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.

Inscription at the Hermann-Böse-Gymnasium
Vas utcai Kereskedelmi Iskola, Budapest (built in 1909—1910, architect: Béla Lajta)

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. ^ C., Seneca, Lucio Anneo, ca. 4 a. C.-65 d. (2010). L. Annaei Senecae Ad Lucilium epistulae morales. E Typographeo Clarendoniano. ISBN 978-0-19-814649-0. OCLC 912471544.
  2. ^ Seneca. Moral letters to Lucilius.
  3. ^ Kelemen, Imre (1818). Institutiones juris Hungarici privati. II. ed: De personis. 1 (in Latin). Typ. univ.
  4. ^ Oberdeutsche allgemeine Litteraturzeitung: im Jahre .... 1804 (in German). Königl. Baier. Zeitungs-Comtoir. 1804.