Sophocles was an ancient Greek playwright, dramatist, priest, and politician of Athens. He was also a general for the Athenian Empire in the Peloponnesian Wars, and during his service he led the battle against the Peloponnesian Island of Samos.


  • Truly, to tell lies is not honorable;
    But when the truth entails tremendous ruin,
    To speak dishonorably is pardonable.
    • Creusa, fragment 323

  • Sons are the anchors of a mother's life.
    • Phaedra, fragment 612

  • No man loves life like him that's growing old.
    • Acrisius, fragment 64

  • When ice appears out of doors, and boys seize it up while it is solid, at first they experience new pleasures. But in the end their pride will not agree to let it go, but their acquisition is not good for them if it stays in their hands. In the same way an identical desire drives lovers to act and not to act.
    • The loves of Achilles, only surviving fragment, often quoted as "Love is like ice in the hands of children".


  • Nobly to live, or else nobly to die,
    Befits proud birth.
    • Line 480

  • Of all human ills, greatest is fortune's wayward tyranny.
    • Line 486

  • For kindness begets kindness evermore,
    But he from whose mind fades the memory
    Of benefits, noble is he no more.
    • Line 522

  • Men of ill judgement oft ignore the good
    That lies within their hands, till they have lost it.
    • Line 964

Oedipus Rex

  • Fear? What has a man to do with fear? Chance rules our lives, and the future is all unknown. Best live as we may, from day to day.
    • Jocasta

  • I am the child of Fortune, the giver of good, and I shall not be shamed. She is my mother; my sisters are the Seasons; my rising and my falling match with theirs. Born thus, I ask to be no other man than that I am.
    • Oedipus

  • Wisdom is a curse when wisdom does nothing for the man who has it.
    • Teiresias

  • I will never reveal my dreadful secrets, or rather, yours.
    • Teiresias

  • How dreadful knowledge of the truth can be
    When there's no help in truth!
    • Line 316

  • The tyrant is a child of Pride
    Who drinks from his sickening cup
    Recklessness and vanity,
    Until from his high crest headlong
    He plummets to the dust of hope.
    • Line 872

  • The greatest griefs are those we cause ourselves.
    • Line 1230

  • Time eases all things.
    • Line 1515

  • Let every man in mankind's frailty
    Consider his last day; and let none
    Presume on his good fortune until he find
    Life, at his death, a memory without pain.
    • Line 1529


  • I say this crime is holy.
    • Antigone

  • It is no weakness for the wisest man to learn when he is wrong.
    • Haemon

  • No other touchstone can test the heart of a man, the temper of his mind and spirit, till he be tried in the practice of authority and rule.
    • Creon

  • When I have tried and failed, I shall have failed.
    • Antigone

  • Don't kill the messenger.
    • Messenger

  • For God hates utterly
    The bray of bragging tongues.
    • Line 123

  • Our ship of fate, which recent storms have threatened to destroy, has come safely to harbor at last.
    • Line 163

  • I have nothing but contempt for the kind of governor who is afraid, for whatever reason, to follow the course that he knows is best for the State; and as for the man who sets private friendship above the public welfare - I have no use for him, either.
    • Line 181

  • Nobody likes the man who brings bad news.
    • Line 277

  • Money: There's nothing in the world so demoralizing as money.
    • Line 295

  • Nothing so evil as money ever grew to be current among men. This lays cities low, this drives men from their homes, this trains and warps honest souls till they set themselves to works of shame; this still teaches folk to practise villainies, and to know every godless deed. But all the men who wrought this thing for hire have made it sure that, soon or late, they shall pay the price.
    • Lines 295-303

  • that henceforth ye may thieve with better knowledge whence lucre should be won, and learn that it is not well to love gain from every source. For thou wilt find that ill-gotten pelf brings more men to ruin than to weal.
    • Lines 311-314

  • Numberless are the world's wonders, but none
    More wonderful than man.
    • Line 333 (Ode I)

  • It is a good thing
    To escape from death, but it is not great pleasure
    To bring death to a friend.
    • Line 437

  • Grief teaches the steadiest minds to waver.
    • Line 563

  • Show me the man who keeps his house in hand,
    He's fit for public authority.
    • Line 660

  • The ideal condition
    Would be, I admit, that men should be right by instinct;
    But since we are all likely to go astray,
    The reasonable thing is to learn from those who can teach.
    • Line 720

  • Love, unconquerable,
    Waster of rich men, keeper
    Of warm lights and all-night vigil
    In the soft face of a girl:
    Sea-wanderer, forest-visitor!
    Even the pure immortals cannot escape you,
    And mortal man, in his one day's dusk,
    Trembles before your glory.
    • Line 781 (Ode III)

  • Wisdom outweighs any wealth.
    • Line 1050

  • There is no happiness where there is no wisdom;
    No wisdom but in submission to the gods.
    Big words are always punished,
    And proud men in old age learn to be wise.
    • Line 1347, closing lines


  • A prudent mind can see room for misgiving, lest he who prospers should one day suffer reverse.
    • Line 296

  • They are not wise, then, who stand forth to buffet against Love; for Love rules the gods as he will, and me.
    • Line 441

  • Knowledge must come through action; you can have no test which is not fanciful, save by trial.
    • Line 592

  • Rash indeed is he who reckons on the morrow, or haply on days beyond it; for tomorrow is not, until today is past.
    • Line 943

Oedipus at Colonus

  • Unwanted favours gain no gratitude.
    • Oedipus

  • One word
    Frees us of all the weight and pain of life:
    That word is love.
    • Line 1616
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