About Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Seneca was an influential Roman philosopher. He was born in Spain and was the first Roman philosopher to write and speak in Greek. Seneca was born in Spain to wealthy parents who were more interested in their own pleasures than his upbringing. His father brought him to Rome. His youth was passed with his head full of traditional Roman lore.

He lost his father at eight years of age and was forced to leave his home to live with the Romans. After his early years, he stayed in Rome and became close to Nero and Emperor Claudius. He was Nero’s tutor and adviser.

He wrote a collection of moral essays, which were written in the form of letters. These essays discussed philosophical and ethical questions. He also wrote tragedies that are usually about the struggle between good and evil. He also wrote ‘The Consolation of Philosophy, which is a philosophical treatise.

Seneca was a Stoic philosopher who believed that the heart had a direct effect on the individual. He believed in a soul that went after the rational and desired to have good things. He also believed in an external controlling deity, such as Apollo; and partly in one’s inner self.

Seneca believed that the mind has control over what happens to it because it has free will and its own desires of what it wants to do. Seneca believed that the individual has a conscience, which can warn the individual off of what is just and unjust.

The “conscience” is also an internal quality, not something that is external to the self. Seneca wrote short essays on a variety of topics including death, friendship, love, philosophy, law, and hatred.

Seneca is best known as a writer for his philosophical works as well as his tragedies. His prose works include a dozen essays and a total of 124 letters dealing with moral issues. These writings are among the most significant collections of primary material for ancient Stoicism.

He is best known as a tragedian for plays such as Medea, Thyestes, and Phaedra. During the Renaissance, Seneca was “a sage revered and venerated as an oracle of spiritual, even of Christian edification; a master of literary style and a model [for] dramatic art.”

Lucius Annaeus Seneca Quotes on Wisdom

  1. “The heart is great which shows moderation in the midst of prosperity.”
  2. “Most people would rather die than think.”
  3. “We are generally so accustomed to mistakes that even the smallest ones go unnoticed.”
  4. “The way of life is as great a gift as the body is small.”
  5. “Hold on to your dreams and don’t let them go, you may need them one day.”
  6. “I know not where I am going but I am determined not to be stopped.”
  7. “The mind always finds what it is looking for, and usually finds it along with the rest.”
  8. “To be able to say how much one loves is to love but little.”
  9. “Everybody wants to live long, but nobody wants to be old.”
  10. “It is a great consolation that in all this immense universe man cannot find one single spot on which to call his own.”
  11. “The end of a thing is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride.”
  12. “No one has yet invented an occupation that is not disgusting unless it is the occupation of being a philosopher.”
  13. “In the affairs of men there is no room for justice, and if you demand the justice you have no business in the affairs of men.”
  14. “If we should be as cautious on other points as we are now about getting up in the morning, life would become unbearable.”
  15. “The only good is knowledge, but to know that which is good, wisdom must be added.”
  16. “It is a great consolation in misfortune to reflect that it is nothing out of the common way.”
  17. “All excesses are hurtful, especially that of praise. It is more dangerous to have than any other disease to the spirit and even more difficult to be cured.”
  18. “Nature has placed mankind under the government of two sovereign masters, pain and pleasure. It is for them alone to point out what we ought to do, as well as determine what we shall do.”
  19. “If you wish to make the people believe that the dead will return to life, you must kill a very large number of them.”
  20. “Those who have not learned wisdom are always ready to take offense.”
  21. “You can’t please all the people all the time and you can’t save all the things all the people want to save.”
  22. “The greatest remedy for anger is delay.”
  23. “The greatest test of courage is not to die but to live.”
  24. “We are more certain to forget the good when we have done it than the evil when we have left it undone.”
  25. “All things are subject to interpretation whichever interpretation prevails at a given time is a function of power and not truth.”
  26. “It is easier to find men who will volunteer to die than to find those who are willing to endure pain with patience.”
  27. “Who would choose to be free when he has tasted every other earthly pleasure?”
  28. “Nothing is so wretched as wise men’s advice; all is empty or too hard to follow.”
  29. “When a man seeks to persuade you of something which is right, he will never persuade you if he does not at the same time understand it himself.”
  30. “We are always looking for somebody to admire and nobody is more admired than a man with a good appetite.”
  31. “The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts.”
  32. “The greatest impediment to living is expectancy, which hangs upon tomorrow and loses today.”

