous parlez devant un homme à qui tout Naples est connu.
    • You are speaking before a man to whom all Naples is known.
    • Act V, scene v.

Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme (1670)[edit]

  • Tout ce qui n'est point prose, est vers; et tout ce qui n'est point vers, est prose.
    • All that is not prose is verse; and all that is not verse is prose.
    • Act II, sc. iv.
  • Par ma foi, il y a plus de quarante ans que je dis de la prose, sans que j'en susse rien.
    • Good heavens! For more than forty years I have been speaking prose without knowing it.
    • Act II, sc. iv.
  • Ah, la belle chose que de savoir quelque chose.
  • Jurons, ma belle,
    Une ardeur éternelle.
    • My fair one, let us swear
      An eternal friendship.
    • Act IV, sc. i.
  • Je le soutiendrai devant tout le monde.
    • I will maintain it before the whole world.
    • Act IV, sc. iii.

Les Femmes Savantes (1672)[edit]

  • La grammaire qui sait régenter jusqu'aux rois.
    • Grammar, which knows how to control even kings.
    • Act II, sc. vi. An apparent reference to Sigismund I, at the Council of Constance, 1414, said to a prelate who had objected to his Majesty's grammar, "Ego sum rex Romanus, et supra grammaticam" (I am the Roman emperor, and am above grammar).
  • Il est de sel attique assaisonné partout.
    • It is seasoned throughout with Attic salt.
    • Act III, sc. ii.
  • Un sot savant est sot plus qu'un sot ignorant.
    • A learned fool is more foolish than an ignorant one.
    • Act IV, sc. iii.


  • Il faut manger pour vivre, et non pas vivre pour manger.
    • One must eat to live, and not live to eat.
      • L'Avare (1668), Act III, sc. i.
        • Firstly, an inaccurate sourcing: in Act III, yes—but in Scene I, no: rather, in Scene V—HARPAGON, VALÈRE, MASTER JACQUES (see, e.g., the Project Gutenberg HTML version of the English translation: Secondly, a misattribution made clear by the Molière text—the character in the play, VAL, obviously points out that the quote refers to a "saying of one of the ancients" (and the quote is precisely written in quotation marks as well), in the full line of dialogue below:
        • Know, Master Jacques, you and people like you, that a table overloaded with eatables is a real cut-throat; that, to be the true friends of those we invite, frugality should reign throughout the repast we give, and that according to the saying of one of the ancients, "We must eat to live, and not live to eat."
        • The "ancients" to which VAL/Molière refers is Cicero, Diogenes Laertius, and the oldest known attribution, Socrates (whom Laertius explicitly attributes—and Cicero presumably invokes). Various books of quotations document this—e.g., Elizabeth Knowles' 2006 The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable ( and Jennifer Speake's 1982 A Dictionary of Proverbs ( the former lists the quote as "a proverbial saying, late 14th century, distinguishing between necessity and indulgence; Diogenes Laertius says of Socrates, 'he said that other men live to eat, but eats to live.' A similar idea is found in the Latin of Cicero, 'one must eat to live, not live to eat'"; the latter, reiterates this. Moreover, in William Shepard Walsh's 1909 Handy-book of Literary Curiosities, he adds that "According to Plutarch, what Socrates said was, 'Bad men live that they may eat and drink, whereas good men eat and drink that they may live.'" He also adds that Atheneus quotes similarly to Laertius, as well as explores other later variations (

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