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70 Seneca phrases to understand his philosophy

70 Seneca phrases to understand his philosophy

May 21, 2024

The name of Seneca is known as that of one of the best-known philosophers of antiquity. Named Lucius Annaeus Seneca, this thinker and maximum exponent of the philosophical current known as stoicism was born around 4 a.C. and died in 65 AD, being forced to commit suicide.

This great author, who also had great relevance in the management of the Roman Empire during the growth of the Emperor Nero (which would end by ordering its execution), has left us deep reflections throughout his philosophical works. In this article we will see some of Seneca's phrases most known on various topics, especially linked to morality.


  • Related article: "123 wise phrases to reflect on life"

70 of Seneca's best known phrases

Seneca is an author especially known philosophically for his reflections and theories about morality. Next we will review a seventy of the best known phrases of this author.

1. Life is like a legend: it does not matter if it's long, but it's well told

It does not matter how much we live, but how we do it.

2. A man without passions is so close to stupidity that he only needs to open his mouth to fall into it

The author criticizes the absence of passion, an element that leads us to live and act as we want to do.


3. We do not dare to do many things because they are difficult, but they are difficult because we do not dare to do them

Many things that are considered impossible are only because they are not tried. This phrase pushes us to dare to fight for what we want.

4. Through the rough you get to the stars

This phrase tells us that the road to happiness is full of obstacles, and that only facing the difficulties will lead us to our goals.

5. The biggest drag in life is the wait of tomorrow and the loss of today

This phrase reflects the fact that we tend to lose our present worrying about the future, not being able to enjoy today.

6. Anger: an acid that can do more damage to the container in which it is stored than in anything that is poured

Interesting reflection that lets us see that rage and hatred end up doing more harm to one's own person than to whom it is directed.


7. There is no one less fortunate than the man who forgets adversity, because he has no chance to put himself to the test

The difficulties force us to overcome ourselves , they put us to the test in such a way that we are strengthened and we are able to overcome new obstacles. Someone who goes down the easy path and does not face difficulties will never know what he is capable of.

8. The noble soul possesses the great quality to be passionate about honest things

Honesty and virtue are highly valued values, and nobility means being able to seek causes, motivations and just aspirations.

9. It matters much more what you think of yourself than what others think of you

Seneca expresses the need to value oneself and give fair importance to the opinions of others.

10. Say what we feel. Feel what we say. Agree the words with life

A phrase that reflects the importance of being honest with oneself and acting according to what we feel.

11. Life is divided into three times: present, past and future. Of these, the present is very brief; the future, doubtful; the past, true

Seneca tells us about the three moments in which we can compartmentalize time, reflecting that the past is true and has already happened, the future can vary enormously and the present is a brief time that will lead us to one and another future.

12. When you are in the midst of adversity, it is too late to be cautious

Prudence and reflection are necessary to assess how to act, but they have their time: we must be able to live and react to what happens in the immediate moment.

13. There is no greater cause of crying than not being able to cry

Being able to express what we feel allows us to vent, to free ourselves from sadness. However, if we do not do so, this feeling becomes entrenched and continues in us for a long time.

14. Do you want to know what is freedom? Not to be a slave of anything, of any necessity, of any chance, to reduce fortune in terms of equity

Seneca identify freedom with not needing anything to the point of depending on it.

  • Maybe you're interested: "The best 70 sentences of freedom"

15. Know that when one is a friend of oneself, it is also one of the whole world

Seneca tells us the need to respect and love ourselves, something necessary to properly link with the environment.

16. Man never made money rich, because it only helps him increase his greed

Money is not something that can fill us up and make us happy. By itself, in fact, it has no use. Loving money only leads to want more and more, without ever being satisfied.

17. What the laws do not forbid, honesty can prohibit

Law and justice sometimes do not go hand in hand. But our morality can prevent us from doing illicit things despite being legally permitted, or vice versa.

18. Live with the inferior as you would like the superior to live with you. Always do with the slave no more than what you want to do with an owner

Seneca pushes us to treat others with the same deference we expect to receive, without taking advantage of our position to harm them or get more of them than what we would like them to do with us.

