Search Site
This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.


On the Shortness of Life [and other works]

by Seneca

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,019387,344 (4.04)12
The Stoic writings of the philosopher Seneca offer powerful insights into the art of living and the importance of reason and morality, and continue to provide profound guidance to many through their eloquence, lucidity and timeless wisdom.

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 12 mentions

English (28)  French (3)  Italian (2)  Dutch (2)  Spanish (1)  German (1)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  All languages (38)
Showing 1-5 of 28 (next | show all)
Actually read a different translation, and didn’t care for the translation. I can’t read Latin unfortunately, so I don’t know if what I read was a “good” translation - but at any rate I didn’t trust it. Oh, well, life is short!
  steve02476 | Jan 3, 2023 |
Pequenos ensaios do estóico Sêneca vol 10: é preciso saber viver; na vida, viver o dia; aumentar o tempo de bola em jogo. Mas como? O de sempre: exercendo a virtude, doando o seu tempo para beneficiar o estado, na vida pública e política, mas sem perder de vista a boa utilização do tempo livre - assim atingindo a boa vida - saber viver e saber morrer. Trabalhar produtivamente e exercer o tempo para si, o tempo livre, com virtude. Quiçá estudando os filósofos, amigos para toda a hora, a abrir o caminho para a imortalidade. Pois o tempo de nossa vida deveria ser suficiente, se bem gasto, para alcançarmos realizações, feitos, ficarmos satisfeitos. E que esse viver a vida deve ser vivido, e não postergado como um espaço de lazer, de aposentadoria. Mesmo porque quando feito assim, muitos acabam se lamentando de não poder ser mais ativos, não se adaptando. E Sêneca provê uma série de exemplos de época, alguns bem sarcásticos, de como não viver bem (ele mesmo não observando a secura virtuosa que um estóico poderia se impor ao evitar os pequenos prazeres da maledicência). ( )
  henrique_iwao | Aug 30, 2022 |
I had set my expectations way higher based on what I had heard about Seneca-a wise man.

I think the basic idea of the book/essay is good (and kind of obvious), this is an excerpt of the foundation of the book:

'Why are you idle? If you don't grasp [time] first, it flees.' And even if you do grasp it, it will still flee. So you must match time's swiftness with your speed in using it, and you must drink quickly as though from a rapid stream that will not always flow.

That's the acceptable part, but Seneca starts criticizing all activities, including art, study of history, etc., calling them pointless, while praising philosophy as the ultimate leisure, the one and only thing in the world worth spending time on.
There are also repetitive explanations and examples about how people look back at their lives when they get old, and most of them find their lives empty of leisure and other repeated pieces throughout.

I read the first part "On the Shortness of Life" and skimmed the other two parts "Consolation to Helvia" and "On Tranquility of Mind", not finding them interesting. ( )
  mdibaiee | Sep 23, 2021 |
There's two books I wish I read when I was pre-pubescent. This and "What is Man". I sent the latter to my god-son and have a copy of both for myself. EVERYONE... yes EVERYONE should read this absolute gem. It is a short read in old english broken into 1-4 page chapters and sets principles I wish I framed all my life choices around. Whether you are a sincerely active religious person or someone contemplative, someone makink career and life choices, if you have not read this, you may not have all the puzzle pieces. Topics include pursuit of romance, wealth, fame, ... and puts them in a perspective that is highly challenging. I'm not mentioning the specifics because it's worth catching them in context. Short but worth many times over the purchase price. Get a copy in the hands of all your children,grandchildre, neices and nephews. ( )
  SurvivorsEdge | Mar 1, 2021 |
The edition that I possess has three sections.
The first is called “On the Shortness of Life”. The second is “Consolation to Helvia”, and the third is “On Tranquility of Mind”.
Seneca followed a different structure for each.
“On the Shortness of Life” is an essay. This contains gems of wisdom. It is a strange commentary on human nature that we are still repeating what he said about 2,000 years ago. For instance, he writes, “So it is inevitable that life will be not just very short but very miserable for those who acquire by great toil what they must great by greater toil.”
This was true then. It is true today.
“Consolation to Helvia” seems to be a letter addressed to his mother, in which he tries to allay her fears about him. He has tried to console her in this letter, and then has moved on to describing some of his own philosophy. He is a Stoic, and repeatedly acknowledges his debt to Zeno, the founder of the Stoic school. Again, while speaking of his lifestyle and philosophy, he leaves us with much food for thought.
For instance, he wrote, “We do not need to scour every ocean, or to load our bellies with the slaughter of animals, or to pluck shellfish from the unknown shores of the furthest sea.”
Our lifestyle today, is unsustainable. We are, as human beings, creating the sixth extinction. Seneca warned us almost 2,000 years ago.
The third section starts almost as a dialogue. Rather, Serenus, a friend of Seneca, has come to Seneca with a problem. His mind is not quiet. He seeks tranquility. Seneca again launched into his essay. He quoted Lucretius at one point, “Thus each man ever flees himself.” Then, he goes on to write, “But, to what end, if he does not escape himself”
He also writes, “He who fears death will never do anything worthy of a living man.”
There is deep philosophy in sentences like this.
The book is short. The writing clear. Not a word is wasted.
This is a book for the keeping. Learn the lessons and apply them. This is when you will discover the gems of wisdom in this book. ( )
  RajivC | Jan 12, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 28 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review

» Add other authors (80 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Senecaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Baines, PhilCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Costa, C. D. N.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hunink, VincentTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Janssen, Tjitte H.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
First words
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 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.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
This work contains three of Seneca's essays: "On the Shortness of Life"; "Consolation to Helvia", and; "On Tranquillity of Mind".

Please do not combine with works containing other selections of material.
Publisher's editors
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS
Canonical LCC

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English


The Stoic writings of the philosopher Seneca offer powerful insights into the art of living and the importance of reason and morality, and continue to provide profound guidance to many through their eloquence, lucidity and timeless wisdom.

No library descriptions found.

Book description
Il senso della fuga del tempo e della caducità delle cose percorre tutta l’opera di Seneca. A questa realtà egli oppone una problematica saggezza, che invita a liberare lo spazio breve dell’esistenza dalle futili tensioni che lo consumano, vanificandone la potenziale ricchezza. Il tempo è il bene più prezioso dell’uomo; ma è anche quello più facilmente dissipato. Ecco l’impietoso spettacolo dell’alienazione umana, la massa frenetica degli affaccendati, il dramma delle vite consunte dalla brama di ricchezza e di potere; e, di contro, la figura del saggio, che nel dominio razionale di sé sa rendere intenso e fecondo ogni attimo dell’esistere e fa di ogni giorno che passa una vita. La brevità della vita è qui presentato da uno dei più sensibili studiosi dell’opera senecana, Alfonso Traina, cui si devono introduzione, traduzione e note.
Haiku summary

Popular covers

Quick Links


Average: (4.04)
1.5 1
2 14
2.5 4
3 54
3.5 18
4 94
4.5 12
5 106

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.

Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

» Publisher information page


About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 188,737,194 books! | Top bar: Always visible