On this page you will find a list of inspiring Roman quotes by famous generals, emperors, philosophers, etc.

Augustus (63 BC–14 AD)

emperor augustus

Wikimedia Commons

I found Rome a city of bricks and left it a city of marble.

Young men, hear an old man to whom old men hearkened when he was young.

Hasten slowly (in Latin: Festina lente).

Apparently, the world is not a wish granting factory.

Whatever is done well enough is done quickly enough.

If we could survive without a wife, citizens of Rome, all of us would do without that nuisance; but since nature has so decreed that we cannot manage comfortably with them, nor live in any way without them, we must plan for our lasting preservation rather than for our temporary pleasure.

I had a good mind to discontinue permanently the supply of grain to the city, reliance on which had discouraged Italian agriculture, but refrained because some politician would be bound one day to revive the dole as a means of ingratiating himself with the people.

Wars, both civil and foreign, I undertook throughout the world, on sea and land, and when victorious I spared all citizens who sued for pardon. The foreign nations which could with safety be pardoned I preferred to save rather than to destroy.

I declined to be made Pontifex Maximus in succession to a colleague still living, when the people tendered me that priesthood which my father had held. Several years later I accepted that sacred office when he at last was dead who, taking advantage of a time of civil disturbance, had seized it for himself, such a multitude from all Italy assembling for my election, in the consulship of Publius Sulpicius and Gaius Valgius, as is never recorded to have been in Rome before.

Decimius Magnus Ausonius (c. 310 AD – c. 395 AD)

Let us never know what old age is. Let us know the happiness time brings, not count the years.

Forgive many things in others; nothing in yourself.

If fortune favors you do not be elated; if she frowns do not despond.

No man pleases by silence; many I please by speaking briefly.

When about to commit a base deed, respect thyself, though there is no witness.

Anicius Manlius Severinus Boëthius a.k.a. Boethius (480 AD - 524 AD)

Who would give a law to lovers? Love is unto itself a higher law.

For in all adversity of fortune the worst sort of misery is to have been happy.

A man content to go to heaven alone will never go to heaven.

If there is a God, whence proceed so many evils? If there is no God, whence cometh any good?

Music is part of us, and either ennobles or degrades our behavior.

Nothing is miserable unless you think it is so.

Julius Caesar (100 BC –44 BC)

julius caesar

Julius Caesar
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It is easier to find men who will volunteer to die, than to find those who are willing to endure pain with patience.

As a rule, men worry more about what they can't see than about what they can.

It is better to create than to learn! Creating is the essence of life.

What we wish, we readily believe, and what we ourselves think, we imagine others think also.

Men in general are quick to believe that which they wish to be true.

It is not these well-fed long-haired men that I fear, but the pale and the hungry-looking.

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106 BC - 43 BC)

marcus tullius cicero

Marcus Tullius Cicero
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The higher we are placed, the more humbly we should walk.

It is not by muscle, speed, or physical dexterity that great things are achieved, but by reflection, force of character, and judgment.

Friendship improves happiness and abates misery, by the doubling of our joy and the dividing of our grief.

Any man can make mistakes, but only an idiot persists in his error.

A man of courage is also full of faith.

The wise are instructed by reason, average minds by experience, the stupid by necessity and the brute by instinct.

Live as brave men; and if fortune is adverse, front its blows with brave hearts.

To be ignorant of what occurred before you were born is to remain always a child.

Glory follows virtue as if it were its shadow.

Justice consists in doing no injury to men; decency in giving them no offense.

It is the peculiar quality of a fool to perceive the faults of others and to forget his own.

Knowledge which is divorced from justice, may be called cunning rather than wisdom.

Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.

If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.

Advice in old age is foolish; for what can be more absurd than to increase our provisions for the road the nearer we approach to our journey’s end.

Claudius (10 BC - 54 AD)

emperor claudius

Tiberius Claudius
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To do nothing evil is good; to wish nothing evil is better.

No one is free who does not lord over himself.

No one is more miserable than the person who wills everything and can do nothing.

Say not always what you know, but always know what you say.

Acquaintance lessens fame.

Here is a field open for talent; and here, merit will have a certain favor, and industry is graced with its due rewards.

The victory is true only when the enemies themselves admit their defeat.

What Roman power slowly built, an unarmed traitor instantly overthrew.

Gaius Sallustius Crispus (86 BC – 34 BC)

Those most moved to tears by every word of a preacher are generally weak and a rascal when the feelings evaporate.

Aulus Gellius (125 AD – 180 AD or later)

Another one of the old poets, whose name has escaped my memory at present, called Truth the daughter of Time.

