Non scholae sed vitae

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Inscription at the Hermann-Böse-Gymnasium

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]


  1. ^ Annaeus Seneca, Lucius. Epistulae morales ad Lucilium, CVI. (in 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. (in Latin)
  4. ^ Oberdeutsche Allgemeine Litteraturzeitung, No. 70, p. 1119. Zeitungs-Comtoir (Munich), 12 Jun 1804. Hosted at Google Books. Accessed 30 May 2014. (in German)