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La brevità della vita
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La brevità della vita

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4.14 of 5 stars 4.14  ·  rating details  ·  1,990 ratings  ·  173 reviews
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. [...] The Stoic writings of the philosopher Seneca offer powerful insights into the art of living,...more
Published by Rizzoli (first published 50)
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Sara
It is amazing how something written so long ago can have such relevance today. I found this essay really inspiring.

here 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...more
Frankie
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 d...more
Kevin
Oct 26, 2007 Kevin rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Ancient Greco-Roman Stoic devotees or anyone else who thinks they might not live forever
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" - that is, 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 the 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...more
Rebecca Washecheck
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, wh...more
Jeremy
Seneca - an important stoic - wrote 'on the shortness of life' in the first century A.D. Firstly I will outline what he says, then I'll briefly state my agreements and disagreements.

He comes down on the reader without restraint - time is the most precious thing we have, it is irreplaceable and priceless yet people just barter it away. When we squander our life away doing unimportant things we effectively shorten our life-span.
"The part of life we really live is small. For all the rest of exis...more
Ben
Thoroughly enjoyed this. Familiar sounding people and incidents found in this book. Reinforced convictions I already held and taught me several new ones.
John
Wow, a recommendation from a friend that blew my hair back. Great book!
Louis
Seneca here pleas for people to consider how much time (or rather how little) a common life holds and points out how people find safety in postponing everything from minor plans to massive dreams.

The text, filled with on the one hand plain language but on the other metaphors and other figures of speech, provides the reader with the sound advice of not living in the past nor the future but in the here and now, to act upon ideas today rather than tomorrow. Rather than resting vague and superficia...more
Katty
As I was buying a Starbucks coffee one day, the cashier spotted me holding On the Shortness of Life and eagerly praised it. "It's like a balm for life," he claimed. "Perfect for anyone dealing with anxiety."

As someone who's in a long, tumultuous relationship with anxiety and is typically hell-bent on graduating from college, building a career, and attempting to win at life, Seneca's philosophy resonated with me. The crux of the argument is that we become overly preoccupied and waste too much ti...more
Ryan Holiday
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 ther...more
Fraser Kinnear
This book has three essays, the first of which is On The Shortness of Life. The middle essay is a letter to his mother essentially consoling her, and was the least interesting. The third essay is basically about stoicism and went on a bit too long, but had some gems for me criticizing people who collected book collections without reading them.

On The Shortness of Life is good, but I disagreed with a lot of his sentiment. Seneca seems to disregard a lot of productive uses of one's time (namely, ho...more
Alberto Jacobo Baruqui
No es breve la vida, nosotros la abreviamos.
Las ocupaciones inútiles, los vicios, el tiempo desperdiciado, las vanalidades laborales roban una parte del precioso tiempo del que contamos.
Aceptemos con buen ánimo todo lo que se ha de padecer por la constitución del universo; estamos sujetos a la obligación de soportar las condiciones de la vida mortal y no perturbarnos por lo que no esta en nuestro poder evitar...

Es el juicio y tesis de este filósofo Cordovés sobre la vida y la famosa frase " la...more
Michael William West
There's nothing I like more than charm. Some people I've met are averse to it, believing it the most heinous kind of insincerity and malicious Machiavellian emotional scheming. Either way I like to be charmed and Seneca knows just what to say: essentially that time doesn't really exist, sitting around reading all day is the greatest thing a human can do, and if it seems like everyone else in the world is completely stupid, it's because they actually are. I do think these Penguin Great Ideas seri...more
Fraser
Ah, the stoics... I do love the Romans, regardless of their faults, and their equanimity is always reassuring. These three essays/letters by Seneca are the perfect sort of thing to read at the start of the New Year, pondering how it is that we can get the most satisfaction from the time we are given. Seneca's answer? Relax. Stop worrying so much about getting rich and famous and popular. Instead, do what you must - and then, philosophize. Humans have three times: the past, the present, and the f...more
Petr Herold
What a timeless book. Seneca's wisdom is incredibly relevant. No matter if he speaks of exile, friendship, greed and wealth, food or outlook on life, it's all mind-boggling how useful it seems even two thousand years later. It shows how we never change. Sure, our environment changes thanks to our ability to cumulate education and information, but we as humans, our minds, don't change. Humanity and its perks are still the same and probably always will be. Worth reading slowly and cautiously.
Isaac
Seneca is one of the greatest Roman stoic philosophers. This book is very readable and very profound. (Be careful —he may inspire you to get sell all your stuff and live a Spartan life (no pun intended)).

While the principles discussed are secular, the book reads more like easy-to-read scripture. I highly recommend to everyone who needs a solid grounding in reality, remembering what's most important.

Seneca makes a spirited attack on materialism and the pains that come with it. While I don't agree...more
Nada Sadek
"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."
Miguel Mayher
This is not a book to read once.

