Often called “The Obscure”, Heraclitus is a Greek philosopher whose opinions on life, society, and war remain relevant today. Learn more about the Greek philosopher through the Heraclitus quotes below.
What do you know about Greek philosophy?
Historians believe that Heraclitus was active around 500 BCE. In philosophy, he’s known as “The Obscure” because of his mysterious, and often contradictory verbiage.
The only book that Heraclitus is thought to have written is entitled On Nature. Its contents are only available as quoted by other authors, such as Plato, Hippolytus, and Aristotle.
Look into the mind of an intelligent Greek philosopher below!
Thought-provoking Heraclitus quotes
1. “Much learning does not teach understanding.” – Heraclitus
2. “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.” – Heraclitus
3. “The eyes are more exact witnesses than the ears.” – Heraclitus
4. “There is nothing permanent except change.” – Heraclitus
5. “The hidden harmony is better than the obvious.” – Heraclitus
6. “The way up and the way down are one and the same.” – Heraclitus
7. “How can you hide from what never goes away?” – Heraclitus
8. “The soul is dyed the color of its thoughts.” – Heraclitus
9. “All things come into being by conflict of opposites.” – Heraclitus
10. “What was scattered gathers. What was gathered blows away.” – Heraclitus
11. “Dogs bark at what they don’t understand.” – Heraclitus
12. “No one that encounters prosperity does not also encounter danger.” – Heraclitus
13. “History is a child building a sandcastle by the sea, and that child is the whole majesty of man’s power in the world.” – Heraclitus
14. “The soul is undiscovered though explored forever to a depth beyond report.” – Heraclitus
Inspirational Heraclitus quotes
15. “Tis not too late to seek a newer world.” – Heraclitus
16. “Any day stands equal to the rest.” – Heraclitus
17. “The sun is new each day.” – Heraclitus
18. “If you do not expect the unexpected you will not find it, for it is not to be reached by search or trail.” – Heraclitus
19. “Big results require big ambitions.” – Heraclitus
20. “One thunderbolt strikes root through everything.” – Heraclitus
Heraclitus quotes on war and violence
21. “Opposition brings concord. Out of discord comes the fairest harmony.” – Heraclitus
22. “Deliberate violence is more to be quenched than a fire.” – Heraclitus
23. “People ought to fight to keep their law as to defend the city’s walls.” – Heraclitus
24. “Without injustices, the name of justice would mean what?” – Heraclitus
25. “Realize that war is common and justice is strife, and that all things come into being and pass away through strife.” – Heraclitus
If you’re enjoying these quotes, you’ll love our collection of war quotes from writers, politicians, and more.
Heraclitus quotes on life
26. “To do the same thing over and over again is not only boredom: it is to be controlled by rather than to control what you do.” – Heraclitus
27. “I am what libraries and librarians have made me, with little assistance from a professor of Greek and poets.” – Heraclitus
28. “Justice will overtake fabricators of lies and false witnesses.” – Heraclitus
29. “Hide our ignorance as we will, an evening of wine soon reveals it.” – Heraclitus
30. “Fire lives in the death of earth, air lives in the death of fire, water lives in the death of air, and earth in the death of water.” – Heraclitus
31. “Life has the name of life, but in reality it is death.” – Heraclitus
Also check out these Medusa quotes about the unique guardian from Greek mythology.
Heraclitus quotes on society
32. “Good character is not formed in a week or a month. It is created little by little, day by day. Protracted and patient effort is needed to develop good character.” – Heraclitus
33. “Character is destiny.” – Heraclitus
34. “The content of your character is your choice. Day by day, what you choose, what you think and what you do is who you become.” – Heraclitus
35. “Even sleepers are workers and collaborators in what goes on in the Universe.” – Heraclitus
36. “To God everything is beautiful, good, and just; humans, however, think some things are unjust and others just.” – Heraclitus
37. “Men who wish to know about the world must learn about it in its particular details.” – Heraclitus
38. “We are most nearly ourselves when we achieve the seriousness of the child at play.” – Heraclitus
39. “The awake share a common world, but the asleep turn aside into private worlds.” – Heraclitus
40. “What are men? Mortal gods. What are gods? Immortal men.” – Heraclitus
41. “Men forget where the way leads and what they meet with every day seems strange to them. We should not act and speak like men asleep.” – Heraclitus
42. “Couples are wholes and not wholes, what agrees disagrees, the concordant is discordant. From all things one and from one all things.” – Heraclitus
43. “The chain of wedlock is so heavy that it takes two to carry it – and sometimes three.” – Heraclitus
Heraclitus quotes defining concepts
44. “Stupidity is doomed, therefore, to cringe at every syllable of wisdom.” – Heraclitus
45. “To get everything you want is not a good thing. Disease makes health seem sweet. Hunger leads to the appreciation of being full-fed. Tiredness creates the enjoyment of resting.” – Heraclitus
46. “Thinking is a sacred disease and sight is deceptive.” – Heraclitus
47. “To be evenminded is the greatest virtue. Wisdom is to speak the truth and act in keeping with its nature.” – Heraclitus
48. “A fool is excited by every word.” – Heraclitus
49. “Time is a game played beautifully by children.” – Heraclitus
50. “The world is nothing but a great desire to live and a great dissatisfaction with living.” – Heraclitus
You might also like these philosophical Epicurus quotes for a happy life.
More Heraclitus quotes
51. “Even a soul submerged in sleep is hard at work and helps make something of the world.” – Heraclitus
52. “Whoever cannot seek the unforeseen sees nothing for the known way is an impasse.” – Heraclitus
53. “Wisdom is the oneness of mind that guides and permeates all things.” – Heraclitus
54. “Everything changes and nothing stands still.” – Heraclitus
55. “Everything flows and nothing abides; everything gives way and nothing stays fixed.” – Heraclitus
56. “If they are gods, why do you lament them? If you lament them, you must no longer regard them as gods.” – Heraclitus
57. “You cannot step into the same river twice.” – Heraclitus
58. “To fight with desire is hard: whatever it wishes it buys at the price of a soul.” – Heraclitus
59. “Man’s character is his fate.” – Heraclitus
How do you handle change?
One of Heraclitus’ most popular quotes is, “There is nothing permanent except change.” Change happens so frequently that it can be difficult to fully adjust. If you are dealing with a big change, whether positive or negative, don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Reach out to your support system (friends, family, etc.) who may have gone through the same changes you are experiencing. If you are interested in getting professional help, research therapists in your area. They can help you talk through this transitional period and make a concrete plan for the future.
Did you enjoy these Heraclitus quotes and sayings? Which one resonated with you the most? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below!
March 4, 2021 6:00 AM EST