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Older comments[edit]

Are there any guidelines for quoting Socrates as Plato himself in his works? Or should these quotes go to the Socrates article? --Slac 23:34, 27 May 2005 (UTC)

I don't think it's legitimate to quote anything from Socrates directly, since we have no actual evidence from his own hand.

On another topic, anyone know if the following quote can actually be ascribed to Plato, or is it just a common misconception: "He was a wise man who invented god" ??

Order of books[edit]

What kind of order of dialogs are applied for this article? It doesn't seem neither the order in the complete works edited by Stephanos, the most traditional order of books, nor the chronological order the most of modern scholars agree on, nor alphabetical order.

I propose to re-order them in the way of Stephanos': it is consequently the book order in the Berlin Academy edition. Does anyone have different ideas? --Aphaia 19:10, 21 September 2007 (UTC)

ok —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk)
Stephanus pagination is fine with me. IMHO the chronology is conjectural. ~ Ningauble 19:32, 16 February 2009 (UTC)

Two Plato Quotes[edit]

I have found the following two quotes which are ascribed to Plato. Can anyone tell me if they really appear in the works of Plato, or, if not, why they are ascribed to him? I would be very grateful!

"Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something."

"We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light." —This unsigned comment is by (talkcontribs) .

The last quote is false: "Statements that Plato never made!" at Adamaero (talk) 01:28, 11 November 2013 (UTC)


How is it possible that there are a large number of unsourced entries for such an extensively studied person? Would someone knowledgeable please clean this up. 22:35, 22 May 2008 (UTC)

Can anyone help me determine the origin of this quote: "Good actions give strength to ourselves and inspire good actions in others."

It's by Samuel Smiles, from his Duty (1880), p. 49 — available in full here. ~ DanielTom (talk) 11:46, 21 January 2015 (UTC)


Wikiquote no longer allows unsourced quotations, and they are in process of being removed from our pages (see Wikiquote:Limits on quotations); but if you can provide a reliable and precise source for any quote on this list please move it to Plato. --Antiquary 11:16, 18 April 2009 (UTC)

  • Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.
  • Courage is knowing what not to fear.
  • There is only one good, which is knowledge, and one evil, which is ignorance.
  • Wherever it has been established that it is shameful to be involved with sexual relationships with men, that is due to evil on the part of the rulers, and to cowardice on the part of the governed.
  • The learning and knowledge that we have, is, at the most, but little compared to that of which we are ignorant.
  • No one is more hated than he who speaks the truth.
  • One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics, is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. [But see next below, and Republic I : 347-C]
  • The good are not willing to rule either for the sake of money or of honor. They do not wish to collect pay openly for their service of rule and be styled hirelings nor to take it by stealth from their office and be called thieves, nor yet for the sake of honor, [347c] for they are not covetous of honor. So there must be imposed some compulsion and penalty to constrain them to rule if they are to consent to hold office. That is perhaps why to seek office oneself and not await compulsion is thought disgraceful. But the chief penalty is to be governed by someone worse if a man will not himself hold office and rule. It is from fear of this, as it appears to me, that the better sort hold office when they do, and then they go to it not in the expectation of enjoyment nor as to a good thing, but as to a necessary evil and because they are unable to turn it over to better men than themselves [347d] or to their like. For we may venture to say that, if there should be a city of good men only, immunity from office-holding would be as eagerly contended for as office is now. [1]
    • Note: This is not a precise quotation, but it is a reasonably accurate paraphrase of Republic 1, 347
  • Ignorance, the root and the stem of every evil.
  • Man shall not see the truth when it surrounds him absolutely.
  • Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws.
  • At the touch of love, everyone becomes a poet. (This is verbatim from Symposium)
  • You can learn more about a man in an hour of play, than in a year of conversation.
  • I would teach the children music, physics and philosophy, but the most important is music, for in the patterns of the arts are the keys to all learning.
  • What is left now of the soils of Greece, is like the skeleton of a body wasted by disease. The rich, soft soil has been carried off.
  • If a man were to see a great company run out every day into the rain and take delight in being wet - if he knew that it would be to no purpose for him to go and persuade them to return to their houses in order to avoid the storm, and that all that could be expected by his going to speak to them would be that he himself should be as wet as they, it would be best for him to keep within doors, and, since he had not influence enough to correct other people's folly, to take care to preserve himself.
  • Never discourage anyone...who continually makes progress, no matter how slow.
  • Every heart sings a song, incomplete, until another heart whispers back. Those who wish to sing always find a song.
  • Atheism is a disease of the soul before it becomes an error of understanding.
  • As Themistocles answered Seriphian who was abusing him and saying that he was famous not for his own merits but because he was an Athenian: "If you had been a native of my country or I of yours, neither of us would have been famous." -The Republic: Book 1. Plato.
  • If you can discover a better way of life than office-holding for your future rulers, a well-governed city becomes a possibility. For only in such a state will those rule who are truly rich, not in gold, but in the wealth that makes happiness — a good and wise life.
This fragment is also translated as:
You must contrive for your future rulers another and a better life than that of a ruler, and then you may have a well-ordered State; for only in the State which offers this, will they rule who are truly rich, not in silver and gold, but in virtue and wisdom, which are the true blessings of life.
I have found this, or a semantic equivalent to this, on Wikisource here:
Yes, my friend, I said; and there lies the point. You must contrive for your future rulers another and a better life than that of a ruler, and then you may have a well-ordered State; for only in the State which offers this, will they rule who are truly rich, not in silver and gold, but in virtue and wisdom, which are the true blessings of life. Whereas if they go to the administration of public affairs, poor and hungering after their own private advantage, thinking that hence they are to snatch the chief good, order there can never be; for they will be fighting about office, and the civil and domestic broils which thus arise will be the ruin of the rulers themselves and of the whole State.
I don't know Wikiquote's sourcing guidelines and how they deal with other Wikimedia projects, so I won't move it myself. But I thought I'd do my bit and point this out. Magic9mushroom (talk) 10:25, 25 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Strange times are these in which we live when old and young are taught falsehoods in school. And the person that dares to tell the truth is called at once a lunatic and fool.
    • Nope, not Plato! Found this one published in 1871, as thus:
Strange times are these, in which we live, forsooth ;
When young and old are taught in Falsehood's school:–
And the man who dares to tell the truth,
Is called at once a lunatic and fool.
— George Francis Train
[as published in Edmunds, A. C. (1871). Pen Sketches of Nebraskans - with Photographs. p. 5]

Misattributed, invented or "improved" quotes[edit]

"Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws" is a quote often attributed to Plato. His actual words were: “Laws are made to instruct the good, and in the hope that there may be no need of them; also to control the bad, whose hardness of heart will not be hindered from crime.” [Laws, Book IX]. These have clearly different meanings. Apparently Ammon Hennacy wrote something closer: "Oh judge! Your damn laws! The good people don't need them, and the bad people don't obey them."

"He was a wise man who invented beer." I just searched through all of Plato's works on Wikipedia. The word "beer" does not appear in a single one, which is unsurprising, as Plato was Greek, and would have preferred wine. I think this should be listed under "misattributed", since that quote appears everywhere. -- 17:30, 24 October 2013 (UTC)

I removed "Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber"; clearly this is more than just a tone-deaf, colloquial rephrasing of Republic Book 1, 347-C; the elements "too smart" and "dumber" make a larger claim than Plato himself did: "Good men are unwilling to rule, either for money's sake or for honour.... So they must be forced to consent under threat of penalty.... The heaviest penalty for declining to rule is to be ruled by someone inferior to yourself. That is the fear, I believe, that makes decent people accept power...." Objectivesea 19:59, 19 January 2010 (UTC)

I agree that this is just plain wrong. Even the popular translation of Benjamin Jowett, noted for its vernacular and colloquial distortions of Plato's carefully precise language, does not so mangle the meaning of this passage, nor does any other translation I can find. GoogleBooks shows only a handful of appearances of this misquote in print, and leads me to suspect it originated as a joke sometime in the 1980s.

