107 Stoic Quotes About True Friendship

Updated November 15, 2022

The ancient Stoics were well-aware of how valuable a good friend is while equally aware of the danger of false friends. In these 107 Stoic quotes about true friendship, we'll explore every nook and cranny of the topic through the lens of a Stoic perspective.

True friends are one of the greatest joys in life, but we also have to stay conscious of the fact that the people we are around influence who we are and the reality that friends that stick with you through adversity can be hard to find. Let's see what the ancient Stoics and other wise minds have to say about friendship, fairweather friends, kindness, and more.

Stoic Quotes About True Friendship

According to a recent survey, many Americans don't have many close friends, and the number of close friendships the average American has been on the decline in the last few decades.

Research has found that having good friends is good for your physical and mental health, but the Stoics knew that way before scientists started engaging in well-funded studies on the topic.

seneca the younger image and quote about true friendship

“One of the most beautiful qualities of true friendship is to understand and to be understood.”

– Seneca the Younger

“One who's our friend is fond of us; one who's fond of us isn't necessarily our friend.”

– Seneca the Younger

“True friends are the whole world to one another; and he that is a friend to himself is also a friend to mankind. Even in my studies the greatest delight I take is of imparting it to others; for there is no relish to me in the possessing of anything without a partner.”

– Seneca the Younger

“Friendship always benefits; love sometimes injures.”

– Seneca the Younger

“Consult your friend on all things, especially on those which respect yourself. His counsel may then be useful where your own self-love might impair your judgment.”

– Seneca the Younger

“Nothing will ever please me, no matter how excellent or beneficial, if I must retain the knowledge of it to myself. And if wisdom were given to me under the express condition that it must be kept hidden and not uttered, I should refuse it. No good thing is pleasant to possess, without friends to share it.”

– Seneca the Younger

“The necessity of circumstances proves friends and detects enemies.”

– Epictetus

“Nothing, however, delights the mind as much as loving and loyal friendship.”

– Seneca the Younger

“For what purpose, then, do I make a man my friend? In order to have someone for whom I may die, whom I may follow into exile, against whose death I may stake my own life, and pay the pledge, too.”

– Seneca the Younger

“With the exception of wisdom, I’m inclined to believe that the immortal gods have given nothing better to humanity than friendship.”

– Marcus Tullius Cicero

“Friendship improves happiness and abates misery, by the doubling of our joy and the dividing of our grief.”

– Marcus Tullius Cicero

“The friend is, as it were, a second self.”

– Marcus Tullius Cicero

“Life is nothing without friendship.”

– Marcus Tullius Cicero

“Man’s best support is a very dear friend.”

– Marcus Tullius Cicero

“There is no possession more valuable than a good and faithful friend.”

– Socrates

“The glory of friendship is not the outstretched hand, not the kindly smile, nor the joy of companionship; it is the spiritual inspiration that comes to one when you discover that someone else believes in you and is willing to trust you with a friendship.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

“One loyal friend is worth ten thousand relatives.”

– Euripides

“Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”

– Marcel Proust

“Your friend is your needs answered. He is your field which you sow with love and reap with thanksgiving. And he is your board and your fireside. For you come to him with your hunger, and you seek him for peace.”

– Khalil Gibran

“We are all travelers in the wilderness of this world, and the best we can find in our travels is an honest friend.”

– Robert Louis Stevenson

“Friends are as companions on a journey, who ought to aid each other to persevere in the road to a happier life.”

– Pythagoras

Quotes About the Fair-Weather Friend and False Friendships

Though true friendships are a wonderful thing, it's also important not to be naive about the fact that some people will be present when times are good and absent when you're dealing with tough times. The Stoics have quite a bit of useful advice to give on the topic of fair-weather friends and false friendships, which we would all be wise to heed.

epictetus image and quote about friends and hard times

“In prosperity it is very easy to find a friend; but in adversity it is the most difficult of all things.”

– Epictetus

““He who regards himself only, and enters upon friendships for this reason, reckons wrongly. The end will be like the beginning: he has made friends with one who might assist him out of bondage; at the first rattle of the chain such a friend will desert him. These are the so-called ‘fair-weather’ friendships; one who is chosen for the sake of utility will be satisfactory only so long as he is useful… He who begins to be your friend because it pays will also cease because it pays. A man will be attracted by some reward offered in exchange for his friendship, if he be attracted by aught in friendship other than friendship itself.”

– Seneca the Younger

“One who seeks friendship for favourable occasions, strips it of all its nobility.”

– Seneca

“There’s nothing worse than a wolf befriending sheep. Avoid false friendship at all costs. If you are good, straightforward, and well-meaning it should show in your eyes and not escape notice.”

