The 95 Best Odyssey Quotes

1. “Better to be the hireling of a stranger, and serve a man of mean estate whose living is but small, than be the ruler over all these dead and gone.”

2. “write a history, we must know more than mere facts. Human nature, viewed under an introduction of extended experience, is the best help to the criticism of human history.”

3. “Why cover the same ground again? … It goes against my grain to repeat a tale told once, and told so clearly.”

4. “You have a mind in you no magic can enchant!”

5. “I would disapprove of another hospitable man who was excessive in friendship, as of one excessive in hate. In all things balance is better.”

6. “Then thus the blue-eyed maid: “O full of days!”

7. “The creations of genius always seem like miracles, because they are, for the most part, created far out of the reach of observation.”

8. “The blade itself incites to deeds of violence.”

9. “Few sons are like their fathers–most are worse, few better.”

10. “Even his griefs are a joy long after to one that remembers all that he wrought and endured.”

11. “He held his love, his faithful wife, and wept. As welcome as the land to swimmers, when Poseidon wrecks their ship at sea and breaks it with great waves and driving winds; a few escape the sea and reach the shore, their skin all caked with brine. Grateful to be alive, they crawl to land. So glad she was to see her own dear husband, and her white arms would not let go his neck.”

12. “Far from the hateful cause of all his woes. Neleus his treasures one long year detains, As long he groan’d in Philacus’ chains: Meantime, what anguish and what rage combined For lovely Pero rack’d his labouring mind!”

13. “—the great force was gone, the strength lost forever, now, that filled his rippling limbs in the old days.”

14. “Poets are not to blame for how things are.”

15. “During the daytime I glut myself with sorrow and lament, having my own duties to see to, and my house-maidens’ work: but night falls and the world sleeps. Then I lie in my bed and the swarming cares so assail my inmost heart that I go distraught with misery.”

16. “Cries to the gods, and vengeance sleeps too long.”

17. “The Odyssey puts us into a world that is a peculiar mixture of the strange and the familiar. The tension between strangeness and familiarity is in fact the poem’s central subject.”

18. “What a lamentable thing it is that men should blame the gods and regard us as the source of their troubles, when it is their own wickedness that brings them sufferings worse than any which destiny allots them.”

19. “So, surrender to sleep at last. What a misery, keeping watch through the night, wide awake — you’ll soon come up from under all your troubles.”

20. “Heaven has appointed us dwellers on earth a time for all things.”

21. “contemplating the incidents in their lives or condition which tradition has handed down to us,”

22. “Each man delights in the work that suits him best.”

23. “Man is the vainest of all creatures that have their being upon earth.”

24. “The rose Dawn might have found them weeping still had not grey-eyed Athena slowed the night when night was most profound, and held the Dawn under the Ocean of the East. That glossy team, Firebright and Daybright, the Dawn’s horses that draw her heavenward for men- Athena stayed their harnessing.”

25. “My every impulse bends to what is right”

26. “Say not a word in death’s favor; I would rather be a paid servant in a poor man’s house and be above ground than king of kings among the dead.” -Achilles”

27. “Suspicious we are, we men who walk the earth.”

28. “let’s go to bed together, mount my bed and mix in the magic work of love — we’ll breed deep trust between us.”

29. “In The Odyssey, we find instead the story of a man whose grand adventure is simply to go back to his own home, where he tries to turn everything back to the way it was before he went away. For this hero, mere survival is the most amazing feat of all.”

30. “Aries in his many fits knows no favorites.”

31. “No need my unlucky one, to grieve here any longer, no, don’t waste your life away. Now I am willing heart and soul to send you off at last.”

32. “Immortals are never alien to one another.”

33. “And empty words are evil.”

34. “Sleep, delicious and profound, the very counterfeit of death”

35. “Nobody — that’s my name. Nobody — so my mother and father call me, all my friends.”

36. “A royal robe he wore with graceful pride, A two-edged falchion threaten’d by his side, Embroider’d sandals glitter’d as he trod, And forth he moved, majestic as a god.”

37. “Yet through my court the noise of revel rings, And waste the wise frugality of kings.”

38. “But death is a thing that comes to all alike. Not even the gods can fend it away from a man they love, when once the destructive doom of leveling death has fastened upon him.”

39. “This is absurd, that mortals blame the gods! They say we cause their suffering, but they themselves increase it by their folly.”

40. “men, we know least, and talk most. Homer, Socrates, and Shakespere have, perhaps, contributed”

41. “…an irresistible sleep fell deeply on his eyes, the sweetest, soundest oblivion, still as the sleep of death itself…”

42. “Ah how shameless — the way these mortals blame the gods. From us alone, they say, come all their miseries, yes, but they themselves, with their own reckless ways, compound their pains beyond their proper share.”

43. “But I will gladly advise him — I’ll hide nothing–”

44. “Weapons themselves can tempt a man to fight.”

45. “God of the golden wand, why have you come? A beloved, honored friend, but it’s been so long, your visits much too rare. Tell me what’s on your mind. I’m eager to do it, whatever I can do . . . whatever can be done.”

46. “What greater glory attends a man, while he’s alive, than what he wins with his racing feet and striving hands?”

47. “They burst into cries, wailing, streaming live tears that gained us nothing —what good can come of grief?”

48. “Sitting, still, weeping, his eyes never dry, his sweet life flowing away with the tears he wept for his foiled journey home.”

