Read On the Shortness of Life by Seneca Charles Desmond Nuttall Costa Online


The Stoic writings of the philosopher Seneca offer powerful insights into the art of living, the importance of reason and morality, and continue to provide profound guidance to many through their eloquence, lucidity and timeless wisdom.Throughout history, some books have changed the world. They have transformed the way we see ourselves—and each other. They have inspired deThe Stoic writings of the philosopher Seneca offer powerful insights into the art of living, the importance of reason and morality, and continue to provide profound guidance to many through their eloquence, lucidity and timeless wisdom.Throughout history, some books have changed the world. They have transformed the way we see ourselves—and each other. They have inspired debate, dissent, war and revolution. They have enlightened, outraged, provoked and comforted. They have enriched lives—and destroyed them.Now, Penguin brings you the works of the great thinkers, pioneers, radicals and visionaries whose ideas shook civilization, and helped make us who we are. Penguin's Great Ideas series features twelve groundbreaking works by some of history's most prodigious thinkers, and each volume is beautifully packaged with a unique type-drive design that highlights the bookmaker's art. Offering great literature in great packages at great prices, this series is ideal for those readers who want to explore and savor the Great Ideas that have shaped the world....

Title : On the Shortness of Life
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780143036326
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 106 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

On the Shortness of Life Reviews

  • Glenn Russell
    2019-05-02 16:03

    The great Roman philosopher, statesman, dramatist Seneca ( BC 4 – AD 64) wrote many letters encouraging friends to apply themselves to the task of living a free, wise, tranquil and joyful life. On the Shortness of Life is one of my personal favorites since Seneca, ever the true eclectic, brilliantly draws from the various streams of ancient wisdom: Stoic, Epicurean, Platonic, Skeptic, and Cynic, as he addresses some of the most important questions we face as humans. Below are several quotes along with my comments.“It is not that we have a short space of time, but that we waste much of it. Life is long enough, and it has been given in sufficiently generous measure to allow the accomplishment of the very greatest things if the whole of it is well invested. But when it is squandered in luxury and carelessness, when it is devoted to no good end, forced at last by the ultimate necessity we perceive that it has passed away before we were aware that it was passing. So it is – the life we receive is not short, but we make it so, nor do we have any lack of it, but as wasteful of it.” --------- One thing I personally find highly distasteful: television sets in hospital rooms. I wonder how many men and women have spent their last hours watching Daffy Duck cartoons or a weather report. When in the hospital several years ago, I insisted on a room where the television would not be on. As an adult I’ve always recognized every single moment of life is precious, not to be wasted on silliness or surrendered to commercialized mind-control.“Many are kept busy either in the pursuit of other men’s fortune or in complaining of their own; in following no fixed aim, shifting and inconstant and dissatisfied, are plunged by their fickleness into plans that are ever new, some have no fixed principle by which to direct their course, but Fate takes them unawares while they loll and yawn.” ---------- As a teenager I distinctly recall lolling around the house, bored out of my skull. Fortunately, once I encountered philosophy and literature in college, boredom completely dissolved. And why do people continually complain or gab incessantly or become easily bored? According to Seneca, such a person knows nothing about the art of living.“You will hear many men saying: ‘After my fiftieth year I shall retire to leisure, my sixtieth year shall release me from public duties.’ And what guarantee, pray, have you that your life will last longer?” --------- How many people project their happiness into their retirement years? My modest advice: life is too short for drudgery – If you don’t like your current job, find another one; if you don’t like your current life; it’s time for serious transformation.There is nothing the busy man is less busied with than living: there is nothing that is harder to learn. . . . 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.”---------- This quote from Seneca reminds me of a Japanese aphorism: "Life without death isn’t life, it’s self-preservation." Death as a taboo subject is one of the tragedies of modern culture.And so there is no reason for you to think that any man has lived long because he has grey hairs or wrinkles, he has no lived long – he has existed long. For what if you should think that man had had a long voyage who had been caught by a fierce storm as soon as he left harbor, and, swept hither and thither by a succession of winds that raged from different quarters, had been driven in a circle around the same course? Not much voyaging did he have, but much tossing about.” ---------- Such a vivid image. If you feel your life is an endless cycle of frantic activity, time to step back and take a deep breath with Seneca.“Unless you seize the day, it flees.” ---------- Carpe diem. It has been said so many times, it sounds like a cliché. But, in this case, the cliché is spot-on true.“Of all men they alone are at leisure who take time for philosophy, they alone really live. . . . We may argue with Socrates, we may doubt with Carneades, find peace with Epicurus, overcome human nature with the Stoics, exceed it Cynics. --------- The world expands for us when we participate in the great wisdom of the philosophical tradition. This is one way to view the Platonic ideas. For the great philosophers of the ancient Greek and Roman world, philosophy was a path to personal transformation and liberation. And this path is still open to us today.

  • BillKerwin
    2019-05-14 13:58

    Now that I've read a few philosophical essays by Seneca the Younger, I am inclined to believe every bad thing I have ever heard about him.Before this, I've cut him some slack. Sure, he—along with his cronies, one of whom was Burrus, prefect of the Praetorian Guard—ruled Rome during his pupil Nero's young manhood, but the edicts and laws of this period are much more humane than the bloody despotic measures which followed. True, his The Pumpkinification of Claudius—a vicious satire attacking the newly dead Emperor--is morally repulsive, but Claudius exiled Seneca and almost had him killed, so Seneca had a reason. He also almost certainly had a hand—either in the crime or the cover up--in Nero's murder of his mother Agrippina, but then it was probably very hard saying “no” to a personal request from Nero. His tragedies are marred by rhetorical excess, and oddly clotted with bloody descriptions, but they also contain much good and sensible advice. True, it is disturbing that many of his contemporaries labeled him a serial adulterer and a money-grubber, but then again, they were his enemies. And besides, Tacitus seemed to like him.But now that I've read the three philosophical essays in this book, I have difficulty in standing up for Seneca any longer, for Seneca, in these his most moral works, seems to lack the philosophical attitude and the courage of his convictions. Unlike Marcus Aurelius, who took the Stoic perspective to heart and put it into action (as well as reflecting upon it in clear, tranquil meditations), Seneca argues for Stoic positions like a lawyer vigorously asserting—although he is not quite convinced—that his client is telling the truth. It is rather sad listening to someone argue the benefits of tranquility when he argues them in a hurried and turbulent manner.Of the three essays included here, the “Consolation to Helvia” is the most historically interesting, for in it Seneca addresses his mother on the occasion of his exile, arguing that exile itself is a benefit not a punishment. (I never believed him for a second.) “On Tranquility of Mind” is more convincing, making the case that a balance of leisure and public service can help a man dispel boredom and achieve inner peace, particularly when it is joined with self-knowledge, an ordering of priorities, and the mastery of fear. My favorite essay, though, is “On the the Shortness of Life,” for it is filled with precise, satirical examples of how the typical upper class Roman wastes his time. (Come to think of it, if Seneca had concentrated on satire, he might have been a much greater writer.) In this passage from “On the Shortness of Life,” Seneca catalogues the many stupid kinds of busyness with which a wealthy Roman spends his “leisure” time:Do you call a man leisured who arranges with anxious precision his Corinthian bronzes, the cost of which is inflated by the mania of a few collectors, and spends most of the day on rusty bits of metal? Who sits at a wrestling ring (for shame on us! We suffer from vices that are not even Roman), keenly following the bouts between boys? Who classifies his herds of pack animals into pairs according to age and colour? Who pays for the maintenance of the latest athletes? Again, do you call those men leisured who spend many hours at the barber's simply to cut whatever grew overnight, to have a serious debate about every separate hair, to tidy up disarranged locks or to train thinning ones from the sides to lie over the forehead?...And, good heavens, as for their banquets, I would not reckon on them as leisure times when I see how anxiously they arrange their silver, how carefully they gird up the tunics of their page-boys, how on tenterhooks they are to see how the cook has dealt with the boar, with what speed the smooth-faced slaves rush around on their duties, with what skill birds are carved into appropriate portions, how carefully wretched little slaves wipe up the spittle of drunkards...

