Seneca Speaks from 49 A.D.

black and white, relax, chill,live, chill

Lucius Annaeus Seneca was a Roman philosopher. He wrote the essay “On The Shortness of Life” in 49 A.D. That is, over 1900 years ago.  Seneca figured out busyness and multi-tasking thousands of years ago.  Clanking through my head – – the more things change, the more…

Here are two excerpts from Ed Batista’s excellent post titled “On The Shortness of Life“:

3. …No one is to be found who is willing to distribute his money, yet among how many does each one of us distribute his life! In guarding their fortune men are often closefisted, yet, when it comes to the matter of wasting time, in the case of the one thing in which it is right to be miserly, they show themselves most prodigal… What, then, is the reason of this? 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 you bestow on some person or thing is perhaps your last… You will hear many men saying: “After my fiftieth year I shall retire into leisure, my sixtieth year shall release me from public duties.” And what guarantee, pray, have you that your life will last longer? Who will suffer your course to be just as you plan it? Are you not ashamed to reserve for yourself only the remnant of life, and to set apart for wisdom only that time which cannot be devoted to any business? How late it is to begin to live just when we must cease to live! What foolish forgetfulness of mortality to postpone wholesome plans to the fiftieth and sixtieth year, and to intend to begin life at a point to which few have attained!…

7. …Everybody agrees that no one pursuit can be successfully followed by a man who is busied with many things…since the mind, when its interests are divided, takes in nothing very deeply, but rejects everything that is, as it were, crammed into it. There is nothing the busy man is less busied with than living: there is nothing that is harder to learn… It takes the whole of life to learn how to live, and—what will perhaps make you wonder more—it takes the whole of life to learn how to die…

Check out the rest of Ed’s post and more excerpts from Seneca’s essay at this link.

Image Source: Black and White


  1. i’m hearing you Seneca! …


  2. He would have been a great, next door neighbor.


  3. Thanks, David. I’m glad to know that essay spoke to you as well. The first time I read it in full, two days ago, I was truly shaken up–in a good way. A lot to reflect on.


  4. “it takes the whole of life to learn how to die”. Wow, that is a big statement to take in on a rainy Sunday afternoon. David. I need a few months to digest that one.


  5. Thanks for sharing – as someone preparing for job/career changes this was great timing. Thanks as well for pointing me to Ed’s website. I love his stuff and he is local – I may need to track him down.
    All the best, stay warm … Michael


  6. I love both books. Life is brief and we often put off till tomorrow that which can AND should be done today. LIVING!


  7. Wow…thanks for sharing this David.


  8. How deeply this hits me as I sit here staring at the ocean..fully living in this moment and realizing that I now share my life and love with those who truly matter to me..


  9. Lots of food for thought there.


  10. There you are … as far back as 49 AD it was known that multitasking was an excuse for mediocrity … just saying.


  11. We all need more Seneca in our lives.


  12. David, thank you for directing us to Ed’s post. It is interesting how some things are timeless. The concept in #7 about busyness affecting one’s ability to do things well is one I talk to students about all the time when they tell me they can multitask and do well at everything.


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