Astrology and Psychology

Seneca Quotes on Stoicism

Who is Seneca?

Lucius Annaeus Seneca, known as Seneca the Younger, was a Roman philosopher, statesman, orator, and tragedian. He was Rome’s top scholar in the mid-1st century CE and virtually ruled the Roman world with his friends from 54 and 62, during Nero’s first reign.

A affluent family raised Seneca, their second son. His father, Seneca the Elder, was a great Roman rhetorician. His mother, Helvia, was well-educated and moral.

His older brother Gallio met St. Paul in Achaea in 52 CE, and his younger brother Lucan was the poet’s father. An aunt transported Seneca to Rome as a kid, where he studied philosophy and oratory in the Sextii school, which combined Stoicism with asceticism Neo-Pythagoreanism.

Seneca recuperated in Egypt with his aunt and her husband, the prefect Gaius Galerius, due to his health. Returning to Rome around 31, he entered politics and law.

Soon, he fell out with the emperor Caligula, who only stopped executing him by arguing that his life was short.

Claudius exiled Seneca to Corsica in 41 for adultery with his niece, Princess Julia Livilla. He authored the three Consolationes treatises while studying natural science and philosophy in an unfriendly environment. In 49, Julia Agrippina, the emperor’s wife, summoned him to Rome.

He married Pompeia Paulina, a wealthy woman, became praetor in 50, had strong connections, notably the new superintendent of the guard, Sextus Afranius Burrus, and tutored Nero.

The 54 Claudius murder elevated Seneca and Burrus. Great army chiefs on the German and Parthian boundaries were their buddies. Seneca wrote Nero’s first public address, promising Senate liberty and an end to freedmen and women’s influence.

Agrippina, Nero’s mother, wanted to maintain her position, and there were other formidable enemies. Seneca and Burrus, provincials from Spain and Gaul, understood Roman difficulties.

They improved slave treatment with fiscal and judicial changes. The Parthians were beaten by their nominee Corbulo, and Britain became more educated after Queen Boudicca’s insurrection.

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Lucius Annaeus Seneca (4 BCE–65 CE)

The Roman philosopher Seneca was a Stoic who argued within his predecessors’ paradigm. The Letters to Lucilius are a popular Stoic work. Seneca writes to inspire people to study philosophy, defend Stoicism, represent a philosophical life, and more. Seneca also criticizes Roman social norms.

He opposes and critiques ideas like death being evil, wealth being good, political power being valued, and anger being justifiable. In Seneca’s philosophical works, a Stoic lives by his philosophical findings.

Though Seneca admits to failing at this purpose, his efforts have long been one of his philosophical writings’ attractions (though some have considered them distracting).

Lucius Annaeus Seneca was born in Augustus’ Cordoba. Seneca was born to a provincial aristocrat of low rank, far from the powerful Roman elite, but his life was defined by his relationships—sometimes hostile, sometimes friendly—with the early Julio-Claudian Emperors. Claudius exiled and recalled him.

A companion and tutor to Nero. This connection degenerated, and Seneca committed suicide in 65 C.E. under Nero’s instructions.

His personal life may surprise a philosopher like Seneca. Given that Seneca was one of the world’s wealthiest men, how can his claim that poverty is not bad be interpreted?

How can Seneca’s dedication to and statements about philosophical living be understood given his controversial and intrigue-filled life?

However, those familiar with Seneca’s life may be surprised by his philosophical ideas. How could the counselor to the youthful and impressionable (ex hypothesi) Princeps of Rome be the same person who values private life over public?

How could a man whose life narrative seems unachievable for anyone but the most flexible compose writings promoting integrity and self-mastery over circumstance?

Seeing Seneca clearly is complicated by these and other concerns. This page provides a general overview of Seneca’s life and works to help understand his legacy. The goal is to highlight the issues, not solve them.

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Seneca Quotes on Stoicism

  1. Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. – Seneca
  2. True happiness is to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future. – Seneca
  3. It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it. – Seneca
  4. We are not given a good life or a bad life. We are given a life. It’s up to us to make it good or bad. – Seneca
  5. It is not that we have a short space of time, but that we waste much of it. – Seneca
  6. As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters. – Seneca
  7. He who is brave is free. – Seneca
  8. To be everywhere is to be nowhere. – Seneca
  9. While we teach, we learn. – Seneca
  10. The whole future lies in uncertainty: live immediately. – Seneca
  11. It is quality rather than quantity that matters. – Seneca
  12. It is the power of the mind to be unconquerable. – Seneca
  13. It is another’s fault if he be ungrateful, but it is mine if I do not give. To find one thankful man, I will oblige a great many that are not so. – Seneca
  14. No man was ever wise by chance. – Seneca
  15. Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end. – Seneca
  16. It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare; it is because we do not dare that they are difficult. – Seneca
  17. Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by rulers as useful. – Seneca
  18. You should not be upset by the adversities that come your way. Instead, you should use them as opportunities to strengthen yourself. – Seneca
  19. A gem cannot be polished without friction, nor a man perfected without trials. – Seneca
  20. The greatest wealth is to live content with little. – Seneca
  21. It is the sign of a weak mind to be unable to bear wealth. – Seneca
  22. It is not what you endure that matters, but how you endure it. – Seneca
  23. We should give as we would receive, cheerfully, quickly, and without hesitation; for there is no grace in a benefit that sticks to the fingers. – Seneca
  24. Difficulties strengthen the mind, as labor does the body. – Seneca
  25. The mind that is anxious about future events is miserable. – Seneca
  26. It is the power of the mind to be unconquerable. – Seneca
  27. No one can lead a happy life, or even one that is bearable, without the pursuit of wisdom, and that the perfection of wisdom is what makes the happy life, although even the beginnings of wisdom make life bearable. – Seneca
  28. We are more often frightened than hurt, and we suffer more from imagination than from reality. – Seneca
  29. The happy life is achieved by avoiding pain and seeking pleasure. – Seneca
  30. There is no person so severely punished, as those who subject themselves to the whip of their own remorse. – Seneca
  31. A man who suffers or stresses before it is necessary, suffers more than is necessary. – Seneca
  32. A great fortune is a great slavery. – Seneca
  33. The wise man looks to the end of his life, and disregards the time before or after. – Seneca
  34. It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it. – Seneca
  35. The mind is everything; what you think, you become. – Seneca
  36. No man was ever wise by chance. – Seneca
  37. It is quality rather than quantity that matters. – Seneca
  38. It is not that we have a short space of time, but that we waste much of it. – Seneca
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