Perfice omnia facta vitae quasi haec postrema essent

Etaoin Shrdlu

This phrase is attributed – as far as I can see, only by a watchmaker who uses it on timepieces – to Marcus Aurelius. I didn't believe that. Someone on Twitter used it and suggested it might be from Boëthius or Francis Bacon. I don't believe that, either.

It's obvious that it's supposed to mean 'do all things in life as though they were the last things [you'll do in life]', but I suspect it's very modern, judging from its lack of idiomaticity. Any ideas on where it might have started?


Staff member
It's indeed inspired from Marcus Aurelius (Meditations 2:5), but it's something he wrote in Greek, not in Latin.

ποριεῖς δέ, ἂν ὡς ἐσχάτην τοῦ βίου ἑκάστην πρᾶξιν ἐνεργῇς... "And you'll bring it about if you do every act as if it were the last of your life..."

The Latin you have, considering its construction, seems to have been translated from an English version (or from a language rather similar to English) rather than from the original Greek.

Edit: I think you'd need sint at the end rather than essent. A Latin version closer to the Greek would be quasi postremam vitae unamquamque actionem age.

Etaoin Shrdlu

Cheers, and I'm impressed beyond measure. We're still left with the mystery of who translated it into Latin, and why. But that may be one of life's unsolved mysteries.