List of Greek phrases

List of Greek phrases

List of Greek Phrases/Proverbs


*Α Β Γ Δ Ε Ζ Η Θ Ι Κ Λ Μ Ν Ξ Ο Π Ρ Σ Τ Υ Φ Χ Ψ Ω
*See also



;Apolytonic|γεωμέτρητος μηδεὶς εἰσίτω:"Ageōmetrētos mēdeis eisitō".:"Let no-one without knowledge of geometry enter". Motto over the entrance to Plato's Academy (quoted in Elias' commentary on Aristotle's "Categories").

;Apolytonic|εὶ Λιβύη φέρει τι κακόν / καινόν"':"Aei Libyē pherei ti kakon / kainon".:"Libya always bears something evil / new", Aristotle, "Historia Animalium". (Cf. Latin "Ex Africa semper aliquid novi", "From Africa always something new" -Pliny)

;Apolytonic|εὶ κολοιὸς παρὰ κολοιῷ ἱζάνει:"Aei koloios para koloiōi hizanei".:"A jackdaw is always found near a jackdaw", i.e. "birds of a feather flock together."

;Apolytonic|εὶ ὁ θεὸς γεωμετρεῖ :"Aei ho theos geōmetrei".:"God always geometrizes", Plato

;Apolytonic|εὶ ὁ θεὸς ὁ μέγας γεωμετρεῖ τό σύμπαν"':"Aei ho theos ho megas geōmetrei to sumpan".:"Always the great god applies geometry to everything", A mnemonic for π (pi);Apolytonic|ετοῦ γῆρας, κορυδοῦ νεότης"':"Aëtou gēras, korudou neotēs".:"An eagle's old age (is worth) a sparrow's youth".

;APolytonic|ἰὲν ἀριστεύειν"':aien aristeuein:„Ever to Excel“"Ever to Excel" is the English translation of the Ancient Greek motto of the University of St Andrews (founded 1410), the Edinburgh Academy (founded 1824), and Boston College (founded 1863).

It is derived from the sixth book of Homer's Iliad, (Iliad 6. 208) in a speech Glaucus delivers to Diomedes::"Hippolocus begat me. I claim to be his son, and he sent me to Troy with strict instructions: Ever to excel, to do better than others, and to bring glory to your forebears, who indeed were very great ... This is my ancestry; this is the blood I am proud to inherit."

;APolytonic|νάγκᾳ δ’οὐδὲ θεοὶ μάχονται:"Anankāi d'oude theoi machontai".:"Even the Gods do not fight necessity", Simonides, 8, 20.

;Apolytonic|νδρῶν ἐπιφανῶν πᾶσα γῆ τάφος:"Andrōn epiphanōn pasa gē taphos".:For illustrious men have the whole earth for their tomb. Pericles' Funeral Oration from Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War 2.43.1

;polytonic|Ἀνερρίφθω κύβος:"Anerriphthō kubos".:"Alea iacta est".:"The die has been cast." Pronounced by Julius Caesar when he entered Italy with his army in 49 BC. The phrase is reported in greek by Plutarch but in latin by Suetonius.

;Apolytonic|νθρωπος μέτρον:"Anthrōpos metron".:"Man the measure (of all things)", motto of Protagoras.

;Polytonic|Ἅπαξ λεγόμενον:"Hapax legomenon".:"Once said", i.e. a word that only occurs once in a text or body of literature.

;APolytonic|πὸ μηχανῆς Θεός:Apo mēchanēs Theos:Deus ex machina:"God out of the machine"

;APolytonic|ριστον μὲν ὕδωρ:"Ariston men hudōr".:"Greatest however is water", Pindar, Olymp. 1, 1. Used as the inscription over the Pump Room at Bath.



;Polytonic|βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν:basileia tōn ouranōn:"Kingdom of Heaven"

"'polytonic|Βρῶμα θεῶν:"Brōma theōn".:"Food of the gods" — allegedly said by Nero of the poisoned mushrooms with which his mother Agrippina the younger murdered Claudius.



