World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

List of Greek phrases

Article Id: WHEBN0000233682
Reproduction Date:

Title: List of Greek phrases  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: List of Latin phrases, Greek language, Historical archive/Votes for deletion/Lists, Ancient Greek, List of Latin phrases (A)
Collection: Greek Words and Phrases, Lists of Phrases, Quotations
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

List of Greek phrases


  • Αα 1
  • Ββ 2
  • Γγ 3
  • Δδ 4
  • Εε 5
  • Ζζ 6
  • Ηη 7
  • Θθ 8
  • Ιι 9
  • Κκ 10
  • Λλ 11
  • Μμ 12
  • Νν 13
  • Ξξ 14
  • Οο 15
  • Ππ 16
  • Ρρ 17
  • Σσ 18
  • Ττ 19
  • Υυ 20
  • Φφ 21
  • Χχ 22
  • Ψψ 23
  • Ωω 24
  • See also 25
  • Notes 26
  • External links 27



The School of Athens. Fresco by Raphael (1510–1511)
ἀγεωμέτρητος μηδεὶς εἰσίτω.
Ageōmétrētos mēdeìs eisítō.
"Let no one untrained in geometry enter."
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)).[1]
Aristotle, marble copy of Lysippus
ἀεὶ Λιβύη φέρει τι κακόν / καινόν
Aeì Libýē phérei ti kakón / kainón.
"Libya always bears something evil / new", Aristotle, Historia Animalium.
Compare Latin Ex Africa semper aliquid novi "From Africa always something new", Pliny.
Ἀεὶ κολοιὸς παρὰ κολοιῷ ἱζάνει
"Birds of a feather flock together"
ἀεὶ κολοιὸς παρὰ κολοιῷ ἱζάνει
Aeì koloiòs parà koloiôi hizánei.
"A jackdaw is always found near a jackdaw"
Similar to English "birds of a feather flock together."
Papyrus, dated 75–125 A.D. describing one of the oldest diagrams of Euclid's Elements
ἀεὶ ὁ θεὸς γεωμετρεῖ
Aei ho theos geōmetreî.
"God always geometrizes", Plato
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".[2] 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 the universe"
π = 3.1415926...
ἀεὶ θεὸς μέγας γεωμετρεῖ τὸ σύμπαν
3 letters 1 letter 4 letters 1 letter 5 letters 9 letters 2 letters 6 letters
ἀετοῦ γῆρας, κορυδοῦ νεότης
Aetoû gêras, korydoû neótēs.
"An eagle's old age (is worth) a sparrow's youth".
Aἰὲν ἀριστεύειν motto, Depicted on engraving at the Boston College
αἰὲν ἀριστεύειν
aièn aristeúein
Ever to Excel
Motto of the University of St Andrews (founded 1410), the Edinburgh Academy (founded 1824), and Boston College (founded 1863). The source is the sixth book of Homer's Iliad, (Iliad 6. 208) in a speech Glaucus delivers to Diomedes:
"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.
ἀνδρῶν γὰρ ἐπιφανῶν πᾶσα γῆ τάφος
Andrôn gàr epiphanôn pâsa gê táphos.
For illustrious men have the whole earth for their tomb. Pericles' Funeral Oration from Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War 2.43.3
ἀνερρίφθω κύβος
Anerrhíphthō kýbos.
Alea iacta est.
Latin: "The die has been cast"; Greek: "Let the die be cast."
Julius Caesar as reported by Plutarch, when he entered Italy with his army in 49 BC. Translated into Latin by Suetonius as alea iacta est.
ἄνθρωπος μέτρον
Ánthrōpos métron.
"Man [is] the measure [of all things]"
Motto of Protagoras (as quoted in Plato's Theaetetus 152a).
ἅπαξ λεγόμενον
Hápax legómenon.
"Once said"
A word that only occurs once.
ἀπὸ μηχανῆς Θεός
Apò mēkhanês Theós
Deus ex machina
"God from the machine"
The phrase originates from the way deity figures appeared in ancient Greek theaters, held high up by a machine, to solve a problem in the plot.
"Ἀπὸ τοῦ ἡλίου μετάστηθι"Diogenes the Cynic — in a 1763 painting by Jacques Gamelin
ἀπὸ τοῦ ἡλίου μετάστηθι
Apò toû hēlíou metástēthi
"Stand a little out of my sun"
Legendary reply of Diogenes the Cynic when Alexander the Great asked him if he had any wish he desired to fulfil — version recounted by Plutarch[3]
ἄριστον μὲν ὕδωρ; Pump Room at Bath
ἄριστον μὲν ὕδωρ
Áriston mèn hýdōr.
"Greatest however [is] water" — Pindar, Olymp. 1, 1
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
"Bellerophontic letter"
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."
βρῶμα θεῶν
Brôma theôn
"Food of the gods"
Allegedly said by Nero of the poisoned mushrooms with which his mother Agrippina the Younger murdered Claudius.



