Category Archives: Horatius

Vivere si (..)

“Vivere si rectè nescis, decede peritis;
Lusisti satis, edisti satis atque bibisti;
Tempus abire tibi est, ne potum largius aequo
Rideat et pulset lasciva decentius aetas;”
Horatius as quoted by M. de Montaigne in: Essais II, Editions Gallimard, 1965, Chapitre XII (Apologie de Raimond Sebond), p. 213.

[Amateuristic English translation: “If you don’t know how to live well, leave your place to those who do; you have fooled around enough, eaten enough and have drunk enough; time for you to withdraw for fear of having drank more than reasonable and in so doing, of becoming the laughing stock of the young,  to whom cheerfulnes is more becoming.”]

[Re-posted from The Old Site, original dd. 07-04-2010. Only one to go ;-]

I wanted to talk about essential differences between absolutes and universals. The wish not to live beyond your expiration data is universal. The requirement to live until such time as ‘one is called’ is an absolute. The difference between the two is the meaning that is conferred to to what it is ‘to live’.

I (try to) explain.

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Que philosopher, c’est apprendre à mourir

“Il faut estre tousjours boté et prest à partir, en tant qu’en nous est, et sur tout se garder qu’on n’aye lors affaire qu’à soy:

Quid brevi fortes jaculamur aevo

M. de Montaigne, Essais, Livre I, Chapitre XX, Flammarion 1969, p. 134 [quoting from Horace, Odes, II, XVI, 17.]

[I am not so sure about the below translation but it fits exactly with the idea of negligence/responsibility I am carrying around, lately.]

(amateuristic English translation:  We always have to be prepared & ready to leave, insofar as we have it in us, and above all ensure that at that moment we only need to heed ourselves:

Why, in a life so short, form projects with such

This is the opposite of the 90’s: a decade where striving to become irreplaceable jumped from nowhere to the top of the list of ‘things everybody should try to do if they don’t want to be seen as major losers’. The great men are now measured by what havoc they leave behind when they die (and it is not a coincidence that once in a while a woman is considered to be one of ‘the great men’). Everybody else is considered a ‘loser’; with some luck people will find the ‘silent passing’ as something that is ‘fitting’, maybe even ‘endearing’ but invariably the death girl’s opinions are received with: ‘Whatever, major loser!.”

Such is the legacy of a fin de siècle in which the sky was the limit. But how to step over this addictive point of view (it’ll be a.o. about our dearest little daughters’ and sons’ education)?

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