19. There are certain things that in order to do them well it is not enough to have learned them

Painting, cooking, kissing ... are things that theoretical knowledge of how to do them well is not enough. Without passion and emotional involvement , in addition to practice, they are required to bring the action in question to a successful conclusion.

20. I will tell you what is the real pleasure and where it comes from: the good conscience, the right intentions, the good deeds, the contempt for the things of chance, the peaceful and full of security, the life that always step on the same path

The author indicates that true joy comes from acting in the way that we think is right.

21. Do not have anything that excites you, that accuses you, that with your attack or with your ad put to the test the temper of your soul, to be thrown into a leisure without worries is not tranquility but indolence

The author indicates in this sentence the need to have something that challenges and impassion us, not letting time and life pass without doing anything with it.


22. As high as fortune has put a man, he always needs a friend

Friendship, having someone to trust and trust in us, is something that is essential for the human being.

23. Giving advice to the warned man is superfluous; give them to the ignorant is little thing

Giving advice is something we have all done, but it is something that usually has no real use.

24. Life is neither a good nor an evil, it is only an occasion of good and evil

Our life is not per se neither good nor bad, but it will depend on what we do with it.

  • Related article: "The 6 differences between ethics and morals"

25. More hard the memory of the insults received than the benefits

The favors are usually taken into account and grateful for a short time, while it is remembered for much longer and with greater intensity who has done us great harm.


26. He who has much desires more, which shows that he has not enough; but he who has enough has reached a point at which the rich man never arrives

This phrase tells us about greed as a bottomless pit, that never gets to fill the one who owns it. Who does not want more, is because he is already happy with what he has.

27. Buy only what is necessary, not convenient. The unnecessary, although it costs a single cent, is expensive

The philosopher speaks to us in this sentence of the need for moderation and to control excesses in terms of economy (although it can be applied to other facets).

28. The arms of fortune are not long. They tend to lean on whoever comes closest to her

Luck will be on the side of whoever takes the risk. It may fail, but trying it brings you closer to the probability of winning.

29. Happiness does not look where it is born, but where it can go

Phrase in which the philosopher lets us see that we can all be happy and make others happy, regardless of our situation.


30. Sometimes even living is an act of courage

Facing the difficulties and vicissitudes of life is actually an act of courage, since we must face moments of pain and suffering.

31. If you want your secret to be saved, save it yourself

Nothing keeps a secret better than to keep it that way.

32. Some are considered great because the pedestal is also counted

Reflection that shows how some people are overestimated due not only to how they are or what they have done, but because of their social position or where the effort of others has made them. Also the idealization of someone allows you to make your legend greater than it is.

33. Destiny leads to whoever accepts it, and drags whoever refuses to admit it

Destiny, which in the mind of the thinker was considered something pre-established , it is something that will happen whether we want it or not. Accepting it means being able to enjoy the path, while denying it leads us to suffering.

34. The wound of love, who heals it, creates it

The author tells us that the fact of love can make you suffer, and that the person who cures that suffering is precisely the one who can create it.

35. Admire whoever tries, even if it fails

As much as we can fall and fail, trying something involves a great effort and value that deserves to be considered.

36. Only one good can be in evil: the shame of having done it

Shame and repentance arise from the knowledge of having acted badly, the only positive thing being the desire to solve the evil caused.

37. To be happy you have to live in war with your own passions and at peace with those of others

Seneca tells us that we must be able to regulate our passions and act on the basis of reason, as well as not meddle or criticize the passions of others.

38It deserves to be deceived the one who, in making a profit, took into account the reward

Doing something for someone must be altruistic and not pursue your own benefit. Because otherwise we are not doing something for someone, but for ourselves.

39. Nothing will ever be discovered, if we will consider ourselves satisfied with the discovered things

The author pushes us not to be satisfied, not to conform to the preexisting but to create and strive to discover new things.

40. We need our whole life to learn to live, and also, surprisingly, to learn to die.

Life and death are two concepts that we must learn and develop throughout our life.

41. Sadness, although always justified, is often only laziness. Nothing needs less effort than being sad

Seneca pushes us with this phrase to strive and fight to get out of sadness and suffering instead of letting ourselves be carried away by them.

