List of Greek Phrases
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List of Greek Phrases


The School of Athens. Fresco by Raphael (1510-1511)
Age?métr?tos m?deìs eisít?.
"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
Aeì Libý? phérei ti kainón.
"Libya always bears something new", Aristotle, Historia Animalium.
Compare Latin Ex Africa semper aliquid novi "From Africa always something new", Pliny.
? ?
"A jackdaw is always found near a jackdaw"
? ?
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
? ?
Aei ho theos ge?metreî.
"God always geometrizes" -- Plato
Plutarch elaborated on this phrase in his essay ? ? "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 ? (pi) was derived:
? ? ?
Aeì ho theòs ho mégas ge?metreî tò sýmpan.
Always the great God applies geometry to the universe
? = 3.1415926...
? ? ?
3 letters 1 letter 4 letters 1 letter 5 letters 9 letters 2 letters 6 letters
, ?
Aetoû gêras, korydoû neót?s.
"An eagle's old age (is worth) a sparrow's youth".
A ? motto, Depicted on engraving at the Boston College
? ?
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."
Plutarch reports that Phillip II of Macedon sent word to the Spartans, saying that "if I should invade Laconia, I shall drive you out" ( , ? ? ). The Spartans laconically responded with "if."[3]
?' ? ?
Anánk?i d'oudè theoì mákhontai.
"Not even the gods fight necessity" -- Simonides, 8, 20.
? ? ? ? ? ? ;
allá ti ?i moi taúta perí drun ? perí pétr?n.
"But why all this about oak or stone?"
English : Why waste time on trivial subjects, or "Why make a mountain out of a mole hill?"
Hesiod, Theogony, 35.
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
Anerrhíphth? 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.
Ánthr?pos métron.
"Man [is] the measure [of all things]"
Motto of Protagoras (as quoted in Plato's Theaetetus 152a).
Hápax legómenon.
"Once said"
A word that only occurs once.
? ?
Apò m?khanês 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.
" " -- Diogenes the Cynic -- in a 1763 painting by Jacques Gamelin
Apò toû h?líou metást?thi
"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[4]
? ?; Pump Room at Bath
? ?
Áriston mèn hýd?r.
"Greatest however [is] water" -- Pindar, Olymp. 1, 1
Used as the inscription over the Pump Room at Bath.
autòs épha
Ipse dixit
"He himself said it"
Argument from authority made by the disciples of Pythagoras when appealing to the pronouncements of the master rather than to reason or evidence. The Latin translation of the phrase comes from Marcus Tullius Cicero in De Natura Deorum (On the Nature of the Gods)


Basileía tôn ouranôn
"kingdom of the heavens"
"Heaven" is a foundational theological concept in Christianity and Judaism.
"God's Kingdom" ( ?, 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
Bellerophónt?s 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."
Brôma theôn
"Food of the gods"
Allegedly said by Nero of the poisoned mushrooms with which his mother Agrippina the Younger murdered Claudius.


? ? .
G?rask? 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"[5]
' ? /
Glaûk' Ath?́naze / eis Ath?́nas
"Owls (Athenian drachmas) to Athens" -- Aristophanes, The Birds, 302,[6] also in 1106[7]
E.g., coals to Newcastle, ice to the Eskimos.
Gnôthi seautón.
"Know thyself"
Aphorism inscribed over the entrance to the temple of Apollo at Delphi.
Alexander cuts the Gordian Knot, (Jean-Simon Berthélemy)
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


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"[8] and Phobos "fear".[9]
Déspota, mémneo tôn Ath?naí?n.
"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.[10]
Diaírei kaì basíleue.
"Divide and rule."
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 .
Dôs moi pâ stô, kaì tàn gân k?n?́s?.
"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
, ?
Ean ?is philomath?s, esei polymath?s
"If you are fond of learning, you will soon be full of learning"
Isocrates, To Demonicus 18
?, ?
Heîs oi?nòs áristos, amýnesthai perì pátr?s
"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.[11]
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
? ? ?
Hell?́n?n promachoûntes Ath?naîoi Marathôni chrysophór?n M?́d?n 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.
? ?
Hèn oîda hóti oudèn oîda
"I know one thing, that I know nothing"
Socrates, paraphrased from Plato's Apology.
, ?
Enthen mén Skýll?, hetér?thi de dîa Charubdis
"On one side lay Scylla and on the other divine Charybdis"[12]
Odysseus was forced to choose between Scylla and Charybdis, two mythical sea monsters, an expression commonly known as Between Scylla and Charybdis.
? ?' ? ? ? ' ? ? ? , ? ? ? ?
Epeì d' oûn pántes hósoi te peripoloûsin phanerôs kaì hósoi phaínontai kath' hóson àn ethél?sin theoì génesin éskhon, légei pròs autoùs ho tóde tò pân genn?́sas 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 measured 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
? ?
Zôion dípoun ápteron
"two-legged featherless animal"
Plato's definition of humans,[13] latinized as "Animal bipes implume"
To criticize this definition, Diogenes the Cynic plucked a chicken and brought it into Plato's Academy saying:
Oûtós estin o Plát?nos ánthr?pos
"Here is Plato's man."
In response, Plato added to his definition:
"Having broad nails"[14]
As quoted by Diogenes Laërtius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers[15]
Zôion politikòn
"Man is by nature a political animal", i.e. animal of the polis or social being
Aristotle, Politics, book 1: ? ?