I see the beard and cloak, but I don't yet see a philosopher.

Quintus Horatius Flaccus a.k.a. Horace (65 BC – 8 BC)

The gods conceal from men the happiness of death, that they may endure life.

Titus Flavius Josephus (37 AD – c. 100 AD)

I was myself brought up with my brother, whose name was Matthias, for he was my own brother, by both father and mother; and I made mighty proficiency in the improvements of my learning, and appeared to have both a great memory and understanding.

Now Herod was an active man, and soon found proper materials for his active spirit to work upon.

Now, my father Matthias was not only eminent on account of is nobility, but had a higher commendation on account of his righteousness, and was in great reputation in Jerusalem, the greatest city we have.

Yet did that Antiochus, who was also called Dionysius, become an origin of troubles again.

Decimus Iūnius Iuvenālis a.k.a. Juvenal (1st century AD - 2nd century AD)

Rare is the union of beauty and purity.

No one ever reached the worst of a vice at one leap.

Censure acquits the raven, but pursues the dove.

Many individuals have, like uncut diamonds, shining qualities beneath a rough exterior.

It is difficult not to write satire.

Titus Livius a.k.a. Livy (64 or 59 BC – AD 17)



Rome has grown since its humble beginnings that it is now overwhelmed by its own greatness.

The populace is like the sea motionless in itself, but stirred by every wind, even the lightest breeze.

From abundance springs satiety.

Men are slower to recognize blessings than misfortunes.

Luck is of little moment to the great general, for it is under the control of his intellect and his judgment.

In difficult and desperate cases, the boldest counsels are the safest.

Many difficulties which nature throws in our way, may be smoothed away by the exercise of intelligence.

Men are only clever at shifting blame from their own shoulders to those of others.

There are laws for peace as well as war.

The sun has not yet set for all time.

It is better that a guilty man should not be brought to trial than that he should be acquitted.

There is always more spirit in attack than in defence.

Under the influence of fear, which always leads men to take a pessimistic view of things, they magnified their enemies' resources, and minimized their own.

Truth, they say, is but too often in difficulties, but is never finally suppressed.

Toil and pleasure, dissimilar in nature, are nevertheless united by a certain natural bond.

Nowhere are our calculations more frequently upset than in war.

All things will be clear and distinct to the man who does not hurry; haste is blind and improvident.

Fortune blinds men when she does not wish them to withstand the violence of her onslaughts.

He will have true glory who despises it.

The old Romans all wished to have a king over them because they had not yet tasted the sweetness of freedom.

Woe to the conquered.

It is easier to criticize than to correct our past errors.

Resistance to criminal rashness comes better late than never.

They are more than men at the outset of their battles; at the end they are less than the women.

It is easy at any moment to surrender a large fortune; to build one up is a difficult and an arduous task.

This above all makes history useful and desirable; it unfolds before our eyes a glorious record of exemplary actions.

There is nothing man will not attempt when great enterprises hold out the promise of great rewards.

There is nothing worse than being ashamed of parsimony or poverty.

There is nothing that is more often clothed in an attractive garb than a false creed.

The troubles which have come upon us always seem more serious than those which are only threatening.

Temerity is not always successful.

No crime can ever be defended on rational grounds.

The result showed that fortune helps the brave.

We can endure neither our vices nor the remedies for them.

Envy like fire always makes for the highest points.

No law can possibly meet the convenience of every one: we must be satisfied if it be beneficial on the whole and to the majority.

A fraudulent intent, however carefully concealed at the outset, will generally, in the end, betray itself.

Marcus Annaeus Lucanus a.k.a Lucan (39 AD – 65 AD)

The gods conceal from men the happiness of death, that they may endure life.

Titus Lucretius Carus (c. 99 BC – c. 55 BC)

What is food to one man is bitter poison to others.

Such are the heights of wickedness to which men are driven by religion.

The fall of dropping water wears away the Stone.

Pleasant it is, when over a great sea the winds trouble the waters, to gaze from shore upon another's great tribulation; not because any man's troubles are a delectable joy, but because to perceive you are free of them yourself is pleasant.

The drops of rain make a hole in the stone, not by violence, but by oft falling.

It is great wealth to a soul to live frugally with a contented mind.

Sweet it is, when on the high seas the winds are lashing the waters, to gaze from the land on another's struggles.

From the very fountain of enchantment there arises a taste of bitterness to spread anguish amongst the flowers.

So potent was religion in persuading to evil deeds.

