What is Carpe Diem?
Carpe diem is a phrase from a Latin poem by Quintus Horatius Flaccus (65 BC – 8 BC), more widely known as Horace. It was Lord Byron’s use of the phrase that first began to integrate it into English. He included it in his 1817 work ‘Letters’, which was published in 1830 by Thomas Moore.
‘Carpe diem’ is usually translated from the Latin as ‘seize the day’. However, the more pedantic of Latin scholars may very well seize you by the throat if you suggest that translation. ‘Carpe’ translates literally as ‘pluck’, with particular reference to the picking of fruit, so a more accurate rendition is ‘enjoy the day, pluck the day when it is ripe’. The extended version of the phrase ‘carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero’ translates as ‘Pluck the day, trusting as little as possible in the future’.
The meaning is similar to that of many proverbs that we continue to use in English and is a warning to make the most of the time we have, with the implication that our time on Earth is short. Other such proverbs are ‘Strike while the iron is hot’, ‘The early bird catches the worm’, ‘Gather ye rosebuds while ye may’, and so on.
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