It’s the series that launched a thousand kids’ Greek mythology phases: Since 2005, Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson books have enthralled readers with the adventures of modern-day kids who are the children of Greek and Roman gods and goddesses.
The series has become something of a cultural juggernaut over the years, spawning two movie adaptations, a Broadway musical, and an upcoming series on Disney+.
There are a number of reasons the Percy Jackson books are so deeply beloved. From their strong themes to their snarky humor, the quotes on this list exemplify everything that makes the series so great. We've selected our favorite Percy Jackson quotes, from the original Percy Jackson series and its follow-up, Heroes of Olympus. Spoilers for both ahead!
“If my life is going to mean anything, I have to live it myself.” - The Lightning Thief
Percy’s mom Sally says this to him at the end of the first book after he asks her why she doesn’t want to live with Poseidon in his undersea kingdom. Sally is a single mom trying to balance work and raising her young son. But it's clear that she still has feelings for the god, and it seems like she has a solution to her problems right in front of her. However, she explains to Percy that it’s important to her that she finds the courage to take care of herself on her own.
Since Percy and his friends often deal with prophecies during their many adventures, topics like fate and destiny come up a lot in the books. How do you deal with the fact that you’re fated to do something you can hardly imagine doing? Sally provides us with something close to an answer here. It’s still your life, and you need to live it and make your own choices.
“My dear young cousin, if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the eons, it’s that you can’t give up on your family, no matter how tempting they make it.” - The Sea of Monsters
Partway through the second book, the messenger god Hermes comes to Percy to give him some advice before he leaves on a quest to find the Golden Fleece. Hermes makes it clear that he also hopes Percy will be able to convince his son, Luke, to give up his own vengeful quest to help Kronos destroy Olympus.
The relationships between the gods and their children in these books is usually not great. The fact that the gods don’t seem to care that much about their own families is a big part of why Luke turns against them.
Family is a major part of the Percy Jackson books. Although the gods’ apathy is a source of conflict, Hermes makes it clear here that they do care, they’re just often bad at showing it.
It goes both ways, too. Throughout the series Percy and his friends are routinely let down by the gods. It would be very tempting to betray them like Luke did, but our heroes continue to fight, because you can’t give up on family.
“But remember, boy, that a kind act can sometimes be as powerful as a sword.” - The Battle of the Labyrinth
The wine god Dinoysus, aka Mr. D, says this to Percy at the end of the fourth book. Being the second to last book in the original series, Battle of the Labyrinth is filled with a lot of action, high stakes, and drama. The characters spend most of the novel fighting monsters and escaping near-death situations. But this quote from Dionysus reminds Percy and readers that our heroes have far more at their disposal than just their weapons.
The fight between Percy and the other demi-gods against Luke and Kronos is, when you boil it down, a conflict between good and evil. Those on the side of the good know that Dionysus is right in this moment; their kindness and goodness also makes them powerful. What makes this quote even more striking is that it is a rare moment of sincerity from Dionysus, who is usually very sarcastic.
“The spirit of the wild must pass to all of you now. You must tell each one you meet: if you would find Pan, take up Pan’s spirit. Remake the wild, a little at a time, each in your own corner of the world. You cannot wait for anyone else, even a god, to do that for you.” - The Battle of the Labyrinth
During the events of the fourth book, Grover achieves the goal of all satyrs: he finds the lost god Pan. However, Pan is dying. As he fades away, he gives this charge to Grover.
On the surface, the god of the wild is making a strong call to action for us to take care of the earth we live on. Beyond that though, it also ties back into the themes of fate and destiny.
The world of these books is populated by powerful gods, but our heroes still have to make their own choices and take action on their own if they truly want what they’re fighting for. As the series progresses and the characters age, an important theme of personal responsibility emerges, which is also reflected in this quote.
“I love New York. You can pop out of the Underworld in Central Park, hail a taxi, head down Fifth Avenue with a giant hellhound loping behind you, and nobody even looks at you funny.” - The Last Olympian
Percy muses this quote to himself as he makes his way into battle in the fifth book. What makes this quote so great is that it totally exemplifies the humor that is prevalent throughout the Percy Jackson series. Percy is literally heading into the battle that serves as the climax of the entire series, and he’s still got the perfect quip for the occasion.
The humor of these books is one of the main reasons they have appealed to so many people. The jokes really do sound like the sarcastic comments teenagers would say, but they’re also genuinely funny enough to keep adult readers interested.
“Beauty is about finding the right fit, the most natural fit. To be perfect, you have to feel perfect about yourself—avoid trying to be something you’re not.” - The Lost Hero
In the first book of the second series, Aphrodite gives this bit of advice to her daughter Piper. If there were ever an expert on beauty, it would certainly be the goddess of love, and Aphrodite offers a well-thought-out take. When it comes to beauty, what should matter most is yourself. Your own comfort, style, and confidence.
A big part of Piper’s character arc in the series is her learning to be more confident in herself in all aspects of her life, and this conversation with her mother is an important early stepping stone in that journey.
“Being a hero doesn’t mean you’re invincible. It just means that you’re brave enough to stand up and do what’s needed.” - The Mark of Athena
In the third book of the Heroes of Olympus series, Piper says this to her boyfriend Jason when he’s feeling insecure about his contributions to the group of seven aboard the Argo II.
Jason was usually the leader and the star back at Camp Jupiter, but now he’s fighting alongside demi-gods of equal ability and he keeps getting hurt. Piper assures him that any contributions he makes to their fight against Gaea are heroic.
This quote also plays into the ongoing theme of personal responsibility. If you want to achieve your goal, you have to work as a team, and being a part of a team often means doing things that don’t make you stand out. But when the job gets done, it becomes clear that all those smaller and seemingly unremarkable tasks were what allowed everything to work out.
“I figure the world is basically a machine. I don’t know who made it, if it was the Fates, or the gods, or the capital-G god or whatever. But it chugs along the way it’s supposed to most of the time. Sure, little pieces break off and stuff goes haywire once in a while, but mostly...things happen for a reason.” - The House of Hades
At this point in the fourth book in the series, the crew of the Argo II are in a dire situation. Percy and Annabeth are fighting their way through Tartarus and everyone else is trying to fight off hundreds of monsters and minor gods on their way to the Doors of Death. Hazel is beginning to crack under the pressure when Leo says this to her.
Being a son of Hephaestus and a hardcore mechanic, Leo of course uses a machinery analogy, but his point stands. They must have hope that everything they are facing is happening for a reason. This quote is especially poignant coming from Leo considering that Gaea tricked him into burning down his mother’s mechanic shop as a child, killing her in the process. Despite that, he still believes that the machine that is the world will chug on.
“We had one home [...] Now we have two.” - The Blood of Olympus
At the end of the fifth and final book in the series, Gaea has been successfully defeated by the combined efforts of Greek and Roman demi-gods. For a good chunk of the series, conflict has been stewing between the Greeks and the Romans, having only recently discovered one another’s existence. It seems like they might even go to war with each other, which would only serve to strengthen Gaea’s climb to power. In this moment, Reyna articulates how needless the conflict is.
All of the characters in these books are searching for home in one way or another, and most of them have found it at either Camp Half-Blood or Camp Jupiter. As Roman Reyna embraces Greek Nico, she makes it clear that the differences between them are irrelevant. What matters most is the good they bring out in each other when they come together.