130 Plato Quotes on Democracy, The Republic and Life

Inspirational Plato quotes that will help you reach your highest potential.

Plato was a pivotal figure in the history of Ancient Greek and Western philosophy. 

He is considered to be one of the most brilliant and far-reaching writers to have ever lived.

Plato founded the Academy and authored philosophical works that have been widely read over the years.

His writings covered a wide range of interests and ideas, including justice, theology, beauty and equality, and political philosophy.

Plato’s impact on philosophy and human nature has had a lasting impact.

He will always be remembered as the pivotal influence that shaped the Western Philosophical tradition and thought.

In his honor, below is our collection of inspirational, wise, and powerful Plato quotes and sayings, collected from a variety of sources over the years.

If you like this article, we suggest you explore our most popular quotes article, a list of short inspirational quotes for daily encouragement. 

Check out more inspirational quotes on our motivational quotes category page.

Plato Quotes on Democracy, The Republic and Life

1. “Only the dead have seen the end of war.” – Plato

Plato Quotes about war

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2. “The price good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.” – Plato

Plato Quotes about public affairs

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3. “The beginning is the most important part of the work.” – Plato

Plato Quotes about work

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4. “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.” – Plato

Plato Quotes about kindness

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5. “I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing.” – Plato

wise Plato Quotes

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6. “Love is a serious mental disease.” – Plato

Plato Quotes about love

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7. “Human behavior flows from three main sources: desire, emotion, and knowledge.” – Plato

Plato Quotes about Human behavior

8. “A good decision is based on knowledge and not on numbers.” – Plato

Plato Quotes about knowledge

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9. “You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation” – Plato

insightful Plato Quotes

10. “We are twice armed if we fight with faith.” – Plato

Plato Quotes and sayings

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Plato Quotes on knowledge and learning

11. “Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws.” – Plato

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12. “Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.” – Plato

13. “The first and greatest victory is to conquer yourself; to be conquered by yourself is of all things most shameful and vile.”― Plato

14. Every heart sings a song, incomplete, until another heart whispers back. Those who wish to sing always find a song. At the touch of a lover, everyone becomes a poet.” – Plato

15. “Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something.” – Plato

16. “We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.” – Plato

17. “Do not train a child to learn by force or harshness; but direct them to it by what amuses their minds, so that you may be better able to discover with accuracy the peculiar bent of the genius of each.” – Plato

18. “One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.” – Plato

19. “There are two things a person should never be angry at, what they can help, and what they cannot.” – Plato

Also check out our list of quotes about stoicism that will strengthen your perspective on life.

Profound Plato quotes that will change the way you think

20. “Do you desire to be wholly one; always day and night in one another’s company? For if this is what you desire, I am ready to melt and fuse you together, so that being two you shall become one, and while you live a common life as if you were a single man, and after your death in the world below still be one departed soul, instead of two….”― Plato

21. “if you are willing to reflect on the courage and moderation of other people, you will find them strange…they all consider death a great evil…and the brave among them face death, when they do, for fear of greater evils…therefore, it is fear and terror that make all men brave, except for philosophers. yet it is illogical to be brave through fear and cowardice…what of the moderate among them? is their experience not similar?…they master certain pleasures because they are mastered by others…i fear this is not the right exchange to attain virtue, to exchange pleasures for pleasures, pains for pains, and fears for fears, the greater for the less like coins, but that they only valid currency for which all these things should be exchanged is wisdom.”― Plato

22. Never discourage anyone…who continually makes progress, no matter how slow. – Plato

23. Death is not the worst that can happen to men. – Plato

24. Desires are only the lack of something: and those who have the greatest desires are in a worse condition than those who have none, or very slight ones. – Plato

25. If women are expected to do the same work as men, we must teach them the same things. – Plato

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26. Ignorance, the root and the stem of every evil. – Plato

27. Laws are partly formed for the sake of good men, in order to instruct them how they may live on friendly terms with one another, and partly for the sake of those who refuse to be instructed, whose spirit cannot be subdued, or softened, or hindered from plunging into evil. – Plato