;polytonic|Γλαῦκ’ Ἀθήναζε / Γλαῦκ’ εἰς Ἀθήνας:"Glauk’ Athēnaze / Glauk’ eis Athēnas".:"Owls (drachma coins) to Athens", i.e. coals to Newcastle, ice to the Inuit.

;polytonic|Γνῶθι σεαυτόν:"Gnōthi seauton".:"Know yourself" — the motto over the entrance to the temple of Apollo at Delphi, as well as the motto of Hamilton College, a small, prestigious liberal arts college in the United States.



;Polytonic|Δεῖμος καὶ Φόβος:Deimos kai Phobos:„panic and fear“ :Deimos and Phobos are moons of the Mars. They are named after the Greek god Deimos, a figure representing panic in Greek Mythology and Phobos (which means "fear"), sons of Ares (Mars).

;polytonic|Διαίρει καὶ βασίλευε:"Diairei kai basileue".:"Divide and rule".

;polytonic|Δῶς μοι πᾶ στῶ καὶ τὰν γᾶν κινάσω:"Dōs moi pā stō, kai tan gān kināsō".:"Give me a place to stand and I will move the earth". Attributed to Archimedes.



;polytonic|Εἷς οἰωνὸς ἄριστος, ἀμύνεσθαι περὶ πάτρης:"Eis oiōnos aristos, amunesthai peri patrēs"

:"There is only one omen, that a man should fight for his country" — Hector to Polydamas when the latter was superstitious about a bird omen. The omen was an eagle that flew with a snake in its talons, still alive and struggling to escape. The snake was twisting itself backwards till it struck the bird on the neck, forcing the eagle to let the snake fall. (Homer, Iliad, 12).

;polytonic|Ἓν οἶδα ὅτι οὐδὲν οἶδα:"Hen oida hoti ouden oida":"I know one thing, that I know nothing", (Socrates, paraphrased from Plato's "Apology")

;polytonic|Ἐπεὶ δ' οὖν πάντες ὅσοι τε περιπολοῦσιν φανερῶς καὶ ὅσοι φαίνονται καθ' ὅσον ἂν ἐθέλωσιν θεοὶ γένεσιν ἔσχον, λέγει πρὸς αὐτοὺς ὁ τόδε τὸ πᾶν γεννήσας τάδε:"Epei d' oun pantes hōsoi te peripolousin phanerōs kai hōsoi phainontai kath' hōson an ethelōsin theoi genesin eschon, legei pros autous ho tode to pan gennēsas tade"

:"When all of them, those gods who appear in their revolutions, as well as those other gods who appear at will had come into being, the creator of the universe addressed them the following" (Plato, Timaios on gods and the creator of the universe)


:"Eureka!" — while Archimedes was taking a bath, he noticed that the level of the water rose as he got in; having suddenly discovered that the volume of water displaced must be equal to the volume of the part of his body he had submerged. This meant that the volume of irregular objects could be calculated with precision, a previously intractable problem. He was so excited that he ran through the streets naked and still wet from his bath, crying "I have found it!".


;Polytonic|ζῷον πολιτικὸν:Zōon politikon:Aristotle, "Politics", book 1: Polytonic|ὁ ἄνθρωπος φύσει πολιτικὸν ζῷον:"Man is by nature a political animal", i.e. animal of the polis or social being


"(h)ē";Polytonic|Ἢ τὰν ἢ ἐπὶ τᾶς"':"Ē tan ē epi tas":"Either with it, or on it", "Either with your shield, or upon it " - meaning "either you will win the battle, or you will die and then be carried back home on your shield". :It was said by Spartan mothers to their sons before they went out to battle to remind them of their bravery and duty to Sparta and Greece. A hoplite could not escape the field of battle unless he tossed away the heavy and cumbersome shield. Therefore losing one's shield meant desertion. (Plutarch, "Moralia", 241)

;Polytonic|Ἡ φύσις οὐδὲν ποιεῖ ἅλματα.:Hē physis ouden poiei halmata.:"Nature does not make (sudden) jumps.":A principle of natural philosophies since Aristotle's time, the exact phrase coming from Carl von Linné.:Latin: Natura non facit saltus.