Maniot flag: ? ? ? -- ? ? "Victory or Death : Either With Your Shield or On It"
? ?
?̀ t?̀n ?̀ 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)

? .
H? 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.
, , ?.
Êlthon, eîdon, eník?sa.
Veni, vidi, vici.
"I came, I saw, I conquered."
With these words, Julius Caesar described his victory against Pharnaces, according to Plutarch.[16]


? ?, ? ?
Thálassa kaì p?r kaì gyn?́, kakà tría.
"Sea and fire and woman, three evils."
?, ? -- "The Sea! The Sea!" -- painting by Granville Baker; from a 1901 issue of LIFE magazine
?, ?.
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 () in Armenia after participating in Cyrus the Younger's failed march against Persian Empire in the year 401 BC.
? .
Thánatos oudèn diaphérei tou zên.
"Death is no different than life."
Thales' philosophical view to the eternal philosophical question about life and death.[17]


, ? ?.
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.
: ? ? ?
? ? ?
I?soûs Khristòs Theoû Hyiòs S?t?́r
"Jesus Christ, Son of God, Saviour." As an acronym? (Ichthys) -- "fish".
? ?.
Iskhýs mou h? agáp? toû laoû.
"The people's love [is] my strength."
Motto of the Royal House of Glücksburg.
? ?.
Ikhth?s 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.[18]

k, c

Kaì s? 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)[19] 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?"
"Worshippers of the evil deamon"
The name of a dining club in ancient Athens ridiculing Athenian tradition and the gods.
Kakoû kórakos kakòn ?ón.
"From a bad crow, a bad egg"
I.e. like father, like son.
Kakòs an?̀r 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
?, ?, ? ?
Kátthane, Diagóra, ou kaì es Ólympon anab?́s?.
"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.
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.
ktêma es aeí
"possession for eternity" (Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War 1.22; " ? [ktêma te es aieí]" in the original).
Kýrie elé?son
"Lord have mercy" -- a very common phrase in Greek Orthodox liturgies, and also used in Greek in the Roman Catholic Mass.


Láthe bi?́sas
"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? ( ? ? ) 1128c.
Légein tà legómena
Prodenda, quia prodita or Relata refero
"I tell as I was told" or "I report reports"
From Herodotus (7,152 etc.):
, .
Eg?̀ dè opheíl? légein tà legómena, peíthesthaí ge mèn ou pantápasi opheíl?.
And I must tell what I am told, since I don't have to be persuaded completely.


, .
Mataiótes mataiotéton, tá pánta mataiótes.
"Vanity of vanities, and everything is vanity."
Ecclesiastes 1:2
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 Laërtius.[20]
Archimedes: ? ? ?
? ? ?.
M?̀ 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 mathematical circles. He was eventually attacked and killed by a Roman soldier as he was too engrossed in thought to obey the soldier's orders.
M?̀ 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.
M?dèn ágan.
"Nothing in excess"
Inscription from the temple of Apollo at Delphi
Mêlon tês Éridos.
"Apple of Discord"
goddess Eris tossed the Apple of Discord "to the fairest". Paris was the judge of the prettiest one.
, ' ? .
M?kéti hydropótei, all' oín?i olíg?i khrô dià tòn stómakhon kaì tàs pyknás sou astheneías.
Stop drinking only water, but take a little wine for your stomach and your frequent illnesses.
From I Timothy 5:23
Mol?̀n 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.[21]
Myst?́rion tês píste?s
"Mystery of faith", from I Timothy 3:9.
Latinized as Mysterium Fidei is a Christian theological term.


, ·
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.
Nípson anom?́mata m?̀ mónan ópsin
"Wash the sins not only the face"
A palindromic inscription attributed to Gregory of Nazianzus,[22] inscribed in Hagia Sophia and on many church fonts. In the Greek alphabet, the /ps/ sound is rendered by the single letter ? (psi).