  • Florencia
    2019-05-08 10:57

    The problem, Paulinus, is not that we have a short life, but that we waste time.Life is long and there is enough of it for satisfying personal accomplishments if we use our hours well.But when time is squandered in the pursuit of pleasure or vain idleness, when it is spent with no real purpose, the finality of death fast approaches...That notion is the book. You surely used different ways to rephrase the essence of your thoughts, Seneca, which are mainly intended to point out that despite our whiny attitude, we have time. The problem is that we don’t use it wisely. I can’t say I didn’t feel slightly guilty while reading those words, as I remembered all the times I just stayed here, lying down on a couch looking at the ceiling, planning things I was never going to say or do or cook or fix. If I express that point of view using those exact words, it might sound like life going to waste. But what if I say “I stayed at home wistfully looking at the whitness of my wall, savoring my fictitious freedom, questioning my own existence and contemplating the futilily of life as I obstinately keep searching for meaning?” A more elegant way to convey the same thing: the waste of time. On the other hand, what if I actually enjoy that? What if I think that discussing in my head the nature of thinking and the possible consequences of things that I’ll probably never do is, for me, another manifestation of life? I know some people think that staying at home reading is not living life fully. Neither going to the park with your backpack full of books nor hoping for a rainy Sunday since it’s the perfect excuse to stay at home reading and writing and not looking like a dull creature surrounded by coffee and blueberry muffins that taste like heaven. However, the fact that one might be able to find enjoyment in such activities should be enough to avoid regret, right? No, regret is an inherent part of my nature and can’t be avoided by reading nor bungee jumping – it doesn’t matter the degree of passiveness or risk. I can’t relate to the meaning of your affirmation, which by the way brims over with prejudice. I may not be a fascinating riddle but you can’t know everything about me, pal. I’m aware of the passage of time on a level that could be considered almost unhealthy. Yeah, that’s how I live life.I hear ya. Although one might wonder, what the on earth is living life? Couch, rollercoaster? Cake or salad? Silence or crowds? Love or complete independence? All? Oh, jeez... none? Choosing nothing is still a choice. What kind of sick, little game is this? You’re writing and talking to the screen. You're typing exactly what you're thinking. I wish I could say that’s normal. You should leave this paragraph alone. Now.Thank you, I thought I was ready to grab a sword and become Highlander.My birthday is next week, please come and say exactly those words, we’ll have a blast. Though your presence might be the real news – and rather unsettling if I’m the only one who can see you. (This review was written before my birthday, actually.)I don’t think watching videos with cats sleeping or jumping like ninjas should be considered trivia. Neither it’s binge-watching series and sitcoms on Netflix. There’s a lot to learn, even from women who spent 15 years in a bunker.*high-fives*The last part sounds familiar; a constant source of disappointment. I think that’s all the help we can provide to the mortal who have the time to read this.This little chat in the form of a “review” has been pure joy and I’m sure you are now bursting with a contagious can-do spirit, feeling more positive than Enthusiastic Parker. Or maybe you’re looking at the ceiling, immobile, sensing the minutes that will never return, seeing life as a choice between a path that leads to an abyss and another path that leads to, well, another darker abyss – I bet Melodrama Cioran sounds like a peppy cheerleader to you now. Searching for meaning is philosophical suicide. How does anyone do anything when you understand the fleeting nature of existence? It wasn’t Camus or Sartre. It wasn’t a half-asleep Kierkegaard nor a drunk nihilist, but the point is still valid. You keep going, they said. You just keep writing.P.S. I feel awkward writing Holiday wishes after this little ode to the shortness of a meaningless life but still, Merry Christmas everyone.Dec 24, 17.Review written on Nov 2017.* Also on my blog.

  • Abubakar Mehdi
    2019-05-04 13:15

    This is an excellent philosophical essay written by Seneca, one of the most significant Roman philosophers and one whom we might call the father of Stoicism. The problem is simple, we are never content and happy with our lives and at the end we think it was too short. The solution is even simpler; we must start living today. We must find pleasure in today rather then burn the midnight’s oil for a better tomorrow. Seneca is very pissed off on those who waste their present, for the sake of past or future. Today is what matters, we have no control over what will happen tomorrow nor can we change the past. What we have is ‘today’, right now, so we better live it before it’s too late. Seneca contends that the pursuit of philosophy is the finest example of a time well spent. He advises us to read philosophy and ponder upon its great principles, and that, he believes will greatly enrich us. He dismisses other pleasure for they don’t improve us as person nor they stimulate our intellectual abilities. We must abstain from idleness and treasure the time we have by doing something positively invigorating.But I guess we must do what makes us happy, we don’t have to read Nietzsche or Plato all the time, we can watch great movies, listen to good music, read books that entertain us, acquire knowledge and skills, help the people around us and try to do at least one thing that makes the world a better place to live. I think Seneca would have agreed that just reading philosophy all the time, sort of , takes the fun out of it. While reading this, I was constantly reminded of a beautiful poem by W.H.Davies which is quite congruent with the essence of this essay. I am sure Seneca would have greatly appreciated Davies’s poem.LeisureWHAT is this life if, full of care,We have no time to stand and stare?No time to stand beneath the boughs,And stare as long as sheep and cows:No time to see, when woods we pass,Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass:No time to see, in broad daylight,Streams full of stars, like skies at night:No time to turn at Beauty's glance,And watch her feet, how they can dance:No time to wait till her mouth canEnrich that smile her eyes began?A poor life this if, full of care,We have no time to stand and stare.

  • Sara
    2019-05-17 10:06

    It is amazing how something written so long ago can have such relevance today. I found this essay really is a good quote:"Life is long enough, and it has been given in sufficiently generous measure to allow the accomplishment of the very greatest things if the whole of it is well invested. But when it is squandered in luxury and carelessness, when it is devoted to no good end, forced at last by the ultimate necessity we perceive that it has passed away before we were aware that it was passing. So it is—the life we receive is not short, but we make it so, nor do we have any lack of it, but are wasteful of it. Just as great and princely wealth is scattered in a moment when it comes into the hands of a bad owner, while wealth however limited, if it is entrusted to a good guardian, increases by use, so our life is amply long for him who orders it properly."

