Not fortuitous

If [the gods] had made philosophic knowledge also a common attribute and we were all born wise, then wisdom would have forfeited its principal quality, which is that it is not fortuitous. What is precious and magnificent about it is that it does not merely happen to people but that the individual is himself responsible for it and cannot obtain it from others.

~ Seneca, from letter on Philosophy and Progress


Be your own prosecutor

You must catch yourself. Some people boast of their failings; Do you suppose a man who counts his vices as virtues can take thought for remedying them? So far as you can, then, be your own prosecutor, investigate yourself, function first as accuser, then as judge, and only in the end as advocate. And sometimes you must overrule the advocate.

~ Seneca


Uneasy pleasures

Why are their pleasures uneasy? Because the motives upon which they are founded are not stable and they totter with the frivolity which gave them birth. … Laboriously they attain what they desire, anxiously they hold what they have attained, and in the meanwhile irrecoverable time is not taken into consideration.

~ Seneca



The good man is invincible; for he engages in no contest where he is not superior. “If you want my land, take it, and take my servants, take my public post, take my poor body. But you will not cause my desire to fail to attain its end, or my aversion to fall into what it would avoid.” This is the only contest he enters into: How can he fail, then, to be invincible?

~ Epictetus


Never be poor

If you shape your life according to nature, you will never be poor. If you shape your lie according to people’s opinions, you will never be rich.

~ Epicurus


Forge on ahead

Why all this guesswork? You can see what needs to be done. If you can see the road, follow it. Cheerfully, without turning back. If not, hold up and get the best advice you can. If anything gets in the way, forge on ahead, making good use of what you have on hand, sticking to what seems right. (The best goal to achieve, and the one we fall short of when we fail.)

~ Marcus Aurelius


The present moment

Give yourself a gift: The present moment. People out for posthumous fame forget that the Generations To Come will be the same annoying people they know now. And just as mortal. What does it matter to you if they say x about you or think y?

~ Marcus Aurelius