""'th";polytonic|Θάλασσα καὶ πῦρ καὶ γυνή, κακὰ τρία:"Thalassa kai pūr kai gunē, kaka tria".:"Sea and fire and woman, three evils."

;Polytonic|Θάλαττα, θάλαττα.:"Thalatta, thalatta.":„The Sea! The Sea!“ :Thalatta! Thalatta! from Xenophon's Anabasis. It was the shouting of joy when the roaming 10,000 Greeks saw Euxeinos Pontos (the Black Sea) from Mount Theches (Θήχης) in Armenia after participating in Cyrus the Younger's failed march against Persian Empire in the year 401 BC.

;Polytonic|θέρος, τρύγος, πόλεμος.:"Theros, trugos, polemos.":„Summer, autumn, war.“



;polytonic|Ἰατρέ, θεράπευσον σεαυτόν·:Iatre therapeuson seauton;:"Physician, take care of your own self!":"Medice cura te ipsum.":This is a Latin injunction, urging physicians to care for and heal themselves first, before dealing with patients. It was made famous in the Latin translation of the Bible, the Vulgate. The proverb was ascribed to Jesus, recorded in the Gospel of Luke chapter 4:23. Luke the Evangelist was himself a physician.

;polytonic|Ἰησοῦς Χριστὸς Θεοῦ Υἱὸς Σωτήρ:"Iēsous Christos Theou Huios Sōtēr":"Jesus Christ, Son of God, Saviour." As an acronym: ΙΧΘΥΣ (Ichthys) — "fish".

;Polytonic|Ισχύς μου η Αγάπη του Λαού.:"Ischys mon i agapi tou laou.":"The people's love, my strength.“:Motto of the Royal House of Glücksburg.


"k, c"

;polytonic|Καὶ σὺ τέκνον;:"Kai sū teknon;":"And thou, my child?" (Et tu, Brute?):On March 15, 44 BC, Julius Caesar was attacked by a group of senators, including Marcus Junius Brutus, a senator and Caesar's close friend. Caesar initially resisted his attackers, but when he saw Brutus, he supposedly spoke those words and resigned himself to his fate. It is almost certain that Caesar did not actually say these exact words. Ancient sources report that he either died wordlessly or said "Polytonic|Καὶ σὺ τέκνον" ("Kai su, teknon?"), Greek for "You too, my child?" (Suetonius, "De Vita Caesarum", LXXXII [!01!divus_iulius] ). This Latin version was made famous by William Shakespeare, who used it in his play, "Julius Caesar" (act 3, scene 1,85).

;polytonic|Κακοῦ κόρακος κακὸν ὠόν:"Kakou korakos kakon ōön".:"From a bad crow, a bad egg", i.e. like father, like son.

;polytonic|Κακὸς ἀνὴρ μακρόβιος:"Kakos anēr makrobios":"A bad man lives long"

;polytonic|Καλλίστῃ:"Kallistēi":"For the prettiest one", "To the most beautiful", from the myth of the Golden Apple of Discord.

;polytonic|Κάτθανε, Διαγόρα, οὐ καὶ ἐς Ὄλυμπον ἀναβήσῃ:"Katthane, Diagora, ou kai es Olympon anabēsē".:"Die, Diagoras, for ascend Olympus ("i.e. join the gods") you cannot" — A Spartan spectator to Diagoras of Rhodes, a former Olympic champion himself, during the 79th Olympiad, when his two sons became Olympic champions and carried him around the stadium on their shoulders.

;polytonic|κτῆμα ἐς ἀεί:"ktēma es aei":"everlasting possession" (Thucydides)

;polytonic|Κύριε ἐλέησον"':"Kurie eleēson".:"Lord have mercy" — a very common phrase in Greek Orthodox liturgies, and also used in Greek (but transliterated as "kyrie eleison") in the Roman Catholic Mass.



