Seneca: On the Shortness of Life

From Lucius Annaeus Seneca: On the Shortness of Life:

Life is long enough, and it has been given in sufficiently generous measure to allow the accomplishment of the very greatest things if the whole of it is well invested. But when it is squandered in luxury and carelessness, when it is devoted to no good end, forced at last by the ultimate necessity we perceive that it has passed away before we were aware that it was passing. So it is—the life we receive is not short, but we make it so, nor do we have any lack of it, but are wasteful of it. Just as great and princely wealth is scattered in a moment when it comes into the hands of a bad owner, while wealth however limited, if it is entrusted to a good guardian, increases by use, so our life is amply long for him who orders it properly.

2 thoughts on “Seneca: On the Shortness of Life

  1. Another point of view:

    Lying in a Hammock at William Duffy’s Farm in Pine Island, Minnesota

    Over my head, I see the bronze butterfly
    Asleep on the black trunk,
    Blowing like a leaf in green shadow.
    Down the ravine behind the empty house,
    The cowbells follow one another
    Into the distances of the afternoon.
    To my right,
    In a field of sunlight between two pines,
    The droppings of last year’s horses
    Blaze up into golden stones.
    I lean back, as the evening darkens and comes on.
    A chicken hawk floats over, looking for home.
    I have wasted my life.

    — James Wright


  2. It’s hard to comment on Seneca isn’t it? A quote works best.

    Here is one from his essay On the Happy Life:

    “Those things that attract men’s eyes, that make them stand still, that they point out to each other, open-mouthed”, shine brightly on the outside but have no value within”.


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