Seneca the Younger quotes

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Seneca the Younger

Birthdate: 4 BC
Date of death: 12. April 65 AC
Other names: Lucius Annaues Seneca, Lucius Annaeus Seneca (Seneca der Jüngere), Seneca mladší, Луций Анней Сенека

Seneca the Younger , fully Lucius Annaeus Seneca and also known simply as Seneca , was a Roman Stoic philosopher, statesman, dramatist, and—in one work—satirist of the Silver Age of Latin literature.

Seneca was born in Cordoba in Hispania, and raised in Rome, where he was trained in rhetoric and philosophy. He was a tutor and later advisor to emperor Nero. He was forced to take his own life for alleged complicity in the Pisonian conspiracy to assassinate Nero, in which he was likely to have been innocent. His father was Seneca the Elder, his elder brother was Lucius Junius Gallio Annaeanus, and his nephew was the poet Lucan. His stoic and calm suicide has become the subject of numerous paintings. As a writer Seneca is known for his philosophical works, and for his plays which are all tragedies. His philosophical writings include a dozen philosophical essays, and one hundred and twenty-four letters dealing with moral issues. As a tragedian, he is best known for his Medea and Thyestes.

Works

Moral Essays
Seneca the Younger
Hercules Furens
Seneca the Younger
Thyestes
Seneca the Younger
To Polybius
Seneca the Younger
Medea
Seneca the Younger
Troades
Seneca the Younger
Agamemnon
Seneca the Younger
To Marcia
Seneca the Younger

„Unrighteous fortune seldom spares the highest worth; no one with safety can long front so frequent perils. Whom calamity oft passes by she finds at last.“

—  Seneca the Younger, Hercules Furens

Hercules Furens (The Madness of Hercules), lines 325-328; (Megara).
Tragedies
Original: (la) Iniqua raro maximis virtutibus fortuna parcit ; nemo se tuto diu periculis offerre tam crebris potest ; quem saepe transit casus, aliquando invenit.

„We are mad, not only individually, but nationally. We check manslaughter and isolated murders; but what of war and the much-vaunted crime of slaughtering whole peoples?“

—  Seneca the Younger

Letter XCV: On the usefulness of basic principles, lines 30-32.
Epistulae Morales ad Lucilium (Moral Letters to Lucilius)
Original: (la) Non privatim solum sed publice furimus. Homicidia conpescimus et singulas caedes: quid bella et occisarum gentium gloriosum scelus? Non avaritia, non crudelitas modum novit. Et ista quamdiu furtim et a singulis fiunt minus noxia minusque monstrosa sunt: ex senatus consultis plebisque scitis saeva exercentur et publice iubentur vetata privatim. Quae clam commissa capite luerent, tum quia paludati fecere laudamus. Non pudet homines, mitissimum genus, gaudere sanguine alterno et bella gerere gerendaque liberis tradere, cum inter se etiam mutis ac feris pax sit. Adversus tam potentem explicitumque late furorem operosior philosophia facta est et tantum sibi virium sumpsit quantum iis adversus quae parabatur acceserat.
Context: We are mad, not only individually, but nationally. We check manslaughter and isolated murders; but what of war and the much-vaunted crime of slaughtering whole peoples? There are no limits to our greed, none to our cruelty. And as long as such crimes are committed by stealth and by individuals, they are less harmful and less portentous; but cruelties are practised in accordance with acts of senate and popular assembly, and the public is bidden to do that which is forbidden to the individual. Deeds that would be punished by loss of life when committed in secret, are praised by us because uniformed generals have carried them out. Man, naturally the gentlest class of being, is not ashamed to revel in the blood of others, to wage war, and to entrust the waging of war to his sons, when even dumb beasts and wild beasts keep the peace with one another. Against this overmastering and widespread madness philosophy has become a matter of greater effort, and has taken on strength in proportion to the strength which is gained by the opposition forces.

„Apply reason to difficulties; harsh circumstances can be softened, narrow limits can be widened, and burdensome things can be made to press less severely on those who bear them cleverly.“

—  Seneca the Younger

On Tranquility of the Mind
Context: We are all chained to fortune: the chain of one is made of gold, and wide, while that of another is short and rusty. But what difference does it make? The same prison surrounds all of us, and even those who have bound others are bound themselves; unless perchance you think that a chain on the left side is lighter. Honors bind one man, wealth another; nobility oppresses some, humility others; some are held in subjection by an external power, while others obey the tyrant within; banishments keep some in one place, the priesthood others. All life is slavery. Therefore each one must accustom himself to his own condition and complain about it as little as possible, and lay hold of whatever good is to be found near him. Nothing is so bitter that a calm mind cannot find comfort in it. Small tablets, because of the writer's skill, have often served for many purposes, and a clever arrangement has often made a very narrow piece of land habitable. Apply reason to difficulties; harsh circumstances can be softened, narrow limits can be widened, and burdensome things can be made to press less severely on those who bear them cleverly.

