Famous Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Quotes

Goethe was one of the very few figures of the German literary revival of the 18th century who were in the full sense of the word bourgeois. Here are some Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Quotes.

Short Biography of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was born on August 28, 1749, in Frankfurt, Germany; his father was the imperial advisor Johann Kaspar Goethe (1710-1782), and his mother Katharina Elisabeth née Textor ( 1731-1808). Born in Frankfurt am Main in 1749, Goethe rose to prominence with the play “Goetz von Belisingen” and the novel “The Sorrows of Young Werther”. The work had a huge influence on later German thought and literature, and along with its lyrics, secured Goethe’s place among the great European writers. 

In terms of influence, Goethe is second only to Martin Luther in Germany. His conversations and various initiatives, which he shared in the 1890s with Schiller, Johann Gottlieb Fichte, Johann Gottfried Herder, Alexander von Humboldt, Wilhelm von Humboldt, and August and Friedrich Schlegel, collectively became Weimar classicism. The German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer called The Apprenticeship of Wilhelm Meister one of the four greatest novels ever written (along with Tristram Shandy, The New Eloise, and Don Quixote). 

Goethe ennobled himself in Weimar (hence the background in his name), and most of his works were created there. Contrary to what might be expected from famous German writers of the time, Goethe was quite comfortable with incorporating a lot of crude and dirty jokes into his writings. Although Goethe is best known for his literary works, he also dabbled in many areas of science. Increasingly drawn to botany, he studied the pharmacological uses of plants under August Carl Butch (1761–1802) at the University of Jena and began amassing an extensive collection. 

Due to his reputation, Goethe was invited in 1775 to the court of the then 18-year-old Duke Karl August (1757–1828), who later became the Grand Duke of Saxony-Weimar-Eisenach. In 1786-1788, Goethe received permission from Karl August to travel to Italy, a journey that had an indelible impact on his aesthetic development. Goethe embarked on the journey because of a renewed interest in classical Greek and Roman art sparked by the work of Johann Joachim Winckelmann

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Quotes

“He is happiest, be he king or peasant, who finds peace in his home.”

“This is the highest wisdom that I own; freedom and life are earned by those alone who conquer them each day anew.”

“If we could do away with death, we wouldn’t object; to do away with capital punishment will be more difficult. Were that to happen, we would reinstate it from time to time.”

“Who is the wisest man? He who neither knows or wishes for anything else than what happens.”

“Every man has enough power left to carry out that of which he is convinced.”

“Some of our weaknesses are born in us, others are the result of education; it is a question which of the two gives us most trouble.”

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Quotes
“Some of our weaknesses are born in us, others are the result of education; it is a question which of the two gives us most trouble.”

“He who is firm and resolute in will molds the world to himself.”

“Correction does much, but encouragement does more.”

“The person born with a talent they are meant to use will find their greatest happiness in using it.”

“Wisdom is found only in truth.”

“We must always change, renew, rejuvenate ourselves; otherwise, we harden.”

“Our passions are the true phoenixes; when the old one is burnt out, a new one rises from its ashes.”

“I love those who yearn for the impossible.”

“Magic is believing in yourself, if you can do that, you can make anything happen.”

quotes by johann wolfgang von goethe
“Magic is believing in yourself, if you can do that, you can make anything happen.”

“Plunge boldly into the thick of life, and seize it where you will, it is always interesting.”

“There are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children. One of these is roots, the other, wings.”

“if only these treasures were not so fragile as they are precious and beautiful.”

“Nothing is more disgusting than the majority: because it consists of a few powerful predecessors, of rogues who adapt themselves, of weak who assimilate themselves, and the masses who imitate without knowing at all what they want.”

“I treat my heart like a sick child and gratify its every fancy”

“Correction does much, but encouragement does more. Encouragement after censure is as the sun after a shower.”

goethe quotes
“Correction does much, but encouragement does more. Encouragement after censure is as the sun after a shower.”

“All intelligent thoughts have already been thought; what is necessary is only to try to think them again.”

“To accept good advice is but to increase one’s own ability.”

“People of uncommon abilities generally fall into eccentricities when their sphere of life is not adequate to their abilities.”

“If you want to make life easy, make it hard.”

wolfgang von goethe quotes
“If you want to make life easy, make it hard.”

“It is in human nature to relax, when not compelled by personal advantage or disadvantage.”

“He who is and remains true to himself and to others has the most attractive quality of the greatest talent.”

“The deepest, the only theme of human history, compared to which all others are of subordinate importance, is the conflict of skepticism with faith.”

“A joy shared is a joy doubled.”

“Wine rejoices the heart of man and joy is the mother of all virtues.”

“We can offer up much in the large, but to make sacrifices in little things is what we are seldom equal to.”

“What you can do, or think you can, begin it.”

“It is not enough to take steps which may someday lead to a goal; each step must be itself a goal and a step likewise.”

“Desire is the presentiment of our inner abilities, and the forerunner of our ultimate accomplishments.”

“We can always redeem the man who aspires and strives.”

“Everywhere, we learn only from those whom we love.”

“Every second is of infinite value.”

“By nature, we have no defect that could not become a strength, no strength that could not become a defect.”

“One alone does not help, but rather he who unites with many at the right moment.”

“It is the nature of grace always to fill spaces that have been empty.”

“If nature is your teacher, your soul will awaken.”

“Boldness has power, magic, and genius in it.”

“A great artist… must be shaken by the naked truths that will not be comforted. This divine discontent, this disequilibrium, this state of inner tension is the source of artistic energy.”

“Perfection is the measure of heaven, and the wish to be perfect the measure of man.”

“Talent develops in quiet, alone; character is sharpened in the torrent of the world.”

“The happy do not believe in miracles.”

“The way you see people is the way you treat them, and the way you treat them is what they become.”

“Daring ideas are like chessmen moved forward; they may be beaten, but they may start a winning game.”

“Be generous with kindly words, especially about those who are absent.”

“The intelligent man finds almost everything ridiculous, the sensible man hardly anything.”

“A useless life is an early death.”

“He only earns his freedom and his life Who takes them every day by storm.”

“If you must tell me your opinions, tell me what you believe in. I have plenty of doubts of my own.”

“Everybody wants to be somebody; nobody wants to grow.”

“Nothing is worth more than this day.”

“Nature knows no pause in progress and development, and attaches her curse on all inaction.”

“There is nothing insignificant in the world. It all depends on the point of view.”

“Every person above the ordinary has a certain mission that they are called to fulfill.”

“Life is the childhood of our immortality.”

“There is nothing so terrible as activity without insight.”

“When ideas fail, words come in very handy.”

“In the realm of ideas everything depends on enthusiasm… in the real world all rests on perseverance.”

“A person hears only what they understand.”

“The man with insight enough to admit his limitations comes nearest to perfection.”

“Man is made by his belief. As he believes, so he is.”

“We usually lose today, because there has been a yesterday, and tomorrow is coming.”

“What is not started today is never finished tomorrow.”

“The hardest thing to see is what is in front of your eyes.”

“Treat people as if they were what they ought to be and you help them to become what they are capable of being.”

“There are two things children should get from their parents: roots and wings.”

“Character develops itself in the stream of life.”

“Many people take no care of their money till they come nearly to the end of it, and others do just the same with their time.”

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