From several sources I found on the Web and others,
Seneca was in fact criticizing a school system whose
aim was the school itself, instead of life. He
actually ascertained a fact rather than he defined
what should be. Therefore it is not false to quote the
reverse sentence: Non scholae sed vitae discimus,
insofar we have in mind what should be, and not what

Interesting that, when reading the original sentence,
nearly everybody thinks immediately that there must be
a mistake somewhere. Probably culture conditioning. We
understand "discimus" has "we have to learn, we must
learn, we should learn". But "discimus" means nothing
of the sort. It just means "we learn".

--- Ray Brown <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> On Saturday, September 18, 2004, at 11:44 , Andreas
> Johansson wrote:
> > Quoting "J. 'Mach' Wust" <[log in to unmask]>:
> >
> >> On Fri, 17 Sep 2004 12:51:02 +0200, Andreas
> Johansson <[log in to unmask]>
> >> wrote:
> >>
> >>> I don't know if my previous mail on this topic
> went thru, but I went
> >>> home
> >> and
> >>> checked Tore Jansson's _Latin_, and it agrees
> with what I thought I
> >> recalled;
> >>> what Seneca actually wrote was _Non vitae sed
> scholae discimus_ "Not for
> >> life
> >>> but for school do we learn". It's noted its
> often quoted in opposite
> >>> form,
> >>> and yet attributed to Seneca (which strikes me
> as highly discourteous,
> >>> no
> >>> matter how dead the old man might be).
> >>
> >> It's not that bad since he meant it should be the
> other way round.
> If he actually meant it the other way round, then it
> is very bad. "non
> uitae sed scholae discimus" *cannot* mean 'we learn
> not for school but
> for life' and Seneca would certainly have known
> that! If in fact he meant
> the other way round, then he has been extremely
> careless.
> >> By
> >> inversing Seneca's word, we get it the way he'd
> have wanted it.
> How do you in fact know that that is what he would
> have wanted? Did he add
> something like: "Oops, made a mistake there! Please
> transpose _uitae_ and
> _scholae_." I guess not. Obviously the sentence is
> being quoted out of
> context. But what is it that makes it clear that
> Seneca meant it the other
> way round and why, then, did he not write it the
> other way round?
> I am not 'just curious'; I am *very* curious.
> >> It's not a
> >> proper quote, but an allusion, and a quite
> litteral one.
> Um - seems to be a bit of a contradiction there.
> > Well, I don't pretend to know what Seneca would
> have felt about it. I do
> > know
> > I'd hate it if I somehow knew that future
> generations would invert a
> > saying of
> > mine and yet present it as quote with my name on
> it, quite regardless
> > whether
> > the inversion expressed what I wished to be the
> case.
> Absolutely spot! and I suspect Seneca would in fact
> be none too pleased.
> If we are going quote him, we might as well do it
> properly.
> But we have assumed all along the Seneca meant
> 'school' when he wrote
> _scholae_. But the native Latin for school is
> _ludus_, _schola_ is a Greek
> borrowing. It may mean 'school', but it can also
> mean 'leisure time [given
> to learning]'. Maybe he meant:
> "We don't learn for our daily living but for the our
> leisure time."
> Does any know the context in which the sentence
> occurs?
> Ray
> ===============================================
> [log in to unmask]
> ===============================================
> "They are evidently confusing science with
> technology."
> UMBERTO ECO				September, 2004

Philippe Caquant

Barbarus hic ego sum, quia non intellegor illis (Ovidius).

Populus me sibilat, at mihi plaudo (Horatius).

Interdum stultus opportune loquitur (Henry Fielding).

Scire leges non hoc est verba earum tenere, sed vim ac potestatem (Somebody).

Melius est ut scandalum oriatur, quam ut veritas relinquatur (Somebody else).

Ceterum censeo *vi* esse oblitterandum (Me).

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