;polytonic|Λάθε βιώσας"':"Lathe biōsas":"Live in obscurity", an Epicurean phrase.

;Polytonic|λέγειν τὰ λεγόμενα:legein ta legomena:"I tell as I was told", or "I report reports":From Herodotus (7,52 etc.)::Polytonic|Ἐγὼ δὲ ὀφείλω λέγειν τὰ λεγόμενα, πείθεσθαί γε μὲν οὐ παντάπασι ὀφείλω.:Latin: "Prodenda, quia prodita" or "Relata refero"



;polytonic|Μέτρον ἄριστον

or polytonic|Πάν μέτρον ἄριστον:"Métron áriston" or "Pan métron áriston":"Moderation is the best thing", literally: "there is a perfect measure for everything" Cleobulus

;polytonic|Μὴ γένοιτο:"Mē genoito".:"Let it not be!" / "Heaven forbid!" — phrase used by St Paul.

;polytonic|Μὴ μοῦ τοὺς κύκλους τάραττε:"Mē mou tous kyklous taratte".:"Do not disturb my circles". The last words attributed to Archimedes, referring to the circles in the mathematical drawing that he was supposedly studying when disturbed by a Roman soldier

;polytonic|Μὴ χείρον βέλτιστον:"Mē cheíron béltiston".:"The least bad [choice] is the best", when there is no good option, one should pick the one that does the least harm.

;polytonic|Μηδὲν ἄγαν:"Mēden ágan".:"Nothing in excess" — a carving from the temple of Apollo at Delphi.

;polytonic|Μηκέτι υδροπότει, αλλ' οἴνῳ ὀλίγῳ χρῶ διὰ τὸν στόμαχόν σου και τας πυκνάς σου ασθενείας:"Mēketi hudropotei, all' oinōi oligōi chrō dia ton stomachon sou kai tas puknas sou astheneias":Drink no longer water, but take a little wine for thy stomach's sake, and thine often infirmities.:— I Timothy 5:23

;polytonic|Μολὼν λαβέ!:"Molōn labe!":"Come take them!" — King Leonidas of Sparta, in response to King Xerxes of Persia's demand that the Greek army lay down their arms before the battle of Thermopylae.


""'n";polytonic|Νίψον ἀνομήματα μὴ μόναν ὄψιν"':"Nipson anomēmata mē monan opsin":"Wash the sins not only the face" :A palindrome inscription on fountains of Asclepieia, later inscribed in Hagia Sophia [In the Greek alphabet, the /ps/ sound is rendered by the single letter ψ ("psi").]



;Polytonic|ξύλινο τείχος:"xulino teikhos":"wooden defensive wall"



;polytonic|Ὅπερ ἔδει δεῖξαι:"Hoper edei deixai".:"Quod erat demonstrandum" — (abbreviated as "ΟΕΔ") used by early mathematicians including Euclid and Archimedes, written at the end of a mathematical proof or philosophical argument, to signify the proof as complete. Later it became "QED" or the Halmos tombstone box symbol.

;polytonic|Οὐ φροντὶς Ἱπποκλείδῃ:"Ou phrontis Hippokleidēi".:"Hippocleides doesn't care." From a story in Herodotus (6.129), in which Hippocleides loses the chance to marry Cleisthenes' daughter after getting drunk and dancing on his head. Herodotus says the phrase was a common expression in his own day.

;polytonic|Οὖτις ἐμοὶ γ' ὄνομα:"Outis emoi g' onoma".:"My name is Nobody". Odysseus to Polyphemus when asked what his name was. (Homer, Odyssey).



