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50 Epic Quotes About Literature, History, and Life

These are some of the most epic quotes from writers and epic stories.

What makes something epic?

In the terms of literature, an epic is a long and often book-length narrative.

It is told in verse form and recounts the heroic journey of a single person or a group of persons.

There are several elements that typically distinguish epics from other stories.

These include superhuman deeds and grand adventures.

The language of an epic is always highly stylized and blends together lyrical and dramatic traditions.

The word epic has also been used in modern-day slang to show when something surpasses the usual or ordinary.

In much the way epic literature was larger in scope, something that is epic sets it apart from everything else.

We can also classify the thoughts of philosophers and historical figures as “epic quotes.”

They are recognizable and cause a profound reaction in those who read them.

They are the quotes we all know and use to describe an epic transformation of our lives.

Enjoy these epic quotes about life!

Epic quotes from philosophers

1. “To be is to be perceived.” — Bishop George Berkeley

2. “The only thing I know is that I know nothing.” Socrates

3. “Every man is guilty of all the good he did not do.” — Voltaire

4. “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” — Lao Tzu

5. “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” Friedrich Nietzsche

6. “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” — Mahatma Gandhi

7. “Life must be understood backward. But it must be lived forward.” — Søren Kierkegaard

8. “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” — Edmund Burke

9. “The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

10. “One cannot conceive anything so strange and so implausible that it has not already been said by one philosopher or another” René Descartes

Epic quotes about life

11. “Get busy living or get busy dying.” Stephen King

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12. “Those who dare to fail miserably can achieve greatly.” — John F. Kennedy

13. “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” — John Lennon

14. “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.” — Forrest Gump

15. “I’m an epic nerd. My life is running and schoolwork and sleeping. And eating.” — Mary Cain

16. “The ode lives upon the ideal, the epic upon the grandiose, the drama upon the real.” — Victor Hugo

17. “The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” Nelson Mandela

18. “In my home, life was framed as an epic spiritual battle between good and evil.” — Megan Phelps-Roper

19. “You have to be doing things that matter—responsibility, but also responsibility with epic and beautiful and noble tasks.” — Michelle Bachelet

20. “But the development of human society does not go straight forward, and the epic process will therefore be a recurring process, the series a recurring series – though not in exact repetition.” — Lascelles Abercrombie

Epic quotes about war

21. “This is a war to end all wars.” — Woodrow Wilson

22. “If we don’t end war, war will end us.” ― H.G. Wells

23. “Fighting for peace is like f***ing for chastity.” ― Stephen King

24. “Only the dead have seen the end of war.” — George Santayana

25. “War is what happens when language fails.” Margaret Atwood

26. “War does not determine who is right—only who is left.” — Bertrand Russell

27. “All war is a symptom of man’s failure as a thinking animal.” ― John Steinbeck

28. “It is well that war is so terrible, or we should grow too fond of it.” ― Robert E. Lee

29. “Never think that war, no matter how necessary, nor how justified, is not a crime.” Ernest Hemingway

30. “All war must be just the killing of strangers against whom you feel no personal animosity; strangers whom, in other circumstances, you would help if you found them in trouble, and who would help you if you needed it.” — Mark Twain

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Epic quotes from history

31. “Fortune favors the bold.” — Virgil

32. “Time is money.” — Benjamin Franklin

33. “Actions speak louder than words.” — Abraham Lincoln

34. “In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” — Albert Einstein

35. “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” Winston Churchill

36. “Those who dare to fail miserably can achieve greatly.” — John F. Kennedy

37. “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” — Neil Armstrong

38. “History is nothing if not an epic tale of missed opportunities.” — Graydon Carter

39. “You will face many defeats in life, but never let yourself be defeated.” Maya Angelou

40. “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift of God, which is why we call it the present.” — Bil Keane

Epic quotes about writing and storytelling

41. “If epic poetry is a definite species, the sagas do not fall within it.” — Lascelles Abercrombie

42. “‘War and Peace’ may be the most epic thing ever created by a human being.” — Mark Manson

43. “The first epics were intended for recitation; the literary epic is meant to be read.” — Lascelles Abercrombie

44. “The art of storytelling is reaching its end because the epic side of truth, wisdom, is dying out.” — Walter Benjamin

45. “Epic poetry exhibits life in some great symbolic attitude. It cannot strictly be said to symbolize life itself, but always some manner of life.” — Lascelles Abercrombie

46. “What works about fairy tales is that they endure, and the great thing about fairy tales is that you can explore big, epic things that you can’t really explore in other situations.” — Gary Ross

47. “I feel like Shakespeare is so epic, in a way that sci-fi genre stuff is epic, it transcends the mundane, and it takes you to this place of real passion and real beauty.” — David Harbour

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48. “Any long work in which poetry is persistent, be it epic or drama or narrative, is really a succession of separate poetic experiences governed into a related whole by an energy distinct from that which evoked them.” — John Drinkwater

49. “We don’t tend to write about disease in fiction – not just teen novels but all American novels—because it doesn’t fit in with our idea of the heroic romantic epic. There is room only for sacrifice, heroism, war, politics and family struggle.” — John Green

50. “I turned to the novel, an artistic form which had in former days been neglected and had thus acquired a bad reputation, but which during the nineteenth century had developed and elevated itself to the ranks occupied by drama and the ancient epic.” — Henrik Pontoppidan

Examples of epic stories, people, and moments

When you think of epic stories, you might think of The Odyssey, Lord of the Rings, or Game of Thrones. 

Each of these writers created an entire universe for us to enjoy.

They took us out of our lives and brought us into a world they created filled with memorable characters who are epic in their own right.

Quotes from people who seemed born for the moment they found themselves in, like Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, and Maya Angelou, are also epic.

These people have their own epic stories that have impacted each of our lives, and their words matter to us.

Great minds like Nietzsche, Descartes, and Ralph Waldo Emerson inspire us to become epic.

That each of us exists and finds ourselves in our own life-changing moments is epic.

If you wrote an epic novel about your life, what would it look like?

What adventures have you gone on?

What monsters have you faced and overcome?

Sure, you might not have encountered dragons or sirens, but you have had to face something that scared you.

Would your story inspire someone else? That is pretty epic if you ask me!

Share your thoughts on what makes something epic in the comment section below.

Danielle Dahl, Lead Contributor
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