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50 Powerful Heraclitus Quotes on War, Society, and More

Published on October 7, 2020 7:00 AM EST
50 Powerful Heraclitus Quotes on War, Society, and More

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.

50 Powerful Heraclitus Quotes on War, Society, and More

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

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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

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

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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

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

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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

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. 

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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!

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