Go to the Index of 120 Philosophers Squared
One of the most beautiful qualities of true friendship is to understand and to be understood.
No man was ever wise by chance.
It is difficult to bring people to goodness, even ourselves, with lessons, but it is easy to do so by example.
Associate with people who are likely to improve you.
A gem cannot be polished without friction, nor a man perfected without trials.
If one doesn’t know his mistakes, he won’t want to correct them.
The wish for healing has always been half of health.
As long as you live, keep learning how to live.
“The best ideas are common property”
Difficulties strengthen the mind, as labor does the body.
For manliness gains much strength by being challenged.
The good things of prosperity are to be wished; but the good things that belong to adversity are to be admired.
The bravest sight in the world is to see a great man struggling against adversity.
Fate leads the willing and drags along the reluctant.
No man is crushed by misfortune unless he has first been deceived by prosperity.
Be wary of the man who urges an action in which he himself incurs no risk.
When we are well, we all have good advice for those who are ill.
You can tell the character of every man when you see how he gives and receives praise.
I do not distinguish by the eye, but by the mind, which is the proper judge of the man.
The highest good is a mind that scorns the happenings of chance, and rejoices only in virtue.
If thou art a man, admire those who attempt great things, even though they fail.
It is better to be scorned by reason of simplicity than tortured by perpetual pretense.
Enjoy present pleasures in such a way as not to injure future ones.
Leisure without books is death, and burial of a man alive.
It does not matter how many books you have, but how good the books are which you have.
Not how many books you have, but how good they are, and how many you have read, understood and applied.
You should rather suppose that those are involved in worthwhile duties who wish to have daily as their closest friends Zeno, Pythagoras, Democritus and all the other high priests of liberal studies, and Aristotle and Theophrastus. None of these will be too busy to see you, none of these will not send his visitor away happier and more devoted to himself, none of these will allow anyone to depart empty-handed. They are at home to all mortals by night and by day.
The abundance of books is distraction.
Throw aside all hindrances and give up your time to attaining a sound mind
Of course, however, the living voice and the intimacy of a common life will help you more than the written word.
You must go to the scene of action, first, because men put more faith in their eyes than in their ears, and second, because the way is long if one follows precepts, but short and helpful, if one follows patterns.
It is not the man who has too little, but the man who craves more, that is poor.
You ask what is the proper limit to a person’s wealth? First, having what is essential, and second, having what is enough.
For many men, the acquisition of wealth does not end their troubles, it only changes them.
Wealth is the slave of a wise man, he master of a fool.
If we could be satisfied with anything, we should have been satisfied long ago.
If you live in harmony with nature, you will never be poor; If you live according what others think, you will never be rich.
A happy life is one which is in accordance with its own nature.
What nature requires is obtainable, and within easy reach. It is for the superfluous we sweat.
Do not ask for what you will wish you had not got.
Constant exposure to dangers will breed contempt for them.
Anger, if not restrained, is frequently more hurtful to us than the injury that provokes it.
Where fear is, happiness is not.
No one is able to rule unless he is also able to be ruled.
He who dreads hostility too much is unfit to rule.
To be able to endure odium is the first art to be learned by those who aspire to power.
There is nothing in the world so much admired as a man who knows how to bear unhappiness with courage.
Nothing deters a good man from doing what is honorable.
He that does good to another does good also to himself.
Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for a kindness.
Men do not care how nobly they live, but only for how long, although it is within the reach of every man to live nobly, but within no man’s power to live long.
Life, if well lived, is long enough.
If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable
The wise man will live as long as he ought, not as long as he can.
It’s not that we have little time, but more that we waste a good deal of it.
No man enjoys the true taste of life, but he who is ready and willing to quit it.
A physician is not angry at the intemperance of a mad patient, nor does he take it ill to be railed at by a man in fever. Just so should a wise man treat all mankind, as a physician does his patient, and look upon them only as sick and extravagant.
We are all chained to fortune: the chain of one is made of gold, and wide, while that of another is short and rusty. But what difference does it make? The same prison surrounds all of us, and even those who have bound others are bound themselves; unless perchance you think that a chain on the left side is lighter. Honors bind one man, wealth another; nobility oppresses some, humility others; some are held in subjection by an external power, while others obey the tyrant within; banishments keep some in one place, the priesthood others. All life is slavery. Therefore each one must accustom himself to his own condition and complain about it as little as possible, and lay hold of whatever good is to be found near him. Nothing is so bitter that a calm mind cannot find comfort in it. Small tablets, because of the writer’s skill, have often served for many purposes, and a clever arrangement has often made a very narrow piece of land habitable.
“No man was ever wise by chance” jumps out of Seneca’s quotes because it emphasizes what has been said from the beginning about wisdom. Wisdom requires mixing together several things, experience upon which to base future learning, an exposure to some level of more advanced wisdom, more experience in which the new wisdom may be applied and built upon, and then more exposure to more advanced forms of wisdom that are applicable to the path one is traveling. We are all wise in our own world, but to reach what is thought of as great requires passing through some flames and growing.
In the process of gaining personal wisdom, reading the wisdom gained from the experiences of others who have gone before you on a similar path can be enlightening. But it doesn’t generate an inner fortitude to act with the courage of the authors; that must be generated out of one’s own trials. Without some application and personal experience the best wisdom is no more than writing on paper, words in the mouth and vapor in the air.
A tranquil life is one lived within the boundaries of one’s personal world. It’s a world where you accept what you have, and cherish and cultivate your inner qualities of kindness and respect, and let those things of the external world, over which you have little control, behave as they will. To those things you must adapt, but the things that are near and dear to you, you can have personal control over. You can have little influence on how the people of the world will behave, but you can have absolute control over how you react to their behavior, and acceptance with tranquility yields a pleasant life.