The Ever-Quotable Seneca the Younger

People quote Seneca a lot. Why? He’s  pithy and quotable. And he wrote a lot. He’s our favorite fabulously wealthy, tyrant-aiding poet-philosopher.  Here’s a sampling of some of his words.  Search the blog for (too) many more.

On asking nicely

De Beneficiis

“He who asks timidly, teaches others to refuse”.

qui timide rogat, docet negare

On Procrastination

De Beneficiis, 2.5.4

“If someone says he’ll do something ‘later’, that usually means he doesn’t want to do it”.

tarde velle nolentis est

On Frenemies,

EM 14.7

“It is hard work having everyone as a friend; it is enough not to have enemies”.

omnes amicos habere operosum est, satis est inimicos non habere.

On Forgiveness

De Ira, 1.29

“Why should I fear any of my mistakes, when I can say: ‘See that you no longer act in this way. Now I forgive you.’”

quare enim quicquam ex erroribus meis timeam, cum possim dicere: “vide ne istud amplius facias, nunc tibi ignosco.”

On Masks

De Clementia, 1.1.6

“No one can wear a mask for very long; affectation soon returns to true nature”

nemo enim potest personam diu ferre, ficta cito in naturam suam recidunt

On Poverty

EM 2.6

“It is not the one who has little, but the one who desires more, who is truly poor.”

non qui parum habet, sed qui plus cupit, pauper est.

On the Brevity of Life

“We don’t have too little time, but we do waste most of it. Life is long enough for the completion of the greatest affairs—it is apportioned to us generously, if it is wholly well managed.”

non exiguum temporis habemus, sed multum perdidimus. satis longa uita et in maximarum rerum consummationem: large data est, si tota bene conlocaretur.

On Our March to Death

Consolatio at Marciam, 21.6

“From the time that we catch our first glimpse of light, we have entered upon the road to death.”

Ex illo quo primum lucem uidit iter mortis ingressus est….

On Monty Python’s Holy Grail

De Providentia, 2.6

“But even if he falls [his legs fail him], he fights on his knees”   sed etiam si cecidit de genu pugnat.

Seneca the Younger

Yes, he also wrote tragedies.

3 thoughts on “The Ever-Quotable Seneca the Younger

  1. My favorite is the last one. It’s been a while since I read De Providentia… My Loeb Classics copy is getting lonely on the shelf alongside Cicero’s Ad Herennium.

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