75 Brilliant Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Quotes

Last updated on Aug 27th, 2023

75 Brilliant Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Quotes

Below is a collection of the best Goethe quotes about life, love, truth, freedom, and education.

Table of Contents
  1. 35 Famous Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Quotes
  2. Goethe Quotes on Love and Passion
  3. Goethe Quotes about Life
  4. Goethe Quotes on Truth and Error
  5. Goethe Freedom Quotes
  6. Goethe Quotes about Character
  7. Goethe Quotes about Beauty
  8. Goethe Quotes on Education
  9. Who Was Johann Wolfgang von Goethe?

35 Famous Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Quotes


There is nothing insignificant in the world. It all depends on the point of view.Letter to Johann Christian Lobe (July, 1820)


One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and, if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable words.Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship (1795)


We are never further from our wishes than when we fancy we possess the object of them.Maxims and Reflections (1833)


Power should act and not talk.Maxims and Reflections (1833)


When you find yourself, you’ll soon know how to live it.Faust (1832)


Nothing is more highly to be prized than the value of each day.Maxims and Reflections (1833)


Fortune rarely accompanies anyone to the door.Torquato Tasso (1790)


What a man does not understand, he does not possess.Maxims and Reflections (1833)


Generosity wins favour for every one, especially when it is accompanied by modesty.Maxims and Reflections (1833)


Which is the best government? That which teaches us to govern ourselves.Maxims and Reflections (1833)


We love young girls for what they are, but young men for what they promise to be.The Autobiography: Truth and Fiction Relating to My Life (1811)


When prudence is only fear in disguise, its scruples cannot be conquered.Maxims and Reflections (1833)


Everybody wants to be somebody; nobody wants to grow.Zahme Xenien (1827)


Nothing is more frightful than imagination without taste.Maxims and Reflections (1833)


Common sense is the genius of humanity.Maxims and Reflections (1833)


Hatred is something peculiar. You will always find it strongest and most violent where there is the lowest degree of culture.Conversations of Goethe (1836)


History-writing is a way of getting rid of the past.Maxims and Reflections (1833)


A creation of importance could be produced only when its author isolates himself.The Autobiography: Truth and Fiction Relating to My Life (1811)


Piety is not an end, but a means: a means of attaining the highest culture by the purest tranquillity of soul. Hence it may be observed that those who set up piety as an end and object are mostly hypocrites.Maxims and Reflections (1833)


As a coal is revived by incense, so prayer revives the hopes of the heart.Maxims and Reflections (1833)


There is nothing in the world more shameful than establishing one’s self on lies and fables.Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship (1795)


The written word has this advantage, that it lasts and can await the time when it is allowed to take effect.Maxims and Reflections (1833)


Every man hears only what he understands.Maxims and Reflections (1833)


The coward only threatens when he is safe.Torquato Tasso (1790)


Man would not be the finest creature in the world if he were not too fine for it.Maxims and Reflections (1833)


A man’s manners are the mirror in which he shows his portrait.Maxims and Reflections (1833)


One must be something in order to do something.Conversations of Goethe (1836)


Perfection is the measure of heaven, and the wish to be perfect the measure of man.Maxims and Reflections (1833)


Patriotism ruins history.Conversation with Friedrich Wilhem Riemer (July, 1817)


An intelligent man finds almost everything ridiculous, a wise man hardly anything.Maxims and Reflections (1833)


Whoever wishes to keep a secret must hide the fact that he possesses one.Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship (1795)


He who possesses art and science has religion; he who does not possess them, needs religion.Poem, 'An Frau Krafft in Cöln. Erwiderung'


One is never deceived, but rather deceives oneself.Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship (1795)


The man who acts never has any conscience; no one has any conscience but the man who thinks.Maxims and Reflections (1833)


The world is a bell with a crack in it; it rattles, but does not ring.Maxims and Reflections (1833)

Goethe Quotes on Love and Passion


Love does not rule; but it trains, and that is more.The Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily (1795)


What is uttered from the heart alone, will win the hearts of others to your own.Faust (1832)


Our passions are, in truth, like the phoenix. When the old one burns away, the new one rises out of its ashes at once.Maxims and Reflections (1833)

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Great passions are hopeless diseases. That which could cure them is the first thing to make them really dangerous.Maxims and Reflections (1833)

Goethe Quotes about Life


Those who hope for no other life are dead even for this.Conversations of Goethe (1836)


