Carpe diem, usually translated as "seize the day" (literally, “pluck the day”), is an expression found in a Latin poem by Horace (Odes 1.11).
Carpe Diem is an exhortation to value the moment over the uncertainties of future plans. It can be understood as a statement that encourages one to enjoy hedonistic pleasures, rather than investing one’s efforts towards attaining an ideal or preparing for the future. It can also be seen as an emphasis on the value of each moment, expressing appreciation for the opportunities found in every day. Indirectly, this can also be seen as an encouragement to wisely accept and adapt to whatever the present moment may bring.
|Tu ne quaesieris, scire nefas, quem mihi, quem tibi||Leuconoe, don't ask—it's forbidden to know—|
|finem di dederint, Leuconoe, nec Babylonios||what end the gods will give me or you. Don't play with Babylonian|
|temptaris numeros. ut melius, quidquid erit, pati.||fortune-telling either. Better just deal with whatever comes your way.|
|seu pluris hiemes seu tribuit Iuppiter ultimam,||Whether you'll see several more winters or whether the last one|
|quae nunc oppositis debilitat pumicibus mare||Jupiter gives you is the one even now pelting the rocks on the shore with the waves|
|Tyrrhenum: sapias, vina liques et spatio brevi||of the Tyrrhenian sea—be smart, drink your wine. Scale back your long hopes|
|spem longam reseces. dum loquimur, fugerit invida||to a short period. Even as we speak, envious time|
|aetas: carpe diem quam minimum credula postero.||is running away from us. Seize the day, for in the future you can believe the minimum.|
In spite of its Epicurean and hedonistic connotations, the expression also has a link to Old Testament wisdom literature, notably Ecclesiastes, including the famous passage of 3:1-9, beginning with “For everything there is a season,” and continuing with “there is a time to be born and a time to die… a time to weep and a time to laugh…” In this context, Carpe Diem would stand for a call to exert wisdom by taking each day as a gift from God, by accepting both the good and the bad, and being prepared for everything. Enjoying each day as it comes also implies a grateful heart on the part of the believer and a willingness to accept hardships when they come.
The phrase is often extended to explicitly mention the possibility of imminent death, as in "Seize the day, for tomorrow you may die."
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.
Along the same theme, and evoking some of the same imagery as the poem, is the expression "Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die," which derives from Biblical verses (such as Isaiah 22:13), and which occurs many times in modern English-language popular culture.
Carpe Diem also appears frequently in musical compositions and in a variety of very different settings, e.g., as the name of organizations ranging from entertainment to charity work all over the world.
All links retrieved January 16, 2017.
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