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Latin Quotes about Life

Updated on January 31, 2011

The way we go in life follows in the footsteps of those who came before us. “Via trita, via tuta,” the old Roman adage asserts, “The beaten path is the safe path.”

There is a sense of comfort and assurance in knowing that the path we choose for ourselves is one chosen before us by many others and if we look to their guidance, left for us through what they had said, about life, we will not be lead in unfamiliar paths.

A person's life goes on ever watchful of their connection to their predecessors, but also of what guiding markers they will leave for their descendants.

Beyond being bright and amusing, this conceptual cast of old Latin proverbial wisdom about life serves to teach children and remind adults of the way they might want to go in life.

My Favorite Latin Quote on Life

"In school we learn not the lessons of life, but of school."

Cornelius Nepos
Cornelius Nepos
Pliny the Younger
Pliny the Younger
Pliny the Elder
Pliny the Elder

Latin Quotes about Life

  1. cujus sit vita indecoris mortem fugere turpem haut convenit

    one whose life has been disgraceful is not entitled to escape a disgraceful death
  2. an quisquam est alius liber, nisi ducere vitam cui licet, ut voluit?

    is any man free except the one who can pass his life as he pleases?
  3. beatus enim nemo dici potest extra veritatem projectus

    no one can be called happy who is living a life of falsehood
  4. exigua pars est vitæ quam nos vivimus

    the part of life that we really live is short
  5. firmum in vita nihil

    nothing in life is permanent
  6. honesta mors turpi vita potior

    an honorable death is better than a dishonorable life
  7. humanius est deridere vitam quam deplorare

    it is better for a man to laugh at life than to lament over it
  8. id arbitror adprime in vita esse utile, ne quid nimis

    this I consider to be a valuable principle in life, not to do anything in excess
  9. impensa monumenti supervacua est; memoria nostra durabit si vita meruimus

    a monument is an unnecessary expense; our memory will endure if we have earned it by our life
    (Pliny the Younger)
  10. jucunda oblivia vitæ

    it is pleasant to forget the calamities of life
  11. miseranda vita, qui se metui, quam amari malunt

    pitiable is the life of those who prefer being feared to being loved
    (Cornelius Nepos)
  12. natura vero nihil hominibus brevitate vitæ præstitit melius

    nature has granted man no better gift than the brevity of life
    (Pliny the Elder)
  13. nemo tam pauper vivit quam natus est

    no one is so poor in life as he was at birth
  14. nihil scire est vita jucundissima

    to know nothing at all is the happiest life
  15. nil sine magno vita labore debit mortalibus

    life has given nothing great to mortals without labor
  16. non est vivere, sed valere, vita (est)

    life is not mere living but the enjoyment of health
  17. non propter vitam faciunt patrimonia quidam, sed vitio cæci propter patrimonia vivunt

    some men do not get estates for the purpose of enjoying life, but, blinded by error, live only for their estates
  18. non vitæ, sed scholæ discimus

    in school, we learn not the lessons of life, but of school
  19. omne ævum curæ cunctis sua displicet ætas

    every age has its own care, each one thinks his own time of life is disagreeable
  20. propra vivere et singulos dies singulas vitas puta

    make haste to live, and consider each day a life
  21. quid est enim novi, hominem mori, cujus tota vita nihil aliud quam ad mortem iter est?

    what new thing is it then for a man to die, whose whole life is nothing else but a journey to death?
  22. quid tam ridiculum quam appetere mortem, cum vitam tibi inquietam feceris metu mortis?

    what can be so ridiculous as to seek for death, when it is merely the fear of death that makes your life so restless?
  23. quoniam diu vixesse denegatur, aliquid faciamus quo possimus ostendere nos vixisse

    as length of life is denied to us, we should at least do something to show that we have lived
  24. summum crede nefas animam præferre pudori, et propter vitam vivendi perdere causas

    count it the greatest sin to prefer your existence to your honor, and for the sake of life to lose every reason for living
  25. vita cedat, uti conviva satur

    let him take leave of life, as a guest satisfied with his entertainment
  26. vitaque mancipio, nulli datur, omnibus usu

    and life is given to none to possess fully, but for all to use
  27. vota vita mea

    my life is devoted
  28. ego consuetudinem sermonis vocabo consensum eruditorum; sicut vivendi, consensum bonorum

    I consider as the rule of language the style of the learned; as the rule of life the manners of the good
  29. ex vita discedo, tanquam ex hospitio, non tanquam ex domo

    I depart from life as from an inn, not as from a home
  30. is mihi demum vivere et frui anima videtur, qui aliquo negotio intentus, præclari facinoris aut artis bonæ famam quærit

    he alone appears to me to live and to enjoy life, who, being engaged in some business, seeks reputation by some famous action, or some useful art
  31. non est, crede mihi, sapientis dicere “vivam”; sera nimis vita est crastina; vive hodie

    believe me, the wise do not say “I shall live”; life tomorrow will be too late; live today
  32. senex cum extemplo est, jam nec sentit, nec sapit; ajunt solere eum rursum repuerascere

    when the elderly man reaches the last stage of life, without senses or mentality, they say that he has grown a child again
  33. serpentum major concordia; parcit cognatis maculis similis fera. Quando leoni fortior eripuit vitam leo?

    there is greater agreement among serpents than among men; a wild beast of a like kind spares kindred spots. When did a stronger lion deprive another of life?

Non-Latin Quotes about Life

For more quotes about / metaphors for Life, see my hub, Amusing Quotes about Life.

Latin Quotes about Love

For Latin love quotes, read my hub, Latin Quotes about Love


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    • Haunty profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Hungary

      Stan - Thank you. I hope more people will find this useful for reflection too. :)

      drbj - Thanks. This is my selection, out of maybe a hundred. The ones that I liked best.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      7 years ago from south Florida

      These are some of the wisest Latin quotes about life I know. Thanks for compiling them, Haunty.

    • Stan Fletcher profile image

      Stan Fletcher 

      7 years ago from Nashville, TN

      This was the perfect way to start my day... I'm amazed at the wisdom of those who came so long before us. The observations that these quotes suggest has been repeated down through history and rings of truth. I would be hard pressed to pick a favorite, as they are all profound in their own way. I will share this on my Facebook for others to read. Fantastic hub! My sincere thanks for taking the time to put this together....


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