160 Seneca Quotes

Looking for some Seneca quotes that will help you navigate through life’s ups and downs? Then you might want to check out this collection!

Seneca is one of Rome’s leading intellectual figures who devoted his life to the Stoic art of self-restraint in order to help man emerge victorious over a lifetime of uncertainties. In this list, we’ve gathered 160 of his best pieces of advice and timeless wisdom.

Find out which ones you can relate to the most by reading the full list below.

Best Seneca Quotes

Seneca Quote - Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.Pin

1. “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”

2. “He who is brave is free.”

3. “It is not that we have so little time, but that we lose so much. The life we receive is not short, but we make it so; we are not ill, provided but use what we have wastefully.”

4. “Sometimes even to live is an act of courage.”

Seneca Quote - Hang on to your youthful enthusiasms, you'll be able to use them better when you're older.Pin

5. “Hang on to your youthful enthusiasms—you’ll be able to use them better when you’re older.”

6. “All cruelty springs from weakness.”

7. “What need is there to weep over parts of life? The whole of it calls for tears.”

8. “There is no easy way from the earth to the stars.”

9. “True happiness is to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future; not to amuse ourselves with either hopes or fears, but to rest satisfied with what we have, which is sufficient, for he that is so wants nothing.”

Seneca Quote - You act like mortals in all that you fear, and like immortals in all that you desire.Pin

10. “You act like mortals in all that you fear, and like immortals in all that you desire.”

11. “Begin at once to live, and count each separate day as a separate life.”

12. “If a man knows not to which port he sails, no wind is favorable.”

13. “Difficulties strengthen the mind, as labor does the body.”

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

Seneca Quote - Until we have begun to go without them, we fail to realize how unnecessary many things are.Pin

15. “Until we have begun to go without them, we fail to realize how unnecessary many things are. We’ve been using them not because we needed them, but because we had them.”

16. “We suffer more often in imagination than in reality.”

17. “As is a tale, so is life—not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters.”

18. “It is the power of the mind to be unconquerable.”

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

Seneca Quote - If you really want to escape the things that harass you, what you're needing is not to be in a different place, but to be a different person.Pin

20. “If you really want to escape the things that harass you, what you’re needing is not to be in a different place, but to be a different person.”

Seneca Quotes on the Unpredictability and Shortness of Life

21. “They lose the day in expectation of the night, and the night in fear of the dawn.”

22. “Only time can heal what reason cannot.”

23. “Putting things off is the biggest waste of life. It snatches away each day as it comes, and denies us the present by promising the future.”

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

Seneca Quote - As long as you live, keep learning how to live.Pin

25. “As long as you live, keep learning how to live.”

26. “Fate leads the willing and drags along the reluctant.”

27. “The sun also shines on the wicked.”

28. “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”

29. “Often a very old man has no other proof of his long life than his age.”

Seneca Quote - Life is long if you know how to use it.Pin

30. “Life is long if you know how to use it.”

31. “While we wait for life, life passes.”

32. “But life is very short and anxious for those who forget the past, neglect the present, and fear the future.”

33. “You live as if you were destined to live forever—no thought of your frailty ever enters your head, of how much time has already gone by you take no heed. You squander time as if you drew from a full and abundant supply, though all the while that day which you bestow on some person or thing is perhaps your last.”

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

Seneca Quote - You should live in such a way that there is nothing which you could not as easily tell your enemy, as keep to yourself.Pin

35. “You should live in such a way that there is nothing which you could not as easily tell your enemy, as keep to yourself.”

36. “The part of life we really live is small—for all the rest of existence is not life, but merely time.”

37. “It is more civilized to make fun of life than to bewail it.”

38. “The mind that is anxious about future events is miserable.”

39. “Whatever can happen at any time can happen today.”

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

40. “Of this one thing, make sure against your dying day that your faults die before you do.”

41. “To be always fortunate and to pass through life with a soul that has never known sorrow, is to be ignorant of one half of nature.”

