Motto over the entrance to Plato's Academy (quoted in Elias' commentary on Aristotle's Categories (Eliae in Porphyrii Isagogen et Aristotelis categorias commentaria, CAG XVIII.1, Berlin 1900, p. 118.13–19)).
Plutarch elaborated on this phrase in his essay Πῶς Πλάτων ἔλεγε τὸν θεὸν ἀεί γεωμετρεῖν "What is Plato’s meaning when he says that god always applies geometry". Based on the phrase of Plato, above, a present day mnemonic for π (pi) was derived:
ἀεὶ ὁ θεὸς ὁ μέγας γεωμετρεῖ τὸ σύμπαν
Aeì ho theòs ho mégas geōmetreî tò sýmpan.
"Always the great god applies geometry to everything"
π = 3.1415926...
ἀετοῦ γῆρας, κορυδοῦ νεότης
Aetoû gêras, korydoû neótēs.
"An eagle's old age (is worth) a sparrow's youth".
"Hippolocus begat me. I claim to be his son, and he sent me to Troy with strict instructions: Ever to excel, to do better than others, and to bring glory to your forebears, who indeed were very great ... This is my ancestry; this is the blood I am proud to inherit."
ἀνάγκᾳ δ’ οὐδὲ θεοὶ μάχονται
Anánkāi d'oudè theoì mákhontai.
"Not even the gods fight necessity" — Simonides, 8, 20.
Used as the inscription over the Pump Room at Bath.
βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν
Basileía tôn ouranôn
"kingdom of the heavens"
"Heaven" is a foundational theological concept in Christianity and Judaism.
"God's Kingdom" (Βασιλεία τοῦ Θεοῦ, Basileia tou Theou), or the "Kingdom of [the] Heaven[s]" was the main point of Jesus Christ's preaching on earth. The phrase occurs more than a hundred times in the New Testament.
From a ca 500 BC vase depicting writing with stylus and folding wax tablet
Βελλεροφόντης τὰ γράμματα
Bellerophóntēs tà grámmata
King Proetus dared not to kill a guest, so he sent Bellerophon to King Iobates, his father-in-law, bearing a sealed message in a folded tablet: "Pray remove the bearer from this world: he attempted to violate my wife, your daughter."
When Darius was informed that Sardis had been captured and burnt by the Athenians he was furious. He placed an arrow on his bow and shot it into the sky, praying to the deities to grant him vengeance on the Athenians. He then ordered one of his servants to say three times a day the above phrase in order to remind him that he should punish the Athenians.
"There is only one omen, to fight for one's country"
The Trojan prince Hector to his friend and lieutenant Polydamas when the latter was superstitious about a bird omen. The omen was an eagle that flew with a snake in its talons, still alive and struggling to escape. The snake twisted backward until it struck the bird on the neck, forcing the eagle to let the snake fall.
Epeì d' oûn pántes hósoi te peripoloûsin phanerôs kaì hósoi phaínontai kath' hóson àn ethélōsin theoì génesin éskhon, légei pròs autoùs ho tóde tò pân gennḗsas táde
"When all of them, those gods who appear in their revolutions, as well as those other gods who appear at will had come into being, the creator of the universe addressed them the following" — Plato, Timaeus, 41a, on gods and the creator of the universe.
While Archimedes was taking a bath, he noticed that the level of the water rose as he got in, and he realized that the volume of water displaced must be equal to the volume of the part of his body he had submerged. This meant that the volume of irregular objects could be calculated with precision, a previously intractable problem. He was so excited that he ran through the streets naked and still wet from his bath, crying "I have found it!".
With these words, Julius Caesar described his victory against Pharnaces, according to Plutarch.
θάλασσα καὶ πῦρ καὶ γυνή, κακὰ τρία
Thálassa kaì pŷr kaì gynḗ, kakà tría.
"Sea and fire and woman, three evils."
Θάλαττα, θάλαττα — “The Sea! The Sea!“ — painting by Granville Baker; from a 1901 issue of LIFE magazine
“The Sea! The Sea!“
Thalatta! Thalatta! from Xenophon's Anabasis. It was the shouting of joy when the roaming 10,000 Greeks saw Euxeinos Pontos (the Black Sea) from Mount Theches (Θήχης) in Armenia after participating in Cyrus the Younger's failed march against Persian Empire in the year 401 BC.
θάνατος οὐδὲν διαφέρει τοῦ ζῆν.
Thánatos oudèn diaphérei tou zên.
"Death is no different than life."
Thales' philosophical view to the eternal philosophical question about life and death.
An injunction urging physicians to care for and heal themselves first before dealing with patients. It was made famous in the Latin translation of the Bible, the Vulgate. The proverb was quoted by Jesus, recorded in the Gospel of Luke chapter 4:23. Luke the Evangelist was a physician.
ΙΧΘΥΣ: Ἰησοῦς Χριστὸς Θεοῦ Υἱὸς Σωτήρ
Ἰησοῦς Χριστὸς Θεοῦ Υἱὸς Σωτήρ
Iēsoûs Khristòs Theoû Hyiòs Sōtḗr
"Jesus Christ, Son of God, Saviour." As an acronym: ΙΧΘΥΣ (Ichthys) — "fish".