  • Amir
    2019-05-12 14:58

    داشتن یک فلسفه مشخص باعث می شه آدم زندگیش نظم بهتری داشته باشه و خیلی راحت تصمیمات درستی رو (مطابق با اون فلسفه) بگیره. سنکا یکی از بزرگان فلسفه رواقی بوده و اساس فلسفه رواقی برا آرامش بنا شده. در همین راستا فیلسوفان رواقی اصولی رو پیدا و ترویج کردن که به کار گرفتنشون فارغ از هر شرایط و نا ملایمتی های روزگار منجر به آرامش همیشگی می شه.در باب کوتاه بودن زندگی، کتابی هست که درون سنکا آموزه ها و پندهایی رو به دوستان و مادرش ارائه می کنه که در نهایت به آرامش خاطر برسند.I. On the Shortness of Lifeدر بخش اول کتاب سنکا به یکی از دوستاش به نام پالینوس در مورد کوتاه بودن (یا نبودن زندگی) توصیه هایی می کنه:It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it. Life is long enough, and a sufficiently generous amount has been given to us for the highest achievements if it were all well invested.سنکا تاکیید زیاد داره بر روی این موضوع که داشته هایمان (زمان، ثروت) رو چه طوری استفاده می کنیم.Wealth, however modest, if entrusted to a good custodian, increases with use, so out lifetime extends amply if you manage it properly. در خصوص زمان بیشترین تاکیید سنکا روی این هست که چه طور صرفش می کنیم و می گه مردم خیلی راحت زمان رو هدر میدن. اگر از کسی پولی خواسته بشه دادنش براش سخته، ولی همه ما به راحتی وقت ارزشمند خودمون رو به هر دلیلی، به هر مقداری در اختیار هر کسی قرار می دیم. Believe me, it is the sign of a great man, and one who is above human error, not to allow his time to be frittered away: he has the longest possible life simply because whatever time was available he devoted entirely to himself. None of it lay fallow and neglected, none of it under another's control; for being an extremely thrifty guardian of his time he never found anything for which it was worth exchanging. So he had enough time, but those into whose lives the public have made great inroads inevitably have too little.All those who call you to themselves draw you away from youself.کلا سنکا معتقد هست که آدم باید از زمان فراغت درست استفاده کنه و بهترین استفاده از زمان فراغت رو اختصاص دادن اون به فلسفه و مطالعه می دونهَOf all people only those are at leisure who make time for philosophy, only those are really alive. For they not only keep a good watch over their own lifetimes, but they annex every age to theirs.در خصوصی اینکه خیلی ها عدم موفقیتشون رو داشتن پدر مادری می دونن که در برگزیدنشون انتخابی نداشتن می گه:We are in the habit of saying that it was not in our power to choose the parents who were allotted to us, that they were given to us by chance. But we can choose whose children we would like to be. There are households of the noblest intellects: choose the one into which you wish to be adopted, and you will inherit not only their name, but their property too. یکی از دلایلی که سنکا به خاطرش تاکیید بر خوندن و یادگیری داره اینه که می گه هر مال و ثروت و اندوخته ای حتی سلامتی ممکنه در هر لحظه از آدم گرفته بشه. اما در نهایت هیچ چیز نمی تونه این علم و تسلی هایی که به همراه فلسفه میاد رو از شخص صلب کنه.----II. Helviaبخش دوم کتاب نامه هست که سنکا بعد از تبعید شدنش جهت تسلی خاطر برای مادرش می نویسه و ابتدای این نامه واقعا برای من شیرین بود:Moreover, although I consulted all the works written by the most famous authors to control and moderate grief, I couldn't find any example of someone who had comforted his own dear ones when he himself was the subject of their grief.یکی از تکنیک های اصلی رواقیون برای حفظ آرامش، تصورات منفی هست. یعنی کلیه شرایط بدی که ممکنه برای زندگیشون پیش بیاد رو مرتبا مرور می کنن، از دست دادن جاه و مقام، ثروت، سلامت، عزیزان، با این دیدگاه که اگر آماده این مسائل باشید، هم قدرشون رو بیشتر می دونید و هم در صورت رخ دادن اتفاقات بد آماده اون ها هستید و ضربه کمتری رو متحمل می شید.Never have I trusted Fortune, even when she seemed to offer peace. All those blessings which she kindly bestowed on me - money, public office, influence I relegated to a place whence she could claim them back without bothering me. I kept a wide gap between them and me, with the result that she has taken them away, not torn them away. No man has been shattered by the blows of Fortune unless he was first deceived by her favours. Those who loved her gifts as if they were their own for ever, who wanted to be adrrlelrd on account of them, are laid low and grieve when the false and transient pleasures desert their vain and childish minds, ignorant of every stable pleasure. But the man who is not puffed up in good times does not collapse either when they change.یکی دیگه از آموزه های رواقیون قناعت داشتن هست. گرچه به خاطر اصول اخلاقی محکنی که موعظشون هم می کردن همیشه به جایگاه و ثروت های زیادی هم می رسیدن، اما تاکیدشون همیشه بر عدم وابستگی به این مسائل گزرا و نا پایدار بوده.Well did Marcellus, then, endure his exile, nor did his change of abode cause any change at all in his mind though poverty attended it. But there is no evil in poverty, as anyone knows who has not yet arrived at the lunatic state of greed and luxury, which ruin everything. For how little is needed to support a man! And who can lack this if he has any virtue at all ? As far as I am concerned, I know that I have lost not wealth but distractions. The body's needs are few: it wants to be free from cold, to banish hunger and thirst with nourishment; if we long for anything more we are exerting ourselves to serve our vices, not our needs.مثل نیچه، رواقیون هم خیلی به استقبال سختی ها و مشقت می رفتن چرا که معقتقد هستند هر سختی اگر آدم سربلند ازش بیرون بیاد در همه زمینه ها قوی ترش می کنه:If you have the strength to tackle any one aspect of misfortune you can tackle all. When once virtue has toughened the mind it renders it invulnerable on every side. If greed, the most overmastering plague of the human race, has relaxed its grip, ambition will not stand in your way. If you regard your last day not as a punishment but as a law of nature, the breast from which you have banished the dread of death no fear will dare to enter. If you consider that sexual desire was given to man not for enjoyment but for the propagation of the race, once you are free of this violent and destructive passion rooted in your vitals, every other desire will leave you undisturbed. Reason routs the vices not one by one but all together:در خصوص مواردی که شخصی عزیزی رو از دست می ده توصیه سنکا اعتدال هست، نه خودتون رو از غم خفه کنید و نه بی تفاوت باشید.In case you've been deprived of someone dear to you, to be afflicted with endless sorrow at the loss is foolish self-indulgence, and to feel none is inhuman callousness. The best compromise between love and good sense is both to feel longing and to conquer it. The grief that has been conquered by reason is calmed for ever.در نهایت سنکا بعد از اینکه برای مادرش توضیح می ده تبعید چیز بدی نیست بهش می گه وقتت رو با آدم های خوبی مثل خواهرت بگذرون و بیشتر از همه چیز مادر، رو بیار به لیبرال استادیز یا خوندن فلسفه. چرا که آرامشی که ازش خواهی گرفت برای همیشه با تو خواهد ماند.-----III. On Tranquillity of Mindیکی دیگه از توصیه ها وو خط مشی های رواقیون خدمت به هم نوع ها و خدمت به مردم در دستگاه های سیاسی هست و اغلب اساتید رواقی مثل سنکا، مارکوس اوریلیوس و ... در رده های بالای سیاسی فعالیت داشتن. بخش سوم کتاب شامل توصیه های سنکا برای حفظ آرامش ذهن به یکی از دوستانش به نام سرنوس هستدر خصوص بهترین استفاده از زمان، مطالعه و داشتن دست آوردهای مهم در زندگی، این جمله یکی از بهترین هایی هست که تا به حال خوندم:Often a very old man has no other proof of his long life than his age...رویکرد یا طرز فکر و انتخاب یک دیدگاه درست به مسائل زندگی هم یکی دیگه از آموزه های اصلی رواقیون هست. مثلا در راستای خدمت به جامعه، هیچ عذر و بهونه ای رو نمی پذیرن و می گن در هر شرایطی اگر درست فکر کنید، می تونید وظایفتون رو به جا بیارید و مطعاقبا از حس مفید بودنی که به همراه داره لذت ببرید:Even if a man's hands are cut off, he finds he can yet serve his side by standing firm and cheering them on. You should do something like that: if Fortune has removed you from a leading role in public life you should still stand firm and cheer others on, and if someone grips your throat, still stand firm and help though silent. همچنین در انتخاب همنشین هم خیلی سخت گیر هستن. you must especially avoid those who are gloomy and always lamenting, and who grasp at every pretext for complaint. Though a man's loyalty and kindness may not be in doubt, a companion who is agitated and groaning about everything is an enemy to peace of mind.کلام آخرمن نزدیکی بسیار زیادی بین فلسفه رواقی و روانشناسی شناخت درمانی تا به حال پیدا کردم. هر دو تاکیید اصلیشون به شیوه فکر کردن و انتخاب دیدگاه درست هست و هردو خیلی روی تمرکز بر روی دایره ای که روشون کنترل داریم دارند. فلسفه رواقی الان در غرب به شدت در حال گسترش هست و بهترین مرحم برای محیط های کاری بسیار رقابتی و پر استرس اون ها شده. نثر کتاب چون یه مقدار قدیمیه پر هست از کلامتی که احتمالا بار اول هست بهشون بر می خورید و از این نظر خوندنش رو یکم مشکل می کنه. در کل کتاب لذت بخشی بود و سرشار هست از پندهایی که به کار گرفتنشون زندگی رو برای آدم شیرین تر می کنه.So you have to get used to your circumstances, complain about them as little as possible, and grasp whatever advantage they have to offer: no condition is so bitter that a stable mind cannot find some consolation in it.