42. “It is quality rather than quantity that matters.”

43. “Light griefs are loquacious, but the great are dumb.”

44. “To be everywhere is to be nowhere.”

Seneca Quote - The final hour when we cease to exist does not itself bring death.Pin

45. “The final hour when we cease to exist does not itself bring death; it merely of itself completes the death-process. We reach death at that moment, but we have been a long time on the way.”

46. “The willing, destiny guides them. The unwilling, destiny drags them.”

47. “The difficulty comes from our lack of confidence.”

48. “What really ruins our character is the fact that none of us looks back over his life.”

49. “Men do not care how nobly they live, but only for how long. Although it is within the reach of every man to live nobly, but within no man’s power to live long.”

Seneca Quote - All things that are still to come lie in uncertainty; live straight away!Pin

50. “All things that are still to come lie in uncertainty; live straight away!”

51. “While the fates permit, live happily. Life speeds on with a hurried step, and with winged days, the wheel of the headlong year is turned.”

52. “It takes the whole of life to learn how to live, and what will perhaps make you wonder more—it takes the whole of life to learn how to die.”

53. “While we are postponing, life speeds by.”

54. “The greatest obstacle to living is expectancy which hangs upon tomorrow and loses today. You are arranging what is in fortune’s control and abandoning what lies in yours.”

Seneca Quote - So you must match time's swiftness with your speed in using it.Pin

55. “So you must match time’s swiftness with your speed in using it, and you must drink quickly as though from a rapid stream that will not always flow.”

56. “All this hurrying from place to place won’t bring you any relief, for you’re traveling in the company of your own emotions, followed by your troubles all the way.”

57. “Hurry up and live.”

58. “How many are quite unworthy to see the light, and yet the day dawns.”

59. “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.”

Seneca Quote - It's not years nor days, but the mind that determines that we've lived enough.Pin

60. “It’s not years nor days, but the mind that determines that we’ve lived enough.”

61. “Nothing is ours, except time.”

62. “The time of the actual enjoyment is short and swift, and made much shorter through their own fault. For they dash from one pleasure to another and cannot stay steady in one desire.”

63. “It is not what you endure that matters, but how you endure it.”

64. “It is uncertain where death will await you—expect it everywhere.”

Seneca Quote - Philosophy teaches us to act, not to speak.Pin

65. “Philosophy teaches us to act, not to speak.”

66. “There will always be causes for anxiety, whether due to prosperity or to wretchedness. Life will be driven on through a succession of preoccupations; we shall always long for leisure, but never enjoy it.”

Seneca Quotes on Affection and Companionship

67. “Regard a friend as loyal and you will make him loyal.”

68. “To love, then, is only in the power of the wise.”

69. “But when you are looking at anyone as a friend when you do not trust him as you trust yourself, you are making a grave mistake, and have failed to grasp sufficiently the full force of true friendship.”

Seneca Quote - What progress, you ask, have I made?Pin

70. “What progress, you ask, have I made? I have begun to be a friend to myself.”

71. “Love sometimes injures. Friendship always benefits. After friendship is formed, you must trust, but before that you must judge.”

72. “When a person spends all his time in foreign travel, he ends by having many acquaintances, but no friends.”

73. “Possession of a friend should be with the spirit. The spirit’s never absent—it sees daily whoever it likes.”

74. “Conversation has a kind of charm about it, an insinuating and insidious something that elicits secrets just like love or liquor.”

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

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

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

77. “To wish to be well is a part of becoming well.”

78. “Nothing is more honorable than a grateful heart.”

79. “He who spares the wicked injures the good.”

Seneca Quote - Nothing, to my way of thinking, is a better proof of a well-ordered mind than a man's ability to stop just where he is and pass some time in his own company.Pin

80. “Nothing, to my way of thinking, is a better proof of a well-ordered mind than a man’s ability to stop just where he is and pass some time in his own company.”

81. “The other side shall be heard as well.”