γηράσκω δ᾽ αἰεὶ πολλὰ διδασκόμενος.
Gēraskō d' aíeí pollâ didaskómenos.
"I grow old always learning many things."
Solon the Athenian, one of the seven Sages of Greece, on learning.
Athenian tetradrachm depicting goddess Athena (obverse) and owl (reverse); in daily use, Athenian drachmas were called glaukai, "owls"[4]
γλαῦκ’ Ἀθήναζε / εἰς Ἀθήνας
Glaûk’ Athḗnaze / eis Athḗnas
"Owls (Athenian drachmas) to Athens" — Aristophanes, The Birds, 302,[5] also in 1106[6]
E.g., coals to Newcastle, ice to the Eskimos.
γνῶθι σεαυτόν.
Gnôthi seautón.
"Know thyself"
Aphorism inscribed over the entrance to the temple of Apollo at Delphi.
Alexander cuts the Gordian Knot, (Jean-Simon Berthélemy)
Γόρδιος δεσμός
Górdios desmós
"Gordian Knot"
The Gordian Knot is a legend associated with Alexander the Great. It is often used as a metaphor for an intractable problem, solved by a bold stroke



Deimos and Phobos
Δεῖμος καὶ Φόϐος
Δεῖμος καὶ Φόβος
Deîmos kaì Phóbos
"Horror and Fear"
Deimos and Phobos, the moons of Mars, are named after the sons of the Greek god Ares (Roman Mars): Deimos "horror"[7] and Phobos "fear".[8]
δέσποτα, μέμνεο τῶν Ἀθηναίων
Déspota, mémneo tôn Athēnaíōn.
"Master, remember the Athenians."
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.[9]
διαίρει καὶ βασίλευε
Diaírei kaì basíleue.
"Divide and rule."
διπλοῦν ὁρῶσιν οἱ μαθόντες γράμματα
Diploûn horôsin hoi mathóntes grámmata.
"Those who know the letters see double [twice as much as those who don't]."
Attributed to Pythagoras. — Inscription in Edinburgh from 1954: ΔΙΠΛΟΥΝ ΟΡΩΣΙΝ ΟΙ ΜΑΘΟΝΤΕΣ ΓΡΑΜΜΑΤΑ.
δῶς μοι πᾶ στῶ καὶ τὰν γᾶν κινάσω
Dôs moi pâ stô, kaì tàn gân kīnā́sō.
"Give me somewhere to stand, and I will move the earth".
Archimedes as quoted by Pappus of Alexandria, Synagoge, Book VIII.



