FACT CHECK: Did Plato Say ‘Only The Dead Have Seen The End Of War’?

Brad Sylvester | Fact Check Editor

A post shared on Facebook alleges that ancient Greek philosopher Plato once stated, “Only the dead have seen the end of war.”

Verdict: False

The expression doesn’t appear in any of Plato’s writings.

Fact Check:

Plato and other ancient Greek philosophers are popular targets of apocryphal quotations. This statement, while often attributed to Plato, seems to fall into that category. (RELATED: Did Plato Say, ‘Be Kind, Everyone You Meet Is Fighting A Hard Battle’?)

An internet search reveals a number of blogs debating the origin of the quote, though none credibly link it to the ancient Greek philosopher. The Daily Caller News Foundation found no record of the expression in Plato’s complete works.

“It just doesn’t sound to me like Plato,” says University of Chicago professor and Plato expert Nathan Tarcov in an email to the DCNF. “I can’t think of a dialogue where it would fit.”

The quote has also been ascribed to Spanish-American philosopher George Santayana, though it’s unclear if he coined the expression. It appears in his 1922 book “Soliloquies in England and Later Soliloquies,” where he writes without attributing it to another source, “Only the dead are safe; only the dead have seen the end of war.”

The attribution to Plato gained popularity in the 1960s after General Douglas MacArthur credited the ancient Greek philosopher with coining it in a 1962 address to West Point cadets.

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Brad Sylvester

Fact Check Editor
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