82. “We cease to be so angry once we cease to be so hopeful.”

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

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

Seneca Quote - A woman is not beautiful when her ankle or arm wins compliments, but when her total appearance diverts admiration from the individual parts of her body.Pin

85. “A woman is not beautiful when her ankle or arm wins compliments, but when her total appearance diverts admiration from the individual parts of her body.”

86. “Let us say what we feel, and feel what we say; let speech harmonize with life.”

87. “People who know no self-restraint lead stormy and disordered lives—passing their time in a state of fear commensurate with the injuries they do to others, never able to relax.”

88. “We are members of one great body, planted by nature. We must consider that we were born for the good of the whole.”

89. “Throw aside all hindrances and give up your time to attain a sound mind.”

Seneca Quote - One hand washes the other.Pin

90. “One hand washes the other.”

91. “Oh, how many noble deeds of women are lost in obscurity!”

92. “Desultory reading is delightful, but to be beneficial, our reading must be carefully directed.”

93. “Soft living imposes on us the penalty of debility; we cease to be able to do the things we’ve long been grudging about doing.”

94. “As often as I have been amongst men, I have returned less a man.”

Seneca Quote - It is the quality of a great soul to scorn great things and to prefer that which is ordinary rather than that which is too great.Pin

95. “It is the quality of a great soul to scorn great things and to prefer that which is ordinary rather than that which is too great.”

96. “It is sweet to draw the world down with you when you are perishing.”

97. “Sorrowers tend to avoid what they are most fond of and try to give vent to their grief.”

98. “A family formed by crime must be broken by more crime.”

99. “Love of bustles is not industry.”

Seneca Quote - So the life of a philosopher extends widely, he is not confined by the same boundary as are others.Pin

100. “So the life of a philosopher extends widely—he is not confined by the same boundary as are others. He alone is free from the laws that limit the human race, and all ages serve him as though he were a god.”

101. “Humanity is the quality which stops one being arrogant towards one’s fellows, or being acrimonious.”

Seneca Quotes on Wisdom and Perspective

102. “The greatest blessings of mankind are within us and within our reach. A wise man is content with his lot, whatever it may be, without wishing for what he has not.”

103. “No man was ever wise by chance.”

104. “Associate with people who are likely to improve you.”

Seneca Quote - He suffers more than necessary who suffers before it is necessary.Pin

105. “He suffers more than necessary who suffers before it is necessary.”

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

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

108. “If you live in harmony with nature, you will never be poor; if you live according to what others think, you will never be rich.”

109. “Wealth is the slave of a wise man, the master of a fool.”

Seneca Quote - People are frugal in guarding their personal property.Pin

110. “People are frugal in guarding their personal property; but as soon as it comes to squandering time, they are most wasteful of the one thing in which it is right to be stingy.”

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

112. “Leisure without books is death, and burial of a man alive.”

113. “We learn not in school, but in life.”

114. “There is no genius without a touch of madness.”

Seneca Quote -  am not born for one corner; the whole world is my native land.Pin

115. “I am not born for one corner; the whole world is my native land.”

116. “It is difficult to bring people to goodness with lessons, but it is easy to do so by example.”

117. “Fire tests gold, suffering tests brave men.”

118. “Withdraw into yourself, as far as you can.”

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

Seneca Quote - Limiting one's desires actually helps to cure one of fear; cease to hope and you will cease to fear.Pin

120. “Limiting one’s desires actually helps to cure one of fear; cease to hope and you will cease to fear.’”

121. “Nothing is burdensome if taken lightly, and nothing need arouse one’s irritation so long as one doesn’t make it bigger than it is by getting irritated.”

122. “To win true freedom, you must be a slave to philosophy.”

123. “Beyond all things is the sea.”

124. “The best ideas are common property.”

Seneca Quote - No man is crushed by misfortune unless he has first been deceived by prosperity.Pin

125. “No man is crushed by misfortune unless he has first been deceived by prosperity.”

