7 Great Quotes from Seneca

· July 21, 2018

Maybe you’re familiar with the Roman philosopher Seneca, or maybe this is the first time you’ve heard his name. Whatever the case, you’ll enjoy our article about Seneca’s quotes, which have survived time because they are true pearls of wisdom. It couldn’t be any other way with one of the most illustrious men of the Roman Empire, whose writings greatly influenced his contemporaries.

The highlight of Seneca’s phrases is his ethical message. Almost all of his writings and, in fact, his life itself, are a model of morality. He belonged to the philosophical school of Stoicism, which advocated moderation. He lived in times when excess was the order of the day.

“If you subject yourself to nature, you will never be poor; if you subject yourself to opinion, you will never be rich. “

-Séneca-

The impressive intelligence and the oratory capacity of this great thinker generated many plots against him and jealousy too. He suffered from recurrent asthma throughout his whole life. He also lived close to power, knowledge and philosophy. Here are just some of those Seneca phrases that have been to us left for posterity.

1. To dare or not to dare

One of Seneca’s best phrases says the following: “We do not dare to do many things because they are difficult, but they are difficult because we do not dare to do them”.  A perceptive reflection that is all the more impressive if one takes into account that it was made about 2,000 years ago.

Man walking a tightrope


Seneca’s meaning in this is that things can be much more complicated in our minds, than in reality itself. He understood that human beings tend to make a mountain out of a molehill out of the things we observe, all due to fear.

2. One of the most beautiful phrases from Seneca

This is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful things that Seneca wrote. He said, “Why complain about the sea if you ride its waves again?” In this brief quote we can appreciate his poetic capacity, his delicate sensibility and his lucid realism.

The saying refers to the fact that a person has no reason to complain about what he is actively seeking. He points out that, perhaps, the first time is excusable, but not if we do the same thing over again. If he sails again it is because he had done it before. If you don’t like it, why do you do it again?

3. Hidden and uncovered hatred

If Seneca knew about one thing, it was hatred. He was never a man of conspiracies, nor of plots against others. Despite this, his intelligence and fluency aroused suspicions, envy and precaution.

Woman with birds flying around head

Perhaps that is why one of Seneca’s phrases goes like this: “Hidden hatred is worse than uncovered hatred”. It is highly probably that we have all experienced this truth at some time or another. Often, the most bitter hatred is not the most visible.

4. The value of difficulty

As a good Stoic, Seneca gave great importance to difficulty. He didn’t give it a negative meaning, nor did he avoid it. Quite the opposite. He argued that problems are a source of growth and progress.

This is wonderfully captured in the following quote: “Difficulties strengthen the mind, as work does with the body”. In other words, Seneca sees difficulties as an opportunity to exercise and develop the capacity for reasoning.

5. Managing anger

Here is another of those Seneca phrases that surprises us because of its simplicity and depth. “The greatest remedy for anger is delay”. It offers a perfect solution for us to manage anger. It is a simple and extremely effective formula for those who put it into practice.

It is a practice that never fails. In most cases, anger is simply controlled with a small pause. Just keep quiet and calm for a couple of minutes. The calm returns and, in this way, we’ll never say things that we’ll regret in the future.

6. The bravery of living

Seneca’s life was certainly not a rose garden. Especially during the reign of Caligula, who pursued him cruelly simply out of jealousy. The same thing happened with Nero, a pupil of his, who eventually sentenced him to death.

We have to add to this the fact that Seneca always suffered from very bad health, and suffered terribly due to his asthma attacks. Perhaps because of all this, one of his phrases that has gone down in history says the following: “Sometimes, even living is an act of bravery”.

7. The logic of good habits

Seneca here makes a statement that is very wise and perceptive, about the subject of good habits. He says the following: “Good habits compliment each other, and that is why they last.” As always, in one brief sentence, he sums up a world of wisdom.

Woman in a wheat field

What he raises is that good habits are not isolated realities. A good habit doesn’t survive in the midst of several negative habits. To be stable, they must also be consistent or coherent with each other.

There are hundreds of quotes from Seneca, and all are equally extraordinary. It is not surprising that his thoughts have broken the barriers of time, and that they are totally valid for the times we are living in now.