Memento Mori

Horace, Odes 2.3, ll. 1-8

In difficult times, remember to keep a level mind,
Just as in prosperous times you must keep your mind away
From insolent delight – for Dellus, you shall die,
Whether you live your entire life in gloom every moment,
Or whether you recline on a secluded patch of grass
During the holidays, taking your delight
In a fine Falernian wine fetched from the depths of your cellar.

Aequam memento rebus in arduis
servare mentem, non secus ac bonis
    ab insolenti temperatam
         laetitia, moriture Delli,
seu maestus omni tempore vixeris
seu te in remoto gramine per dies
    festos reclinatum bearis
         interiore nota Falerni.

Still Life with Skull (Vanitas), Philippe de Champaigne, ca. 1671

The Four Ages of Man

Horace, Epistulae ad Pisones (Ars Poetica) 158-174

A child, who knows already
How to speak in response to speech
And who marks the ground with steps
Unwavering and sure,
Loves to play with his age-mates;
He both develops anger
And gives it up haphazardly,
And he changes every hour.
A young man, still un-bearded,
His guardian gone at last,
Delights in horses, in hunting-dogs,
And the grass of the sun-lit Campus;
He is pliable as wax
To be bent toward doing wrong,
But harsh toward those who look out for him;
Slow to store up what is useful,
He spends money wastefully;
His thoughts are lofty, he is full
Of desire, yet very hasty
To abandon things he’s loved.
But when his desires are changed,
A man in age and spirit,
He seeks wealth and political ties,
A slave to the quest for honor;
He is hesitant to commit
What he’ll soon work hard to alter.
But as for an old man,
Many unpleasant things surround him-
Either because he’s grasping
And, wretched man that he is,
Abstains from things obtained
And fears to make use of them,
Or because he handles all things
In a fearful, chilly fashion-
A delayer, sluggish in hope,
Inactive, scared of the future,
Cantankerous, full of complaints,
Fond of praising the time
That passed when he was a boy,
Fond of castigating
And judging those who are younger.

Reddere qui uoces iam scit puer et pede certo
signat humum, gestit paribus conludere et iram
concipit ac ponit temere et mutatur in horas.
imberbis iuuenis tandem custode remoto
gaudet equis canibusque et aprici gramine Campi,
cereus in uitium flecti, monitoribus asper,
utilium tardus prouisor, prodigus aeris,
sublimis cupidusque et amata relinquere pernix.
Conuersis studiis aetas animusque uirilis
quaerit opes et amicitias, inseruit honori,
commisisse cauet quod mox mutare laboret.
Multa senem circumueniunt incommoda, uel quod
quaerit et inuentis miser abstinet ac timet uti,
uel quod res omnis timide gelideque ministrat,
dilator, spe lentus, iners pauidusque futuri,
difficilis, querulus, laudator temporis acti
se puero, castigator censorque minorum.

The Seven Ages of Man, William Mulready, 1838