125 Stoic Quotes About Strength and Courage

Updated December 21, 2022

Courage is one of the four Stoic virtues, along with wisdom, temperance, and justice. In these Stoic quotes about strength and courage, we learn about the virtue of doing the right thing despite your fears.

Stoicism can help us learn that instead of avoiding obstacles, we can face them head-on. When we embrace and confront challenges in life, we can experience firsthand the wise words of Marcus Aurelius: "The mind adapts and converts to its own purposes the obstacle to our acting. The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way."

Stoic Stoic Quotes About Courage

Many people assume that to be courageous means that you aren't afraid, but nothing could be further from the truth. A courageous person acts in the way they know is right despite their desires, anxieties, and fear.

"Sometimes even to live is an act of courage."

– Seneca the Younger

“Keep this thought handy when you feel a fit of rage coming on—it isn’t manly to be enraged. Rather, gentleness and civility are more human, and therefore manlier. A real man doesn’t give way to anger and discontent, and such a person has strength, courage, and endurance—unlike the angry and complaining. The nearer a man comes to a calm mind, the closer he is to strength.”

– Marcus Aurelius

“Your greatest difficulty is with yourself; for you are your own stumbling-block. You do not know what you want. You are better at approving the right course than at following it out. You see where the true happiness lies, but you have not the courage to attain it.”

– Seneca the Younger

"Courage leads to heaven; fear leads to death."

– Seneca the Younger

“We must give up many things to which we are addicted, considering them to be good. Otherwise, courage will vanish, which should continually test itself. Greatness of soul will be lost, which can’t stand out unless it disdains as petty what the mob regards as most desirable."

– Seneca the Younger

“Just ask whether they put their self-interest in externals or in moral choice. If it’s in externals, you cannot call them friends, any more than you can call them trustworthy, consistent, courageous or free. You cannot even call them human beings, if you think about it. Because it is no human frame of mind that makes people snap at others and insult them, or take to the marketplace the way bandits take to the desert or mountains,∗ and behave like bandits in court; or that turns them into depraved lechers and adulterers; or is responsible for all other crimes that people commit against each other.”

– Epictetus

“There is nothing in the world so much admired as a man who knows how to bear unhappiness with courage."
– Seneca the Younger
“Endeavor to have power of myself, and in nothing to be carried about; to be cheerful and courageous in all sudden chances and accidents, as in sicknesses: to love mildness, and moderation, and gravity: and to do my business, whatsoever it be, thoroughly, and without querulousness.”

– Marcus Aurelius

"You will never do anything in this world without courage. It is the greatest quality of the mind next to honor."

– Aristotle

"He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life."

– Muhammad Ali

"Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear."

– Mark Twain

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage."

– Anais Nin

"Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go."

– T. S. Eliot

"You have to accept whatever comes and the only important thing is that you meet it with courage and with the best that you have to give."

– Eleanor Roosevelt

"He is a man of courage who does not run away, but remains at his post and fights against the enemy."

– Socrates

"It's better to be a lion for a day than a sheep all your life."

– Elizabeth Kenny

"The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding go out to meet it."

– Thucydides

"The best way out is always through."

– Robert Frost

"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts."

– Winston Churchill

Quotes About Strength

To the Stoics, being strong didn't just mean deadlifting 500 lbs. Though most of us might not be contenders in any World's Strongest Man competitions, we have immense strength within ourselves if we're willing to look for it and cultivate it.

"You have power over your mind - not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength."

– Marcus Aurelius

"Look well into thyself; there is a source of strength which will always spring up if thou wilt always look."

– Marcus Aurelius

“Be like a rocky promontory against which the restless surf continually pounds; it stands fast while the churning sea is lulled to sleep at its feet. I hear you say, "How unlucky that this should happen to me!" Not at all! Say instead, "How lucky that I am not broken by what has happened and am not afraid of what is about to happen. The same blow might have struck anyone, but not many would have absorbed it without capitulation or complaint.”

– Marcus Aurelius

"Man must be arched and buttressed from within, else the temple wavers to the dust."

– Marcus Aurelius

"Because your own strength is unequal to the task, do not assume that it is beyond the powers of man; but if anything is within the powers and province of man, believe that it is within your own compass also."

– Marcus Aurelius

"When something bad happens you have three choices. You can either let it define you, let it destroy you, or you can let it strengthen you."

– Dr. Seuss

"Conquering others takes force, conquering yourself is true strength."

– Laozi

"We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face... we must do that which we think we cannot."

– Eleanor Roosevelt

"Strength and growth come only through continuous effort and struggle."

– Napoleon Hill

"The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places."

– Ernest Hemingway

"Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all."

– Dale Carnegie

"As our heart summons our strength, our wisdom must direct it."

