84 Best Seneca Quotes About Life

Lucius Annaeus Seneca, also known as Seneca the Younger, was one of the early builders of the philosophy of Stoicism. He lived in ancient Rome and wrote essential Stoic works, such as Letters From a Stoic. Stoicism teaches many things that can help you navigate today’s noisy world.

Seneca is still being read nearly 2,000 years after his death. His popularity today is a testament to his writing. He wrote about timeless truths in a simple and accessible manner. 

Personally, I find Seneca’s writing to be very thought-provoking and inspiring.

I’ve compiled 84 of the best Seneca quotes. These quotes make up some of the foundations of Stoic thought and can be applied to modern life. They are organized into the following categories: Wisdom, Time, Temperance, Friendship, and Courage.

84 Best Seneca Quotes About Life

Seneca on Wisdom

  1. “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? 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
  2. “Of this one thing make sure against your dying day – that your faults die before you do.” – Seneca
  3. “To win true freeedom you must be a slave to philosophy.” – Seneca
  4. “To be everywhere is to be nowhere.” – Seneca
  5. “What progress, you ask, have I made? I have begun to be a friend to myself.” – Seneca
  6. “The difficulty comes from our lack of confidence.” – Seneca
  7. “What really ruins our character is the fact that none of us looks back over his life.” – Seneca
  8. “Each day acquire something that will fortify you against poverty, against death, indeed against other misfortunes as well; and after you have run over many thoughts, select one to be thoroughly digested that day.” – Seneca
  9. “Wild animals run from the dangers they actually see, and once they have escaped them worry no more. We however are tormented alike by what is past and what is to come. A number of our blessings do us harm, for memory brings back the agony of fear while foresight brings it on prematurely. No one confines his unhappiness to the present.” – Seneca
  10. “As it is with a play, so it is with life – what matters is not how long the acting lasts, but how good it is.” – Seneca
  11. “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
  12. “the more a mind takes in the more it expands.” – Seneca
  13. “Words need to be sown like seeds. No matter how tiny a seed may be, when in lands in the right sort of ground it unfolds its strength and from being minute expands and grows to a massive size.” – Seneca
  14. “To expect punishment is to suffer it; and to earn it is to expect it.” – Seneca
  15. “A guilty person sometimes has the luck to escape detection, but never to feel sure of it.” – Seneca
  16. “Reason shows us there is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.” – Seneca
  17. “Nothing, Lucilius, is ours, except time. We were entrusted by nature with the ownership of this single thing, so fleeting and slippery that anyone who will can oust us from possession.” – Seneca
  18. “philosophy teaches us to act, not to speak” – Seneca
  19. “You act like mortals in all that you fear, and like immortals in all that you desire” – Seneca
  20. “It is not that we have so little time but that we lose so much. … The life we receive is not short but we make it so; we are not ill provided but use what we have wastefully.” – Seneca
  21. “They lose the day in expectation of the night, and the night in fear of the dawn.” – Seneca
  22. “vices have to be crushed rather than picked at.” – Seneca
  23. “We are in the habit of saying that it was not in our power to choose the parents who were allotted to us, that they were given to us by chance. But we can choose whose children we would like to be.” – Seneca
  24. “All those who call you to themselves draw you away from yourself.” – Seneca
  25. “Only a mind that is deeply stirred can utter something noble and beyond the power of others.” – Seneca
  26. “Sorrowers tend to avoid what they are most fond of and try to give vent to their grief.” – Seneca
  27. “I shall never be ashamed of citing a bad author if the line is good.” – Seneca
  28. “It is by far the best plan, therefore, to mingle leisure with business, whenever chance impediments or the state of public affairs forbid one’s leading an active life: for one is never so cut off from all pursuits as to find no room left for honorable action.” – Seneca
  29. “If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable.” Seneca
  30. “No man was ever wise by chance.” – Seneca
  31. “It is a rough road that leads to the heights of greatness.” – Seneca
  32. “Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for kindness.” – Seneca
  33. “No man’s good by accident. Virtue has to be learnt.” – Seneca
  34. “I never spend a day in idleness; I appropriate even a part of the night for study. I do not allow time for sleep but yield to it when I must, and when my eyes are wearied with waking and ready to fall shut, I keep them at their task.” – Seneca
  35. “Desultory reading is delightful, but to be beneficial, our reading must be carefully directed.” – Seneca

