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On the Shortness of Life

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  11,882 ratings  ·  1,012 reviews
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 de
Paperback, Great Ideas, 106 pages
Published September 6th 2005 by Penguin Books (first published -49)
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Zahra نه واقعا، من ترجمه دكتر مير جلال الدين كزازي رو خوندم و اصلا راضي نبودم. مترجم سعي كرده صرفا از كلمات فارسي اصيل استفاده كنه ( شايد براي اينكه حس…moreنه واقعا، من ترجمه دكتر مير جلال الدين كزازي رو خوندم و اصلا راضي نبودم. مترجم سعي كرده صرفا از كلمات فارسي اصيل استفاده كنه ( شايد براي اينكه حس قديمي بودن متن رو برسونه) ولي واقعا يه جاهايي زيادي گنگ بود و وقت زيادي ازم گرفت. (less)

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Glenn Russell
Dec 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

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 alon
Bill  Kerwin

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 n
Jan 23, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 wh
Samra Yusuf
Oct 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: translated
"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. ...more
Abubakar Mehdi
Nov 01, 2015 rated it liked it
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
May 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: when wanting to make the best of your life
This Stoic's three writings in this book came at a perfect time for me. I feel that I'm at a point when you want to look at your life, and make sure the rest of it goes more in the way you want. It's true that the life is more likely to be longer now than how it was then (even for the richest and luckiest), but the advice here is timeless.

The book has three writings: "On Shortness Of Life", "Consolation To Helvia" (his mother), and "On Tranquility Of Mind". The writings have a certain connection
Nikos Tsentemeidis
Πόσο επίκαιρο!
Amir Tesla
Oct 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy
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 Life
Sep 06, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Наталия Янева
Jan 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Повечето от нас живеят така, като че ли ще живеят вечно, отбелязва Сенека преди повече от 2000 години. Малко се е променило оттогава в това отношение. Пилеем време сякаш има откъде да си го набавим, когато пясъчните часовници на живота ни се поизпразнят. Нещо повече. Когато ни остане свободно време, се чудим как да го „убием“ или „запълним“. Представата за убиването на време ми се струва толкова абсурдна и пагубна, че настръхвам, като се замисля за нея. Щом така държим да умъртвим редките отрязъ ...more
Jan 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
May 31, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: džep-toalet-bus
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, sas
André Bueno
Feb 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classics
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 y
Mar 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
Ryan Holiday
Jul 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Amir Latifi
خلاصهی کتاب پند و توصیه برای خودسازی و آرامش فارغ از شرایط و محیط است. درازگویی فراوان دارد. شاید کل مطلب در نصف همین حجم جمع میشد. بیشتر اندرزنامهست و پند تا فلسفه به معنای تلاشی برای ارائهی نگاهی دقیق و قابل رد و قبول.

سنکا از رواقیون است. مسیر اصلی فلسفه رواقی در دوران طلایی خود، به سمت فلسفهای برای عمل و زندگی حرکت کرد. این کتاب سنکا نمود چنین حرکتی است و تقریباً تماماً فقط پندهایی است برای زندگی.

به لحاظ تاریخی و جایگاه فلسفهی رواقی در تاریخ اندیشه، کتاب حائز اهمیتیست. پیام کتاب روشن و تکرار
Daniel Clausen
Sep 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-of-2017
A great book on making the most of your time...enough said?
Oct 24, 2007 rated it really liked it
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" - 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 ...more
Wiebke (1book1review)
Mar 25, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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)
Jon(athan) Nakapalau
Beautiful meditation on life and the choices we make on how to live - highest recommendation.
Mario Tomic
Oct 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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.
Graham Mumm
Jan 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: yearly-reads
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.”
Jul 26, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, philosophy
A relatively rare foray into philosophy for me. Apart from the Title essay this edition also contains the letters “Consolation to Helvia”, and “On Tranquillity of Mind.”

Reading this stuff makes you realise that a lot of the maxims of today are derived from things the ancients wrote thousands of years ago. For example, an expression I hear nowadays is “What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.” In “Consolation to Helvia”, Seneca writes “Everlasting misfortune does have one blessing, that it ends up
Alp Turgut
Adından da anlaşılacağı üzere ilk kitapta mutlu yaşamın tanımının, ikinci kısmıyla yaşamın aslında kısa olmadığının vurgusunun yapıldığı "Mutlu Yaşam Üzerine – Yaşamın Kısalığı Üzerine", yaklaşık 2000 yıl önce yazılmasına rağmen günümüzde bile hala geçerliliğini yitirmeyen gerçekleri barındırmasıyla oldukça etkileyici bir eser. Mutlu bir insan olmak için insanoğlunun doyuma uğraşmasını gerektiğini belirten Seneca, kendinden önceki filozoflar gibi mutluluğu hazdan ayırarak sevgiyi öne çıkarıyor. ...more
Jan 06, 2015 rated it really liked it


I 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; 
Nov 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
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.
Rebecca Washecheck
Feb 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Amy Alkon
Mar 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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.
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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
“You act like mortals in all that you fear, and like immortals in all that you desire” 448 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.” 367 likes
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