Death smiles upon us all, all a man can do is smile back


New Member
Hello. I am trying to translate a phrase said by Marcus Aurelius (a Roman Emperor from the second century). The phrase is:
"Death smiles upon us all, all a man can do is smile back"

Thank you in advance for your help.


Civis Illustris
If he actually said that (and wrote it down), you should be able to find the original (probably Greek) quote somewhere... do you have any idea when/where/in which work he is said to have said that?


Vemortuicida strenuus
If it exists, it's most likely from his Meditations.


New Member
I apologize. I should have explained further. The phrase is written in one of the books of The Meditations which were written in greek originally (although some scholars though it may have been written in latin like his other writings). He wrote it during his military campaigns while he was Emperor during the second century.

I ordered a copy of the english translation from my local bookstore but they're having a hard time finding me the english/latin translation. They said they can find me a just latin version but unfortunately that would do me little good since I don't speak latin.

The reason I would like to see this phrase in Latin is because I would like to use it as my epitaph. I am from south america originally so i relate to Latin more so than the Greek language. I speak Spanish fluently and am learning portuguese now but I am a couple of years away from attempting Latin.

Imber Ranae

Ranunculus Iracundus
I could be wrong, but the idiom doesn't sound particularly Latin (or Greek) to me. It may be a translation of the sentiment of some particular passage in the Meditations, but it's probably not literal.


New Member
Here is a Greek quote from M.A. ix.3 which may be the source of what you are looking for. I have not found a good Latin translation, however.

Μὴ καταφρόνει θανάτου, ἀλλὰ εὐαρέστει αὐτῷ, ὡς καὶ τούτου ἑνὸς ὄντος ὧν ἡ φύσις ἐθέλει.
Think not disdainfully of death, but look on it with favour; for even death is one of the things that Nature wills.
Meditations. ix. 3.
Thanks to the link above for Bartleby!

Richard Binder

New Member
I'm new here, just stumbled across the site. I don't think the quotation is authentic, but I do enjoy composing maxims as idiomatically as I can, and my Latin version of Maximus' statement is this:

Mors nos adridet omnes, homo nil agere potest quam eam adridere.

Another good line in the film, one that many people seem to have missed, is "What we do in life, echoes in eternity." My version:

Id quod per vitam agimus per aevum reboabit.