Seneca Quotes

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

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

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Power exercised with violence has seldom been of long duration, but temper and moderation generally produce permanence in all things.

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Difficulties strengthen the mind, as labor does the body.

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

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

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What difference does it make how much there is laid away in a man's safe or in his barns, how many head of stock he grazes or how much capital he puts out at interest, if he is always after what is another's and only counts what he has yet to get, never what he has already. You ask what is the proper limit to a person's wealth? First, having what is essential, and second, having what is enough.

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

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We are always complaining that our days are few, and acting as though there would be no end to them.

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

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We should every night call ourselves to an account: What infirmity have I mastered today? What passions opposed? What temptation resisted? What virtue acquired?

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Set aside a certain number of days, during which you shall be content with the scantiest and cheapest fare, with course and rough dress, saying to yourself the while: "Is this the condition that I feared?"

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Love of bustle is not industry.

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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.

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It is man's duty to live in conformity with the divine will, and this means, firstly, bringing his life into line with 'nature's laws', and secondly, resigning himself completely and uncomplainingly to whatever fate may send him. Only by living thus, and not setting too high a value on things which can at any moment be taken away from him, can he discover that true, unshakeable peace and contentment to which ambition, luxury and above all avarice are among the greatest obstacles.

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After friendship is formed you must trust, but before that you must judge.

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A balanced combination of the two attitudes is what we want; the active man should be able to take things easily, while the man who is inclined towards repose should be capable of action. Ask nature: she will tell you that she made both day and night.

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Anyone entering our homes should admire us rather than our furnishings. It is a great man that can treat his earthenware as if it was silver, and a man who treats his silver as if it was earthenware is no less great. Finding wealth an intolerable burden is the mark of an unstable mind.

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There is no enjoying the possession of anything valuable unless one has someone to share it with.

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Nothing is as ruinous to the character as sitting away one's time at a show - for it is then, through the medium of entertainment, that vices creep into one with more than usual ease.

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Retire into yourself as much as you can. Associate with people who are likely to improve you. Welcome those whom you are capable of improving.

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The many speak highly of you, but have you really any grounds for satisfaction with yourself if you are the kind of person the many understand? Your merits should not be outward facing.

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The mind has to be given some time off, but in such a way that it may be refreshed, not relaxed till it goes to pieces.

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A person who has learned how to die has unlearned how to be a slave.

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Of this one thing make sure against your dying day - that your faults die before you do.

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Suppose he has a beautiful home and a handsome collection of servants, a lot of land under cultivation and a lot of money out at interest; not one of these things can be said to be in him - they are just things around him. Praise in him what can neither be given nor snatched away, what is peculiarly a man's. You ask what that is? It is his spirit, and the perfection of his reason in that spirit. For man is a rational animal. Man's ideal state is realized when he has fulfilled the purpose for which he was born. And what is it that reason demands of him? Something very easy - that he live in accordance with his own nature.

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A man who examines the saddle and bridle and not the animal itself when he is out to buy a horse is a fool; similarly, only an absolute fool values a man according to his clothes, or according to his social position, which after all is only something that we wear like clothing.

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As it is with a play, so it is with life - what matters is not how long the acting lasts, but how good it is. It is not important at what point you stop. Stop wherever you will - only make sure that you round it off with a good ending.

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To want to know more than is sufficient is a form of intemperance. Apart from which this kind of obsession with the liberal arts turns people into pedantic, irritating, tactless, self-satisfied bores, not learning what they need simply because they spend their time learning things they will never need.

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It costs a person an enormous amount of time (and other people's ears an enormous amount of boredom) before he earns such compliments as 'What a learned person!' Let's be content with the much less fashionable label, 'What a good man!'

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Virtue only comes to a character which has been thoroughly schooled and trained and brought to a pitch of perfection by unremitting practice. We are born for it, but not with it. And even in the best of people, until you cultivate it there is only the material for virtue, not virtue itself.

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What could be more foolish than a man's being afraid of people's words?

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For the only safe harbour in this life's tossing, troubled sea is to refuse to be bothered about what the future will bring and to stand ready and confident, squaring the breast to take without skulking or flinching whatever fortune hurls at us.

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But first we have to reject the life of pleasures; they make us soft and womanish; they are insistent in their demands, and what is more, require us to make insistent demands on fortune. And then we need to look down on wealth, which is the wage of slavery. Gold and silver and everything else that clutters our prosperous homes should be discarded. Freedom cannot be won without sacrifice. If you set a high value on her, everything else must be valued at little.

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For those who follow nature everything is easy and straightforward, whereas for those who fight against her life is just like rowing against the stream.

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It is essential to make oneself used to putting up with a little. Even the wealthy and the well provided are continually met and frustrated by difficult times and situations. It is in no man's power to have whatever he wants; but he has it in his power not to wish for what he hasn't got, and cheerfully make the most of the things that do come his way.

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One of the causes of the troubles that beset us is the way our lives are guided by the example of others; instead of being set to rights by reason we're seduced by convention.

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As the soil, however rich it may be, cannot be productive without cultivation, so the mind without culture can never produce good fruit.

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