  • Paradoxe
    2019-05-11 17:14

    Ποιος είμαι εγώ για να μιλήσω για το Σενέκα;Αν κάποιος με ρωτούσε μερικές ημέρες πριν τι είναι η φιλοσοφία, ποια η φύση της, πιθανότατα θα έπιανα ίσως κάποιο παλμό, ή όχι. Είμαι ένας επιδερμικός ερευνητής, τίποτα περισσότερο. Αυτό το βιβλίο είναι η Φιλοσοφία, δεν είναι χάρτης, αλλά προσφέρει μια παρηγοριά, σου δίνει φίλους, σου αναγνωρίζει πως η κενότητα που βλέπεις γύρω σου πραγματικά υπάρχει και έχεις όπλο να την αντιμετωπίσεις, δεν είσαι ανήμπορος. Για να αφουγκραστείς μέσα σου όμως πρέπει να έχεις δει τον κόσμο αλλά πρέπει και να έχεις διαβάσει. Η Φιλοσοφία είναι τρόπος ζωής και εργαλείο για α διευρύνεις το πνεύμα σου και το πνεύμα των ανθρώπων που αγαπάς με ευγενείς συζητήσεις.Νιώθω πως αυτό το βιβλίο με ξεπερνάει, όχι πως δεν το κατάλαβα, αλλά ενστάλαξε μέσα μου ένα κόκκο γνώσης και εισέπραξα φροντίδα, ανιδιοτέλεια και τη δύναμη των λόγων – πράξεων του Σενέκα.Εδώ συναντάμε και τη θαυμαστή φράση του Σενέκα, να ζεις την κάθε μέρα σου σα να ‘ναι ολόκληρη η ζωή σου, εδώ μας στρέφει το ερώτημα: μένει κάτι απ’ το παρελθόν σου φίλε; Κι αν απ’ αυτό δεν απορρέει λύπη για τη σπατάλη του, τότε ο δρόμος που πήρες είναι ορθός. Σου εφιστά την προσοχή στην ουσία της γνώσης: γνώσης είναι πως 2 + 3 = 5, βοηθάει στην εκγύμναση του νου, σε πρακτικά ζητήματα. Όμως το να ξέρεις ότι τα πρώτα 5 πράγματα που μετρήθηκαν ήταν βότσαλα δε σου προσφέρει κάτι, ακόμη λιγότερα θα σου πρόσφερε το να ξέρεις πως ήταν βαμμένα κόκκινα. Σου μαθαίνει πως την ανάμνηση δεν πρέπει να τη φοβάσαι, πρέπει να τη ζεις με όλες τις αισθήσεις σου. Μας εφιστά την προσοχή πως τα καμώματα των θεών ως εμπνευστές και σε μια επέκταση θεοί είναι και όλα αυτά τα τωρινά επιφανή για τους όποιους λόγους άτομα που μιμούμαστε πως εγείρουν πάθη τα οποία δεν είναι καν δικά μας μόνο για να δικαιολογηθούν κάπως οι αδυναμίες μας. Άλλο σημαντικό να αναγνωρίζουμε το τυχαίο και να μην είμαστε θύματα του, οι βάσεις των θέλω μας δε μπορούν να στηρίζονται στη ροή των πραγμάτων αλλά να πατάνε γερά στη γνώση και την εμπειρία. Είναι και ο Σενέκας ένας ακόμη που χρησιμοποιώντας το παράδειγμα του Αυγούστου με τα παιδιά του, μας ξαναλέει αυτό που έχουν πει άλλοι σπουδαίοι άνθρωποι, ποιος μπορεί να γίνει δικαστής αν δεν έχει βιώσει τη φύση του προβλήματος που θέλει να κρίνει. Αναγνωρίζει τον κάθε Φιλόσοφο που υπήρξε, υπάρχει και θα υπάρχει ως ένα φίλο μας στον οποίο μπορούμε να στρεφόμαστε και να μας απαντά πάντα, να είναι δίπλα μας ανιδιοτελώς, έτοιμος να προσφέρει τη γνώση του ως μάθηση, να μας μαλώσει τρυφερά, να μας συγχαρεί, να μας βοηθήσει να σκεφτούμε. Μόνο που όλα αυτά απαιτούν μια μεγάλη θυσία, την αυτάρκεια. Όχι το αποτράβηγμα απ’ τη ζωή και τους ανθρώπους, κάθε άλλο, δε θέλει να στρέψουμε την πλάτη μας στους ανθρώπους, παρά μόνο σε όλα αυτά που τρώνε χρόνο πολύτιμο απ’ την αναζήτηση του εαυτού, της ζωής, των αυθεντικών, ακόμη και την αναζήτηση του θείου και του απολύτου. Είναι στο χέρι μας να αναζητήσουμε όλα αυτά που έχουν διάρκεια, δεν είναι κενοφανή, θα είναι εκεί και όταν φτάσουμε κουρασμένοι, δε θα έχουν απομακρυνθεί, δε θα έχουν αλλάξει, θα αποτελούν πάντα μέρος της επιθυμίας, της δίψας μας. Μας ζητάει να περιφρουρήσουμε αυτό που δε βλέπουμε και σπαταλάμε απλόχερα, το χρόνο ΜΑΣ, επιτρέποντας σε άλλους να τον κατέχουν με μια ασχημάτιστη ιδέα πως μετά από δεκαπέντε, είκοσι, τριάντα χρόνια θα ζήσουμε για ‘μας, θα αναπαυθούμε, θα σχολάσουμε. Αλλά και πάλι ποια είναι η φύση της σχόλης, αν όχι η ανάπαυλα από κάθετί μικρό; Δεν υπάρχει μεγαλύτερο έγκλημα κατά του εαυτού μας, μας λέει απ’ τη μελλοντική υπόσχεση, την Αναβολή, του στερούμε την καινούργια μέρα, του αφαιρούμε το παρόν, το μόνο βέβαιο. Τέλος όπως λέει κι ο Σενέκας τα άσπρα μαλλιά κι οι ρυτίδες δε δείχνουν πως κάποιος έζησε πολύ, αλλά μόνο ότι υπήρξε στη ζωή επί πολύ. Σαν το ναυτικό που μόλις βγαίνει απ’ το λιμάνι πέφτει σε θύελλα, δεν ήταν μεγάλο το ταξίδι του, η ταλαιπωρία του ήταν μεγάλη.΄΄από ένα χείμαρρο που τρέχει ορμητικά αλλά δε θα τρέχει για πάντα, πρέπει να πίνεις γρήγορα΄΄΄΄δεν έχει σημασία πόσος χρόνος σου δίνεται, αν δεν υπάρχει κάποιος τόπος για να εγκατασταθεί, ξεγλιστρά μέσα απ’ τις τρύπες και τις ρωγμές του ανθρώπινου μυαλού. Η παρούσα περίοδος είναι πολύ σύντομη, πάντοτε βρίσκεται σε κίνηση, συνεχώς κυλάει και ξεχύνεται μπροστά, πριν καν έρθει, παύει να υπάρχει και δεν επιδέχεται μεγαλύτερη καθυστέρηση απ’ όση ο κόσμος ή τα αστέρια, που η συνεχής κίνηση τους ουδέποτε τους επιτρέπει, να παραμείνουν στο ίδιο σημείο΄΄΄΄οι άνθρωποι δε σχολάζουν, συντηρούν απλώς μια εφησυχαστική απασχόληση΄΄΄΄Απ’ όλους τους ανθρώπους μόνο όσοι βρίσκουν χρόνο να τον αφιερώσουν στη φιλοσοφία σχολάζουν, μόνο αυτοί ζουν πραγματικά. Και τούτο γιατί τέτοιοι άνθρωποι δεν αρκούνται στην περιφρούρηση της δικής τους ζωής, προσαρτούν και όλους τους προηγούμενους αιώνες στο δικό τους, όλα τα χρόνια που έχουν προηγηθεί, προστίθενται στην παρακαταθήκη τους. Αν δεν είμαστε εντελώς αγνώμονες θα πρέπει να παραδεχτούμε ότι οι επιφανέστατοι αυτοί θεμελιωτές κάθε ιερής σκέψης γεννήθηκαν για μας, για μας διαμόρφωσαν έναν τρόπο ζωής. Με τον ξένο μόχθο οδηγηθήκαμε στη θέαση των ωραιότερων πραγμάτων, τα οποία οι άνθρωποι αυτοί ανέσυραν από το σκότος και το έφεραν στο φως. Κανένας αιώνας δεν παρέμεινε κλειστός για ‘μας, σε όλους τους αιώνες έχουμε τώρα πρόσβαση και αν θελήσουμε να περάσουμε πέρα από τα στενά όρια της ανθρώπινης αδυναμίας με τη δύναμη του νου, υπάρχει ένα μεγάλο πεδίο χρόνου, μέσα στο οποίο μπορούμε να κινηθούμε. Έχουμε τη δυνατότητα να αντιτείνουμε στο Σωκράτη, να αμφιβάλλουμε με τον Καρνεάδη, να βρούμε τη γαλήνη με τον Επίκουρο, να νικήσουμε την ανθρώπινη φύση με τους Στωικούς, να την ξεπεράσουμε με τους Κυνικούς… Εκείνο πάντως που μπορούμε σίγουρα να πούμε είναι ότι μόνο όσοι θέλουν να έχουν το Ζήνωνα και τον Πυθαγόρα και το Δημόκριτο και όλους τους άλλους σοφούς δασκάλων των ελευθέριων σπουδών, αλλά και τον Αριστοτέλη και το Θεόφραστο, στενότατους φίλους τους καθημερινά, μόνο αυτοί είναι αφοσιωμένοι στα πραγματικά καθήκοντα της ζωής. Κανένας από τους παραπάνω σοφούς δε θα απουσιάσει, κανένας τους δε θα κάνει το λάθος ν’ αφήσει τον επισκέπτη του να φύγει λιγότερο ευτυχισμένος και λιγότερο στραμμένος προς τον εσώτερο εαυτό του απ’ όσο ήταν όταν ήρθε, κανένας τους δε θα επιτρέψει σ’ αυτόν να φύγει από το σπίτι του με άδεια χέρια. Όλοι θα επιτύχουν να επικοινωνήσουν μαζί τους, είτε νύχτα, είτε μέρα΄΄.

