Seneca's De Brevitate Vitae

Friday January 5, 2024

I guess it's just an essay, but I spent a dollar and highlighted a Kindle version of On the Shortness of Life, so I'm probably making the most of mine. It's a little bit like a much earlier version of How to Live on 24 Hours a Day, except that it's quite specific in what you should be doing with your life: philosophy. Okay, senator.

Of all men they alone are at leisure who take time for philosophy, they alone really live; for they are not content to be good guardians of their own lifetime only.


It is not that we have a short space of time, but that we waste much of it.

the life we receive is not short, but we make it so,

Everyone hurries his life on and suffers from a yearning for the future and a weariness of the present.

Men trifle with the most precious thing in the world; but they are blind to it because it is an incorporeal thing, because it does not come beneath the sight of the eyes, and for this reason it is counted a very cheap thing—nay, of almost no value at all.

busy men find life very short.

so enfeebled are they by the excessive lassitude of a pampered mind that they cannot find out by themselves whether they are hungry!

it seems the part of a man who is very lowly and despicable to know what he is doing.

They annex every age to their own; all the years that have gone before them are an addition to their store.

Has some time passed by? This he embraces by recollection. Is time present? This he uses. Is it still to come? This he anticipates. He makes his life long by combining all times into one.

They lose the day in expectation of the night, and the night in fear of the dawn.

Reasons for anxiety will never be lacking, whether born of prosperity or of wretchedness; life pushes on in a succession of engrossments. We shall always pray for leisure, but never enjoy it.

knowledge of their disease has caused the death of many.