Seneca Quotes on Time

  1. “People are frugal in guarding their personal property; but as soon as it comes to squandering time they are most wasteful of the one thing in which it is right to be stingy.” – Seneca
  2. “Often a very old man has no other proof of his long life than his age.” – Seneca
  3. “Life is long if you know how to use it.” – Seneca
  4. “But life is very short and anxious for those who forget the past, neglect the present, and fear the future.” – Seneca
  5. “You live as if you were destined to live forever, no thought of your frailty ever enters your head, of how much time has already gone by you take no heed. You squander time as if you drew from a full and abundant supply, though all the while that day which you bestow on some person or thing is perhaps your last.” – Seneca
  6. “It is more civilized to make fun of life than to bewail it.” – Seneca
  7. “Whatever can happen at any time can happen today.” – Seneca
  8. “It takes the whole of life to learn how to live, and -what will perhaps make you wonder more – it takes the whole of life to learn how to die.” – Seneca
  9. “Of all people only those are at leisure who make time for philosophy, only those are really alive. For they not only keep a good watch over their own lifetimes, but they annex every age to theirs.” – Seneca
  10. “The greatest obstacle to living is expectancy, which hangs upon tomorrow and loses today. You are arranging what is in Fortune’s control and abandoning what lies in yours.” – Seneca
  11. “So you must match time’s swiftness with your speed in using it, and you must drink quickly as though from a rapid stream that will not always flow.” – Seneca
  12. “All things that are still to come lie in uncertainty; live straightway!” – Seneca
  13. “So it is: we are not given a short life but we make it short, and we are not Ill-supplied but wasteful of it.” – Seneca
  14. “You must set your hands to tasks which you can finish or at least hope to finish, and avoid those which get bigger as you proceed and do not cease where you had intended.” – Seneca
  15. “Learning how to live takes a whole life, and, which may surprise you more, it takes a whole life to learn how to die.” – Seneca
  16. “As long as you live, keep learning how to live.” – Seneca

Seneca Quotes On Temperance

  1. “If you live in harmony with nature you will never be poor; if you live according what others think, you will never be rich.” – Seneca
  2. “Until we have begun to go without them, we fail to realize how unnecessary many things are. We’ve been using them not because we needed them but because we had them.” – Seneca
  3. “Enjoy present pleasures in such a way as not to injure future ones.” – Seneca
  4. “It is not the man who has too little that is poor, but the one who hankers after more.” – Seneca
  5. “Limiting one’s desires actually helps to cure one of fear.” – Seneca
  6. “For many men, the acquisition of wealth does not end their troubles, it only changes them” – Seneca
  7. “What fortune has made yours is not your own.” – Seneca
  8. “People who know no self-restraint lead stormy and disordered lives, passing their time in a state of fear commensurate with the injuries they do to others, never able to relax.” – Seneca
  9. “As far as I am concerned, I know that I have lost not wealth but distractions. The body’s needs are few: it wants to be free from cold, to banish hunger and thirst with nourishment; if we long for anything more we are exerting ourselves to serve our vices, not our needs.” – Seneca
  10. “We must go for walks out of doors, so that the mind can be strengthened and invigorated by a clear sky and plenty of fresh air. At times it will acquire fresh energy from a journey by carriage and a change of scene, or from socializing and drinking freely. Occasionally we should even come to the point of intoxication, sinking into drink but not being totally flooded by it; for it does wash away cares, and stirs the mind to its depths, and heals sorrow just as it heals certain diseases.” – Seneca
  11. “We must indulge the mind and from time to time allow it the leisure which is its food and strength.” – Strength
  12. “the best amount of property to have is that which is enough to keep us from poverty, and which yet is not far removed from it.” – Seneca
  13. “The heart is great which shows moderation in the midst of prosperity.” – Seneca

Seneca Quotes on Friendship

  1. “Live in such a way that there is nothing which you could not as easily tell your enemy as keep to yourself.” – Seneca
  2. “There is no enjoying the possession of anything valuable unless one has someone to share it with” – Seneca
  3. “But when you are looking on anyone as a friend when you do not trust him as you trust yourself, you are making a grave mistake, and have failed to grasp sufficiently the full force of true friendship.” – Seneca
  4. “Philosophy calls for simple living, not for doing penance, and the simple way of life need not be a crude one.” – Seneca
  5. “I have learned to be a friend to myself Great improvement this indeed Such a one can never be said to be alone for know that he who is a friend to himself is a friend to all mankind” – Seneca
  6. “One of the most beautiful qualities of true friendship is to understand and to be understood.” – Seneca
  7. “Love in its essence is spiritual fire.” – Seneca
  8. “Withdraw into yourself, as far as you can. Associate with those who will make a better man of you. Welcome those whom you yourself can improve. The process is mutual; for men learn while they teach.” – Seneca
  9. “Regard [a friend] as loyal, and you will make him loyal.” – Seneca

Seneca Quotes on Courage

  1. “If you really want to escape the things that harass you, what you’re needing is not to be in a different place but to be a different person.”- Seneca
  2. “There are more things, Lucilius, likely to frighten us than there are to crush us; we suffer more often in imagination than in reality.” – Seneca
  3. “Let us say what we feel, and feel what we say; let speech harmonize with life.” – Seneca
  4. “For the only safe harbour in this life’s tossing, troubled sea is to refuse to be bothered about what the future will bring and to stand ready and confident, squaring the breast to take without skulking or flinching whatever fortune hurls at us.” – Seneca
  5. “When a mind is impressionable and has none too firm a hold on what is right, it must be rescued from the crowd: it is so easy for it to go over to the majority.” – Seneca
  6. “Most men ebb and flow in wretchedness between the fear of death and the hardships of life; they are unwilling to live, and yet they do not know how to die. ” – Seneca
  7. “Life is slavery if the courage to die is absent.” – Seneca
  8. “If you have nothing to stir you up and rouse you to action, nothing which will test your resolution by its threats and hostilities; if you recline in unshaken comfort, it is not tranquillity; it is merely a flat calm.” – Seneca
  9. “I will storm the gods, and shake the universe.” – Seneca
  10. “Sometimes even to live is an act of courage.” – Seneca
  11. “He who is brave is free.” – Seneca

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