  • Pavle
    2019-05-10 13:54

    Po svemu sudeći, Seneka je bio nešto kao lajf kouč antičkog Rima. Jedan od osnivača stoicizma, njegova filozofija je vrlo zdravorazumska i uglavnom se svodi, barem u esejima prisutnim u ovoj knjižici, na pokušaj razumevanja ljudskog odnosa prema vremenu i sopstvenim životima. Iako mu je svaka apsolutno na mestu, a glas elokventan i nekako nežan, ne mogu da kažem da sam nešto oduševljen, pošto te ideje uglavnom ne pripadaju baš naročito visoko intelektualnom spektru filozofije. Kao što rekoh, sasvim zdravorazumski. A i mišljenja sam da filozofija nije za čitanje, već za (uživu) diskusiju.Ono što me je vuklo kroz knjigu i što mi je bilo beskrajno interesantnije od same ideologije stoicizma, jeste prikaz jednog antičkog naroda (i njegovih mana, načina života itd.) koji je IDENTIČAN našem. A ma apsolutno sve je isto. Što bi rekli, isto sranje, drugo (podjednako bušno) pakovanje. Koliko je zapravo poražavajuće shvatiti da se za dve hiljade godina nazovi evolucije ništa nije dogodilo. Mislim da smo čak i gori. Trudim se da ne budem cinik, ali svi znamo kako je stari Rim završio.3