The greatest wealth is to live content with little, for there is never want where the mind is satisfied.

In the midst of the fountain of wit there arises something bitter, which stings in the very flowers.

And life is given to none freehold, but it is leasehold for all.

Victory puts us on a level with heaven.

From the heart of the fountain of delight rises a jet of bitterness that tortures us among the very flowers.

Thus the sum of things is ever being reviewed, and mortals dependent one upon another. Some nations increase, others diminish, and in a short space the generations of living creatures are changed and like runners pass on the torch of life.

Pleasant it to behold great encounters of warfare arrayed over the plains, with no part of yours in peril.

Life is one long struggle in the dark.

The sum of all sums is eternity.

Though the dungeon, the scourge, and the executioner be absent, the guilty mind can apply the goad and scorch with blows.

Marcus Aurelius (121 AD -180 AD)

marcus aurelius

Marcus Aurelius
Wikimedia Commons

A man’s life is what his thoughts make of it.

It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live.

Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.

You have power over your mind - not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.

When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive - to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.

The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts: therefore, guard accordingly, and take care that you entertain no notions unsuitable to virtue and reasonable nature.

A man's worth is no greater than his ambitions.

I have often wondered how it is that every man loves himself more than all the rest of men, but yet sets less value on his own opinions of himself than on the opinions of others.

Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.

Publius Vergilius Maro (70 BC – 19 BC)

Fear is proof of a degenerate mind.

Cornelius Nepos (c. 110 BC – c. 25 BC)

Hateful is the power, and pitiable is the life, of those who wish to be feared rather than loved.

Peace is obtained by war.

No government is safe unless fortified by goodwill.

So that he seemed to depart not from life, but from one home to another.

Pliny the Elder or Gaius Plinius Secundus (23 AD – 79 AD)

Hope is the pillar that holds up the world. Hope is the dream of a waking man.

Home is where the heart is.

The depth of darkness to which you can descend and still live is an exact measure of the height to which you can aspire to reach.

Grief has limits, whereas apprehension has none. For we grieve only for what we know has happened, but we fear all that possibly may happen.

Truth comes out in wine.

There is always something new out of Africa.

From the end spring new beginnings.

Such is the audacity of man, that he hath learned to counterfeit Nature, yea, and is so bold as to challenge her in her work.

In comparing various authors with one another, I have discovered that some of the gravest and latest writers have transcribed, word for word, from former works, without making acknowledgment.

The only certainty is that nothing is certain.

An object in possession seldom retains the same charm that it had in pursuit.

The lust of avarice as so totally seized upon mankind that their wealth seems rather to possess them than they possess their wealth.

It is generally much more shameful to lose a good reputation than never to have acquired it.

In these matters the only certainty is that nothing is certain.

The best plan is to profit by the folly of others.

No mortal man, moreover is wise at all moments.

Plutarch (c. 46—120 AD)

Note:Plutarch was Greek, but was an important biographer and historian in the Roman world.

Neither blame nor praise yourself.

The whole life of a man is but a point in time; let us enjoy it.

Painting is silent poetry, and poetry is painting that speaks.

Know how to listen and you will profit even from those who talk badly.

Lucius A. Seneca (5 BC-65 AD)

lucius annaeus seneca

Lucius A. Seneca
Wikimedia Commons

True true happiness is... to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future.

If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable.

Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.

The bravest sight in the world is to see a great man struggling against adversity.

Sometimes even to live is an act of courage.

He who is brave is free.

Expecting is the greatest impediment to living. In anticipation of tomorrow, it loses today.

He who does not prevent a crime when he can, encourages it.

A person's fears are lighter when the danger is at hand.

Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for a kindness.

If you wished to be loved, love.

All art is but imitation of nature.

Nothing is so wretched or foolish as to anticipate misfortunes. What madness is it to be expecting evil before it comes.

We are more often frightened than hurt; and we suffer more from imagination than from reality.

It is another's fault if he be ungrateful, but it is mine if I do not give. To find one thankful man, I will oblige a great many that are not so.

It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare, it is because we do not dare that they are difficult.

Most powerful is he who has himself in his own power.

Luck is a matter of preparation meeting opportunity.

As long as you live, keep learning how to live.

It is the sign of a great mind to dislike greatness, and to prefer things in measure to things in excess.

If a man knows not what harbor he seeks, any wind is the right wind.

All cruelty springs from weakness.

I don't trust liberals, I trust conservatives.

It is not the man who has too little, but the man who craves more, that is poor.

He that does good to another does good also to himself.

Nothing is void of God, his work is everywhere his full of himself.

