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Carpe diem

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Carpe diem.

Carpe diem is a famous phrase from one of the poems of Horace. It means "seize the day" in Latin.

The poem in Latin and English

The poem is originally from Odes 1.11. It is given in Latin and English below.

Tu ne quaesieris, scire nefas, quem mihi, quem tibi Leuconoe, do not 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 will 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, trusting little in the future.

What it means

Especially during the Baroque era, the phrase was important. In the 17th century there was the Thirty Years' war, which lasted roughly from 1618 to 1648. For the people of the time, death was present almost everywhere. To compensate for that there were the concepts of Carpe diem (There is little time left, use it as best you can), Vanitas (Vanity; things are not what they seem), and Memento mori (Remember you will die).

Better translation

A better translation of the phrase would probably be pluck the day (as a fruit might be plucked from a tree).