;polytonic|Παπαί, Μαρδόνιε, κοίους ἐπ' ἄνδρας ἤγαγες μαχησομένους ἡμέας, οἳ οὐ περὶ χρημάτων τὸν ἀγῶνα ποιεῦνται ἀλλὰ περὶ ἀρετῆς."':"Papai, Mardonie, koious ep' andras ēgages machēsomenous hēmeas hoi ou peri chrēmatōn ton agōna poieuntai alla peri aretēs":"Good heavens! Mardonius, what kind of men are these against whom you have brought us to fight? men who do not compete for money, but for honour. — Spontaneous response of Tritantaechmes, a Persian general while Xerxes was interrogating some locals at Thermopylae. Xerxes asked why there were so few Greek fighters at Thermopylae. The answer was "All the others are participating in the Olympic Games". And when asked "what is the prize for the winner?", "An olive-wreath" came the answer.

;polytonic|Πέμπε δέ μιν Λυκίην δέ, πόρεν δ' ὅ γε σήματα λυγρὰ γράψας ἐν πίνακι πτυκτῷ θυμοφθόρα πολλά"':"pempe de min Lukiēn de, poren d' ho ge sēmata lugra grapsas en pinaki ptuktōi thumophthora polla":"so he sent him to Lycia with lying letters written on a folded tablet, containing much ill against the bearer." Homer, Iliad - This passage allegedly shows that Homer was familiar with writing, but the verb "γράφειν" write had the primary meaning 'scratch' so a tablet 'scratched with symbols' might not necessarily constitute true writing.

;polytonic|Πίστις, ἐλπίς, ἀγάπη"':"Pistis, elpis, agapē":"Faith, hope, (and) love." ("1 Corinthians", 13, 13.)

;Polytonic|πύξ, λάξ, δάξ:"pux, lax, dax":"With fists, kicks, and bites"Polytonic|Πύξ: πυγμή = fistPolytonic|Λάξ: λάκτισμα = kickPolytonic|Δάξ: δαγκωματια = bite:Epigram describing how laypersons were chased away from the Eleusinian Mysteries.



;polytonic|Ῥοδοδάκτυλος Ἠώς"':"Rhododaktulos Ēōs":"Rosy-fingered dawn." Occurs frequently in the Homeric poems.



;polytonic|Σπεῦδε βραδέως"':"Speude bradeōs".:"Hasten slowly" (cf. Latin "festina lente"), "less haste, more speed".

;polytonic|Σὺν Ἀθηνᾷ καὶ χεῖρα κίνει:"Sun Athēnai kai kheira kinei".:"With Athena, and move your hands", or "Goddess Athena supports you, but you yourself must act too."



;polytonic|Τὰ πάντα ῥεῖ καὶ οὐδὲν μένει. :"Ta panta rhei kai ouden menei.:"Everything flows, nothing stands still." Heraclitus

;polytonic|Τὴν δέ μεγάλην ἤπειρον, ὑφ' ἧς ἡ μεγάλη περιέχεται κύκλῳ θάλαττα, τῶν μὲν ἂλλων ἔλαττον ἀπέχει, τῆς δ' Ὠγυγίας περὶ πεντακισχιλίους σταδίους.:"Tēn de megalēn ēpeiron huph' hēs hē megalē periechetai kuklō thalatta, tōn men allōn elatton apechei, tēs d' Ōgugias peri pentakischilious stadious.

:"The great continent which is surrounded on all sides by the great sea, they say, lies less distant from the others, but about five thousand stadia from Ogygia." Plutarch on the great continent west of the Atlantic Ocean

;polytonic|Τί δύσκολον; Τὸ ἐαυτὸν γνῶναι. :"Ti duskolon? To eautōn gnōnai.:"What is hard? To know yourself." Thales

;polytonic|Τί εὔκολον; Τὸ ἄλλῳ ὑποτίθεσθαι. :"Ti eukolon? To allo hupotithestai.:"What is easy? To advise others." Thales

;polytonic|Τί κοινότατον; Ἐλπίς. Καὶ γὰρ οἳς ἄλλο μηδέν, αὔτη παρέστη. :"Ti koinotaton? Elpis. Kai gar hois allo mēden, autē parestē.:"What is quite common? Hope. When all is gone, there is still hope." Thales

;polytonic|Τί τάχιστον; Νούς. Διὰ παντὸς γὰρ τρέχει.:"Ti tachiston? Nous. Dia pantos gar trechei.":"What is the fastest? Nous (mind). It travels through all media." Thales

;polytonic|Τὸ γὰρ ἡδύ, ἐὰν πολύ, οὐ τι γὲ ἡδύ.:"To gar hēdu, ean polu, ou ti ge hēdu".:"A sweet thing tasted too often is no longer sweet."