– Dwight D. Eisenhower

"Few men during their lifetime come anywhere near exhausting the resources dwelling within them. There are deep wells of strength that are never used."

– Richard E. Byrd

"Good timber does not grow with ease; the stronger the wind, the stronger the trees."

– J. Willard Marriott

"That which does not kill us makes us stronger."

– Friedrich Neitzsche

"The real man smiles in trouble, gathers strength from distress, and grows brave by reflection."

– Thomas Paine

Quotes About Bravery

The more difficult experiences you face in life, the more opportunity you have to develop bravery in the face of adversity. When you are in the moment confronting a challenge or danger, you are, as Seneca would say, free.

seneca image and quote about adversity and bravery

"The pressure of adversity does not affect the mind of the brave man. It is more powerful than external circumstances."

– Seneca the Younger

“Man conquers the world by conquering himself.”

– Zeno of Citium

"...Nothing is so entirely admirable as a man bravely wretched."

– Seneca the Younger

"He who is brave is free."

– Seneca the Younger

"Neither a wise man nor a brave man lies down on the tracks of history to wait for the train of the future to run over him."

– Dwight D. Eisenhower

"It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog."

– Mark Twain

"I am not afraid of storms for I am learning how to sail my ship."

– Louisa May Alcott

Stoic Quotes About Fear

Of course, we can't discuss courage and bravery without some talk about fear. The Stoics believed that fearing outcomes we have no control over is irrational. At the same time, why fear the outcomes of things we do have control over when we could take action to change them?

"If we let things terrify us, life will not be worth living."

– Seneca the Younger

"Ignorance is the cause of fear."

– Seneca the Younger

"The mind that is anxious about future events is miserable."

– Seneca the Younger

"A man afraid of death will never play the part of a live man."

– Seneca the Younger

"Where fear is, happiness is not."

– Seneca the Younger

"He is a king who fears nothing, he is a king who desires nothing!"

– Seneca the Younger

"Most men ebb and flow in wretchedness between the fear of death and the hardship of life; they are unwilling to live, and yet they do not know how to die."

– Seneca the Younger

"I'll repeat something you might consider tattooing on your forehead: What we fear doing most is usually what we most need to do."

– Tim Ferriss

"Fear defeats more people than any other one thing in the world."

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Courage is more exhilarating than fear and in the long run it is easier. We do not have to become heroes overnight. Just a step at a time, meeting each thing that comes up, seeing it is not as dreadful as it appeared, discovering we have the strength to stare it down."

– Eleanor Roosevelt

"He who has overcome his fears will truly be free."

– Aristotle

"Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering."

– George Lucas

"How very little can be done under the spirit of fear."

– Florence Nightingale

"He who is not everyday conquering some fear has not learned the secret of life."

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Of all the liars in the world, sometimes the worst are our own fears."

– Rudyard Kipling

"A man who fears suffering is already suffering from what he fears."

– Michel de Montaigne

"Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free."

– Jim Morrison

Quotes About Danger and Courage

The truth is that we can spend a huge chunk of our lives fearing things that will never come to pass. Seneca the Younger's first quote in this section, stating that we always have a lot more fears than things that actually threaten us, is something that likely hits close to home for every single one of us.

seneca image and quote about fear and courage

"Our fears are always more numerous than our dangers."

– Seneca the Younger

“Everyone approaches a danger with more courage if he has prepared in advance how to confront it. Anyone can endure difficulties better if he has previously practiced how to deal with them. People who are unprepared can be unhinged by even the smallest of things.”

– Seneca the Younger

"A person's fears are lighter when the danger is at hand."

– Seneca the Younger

"The chief danger in life is that you may take too many precautions."

– Alfred Adler

"Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing."

– Helen Keller

"Great perils have this beauty, that they bring to light the fraternity of strangers."

– Victor Hugo

"He who learns but does not think, is lost. He who thinks but does not learn is in great danger."

– Confucius

"Mortal danger is an effective antidote for fixed ideas."

– Erwin Rommel

"During the first period of a man's life the greatest danger is not to take the risk."

– Soren Kierkegaard

"The wise man in the storm prays God not for safety from danger but for deliverance from fear. It is the storm within which endangers him[,] not the storm without."

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

"You have plenty of courage, I am sure," answered Oz. "All you need is confidence in yourself. There is no living thing that is not afraid when it faces danger. The true courage is in facing danger when you are afraid, and that kind of courage you have in plenty."

– L. Frank Baum

"No one that encounters prosperity does not also encounter danger."

– Heraclitus

"In skating over thin ice our safety is in our speed."

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

"If we survive danger it steels our courage more than anything else."

– Reinhold Niebuhr

"Wherever there is danger, there lurks opportunity; whenever there is opportunity, there lurks danger. The two are inseparable. They go together."

