Carpe Diem

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What is ‘Carpe Diem’?



Original usage from Odes 1.11, in Latin and English:

Tu ne quaesieris, scire nefas, quem mihi, quem tibi
finem di dederint, Leuconoe, nec Babylonios
temptaris numeros. ut melius, quidquid erit, pati.
seu pluris hiemes seu tribuit Iuppiter ultimam,
quae nunc oppositis debilitat pumicibus mare:
Tyrrhenum sapias, vina liques et spatio brevi
spem longam reseces. dum loquimur, fugerit invida
aetas: carpe diem, quam minimum credula poster.


Don’t ask (it’s forbidden to know) what end
the gods have granted to me or you, Leuconoe.
Don’t play with Babylonian fortune-telling either.
How much better it is to endure whatever will be!
Whether Jupiter has allotted to sink you many more winters or this final one which even now wears out the Tyrrhenian sea on the rocks placed opposite— be wise, be truthful, strain the wine, and
scale back your long hopes to a short period.
While we speak, envious time will have {already} fled:
seize the day, trusting as little as possible in the next (day)[/future].[2]

TheLatin phrase “Carpe Diem” is made popular by the film, Dead Poets Society, which portrays a group of young men studying in an upper class elite school that is known for its rigour in curriculum and strict discipline. There, they meet an unorthodox Literature teacher who challenges them to follow their passion and seize the day. While the illustration is apt, what does the phrase exactly mean?

In Horace, the phrase is part of the longer Carpe Diem quam minimum credula postero – “Seize the Day, putting as little trust as possible in the next (day)[/future]”, and 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 future better.

 How are you using your time? 
 On Facebook?
 On Snapchat?
 On Computer games? 
 What are your passions? Dreams? Ideals?
 What are you doing today to achieve them? 
 If you haven’t thought about it, think about it TODAY for tomorrow may  never come! 


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