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Popular Voltaire Quotes You Need To Read

François-Marie Arouet, known as Voltaire, was born on November 21, 1694, in Châtenay, near Paris. Considered as one of the greatest French writer, playwright, polemic satirist, philosopher, historian and moralist, Voltaire wrote some of the best works which include the novella Candide, the tragic play Zaire, and the historical study The Age of Louis XIV.

Inspired by Enlightenment philosophers such as John Locke and Francis Bacon, Voltaire adopted the ideals of a liberal society in which freedom of expression, religion and commerce prevailed.

He was best known for his philosophical writings, his great irony and his struggle against injustice, intolerance, cruelty and war. Because of his writings, Voltaire was twice imprisoned and spent many years in exile. Most of his writings were forbidden. They were published anonymously, printed abroad and smuggled into France.

Every one goes astray, but the least imprudent are they who repent the soonest.

Voltaire

Do well and you will have no need for ancestors.

Voltaire

Every man is guilty of all the good he did not do.

Voltaire

Each player must accept the cards life deals him or her: but once they are in hand, he or she alone must decide how to play the cards in order to win the game.

Voltaire

Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd.

Voltaire

Divorce is probably of nearly the same date as marriage. I believe, however, that marriage is some weeks the more ancient.

Voltaire

Common sense is not so common.

Voltaire

Clever tyrants are never punished.

Voltaire

Chance is a word void of sense; nothing can exist without a cause.

Voltaire

Business is the salt of life.

Voltaire

Fear follows crime and is its punishment.

Voltaire

By appreciation, we make excellence in others our own property.

Voltaire

The little may contrast with the great, in painting, but cannot be said to be contrary to it. Oppositions of colors contrast; but there are also colors contrary to each other, that is, which produce an ill effect because they shock the eye when brought very near it.

Voltaire

The ear is the avenue to the heart.

Voltaire

The first step, my son, which one makes in the world, is the one on which depends the rest of our days.

Voltaire

The flowery style is not unsuitable to public speeches or addresses, which amount only to compliment. The lighter beauties are in their place when there is nothing more solid to say; but the flowery style ought to be banished from a pleading, a sermon, or a didactic work.

Voltaire

The Holy Roman Empire is neither Holy, nor Roman, nor an Empire.

Voltaire

The husband who decides to surprise his wife is often very much surprised himself.

Voltaire

Everything’s fine today, that is our illusion.

Voltaire

The instruction we find in books is like fire. We fetch it from our neighbours, kindle it at home, communicate it to others, and it becomes the property of all.

Voltaire

The best government is a benevolent tyranny tempered by an occasional assassination.

Voltaire

The mouth obeys poorly when the heart murmurs.

Voltaire

The multitude of books is making us ignorant.

Voltaire

The opportunity for doing mischief is found a hundred times a day, and of doing good once in a year.

Voltaire

The progress of rivers to the ocean is not so rapid as that of man to error.

Voltaire

The public is a ferocious beast; one must either chain it or flee from it.

Voltaire

The safest course is to do nothing against one’s conscience. With this secret, we can enjoy life and have no fear from death.

Voltaire

The infinitely little have a pride infinitely great.

Voltaire

Stand upright, speak thy thoughts, declare The truth thou hast, that all may share; Be bold, proclaim it everywhere: They only live who dare.

Voltaire

Optimism is the madness of insisting that all is well when we are miserable.

Voltaire

Originality is nothing but judicious imitation. The most original writers borrowed one from another.

Voltaire

Our country is that spot to which our heart is bound.

Voltaire

Paradise was made for tender hearts; hell, for loveless hearts.

Voltaire

Perfection is attained by slow degrees; it requires the hand of time.

Voltaire

Prejudices are what fools use for reason.

Voltaire

The best way to be boring is to leave nothing out.

Voltaire

Society therefore is an ancient as the world.

Voltaire

The best is the enemy of the good.

Voltaire

Superstition is to religion what astrology is to astronomy the mad daughter of a wise mother. These daughters have too long dominated the earth.

Voltaire

Tears are the silent language of grief.

Voltaire

The ancient Romans built their greatest masterpieces of architecture, their amphitheaters, for wild beasts to fight in.

Voltaire

The ancients recommended us to sacrifice to the Graces, but Milton sacrificed to the Devil.

Voltaire

The art of government is to make two-thirds of a nation pay all it possibly can pay for the benefit of the other third.

Voltaire

The art of medicine consists in amusing the patient while nature cures the disease.

Voltaire

The superfluous, a very necessary thing.

Voltaire

Satire lies about literary men while they live and eulogy lies about them when they die.

Voltaire

We never live; we are always in the expectation of living.