? ? .
Xénos ?̀n akoloúthei toîs epikh?ríois nómois.
"As a foreigner, follow the laws of that country."
Loosely, "Do in Rome as Rome does." Quotation from the works of Menander.
Xýlinon teîkhos
"Wooden defensive wall"
The "walls" of ships during the Persian Wars.


-- wine dark sea
Oînops póntos
"Wine dark sea"
A common Homeric epithet of the sea, on which many articles have been written. (Further: Sea in culture)
? ? ()
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.
Ho sôiz?n heautòn s?th?t?.
"he who saves himself may be saved"
Used in cases of destruction or calamity, such as an unorderly evacuation. Each one is responsible for himself and is not to wait for any help.
? ?
Ou phrontìs Hippokleíd?i.
"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.
? ?
Ouk àn labois parà toû m? 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.[23]
? ?'
Oûtis emoí g' ónoma.
"My name is Nobody".
Odysseus to Polyphemus when asked what his name was. (Homer, Odyssey, ix, 366).


Panta rhei
"All is flux; everything flows" - This phrase was either 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.
Pántote zete?n t?n al?theian
"ever seeking the truth" -- Diogenes Laërtius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers[24] -- a characteristic of Pyrrhonism. An abbreviated form, ("seek the truth"), is a motto of the Geal family.
Kotinos, the prize for the winner at the Ancient Olympic Games
, , ' , ? ? ? .
Papaí, Mardónie, koíous ep' ándras ?́gages makh?soménous h?méas, hoì ou perì khr?mát?n 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[25]
páthei máthos
"(There is) learning in suffering/experience", or "Knowledge/knowing, or wisdom, or learning, through suffering".[26]
Aeschylus, Agamemnon, 177[27]
The variant means "suffering is learning/learning is suffering."
? , ?' ' [28]
Pêma kakòs geítôn, hósson t' agathòs még' óneiar
"A bad neighbor is a calamity as much as a good one is a great advantage."
, ,
Pístis, elpís, agáp?
"Faith, hope, (and) love." (1 Corinthians 13:13.)
? ?
Pólemos pánt?n mèn pat?́r esti
"War is the father of all" -- Heraclitus
The complete text of this fragment by Heraclitus is: ? ?, , ? ? , ? ? ? ? ? (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).
, ,
Pýx, láx, dáx
"With fists, kicks, and bites"
"with fists", "with kicks", "with bites"
Epigram describing how laypersons were chased away from the Eleusinian Mysteries.


Rosy-fingered Dawn
Rhododáktylos ́s
"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.


Speûde bradé?s.
"Hasten slowly" (cf. Latin festina lente), "less haste, more speed".
According to Suetonius the phrase " ?, ? ? ? ? " was a favorite of Augustus as he often quoted it.
S?n Ath?nâi kaì kheîra kinei.
"Along with Athena, move also your hand" -- cf. the English "God helps those who help themselves."
Appears in Aesop's fable "The Shipwrecked Man" (? ?, Perry 30, Chambry 53).


Aristarchus's third century BC calculations on the relative sizes of the Earth, Sun, and Moon, from a tenth-century CE Greek copy
? , ? .
Tà mén aplanéa t?n astr?n kai tón halion ménein akin?ton, tàn dé gân periphéresthai peri tón hálion.
"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.
Tà pánta rheî kaì oudèn ménei.
"Everything flows, nothing stands still."
Attributed to Heraclitus -- Plato, in his dialogue Cratylus, recounts Heraclitus' saying:
Tà ónta iénai te pánta kaì ménein oudèn
"[That] things that exist move and nothing remains still",[29] which he expands:
? ?
Pánta kh?reî kaì oudèn ménei kaì dìs es tòn autòn potamòn ouk àn embaí?s
"All things move and nothing remains still, and you cannot step twice into the same stream".[30]
? ? , .
Tád' estì Pelopónn?sos, ouk I?nía.
"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.[31]
? ? , ? .
Tád' oukhì Pelopónn?sos, all' I?nía.
"Here is not Peloponnesus, but Ionia" -- inscription as per above, but toward East, i.e. toward Attica.
; .[32]
Tí dýskolon? Tò heautòn gnônai.
"What is hard? To know thyself." -- attributed (among other sages) to Thales, according to Pausanias[33]
Oedipus and the sphinx, on an Attic red-figure kylix
? ? ? ? ?;
Ti estin ho mian ekhon ph?n?n 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".[34]
?; ? .
Tí eúkolon? Tò áll?i hypotíthesthai.
"What is easy? To advise another." -- Thales
?; ? .
Tí kainòn ei? tetheaménos? Géronta týrannon.
"What is the strangest thing to see? "An aged tyrant." -- Thales[35]
?; . ? , ? ?.
Tí koinótaton? Elpís. Kaì gàr hoîs állo m?dén, aút? parést?.
"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
; ?. .
Tí tákhiston? Noûs. Dià pantòs gàr trékhei.
"What is the fastest? The mind. It travels through everything." -- Thales
?, ? ; ", .
Tí próteron gegónoi, nùx ? h?méra? núx, miâi h?mérai próteron.
"Which is older, day or night? "Night is the older, by one day." -- Thales
, ?, .
Tò gàr h?dý, eàn polý, ou tí ge h?dý.
"A sweet thing tasted too often is no longer sweet."
? .
Tò dìs examarteîn ouk andròs sophoû.
"To commit the same sin twice [is] not [a sign] of a wise man."
? .
Tò pepr?ménon phygeîn adýnaton.
"It's impossible to escape from what is destined."


