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Non scholae sed vitae

Non scholæ sed vitæ is a Latin phrase. Its longer form is non scholæ sed vitæ discimus, which means "We do not learn for school, but for life". The scholae and vitae are first-declension feminine datives of purpose.

The motto is an inversion of the original, which appeared in Seneca the Younger's Moral Letters to Lucilius around AD 65.[1] It appears in an occupatio passage wherein Seneca imagines Lucilius's objections to his arguments. Non vitae sed scholae discimus ("We learn [such literature] not for life but for classtime") was thus already a complaint, the implication being that Lucilius would argue in favor of more practical education and that mastery of literature was overrated.[2] During the early 19th century, this was emended in Hungary and Germany to non scholae, sed vitae discendum est ("We must learn not for school but for life").[3][4] The present form is now used as a school motto around the world.[8]


  1. ^ Annaeus Seneca, Lucius. Epistulae morales ad Lucilium, CVI. (Latin)
  2. ^ Annaeus Seneca, Lucius. Gummere, Richard (trans.). Moral Letters to Lucilius, Vol. III, No. 106. Harvard University Press (Cambridge), 1925. Hosted at Wikisource. Accessed 30 May 2014.
  3. ^ Cited by Kelemen, Imre. Institutiones Juris Hungarici Privati, Vol. I, §80. 1818. Hosted at Google Books. Accessed 30 May 2014. (Latin)
  4. ^ Oberdeutsche Allgemeine Litteraturzeitung, No. 70, p. 1119. Zeitungs-Comtoir (Munich), 12 Jun 1804. Hosted at Google Books. Accessed 30 May 2014. Invalid language code.
  5. ^ Siebert, Rudolf. Manifesto of the Critical Theory of Society and Religion: The Wholly Other, Liberation, Happiness, and the Rescue of the Hopeless, Vol. 1, p. 996. Koninklijke Brill NV (Leiden), 2010. Hosted at Google Books. Accessed 30 May 2014.
  6. ^ Queen's College. Official website: "School History". Accessed 30 May 2014.
  7. ^ Linden Hall. Official website: "Fast Facts".
  8. ^ Such schools include the Lessing-Gymnasium in Frankfurt, Germany;[5] Queen's College in Taunton, England;[6] Linden Hall in Lititz, Pennsylvania;[7] and Carroll College in Helena, Montana.