On March 15, 44 BC, Julius Caesar was attacked by a group of senators, including Marcus Junius Brutus, a senator and Caesar's adopted son. Suetonius (in De Vita Caesarum, LXXXII) reported that some people thought that, when Caesar saw Brutus, he spoke those words and resigned himself to his fate. Among English speakers, much better known are the Latin words Et tu, Brute?, which William Shakespeare gave to Caesar in his play, Julius Caesar (act 3, scene 1,85). This means simply "You too, Brutus?"
A Spartan spectator to Diagoras of Rhodes, a former Olympic champion himself, during the 79th Olympiad, when his two sons became Olympic champions and carried him around the stadium on their shoulders.
An Epicurean phrase, because of his belief that politics troubles men and doesn't allow them to reach inner peace. So Epicurus suggested that everybody should live "Hidden" far from cities, not even considering a political career. Cicero criticized this idea because, as a stoic, he had a completely different opinion of politics, but the sentiment is echoed by Ovid's statement bene qui latuit bene vixit ("he has lived well who has stayed well hidden", Tristia 3.4.25). Plutarch elaborated in his essay Is the Saying "Live in Obscurity" Right? (Εἰ καλῶς εἴρηται τὸ λάθε βιώσας) 1128c.
“33 Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.’ 34 But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. 36 And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. 37 Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one."
Painting of Pheidippides as he gave word of the Greek victory over Persia at the Battle of Marathon to the people of Athens, by Luc-Olivier Merson, 1869
"We have won."
The traditional story relates that the Athenian herald Pheidippides ran the 40 km (25 mi) from the battlefield near the town of Marathon to Athens to announce the Greek victory over Persia in the Battle of Marathon (490 BC) with the word 'We have won' and collapsed and died on the spot because of exhaustion.
From a story in Herodotus (6.129), in which Hippocleides loses the chance to marry Cleisthenes' daughter after getting drunk and dancing on his head. Herodotus says the phrase was a common expression in his own day.
"All is flux; everything flows" – This phrase was either was not spoken by Heraclitus or did not survive as a quotation of his. This famous aphorism used to characterize Heraclitus' thought comes from Simplicius, a Neoplatonist, and from Plato's Cratylus. The word rhei (cf. rheology) is the Greek word for "to stream"; according to Plato's Cratylus, it is related to the etymology of Rhea.
πάντοτε ζητεῖν τὴν ἀλήθειαν
Pántote zeteῖn tḕn alētheian
"ever seeking the truth" — Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers — a characteristic of Pyrrhonism. An abbreviated form, ζητεῖν τὴν ἀλήθειαν ("seek the truth"), is a motto of the Geal family.
"Good heavens! Mardonius, what kind of men have you brought us to fight against? Men who do not compete for possessions, but for honour."
Spontaneous response of Tigranes, a Persian general while Xerxes was interrogating some Arcadians after the Battle of Thermopylae. Xerxes asked why there were so few Greek men defending the Thermopylae. The answer was "All the other men are participating in the Olympic Games". And when asked "What is the prize for the winner?", "An olive-wreath" came the answer. — Herodotus, The Histories
The complete text of this fragment by Heraclitus is: πόλεμος πάντων μὲν πατήρ ἐστι, πάντων δὲ βασιλεύς, καὶ τοὺς μὲν θεοὺς ἔδειξε τοὺς δὲ ἀνθρώπους, τοὺς μὲν δούλους ἐποίησε τοὺς δὲ ἐλευθέρους (War is the father of all and the king of all; and some he has made gods and some men, some bond and some free).
Ti estin ho mian ekhon phōnēn tetrapoun kai dipoun kai tripoun ginetai?
"What is that which has one voice and yet becomes four-footed and two-footed and three-footed?." — The famous riddle of the Sphinx. Oedipus solved the riddle correctly by answering: “Man: as an infant, he crawls on fours; as an adult, he walks on two legs and; in old age, he uses a walking stick”. In allegorical terms it also describes the development of humans: from a primitive state (four-footed animal), to self-sustained (two-footed) and finally to stable and mature (see also tripod).
τί εὔκολον; Τὸ ἄλλῳ ὑποτίθεσθαι.
Tí eúkolon? Tò állōi hypotíthesthai.
"What is easy? To advise another." — Thales
τί καινὸν εἴη τεθεαμένος; Γέροντα τύραννον.
Tí kainòn eiē tetheaménos? Géronta týrannon.
"What is the strangest thing to see? "An aged tyrant." — Thales
A story concerns how its collection grew so large: by decree of Ptolemy III of Egypt, all visitors to the city were required to surrender any form of written documents in any language in their possession, which were listed under the heading "books of the ships". These writings were then swiftly copied by official scribes. Sometimes the copies were so precise that the originals were put into the library and the copies were delivered to the unsuspecting previous owners. This process also helped to create a reservoir of books in the relatively new city. Galen XVIIa p.606.
^Aristophanes goes on: "Firstly, the owls of Laurium (i.e. the Athenian drachmas minted from the silver-mines of Laurium) which every judge desires above all things, shall never be wanting to you"The Birds, 1106