Lucius Annaeus Seneca Quotes

A gem cannot be polished without friction, nor a man perfected without trials.

A gift consists not in what is done or given, but in the intention of the giver or doer.

A great fortune is a great slavery.

A great mind becomes a great fortune.

A happy life is one which is in accordance with its own nature.

A kingdom founded on injustice never lasts.

A large part of mankind is angry not with the sins, but with the sinners.

A man who suffers before it is necessary, suffers more than is necessary.

A man’s as miserable as he thinks he is.

A person’s fears are lighter when the danger is at hand.

A physician is not angry at the intemperance of a mad patient, nor does he take it ill to be railed at by a man in fever. Just so should a wise man treat all mankind, as a physician does his patient, and look upon them only as sick and extravagant.

A punishment to some, to some a gift, and to many a favor.

A quarrel is quickly settled when deserted by one party; there is no battle unless there be two.

A sword never kills anybody; it is a tool in the killer’s hand.

A well governed appetite is the greater part of liberty.

All art is but imitation of nature.

All cruelty springs from weakness.

Anger is like those ruins which smash themselves on what they fall.

Anger, if not restrained, is frequently more hurtful to us than the injury that provokes it.

Anger: an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.

As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters.

As long as you live, keep learning how to live.

Be wary of the man who urges an action in which he himself incurs no risk.

Behold a worthy sight, to which the God, turning his attention to his own work, may direct his gaze. Behold an equal thing, worthy of a God, a brave man matched in conflict with evil fortune.

Believe me, that was a happy age, before the days of architects, before the days of builders.

Brave men rejoice in adversity, just as brave soldiers triumph in war.

Call it Nature, Fate, Fortune; all these are names of the one and selfsame God.

Consider, when you are enraged at any one, what you would probably think if he should die during the dispute.

Constant exposure to dangers will breed contempt for them.

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.

Crime when it succeeds is called virtue.

Death is the wish of some, the relief of many, and the end of all.

Difficulties strengthen the mind, as labor does the body.

Do everything as in the eye of another.

Do not ask for what you will wish you had not got.

Even after a bad harvest there must be sowing.

Every guilty person is his own hangman.

Every man prefers belief to the exercise of judgment.

Every reign must submit to a greater reign.

Every sin is the result of a collaboration.

Everything is the product of one universal creative effort. There is nothing dead in Nature. Everything is organic and living, and therefore the whole world appears to be a living organism.

Everywhere is nowhere. When a person spends all his time in foreign travel, he ends by having many acquaintances, but no friends.

Expecting is the greatest impediment to living. In anticipation of tomorrow, it loses today.

For greed all nature is too little.

For many men, the acquisition of wealth does not end their troubles, it only changes them.

Genius always gives its best at first; prudence, at last.

God is the universal substance in existing things. He comprises all things. He is the fountain of all being. In Him exists everything that is.

Great grief does not of itself put an end to itself.

He has committed the crime who profits by it.

He that does good to another does good also to himself.

He who does not prevent a crime when he can, encourages it.

He who dreads hostility too much is unfit to rule.

He who has great power should use it lightly.

He who has made a fair compact with poverty is rich.

He who is brave is free.

Health is the soul that animates all the enjoyments of life, which fade and are tasteless without it.

I don’t consider myself bald, I’m just taller than my hair.

I don’t trust liberals, I trust conservatives.

I never come back home with the same moral character I went out with; something or other becomes unsettled where I had achieved internal peace; some one or other of the things I had put to flight reappears on the scene.

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

I will govern my life and thoughts as if the whole world were to see the one and read the other, for what does it signify to make anything a secret to my neighbor, when to God, who is the searcher of our hearts, all our privacies are open?

If a man knows not what harbor he seeks, any wind is the right wind.

If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable.

If thou art a man, admire those who attempt great things, even though they fail.

If you judge, investigate.

If you wished to be loved, love.

If you would judge, understand.

Ignorant people see life as either existence or non-existence, but wise men see it beyond both existence and non-existence to something that transcends them both; this is an observation of the Middle Way.

In war there is no prize for runner-up.

In war, when a commander becomes so bereft of reason and perspective that he fails to understand the dependence of arms on Divine guidance, he no longer deserves victory.

It is a rough road that leads to the heights of greatness.

It is another’s fault if he be ungrateful, but it is mine if I do not give. To find one thankful man, I will oblige a great many that are not so.

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

It is more fitting for a man to laugh at life than to lament over it.

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

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

It is quality rather than quantity that matters.

It is the failing of youth not to be able to restrain its own violence.

It is the sign of a great mind to dislike greatness, and to prefer things in measure to things in excess.

It is the superfluous things for which men sweat, – superfluous things that wear our togas theadbare, that force us to grow old in camp, that dash us upon foreign shores.

It is true greatness to have in one the frailty of a man and the security of a god.

It makes a great deal of difference whether one wills not to sin or has not the knowledge to sin.

It’s not because things are difficult that we dare not venture. It’s because we dare not venture that they are difficult.

Let us train our minds to desire what the situation demands.

Life is the fire that burns and the sun that gives light. Life is the wind and the rain and the thunder in the sky. Life is matter and is earth, what is and what is not, and what beyond is in Eternity.

Life is warfare.

Life, if well lived, is long enough.

Life’s like a play: it’s not the length, but the excellence of the acting that matters.

Light troubles speak; the weighty are struck dumb.

Love in its essence is spiritual fire.

Luck is a matter of preparation meeting opportunity.

May be is very well, but Must is the master. It is my duty to show justice without recompense.

Modesty forbids what the law does not.