Eagle carrying a snake in its talons
εἷς οἰωνὸς ἄριστος, ἀμύνεσθαι περὶ πάτρης
Heîs oiōnòs áristos, amýnesthai perì pátrēs
"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.[10]
ἐκ τῶν ὧν οὐκ ἄνευ
Ek tôn hôn ouk áneu
Sine qua non
"Without things which [one can]not [be] without"
Helmet of an Athenian hoplite uncovered from the tomb at the Battle of Marathon
Ἑλλήνων προμαχοῦντες Ἀθηναῖοι Μαραθῶνι χρυσοφόρων Μήδων ἐστόρεσαν δύναμιν
Hellḗnōn promachoûntes Athēnaîoi Marathôni chrysophórōn Mḗdōn estóresan dýnamin
Fighting in the forefront of the Hellenes, the Athenians at Marathon brought low the Medes' gilded power.
Epigram by Simonides on the tomb of the Athenians who died in the Battle of Marathon.
ἓν οἶδα ὅτι οὐδὲν οἶδα
Hèn oîda hóti oudèn oîda
"I know one thing, that I know nothing"
Socrates, paraphrased from Plato's Apology.
ἔνθεν μὲν Σκύλλη, ἑτέρωθι δὲ δῖα Χάρυβδις
Enthen mén Skýllē, hetérōthi de dîa Charubdis
"On one side lay Scylla and on the other divine Charybdis"[11]
Odysseus was forced to choose between Scylla and Charybdis, two mythical sea monsters, an expression commonly known as Between Scylla and Charybdis.
ἐπεὶ δ' οὖν πάντες ὅσοι τε περιπολοῦσιν φανερῶς καὶ ὅσοι φαίνονται καθ' ὅσον ἂν ἐθέλωσιν θεοὶ γένεσιν ἔσχον, λέγει πρὸς αὐτοὺς ὁ τόδε τὸ πᾶν γεννήσας τάδε
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.
Archimedes, portrait by Domenico Fetti, (1620)
"I have found [it]!"
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!".


370 BC copy of marble statue of Plato
ζῷον δίπουν ἄπτερον
Zôion dípoun ápteron
"two-legged featherless animal"
Plato's definition of humans,[12] latinized as "Animal bipes implume"
To criticize this definition, Diogenes the Cynic plucked a chicken and brought it into Plato's Academy saying:
οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ Πλάτωνος ἄνθρωπος
Oûtós estin o Plátōnos ánthrōpos
"Here is Plato's man."
In response, Plato added to his definition:
"Having broad nails"[13]
As quoted by Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers[14]
ζῷον πολιτικόν
Zôion politikòn
"Man is by nature a political animal", i.e. animal of the polis or social being
Aristotle, Politics, book 1: ὁ ἄνθρωπος φύσει πολιτικὸν ζῷον



Maniot flag: Νίκη ἢ Θάνατοςἢ τὰν ἢ ἐπὶ τᾶς "Victory or Death : Either With Your Shield or On It"
ἢ τὰν ἢ ἐπὶ τᾶς
Ḕ tā̀n ḕ epì tâs
"Either [with] it [your shield], or on it"
Meaning "either you will win the battle, or you will die and then be carried back home on your shield".
It was said by Spartan mothers to their sons before they went out to battle to remind them of their bravery and duty to Sparta and Greece.

A hoplite could not escape the field of battle unless he tossed away the heavy and cumbersome shield. Therefore "losing one's shield" meant desertion. (Plutarch, Moralia, 241)

ἡ φύσις οὐδὲν ποιεῖ ἅλματα.
Hē phýsis oudèn poieî hálmata.
Natura non facit saltus.
"Nature does not make [sudden] jumps."
A principle of natural philosophies since Aristotle's time, the exact phrase coming from Carl von Linné.
ἦλθον, εἶδον, ἐνίκησα.
Êlthon, eîdon, eníkēsa.
Veni, vidi, vici.
"I came, I saw, I conquered."
With these words, Julius Caesar described his victory against Pharnaces, according to Plutarch.[15]



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
θάλαττα, θάλαττα.
Thálatta, thálatta.
“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.[16]
θέρος, τρύγος, πόλεμος.
Théros, trýgos, pólemos.
“Summer, harvest, war.“