– Seneca the Younger

“The shifts of fortune test the reliability of friends.”

– Marcus Tullius Cicero

“In friendship we find nothing false or insincere; everything is straight forward, and springs from the heart.”

– Marcus Tullius Cicero

“True friends visit us in prosperity only when invited, but in adversity they come without invitation.”

– Theophrastus

“False friendship, like the ivy, decays and ruins the walls it embraces; but true friendship gives new life and animation to the object it supports.”

– Richard Burton

“False friends are like our shadow, keeping close to us while we walk in the sunshine, but leaving us the instant we cross into the shade.”

– Christian Nestell Bovee

“False friends leave you in times of trouble.”

– Aesop

“To laugh often and love much; to win the respect of intelligent persons and the affection of children; to earn the approbation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Friendship is a single soul dwelling in two bodies.”

– Aristotle

“A false friend and a shadow attend only while the sun shines.”

– Benjamin Franklin

“What greater wound is there than a false friend?”

– Sophocles

Stoic Quotes About Choosing Your Friends Wisely

Related to the quotes about false friends, these quotes look at how important it is to choose your friends wisely. It's easy to float through life being friends with whoever happens to be around without giving much thought to the depth of the connection. The Stoics advise that you make deliberate, careful choices when deciding who you trust as a friend.

marcus aurelius image and quote about friendship

“If you consider any man a friend whom you do not trust as you trust yourself, you are mightily mistaken and you do not sufficiently understand what true friendship means… When friendship is settled, you must trust; before friendship is formed, you must pass judgment…Ponder for a long time whether you shall admit a given person to your friendship; but when you have decided to admit him, welcome him with all your heart and soul.

– Seneca the Younger

“Haven’t you thought, ‘nothing could be friendlier,’ when you saw little dogs playing and fawning on one another? But just throw some meat in the middle, and you will know what this friendship is.”

– Epictetus

“I am not your friend unless whatever is at issue concerning you is my concern also. Friendship produces between us a partnership in all our interests.”

– Seneca the Younger

“It is equally faulty to trust everyone and to trust no one. Yet the former fault is, I should say, the more ingenuous, the latter the more safe.”

– Seneca the Younger

“He removes the greatest ornament of friendship who takes away from it respect.”

– Marcus Tullius Cicero

“The man who backbites an absent friend, nay, who does not stand up for him when another blames him, the man who angles for bursts of laughter and for the repute of a wit, who can invent what he never saw, who cannot keep a secret -- that man is black at heart: mark and avoid him.”

– Marcus Tullius Cicero

“Being honest may not get you a lot of friends but it’ll always get you the right ones.”

– John Lennon

“The trouble is not in dying for a friend, but in finding a friend worth dying for.”

– Mark Twain

“Be careful the environment you choose for it will shape you; be careful the friends you choose for you will become like them.”

– W. Clement Stone

“Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.”

– Oprah

“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.”

– Mark Twain

“Tell me with whom you associate, and I will tell you who you are.”

– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence.”

– George Washington

“Nothing but heaven itself is better than a friend who is really a friend.”

– Plautus

Quotes About Losing Friends and Impermanence

Friends are an absolutely wonderful, beautiful thing-- they are a true joy and blessing in life. The other side of that same coin, though, is that it can be so incredibly painful when you lose them.

Whether you lost a friend because they passed away, because you drifted apart, or because you've had a falling out, it's important to remember that the only constant in this world is change. Just because your friend is no longer with you doesn't mean you can't cherish the special relationship you had at one time.

“When one has lost a friend one's eyes should be neither dry nor streaming. Tears, yes, there should be, but not lamentation.”

– Seneca the Younger

“Whenever you kiss your child, sibling, or friend, don’t layer on top of the experience all the things you might wish, but hold them back and stop them, just as those who ride behind triumphant generals remind them they are mortal. In the same way, remind yourself that your precious one isn’t one of your possessions, but something given for now, not forever…”

– Epictetus

“Depth of friendship does not depend on length of acquaintance.”

– Rabindranath Tagore

“Your lost friends are not dead, but gone before, advanced a stage or two upon that road which you must travel in the steps they trod.”

– Aristophanes

“Don't be dismayed by good-byes. A farewell is necessary before you can meet again. And meeting again, after moments or lifetimes, is certain for those who are friends.”

– Richard Bach

“The way to love anything is to realize that it may be lost.”

– Gilbert K. Chesterton

Stoic Quotes About Friendship and Personal Growth

When engaging with Stoic quotes about true friendship, something interesting emerges.

On the one hand, these ancient philosophers were highly aware of just how special true friendship is. On the other, though, they knew that the people around you impact who you are and that sometimes you have to make a choice between being accepted by your current friends or continuing on your road of personal growth.