Lucius Annaeus Seneca Quotes on Shortness of Life

  1. “Man’s life is short. Those who have the longest lives are those most surprised at how swiftly they pass.”
  2. “It is better to suffer want than to know the whole truth.”
  3. “Life must be lived as play, and in-play seriousness must be forgotten.”
  4. “The greatest gift you can give another is the purity of your attention.”
  5. “What great thing would you attempt if you knew you could not fail?”
  6. “All things in life are foreign affairs. Nothing is good or bad but thinking makes it so.”
  7. “A great part of bravery is fear”.
  8. “There is no knowledge that is not power.”
  9. “To have good luck, make good use of the bad.”
  10. “He who wishes to secure the good of others has already secured his own.”
  11. “Live as if you were living already for the second time and as you would live again for the third time.”
  12. “Make the best use of what is in your power, and take the rest as it happens”
  13. “The greatest source of anger is not being harmed, but not knowing the source of the harm.”
  14. “No great genius has ever existed without some touch of madness.”
  15. “Remind yourself that very little is needed to make a happy life.”
  16. “To have friends, be one.”
  17. “Too much cleverness never amuses anybody for long:”
  18. “The time is one of ruin and rebuilding; trust the genius of your country and follow her laws.”

Lucius Annaeus Seneca Quotes on Happiness

  1. “Human happiness—and that is the aim of life—is dependent on two things: freedom and friendship.”
  2. “If you focus on the good things in life, you will always have more than enough good things!”
  3. “The most important kind of freedom is to be what you really are. You trade in your reality for a role. You give up your ability to feel, and in exchange, put on a mask.”
  4. “We have many good excuses for failure, but no good reasons.”
  5. “There are more things that unite men than divide them.”
  6. “The best revenge is to be unlike him who performed the injury.”
  7. “In the mind of a thoughtful and wise man, there are two constant companions—a guest and a host. The guest is his past life, which he seeks to ennoble in his thoughts; the host is his future life, which he seeks to make worthy of his thoughts.”
  8. “Today is a gift, which is why it’s called the present.”
  9. “The greatest misuse of energy is the fighting of an illusion.”
  10. “The goal of life is living in agreement with nature.”
  11. “So many live as if they were destined to live forever, and they act as if they would never die.”
  12. “Life should be lived as play, in truth and justice”
  13. “All that is gentle is free”
  14. The mind is not for being happy, but for use: it must be trained to set a high value on what’s worthwhile in life by making everything else seem worthless compared with it; this is the only way to make it see what the soul really desires and longs for.”

Seneca Quotes on Life & Death

  1. “Love never dies a natural death. It dies because we don’t know how to replenish its source. It dies of blindness and errors and betrayals. It dies of illness and wounds; it dies of weariness, of witherings, of tarnishings.”
  2. “No great thing is created suddenly.”
  3. “The mind has so much power to calm the body that those who are skilled in medicine achieve very great cures by using remedies that do not seem to have any effect.”
  4. “The philosophers say that the roots of all actions are to be found in thoughts.”
  5. “There is no great genius without a tincture of madness.”
  6. “Mercury has two faces: one is that of a god and the other that of a demon.”
  7. “In the midst of suffering, I smile.”
  8. “If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put foundations under them.”
  9. “Remember the words of Socrates: ‘He that is corrupted by pleasures, is most easily corrupted; for there is a natural inclination in human affairs to seek for pleasure’. But he that is corrupted by vain hopes, and does not see how elusive they are, neither suffers himself to be destroyed by them nor does any good to anyone else.”
  10. “To win your way out of poverty, first make yourself rich.”
  11. “Pleasure is gained not only at the cost of pain it also causes pain without any return. It is a cheat.”
  12. “To speak ill of anyone, to do wrong to any man is a departure from true integrity.”
  13. “If you aspire towards wisdom, you will achieve happiness.”
  14. “Some people condemn what they do not understand and think there is no use for it.”
  15. “The intelligent and the stupid are never so far apart as the fool supposes.”
  16. “The wise know that all things happen by chance.”
  17. “Beware of much learning. Wisdom is not found in the head, but in the soul.”
  18. “He who undertakes a task without a plan is soon met with failure.”
  19. “Despise not those who fall short of your hopes; you have no right to despise yourself.”
  20. “Those who are ashamed go on living in their shame and do not turn to better things until their shame has overflowed into a greater thing. The fool who despises his faults is the last to know what he is worth.”
  21. “Do not think that a man of power and respect, sitting in his palace, can disregard you.”
  22. “He who has a good wish for you cannot find any fault in your actions.”
  23. “He that is corrupted by pleasures is most easily corrupted; for there is a natural inclination in human affairs to seek for pleasure.”
  24. “The day of death comes all at once.”
  25. “Those who are ashamed go on living in their shame and do not turn to better things until their shame has overflowed into a greater thing.”
  26. “There is nothing so bitter as the loss of honor, and nothing hurts more than the loss of a friend.”
  27. “Do not complain about the length of life, but do not desire it too soon.”


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