On the Shortness of Life

On the Shortness of Life

by Seneca

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Overview

The Stoic philosopher Seneca offers piercing and profound insights into human nature and a vision of the good life, so that one may say with him “Life is long, if you know how to live it.”

Seneca (5 BC to AD 65) was born in Cordoba and raised in Rome, where he was trained in rhetoric and philosophy. He was a tutor and later an advisor to Nero, but later Nero forced him to take his own life. His stoic and serene suicide is portrayed in countless paintings.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780359840052
Publisher: Lulu.com
Publication date: 08/08/2019
Pages: 46
Sales rank: 1,107,572
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.11(d)

About the Author

Lucius Annaeus Seneca, statesman, philosopher, advocate and man of letters, was born at Cordoba in Spain around 4 BC. He rose to prominence in Rome, pursuing a career in the courts and political life, for which he had been trained, while also acquiring celebrity as an author of tragedies and essays. Falling foul of successive emperors (Caligula in AD 39 and Claudius in AD 41), he spent eight years in exile, allegedly for an affair with Caligula’s sister. Recalled in AD 49, he was made praetor and was appointed tutor to the boy who was to become, in AD 54, the emperor Nero. On Nero’s succession, Seneca acted for some eight years as an unofficial chief minister. The early part of this reign was remembered as a period of sound government, for which the main credit seems due to Seneca. His control over Nero declined as enemies turned the emperor against him with representations that his popularity made him a danger, or with accusations of immorality or excessive wealth. Retiring from public life he devoted his last three years to philosophy and writing, particularly the Letters to Lucilius. In AD 65 following the discovery of a plot against the emperor, in which he was thought to be implicated, he and many others were compelled by Nero to commit suicide. His fame as an essayist and dramatist lasted until two or three centuries ago, when he passed into literary oblivion, from which the twentieth century has seen a considerable recovery.

Read an Excerpt

On the Shortness of Life

Most human beings, Paulinus,* complain about the meanness of nature, because we are born for a brief span of life, and because this spell of time that has been given to us rushes by so swiftly and rapidly that with very few exceptions life ceases for the rest of us just when we are getting ready for it. Nor is it just the man in the street and the unthinking mass of people who groan over this - as they see it - universal evil: the same feeling lies behind complaints from even distinguished men. Hence the dictum of the greatest of doctors:† 'Life is short, art is long.' Hence too the grievance, most improper to a wise man, which Aristotle expressed when he was taking nature to task for indulging animals with such long existences that they can live through five or ten human lifetimes, while a far shorter limit is set for men who are born to a great and extensive destiny. It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it. Life is long enough, and a sufficiently generous amount has been given to us for the highest achievements if it were all well invested.

* A friend of Seneca’s.
(Continues…)



Excerpted from "On the Shortness of Life"
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Copyright © 2005 C. D. N. Seneca.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
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Table of Contents

On the Shortness of LifeOn the Shortness of Life

Consolation to Helvia

On Tranquility of Mind

Customer Reviews

On the Shortness of Life 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I heard about this essay after reading the 4 Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferris, and I was really inspired by Seneca's advice on how to use one's short time on Earth.
emmakendon on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Hippocrates: "Life is short, art is long."Aristotle takes nature to task for "indulging animals with such long existences that they can live through five or ten human lifetimes, while a far shorter limit is set for men who are born to a great and extensive destiny."
mrs.starbucks on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Short, to the point, easy-to-read, passionate, relevant, inspiring, and thought-provoking.
Edie_M More than 1 year ago
Insightful and unique. Many quotes to live by. I came away with profound thoughts of how to continue living my life for the better.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Seneca is a classic thinker whose primary belief is that happiness can be attained only through the pursuit of reason. This is an interesting look at the thoughts of Seneca threw a collection of letters to his father-in-law Paulinus.
moongie More than 1 year ago
An interesting look at the thoughts of a famous Stoic named Seneca. This is a collection of letters to his father-in-law Paulinus.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Seneca is a classic thinker whose primary belief is that happiness can be attained only through the pursuit o f reason is the perfect antidote to the fake news and manipulative claptrap being spouted in the early 21st century. This is a strong new edition, thoughtfully embellished, well organized, and highly useful, whether you are familiar with Seneca's works or ready to begin absorbing them.
William_O_Brien More than 1 year ago
On the Shortness of Life by Seneca A brilliant classic read. Genius writing. A must-read for all.
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