Ancient Roman Wisdom

Updated: October 2, 2011

“It is found by experience that admirable laws and right precedents among the good have their origin in the misdeeds of others.” – Cornelius Tacitus (55 AD – 117 AD)


“We ask, then, for peace for the gods of our fathers…We look on the same stars, the sky is common, the same world surrounds us. What difference does it make by what pains each seeks the truth? We cannot attain to so great a secret by one road…” – Symmachus, Prefect of Rome, to St. Ambrose, 384 CE


“By all means, marry. If you get a good wife, you’ll become happy. If you get a bad one, you’ll become a philosopher.” – Socrates


“In a heated argument we are apt to lose sight of the truth.” — Publilius Syrus

“A Persons Aspirations–A man’s worth is no greater than the worth of his ambitions.” – Marcus Aurelius


“Remember this — very little is needed to make a happy life.” – Marcus Aurelius


“Accept the things to which fate binds you, and love the people with whom fate brings you together, but do so with all your heart.” – Marcus Aurelius


“Look well into thyself; there is a source of strength which will always spring up if thou wilt always look there.” – Marcus Aurelius Antoninus


“Remember this-that there is a proper dignity and proportion to be observed in the performance of every act of life.” – Marcus Aurelius Antoninus


“Never esteem anything as of advantage to you that will make you break your word or lose your self-respect.” – Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, Meditations


“Think not disdainfully of death, but look on it with favor; for even death is one of the things that Nature wills.” – Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, Meditations


” Reject your sense of injury and the injury itself disappears. – Marcus Aurelius, philosopher and writer (121-180)


“If all our misfortunes were laid in one common heap whence everyone must take an equal portion, most people would be contented to take their own and depart.” – Socrates


“Do not take thought for your persons or your properties, but first and chiefly to care about the greatest improvement of the soul. I tell you that the virtue is not given by money, but that from vitue come money and every other good of man, public as well as private… The difficulty, my friends, is not in avoiding death, but in avoiding unrighteousness; for that runs faster than death.”- Socrates


“I do nothing but go about persuading you all, old and young alike, not to take thought for your persons or your properties, but and chiefly to care about the greatest improvement of the soul. I tell you that virtue is not given by money, but that from virtue comes money and every other good of man, public as well as private. This is my teaching, and if this is the doctrine which corrupts the youth, I am a mischievous person.” – Socrates, quoted by Plato, ‘The Death of Socrates’


“Regard your good name as the richest jewel you can possibly be possessed of – for credit is like fire; when once you have kindled it you may easily preserve it, but if you once extinguish it, you will find it an arduous task to rekindle it again. The way to gain a good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear.” – Socrates


“I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who conquers his enemies; for the hardest victory is over self.” – Aristotle


” Anger, if not restrained, is frequently more hurtful to us than the injury that provokes it. ” – Seneca


” We should measure affection, not like youngsters by the ardour of its passion, but by its strength and constancy. – Marcus Tullius Cicero, statesman, orator, writer (106-43 BCE)


“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

— Plato


“The antidote for fifty enemies is one friend.” — Aristotle


“All paid jobs absorb and degrade the mind.” – Aristotle, philosopher (384-322 BCE)

“Wit is educated insolence.” – Aristotle, philosopher (384-322 BCE)


We become just by performing just actions,

temperate by performing temperate actions,

brave by performing brave actions.

– Aristotle, philosopher (384-322 BCE)


12 thoughts on “Ancient Roman Wisdom

  1. The Socrates quote that starts with ” Do not” is missing an r in the second virtue.
    Not to find fault, mate, just a’proof reader by natural ability’ as once described by another.

    Thanks for puttin’ this stuff up. Always dug the Romans sense of sense. The Greeks are cool too, IMO.


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