This is a book to have by your bedside. To peak at every day. To assimilate.

Seneca's words are like darts: precise, accurate, carefully thrown. The subject matter of his essay is inevitably timeless. Until we find a cure for mortality that is, but even then his advice is solid like a rock.

Buy today. Read it (it's very short!). And make it a practice to remind yourself of the wise words of this roman philosopher.

Your life will gain in depth and dignity.
Ambrose Chi
Seneca spoke a lot of sense, and I really loved one of the things he said about Time, which goes like this:

'Men trifle with the most precious thing in the world; but they are blind to it because it is an incorporeal thing, because it does not come beneath the sight of the eyes, and for this reason it is counted a very cheap thing - nay, of almost no value at all. Men set very great store by pensions and doles, and for these they hire out their labour or service or effort. But no one sets a valu...more
Clara Mazzi
Interessante, ma troppo soggettivo. Oppure: l'idea di fondo di Seneca, di quello che intende lui con "vivere bene la vita" non incontra il mio assenso. Non è vero che tutte le esperienze ci derubano di tempo prezioso, da dedicare a noi stessi, quel tempo che ci serve per arricchirci interiormente e farci vivere più a lungo, in quanto spendiamo meglio la nostra vita. Ritengo che ciascuna esperienza, se vissuta con accettazione e di conseguenza passione ed interesse, siano fondamentali per il nost...more
Liz Polding
Thoroughly enjoyed reading this. A prompt to reflection and as relevant now as it was when it was written. Leaving aside the slavery issue, which is unavoidable in any book of this period, but always grates horribly, this is a reminder of the importance of a balanced life. Seneca advocates the avoidance of excess and greed and points out the importance of living your life, not squandering it or becoming so preoccupied that you suddenly realise that years have vanished and you have no idea what y...more
Julio Escobar
Este libro antiquísimo, escrito por Séneca para Paulino, enfocado a la pérdida de tiempo y a lo efímero de nuestra vida, me lo molesto tanto porque cada capítulo me hacía sentir que algo estoy haciendo mal, me enfade con las reprimendas, me sentí estúpido por leerlo, pero sabía que sería peor no continuar...Lo irónico que Séneca critica a los previsores, pero en sí eso fue él al escribir el libro. ¿Puede haber algo más estúpido que la actitud de algunos,me refiero a esos hombres que presumen de...more
Joe
This is very possibly the best book I have ever read in my entire life.

I'm going to read the book again and take notes.

The fact that this was written almost 2,000 years ago means that despite the internet, Facebook, computer games, iPhones and 500 TV channels the world and human nature really hasn't changed that much, it is just far easier to waste time and get stressed about pointless trivialities than it has ever been before. This probably makes this book more important for today's generation...more
Gramarye
A very good introduction to the work of the Stoic writer Seneca the Younger -- though it would have benefitted from a brief biographical preface to provide a bit more information about the man.
Filipe
A fast read, that puts you in the mindset for something denser, bigger. Seneca proposes that leading a Stoic life should remedy some of our problems arising from daily affairs. While most of it remains true, you can't help but be forced to connect some of the examples to modern day's reality. I admit it didn't stop me from enjoying it to the last bit, though the smug sense of self-assurance I got from reading it might be problematic. You might want to get your teeth into A Guide to the Good Life...more
Angela
A bit lecturey, but I guess that's the point. And yes, it is incredible how incredibly immediate Seneca's lecture TED talk teachings feel, given this was written 2,000 years ago. I credit some of that to the superb translation, as well as, of course, the timelessness of Seneca and Stoicness. Indeed, I was surprised these past few days how often I'd be either reading the book and immediately applying it to some present-day issue in my own life, or how often I'd be living my life and then think su...more
Joe Borgenicht
"You must realize that every moment of your live is unique and irreplaceable."
Jon
The greatest wealth is a poverty of desire....or something like that.
Olivier Goetgeluck
Often a very old man has no other proof of his long life than his age.

If you devote to your studies the time you have taken from your public duties you will not have deserted or evaded your task.

If you apply yourself to study you will avoid all boredom with life, you will not long for night because you are sick of daylight, you will be neither a burden to yourself nor useless to others, you will attract many to become your friends and the finest people will flock about you. For even obscure virt...more
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Lucius Annaeus Seneca (often known simply as Seneca) (ca. 4 BC – 65 AD) was a Roman Stoic philosopher, statesman, dramatist, and in one work humorist, of the Silver Age of Latin literature. He was tutor and later advisor to emperor Nero. While he was later forced to commit suicide for alleged complicity in the Pisonian conspiracy to assassinate Nero, the last of the Julio-Claudian emperors, he may...more
More about Seneca...
Letters from a Stoic Medea Four Tragedies and Octavia The Stoic Philosophy of Seneca: Essays and Letters Phaedra

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“You act like mortals in all that you fear, and like immortals in all that you desire” 97 likes
“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.” 89 likes
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