ἰατρέ, θεράπευσον σεαυτόν.
Iatré, therápeuson seautón.
"Physician, take care of yourself!"
"Medice cura te ipsum."
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".
ἰσχύς μου ἡ ἀγάπη τοῦ λαοῦ.
Iskhýs mou hē agápē toû laoû.
"The people's love [is] my strength.“
Motto of the Royal House of Glücksburg.
ἰχθὺς ἐκ τῆς κεφαλῆς ὄζειν ἄρχεται.
Ikhthỳs ek tês kephalês ózein árkhetai.
"A fish starts to stink from the head."
Greek equivalent of the English phrase "A fish rots from the head down"; attested in fifteenth century CE Paroemiae of Michael Apostolius Paroemiographus.[17]


k, c

καὶ σὺ τέκνον;
Kaì sỳ téknon?
"You too, child?" or "You too, young man?"
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)[18] 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?"
κακοῦ κόρακος κακὸν ὠόν
Kakoû kórakos kakòn ōón.
"From a bad crow, a bad egg"
I.e. like father, like son.
κακὸς ἀνὴρ μακρόβιος
Kakòs anḕr makróbios
"A bad man lives long"
"For the prettiest one", "To the most beautiful"
From the myth of the Golden Apple of Discord.
Diagoras of Rhodes carried in the stadium by his two sons
κάτθανε, Διαγόρα, οὐ καὶ ἐς Ὄλυμπον ἀναβήσῃ
Kátthane, Diagóra, ou kaì es Ólympon anabḗsē.
"Die, Diagoras — you will certainly not ascend Olympus."
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.
Κρῆτες ἀεὶ ψεῦσται
Krêtes aeì pseûstai
"Cretans always lie" — One of the earliest logical paradoxes attributed to Epimenides of Knossos known as the Epimenides paradox. As Epimenides is a Cretan himself, it leads to the conclusion that the above statement is not true, hence the paradox.
κτῆμα ἐς ἀεί
ktêma es aeí
"possession for eternity" (Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War 1.22; "κτῆμά τε ἐς αἰεὶ [ktêma te es aieí]" in the original).
Κύριε ἐλέησον
Kýrie eléēson
"Lord have mercy" — a very common phrase in Greek Orthodox liturgies, and also used in Greek in the Roman Catholic Mass.



λάθε βιώσας
Láthe biṓsas
"Live hidden"
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.
λέγειν τὰ λεγόμενα
Légein tà legómena
Prodenda, quia prodita or Relata refero
"I tell as I was told" or "I report reports"
From Herodotus (7,152 etc.):
Ἐγὼ δὲ ὀφείλω λέγειν τὰ λεγόμενα, πείθεσθαί γε μὲν οὐ παντάπασι ὀφείλω.
Egṑ dè opheílō légein tà legómena, peíthesthaí ge mèn ou pantápasi opheílō.
And I must tell what I am told, since I don't have to be persuaded completely.



μέτρον ἄριστον.
Métron áriston
"Moderation is best"
On occasions where neither too much nor too little is a good choice, as when eating or celebrating. Cleobulus, according to Diogenes Laertius.[19]
Archimedes: Μὴ μοῦ τοὺς κύκλους τάραττε
μὴ μοῦ τοὺς κύκλους τάραττε.
Mḕ moû toùs kúklous táratte.
"Do not disturb my circles."
The last words attributed to Archimedes (paraphrased from Valerius Maximus' Memorable Doings and Sayings). During the raid of Syracuse by the Romans, Archimedes was busy drawing circles. He was eventually attacked and killed by a Roman soldier.
μὴ χεῖρον βέλτιστον.
Mḕ kheíron béltiston.
"The least bad [choice] is the best."
When there is no good option, one should pick the one that does the least harm.
μηδὲν ἄγαν.
Mēdèn ágan.
"Nothing in excess"
Inscription from the temple of Apollo at Delphi
μῆλον της Ἔριδος.
Mêlon tês Éridos.
"Apple of Discord"
goddess Eris tossed the Apple of Discord "to the fairest". Paris was the judge of the prettiest one.
μηκέτι ὑδροπότει, αλλ' οἴνῳ ὀλίγῳ χρῶ διὰ τὸν στόμαχόν σου καὶ τὰς πυκνάς σου ασθενείας.
Mēkéti hydropótei, all' oínōi olígōi khrô dià tòn stómakhón sou kaì tàs pyknás sou astheneías.
Stop drinking only water, but take a little wine for your stomach and your frequent illnesses.
From the I Timothy 5:23
The words (ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ) as they are inscribed on the marble of the modern era monument at Thermopylae
μολὼν λαβέ!
Molṑn labé!
"Come take [them]!"
King Leonidas of Sparta, in response to King Xerxes of Persia's demand that the Greek army lay down their arms before the Battle of Thermopylae.[20]
μυστήριον τῆς πίστεως
Mystḗrion tês písteōs
"Mystery of faith"
Latinized as Mysterium Fidei is a Christian theological term.



