Satius est otiosum esse quam nihil agere

By Nikolaos, in 'Latin Mottoes', Dec 21, 2011.

  1. Nikolaos schmikolaos

    • Consul
    Location:
    Oklahoma, US
    I thought that Jaime might be getting lonely in this forum, so I thought I'd post something I just read in Pliny the Younger's letters:

    Satius est otiosum esse quam nihil agere

    Ep. 1.9

    "It's better to be unoccupied than to do nothing"

    The full sentence is "satius est enim, ut Atilius noster eruditissime simul et facetissime dixit, otiosum esse quam nihil agere". Pliny was writing to his friend Minicius Fundanus from his villa in the country, remarking that, given the time to reflect, city life seemed frivolous and repetitive.
  2. Nikolaos schmikolaos

    • Consul
    Location:
    Oklahoma, US
    Or, perhaps, "it's better not to do anything than to do nothing" :p
  3. JaimeB Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    San Francisco, CA
    It might be helpful to think of "otiosus" as "being at leisure" rather than "doing nothing."

    After all, we all do something useful with leisure time; we rest, recreate, exercise, keep at our hobbies. It's quite a contrast to "doing nothing."


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  4. Nikolaos schmikolaos

    • Consul
    Location:
    Oklahoma, US
    True. I chose "unoccupied" in the first because I wanted to keep it in fewer words, and then added the second when I saw that my reader glosses "nihil agere" as "a play on words, not to do nothing but to be busy at nothing".

    I don't really see the need to stress this aspect, though. The Latin and English both can be taken either way...

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