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On the Shortness of Life

Seneca

Narrated by Roberto Scarlato

On the Shortness of Life

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On the Shortness of Life is a moral essay written by Seneca, a Roman Stoic philosopher, sometime around the year 49 AD, to his father-in-law Paulinus. The philosopher brings up many Stoic principles on the nature of time, namely that people waste much of it in meaningless pursuits. According to the essay, nature gives people enough time to do what is really important and the individual must allot it properly. In general, time is best used by living in the present moment in pursuit of the intentional, purposeful life.

In the treatise Seneca argues that we waste so much time because we do not properly value it. We expend great effort in protecting other valuables such as money and property, but because time appears intangible, we allow others to occupy it and take time away from us. Wise people, on the other hand, understand that time is the most valuable of all resources, and with effort can free themselves from external control to engage in meaningful introspection and create an intentional life.

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