ναὶ ναί, οὒ οὔ·
Naì naí, où oú;
"Yes yes, no no;"
Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 5
“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.
νίψον ἀνομήματα μὴ μόναν ὄψιν
Nípson anomḗmata mḕ mónan ópsin
"Wash the sins not only the face"
A palindromic inscription attributed to Gregory of Nazianzus,[21] inscribed in Hagia Sophia and on many church fonts. In the Greek alphabet, the /ps/ sound is rendered by the single letter ψ (psi).



Trireme during the Persian Wars
ξένος ὢν ἀκολούθει τοῖς ἐπιχωρίοις νόμοις.
Xénos ṑn akoloúthei toîs epikhōríois nómois.
"As a foreigner, follow the laws of that country."
Loosely, "Do in Rome as Rome does." Quotation from the works of Menander.
ξύλινον τεῖχος
Xýlinon teîkhos
"Wooden defensive wall"
The "walls" of ships during the Persian Wars.



οἶνοψ πόντος — wine dark sea
οἶνοψ πόντος
Oînops póntos
"Wine dark sea"
A common Homeric epithet of the sea, on which many articles have been written. (Further: Sea in culture)
ὅπερ ἔδει δεῖξαι (ΟΕΔ)
Hóper édei deîxai. (abbreviated as OED)
"Quod erat demonstrandum"
"what was required to be proved"
Used by early mathematicians including Euclid (Elements, 1.4), Aristotle (APo.90b34), and Archimedes, written at the end of a mathematical proof or philosophical argument, to signify the proof as complete. Later it was latinized as "QED" or the Halmos tombstone box symbol.
οὐ φροντὶς Ἱπποκλείδῃ
Ou phrontìs Hippokleídēi.
"Hippocleides doesn't care."
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.
Charon's obol. 5th-1st century BC. All of these pseudo-coins have no sign of attachment, are too thin for normal use, and are often found in burial sites.
οὐκ ἂν λάβοις παρὰ τοῦ μὴ ἔχοντος
Ouk àn labois parà toû mē ekhontos.
"You can’t get blood out of a stone." (Literally, "You can't take from one who doesn't have.")
Menippus to Charon when the latter asked Menippus to give him an obol to convey him across the river to the underworld.[22]
Οὖτις ἐμοί γ' ὄνομα
Oûtis emoí g' ónoma.
"My name is Nobody".
Odysseus to Polyphemus when asked what his name was. (Homer, Odyssey, ix, 366).