– Earl Nightingale

Stoic Quotes About the Cardinal Virtues

In Stoic philosophy, the four cardinal virtues constitute unity. This means that, basically, you can't have one without the other three. For this reason, it's a good idea to think about courage in relation to the Stoic perspective on wisdom, justice, and temperance.

marcus aurelius image and quote about fear and courage

“Wisdom is knowledge of good and bad; courage is knowledge of what to fear and what not to fear; moderation is knowledge of what to pursue and what to avoid; justice is knowledge of what to give or what not to give others.”

– Marcus Aurelius

“There is no man to whom a good mind comes before an evil one. It is the evil mind that gets first hold on all of us. Learning virtue means unlearning vice. We should therefore proceed to the task of freeing ourselves from faults with all the more courage because, when once committed to us, the good is an everlasting possession; virtue is not unlearned.”

– Seneca the Younger

"The soul that companies with virtue is like an ever-flowing source. It is a pure, clear, and wholesome draught, sweet, rich and generous of its store, that injures not, neither destroys."

– Epictetus

“If, at some point in your life, you should come across anything better than justice, prudence, self-control, courage—than a mind satisfied that it has succeeded in enabling you to act rationally, and satisfied to accept what’s beyond its control—if you find anything better than that, embrace it without reservations—it must be an extraordinary thing indeed—and enjoy it to the full.”

– Marcus Aurelius

“A charming enemy comes to me as a friend; faults creep in calling themselves virtues; temerity cloaks itself with the name of courage; cowardice gets called moderation; and timidity passes itself off as caution.”

– Seneca the Younger

"There is only one thing for which God has sent me into the world, and that is to develop every kind of virtue or strength, and there is nothing in all the world that I cannot use for this purpose."

– Epictetus

“Here’s a way to think about what the masses regard as being ‘good’ things. If you would first start by setting your mind upon things that are unquestionably good—wisdom, self-control, justice, courage—with this preconception you’ll no longer be able to listen to the popular refrain that there are too many good things to experience in a lifetime.”

– Marcus Aurelius

"To live a life of virtue, match up your thoughts, words, and deeds."

– Epictetus

“What principles? Those to do with good and evil, indeed in the belief that there is no good for a human being except what creates justice, self-control, courage and freedom, and nothing evil except what destroys these things.”

– Marcus Aurelius

"Freedom and slavery, the one is the name of virtue, and the other of vice, and both are acts of the will."

– Epictetus

“Virtue (meaning, chiefly, the four cardinal virtues of self-control, courage, justice, and wisdom) is happiness, and it is our perceptions of things—rather than the things themselves—that cause most of our trouble.”

– Ryan Holiday

"All the gold which is under or upon the earth is not enough to give in exchange for virtue."

– Plato

"The whole of virtue consists in its practice."

– Marcus Tullius Cicero

"Virtue is like health: the harmony of the whole man."

– Thomas Carlyle

"Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point."

– C. S. Lewis

"The superior man thinks always of virtue; the common man thinks of comfort."

– Confucius

Quotes About Adversity

Our culture is all about comfort and convenience, but the reality is that following along this path isn't going to help us become the best people we can be.

Though the thought of dealing with hard times doesn't sound like a lot of fun, it's generally through experiencing adversity over and over again that we end up standing a chance at truly being courageous in our lives.

marcus aurelius image and quote about bravery and endurance

"Nothing befalls a man except what is in his nature to endure."

– Marcus Aurelius

"And then, upon every occasion of sorrow, remember the maxim, that this event is not a misfortune, but the bearing it courageously is a great felicity.”

– Marcus Aurelius

"As it is pleasant to see the sea from the land, so it is pleasant for him who has escaped from troubles to think of them."

– Epictetus

"When jarred, unavoidably, by circumstance revert at once to yourself and don't lose the rhythm more than you can help. You'll have a better grasp of harmony if you keep going back to it."

– Marcus Aurelius

"Great men rejoice in adversity, just as brave soldiers triumph in war."

– Seneca the Younger

“In any events, however seemingly dire, there is nothing to prevent us from searching for its hidden opportunity. It is a failure of the imagination not to do so. But to seek out the opportunity in situations requires a great deal of courage, for most people around you will persist in interpreting events in the grossest terms: success or failure, good or bad, right or wrong. These simplistic, polarized categories obscure more creative—and useful—interpretations of events that are far more advantageous and interesting!"

– Epictetus

"Fire tests gold, suffering tests brave men."

– Seneca the Younger

"Great emergencies and crises show us how much greater our vital resources are than we had supposed."

– William James

"Storms make trees take deeper roots."

– Dolly Parton

"And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about."