We often want one thing and pray for another, not telling the truth even to the gods.

Be wary of the man who urges an action in which he himself incurs no risk.

A kingdom founded on injustice never lasts.

There is none made so great, but he may both need the help and service, and stand in fear of the power and unkindness, even of the meanest of mortals.

There is no delight in owning anything unshared.

Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.

The greatest wealth is a poverty of desires.

One of the most beautiful qualities of true friendship is to understand and to be understood.

Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.

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

Count each day as a separate life.

Scipio Africanus (236 BC – 183 BC)

scipio africanus

Publius Cornelius
Scipio Africanus
Wikimedia Commons

I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.

Prepare for war, since you have been unable to endure a peace (in Latin: bellum parate, quoniam pacem pati non potuistis)

I am mindful of human weakness, and I reflect upon the might of Fortune and know that everything that we do is exposed to a thousand chances.

It is the part of a fool to say, I should not have thought.

I am never less at leisure than when at leisure, or less alone than when alone.

Statius Caecilius a.k.a. Caecilius Statius (c. 220 BC – c. 166 BC)

He plants trees to benefit another generation.

Fear created the first gods in the world.

Grant us a brief delay; impulse in everything is but a worthless servant.

The whole world is a man's birthplace.

Tacitus (56 AD -120 AD)

It is always easier to requite an injury than a service: gratitude is a burden, but revenge is found to pay.

Reason and judgment are the qualities of a leader.

Truth is confirmed by inspection and delay; falsehood by haste and uncertainty.

When the state is most corrupt, then the laws are most multiplied.

Be assured those will be thy worst enemies, not to whom thou hast done evil, but who have done evil to thee. And those will be thy best friends, not to whom thou hast done good, but who have done good to thee.

We see many who are struggling against adversity who are happy, and more although abounding in wealth, who are wretched.

When men are full of envy they disparage everything, whether it be good or bad.

To show resentment at a reproach is to acknowledge that one may have deserved it.

A desire to resist oppression is implanted in the nature of man.

The desire for safety stands against every great and noble enterprise.

Old things are always in good repute, present things in disfavor.

Greater things are believed of those who are absent.

Valor is of no service, chance rules all, and the bravest often fall by the hands of cowards.

He that fights and runs away, May turn and fight another day; But he that is in battle slain, Will never rise to fight again.

Victor and vanquished never unite in substantial agreement.

Fear is not in the habit of speaking truth; when perfect sincerity is expected, perfect freedom must be allowed; nor has anyone who is apt to be angry when he hears the truth any cause to wonder that he does not hear it.

A bad peace is even worse than war.

It belongs to human nature to hate those you have injured.

Noble character is best appreciated in those ages in which it can most readily develop.

Many who seem to be struggling with adversity are happy; many, amid great affluence, are utterly miserable.

Love of fame is the last thing even learned men can bear to be parted from.

A shocking crime was committed on the unscrupulous initiative of few individuals, with the blessing of more, and amid the passive acquiescence of all.

Custom adapts itself to expediency.

Abuse if you slight it, will gradually die away; but if you show yourself irritated, you will be thought to have deserved it.

Those in supreme power always suspect and hate their next heir.

Things forbidden have a secret charm.

In a state where corruption abounds, laws must be very numerous.

No one would have doubted his ability to reign had he never been emperor.

All enterprises that are entered into with indiscreet zeal may be pursued with great vigor at first, but are sure to collapse in the end.

It is less difficult to bear misfortunes than to remain uncorrupted by pleasure.

Prosperity is the measure or touchstone of virtue, for it is less difficult to bear misfortune than to remain uncorrupted by pleasure.

Candor and generosity, unless tempered by due moderation, leads to ruin.

When a woman has lost her chastity she will shrink from nothing.

All things atrocious and shameless flock from all parts to Rome.

Titus Maccius Plautus (254 BC – 184 BC)

If you have overcome your inclination and not been overcome by it, you have reason to rejoice

Marcus Terentius Varro (116 BC – 27 BC)

What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

Nature gave the fields, human art built the cities.

What, if as said, man is a bubble.

If The number of guests at dinner should not be less than the number of the Graces nor exceed that of the Muses, i.e., it should begin with three and stop at nine.

Nature made the fields and man the cities.

For my eightieth year warns me to pack up my baggage before I leave life.

Publius Flavius Vegetius Renatus a.k.a. Vegetius (c. 4th century AD)

We find that the Romans owed the conquest of the world to no other cause than continual military training, exact observance of discipline in their camps, and unwearied cultivation of the other arts of war.

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