126. “What is harder than rock? What is softer than water? Yet, hard rocks are hollowed out by soft water.”

127. “Everyone prefers belief to the exercise of judgement.”

128. “If we could be satisfied with anything, we should have been satisfied long ago.”

129. “Philosophy calls for simple living, not for doing penance, and the simple way of life need not be a crude one.”

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

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

131. “It is of course better to know useless things than to know nothing.”

132. “We are mad, not only individually, but nationally. We check manslaughter and isolated murders, but what of war and the much-vaunted crime of slaughtering whole peoples?”

133. “What fortune has made yours is not your own.”

134. “No man is more unhappy than he who never faces adversity for he is not permitted to prove himself.”

Seneca Quote - Brave men rejoice in adversity, just as brave soldiers triumph in war.Pin

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

136. “Drunkenness is nothing but voluntary madness.”

137. “Each day, acquire something that will fortify you against poverty, against death, indeed against other misfortunes as well; and after you have run over many thoughts, select one to be thoroughly digested that day.”

138. “If what you have seems insufficient to you even then though you possess the world, you will yet be miserable.”

139. “It is a great thing to know the season for speech and the season for silence.”

Seneca Quote - Can you no longer see a road to freedom? It's right in front of you.Pin

140. “Can you no longer see a road to freedom? It’s right in front of you. You need only turn over your wrists.”

141. “Fidelity purchased with money, money can destroy.”

142. “I will storm the gods, and shake the universe.”

143. “We must indulge the mind and from time to time, allow it the leisure which is its food and strength.”

144. “You ask what is the proper limit to a person’s wealth? First, having what is essential, and second, having what is enough.”

Seneca Quote - The more a mind takes in, the more it expands.Pin

145. “The more a mind takes in, the more it expands.”

146. “Words need to be sown like seeds. No matter how tiny a seed may be, when it lands in the right sort of ground, it unfolds its strength and from being minute expands and grows to a massive size.”

147. “To expect punishment is to suffer it; and to earn it is to expect it.”

148. “Injustice never rules forever.”

149. “A guilty person sometimes has the luck to escape detection, but never to feel sure of it.”

Seneca Quote - Vices have to be crushed rather than picked at.Pin

150. “Vices have to be crushed rather than picked at.”

151. “For manliness gains much strength by being challenged.”

152. “It is a denial of justice not to stretch out a helping hand to the fallen; that is the common right of humanity.”

153. “No man’s good by accident. Virtue has to be learnt.”

154. “Do not run hither and thither and distract yourself by changing your abode; for such restlessness is the sign of a disordered spirit.”

Seneca Quote - However much you possess, there's someone else who has more, and you'll be fancying yourself to be short of things you need to exact extent to which you lag behind him.Pin

155. “However much you possess, there’s someone else who has more, and you’ll be fancying yourself to be short of things you need to exact extent to which you lag behind him.”

156. “It is our conscience, not our pride, that has put doorkeepers at our doors.”

157. “An unpopular rule is never long maintained.”

158. “Only a mind that is deeply stirred can utter something noble and beyond the power of others.”

159. “Oh, what darkness does great prosperity cast over our minds!”

Seneca Quote - The highest good is a mind that scorns the happenings of chance, and rejoices only in virtue.Pin

160. “The highest good is a mind that scorns the happenings of chance, and rejoices only in virtue.”

Did These Seneca Quotes Make You Realize That the Potential to Live a Great Life Lies Within You?

As a Stoic, Seneca advised man to resist impulsive actions that will lead him to corrupt habits and vices. Instead, the goal was to live a life of tranquility by putting reason and virtue first—living modestly, finding meaning in adversity, and making an effort to look at the brighter side of life.

Were these quotes able to make you think about the journey of life? Which of these quotes from Seneca inspired you to live in the best possible way? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Amy Finn

Hi. I'm Amy, the founder of this blog. I love quotes and enjoy sharing the best ones with you.

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