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Penguin Great Ideas: On the Shortness of Life

By: Lucius Annaeus Seneca
Publisher: Penguin Books
Penguin Great Ideas: On the Shortness of Life
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  • Penguin Great Ideas: On the Shortness of Life ISBN: 9780141018812 Paperback Jun 2012 Usually dispatched within 48 hours
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About this book

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.

On the Shortness of Life

Most human beings, Paulinus,* complain about the meanness of nature, because we are born for a brief span of life, and because this spell of time that has been given to us rushes by so swiftly and rapidly that with very few exceptions life ceases for the rest of us just when we are getting ready for it. Nor is it just the man in the street and the unthinking mass of people who groan over this - as they see it - universal evil: the same feeling lies behind complaints from even distinguished men. Hence the dictum of the greatest of doctors:+ 'Life is short, art is long.' Hence too the grievance, most improper to a wise man, which Aristotle expressed when he was taking nature to task for indulging animals with such long existences that they can live through five or ten human lifetimes, while a far shorter limit is set for men who are born to a great and extensive destiny. 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.

* A friend of Seneca's.
+ Hippocrates

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By: Lucius Annaeus Seneca
Publisher: Penguin Books
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