Google shows it repeated as fact on about a million web pages, so, if one thinks it worthwhile to rebut nonsense that appears in bonehead venues, it may be appropriate to include a misquotation note in the article. (What really is needed in this article is to identify the translations used.) ~ Ningauble 19:37, 20 January 2010 (UTC)

Alan Bloom translates the line as "Hence, necessity and a penalty must be there in addition for them, if they are going to be willing to rule - it is likely that this is the source of its being held to be shameful to seek to rule and not to await necessity - and the greatest of penalties is being ruled by a worse man if one is not willing to rule oneself." Are we allowed to paraphrase quotes? If so I think it can be improved as follows - If the decent are not willing to rule, they are punished by being ruled by worse men. This is because in the same translation the he regularly switches between "good" and "decent". N3m6 17:07, 1 September 2011 (UTC)
"What really is needed in this article is to identify the translations used." There are plenty of good translations available, and some that are not so good. If we invite the general public to paraphrase we would get a lot of nonsense. ~ Ningauble 18:21, 1 September 2011 (UTC)
"for they are not covetous of honor. So there must be imposed some compulsion and penalty to constrain them to rule if they are to consent to hold office. That is perhaps why to seek office oneself and not await compulsion is thought disgraceful. But the chief penalty is to be governed by someone worse1 if a man will not himself hold office and rule." Plat. Rep. 1.347c

"Someday, in the distant future, our grandchildren's grandchildren will develop a new equivalent of our classrooms. They will spend many hours in front of boxes with fires glowing within. May they have the wisdom to know the difference between light and knowledge." -- Without a source, I am still quite certain this supposed quote was invented quite recently. 17:28, 26 October 2011 (UTC)

"The price of apathy is to be ruled by evil men" or, "The price paid by good men for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men." I have encountered this quote attributed to Plato in numerous places but have not found it in any of his written works. Is this a legitimate quote, perhaps spoken in public and recorded but not written by Plato, or a mangling of "governed by someone worse" from The Republic? —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 18:38, 26 May 2012

It is a bad paraphrase based on The Republic, Book I, 347-C, which is discussed above. Plato does not speak of apathy: he says that good rulers are not motivated by money or prestige, that their self-interest in ruling is to avoid being badly ruled. The misquotes are commonly used to make a point about attitudes of the populace, but this is not whom Plato was talking about. ~ Ningauble (talk) 13:16, 27 May 2012 (UTC)
From wikibook [2], SOCRATES - GLAUCON

"What do you mean, Socrates? said Glaucon. The first two modes of payment are intelligible enough, but what the penalty is I do not understand, or how a penalty can be a payment. You mean that you do not understand the nature of this payment which to the best men is the great inducement to rule? Of course you know that ambition and avarice are held to be, as indeed they are, a disgrace? Very true. And for this reason, I said, money and honour have no attraction for them; good men do not wish to be openly demanding payment for governing and so to get the name of hirelings, nor by secretly helping themselves out of the public revenues to get the name of thieves. And not being ambitious they do not care about honour. Wherefore necessity must be laid upon them, and they must be induced to serve from the fear of punishment. And this, as I imagine, is the reason why the forwardness to take office, instead of waiting to be compelled, has been deemed dishonourable. Now the worst part of the punishment is that he who refuses to rule is liable to be ruled by one who is worse than himself. And the fear of this, as I conceive, induces the good to take office, not because they would, but because they cannot help--not under the idea that they are going to have any benefit or enjoyment themselves, but as a necessity, and because they are not able to commit the task of ruling to any one who is better than themselves, or indeed as good. For there is reason to think that if a city were composed entirely of good men, then to avoid office would be as much an object of contention as to obtain office is at present; then we should have plain proof that the true ruler is not meant by nature to regard his own interest, but that of his subjects; and every one who knew this would choose rather to receive a benefit from another than to have the trouble of conferring one. So far am I from agreeing with Thrasymachus that justice is the interest of the stronger. This latter question need not be further discussed at present; but when Thrasymachus says that the life of the unjust is more advantageous than that of the just, his new statement appears to me to be of a far more serious character. Which of us has spoken truly? And which sort of life, Glaucon, do you prefer?" Xentyr (talk) 14:25, 16 October 2012 (UTC)


One quote that I've seen all over the web attributed to Plato is, "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle." If nobody can find a source for it, it's a good candidate for the "Misattributed" section., 28 September 2010

