The ancient Roman ideal has been hijackedby Roman Krznaric / April 27, 2017 / Leave a comment
It’s the name of a heaving nightclub in Croatia, and a tiny guesthouse in Southern China. Judi Dench even had it tattooed on her wrist for her 81st birthday. More than two thousand years’ old, a phrase from a dead language gets 25 million online search results: carpe diem.
Usually translated as “seize the day”—or sometimes “harvest,” “pluck” or “enjoy” the day—carpe diem is one of the oldest philosophical ideals in Western culture. It goes back to a few lines written by the Roman lyric poet Horace in 23BC: “Even as we speak, envious time flies past. Seize the day and leave as little as possible for tomorrow.” With these words Horace raised the ultimate existential question—how should we live in the face of the reality of our mortality?