  • Frankie
    2019-05-22 11:58

    This is, so to speak, Seneca the Younger's greatest hits album. The first "On the Shortness of Life" is probably his most popular, but I prefer the last "On Tranquillity of Mind". I realize there has been some apprehension for Seneca because of his supposed dissipation and association with Nero. I simply don't believe these details are historically accurate. Not only is history written by the victors, and we all know of what distortions the Roman empire was capable, but being on the staff of a dictator can almost guarantee martyrdom. If half of what we know of Nero's cruelty is correct, Seneca most likely lived in fear for his life. I try to judge him only by what scraps of his wisdom we have, whether they are mere summations of Greek, Biblical and Maccabean influence, or something original for his time. In fact, one of the comforts I take from his work is his secular angle on motivational philosophy. The Stoic way is essentially one of common sense. There is no great call to action in Seneca's words, but a calling back to what we know or at least ought to know on a personal level."On the Shortness of Life" may appear at first glance to be a bit self-possessed, as secular wisdom often does. On page 25, he entreats you not to be defined by your parents or lineage. To live publicly if you must, but stay true to yourself inwardly. To treat good fortune as temporary and on loan, so that you're prepared for its loss. "No man has been shattered by the blows of Fortune unless he was first deceived by her favors." (p 39)The second article is a touching tribute to his mother, probably meant as his own eulogy. His wisdom is worth reading, regarding what we now refer to as the "standard of living", when he speaks about Apicius and his excessive riches. The story goes that Apicius, after a considerable spending orgy, figured up his remaining wealth, and when he found it to be 10 million sesterces (something like today's $50 million), then he poisoned himself. "What luxury, if ten million meant poverty!" (p 51) The final article is a culmination of the wisdom of all three. He describes the spiral of increasing laziness and unwillingness to learn. "From this arise melancholy and mourning and a thousand vacillations of a wavering mind, buoyed up by the birth of hope and sickened by the death of it." (p 75) He also returns to the subject of poverty vs. wealth – "For you are mistaken if you think that rich people suffer with more fortitude: the pain of a wound is the same in the largest and smallest bodies." (p 85-86)In the last 20 pages, Seneca sums up his thoughts on death. "What is the harm of returning to the point whence you came? He will live badly who does not know how to die well. So we must first strip off the value we set on this thing and reckon the breath of life as something cheap…. He who fears death will never do anything worthy of a living man. But he who knows that this was the condition laid down for him at the moment of his conception will live on those terms…." (p 92-93)

  • Priyanka
    2019-05-04 15:55

    Haven’t we found ourselves, at some point or the other, wondering how we are not given enough time in which to live. But is this really true? Or are we just gripped by an insatiable greed and a laborious dedication to useless tasks mistakenly calling them productivity and a busyness which is nothing but the surest distraction from living.“… you don’t notice how much time has already passed, but squander it as though you had a full and overflowing supply – though all the while that very day which you are devoting to somebody or something may be your last.”Despite being nearly 2000 years old, this spectacular essay fits so beautifully in our age, where, we so easily mistake the doing for the being. This trance of everyday passivity is an unambiguous admonition.“No one will bring back the years; no one will restore you to yourself. Life will follow the path it began to take, and will neither reverse nor check its course. It will cause no commotion to remind you of its swiftness, but glide on quietly. It will not lengthen itself for a king’s command or a people’s favor. As it started out on its first day, so it will run on, nowhere pausing or turning aside. What will be the outcome? You have been preoccupied while life hastens on. Meanwhile death will arrive, and you have no choice in making yourself available for that.”Seneca suggests that a greater vice than mindless preoccupation is procrastinating endlessly, hoping the future will provide a better time for pursuing our purposes. “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. The greatest obstacle to living is expectancy, which hangs upon tomorrow and loses today. You are arranging what lies in Fortune’s control, and abandoning what lies in yours. What are you looking at? To what goal are you straining? The whole future lies in uncertainty: live immediately."Seneca’s masterful diatribe is timeless in its advice on how to inhabit our own selves fully. “It is a small part of life we really live. Indeed all the rest is not life but merely time.”After all, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives”. - Annie Dillard

  • Daniel Clausen
    2019-05-02 15:49

    A great book on making the most of your time...enough said?

  • Ryan Holiday
    2019-05-12 08:47

    As a general rule, avoid any translation of a classic work that comes up with its own new title. It normally means that the author is trying to appeal to contemporary readers more than the spirit of the original work. They'd rather have some catchy name than describe it as the anthology it actually is. This was the reason I was skeptical of reading On the Shortness of Life since Seneca wrote no such collection (it's the title of one of his essays) but I was thankfully proven wrong. Although there are some instances where the author is pandering, it is for the most part accurate and reads much like Letters from a Stoic (Penguin Classics).However, there aren't any footnotes, an introduction or a conclusion, important parts of a classic work that you only miss when they're gone. The first essay is probably the best. See: Seneca's concept of slavery. That we would never let someone steal our money or property, but we give them free reign to take our time from us. If you're in a hurry, skip the consolation to his mother and finish the third essay about tranquility. See: having faith in your position, as peace is the assuredness that you're going in the right direction.

  • André Bueno
    2019-05-19 13:01

    I really like this read. I compiled some of my favorite quotes and organized them by order of importance, in my opinion of course. My favorite ones follow:“You act like mortals in all that you fear, and like immortals in all that you desire”“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.” “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.” “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.” “They lose the day in expectation of the night, and the night in fear of the dawn.” “Life is long, if you know how to use it.” "But life is very short and anxious for those who forget the past, neglect the present, and fear the future.” “The greatest obstacle to living is expectancy, which hangs upon tomorrow and loses today. You are arranging what lies in Fortune’s control, and abandoning what lies in yours. What are you looking at? To what goal are you straining? The whole future lies in uncertainty: live immediately.”“ is more civilized to make fun of life than to bewail it.” “Whatever can happen at any time can happen today.” “Of all people only those are at leisure who make time for philosophy, only those are really alive. For they not only keep a good watch over their own lifetimes, but they annex every age to theirs.” “And so there is no reason for you to think that any man has lived long because he has grey hairs or wrinkles, he has not lived long – he has existed long. For what if you should think that man had had a long voyage who had been caught by a fierce storm as soon as he left harbour, and, swept hither and thither by a succession of winds that raged from different quarters, had been driven in a circle around the same course? Not much voyaging did he have, but much tossing about.” “We must indulge the mind and from time to time allow it the leisure which is its food and strength.” “Our minds must relax: they will rise better and keener after a rest. Just as you must not force fertile farmland, as uninterrupted productivity will soon exhaust it, so constant effort will sap our mental vigour, while a short period of rest and relaxation will restore our powers."“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.”“Can anything be more idiotic than certain people who boast of their foresight? They keep themselves officiously preoccupied in order to improve their lives; they spend their lives in organizing their lives. They direct their purposes with an eye to a distant future. But 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. The greatest obstacle to living is expectancy, which hangs upon tomorrow and loses today. You are arranging what lies in Fortune’s control, and abandoning what lies in yours. What are you looking at? To what goal are you straining?”

  • Emanuel
    2019-04-30 11:02

    Eu queria mais, soube-me a pouco. Ainda assim foi uma leitura tremendamente triste. Não porque o conteúdo o seja ou me tenha debatido com alguma ideia em particular. Foi antes um constatar, passaram-se quase dois mil anos e a humanidade fez um trabalho medíocre no tratamento do Tempo. Continuamos a debater-nos com as questões apontadas por Séneca (ou deveríamos).Aprendemos a vender e comprar tempo, ninguém nos ensinou a vivê-lo. Os milénios passam, a brevidade da vida é cada vez mais efémera, e somos borboletas que viveram presas numa colmeia como se isso fosse natural...