Πάντα ῥεῖ
Panta rhei
"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[23] — a characteristic of Pyrrhonism. An abbreviated form, ζητεῖν τὴν ἀλήθειαν ("seek the truth"), is a motto of the Geal family.
Kotinos, the prize for the winner at the Ancient Olympic Games
παπαί, Μαρδόνιε, κοίους ἐπ' ἄνδρας ἤγαγες μαχησομένους ἡμέας, οἳ οὐ περὶ χρημάτων τὸν ἀγῶνα ποιεῦνται ἀλλὰ περὶ ἀρετῆς.
Papaí, Mardónie, koíous ep' ándras ḗgages makhēsoménous hēméas, hoì ou perì khrēmátōn tòn agôna poieûntai allà perì aretês.
"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[24]
πάθει μάθος
Páthei máthos
"(There is) learning in suffering/experience"
Aeschylus, Agamemnon
The variant πάθος μάθος means "suffering is learning/learning is suffering."
πῆμα κακὸς γείτων, ὅσσον τ’ ἀγαθὸς μέγ’ ὄνειαρ[25]
Pêma kakòs geítôn, hósson t' agathòs még' óneiar
"A bad neighbor is a calamity as much as a good one is a great advantage."
πίστις, ἐλπίς, ἀγάπη
Pístis, elpís, agápē
"Faith, hope, (and) love." (1 Corinthians, 13, 13.)
πόλεμος πάντων μὲν πατήρ ἐστι
Pólemos pántōn mèn patḗr esti
"War is the father of all" — Heraclitus
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).
πύξ, λάξ, δάξ
Pýx, láx, dáx
"With fists, kicks, and bites"
Πύξ "with fists", λάξ "with kicks", δάξ "with bites"
Epigram describing how laypersons were chased away from the Eleusinian Mysteries.



Rosy-fingered Dawn
ῥοδοδάκτυλος Ἠώς
Rhododáktylos Ēṓs
"Rosy-fingered Dawn."
This phrase occurs frequently in the Homeric poems referring to Eos, the Titanic goddess of the dawn. Eos opened the gates of heaven so that Helios could ride his chariot across the sky every day.



σπεῦδε βραδέως
Speûde bradéōs.
"Hasten slowly" (cf. Latin festina lente), "less haste, more speed".
According to Suetonius the phrase "σπεῦδε βραδέως, ἀσφαλὴς γάρ ἐστ᾽ ἀμείνων ἢ θρασὺς στρατηλάτης" was a favorite of Augustus as he often quoted it.
σὺν Ἀθηνᾷ καὶ χεῖρα κίνει
Sỳn Athēnâi kaì kheîra kinei.
"Along with Athena, move also your hand" — cf. the English "God helps those who help themselves."