If you are truly engaging with life, you'll find that you are constantly changing as you learn more about how to be virtuous and how to best live in order to obtain a good life. Sometimes, the friends you have might be more than happy to cheer you on as you change. If this happens, you are lucky indeed!

Other times, though, even your best friends will be resistant to the way you are changing. You'll then be faced with a difficult decision: whether to hold yourself back to keep your friends or let go of your friends to allow yourself to work towards becoming your best self.

epictetus image and quote about friends and progress

“Above all, keep a close watch on this— that you are never so tied to your former acquaintances and friends that you are pulled down to their level. If you don’t, you’ll be ruined… You must choose whether to be loved by these friends and remain the same person, or to become a better person at the cost of those friends… if you try to have it both ways you will neither make progress nor keep what you once had.

– Epictetus

“When we blather about trivial things, we ourselves become trivial, for our attention gets taken up with trivialities. You become what you give your attention to.”

– Epictetus

“Be cheerful, also, and seek not external help, nor the peace which others give. A man must stand straight, and not be kept straight by others.”

– Marcus Aurelius

“You become what you give your attention to...If you yourself don't choose what thoughts and images you expose yourself to, someone else will, and their motives may not be the highest.”

– Epictetus

“Don't be concerned with other people's impressions of you. They are dazzled and deluded by appearances. Stick with your purpose. This alone will strengthen your will and give your life coherence.”

– Epictetus

“The rule of friendship means there should be mutual sympathy between them, each supplying what the other lacks and trying to benefit the other, always using friendly and sincere words.”

– Marcus Tullius Cicero

“In everyone's life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.”

– Albert Schweitzer

“Cultivate solitude and quiet and a few sincere friends, rather than mob merriment, noise and thousands of nodding acquaintances.”

– William Powell

“No person is your friend who demands your silence, or denies your right to grow.”

– Alice Walker

Stoic Quotes About Kindness

Though many people think of the ancient Stoics as proponents of an emotionless life, this is far from the truth. Marcus Aurelius, Seneca the Younger, Epictetus, and the other Stoics were well aware of the power and importance of kindness in life.

“All the good are friends of one another.”

– Zeno of Citium

“We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.”

– Epictetus

“He that does good to another does good also to himself.”

– Seneca the Younger

“ Live not as though there were a thousand years ahead of you. Fate is at your elbow; make yourself good while life and power are still yours.”

– Marcus Aurelius

“He is ungrateful who denies that he has received a kindness which has been bestowed upon him; he is ungrateful who conceals it; he is ungrateful who makes no return for it; most ungrateful of all is he who forgets it.”

– Seneca the Younger

“Seek not good from without; seek it within yourselves, or you will never find it.”

– Epictetus

“Human nature is so constituted that insults sink deeper than kindnesses; the remembrance of the latter soon passes away, while that of the former is treasured in the memory.”

– Seneca the Younger

“Man is born for deeds of kindness.”

– Marcus Aurelius

“I had rather never receive a kindness than never bestow one.”

– Seneca the Younger

“It is not a demonstration of kindness or friendship to the people we care about to join them in indulging in wrongheaded, negative feelings. We do a better service to ourselves and others by remaining detached and avoiding melodramatic reactions.”

– Epictetus

“Persistent kindness conquers the ill-disposed.”

– Seneca the Younger

“Doth perfect beauty stand in need of praise at all? Nay; no more than law, no more than truth, no more than loving kindness, nor than modesty.”

– Marcus Aurelius

“ Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for a kindness.”

– Seneca the Younger

“Everything has two handles; the one soft and manageable, the other such as will not endure to be touched. If then your brother do you an injury, do not take it by the hot hard handle, by representing to yourself all the aggravating circumstances of the fact; but look rather on the soft side, and extenuate it as much as is possible, by considering the nearness of the relation, and the long friendship and familiarity between you--obligations to kindness which a single provocation ought not to dissolve. And thus you will take the accident by its manageable handle.”

– Epictetus

“The things which we hold in our hands, which we see with our eyes, and which our avarice hugs, are transitory, they may be taken from us by ill luck or by violence; but a kindness lasts even after the loss of that by means of which it was bestowed; for it is a good deed, which no violence can undo.”

– Seneca the Younger

“Seek not good from without; seek it within yourselves, or you will never find it.”

– Epictetus

“There is no duty more obligatory than the repayment of kindness.”

– Marcus Tullius Cicero

“Never injure a friend, even in jest.”

– Marcus Tullius Cicero

“Kind hearts are the gardens, kind thoughts are the roots, kind words are the flowers, kind deeds are the fruits, Take care of your garden and keep out the weeds, fill it with sunshine, kind words, and kind deeds.”

– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

“Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.”

– Mark Twain

“Perhaps you will forget tomorrow the kind words you say today, but the recipient may cherish them over a lifetime.”

– Dale Carnegie

Quotes About Control and Other People

There's nothing better than a true friend, but a lot of times, you have to climb many mountains and endure many hardships to find them. The Stoics both argue that you must be comfortable on your own while you also "must live for your neighbor." Additionally, as can be seen in the last Marcus Aurelius quote listed here, one must cultivate forgiveness and tolerance for all of the people that you encounter that don't treat you as a true friend-- those that are "meddling, ungrateful, arrogant, dishonest, jealous, and surly."

“Love the discipline you know, and let it support you. Entrust everything willingly to the gods, and then make your way through life – no one’s master and no one’s slave.”

– Marcus Aurelius

“And no one can live happily who has regard to himself alone and transforms everything into a question of his own utility; you must live for your neighbor, if you would live for yourself.”

– Seneca the Younger

“When you wake up in the morning, tell yourself: The people I deal with today will be meddling, ungrateful, arrogant, dishonest, jealous and surly. They are like this because they cannot tell good from evil. But I have seen the beauty of good, and the ugliness of evil, and have recognized that the wrongdoer has a nature related to my own - not of the same blood or birth, but the same mind, and possessing a share of the divine. And so none of them can hurt me. No one can implicate me in ugliness. Nor can I feel angry at my relative, or hate him. We were born to work together like feet, hands and eyes, like the two rows of teeth, upper and lower. To obstruct each other is unnatural. To feel anger at someone, to turn your back on him: these are obstructions.”

– Marcus Aurelius

Stoic Quotes About Giving and Gifts

Tied closely to the topic of true friendship is that of giving and gratefulness. Most of our quotes here are from Seneca, who had deeply profound things to say about human relationships in general and the importance of gratitude in particular.

“The spirit in which a thing is given determines that in which the debt is acknowledged; it's the intention, not the face-value of the gift, that's weighed.”

– Seneca the Younger

“We should give as we would receive, cheerfully, quickly, and without hesitation; for there is no grace in a benefit that sticks to the fingers.”

– Seneca the Younger

“It is another's fault if he be ungrateful, but it is mine if I do not give. To find one thankful man, I will oblige a great many that are not so.”

– Seneca the Younger

“The man who while he gives thinks of what he will get in return, deserves to be deceived.”

– Seneca the Younger

“It passes in the world for greatness of mind, to be perpetually giving and loading people with bounties; but it is one thing to know how to give and another thing not to know how to keep. Give me a heart that is easy and open, but I will have no holes in it; let it be bountiful with judgment, but I will have nothing run out of it I know not how.”

– Seneca the Younger

“There is no grace in a benefit that sticks to the fingers.”

– Seneca the Younger

“We are as answerable for what we give as for what we receive; nay, the misplacing of a benefit is worse than the not receiving of it; for the one is another person's fault, but the other is mine.”

– Seneca the Younger

“Let the man, who would be grateful, think of repaying a kindness, even while receiving it.”

– Seneca the Younger

“No great thing is created suddenly. There must be time. Give your best and always be kind.”

– Epictetus

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”

– Winston Churchill

Quotes About Giving Advice

Advice is one of those things that can be a double-edged sword. If you are on the giving end, it can be incredibly frustrating to see someone ignore your sound reasoning in favor of a bad decision. If you are on the receiving end, it can be frustrating to feel like someone else is telling you what to do.

In the best-case scenario, though, advice well-given and well-received can help both parties grow and change for the better. Let's see what advice Seneca, Cicero, and a few others have about the art of giving and receiving advice.

“Let no man give advice to others that he has not first given himself.”

– Seneca the Younger

“Philosophy is good advice, and no one gives good advice at the top of his lungs.”

– Seneca the Younger

“To give and receive advice - the former with freedom, and yet without bitterness, the latter with patience and without irritation - is peculiarly appropriate to geniune friendship.”

– Marcus Tullius Cicero

“The true secret of giving advice is, after you have honestly given it, to be perfectly indifferent whether it is taken or not, and never persist in trying to set people right.”

– Henry Ward Beecher

“In giving advice seek to help, not to please, your friend.”

– Solon

“We may give advice, but we cannot give conduct.”

– Benjamin Franklin

Finding the right friends isn't always the easiest task, but it is well worth the effort. With the advice of the Stoics and other great thinkers from history, we can work to build friendships that consist of genuine connections and mutual support.

Are you looking for more Stoic quotes to help you as you work to lead a more virtuous and happy life? If so, be sure to check out our library of Stoic quotes on topics as varied as life, death, anxiety, and happiness.

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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