Hope is the second soul of the unhappy.Maxims and Reflections (1833)


A useless life is an early death.Iphigenia in Tauris (1787)


Life belongs to the living, and he who lives must be prepared for changes.Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship (1795)


Life teaches us to be less harsh with ourselves and with others.Iphigenie auf Tauris (1787)


Life is the childhood of our immortality.A Dictionary of Thoughts: Being a Cyclopedia of Laconic Quotations from the Best Authors of the World, Both Ancient and Modern


He is the happiest man who can set the end of his life in connection with the beginning.Maxims and Reflections (1833)


The whole art of living consists in giving up existence in order to exist.Maxims and Reflections (1833)

Goethe Quotes on Truth and Error


Wisdom lies only in truth.Maxims and Reflections (1833)


Every man can have his own peculiar truth; and yet it is always the same.Maxims and Reflections (1833)


Love of truth shows itself in this, that a man knows how to find and value the good in everything.Maxims and Reflections (1833)


To a new truth there is nothing more hurtful than an old error.Maxims and Reflections (1833)


It is as certain as it is strange that truth and error come from one and the same source. Thus it is that we are often not at liberty to do violence to error, because at the same time we do violence to truth.Maxims and Reflections (1833)


It is much easier to recognise error than to find truth; for error lies on the surface and may be overcome; but truth lies in the depths, and to search for it is not given to every one.Maxims and Reflections (1833)


Error is related to truth as sleep to waking.Maxims and Reflections (1833)


There are people who make no mistakes because they never wish to do anything worth doing.Maxims and Reflections (1833)


A man does not mind being blamed for his faults, and being punished for them, and he patiently suffers much for the sake of them; but he becomes impatient if he is required to give them up.Maxims and Reflections (1833)


The errors of a man are what make him really lovable.Maxims and Reflections (1833)


Error is acceptable as long as we are young; but one must not drag it along into old age.Art and Antiquity (1821)

Goethe Freedom Quotes


No one is more a slave than the man who thinks himself free while he is not.Elective Affinities (1809)


Freedom and life are earned by those alone who conquer them each day anew.Faust (1832)

Goethe Quotes about Character


There is nothing in which people more betray their character than in what they laugh at.Elective Affinities (1809)


Talent is nurtured in solitude; character is formed in the stormy billows of the world.Torquato Tasso (1790)


Character in matters great and small consists in a man steadily pursuing the things of which he feels himself capable.Maxims and Reflections (1833)

Goethe Quotes about Beauty


Beauty can never really understand itself.Maxims and Reflections (1833)


Beauty and Genius must be kept afar if one would avoid becoming their slave.Maxims and Reflections (1833)


The Beautiful is a manifestation of secret laws of nature, which, without its presence, would never have been revealed.Maxims and Reflections (1833)

Goethe Quotes on Education


It is not enough to know, we must also apply; it is not enough to will, we must also do.Maxims and Reflections (1833)


With knowledge grows doubt.Maxims and Reflections (1833)


If a man sets out to study all the laws, he will have no time left to transgress them.Maxims and Reflections (1833)


First let a man teach himself, and then he will be taught by others.Maxims and Reflections (1833)


Nothing is more terrible than ignorance in action.Maxims and Reflections (1833)


Ignorant people raise questions which were answered by the wise thousands of years ago.Maxims and Reflections (1833)


Fools and wise folk are alike harmless. It is the half-wise, and the half-foolish, who are the most dangerous.Maxims and Reflections (1833)


All extraordinary men, who have accomplished great and astonishing actions, have ever been decried by the world as drunken or insane.The Sorrows of Young Werther (1774)


Instruction does much, but encouragement everything.Letter to Adam Frederick Oeser (Frankfort on the Maine, November 9, 1768)

Who Was Johann Wolfgang von Goethe?

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (born August 28, 1749, Frankfurt am Main, Germany – died March 22, 1832, Weimar, Germany) was a German poet, novelist, and playwright considered the principal German literary figure of the modern era.

Goethe was a key figure of European Neoclassicism and Romanticism in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. His work includes poetry, prose and verse drama, memoirs, autobiographies, literary criticism, and novels. Goethe’s two most famous works are Faust and The Sorrows of Young Werther. In German-speaking countries, his works were considered classical.

Goethe is the only German writer who reached the fame of Germany’s supreme philosophers and composers. His writings were the inspiration for many musical and dramatic pieces in the period after his death.