Tuesday, September 25th, 2012...9:53 amChris Francese

Wish to Be What You Are (Martial, Epigrams 10.47)

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Guide to a happy life, from the Roman epigram writer Martial (M. Valerius Martialis). The Martialis mentioned in line 2 is L. Julius Martialis, the poet’s closest friend. My translation is below.

Martial 10.47

Vitam quae faciant beatiorem,
Iucundissime Martialis, haec sunt:
Res non parta labore, sed relicta;
Non ingratus ager, focus perennis;
Lis numquam, toga rara, mens quieta;
Vires ingenuae, salubre corpus;
Prudens simplicitas, pares amici;
Convictus facilis, sine arte mensa;
Nox non ebria, sed soluta curis;
Non tristis torus, et tamen pudicus;
Somnus, qui faciat breves tenebras:
Quod sis, esse velis nihilque malis;
Summum nec metuas diem nec optes.

Here are the essentials of a happy life,
my dear friend: money not worked for,
but inherited; some land not unproductive;
a hearth fire always going; law suits never;
the toga rarely worn; a calm mind;
a gentleman’s strong and healthy body;
circumspect candor, friends who are your equals;
relaxed dinner parties, a simple table,
nights not drunken, but free from anxieties;
a marriage bed not prudish, and yet modest;
plenty of sleep to make the dark hours short. Wish
to be what you are, and prefer nothing more.
Don’t fear your last day, or hope for it either.



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