30 Inspirational Quotes you will love from Ancient Greek and Roman Philosophers

The things that matter to us have mattered to people in ancient times– How can we live meaningful lives? Can we achieve greater happiness? What is happiness, anyway? The first thinkers to pose these questions, and provide answers that literally changed the course of history are these ancient philosophers. Their insights tell us to: Think for yourself. Appreciate what you have. Be the person you want to be. Accept change. Be kind. We are all one. And much more!

I love inspirational quotes. There’s always a few that stand out and click with me –  different ones at different times – giving me wisdom, flashes of understanding and inspiring me to appreciate life more.

Here’s what these ancient philosophers had to say!

Heraclitus (circa 535-475 BCE) is considered the most important of pre-Socratic Greek philosophers. He was born in Ephesus – an amazing place to visit!

No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.  – Heraclitus

Day by day, what you choose, what you think and what you do, is who you become.  – Heraclitus

The soul is dyed the colour of its thoughts.  – Heraclitus

All are one.  – Heraclitus

Pericles (circa 495-429 BCE) was a famous Greek statesman and speaker during the Golden Age of Athens. He became the ruler of Athens in 461 and built the Acropolis and the Parthenon.

Time is the wisest counsellor of all.  – Pericles

What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.  – Pericles

Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn’t mean politics won’t take an interest in you.  – Pericles

Socrates (circa 469—399 BCE) is considered one of the founders of Western logic and philosophy. Most of what we know about him comes from the writings of Plato, who was one of his students. Socrates maintained that the more we come to know ourselves, the greater our ability to make choices that lead to our happiness.

To find yourself, think for yourself.  – Socrates

Wisdom begins in wonder. –  Socrates.

Be as you wish to seem.  – Socrates

The secret of happiness, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less.  – Socrates

The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.   – Socrates

Plato (circa 428—348 BCE). Like Socrates, Plato is also considered one of the founders of Western philosophy. He was a student of Socrates and a mentor to Aristotle. He founded The Platonic Academy in Athens. It was the first institute of higher learning in the Western world.

The greatest wealth is to live content with little.  – Plato

The measure of a man is what he does with power.   – Plato

Necessity is the mother of invention.  – Plato

Ignorance is the root and stem of all evil.  – Plato

Aristotle (circa 384—322 BCE) was a Greek philosopher. As a young man, he joined Plato’s Academy. He is also considered one of the founders of Western philosophy. After Plato died, he left Athens and became a tutor for Alexander the Great.

Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.  – Aristotle

Happiness depends upon ourselves.  – Aristotle

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.  – Aristotle

Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.  – Aristotle

Poverty is the parent of revolution and crime.  – Aristotle

Seneca (circa 4 BCE—65 AD) was born in Cordoba, Spain. He was educated in Rome and became a Roman philosopher, statesman, and dramatist.

True happiness is to enjoy the present. A wise man is content with his lot, whatever it may be, without wishing for what he has not.  – Seneca

As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters.   – Seneca

A gift consists not of what is done or given, but in the intention of the giver or doer.   – Seneca

Begin at once to live. Count each day as a separate life.  – Seneca

Epictetus (circa 55—135 AD) was born a slave. He gained his freedom, moved to Rome, and began to teach philosophy. When philosophers were banished from Rome in 89 A.D., Epictetus left and started his own school in Northwest Greece.

There is only one way to happiness and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power of our will.  – Epictetus.

Nature hath given men one tongue but two ears, that we may hear from others twice as much as we speak.   – Epictetus

It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.  – Epictetus

Make the best use of what’s in your power and take the rest as it happens. –  Epictetus

First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do.  – Epictetus