Aristarchus's third century BC calculations on the relative sizes of the Earth, Sun, and Moon, from a tenth-century CE Greek copy
τὰ μὲν ἀπλανέα τῶν ἅστρων και τὸν ἅλιον μένειν ἀκίνητον, τὰν δὲ γᾶν περιφέρεσθαι περὶ τὸν ἅλιον.
Tà mén aplanéa tōn astrōn kai tón halion ménein akinēton, tàn dé gân perifèresthai peri tón álion.
"The fixed stars and the Sun remain unmoved, while the Earth revolves about the Sun" — Archimedes' description of the heliocentric model in his work The Sand Reckoner, based on the work by Aristarchus of Samos.
τὰ πάντα ῥεῖ καὶ οὐδὲν μένει.
Tà pánta rheî kaì oudèn ménei.
"Everything flows, nothing stands still."
Attributed to Heraclitus — Plato, in his dialogue Cratylus, recounts Heraclitus' saying:
τὰ ὄντα ἰέναι τε πάντα καὶ μένειν οὐδέν
Tà ónta iénai te pánta kaì ménein oudèn
"[That] things that exist move and nothing remains still",[26] which he expands:
πάντα χωρεῖ καὶ οὐδὲν μένει καὶ δὶς ἐς τὸν αὐτὸν ποταμὸν οὐκ ἂν ἐμβαίης
Pánta khōreî kaì oudèn ménei kaì dìs es tòn autòn potamòn ouk àn embaíēs
"All things move and nothing remains still, and you cannot step twice into the same stream".[27]
τάδ᾽ ἐστὶ Πελοπόννησος, οὐκ Ἰωνία.
Tád' estì Pelopónnēsos, ouk Iōnía.
"Here is Peloponnesus, not Ionia" — Inscription written on a pillar erected by Theseus on the Isthmus of Corinth facing toward the West, i.e. toward the Peloponnese.[28]
τάδ᾽ οὐχὶ Πελοπόννησος, ἀλλ᾽ Ἰωνία.
Tád' oukhì Pelopónnēsos, all' Iōnía.
"Here is not Peloponnesus, but Ionia" — inscription as per above, but toward East, i.e. toward Attica.
Τί δύσκολον; Τὸ ἑαυτὸν γνῶναι.[29]
Tí dýskolon? Tò heautòn gnônai.
"What is hard? To know thyself." — attributed (among other sages) to Thales, according to Pausanias[30]
Oedipus and the sphinx, on an Attic red-figure kylix
τί ἐστιν ὃ μίαν ἔχον φωνὴν τετράπουν καὶ δίπουν καὶ τρίπουν γίνεται;
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”.[31] 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
τί κοινότατον; Ἐλπίς. Καὶ γὰρ οἷς ἄλλο μηδέν, αὔτη παρέστη.
Tí koinótaton? Elpís. Kaì gàr hoîs állo mēdén, aútē paréstē.
"What is quite common? Hope. When all is gone, there is still hope. Literally: "Because even to those who have nothing else, it is still nearby." — Thales
τί τάχιστον; Νοῦς. Διὰ παντὸς γὰρ τρέχει.
Tí tákhiston? Noûs. Dià pantòs gàr trékhei.
"What is the fastest? The mind. It travels through everything." — Thales
τί πρότερον γεγόνοι, νὺξ ἢ ἡμέρα; "νύξ, μιᾷ ἡμέρᾳ πρότερον.
Tí próteron gegónoi, nỳx ē hēméra? núx, miâi hēméraa próteron.
"Which is older, day or night? "Night is the older, by one day." — Thales
τὸ γὰρ ἡδύ, ἐὰν πολύ, οὐ τί γε ἡδύ.
Tò gàr hēdý, eàn polý, ou tí ge hēdý.
"A sweet thing tasted too often is no longer sweet."
τὸ δὶς ἐξαμαρτεῖν οὐκ ἀνδρὸς σοφοῦ.
Tò dìs examarteîn ouk andròs sophoû.
"To commit the same sin twice [is] not [a sign] of a wise man."
τὸ πεπρωμένον φυγεῖν ἀδύνατον.
Tò peprōménon phygeîn adýnaton.
"It's impossible to escape from what is destined."



υἱὸς μονογενής
Hyiòs monogenḗs
"Only-begotten son"
Unigenitus (named for its Latin opening words Unigenitus dei filius, or "Only-begotten son of God") is an apostolic constitution in the form of a papal bull promulgated by Pope Clement XI in 1713.
ὕστερον πρότερον
Hýsteron próteron
"The latter one first"
Rhetorical device in which the most important action is placed first, even though it happens after the other action. The standard example comes from the Aeneid of Virgil (2.353):
Moriamur, et in media arma ruamus "Let us die, and charge into the thick of the fight".


Φοινικήϊα γράμματα
Phoinikḗïa grámmata
"Phoenician letters"
The Phoenician prince Cadmus was generally accredited by Greeks such as Herodotus[32] with the introduction of the Phoenician alphabet several centuries before the Trojan war, circa 2000 BC.[33]
φρονεῖν γὰρ οἱ ταχεῖς οὐκ ἀσφαλεῖς[34]
Phroneîn gàr hoi takheîs ouk asphaleîs
"Those who make quick decisions are not also safe."


