Debt and the Value of Time

Seneca, Moral Epistle 1.3

“Everything is foreign to us, Lucilius, except for time alone. Nature gave us possession of this single thing, so light and slippery that anyone who wants can separate us from it.

But how great is mortal foolishness! We permit the smallest and commonest things which can be replaced with certainty to be charged against us when we already have them! No one believes they are in debt when they have received time, even though it is the one thing that even a thankful debtor can never repay.'”

Omnia, Lucili, aliena sunt, tempus tantum nostrum est. In huius rei unius fugacis ac lubricae possessionem natura nos misit, ex qua expellit quicumque vult. Et tanta stultitia mortalium est, ut quae minima et vilissima sunt, certe reparabilia, imputari sibi, cum impetravere, patiantur: nemo se iudicet quicquam debere, qui tempus accepit, cum interim hoc unum est, quod ne gratus quidem potest reddere.

Picture of oil painting with an old male figure cutting the wings of a cherubic child
Andries Cornelis Lens , “Time Clipping Cupid’s Wings”

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