Seneca the Elder

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Lucius Annaeus Seneca (or Marcus Annaeus Seneca; c. 54 BC – c. 37 AD), now known as Seneca the Rhetorician or Seneca the Elder, was a Roman authority on the history and techniques of oratory. He was father of Seneca the Younger and grandfather of Lucan.

Quotes[edit]

Latin quotations are cited from The Latin Library.

  • Nihil infinitum est.
    • Nothing is infinite.
    • Suasoriae ch. 1, sect. 3; translation from Michael Winterbottom (trans.) Declamations of the Elder Seneca (London: Heinemann, 1974) vol. 2, p. 489
  • Omnia mors poscit. Lex est, non poena, perire."
    • All things death claims. 'Tis law, not punishment, to die.
    • De qualitate temporis, Epigrams, VII., 7, as reported in Harbottle's Dictionary of Quotations (1897), p. 197
  • Magni pectoris est inter secunda moderatio.
    • It is the sign of a great spirit to be moderate in prosperity.
    • Suasoriae, ch. 1, sect. 3; translation from Michael Winterbottom (trans.) Declamations of the Elder Seneca (London: Heinemann, 1974) vol. 2, p. 489
  • Know this, that he that is a friend to himself, is a friend to all men.
    • 1759 Seneca: Works. Epistles. No. 6. (Thomas Lodye, Editor.)
  • Si vis amari, ama.
    • If you want to be loved, love.
    • Epistularum Moralium Ad Lucilium, Book 1, IX.

Controversiae[edit]

  • Perierat totus orbis, nisi iram finiret misericordia.
    • The whole world would have been destroyed if pity did not put an end to anger.
    • Bk. 1, ch. 1, sect. 6; translation from Michael Winterbottom (trans.) Declamations of the Elder Seneca (London: Heinemann, 1974) vol. 1 p. 33.
  • Iniquum est conlapsis manum non porrigere; commune hoc ius generis humani est.
    • It is wrong not to give a hand to the fallen. This right is common to the whole human race.
    • Bk. 1, ch. 1, sect. 14; translation from Norman T. Pratt Seneca's Drama (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1983) p. 140.
  • Quædam iura non scripta, sed omnibus scriptis certiora sunt.
    • Some laws are not written, but are more decisive than any written law.
    • Bk. 1, ch. 1, sect. 14; translation from Norman T. Pratt Seneca's Drama (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1983) p. 140.
  • Vivamus, moriendum est.
    • Let us live – we must die.
    • Bk. 2, ch. 6, sect. 3; translation from Michael Winterbottom (trans.) Declamations of the Elder Seneca (London: Heinemann, 1974) vol. 1 p. 349.
    • Some editions of Seneca prefer the reading Bibamus, moriendum est (Let us drink – we must die).


Misattributed[edit]

  • Quid enim refert, quantum habeas? multo illud plus est, quod non habes.
    • What difference does it make how much you have? What you do not have amounts to much more.
    • Aulus Gellius, Noctes Atticae, bk. 12, ch. 2, sect. 13; translation from Riad Aziz Kassis The Book of Proverbs and Arabic Proverbial Works (Leiden: Brill, 1999) p. 159.
  • Ignoranti quem portum petat nullus suus ventus est.
    • If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favourable.
    • Seneca the Younger, Epistulae morales ad Lucilium, no. 71, sect. 3; translation from Philip Gaskell Landmarks in Classical Literature (Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn, 1999) p. 151.
  • Quemadmodum gladius neminem occidit: occidentis telum est.
    • A sword never kills anybody; it is a tool in the killer's hand.
    • Seneca the Younger, Epistulae morales ad Lucilium, no. 87, sect. 30; translation from John W. Casperson A Chalice of Miracles (Bloomington: AuthorHouse, 2008) p. 43.
  • Eo animo quidque debetur quo datur, nec quantum sit sed a quali profectum voluntate perpenditur.
    • The spirit in which a thing is given determines that in which the gift is acknowledged; it is the intention, not the face-value of the gift, that is weighed.
    • Seneca the Younger, Epistulae morales ad Lucilium, no. 81, sect. 6; translation from Tochi Omenukor Words of a Woman (New York: Writer's Club Press, 2002) p. 15.
  • Confragosa in fastigium dignitatis via est.
    • It is a rough road that leads to the heights of greatness.
    • Seneca the Younger, Epistulae morales ad Lucilium no. 84, sect. 13; translation from Moses Hadas Imperial Rome (New York: Time-Life, 1965) p. 109.
  • Aut potentior te aut inbecillior laesit: si inbecillior, parce illi, si potentior, tibi.
    • He who has injured thee was stronger or weaker than thee. If weaker, spare him; if stronger, spare thyself.
    • Seneca the Younger, De ira, Bk. 3, ch. 5, sect. 8; translation from Don Givens Storms of Life (Camarillo, Ca.: Xulon Press, 2008) p. 89.

External links[edit]

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