I don't relate to a good bit of Socrates' philosophies, but I greatly agree with this one. It was written down by Plato, in Phaedo, as part of his dialogues. The actual quote is longer. Socrates has been put on trial for disrespecting the Gods and corrupting the youth. He's been tried and sentenced to die, by way of poison hemlock, which he will have to drink himself. He converses with Plato and his other pupils in this knowledge and speaks the following:

"I would not have him [Krito] sorrow at my hard lot, or say at the burial, Thus we lay out Socrates, or, Thus we follow him to the grave or bury him; for false words are not only evil in themselves, but they infect the soul with evil. Be of good cheer, then, my dear Krito, and say that you are burying my body only, and do with that as is usual, and as you think best."

Krito of Alopeke (Κρίτων Άλωπεχῆθεν) was a life-long friend of Socrates, and one of his most trusted. Krito is also the person who Socrates speaks his final words to. In this quote, Socrates warns his pupils that they must not make empty promises upon his grave--because claiming to die with a fallen friend (and often fellow soldier) was a noble thing to do, and honored the dead. Socrates' words have a much broader implication, however: that speaking falsehoods corrupts the heart.

We are all capable of many lies and deeds that may or may not include the white lies we tell in order to appear socially acceptable, but they do include the big ones. Speaking them, or acting upon these deeds, marks us. Borrowing an image from ABC's 'Once Upon A Time', quite literally, in fact. Lies lead to more lies, which leads to increasingly corrupt deeds. I must comment on the use of 'evil', however, as this was not a term the ancient Hellenes would have used. This 'evil' is miasma, spiritual corruption, and remove us from the Gods, ourselves and our loved ones.

The call for honesty, and honest living is a staple of the Delphic Maxims. You can find it in:
  • Be overcome by justice (Ηττω υπο δικαιου)
  • Cling to discipline (Παιδειας αντεχου)
  • Practice what is just (Πραττε δικαια)
  • Exercise nobility of character (Ευγενειαν ασκει)
  • Shun evil (Κακιας απεχου)
  • Despise a slanderer (Διαβολην μισει)
  • Speak plainly (Αμλως διαλεγου)
  • Make just judgements (Κρινε δικαια)
  • Do not abandon honor (Δοξαν μη λειπε)
  • Despise evil (Κακιαν μισει)
But is also linked to many others like:
  • Do not use an oath (Ορκω μη χρω)
  • Be impartial (Κοινος γινου)
  • Fear deceit (Δολον φοβου)
  • Test the character (Ηθος δοκιμαζε)
  • Be jealous of no one (Φθονει μηδενι)
  • Rever a sense of shame (Αισχυνην σεβου)
  • Despise strife (Εριν μισει)
  • Judge incorruptibly (Αδωροδοκητος δικαζε)
  • Tell when you know (Λεγε ειδως)
  • Act without repenting (Πραττε αμετανοητως)
  • Acquire wealth justly (Πλουτει δικιως)
  • Respect yourself (Σεαυτον αιδου)
  • Gratify without harming (Χαριζου αβλαβως)
  • Make promises to no one (Επαγγελου μηδενι)
When I was about sixteen or seventeen, I made a vow to the Gods to never speak a concious lie ever again. I have had to break that vow on occasion, especially when younger, and I paid my dues for that. Overall, I have managed to hold myself to this vow. I remember it being very difficult in the beginning: it was hard work, it got me in trouble sometimes, and I had to learn to be silent when I knew I would have to lie if I opened my mouth. I had to learn how to practice temperance (which became another vow very soon after). I had to learn how to avoid situations where I would be forced to lie. Even a small lie. It wasn't easy, but it has led me to an honest, pure, and conscious life, influenced heavily by ethics and an awareness of self.

I admire Socrates for inspiring honesty in others, although that might never have been his intention when he spoke these words. A honest life benefits a Hellenist. It keeps the mind and heart pure, and gentile, and if this way of life is something you think you can benefit from, I would most certainly encourage it.