28. Man…is a tame or civilized animal; never the less, he requires proper instruction and a fortunate nature, and then of all animals he becomes the most divine and most civilized; but if he be insufficiently or ill- educated he is the most savage of earthly creatures. – Plato

29. No human thing is of serious importance. – Plato

Powerful Plato quotes for your philosophy life

30. There is no such thing as a lover’s oath. – Plato

31. “Any one who has common sense will remember that the bewilderments of the eyes are of two kinds, and arise from two causes, either from coming out of the light or from going into the light, which is true of the mind’s eye, quite as much as of the bodily eye”
― Plato

32. Thinking is the talking of the soul with itself. – Plato

33. No evil can happen to a good man, either in life or after death. – Plato

34. Let every man remind their descendants that they also are soldiers who must not desert the ranks of their ancestors, or from cowardice fall behind. – Plato

35. Sons, the event proves that your fathers were brave men; for we might have lived dishonourably, but have preferred to die honourably rather than bring you and your children into disgrace, and rather than dishonour our own fathers and forefathers; – Plato
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36. There will be no end to the troubles of states, or of humanity itself, till philosophers become kings in this world, or till those we now call kings and rulers really and truly become philosophers, and political power and philosophy thus come into the same hands. – Plato
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37. And all knowledge, when separated from justice and virtue, is seen to be cunning and not wisdom; wherefore make this your first and last and constant and all-absorbing aim, to exceed, if possible, not only us but all your ancestors in virtue; and know that to excel you in virtue only brings us shame, but that to be excelled by you is a source of happiness to us. – Plato

38. “You know that the beginning is the most important part of any work, especially in the case of a young and tender thing; for that is the time at which the character is being formed and the desired impression is more readily taken….Shall we just carelessly allow children to hear any casual tales which may be devised by casual persons, and to receive into their minds ideas for the most part the very opposite of those which we should wish them to have when they are grown up?

We cannot….Anything received into the mind at that age is likely to become indelible and unalterable; and therefore it is most important that the tales which the young first hear should be models of virtuous thoughts….”
― Plato

39. Poetry is nearer to vital truth than history. – Plato

40. The direction in which education starts a man will determine his future life – Plato

Don’t forget to also read these powerful Machiavelli quotes.

Plato Quotes to inspire and teach

41. The more the pleasures of the body fade away, the greater to me is the pleasure and charm of conversation. – Plato

42. “But that we shall be better and braver and less helpless if we think that we ought to enquire, than we should have been if we indulged in the idle fancy that there was no knowing and no use in seeking to know what we do not know;—that is a theme upon which I am ready to fight, in word and deed, to the utmost of my power.”
― Plato

43. Democracy is a charming form of government, full of variety and disorder, and dispensing a sort of equality to equals and unequal alike. – Plato

44. Many men are loved by their enemies, and hated by their friends, and are the friends of their enemies, and the enemies of their friends. – Plato

45. If a man can be properly said to love something, it must be clear that he feels affection for it as a whole, and does not love part of it to the exclusion of the rest. – Plato

46. Was not this … what we spoke of as the great advantage of wisdom — to know what is known and what is unknown to us? – Plato

47. He who commits injustice is ever made more wretched than he who suffers it – Plato

48. People are like dirt. They can either nourish you and help you grow as a person or they can stunt your growth and make you wilt and die. – Plato

49. No one ever teaches well who wants to teach, or governs well who wants to govern. – Plato

50. “To conquer oneself is the best and noblest victory; to be vanquished by one’s own nature is the worst and most ignoble defeat.” — Plato

Plato Quotes to make you wise

51. He whom love touches not walks in darkness – Plato

52. Good actions give strength to ourselves and inspire good actions in others. – Plato

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53. Life must be lived as play. – Plato

54. “It’s not at all uncommon to find a person’s desires compelling him to go against his reason, and to see him cursing himself and venting his passion on the source of the compulsion within him. It’s as if there were two warring factions, with passion fighting on the side of reason. But I’m sure you won’t claim that you had ever, in yourself or in anyone else, met a case of passion siding with his desires against the rational mind, when the rational mind prohibits resistance.”
― Plato

