Seneca quotes

Quotation MarksSeneca (5 BC – 65 AD), Roman dramatist, philosopher, & politician

Difficulties strengthen the mind, as labour does the body.

It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare; it is because we do not dare that they are difficult.

Life without the courage for death is slavery.

He will live ill who does not know how to die well.

One should count each day a separate life.

Many things have fallen only to rise higher.

To be always fortunate, and to pass through life with a soul that has never known sorrow, is to be ignorant of one half of nature.

Without an adversary prowess shrivels. We see how great and efficient it really is only when it shows by endurance what it is capable of.

Fire is the test of gold; adversity, of strong men.

The greatest remedy for anger is delay.

Desultory reading is delightful, but to be beneficial, our reading must be carefully directed.

Most powerful is he who has himself in his own power.

Not to feel one’s misfortunes is not human, not to bear them is not manly.

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.

The mind is slow to unlearn what it learnt early.

We most often go astray on a well-trodden and much frequented road.

If a man does not know to what port he is steering, no wind is favourable to him.

Be silent as to services you have rendered, but speak of favours you have received.

The spirit in which a thing is given determines that in which the debt is acknowledged; it’s the intention, not the face-value of the gift, that’s weighed.

We should conduct ourselves not as if we ought to live for the body, but as if we could not live without it.

What does reason demand of a man? A very easy thing – to live in accord with his nature.

The first step towards amendment is the recognition of error.

It is rash to condemn where you are ignorant.

Be not too hasty either with praise or blame; speak always as though you were giving evidence before the judgement-seat of the Gods.

I do not distinguish by the eye, but by the mind, which is the proper judge.

As was his language so was his life.

Laws do not persuade just because they threaten.

Toil to make yourself remarkable by some talent or other.

Enjoy present pleasures in such a way as not to injure future ones.

It is not the man who has too little, but the man who craves more, that is poor.

You can tell the character of every man when you see how he receives praise.

I shall never be ashamed of citing a bad author if the line is good.

We should every night call ourselves to an account; What infirmity have I mastered today? What passions opposed? What temptation resisted? What virtue acquired? Our vices will abort of themselves if they be brought every day to the shrift.

An unpopular rule is never long maintained.

It is a great thing to know the season for speech and the season for silence.

The most onerous slavery is to be a slave to oneself.

Where the speech is corrupted, the mind is also.

The path of precept is long, that of example short and effectual.

Let tears flow of their own accord: their flowing is not inconsistent with inward peace and harmony.

Nothing is as certain as that the vices of leisure are gotten rid of by being busy.

To be feared is to fear: no one has been able to strike terror into others and at the same time enjoy peace of mind.

Unjust dominion cannot be eternal.

If virtue precede us every step will be safe.

It is a denial of justice not to stretch out a helping hand to the fallen; that is the common right of humanity.

Nothing deters a good man from doing what is honourable.

It is the sign of a weak mind to be unable to bear wealth.

Wealth is the slave of a wise man; the master of a fool.

It is a youthful failing to be unable to control one’s impulses.

Consult your friend on all things, especially on those which respect yourself. His counsel may then be useful where your own self-love might impair your judgment.

He who boasts of his ancestry is praising the deeds of another.

Every man prefers belief to the exercise of judgement.

Live among men as if God beheld you; speak to God as if men were listening.

No one can wear a mask for very long.

There is no great genius without some touch of madness.

While the fates permit, live happily; life speeds on with hurried step, and with winged days the wheel of the headlong year is turned.

Dangerous is wrath concealed. Hatred proclaimed doth lose its chance of wreaking vengeance.

The best ideas are common property.

It is better, of course, to know useless things than to know nothing.

It should be our care not so much to live a long life as a satisfactory one.

He who spares the wicked injures the good.

It is easier to exclude harmful passions than to rule them, and to deny them admittance than to control them after they have been admitted.

Delay not; swift the flight of fortune’s greatest favours.

It is quality rather than quantity that matters.

It is pleasant at times to play the madman.

Speech is the mirror of the mind.

Where reason fails, time oft has worked a cure.

One hand washes the other.

The arts are the servant; wisdom its master.

All art is an imitation of nature.


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