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

Night brings our troubles to the light, rather than banishes them.

No evil propensity of the human heart is so powerful that it may not be subdued by discipline.

No man enjoys the true taste of life, but he who is ready and willing to quit it.

No man was ever wise by chance.

No one can be happy who has been thrust outside the pale of truth. And there are two ways that one can be removed from this realm: by lying, or by being lied to.

No one is laughable who laughs at himself.

No untroubled day has ever dawned for me.

Not how long, but how well you have lived is the main thing.

Nothing becomes so offensive so quickly as grief. When fresh it finds someone to console it, but when it becomes chronic, it is ridiculed, and rightly.

Nothing is so wretched or foolish as to anticipate misfortunes. What madness is it to be expecting evil before it comes.

Nothing is void of God, his work is everywhere his full of himself.

One crime has to be concealed by another.

One must steer, not talk.

One of the most beautiful qualities of true friendship is to understand and to be understood.

Our care should not be to have lived long as to have lived enough.

Our plans miscarry because they have no aim. When a man does not know what harbor he is making for, no wind is the right wind.

Poverty wants some, luxury many, and avarice all things.

Precepts or maxims are of great weight; and a few useful ones on hand do more to produce a happy life than the volumes we can’t find.

Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.

See how many are better off than you are, but consider how many are worse.

Shall I tell you what the real evil is? To cringe to the things that are called evils, to surrender to them our freedom, in defiance of which we ought to face any suffering.

Shame may restrain what law does not prohibit.

Shun no toil to make yourself remarkable by some talent or other; yet do not devote yourself to one branch exclusively. Strive to get clear notions about all. Give up no science entirely; for science is but one.

Slavery takes hold of few, but many take hold of slavery.

So live with men as if God saw you and speak to God, as if men heard you.

Sometimes even to live is an act of courage.

Success consecrates the most offensive crimes.

Success is not greedy, as people think, but insignificant. That is why it satisfies nobody.

Successful and fortunate crime is called virtue.

That is never too often repeated, which is never sufficiently learned.

That which is given with pride and ostentation is rather an ambition than a bounty.

The approach of liberty makes even an old man brave.

The bad fortune of the good turns their faces up to heaven; the good fortune of the bad bows their heads down to the earth.

The bravest sight in the world is to see a great man struggling against adversity.

The day which we fear as our last is but the birthday of eternity.

The deferring of anger is the best antidote to anger.

The display of grief makes more demands than grief itself. How few men are sad in their own company.

The first and greatest punishment of the sinner is the conscience of sin.

The first step in a person’s salvation is knowledge of their sin.

The good things of prosperity are to be wished; but the good things that belong to adversity are to be admired.

The greatest remedy for anger is delay.

The heart is great which shows moderation in the midst of prosperity.

The less we deserve good fortune, the more we hope for it.

The mind that is anxious about the future is miserable.

The mind unlearns with difficulty what it has long learned.

The pressure of adversity does not affect the mind of the brave man… It is more powerful than external circumstances.

The things hardest to bear are sweetest to remember.

The way is long if one follows precepts, but short… if one follows patterns.

The wish for healing has always been half of health.

There are more things to alarm us than to harm us, and we suffer more often in apprehension than reality.

There is a noble manner of being poor, and who does not know it will never be rich.

There is as much greatness of mind in acknowledging a good turn, as in doing it.

There is no delight in owning anything unshared.

There is no great genius without some touch of madness.

There is no person so severely punished, as those who subject themselves to the whip of their own remorse.

There is none made so great, but he may both need the help and service, and stand in fear of the power and unkindness, even of the meanest of mortals.

There is nothing in the world so much admired as a man who knows how to bear unhappiness with courage.

Those who boast of their descent, brag on what they owe to others.

Time discovers truth.

To be able to endure odium is the first art to be learned by those who aspire to power.

To keep oneself safe does not mean to bury oneself.

True happiness is… to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future.

True praise comes often even to the lowly; false praise only to the strong.

We are more often frightened than hurt; and we suffer more from imagination than from reality.

We become wiser by adversity; prosperity destroys our appreciation of the right.

We can be thankful to a friend for a few acres, or a little money; and yet for the freedom and command of the whole earth, and for the great benefits of our being, our life, health, and reason, we look upon ourselves as under no obligation.

We often want one thing and pray for another, not telling the truth even to the gods.

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 abate of themselves if they be brought every day to the shrift.

We should give as we would receive, cheerfully, quickly, and without hesitation; for there is no grace in a benefit that sticks to the fingers.

What difference does it make how much you have? What you do not have amounts to much more.

What is true belongs to me!

What nature requires is obtainable, and within easy reach. It is for the superfluous we sweat.

Whatever fortune has raised to a height, she has raised only to cast it down.

Whatever is well said by another, is mine.

Whatever one of us blames in another, each one will find in his own heart.

When an author is too meticulous about his style, you may presume that his mind is frivolous and his content flimsy.

When I think over what I have said, I envy dumb people.

When we are well, we all have good advice for those who are ill.

Whenever the speech is corrupted so is the mind.

Where fear is, happiness is not.

Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for a kindness.

While we are postponing, life speeds by.

Why do I not seek some real good; one which I could feel, not one which I could display?

Wisdom allows nothing to be good that will not be so forever; no man to be happy but he that needs no other happiness than what he has within himself; no man to be great or powerful that is not master of himself.

Wisdom does not show itself so much in precept as in life – in firmness of mind and a mastery of appetite. It teaches us to do as well as to talk; and to make our words and actions all of a color.

You learn to know a pilot in a storm.

You must live for another if you wish to live for yourself.