Quintilian Quotes

We should not speak so that it is possible for the audience to understand us, but so that it is impossible for them to misunderstand us.

Whilst we deliberate how to begin a thing, it grows too late to begin it.

We must form our minds by reading deep rather than wide.

One should aim not at being possible to understand, but at being impossible to misunderstand.

Study depends on the goodwill of the student, a quality that cannot be secured by compulsion.


Write quickly and you will never write well; write well, and you will soon write quickly.

It is the heart which inspires eloquence.

Those who wish to appear wise among fools, among the wise seem foolish.

That which offends the ear will not easily gain admission to the mind.

A mediocre speech supported by all the power of delivery will be more impressive than the best speech unaccompanied by such power.

Usage is the best language teacher.

In almost everything, experience is more valuable than precept.

Prune what is turgid, elevate what is commonplace, arrange what is disorderly, introduce rhythm where the language is harsh, modify where it is too absolute.

While we are making up our minds as to when we shall begin. the opportunity is lost.

Conscience is a thousand witnesses.

The perfection of art is to conceal art.

Nothing is more dangerous to men than a sudden change of fortune.

A laugh costs too much when bought at the expense of virtue.

The learned understand the reason of art; the unlearned feel the pleasure.

While we are examining into everything we sometimes find truth where we least expected it.

Give bread to a stranger, in the name of the universal brotherhood which binds together all men under the common father of nature.

For the mind is all the easier to teach before it is set.

God, that all-powerful Creator of nature and architect of the world, has impressed man with no character so proper to distinguish him from other animals, as by the faculty of speech.

Fear of the future is worse than one’s present fortune.

We excuse our sloth under the pretext of difficulty.