A curious one this. I've checked on Google book search and I can find a lot of books ascribing this to either Plato [3] or Philo [4]. However all of the books are ones with titles like "A Spiritual Guide to finding the Inner You," and they're obviously just quoting from each other. I found other books and websites attributing it to a "T.H. Thompson" [5] or a "John Watson," [6] but I've no idea if these names are even genuine. I think this quote should go into a "Misattributed" section for both Plato and Philo. Singinglemon 20:39, 28 September 2010 (UTC)
Okay, I've investigated further. I looked at the oldest books which use the quote "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." They attribute it to "John Watson", which was apparently the pseudonym of the Scottish preacher w:Ian Maclaren (1850–1907). I found a recent investigation into this quote at [7], and the earliest version of the quote seems to have been published in 1897/8, and the exact words were: "Be pitiful, for every man is fighting a hard battle." The word "pitiful" has largely lost its earlier meaning of "compassionate" so it's no surprise that it's mutated to "kind." I shall add it to the "Misattributed" section. Singinglemon 21:20, 28 September 2010 (UTC)

"Courage is knowing what not to fear"[edit]

Is this a genuine Plato quote does anyone know? LookingGlass (talk) 09:57, 28 March 2012 (UTC)

apologies, information for this has already been requested (above) LookingGlass (talk) 10:01, 28 March 2012 (UTC)

"Music Is a Moral Law…" quotation[edit]

This quotation is currently shown on the main page as being misattributed to Plato (who probably never wrote it). The quotation was attributed to Plato over a hundred years ago. The earliest version of this quotation I've been able to find was in the book The Pleasures of Life, Part II by Sir John Lubbock, Bart., M.P. (Vice Chairman of the London County Council, Principal of the London Working Men's College, and President of the London Chamber of Commerce), Macmillan and Company, London and New York (1889), p. 120. The quotation is set forth as follows:

"Music is a moral law. It gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, a charm to sadness, gaiety and life to everything. It is the essence of order, and leads to all that is good, just, and beautiful, of which it is the invisible, but nevertheless dazzling, passionate, and eternal form."

Exactly where in Plato's writings he finds that, Lubbock doesn't say. - Embram (talk) 21:47, 4 April 2014 (UTC)

Another source (1890): "Music," says Plato, "is a moral law. It gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, ..." (probably still misattribution, though – there doesn't seem to be anything similar to this in his original writings). ~ DanielTom (talk) 18:42, 4 April 2014 (UTC)
That Appears to be the same source, i.e., Sir John Lubbock. I'm sure you can find other sources quickly following Lubbock's book, as it was a common practice in the late 19th century to state "facts" published elsewhere without attribution (what we would today call plagiarism). - Embram (talk) 18:28, 26 April 2014 (UTC)
Well, you changed your "source" after my comment, so yes, now they are the same. ~ DanielTom (talk) 17:39, 4 May 2014 (UTC)
Yes, you're right. I corrected my comment to cite the 1889 Lubbock source some three hours after you made your comment about the 1990 source, but either didn't notice yours or just saw the "1990" and thought it was from a later source. Three weeks later I added my comment about how they were the same source when I realized you were also citing Lubbock. - Embram (talk) 16:39, 10 May 2014 (UTC)


The current misattributed section state

However in the 1857 original source (see here), William Fleming states:

It is a fine observation of Plato in his Laws — that atheism is a disease of the soul before it becomes an error of the understanding.

The clue here is that the reference is not reliable, in so far that this 1880 source it doesn't state the source information. (which I noticed recently in some other cases as well). -- Mdd (talk) 14:05, 15 July 2014 (UTC)

"Love is a grave mental disease"[edit]

I see this around the web attributed to Plato but without a reference to any work of his... so hard to say. 16:40, 3 February 2015 (UTC)

Since Plato's works have been very extensively studied for centuries, I think it is easy to say that recent attributions found only in non-scholarly sources are bogus. ~ Ningauble (talk) 17:01, 3 February 2015 (UTC)


"Those who are able to see beyond the shadows and lies of their culture will never be understood, let alone believed, by the masses."