55. If a man neglects education, he walks lame to the end of his life – Plato

56. This City is what it is because our citizens are what they are – Plato

57. Know thyself – Plato

58. “That’s what education should be,” I said, “the art of orientation. Educators should devise the simplest and most effective methods of turning minds around. It shouldn’t be the art of implanting sight in the organ, but should proceed on the understanding that the organ already has the capacity, but is improperly aligned and isn’t facing the right way.”
― Plato

59. “…when he looks at Beauty in the only way that Beauty can be seen – only then will it become possible for him to give birth not to images of virtue (because he’s in touch with no images), but to true virtue [arete] (because he is in touch with true Beauty). The love of the gods belongs to anyone who has given to true virtue and nourished it, and if any human being could become immortal, it would be he.”
― Plato

60. “Whereas, our argument shows that the power and capacity of learning exists in the soul already; and that just as the eye was unable to turn from darkness to light without the whole body, so too the instrument of knowledge can only by the movement of the whole soul be turned from the world of becoming into that of being, and learn by degrees to endure the sight of being, and of the brightest and best of being, or in other words, of the good.”
― Plato

Plato quotes to broaden your mind

61. “An empty vessel makes the loudest sound, so they that have the least wit are the greatest babblers.”― Plato

62. “Everything that deceives may be said to enchant.”― Plato

63. “He who is of a calm and happy nature will hardly feel the pressure of age. But to him who is of an opposite disposition, youth and age are equally a burden.”― Plato

64. “Love is born into every human being; it calls back the halves of our original nature together; it tries to make one out of two and heal the wound of human nature.”― Plato

65. “Never discourage anyone who continually makes progress, no matter how slow.”― Plato

66. “Attention to health is life’s greatest hindrance.”― Plato

67. “It is impossible to improve the world if first the man does not improve.”

68. “The greatest mistake in the treatment of diseases is that there are physicians for the body and physicians for the soul, although the two cannot be separated.”― Plato

69. “Virtue is the desire of things honourable and the power of attaining them.”― Plato

70. “… because it is correct to make a priority of young people, taking care that they turn out as well as possible…”― Plato

Plato quotes to inspire and motivate you

71. “It is only just that anything that grows up on its own should feel it has nothing to repay for an upbringing which it owes no one.”― Plato

72. “False words are not only evil in themselves, but they infect the soul with evil.”― Plato

73. “Love is a great spirit. Everything spiritual is in between god and mortal.”― Plato

74. “There is in every one of us, even those who seem to be most moderate, a type of desire that is terrible, wild, and lawless.”― Plato

75. “Excellence is not a gift, but a skill that takes practice. We do not act ‘rightly’ because we are ‘excellent’, in fact we achieve ‘excellence’ by acting ‘rightly.’”― Plato

76. “The worst type of man behaves as badly in his waking life as some men do in their dreams.”― Plato

77. “The greatest wealth is to live content with little.”― Plato

78. “Self conquest is the greatest of victories.”― Plato

79. “And will life be worth having, if that higher part of man be destroyed, which is improved by justice and depraved by injustice?”― Plato

80. “The man who has no self-respect, on the contrary, will imitate anybody and anything; sounds of nature and cries of animals alike; his whole performance will be imitation of gesture and voice.”― Plato

Powerful Plato quotes and sayings

81. “It is our duty to select the best and most dependable theory that human intelligence can supply, and use it as a raft to ride the seas of life.”― Plato

82. “The only thing he ought to consider, if he does anything, is whether he does right or wrong, whether it is what a good man does or a bad man.”― Plato

83. “Always be kind, for everyone is fighting a hard battle.”― Plato

84. “Love is the joy of the good, the wonder of the wise, the amazement of the Gods.”― Plato

85. “No thing more excellent nor more valuable than wine was ever granted mankind by God.”― Plato

86. “Music and rhythm find their way into the secret places of the soul.”― Plato

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87. “To the degree that I cease to pursue my deepest passions, I will gradually be controlled by my deepest fears.”― Plato

88. “The wise man will want to be ever with him who is better than himself.”― Plato