42. He who does not want to live but among the righteous, who lives in the desert

The world is not always fair, and neither are most people. We must be able to understand and face this fact.

43. Nature has given us the seeds of knowledge, not knowledge itself

We are not born knowing, but with the ability to learn.

44. There is nothing stronger than true love

Love is the most powerful force.

  • Maybe you're interested: "Psychology of love: that's how our brain changes when we find a partner"

45. The first art that those who aspire to power must learn is to be able to bear the hate

Who has the power will see how their decisions will be hated by the population, and their power can be envied.

46. ​​The most powerful man is the one who owns himself

Self-control and autonomy is what makes us capable of facing the world and determining our future.

47. There is no genius without a touch of dementia

This phrase refers to the connection that has been made between genius and the ability to have alternative and divergent thoughts.

48. Worse are the hidden hatreds that the discovered

Declared enemies, those we know who hate us, are visible and we know what to expect. But those hatreds of which we are not aware can do us much more harm because they are unexpected.

49. I prefer to bother with the truth than to please with adulations

This phrase pushes us to be sincere and act on our beliefs and not flatter to get a favorable treatment.

50. He who always seeks greatness, ever finds it

"The one to follows her, get her". This phrase leads us to pursue our aspirations.

51. Fortune is not necessary to subsist only

Merely to survive does not require great effort (as long as basic needs are met), but we do live our lives to achieve our dreams.

52. A good conscience does not fear any witness

Who acts as he thinks he should act and without harming others has no reason to repent.

53. Listen even to the little ones, because nothing is despicable in them

Those whom we consider small may be wiser than they seem, and we should value their opinion more.

54. Uncontented, anger is often more harmful than the injury that provokes it

Again, Seneca reminds us that rage is more harmful to the person than what has caused it.

55. The most degrading slavery is that of being a slave to oneself

The author reflects that not being oneself by own decision, denying oneself, is the worst of slavery and suffering.

56. This day that you fear so much for being the last, is the dawn of eternal day

In this sentence, Seneca tells us about the fear of death and the unknown, as well as hope in the afterlife.

57. A great sailor can sail even if his sails are for hire

Even though we do not have the means, we can reach our goals if we fight for them and we use intelligently the available resources.

58. He who is prudent is moderate; he who is moderate is constant; the one who is constant is imperturbable; the one who is imperturbable lives without sadness; he who lives without sadness is happy; then the wise one is happy

Prudence is a virtue that, as the author proposes, helps us in the long run to be happy.

59. Ungrateful is the one who is grateful for fear

To thank for obligation, for fear of being attacked or misjudged if it is not done, is in fact selfish. The real gratitude is that which is born from the appreciation of what has been given to us.

60. The more the effort grows, the more we consider the greatness of the undertaking

Believing in what we want and what we seek will make us strive more to achieve it.

61. There is not, in my opinion, a man who appreciates virtue more and follows it with more pleasure, than the one who, in order not to betray his conscience, has lost the reputation of a good man.

No matter the fame, but be true to yourself and what one considers fair.

62. Unfortunate is the one that by that is had

If we are not unhappy, we will not be, and we will do something to change the things we like.

63. The reward of a good deed is having done it

Good deeds leave us with the feeling of having done what we should have done, and no other reward should be expected.

64. Friendship and enmity come from the will

Our relationships with others depend on what they both consider.

65. We do not receive a short life, but we shortened it. We are not destitute, but manirrotos

Our life is our , and it is what we do in it that modifies them.

66. Our nature is in action. Rest presages death

We are living beings, who need activity. Doing nothing leads to boredom and sadness.

67. Conversation is the expression of our way of thinking

What we express and how we do it (and even what we do not) is often a reflection of how we think.

68. When a sailboat does not know to which port it is heading, no wind is adequate

The philosopher reflects the need to set goals, to guide our lives to a specific direction.

69. Love in its essence is spiritual fire

Love is an intense force that is born from the entrails and that unites us to others.

70. There is no hard or consistent tree except the one that the wind frequently hits

Problems help us mature and learn . To make us a place and overcome difficulties.


Jose's interview - URUGUAY - #HUMAN (May 2024).


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