  • Wiebke (1book1review)
    2019-05-16 12:50

    This was super interesting and fascinating how much is still true today. I had many thoughts which I explain in a rather long video for such a short book, so forgive me for just linking that here. (7:34)

  • Kevin
    2019-05-20 11:46

    This is a very short book, really a collection of three letters. The first one is primarily cautioning a friend about getting caught up in "life" - meaning the demands and expectations placed on us, and the forum for empty ambitions that the business of the world provides - to the detriment of our contentment or long-term happiness. A classic analogy from this letter is that one who is old has not really necessarily lived long, any more than one who embarks on a ship and is tossed around on the waves in the harbor has made a long journey; he has only existed long. The second is a letter to console his mother after he was banished from Rome (Seneca lived ~5 B.C. to ~60 A.D. according to the book), reasoning essentially with her why it is not the external surroundings and circumstances that matter but the mind's attitude towards them; and the third is written as a reply to the letter of another younger Stoic asking for advice (his letter is also included). There are a lot of gems of Stoic philosophy in here, simple practical ideas and thoughts about how to spend one's limited time and how to be true to oneself that anyone could apply in their lives. "So it is—the life we receive is not short, but we make it so, nor do we have any lack of it, but are wasteful of it. Just as great and princely wealth is scattered in a moment when it comes into the hands of a bad owner, while wealth however limited, if it is entrusted to a good guardian, increases by use, so our life is amply long for him who orders it properly."And because of when he lived, there are some very cool anecdotes and examples he cites to illustrate his points, like how Caesar sailed around an entire country because he couldn't bear to see the once-great man in exile there (stories almost as good as Kierkegaard's citations of Archimedes' and Diogenes' behavior when their cities were assaulted).And it is a short light book that fits in your back pocket (as all the Penguin Great Ideas books are), which is great.

  • Graham Mumm
    2019-05-22 17:00

    This is a book everyone should read at least once a year. Don't let the little time you have slip away...“The greatest obstacle to living is expectancy, which hangs upon tomorrow and loses today… The whole future lies in uncertainty: live immediately.”

  • Rebecca Washecheck
    2019-04-29 14:07

    I was wary of this, as a sexily recovered, retitled thing that looks like something you'd read on a train to look clever--but it really is a wholesome anthology of 3 essays and letters from the justly beloved Seneca. Deeply satisfying and soothing advice, tremendously timeless (if you set aside issues like forums and slaves, or find a good metaphor to translate these), and as peaceful as watching The Frugal Gourmet was when I was tiny--I feel like Seneca is the sage parent we all wish we had, who has both a kind word and a bracing slap on the back to offer.His style and the translation of it are very lovely, crisp, lucid, and modern. If only all thinkers were such good writers. If only Kant had written like this. If only we all did.

  • Mario Tomic
    2019-05-16 09:00

    Nearly every sentence of this book could be a quote for an inspirational poster. It's one of the best books I've read on the value of ones time, Stoicism in general is one of my favorite philosophy schools especially Seneca and Marcus Aurelius. Definitely check out this book, it's easy to read and understand while still being so powerful. I've read it 2 times in a row just because there's so much value concentrated in such a short book.

  • Eadweard
    2019-05-17 10:50

    It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it. Life is long enough, and a sufficiently generous amount has been given to us for the highest achievements if it were all well invested. But when it is wasted in heedless luxury and spent on no good activity, we are forced at last by death’s final constraint to realize that it has passed away before we knew it was passing. 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."----" Living is the least important activity of the preoccupied man; yet there is nothing which is harder to learn. There are many instructors in the other arts to be found everywhere: indeed, some of these arts mere boys have grasped so thoroughly that they can even teach them. But learning how to live takes a whole life, and, which may surprise you more, it takes a whole life to learn how to die."" So you must not think a man has lived long because he has white hair and wrinkles: he has not lived long, just existed long."" So it is inevitable that life will be not just very short but very miserable for those who acquire by great toil what they must keep by greater toil. They achieve what they want laboriously; they possess what they have achieved anxiously; and meanwhile they take no account of time that will never more return. "

  • rahul
    2019-05-21 14:50

    OzymandiasBY PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEYI met a traveller from an antique land, Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand, Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown, And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command, Tell that its sculptor well those passions read Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things, The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed; And on the pedestal, these words appear: My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings; Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair! Nothing beside remains. Round the decay Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare The lone and level sands stretch far away.”Good way to spend the last day of 2017!

  • Asounani
    2019-05-05 13:06

    Sublime... mientras tú estás ocupado huye a prisa la vida...

  • Eat.Sleep.Lift.Read.
    2019-05-04 15:51

    A splendid book. A splendid translation. Splendid advice. An essential read.

  • Anna H
    2019-04-29 12:45

    4.5 stars (only dinging a half star b/c the middle selection wasn't as good as the first and last essays)A good read for the early part of the year as a time of goal-setting and re-prioritizing. Stoicism is gaining a new 21st Century following in our highly politicized, social-media driven, anxiety-ridden culture. Reading the work of Seneca is a nice antidote to a poisonous mental and spiritual atmosphere. A great book for everyone to read, re-read and keep handy.

  • Μιχάλης Μανωλιός
    2019-05-03 13:11

    Καλό και διαχρονικό, βέβαια, όμως προσωπικά το βρήκα να μιλάει για πράγματα πολύ γνωστά, στο όριο του προφανούς. Συστήνεται πάντως μετά βαΐων και κλάδων σε μια τεράστια μερίδα συνανθρώπων μας που "δεν προλαβαίνουν", επειδή "η δουλειά προέχει", φοβούνται ότι "θα κοιτάνε τους τοίχους του σπιτιού τους αν πάρουν σύνταξη", και επίσης πολλούς άλλους που κυνηγούν σε υπερθετικό βαθμό και με τη γλώσσα έξω, ενίοτε μακριά και λερωμένη, τις καρέκλες, τα αξιώματα, τις τιμές, τη φήμη, το χρήμα, και άλλα όμορφα και ποταπά, συχνά πατώντας επί πτωμάτων ή αξιότερων ζωντανών.Η ειρωνεία είναι, φυσικά, ότι δεν θα το διαβάσουν, γιατί "δεν έχουν χρόνο", καταδικασμένοι έτσι να πεθάνουν πριν το καταλάβουν και, κυρίως, χωρίς να έχουν ζήσει μια στάλα.

  • Nick Klagge
    2019-05-18 11:10

    I really loved this book. As so often happens on Goodreads with books I really loved, I waited forever to write the review because I felt like I really needed time to do it justice; unsurprisingly, the result is that I now have less access to the specifics of the book than if I had just written the damn thing right away.I bought this book on a total whim. I was in New York for business, and had brunch with my brothers and sister in law the morning before my flight. I had a little time to kill before I needed to be at the airport. I walked to what is probably my favorite bookstore in the world, Unnameable Books in Prospect Heights, and browsed around there a little. I was sort of looking for something to read on the flight, although I think I did have something else that I could have read. Anyway, I came across this slim volume and picked it up, mostly on the basis of having a general interest in Roman Stoicism but never having read Seneca before. Suffice it to say that Seneca is now one of my favorite dudes! The book actually contains three essays, all of which treat classic Stoic themes: how to use our finite time on earth wisely, how to maintain tranquility of mind, and how to keep setbacks in perspective. I would say that none of the conceptual content will be very new to anyone who has read the other two most famous Roman Stoics, Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius. But even more so than either of those two others (both of whom are also among my favorite dudes!), Seneca's writing style is extremely appealing. Each essay is, at least nominally, a letter to a close friend or family member. In keeping with this, Seneca does not spend time developing theoretical propositions, but rather writes in a warm and hortatory style. I obviously don't know how much to credit the translator (CDN Costa) vs. Seneca himself, but the writing of the essays is extremely accessible and did not feel dated in the least to me (after 2000 years!); neither did it feel overly modern in a forced manner ("Yo Lucilius, sup!"). Much of Seneca's rhetorical style relies on the use of illustrative analogies, and he is most prolific and imaginative in conjuring these up.After reading this, I did some reading on Seneca's life, which is also very interesting. In keeping with the Roman Stoic style, he did not withdraw to a contemplative life but involved himself in public affairs. In fact, he was an adviser to the very disreputable Roman emperor Nero! Seneca by no means comes across as a perfect Stoic sage, and many people use this to paint him as a hypocrite. I found it fascinating though, and it didn't diminish his appeal to me at all. I just understand him as a very bright but also flawed person.As a side note, I can also thank this book for bringing me for the first time to the excellent Brain Pickings blog. I was looking on the internet for articles other people had written about this book, and found Maria Popova's review:

