Carpe diem

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A sundial with a carpe diem inscription used to tell time.
Another sundial with a carpe diem inscription.

Carpe diem is a phrase from a Latin poem by Horace (See "Source" section below). It is popularly translated as "seize the day". The general definition of carpe is "pick, pluck, pluck off, gather" as in plucking or picking a rose or apple, although Horace uses the word in the sense of "enjoy, make use of, seize." Another use of the word is by joining it with cras. This gives you Carpe Diem Cras, or "Seize the day tomorrow" "Procrastinator's motto and an exact opposite of the meaning of "Carpe Diem"[1]


[edit] Meaning of the phrase

One interpretation of the phrase might be as, an existential cautionary term, much like "eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die," with emphasis on making the most of current opportunities because life is short and time is fleeting.

[edit] Related expressions

Evoking some of the same meaning is the expression,\ "Eat and drink, for tomorrow we die" which derives from verses from the biblical books of Isaiah 22:13 and 1 Corinthians 15:32, and which occurs many times in modern English-language popular culture.

The phrase non-collige virgo rosas ("gather, girl, the roses") appears at the end of the poem De rosis nascentibus[2] (also called Idyllium de rosis) attributed to Ausonius or Virgil. It encourages youth to enjoy life before it's too late.

Related but distinct is the expression memento mori ("remember that you are mortal"); indeed, memento mori is often used with some of the sense of carpe diem. However, two major elements of memento mori are humility and repentance, neither of which figures prominently in the concept of carpe diem.

In the Epic of Gilgamesh, Siduri attempts to dissuade Gilgamesh in his quest for immortality, urging him to enjoy life as it is: "As for you, Gilgamesh, fill your belly with good things; day and night, night and day, dance and be merry, feast and rejoice. Let your clothes be fresh, bathe yourself in water, cherish the little child that holds your hand, and make your wife happy in your embrace; for this too is the lot of man."

In the Ecclesiastes are some paragraphs with a similar message (9,7-9):

7 Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart; for God now accepteth thy works.
8 Let thy garments be always white; and let thy head lack no ointment.
9 Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity, which he hath given thee under the sun, all the days of thy vanity: for that is thy portion in this life, and in thy labour which thou takest under the sun.

Horace himself parodies the phrase in another of his poems, 'The town mouse and the country mouse'. He uses the phrase carpe viam meaning 'seize the road' to compare the two different attitudes to life of a person (or in this case, a mouse) living in a city and in the countryside.

Heavy metal band Metallica have a song named Carpe Diem.

Former Glasgow Rangers and Scotland captain Barry Ferguson has a Carpe Diem tatoo on his right forerarm.

[edit] Source

Original usage from Odes 1.11, in Latin and English:

Tu ne quaesieris, scire nefas, quem mihi, quem tibi Don't ask (it's forbidden to know) what final fate the gods have
finem di dederint, Leuconoe, nec Babylonios what end the gods will give me or you, Leuconoe. Don't play with Babylonian
temptaris numeros. ut melius, quidquid erit, pati. fortune-telling either. It is better to endure whatever will be.
seu pluris hiemes seu tribuit Iuppiter ultimam, Whether Jupiter has allotted to you many more winters or this final one
quae nunc oppositis debilitat pumicibus mare which even now wears out the Tyrrhenian sea on the rocks placed opposite
Tyrrhenum: sapias, vina liques et spatio brevi — be smart, drink your wine. Scale back your long hopes
spem longam reseces. dum loquimur, fugerit invida to a short period. While we speak, envious time will have {already} fled
aetas: carpe diem quam minimum credula postero. Seize the day and place no trust in tomorrow.

Also known for names in Metallica and Ayreon

[edit] References

  1. ^ see Chambers Murray or Lewis Short, Latin-English Dictionary, carpo carpere, carpsi, carptum.[1], cf. καρπός
  2. ^ De rosis nascentibus (in German), in a collection of the works of Virgil under the note Hoc carmen scripsit poeta ignotus ("This poem was written by an unknown poet").

[edit] External links

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