Voltaire

The secret of being a bore… is to tell everything.

Voltaire

We are all full of weakness and errors; let us mutually pardon each other our follies – it is the first law of nature.

Voltaire

We are rarely proud when we are alone.

Voltaire

We cannot always oblige; but we can always speak obligingly.

Voltaire

We cannot wish for that we know not.

Voltaire

We have a natural right to make use of our pens as of our tongue, at our peril, risk and hazard.

Voltaire

Very learned women are to be found, in the same manner as female warriors; but they are seldom or ever inventors.

Voltaire

We must distinguish between speaking to deceive and being silent to be reserved.

Voltaire

Use, do not abuse; neither abstinence nor excess ever renders man happy.

Voltaire

Weakness on both sides is, as we know, the motto of all quarrels.

Voltaire

What is tolerance? It is the consequence of humanity. We are all formed of frailty and error; let us pardon reciprocally each other’s folly – that is the first law of nature.

Voltaire

What then do you call your soul? What idea have you of it? You cannot of yourselves, without revelation, admit the existence within you of anything but a power unknown to you of feeling and thinking.

Voltaire

When he to whom one speaks does not understand, and he who speaks himself does not understand, that is metaphysics.

Voltaire

When it is a question of money, everybody is of the same religion.

Voltaire

Whoever serves his country well has no need of ancestors.

Voltaire

Woe to the makers of literal translations, who by rendering every word weaken the meaning! It is indeed by so doing that we can say the letter kills and the spirit gives life.

Voltaire

We must cultivate our own garden. When man was put in the garden of Eden he was put there so that he should work, which proves that man was not born to rest.

Voltaire

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.

Voltaire

One great use of words is to hide our thoughts.

Voltaire

The true triumph of reason is that it enables us to get along with those who do not possess it.

Voltaire

The truths of religion are never so well understood as by those who have lost the power of reason.

Voltaire

The very impossibility in which I find myself to prove that God is not, discovers to me his existence.

Voltaire

The world embarrasses me, and I cannot dream that this watch exists and has no watchmaker.

Voltaire

There are truths which are not for all men, nor for all times.

Voltaire

Very often, say what you will, a knave is only a fool.

Voltaire

This self-love is the instrument of our preservation; it resembles the provision for the perpetuity of mankind: it is necessary, it is dear to us, it gives us pleasure, and we must conceal it.

Voltaire

The sovereign is called a tyrant who knows no laws but his caprice.

Voltaire

Time, which alone makes the reputation of men, ends by making their defects respectable.

Voltaire

To believe in God is impossible not to believe in Him is absurd.

Voltaire

To hold a pen is to be at war.

Voltaire

To succeed in the world it is not enough to be stupid, you must also be well-mannered.

Voltaire

To the living we owe respect, but to the dead we owe only the truth.

Voltaire

To the wicked, everything serves as pretext.

Voltaire

Tyrants have always some slight shade of virtue; they support the laws before destroying them.

Voltaire

Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too.

Voltaire

If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent Him.

Voltaire

Injustice in the end produces independence.

Voltaire

I have lived eighty years of life and know nothing for it, but to be resigned and tell myself that flies are born to be eaten by spiders and man to be devoured by sorrow.

Voltaire

I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: “O Lord make my enemies ridiculous.” And God granted it.

Voltaire

I know many books which have bored their readers, but I know of none which has done real evil.

Voltaire

I should like to lie at your feet and die in your arms.

Voltaire

I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.

Voltaire

If God created us in his own image, we have more than reciprocated.

Voltaire

I am very fond of truth, but not at all of martyrdom.

Voltaire

If there were no God, it would be necessary to invent him.

Voltaire

Illusion is the first of all pleasures.

Voltaire

In every author let us distinguish the man from his works.

Voltaire

In general, the art of government consists of taking as much money as possible from one class of citizens to give to another.

Voltaire

In the case of news, we should always wait for the sacrament of confirmation.

Voltaire

In this country it is a good thing to kill an admiral from time to time to encourage the others.

Voltaire

Opinion has caused more trouble on this little earth than plagues or earthquakes.

Voltaire

Ice-cream is exquisite – what a pity it isn’t illegal.

Voltaire

He must be very ignorant for he answers every question he is asked.

Voltaire

What a heavy burden is a name that has become too famous.

Voltaire

Friendship is the marriage of the soul, and this marriage is liable to divorce.

Voltaire

Froth at the top, dregs at bottom, but the middle excellent.

Voltaire

God gave us the gift of life; it is up to us to give ourselves the gift of living well.

Voltaire

God is a comedian, playing to an audience too afraid to laugh.

Voltaire

God is not on the side of the big battalions, but on the side of those who shoot best.