  • Mike
    2019-04-28 08:49

    It is more difficult for us to attain leisure from ourselves than from the law, Seneca writes, noting that the law does not draft a soldier after the age of fifty, nor call a man to the Senate after the age of sixty. The specifics may vary, depending on time and place, but his point is well-taken: we do not use our time wisely. Those of us who are ‘engrossed’, Seneca says, move passively from entertainment to entertainment; but when there is no gladiatorial spectacle scheduled, no fine banquet to attend, and we have the time that during our busy days we’ve often longed for at our disposal, we don’t know what to do with it. He asks us to imagine a ship that sets out on a journey, but is soon beset by storms. For years, every action on the ship is performed in reaction to these storms, and it travels nowhere of consequence. Would we call such a life, however many years it’s lived, long?The ‘engrossed’, according to Seneca, spend the day waiting for the night, and the night dreading the day. For them, there is no such thing as the present. Boy, do I know what he means- this is probably why I’ve hardly ever enjoyed a Sunday, or the day before a dental appointment, in my life. I’m not sure about Seneca’s proposed solution: to put aside trivial matters and read philosophy. A lot of us would love to do that (or to devote ourselves fully to writing, or music, or science, or learning a language), but how do you tell someone who works forty or more hours a week to put aside trivial matters, or to go home and read or work at something difficult instead of having a beer and relaxing a little while passively watching one of the many diverting forms of visual entertainment that are now immediately accessible to us all? And yet dreaming away our lives waiting for some future vacation or retirement, so we can finally spend our time the way we’d like, is exactly what Seneca advises us not to do. I guess what I take from the metaphor of the ship is that while it’s not possible to live without having to react, we should try to be as conscious and aware as possible of how we spend our time; to live with some internal direction and purpose that isn’t subject to every potential distraction and spectacle, to every person’s whim.

  • Yulenka
    2019-04-29 11:45

    My friend bought this book for me and it's probably one of the best book recommendations I've had in a while. It's just filled with life lessons, and titbits of applicable advice. Although at times the anecdotes are a little thick to wade through, the overarching ideas and themes are sound. I wouldn't have expected a book like this (just because I tend to not read this genre of literature) to change the way I thought about time and life, but it did. Good read to take notes on and discuss. Actually, I think that that really enhances the reading and comprehension experience.

  • Amy Alkon
    2019-05-14 09:13

    I've long valued the thinking of the Stoic philosopher Seneca (along with his fellow stoic Epictetus), but the additionally wonderful thing about this book is the form it comes in. Beautifully done little paperback edition by Penguin with an inlaid-print cover -- only about $7 new at Amazon.

  • Aaron Wolfson
    2019-04-26 09:57

    This set of three essays by Seneca has been on my list for a long time. A death in the family moved me to buy it and read it now.But the titular essay isn't really about death at all. It's about this:It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it. Life is long enough, and a sufficiently generous amount has been given to us for the highest achievements if it were all well invested.The key to understanding Seneca's thesis is the phrase, "highest achievements." Seneca gets around to this later, but first he's got a lot to say about what activities are not the highest achievements.Seneca hears lots of people complaining about how little time there is in the day. Sound familiar? I know I'm guilty.There's more to distract us today than ever before. Seneca destroys the argument that people have too little time for living. Truth is, we don't protect our time the same way we protect our material possessions:Men do not let anyone seize their estates, and if there is the slightest dispute about their boundaries they rush to stones and arms; but they allow others to encroach on their lives -- why, they themselves even invite in those who will take over their lives. You will find no one willing to share out his money; but to how many does each of us divide his life!Bosses, family, friends, pets, websites, news, politics, government -- to whom are you giving your time away?Seneca uses the examples of Augustus ("he knew from experience how much sweat those blessings gleaming through every land cost him, how many secret anxieties they concealed") and Cicero ("he had neither peace in prosperity nor patience in adversity"): men who achieved fame and fortune but never got a chance to actually enjoy living. Seneca has a great term for these temptations -- preoccupations. Fame, money, power; anything keeping a person from truly living.Living is the least important activity of the preoccupied man; yet there is nothing which is harder to learn.Preoccupations look seductive, but only until you possess them and find them more trouble than they're worth. We're quick to toss away years of toil for the promise of some future pension, but when we're threatened with terminal illness, suddenly every day becomes important. It's the illusion of the unknown: we discard our time like it's nothing when we're not sure how much of it we have left, even acting like it's infinite, but we value it supremely as soon as our days are numbered.To avoid preoccupation? Stop worrying so much about the future, and focus on each day as it comes. Not to say don't plan at all, but make the most of today to execute on your plans for tomorrow.Another weakness of preoccupation is that it prevents you from thinking more about your past. Not regretting it, but learning from it:This is the period of our time which is sacred and dedicated, which has passed beyond all human risks and is removed from Fortune's sway, which cannot be harassed by want or fear or attacks of illness. It cannot be disturbed or snatched from us: it is an untroubled, everlasting possession...Just as it is no use pouring any amount of liquid into a container without a bottom to catch and hold it, so it does not matter how much time we are given if there is nowhere for it to settle; it escapes through the cracks and holes of the mind.The preoccupied person is rushing through life from one thing to the next, always crying out for more time. But life is plenty long if you only do what you want to do: if you find ways to live intentionally and invest your time where you choose.Back to Seneca's "highest achievement:" it's simple -- to study philosophy. Ideas and wisdom are timeless, only increasing in value through the ages, while honors and monuments and fame are quickly dissipated. Hedonistic pleasure, too, is always temporary: once you have it, you can't help but fear for it to be taken away. It's scarier to fear loss of great power than it is enjoyable to possess it:It is inevitable that life will be not just very short but very miserable for those who acquire by great toil what they must keep by greater toil.If you follow sports, you'll notice that the top athletes and coaches rarely take much time to enjoy their accomplishments. The most hardassed workaholic coaches especially wear a perpetual scowl, always focused on what's coming next. This may be a winning strategy on the field, but is it a winning strategy for getting the most out of life? I don't know. But I wouldn't want to find out:So when you see a man repeatedly wearing the robe of office, or one whose name is often spoken in the Forum, do not envy him: these things are won at the cost of life. In order that one year may be dated from their names they will waste all their own years.In ancient Rome, the consul was the highest office of the state; every year two different men served, and instead of referring to the year by date, Roman citizens knew it by the names of the consuls of that year. But in order to become a consul and achieve such fame -- coming up through the political ranks and paying one's dues for decades -- one had to give up their own lives.It may have been prestigious to get a year named after you, with your name on every tongue, but what is that worth today? How many Roman consuls can you name?Isn't it better to live your life for yourself, and for the people you choose to be part of it? My favorite line in the essay sums up how best to live by describing the ideal posture toward its three periods:Life is very short and anxious for those who forget the past, neglect the present, and fear the future.Note: There are two other great essays in my version of the book. They're pretty awesome and I might write about them sometime later.