176 Voltaire Quotes (about Love, Religion, God, Democracy…)

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Voltaire was the pen name of the great French satirist, writer, and philosopher Fran├žois-Marie Arouet. Here is an interesting fact: because of his massive winnings from the French national lottery in 1729, Voltaire was able to devote his life solely in his literary career and became one of the country’s prolific Enlightenment writers.

He was best known for his wit, criticism of the Roman Catholic Church, views in freedom of religion and speech, and stance against oppression and tyranny. Because of his works, he lived in different countries like England and Prussia due to the French government and church’s violent reaction to his works.

We have collected several of the most noteworthy Voltaire quotes and lines that explore his views on love, religion, God, democracy, and many more.

Voltaire Quotes About Love

1. “The ear is the avenue to the heart.”

The ear is the avenue to the heart. - Voltaire #quotes #love

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

3. “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.”

4. “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.”

5. “Love is a canvas furnished by nature and embroidered by imagination.”

Voltaire Quotes About Religion

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

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

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

When it is a question of money, everybody is of the same religion. - Voltaire #quotes #religion

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

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

6. “Wherever there is a settled society, religion is necessary; the laws cover manifest crimes, and religion covers secret crimes.”

Voltaire Quotes About God

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

2. “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.”

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

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

God gave us the gift of life it is up to us to give ourselves the gift of living well. - Voltaire #quotes #religion

5. “I die adoring God, loving my friends, not hating my enemies, and detesting superstition.”

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

7. “To believe in God is impossible not to believe in Him is absurd.”

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

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

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

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

Voltaire Quotes About Democracy and Government

1. “Governments need to have both shepherds and butchers.”

Governments need to have both shepherds and butchers. - Voltaire #quotes #government

2. “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.”

3. “An ideal form of government is democracy tempered with assassination.”

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

Voltaire, More Quotes and Sayings

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

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

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

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

It is one of the superstitions of the human mind to have imagined that virginity could be a virtue. - Voltaire #quotes #life

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

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

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

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

9. “Do well and you will have no need for ancestors.”

10. “He who is not just is severe, he who is not wise is sad.”

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

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

13. “The superfluous, a very necessary thing.”

The superfluous, a very necessary thing. - Voltaire #quotes #life

14. “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.”

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

16. “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.”

17. “It is the flash which appears, the thunderbolt will follow.”

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

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

20. “We cannot wish for that we know not.”

We cannot wish for that we know not. - Voltaire #quotes #wish

21. “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.”

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

23. “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.”

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

25. “Froth at the top, dregs at bottom, but the middle excellent.”

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

27. “Illusion is the first of all pleasures.”

28. “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.”

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

30. “Society therefore is an ancient as the world.”

31. “Judge a man by his questions rather than his answers.”

Judge a man by his questions rather than his answers. - Voltaire #quotes #wisdom

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

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

34. “The infinitely little have a pride infinitely great.”

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

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

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

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

39. “Use, do not abuse… neither abstinence nor excess ever renders man happy.”

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

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

To the living we owe respect, but to the dead we owe only the truth. - Voltaire #quotes #respect #truth

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

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

44. “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.”

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

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

47. “It is said that the present is pregnant with the future.”

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

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

50. “History is only the register of crimes and misfortunes.”

51. “The best is the enemy of the good.”

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

53. “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.”

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

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

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

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

Use, do not abuse; neither abstinence nor excess ever renders man happy. - Voltaire #quotes #life

58. “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.”

59. “Prejudices are what fools use for reason.”

60. “History should be written as philosophy.”

61. “Common sense is not so common.”

Common sense is not so common. - Voltaire #quotes #wisdom #common-sense

62. “We cannot always oblige; but we can always speak obligingly.”

63. “Everything’s fine today, that is our illusion.”

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

65. “Perfection is attained by slow degrees it requires the hand of time.”

66. “Our country is that spot to which our heart is bound.”

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

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

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

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

71. “No problem can withstand the assault of sustained thinking.”

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

73. “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.”

74. “Anything that is too stupid to be spoken is sung.”

75. “Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd.”

76. “We are rarely proud when we are alone.”

We are rarely proud when we are alone. - Voltaire #quotes #proud

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

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

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

80. “The mouth obeys poorly when the heart murmurs.”

81. “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.”

82. “Business is the salt of life.”

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

84. “Clever tyrants are never punished.”

Clever tyrants are never punished. - Voltaire #quotes #life

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

86. “To the wicked, everything serves as pretext.”

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

88. “Fear follows crime and is its punishment.”

89. “The best way to be boring is to leave nothing out.”

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

91. “Injustice in the end produces independence.”

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

It is hard to free fools from the chains they revere. - Voltaire #quotes #life

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

94. “Nature has always had more force than education.”

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

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

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

98. “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.”

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

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

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

I am very fond of truth, but not at all of martyrdom. - Voltaire #quotes #truth

102. “Whoever serves his country well has no need of ancestors.”

103. “To hold a pen is to be at war.”

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

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

106. “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.”

107. “The Holy Roman Empire is neither Holy, nor Roman, nor an Empire.”

108. “A witty saying proves nothing.”

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

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

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

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

113. “One great use of words is to hide our thoughts.”

One great use of words is to hide our thoughts. - Voltaire #quotes #wisdom

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

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

116. “No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible.”

117. “I hate women because they always know where things are.”

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

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

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

121. “Man is free at the moment he wishes to be.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The secret of being a bore is to tell everything. - Voltaire #quotes #life

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

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

131. “Is there anyone so wise as to learn by the experience of others?”

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

133. “Paradise was made for tender hearts; hell, for loveless hearts.”

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

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

136. “Tears are the silent language of grief.”

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

Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too. - Voltaire #quotes #life

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

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

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

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

142. “All styles are good except the tiresome kind.”

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

144. “The multitude of books is making us ignorant.”

The multitude of books is making us ignorant. - Voltaire #quotes #books #wisdom

145. “Better is the enemy of good.”

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

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

148. “Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.”

149. “Let the punishments of criminals be useful. A hanged man is good for nothing; a man condemned to public works still serves the country, and is a living lesson.”

If you’d like to read some of Voltaire’s works, we recommend you read his novella, Candide.