„Virtue alone affords everlasting and peace-giving joy“

—  Seneca the Younger

Letter XXVII
Epistulae Morales ad Lucilium (Moral Letters to Lucilius)
Original: (la) Sola virtus praestat gaudium perpetuum, securum; etiam si quid obstat, nubium modo intervenit, quae infra feruntur nec umquam diem vincunt.
Context: Virtue alone affords everlasting and peace-giving joy; even if some obstacle arise, it is but like an intervening cloud, which floats beneath the sun but never prevails against it.

„We are all chained to fortune: the chain of one is made of gold, and wide, while that of another is short and rusty.“

—  Seneca the Younger

On Tranquility of the Mind
Context: We are all chained to fortune: the chain of one is made of gold, and wide, while that of another is short and rusty. But what difference does it make? The same prison surrounds all of us, and even those who have bound others are bound themselves; unless perchance you think that a chain on the left side is lighter. Honors bind one man, wealth another; nobility oppresses some, humility others; some are held in subjection by an external power, while others obey the tyrant within; banishments keep some in one place, the priesthood others. All life is slavery. Therefore each one must accustom himself to his own condition and complain about it as little as possible, and lay hold of whatever good is to be found near him. Nothing is so bitter that a calm mind cannot find comfort in it. Small tablets, because of the writer's skill, have often served for many purposes, and a clever arrangement has often made a very narrow piece of land habitable. Apply reason to difficulties; harsh circumstances can be softened, narrow limits can be widened, and burdensome things can be made to press less severely on those who bear them cleverly.

„When a man does not know what harbour he is making for, no wind is the right wind.“

—  Seneca the Younger

Letter LXXI: On the supreme good, line 3
Alternate translation: If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable. (translator unknown).
Epistulae Morales ad Lucilium (Moral Letters to Lucilius)
Original: (la) errant consilia nostra, quia non habent quo derigantur; ignoranti quem portum petat nullus suus ventus est.
Context: Our plans miscarry because they have no aim. When a man does not know what harbour he is making for, no wind is the right wind.

„Our lack of confidence is not the result of difficulty. The difficulty comes from our lack of confidence.“

—  Seneca the Younger

Also translated as: It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare, but because we do not dare, things are difficult.
Letter CIV, verse 26
Epistulae Morales ad Lucilium (Moral Letters to Lucilius)
Original: (la) At quanto ego de illis melius existimo! ipsi quoque haec possunt facere, sed nolunt. Denique quem umquam ista destituere temptantem? cui non faciliora apparuere in actu? Non quia difficilia sunt non audemus, sed quia non audemus difficilia sunt.
Context: But how much more highly do I think of these men! They can do these things, but decline to do them. To whom that ever tried have these tasks proved false? To what man did they not seem easier in the doing? Our lack of confidence is not the result of difficulty. The difficulty comes from our lack of confidence.

„Kindly remember that he whom you call your slave sprang from the same stock, is smiled upon by the same skies, and on equal terms with yourself breathes, lives and dies.“

—  Seneca the Younger

Letter XLVII: On master and slave, line 10.
Epistulae Morales ad Lucilium (Moral Letters to Lucilius)
Original: (la) Vis tu cogitare istum quem servum tuum vocas ex isdem seminibus ortum eodem frui caelo, aeque spirare, aeque vivere, aeque mori! tam tu illum videre ingenuum potes quam ille te servum.
Context: Kindly remember that he whom you call your slave sprang from the same stock, is smiled upon by the same skies, and on equal terms with yourself breathes, lives and dies. It is just as possible for you to see in him a free-born man as for him to see in you a slave.

„Our feeling about every obligation depends in each case upon the spirit in which the benefit is conferred; we weigh not the bulk of the gift, but the quality of the good-will which prompted it.“

—  Seneca the Younger

Alternate translation: 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. (translator unknown).
Original: (la) Eo animo quidque debetur quo datur, nec quantum sit sed a quali profectum voluntate perpenditur.
Source: Epistulae Morales ad Lucilium (Moral Letters to Lucilius), Letter LXXXI: On benefits, Line 6

„This is the worst trait of minds rendered arrogant by prosperity, they hate those whom they have injured.“

—  Seneca the Younger, Moral Essays

De Ira (On Anger): Book 2, cap. 33, line 6
Alternate translation: Men whose spirit has grown arrogant from the great favour of fortune have this most serious fault – those whom they have injured they also hate. (translation by John W. Basore)
Alternate translation: Whom they have injured they also hate. (translator unknown).
Moral Essays
Original: (la) Hoc habent pessimum animi magna fortuna insolentes: quos laeserunt et oderunt.