Voltaire

I hate women because they always know where things are.

Voltaire

He is a hard man who is only just, and a sad one who is only wise.

Voltaire

Is there anyone so wise as to learn by the experience of others?

Voltaire

He shines in the second rank, who is eclipsed in the first.

Voltaire

He was a great patriot, a humanitarian, a loyal friend; provided, of course, he really is dead.

Voltaire

He who has not the spirit of this age, has all the misery of it.

Voltaire

He who is not just is severe, he who is not wise is sad.

Voltaire

History is only the register of crimes and misfortunes.

Voltaire

History should be written as philosophy.

Voltaire

How pleasant it is for a father to sit at his child’s board. It is like an aged man reclining under the shadow of an oak which he has planted.

Voltaire

Governments need to have both shepherds and butchers.

Voltaire

Nature has always had more force than education.

Voltaire

Indeed, history is nothing more than a tableau of crimes and misfortunes.

Voltaire

Love has features which pierce all hearts, he wears a bandage which conceals the faults of those beloved. He has wings, he comes quickly and flies away the same.

Voltaire

Love is a canvas furnished by nature and embroidered by imagination.

Voltaire

Man is free at the moment he wishes to be.

Voltaire

Meditation is the dissolution of thoughts in Eternal awareness or Pure consciousness without objectification, knowing without thinking, merging finitude in infinity.

Voltaire

Men hate the individual whom they call avaricious only because nothing can be gained from him.

Voltaire

Let us work without theorizing, tis the only way to make life endurable.

Voltaire

My life is a struggle.

Voltaire

Let us read and let us dance – two amusements that will never do any harm to the world.

Voltaire

Never argue at the dinner table, for the one who is not hungry always gets the best of the argument.

Voltaire

No problem can withstand the assault of sustained thinking.

Voltaire

No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible.

Voltaire

Nothing can be more contrary to religion and the clergy than reason and common sense.

Voltaire

Nothing would be more tiresome than eating and drinking if God had not made them a pleasure as well as a necessity.

Voltaire

Of all religions, the Christian should of course inspire the most tolerance, but until now Christians have been the most intolerant of all men.

Voltaire

Faith consists in believing when it is beyond the power of reason to believe.

Voltaire

Men use thought only as authority for their injustice, and employ speech only to conceal their thoughts.

Voltaire

It is not known precisely where angels dwell whether in the air, the void, or the planets. It has not been God’s pleasure that we should be informed of their abode.

Voltaire

It is an infantile superstition of the human spirit that virginity would be thought a virtue and not the barrier that separates ignorance from knowledge.

Voltaire

It is better to risk saving a guilty man than to condemn an innocent one.

Voltaire

It is dangerous to be right in matters on which the established authorities are wrong.

Voltaire

It is difficult to free fools from the chains they revere.

Voltaire

It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.

Voltaire

It is hard to free fools from the chains they revere.

Voltaire

Life is thickly sown with thorns, and I know no other remedy than to pass quickly through them. The longer we dwell on our misfortunes, the greater is their power to harm us.

Voltaire

It is not enough to conquer; one must learn to seduce.

Voltaire

One merit of poetry few persons will deny: it says more and in fewer words than prose.

Voltaire

It is not love that should be depicted as blind, but self-love.

Voltaire

It is not sufficient to see and to know the beauty of a work. We must feel and be affected by it.

Voltaire

It is one of the superstitions of the human mind to have imagined that virginity could be a virtue.

Voltaire

It is said that the present is pregnant with the future.

Voltaire

It is the flash which appears, the thunderbolt will follow.

Voltaire

It is vain for the coward to flee; death follows close behind; it is only by defying it that the brave escape.

Voltaire

Judge a man by his questions rather than his answers.

Voltaire

It is lamentable, that to be a good patriot one must become the enemy of the rest of mankind.

Voltaire

Anything that is too stupid to be spoken is sung.

Voltaire

All men are born with a nose and ten fingers, but no one was born with a knowledge of God.

Voltaire

All murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.

Voltaire

All styles are good except the tiresome kind.

Voltaire

All the reasonings of men are not worth one sentiment of women.

Voltaire

Anyone who has the power to make you believe absurdities has the power to make you commit injustices.

Voltaire

Anyone who seeks to destroy the passions instead of controlling them is trying to play the angel.

Voltaire

Appreciation is a wonderful thing: It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.

Voltaire

Better is the enemy of good.

Voltaire

What most persons consider as virtue, after the age of 40 is simply a loss of energy.

Voltaire

Behind every successful man stands a surprised mother-in-law.

Voltaire

As long as people believe in absurdities they will continue to commit atrocities.

Voltaire

A witty saying proves nothing.

Voltaire

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