Seneca: Life Is Short If You Do Not Live It!


Stoicism. I have been practising this throughout my life, without knowing what it is! Oh yes, since my childhood, I have learned how to hide my feelings (pains) towards others and keep emotionless and not bother someone. Being logical was and still is my motto.
And now, as I get to know Seneca and his Stoicism, I find it interesting to compare him with myself. Of course, there is a slight difference in between; I kept all my emotions only not to hurt others, but Seneca talks about self-love and that one should take care of oneself that I had never cared about myself.

Although, we have a lot in common in thoughts.

Seneca’s words were so brief yet concise and rich in depth and meaning, albeit here I ask myself what he’d mean: if suffering is an image that doesn’t exist in reality? Or whatever is the definition of reality?!

Anyway, here I would like to present this brief declaration by Dr Elsa Nikolaidou via SearchingTheMeaningOfLife with immense gratefulness.

PS: I feel somehow dumb-minded today! I might be absent next week to meet friends in northern Germany. Have a lovely time, and thanks. 🙏💖🙏🤗

photo by EvAr

Seneca: Life Is Short If You Do Not Live It!

The orator and philosopher Lucius Anne of Seneca (4 BC-65) is a unique case in the history of philosophy. His life works and death collide with each other creating a controversial personality of a philosopher. He was one of the wealthiest philosophers, as, despite being a Stoic, he acquired wealth (300 million interest-bearing loans in the provinces of Italy and the regions of the Roman Empire), taking advantage of his position in the court of Emperor Nero, of which he was a member. But Nero was not only his student but also his killer. In 65, he ordered the death of Seneca, at the same time giving him a choice to commit suicide, which the philosopher followed.

However, his writings are undoubtedly philosophical texts worthy of an orator who remained in history as one of the most important Stoic philosophers, between the emperor Marcus Aurelius and the enslaved person Acquired. His moral essay “On the Shortness of Life” (De Brevitate Vitae), a letter addressed to his father-in-law Paulinus, is one of his best-known works in which he rhetorically exhorts the reader of Nero’s time (but also of today). ) to evaluate his time: “Remember and think, whenever you had a specific plan in your life, how few days you spent as you had planned them, how many times you were really available for yourself when your face had its natural expression when your mind was restless, what work have you completed in such a long life, how many were the ones who took a part of your life when you did not yet know what you were missing, how much of your life you spent in pointless sorrow, in silly joy, in greedy desire, in conventional discussions and, finally, how little part of it you are left with yourself; and then you will understand that you are dying long before your time “. (Seneca, On the Shortness of Life, III)
The most valuable thing one has is one’s time. Seneca places time before us and urges us to seize it before it is too late. Our time is our life. And yet, how many of us, from the time of Seneca until today, do not take it for granted? But, as we waste our time, we shorten our lives. This is an awareness that comes with ageing when it is too late. Why is this happening;

Seneca addresses all of us: “And what is the cause of this phenomenon? The reason is that you live as if you were going to live forever, without ever thinking about how fragile you are and without ever noticing how much time from your life has already been lost. “You waste your time as if you were drawing from a complete and abundant legacy, and all this when the day you give to a person or thing could be the last day of your life.” (III)

Memento Mori. Remember that you will die. The Stoic reminder of our mortality is the only one that offers the consciousness of life that we must live every day. Because every day is precious, not just the last. We understand life with death.
How late is it to start living only when our life necessarily ends!” (III)

People, arrogant towards time, think that they will live forever and wait for the days to pass, always planning for tomorrow or reminiscing about yesterday. But life is now.

By giving value to our time, we provide value to our lives. And it ceases to be short.

Writes Dr Elsa Nikolaidou teaches Philosophy at Med High School.


18 thoughts on “Seneca: Life Is Short If You Do Not Live It!

  1. As a dominant feeling type, according to Jung’s typology test, thinking and stoicism are more shadowy aspects in my personality … nevertheless, I enjoy reading about philosophers. Thank you Aladin. I hope you have a lovely time next weekend visiting friends in the north. Love and light, Deborah.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, you and Jung are right about this, as I feel the same. But it was just the term of thinking of others before your own that has attracted me. Thank you again, my trusted friend. I must see if I go; it might do something good to change a little. 😘💖

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Stoicism seems appropriate for this harsh winter. My hometown has been covered in ice all week.

    I empathize with how you describe keeping feelings to yourself. Prioritizing the feelings of others instead. I do this also. For me it is because I want make sure everybody else is happy, social harmony I think.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. elainemansfield

    Yes to living now while we can, but it gets dreary focusing on the brevity of life. I love the Roman story of Eros and Psyche from that same period in history. Their union (not easy to accomplish) gave rise to the child Voluptas or Pleasure. My Jungian teacher Marion Woodman made me see the importance of including pleasure and beauty in life. Have a lovely visit with your friends.

    Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.