“That would indeed be shocking, and then I might really with justice be summoned to court for not believing in the gods, and disobeying the oracle, and being afraid of death, and thinking that I am wise when I am not. For let me tell you, gentlemen, that to be afraid of death is only another form of thinking that one is wise when one is not; it is to think that one knows what one does not know. No one knows with regard to death whether it is not really the greatest blessing that can happen to a man; but people dread it as though they were certain that it is the greatest evil; and this is ignorance, which thinks that it knows what it does not, must surely be ignorance most culpable.”
– The Last Days of Socrates by Plato.
“All I really wanted was to try and live the life that was spontaneously welling up within me. Why was that so very difficult? (…) When authors write novels, they usually act as if they were God and could completely survey and comprehend some person’s history and present it as if God were telling it to Himself, totally unveiled, in its essence at all points. I can’t, any more than those authors can. But my story is more important to me than any author’s is to him, because it’s my own; it’s the story of a human being—not an invented, potential, ideal, or otherwise nonexistent person, but a real, unique, living one.”
– Demian by Herman Hesse.
And I to him: “Master, among this kind I certainly hope to recognize some who have been bespattered by these crimes.”
And he to me: “That thought of yours is empty: the undiscerning life that made them filthy now renders them unrecognizable. For all eternity they will come to blow: these here will rise up from their sepulchers with fists clenched tight; and these, with hair cropped close. Ill giving and ill keeping have robbed both of the fair world and set them to this fracas – what that is like my words need not embellish. Now you can see, my son, how brief’s the sport of all those goods that are in Fortune’s care, for which the tribe of men contend and brawl; for all the gold that is or ever was beneath the moon could never offer rest to even one of these exhausted spirits.”
– Inferno (The Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri) translated by Allen Mandelbaum.