Dusty Phrases

Hi! Welcome to “Dusty Phrases.” You will find below an ancient phrase in one language or another, along with its English translation. You may also find the power to inspire your friends or provoke dread among your enemies.

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Carpe diem


Seize the day

This is a Latin aphorism still used widely today. From Wiki:

Carpe diem is a Latin aphorism, usually translated “seize the day”, taken from book 1 of the Roman poet Horace‘s work Odes (23 BC).

Carpe is the second-person singularpresentactiveimperative of carpō “pick or pluck” used by Horace to mean “enjoy, seize, use, make use of”.Diem is the accusative of dies “day”. A more literal translation of carpe diem would thus be “pluck the day [as it is ripe]”—that is, enjoy the moment. It has been argued by various authors that this interpretation is closer to Horace’s original meaning. Latin scholar Maria S. Marsilio points out, “carpe diem” is a horticultural metaphor that, particularly seen in the context of the poem, is more accurately translated as “plucking the day,” evoking the plucking and gathering of ripening fruits or flowers, enjoying a moment that is rooted in the sensory experience of nature.

In Horace, the phrase is part of the longer carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero, which is often translated as “Seize the day, put very little trust in tomorrow (the future)”. The ode says that the future is unforeseen and that one should not leave to chance future happenings, but rather one should do all one can today to make one’s own future better. This phrase is usually understood against Horace’s Epicurean background.