Hyiòs monogen?́s
"Only-begotten son" From John 3:16 ? ? ? ? "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son" and see John 1:14
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.
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".

Phoinik?́ïa grámmata
"Phoenician letters"
The Phoenician prince Cadmus was generally accredited by Greeks such as Herodotus[36] with the introduction of the Phoenician alphabet several centuries before the Trojan war, circa 2000 BC.[37]
? [38]
Phroneîn gàr hoi takheîs ouk asphaleîs
"Those who make quick decisions are not safe."

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


The Ancient Library of Alexandria

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.
The phrase is used in reverse as as a motto for Carolina Rediviva, a university library in Uppsala, and is echoed in the motto of the American Philological Association, " " ("literature is the soul's physician").


Epitaph at the Thermopylae
? ?', ? / ? ? ?.
Ô xeîn', angéllein Lakedaimoníois hóti têide / keímetha toîs keín?n rh?́masi peithómenoi.
"Stranger, tell the Spartans that here we lie, obedient to their laws."
Epitaph, a single elegiac couplet by Simonides on the dead of Thermopylae.
Translated by Cicero in his Tusculan Disputations (1.42.101) as «Dic, hospes, Spartae nos te hic vidisse iacentis / dum sanctis patriae legibus obsequimur» (often quoted with the form iacentes).

See also


  1. ^ Henri-Dominique Saffrey, " . 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, De garrulitate, 17
  4. ^ Plutarch, Parallel Lives - Alexander, 14.3
  5. ^
  6. ^ Aristophanes, The Birds, 302
  7. ^ 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
  8. ^ . Liddell, Henry George; Scott, Robert; A Greek-English Lexicon at the Perseus Project
  9. ^  in Liddell and Scott
  10. ^ Herodotus, The Histories, 5.105.2
  11. ^ Homer, Iliad 12.243
  12. ^ Homer, Odyssey, xii 235
  13. ^ Plato, Statesman, 266e
  14. ^ The word however sounds like ?, 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.
  15. ^ Diogenes Laërtius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers, Chapter 2.40
  16. ^ Plutarch, Parallel Lives - Caesar, Plut. Caes. 50.2
  17. ^ Diogenes Laërtius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers,
  18. ^ Ernst Ludwig von Leutsch, ed. (1851). " ?". Corpus Paroemiographorum Graecorum. 2. Göttingen. p. 466.
  19. ^ De Vita Caesarum, LXXXII
  20. ^ Diogenes Laërtius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers, ?; also quoted in Stobaeus, Florilegium 3.1.172.
  21. ^ Plutarch, Apophthegmata Laconica, 51.11
  22. ^ 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.
  23. ^ Lucian, Dialogs of the dead, 22.1
  24. ^ Diogenes Laërtius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers, Chapter 9.11
  25. ^ Herodotus, The Histories, Hdt. 8.26
  26. ^ See occurrences on Google Books.
  27. ^ See occurrences on Google Books.
  28. ^
  29. ^ Plato, Cratylus, Plat. Crat. 401d
  30. ^ Plato, Cratylus, Plat. Crat. 402a
  31. ^ Plutarch, Parallel Lives - Theseus, Plut. Thes. 25
  32. ^ Diogenes Laërtius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers, 1.1.36
  33. ^ Pausanias, Description of Greece, Paus. 10.24
  34. ^ Apollodorus, Library, Apollod. 3.5.8
  35. ^ Plutarch, De genio Socratis, Section 6
  36. ^ Herodotus, Histories, Book V, 58.
  37. ^ Herodotus. Histories, Book II, 2.145
  38. ^ Sophocles, Oedipus Rex, 617

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