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„Before I became old I tried to live well; now that I am old, I shall try to die well; but dying well means dying gladly.“

—  Seneca the Younger

Original: (la) Ante senectutem curavi ut bene viverem, in senectute ut bene moriar; bene autem mori est libenter mori.
Source: Epistulae Morales ad Lucilium (Moral Letters to Lucilius), Letter LXI: On meeting death cheerfully, Line 2.

„Who can be forced has not learned how to die.“

—  Seneca the Younger, Hercules Furens

Hercules Furens (The Madness of Hercules), line 426; (Megara).
Alternate translation: Who can be compelled does not know how to die.
Tragedies
Original: (la) Cogi qui potest nescit mori.

„No one is able to rule unless he is also able to be ruled.“

—  Seneca the Younger, Moral Essays

De Ira (On Anger): Book 2, cap. 15, line 4
Compare with the following : No man ruleth safely but that he is willingly ruled.
From The Imitation of Christ, Liber I, cap. 20 (Of the Love of Solitude and Silence), line 2 : by Thomas à Kempis (1380-1471).
Moral Essays
Original: (la) nemo autem regere potest nisi qui et regi.

„The old Romans had a custom which survived even into my lifetime. They would add to the opening words of a letter: "If you are well, it is well; I also am well." Persons like ourselves would do well to say. "If you are studying philosophy, it is well." For this is just what "being well" means. Without philosophy the mind is sickly.“

—  Seneca the Younger

Mos antiquis fuit, usque ad meam servatus aetatem, primis epistulae verbis adicere 'si vales bene est, ego valeo'. Recte nos dicimus 'si philosopharis, bene est'.
Valere enim hoc demum est. Sine hoc aeger est animus.
Epistulae Morales ad Lucilium (Moral Letters to Lucilius), Letter XV
Original: (la) Mos antiquis fuit, usque ad meam servatus aetatem, primis epistulae verbis adicere 'si vales bene est, ego valeo'. Recte nos dicimus 'si philosopharis, bene est'. Valere enim hoc demum est. Sine hoc aeger est animus.

„What man can you show me who places any value on his time, who reckons the worth of each day, who understands that he is dying daily?“

—  Seneca the Younger

Epistulae Morales ad Lucilium (Moral Letters to Lucilius), Letter I: On Saving Time
Original: (la) Quem mihi dabis qui aliquod pretium tempori ponat, qui diem aestimet, qui intellegat se cotidie mori?

„If you are wise, mingle these two elements: do not hope without despair, or despair without hope.“

—  Seneca the Younger

Alternate translation: Hope not without despair, despair not without hope. (translated by Zachariah Rush).
Original: (la) Si sapis, alterum alteri misce: nec speraveris sine desperatione nec desperaveris sine spe.
Source: Epistulae Morales ad Lucilium (Moral Letters to Lucilius), Letter CIV: On Care of Health and Peace of Mind, Line 12

„Men do not care how nobly they live, but only how long, although it is within the reach of every man to live nobly, but within no man's power to live long.“

—  Seneca the Younger

Original: (la) Nemo quam bene vivat sed quam diu curat, cum omnibus possit contingere ut bene vivant, ut diu nulli.
Source: Epistulae Morales ad Lucilium (Moral Letters to Lucilius), Letter XXII: On the futility of half-way measures, Line 17.

„You can tell the character of every man when you see how he gives and receives praise.“

—  Seneca the Younger

Original: (la) qualis quisque sit scies, si quemadmodum laudet, quemadmodum laudetur aspexeris.
Source: Epistulae Morales ad Lucilium (Moral Letters to Lucilius), Letter LII: On choosing our teachers, Line 12.

„If you wish to be loved, love.“

—  Seneca the Younger

Si vis amari, ama.
Seneca quotes this in Epistulae Morales ad Lucilium; Epistle IX and attributes it to Hecato
Misattributed

„For we are mistaken when we look forward to death; the major portion of death has already passed. Whatever years be behind us are in death's hands.“

—  Seneca the Younger

Epistulae Morales ad Lucilium (Moral Letters to Lucilius), Letter I: On Saving Time
Original: (la) In hoc enim fallimur, quod mortem prospicimus: magna pars eius iam praeterit; quidquid aetatis retro est mors tenet.

„Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Etiam egestas wisi a erat. Morbi imperdiet, mauris ac auctor dictum.“

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