– Haruki Murakami

"We could never learn to be brave and patient, if there were only joy in the world."

– Helen Keller

"Life is thickly sown with thorns. I know no other remedy than to pass rapidly over them. The longer we dwell on our misfortunes the greater is their power to harm us."

– Voltaire

"If you're going through hell, keep going."

– Winston Churchill

"Adversity introduces a man to himself."

– Albert Einstein

Stoic Quotes About Fate

When something bad happens, what do you do? Do you think, "why me?" Do you stand outside and shake your fist at the sky, cursing the universe?

If so, you might consider adopting the Stoic view of fate. To these ancient sages, the things that happen in your life are natural and necessary, even when they seem like bad news to you. When you accept what happens and learn to love your fate (a concept known as amor fati,) it frees up space and energy for you to focus on what you can control and tackle obstacles head-on.

“The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.”

– Marcus Aurelius

“The willing are led by fate, the reluctant are dragged.”

– Cleanthes of Assos

"Welcome every experience the looms of fate may weave for you."

– Marcus Aurelius

"Be content with what you are, and wish not change; nor dread your last day, nor long for it."

– Marcus Aurelius

"Fortune can take away riches, but not courage."

– Seneca the Younger

"Accept the things to which fate binds you, and love the people with whom fate brings you together, but do so with all your heart."

– Marcus Aurelius

"Whatever may happen to thee, it was prepared for thee from all eternity."
– Marcus Aurelius
"You often meet your fate on the road you take to avoid it."
– Goldie Hawn
"Whatever your fate is, whatever the hell happens, you say, "This is what I need." It may look like a wreck, but go at it as though it were an opportunity, a challenge. If you bring love to that moment-not discouragement-you will find the strength is there. Any disaster you can survive is an improvement in your character, your stature, and your life. What a privilege! This is when the spontaneity of your own nature will have a chance to flow."
– Joseph Campbell

Quotes About Courage in the Face of Death

The Stoics held that it doesn't matter how long your life is, but what you did with your life while you were alive. Our society values the length of life but doesn't seem to speak much about the depth of one's life. If you can overcome the fear of death, it can allow you to actually start to live.

(If the thought of your own death gives you the heebie-jeebies, you'll want to learn about the concept of memento mori.)

"Life is slavery if the courage to die is absent."

– Seneca the Younger

"Why, do you not know, then, that the origin of all human evils, and of baseness, and cowardice, is not death, but rather the fear of death?"

– Epictetus

"What am I to do?  Death is on my trail, and life is fleeting away; teach me something with which to face these troubles.  Bring it to pass that I shall cease trying to escape from death, and that life may cease to escape from me.  Give me courage to meet hardships; make me calm in the face of the unavoidable.  Relax the straitened limits of the time which is allotted me.  Show me that the good in life does not depend upon life's length, but upon the use we make of it; also, that it is possible, or rather usual, for a man who has lived long to have lived too little."

– Seneca the Younger

"It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live."

– Marcus Aurelius

"That day which you fear as being the end of all things is the birthday of your eternity."

– Seneca the Younger

"He indeed will prove a man who, threatened by dangers on all sides, with arms and chains clattering around him, will neither endanger nor conceal his courage: for self-preservation does not entail suppressing onself. Truly, I believe, Curius Dentatus used to say that he preferred real death to living death; for the ultimate horror is to leave the number of the living before you die.”

– Seneca the Younger

"He who fears death either fears to lose all sensation or fears new sensations. In reality, you will either feel nothing at all, and therefore nothing evil, or else, if you can feel any sensations, you will be a new creature, and so will not have ceased to have life."

– Marcus Aurelius

"Refuse to let the thought of death bother you: nothing is grim when we have escaped that fear."

– Seneca the Younger

"The fear of death is the most unjustified of all fears, for there's no risk of accident for someone who's dead."

– Albert Einstein

"Cowards die many times before their deaths; The valiant never taste of death but once. Of all the wonders that I yet have heard, It seems to me most strange that men should fear; Seeing that death, a necessary end, Will come when it will come."

– William Shakespeare

"Man cannot possess anything as long as he fears death. But to him who does not fear it, everything belongs. If there was no suffering, man would not know his limits, would not know himself."

– Leo Tolstoy

"The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time."

– Mark Twain

Are you looking for more Stoic quotes to help you apply this practical philosophy to your life? Check out our recent post full of Stoic quotes about endurance and resilience.

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Written by: Sophia Merton
Sophia received her BA from Vassar College and has always maintained a deep interest in the question of how best to live one’s life. She hopes to help others understand how they can apply Stoicism in their day-to-day lives in order to become the person they want to be, embrace the present moment, pursue their purposes, and rid themselves of unnecessary anxiety.

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