old words. still current


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. But when it is wasted in heedless luxury and spent on no good activity, we are forced at last by death’s final constraint to realize that it has passed away before we knew it was passing. So it is: we are not given a short life but we make it short, and we are not ill-supplied but wasteful of it… Life is long if you know how to use it.

Lucius Annaeus Seneca (The Younger) c. 4 BC – AD 65, The Shortness of Life (De Brevitate Vitae)

Tacitus’ account of Seneca reports a seeming inconsistence between his moral principles and his lifestyle, although whether Seneca’s choices were such from lack of character or fear (Nero) we can only conject. Despite the accusations of hypocrisy, Seneca’s words carry weight, and continue to do so through time.


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