89. “Time is the moving image of eternity.”― Plato

90. “You take the words in the sense which is most damaging to the argument.”― Plato

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More Plato quotes

91. “The heaviest penalty for declining to rule is to be ruled by someone inferior to yourself.” – Plato

92. “The measure of a man is what he does with power.” – Plato

93. “The object of education is to teach us to love what is beautiful.” – Plato

95. “Nothing beautiful without struggle.” – Plato

96. “Any man may easily do harm, but not every man can do good to another.” – Plato

97. “Excess of liberty, whether it lies in state or individuals, seems only to pass into excess of slavery.” – Plato

98. “Those who don’t know must learn from those who do.” – Plato

99. “He who wishes to serve his country must have not only the power to think, but the will to act.” – Plato

100. Wealth is the parent of luxury and indolence, and poverty of meanness and viciousness, and both of discontent.” – Plato

Plato quotes to reflect on

101. “It is only just that anything that grows up on its own should feel it has nothing to repay for an upbringing which it owes no one.” ― Plato

102. “States will never be happy until rulers become philosophers or philosophers become rulers.” ― Plato

103. “Human nature was originally one and we were a whole, and the pursuit of the whole is called love.” ― Plato

104. “According to Greek mythology, humans were orginally created with four arms, four legs and a head with two faces. Fearing their power, Zeus split them in two seperate beings, condeming them to spend their lives in search of their other halves.” ― Plato

105. “Reality is created by the mind. We can change our reality by changing our mind.” ― Plato

106. “The evil never attains to any real friendship, either with good or evil.” ― Plato

107. “The comprehensive mind is always dialectical.” ― Plato

108. “Now the hour to part has come. I go to die, you go to live. Which of us goes to the better lot is known to no one.” ― Plato

109. “Rather I think that a man who … is willing … to value learning as long as he lives, not supposing that old age brings him wisdom of itself, will necessarily pay more attention to the rest of his life.” ― Plato

110. “For a man to conquer himself is the first and noblest of all victories.” ― Plato

Exploring Life’s Depths through Timeless Plato Quotes

111. “The heaviest penalty for deciding to engage in politics is to be ruled by someone inferior to yourself.” — Plato

112. “Pleasure is the greatest incentive to evil.” — Plato

113. “Let early education be a sort of amusement. You will then be better able to find out the natural bent.” — Plato

114. “No intelligent man will ever be so bold as to put into language those things which his reason has contemplated.” — Plato

115. “Courage is a kind of salvation.” — Plato

116. “All thought begins with the recognition that something is out of place.” — Plato

117. “The most important stage of any enterprise is the beginning.” — Plato

118. “Come then, and let us pass a leisure hour in storytelling, and our story shall be the education of our heroes.” — Plato

119. “If there is no contradictory impression, there is nothing to awaken reflection.” — Plato

120. “Be kind, for everyone is having a hard battle.” — Plato

Navigating Philosophy and Virtue with Inspirational Plato Quotes

121. “No intelligent man will ever be so bold as to put into language those things which his reason has contemplated.” — Plato

122. “Take charge of your thoughts. You can do what you will with them.” — Plato

123. “The penalty that good men pay for not being interested in politics is to be governed by men worse than themselves.” — Plato

124. “We should not exercise the body without the joint assistance of the mind; nor exercise the mind without the joint assistance of the body.” — Plato

125. “One man cannot practice many arts with success.” — Plato

126. “You cannot go into the same water twice.” — Plato

127. “Ideas are the source of all things.” — Plato

128. “We obtain better knowledge of a person during one hour’s play and games than by conversing with him for a whole year.” — Plato

129. “A man who really fights for justice must lead a private, not a public, life if he is to survive for even a short time.” — Plato

130. “Let brother help brother.” — Plato

Which of these Plato quotes was your favorite?

Plato was a key figure in Western philosophy.

His works had a major influence on the conception of philosophy, and have been widely read over the years.

Besides, Plato will always be remembered as the founder of the Academy in Athens, one of the first institutions of higher learning in the Western world.

We hope these Plato quotes will inspire you to reach your highest potential.

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