;polytonic|Τὸ δὶς ἐξαμαρτεῖν οὐκ ἀνδρὸς σοφοῦ.:"To dis examartein ouk andros sophou.":"To commit the same sin twice is not a sign of a wise man."

;polytonic|Τὸ πεπρωμένον φυγεῖν ἀδύνατον.:"To peprōmenon phugein adunaton.":"It's impossible to escape from what is destined."


"(h)u, (h)y"

;polytonic|Ὕστερον πρότερον"':"Husteron proteron":"The latter one first".


"ph";polytonic|Φοβοῦ τοὺς Δαναοὺς καὶ δῶρα φέροντας:"Phobou tous Danaous kai dōra pherontas".:"Beware of the Danaans (Greeks), even bearing gifts." Well known as a verse from the Aeneid written by Virgil, reading "(Quidquid id est) timeo Danaos et dona ferentes".


"kh, ch"

;polytonic|Χαίρε, Καίσαρ, οἱ μελλοθάνατοι σε χαιρετούν.:"Khaire Kaisar, hoi mellothanatoi se khairetoun.":"Hail, Caesar, those who are about to die salute you.":Latin: "Ave Caesar morituri te salutant." The first literary attestation is in Suetonius, "De Vita Caesarum", 5 ("Divus Claudius"), 21, 6,

;polytonic|Χαλεπὰ τὰ καλά:"Khalepa ta kala".:"The good/beautiful/fine/honorable things are difficult [to attain] ." [cf Plato, Republic 4, 435c.]



"'Ψυχῆς ἰατρεῖον":Psukhēs iatreion":hospital of the soul:The Library of Alexandria, also known as the Great Library in Alexandria, Egypt, was once the largest library in the world. :A story concerns how its collection grew so large: by decree of Ptolemy III of Egypt, all visitors to the city were required to surrender any form of written media in any language in their possession which, were listed under the heading "books of the ships"; these writings were then swiftly copied by official scribes. Sometimes the copies were so precise that the originals were put into the Library, and the copies were delivered to the unsuspecting previous owners. This process also helped to create a reservoir of books in the relatively new city.



;polytonic|Ὦ ξεῖν’, ἀγγέλλειν Λακεδαιμονίοις ὅτι τῇδε;polytonic| κείμεθα τοῖς κείνων ῥήμασι πειθόμενοι.:"Ō xein’, angellein Lakedaimoniois hoti tēde" : "keimetha tois keinōn rhēmasi peithomenoi.":"Stranger, tell the Spartans that here we lie, obedient to their laws." (Epigram , a single elegiac couplet by Simonides on the dead of Thermopylae)".

;Polytonic|῎Ωδινεν ὄρος καὶ ἔτεκε μῦν.:Ōdinen oros kai eteke myn.:"Make a mountain out of a molehill":Horace wrote "Parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus"; [Horace, "Ars Poetica", l. 139. Often misquoted as "Parturiunt montes, nascitur ridiculus mus".] "the mountains will labour, a ridiculous mouse will be born." Horace here meant to poke fun at heroic labours producing meager results; his line is also an allusion to one of Æsop's fables, "".

The title to Shakespeare's play, "Much Ado about Nothing", expresses a similar sentiment.

ee also

* English words of Greek origin
* Greek language
* List of Greek words with English derivatives
* List of Latin phrases


External links

* [ Greek proverbs on Wikiquote]

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