Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Living the Happy Life

I offered this poem to my Latin III students recently. They dutifully translated it, but, as it should be, they did not appreciate the message:

Martial X.47: "Living the Happy Life"

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.

And here is my (somewhat free) translation:

Martial, my good man, these things make for a happier life:
stuff not gotten from work, but left to you;
a happy garden, always a fire in the stove;
never being called to court, a little-used suit, a mind at peace;
free-born strength, a healthy body;
straight-talking wisdom and friends who feel the same way;
modest entertainment, simple food;
not partying all night, but free from cares;
not sleeping alone, but not around either;
dreams which make the night pass quickly:
may you want to be who you are and long for nothing;
may you neither dread your final day nor look forward to it.
Certainly words of wisdom which could have been typed by anyone seeking to shut out the frenzy of the modern world and not penned by someone over 1,900 years ago.

1 comment:

ginnyL said...

You know, I really like this. I like the choice and I like your translation. I've had this page open on my monitor for days (or weeks?) now, but I just hadn't slowed down enough to read it.