χαλεπὰ τὰ καλά
Khalepà tà kalá
"The good/beautiful things [are] difficult [to attain]."
"Naught without labor."
Cf. Plato, Republic 4, 435c; Hippias Major, 304e



The Ancient Library of Alexandria

ψυχῆς ἰατρεῖον

Psykhês iatreîon.
"Hospital of the soul"
The Library of Alexandria, also known as the Great Library in Alexandria, Egypt, was once the largest library in the world.
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.
The phrase is used in reverse as ἰατρεῖον ψυχῆς as a motto for Carolina Rediviva, a university library in Uppsala, and is echoed in the motto of the American Philological Association, "ψυχῆς ἰατρὸς τὰ γράμματα" ("literature is the soul's physician").



Epitaph at the Thermopylae
Ὦ ξεῖν’, ἀγγέλλειν Λακεδαιμονίοις ὅτι τῇδε / κείμεθα τοῖς κείνων ῥήμασι πειθόμενοι.
Ô xeîn’, angéllein Lakedaimoníois hóti têide / keímetha toîs keínōn rhḗmasi peithómenoi.
"Stranger, tell the Spartans that here we lie, obedient to their laws."
Epigram, a single elegiac couplet by Simonides on the dead of Thermopylae.

See also


  1. ^ Henri-Dominique Saffrey, "Ἀγεωμέτρητος μηδεὶς εἰσίτω. Une inscription légendaire." In: Revue des études grecques 81 (1968, pp. 67–87), p. 81.
  2. ^ Symposiacs Problem VIII, 2, Quaestiones Convivales (718b-)718c at PerseusProject (in Greek), Quaestiones Convivales 8.2.1 at PerseusProject (in English) Note: All three references, Symposiacs Problem VIII-2, Quaestiones Convivales (718b-)718c and Quaestiones Convivales 8.2.1 point to the same work and passage)
  3. ^ Plutarch, Parallel Lives – Alexander, 14.3
  4. ^ γλαύξ
  5. ^ Aristophanes, The Birds, 302
  6. ^ 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
  7. ^ δειμός. Scott, Robert; A Greek–English Lexicon at the Perseus Project
  8. ^ φόβος in Liddell and Scott
  9. ^ Herodotus, The Histories, 5.105.2
  10. ^ Homer, Iliad 12.243
  11. ^ Homer, Odyssey, xii 235
  12. ^ Plato, Statesman, 266e
  13. ^ The word πλατυώνυχον however sounds like πλατόνικον, i.e. "the platonic thing". See The stranger’s knowledge: Political knowledge in Plato’s statesman by Xavier Márquez, University of Notre Dame, 2005, p. 120.
  14. ^ Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers, Chapter 2.40
  15. ^ Plutarch, Parallel Lives – Caesar, Plut. Caes. 50.2
  16. ^ Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers, Θαλῆς
  17. ^  
  18. ^ , LXXXIIDe Vita Caesarum
  19. ^ Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers, Κλεόβουλος; also quoted in Stobaeus, Florilegium 3.1.172.
  20. ^ Plutarch, Apophthegmata Laconica, 51.11
  21. ^ Alex Preminger, Terry V.F. Brogan, and Frank J. Warnke, The New Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics, 3rd ed., Princeton University Press, 1993, ISBN 0-691-02123-6, p. 874.
  22. ^ Lucian, Dialogs of the dead, 22.1
  23. ^ Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers, Chapter 9.11
  24. ^ Herodotus, The Histories, Hdt. 8.26
  25. ^
  26. ^ Plato, Cratylus, Plat. Crat. 401d
  27. ^ Plato, Cratylus, Plat. Crat. 402a
  28. ^ Plutarch, Parallel Lives – Theseus, Plut. Thes. 25
  29. ^ Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers, 1.1.36
  30. ^ Pausanias, Description of Greece, Paus. 10.24
  31. ^ Apollodorus, Library, Apollod. 3.5.8
  32. ^ Herodotus, Histories, Book V, 58.
  33. ^ Herodotus. Histories, Book II, 2.145
  34. ^ Sophocles, Oedipus Rex, 617

External links

  • Quotations related to Greek proverbs at Wikiquote
  • Quotations of the Seven Sages of Ancient Greece (Greek)
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.