49. “The choice of Odysseus is parallel to the choice of Achilles, in that it is a decision to be mortal in order to gain a particular kind of masculine honor. If Odysseus had stayed with Calypso, he would have been alive forever, and never grown old; but he would have been forever subservient to a being more powerful than himself.”

50. “Take courage, my heart: you have been through worse than this. Be strong, saith my heart; I am a soldier; I have seen worse sights than this.”

51. “Tell me, too, about all these things, oh daughter of Jove, from whatsoever source you may know them.”

52. “Captain, this is madness! High time you thought of your own home at last, if it really is your fate to make it back alive and reach your well-built house and native land.”

53. “Human beings live for only a short time, and when a man is harsh himself, and his mind knows harsh thoughts, 330 all men pray that sufferings will befall him hereafter while he lives; and when he is dead all men make fun of him. But when a man is blameless himself, and his thoughts are blameless, the friends he has entertained carry his fame widely to all mankind, and many are they who call him excellent.”

54. “If you are one of earth’s inhabitants, how blest your father, and your gentle mother, blest all your kin. I know what happiness must send the warm tears to their eyes, each time they see their wondrous child go to the dancing! But one man’s destiny is more than blest—he who prevails, and takes you as his bride. Never have I laid eyes on equal beauty in man or woman. I am hushed indeed.”

55. “some things you will think of yourself,…some things God will put into your mind.”

56. “For there is nothing better in this world than that man and wife should be of one mind in a house.”

57. “By hook or by crook this peril too shall be something that we remember.”

58. “For lo? my words no fancied woes relate; I speak from science and the voice of fate.”

59. “Come then, put away your sword in its sheath, and let us two go up into my bed so that, lying together in the bed of love, we may then have faith and trust in each other.”

60. “to be listening to a poet such as this, who is like the immortals in speech. For I think that there is no more complete fulfillment than when joy takes over an audience in the great hall, and the banqueters are sitting next to each other listening to the poet, and beside them the tables are loaded with bread and meat, and the steward carries the drawn wine around and fills their cups to the brim. This seems to me the most beautiful thing in the world.”

61. “Few sons are the equals of their fathers; 310 most fall short, all too few surpass them.”

62. “And now, tell me and tell me true. Where have you been wandering, and in what countries have you travelled? Tell us of the peoples themselves, and of their cities—who were hostile, savage and uncivilised, and who, on the other hand, hospitable and humane.”

63. “My mother says indeed I am his. I for my part do not know. Nobody really knows his own father.”

64. “There will be killing till the score is paid.”

65. “Of the many things hidden from the knowledge of man, nothing is more unintelligible than the human heart.”

66. “There I sacked the city, killed the men, but as for the wives and plunder, that rich haul we dragged away from the place —”

67. “There is nothing more admirable than when two people who see eye to eye keep house as man and wife, confounding their enemies and delighting their friends.”

68. “For a friend with an understanding heart is worth no less than a brother”

69. “What I say will be a bit of boasting. The mad wine tells me to do it. Wine sets even a thoughtful man to singing, or sets him into softly laughing, sets him to dancing. Sometimes it tosses out a word that was better unspoken.”

70. “There is a time for many words, and there is also a time for sleep.”

71. “A man who has been through bitter experiences and travelled far enjoys even his sufferings after a time”

72. “There is a time for making speeches, and a time for going to bed.”

73. “I would rather follow the plow as thrall to another man, one with no land allotted him and not much to live on, than be a king over all the perished dead.”

74. “but sing no more this bitter tale that wears my heart away”

75. “But the great leveler, Death: not even the gods can defend a man, not even one they love, that day when fate takes hold and lays him out at last.”

76. “Her gifts were mixed with good and evil both.”

77. “out of sight,out of mind.”

78. “the dead, to the drifting, listless spirits of their ghosts,”

79. “and now she appeared a woman, beautiful, tall and skilled at”

80. “Few sons, indeed, are like their fathers. Generally they are worse; but just a few are better.”

81. “For few are the children who turn out to be equals of their fathers, and the greater number are worse; few are better than their father is.”

82. “I swear by the greatest, grimmest oath that binds the happy gods.”

83. “I won’t set foot on a raft until you show good faith, until you consent to swear, goddess, a binding oath you’ll never plot some new intrigue to harm me!”

84. “It is hateful to me to tell a story over again, when it has been well told.”

85. “Scepticism is as much the result of knowledge, as knowledge is of scepticism.”

86. “Would that I were still young and strong as I was in those days, for then some one of you swineherds would give me a cloak both out of good will and for the respect due to a brave soldier; but now people look down upon me because my clothes are shabby.”

87. “There is no greater fame for a man than that which he wins with his footwork or the skill of his hands.”

88. “It is unfortunate for us, that, of some of the greatest men, we know least, and talk most.”

89. “Tell me about a complicated man.”

90. “But it gained us nothing —what good can come of grief?”

91. “And what if one of the gods does wreck me out on the wine-dark sea? I have a heart that is inured to suffering and I shall steel it to endure that too. For in my day I have had many bitter and painful experiences in war and on the stormy seas. So let this new disaster come. It only makes one more.”

92. “Urge him with truth to frame his fair replies; And sure he will; for wisdom never lies”

93. “…if fifty bands of men surrounded us/ and every sword sang for your blood,/ you could make off still with their cows and sheep.”

94. “Of all creatures that breathe and move upon the earth, nothing is bred that is weaker than man.”

95. “It has been an easy, and a popular expedient of late years, to deny the personal or real existence of men and things whose life and condition were too much for our belief.”

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