Asked in Latin to EnglishEnglish to Latin
What is the meaning of 'Carpe diem quam minimum credula postero'?
February 04, 2010 6:39AM
The Latin command 'Carpe diem quam minimum credula postero' means Seize the day that [has] the fewest believing in posterity. The sentence therefore means never giving up, even when things look so bad that the day may not last, that you may not live through that day.
In the word-by-word translation, the imperative verb 'carpe' means '[you] seize, take advantage of'. The noun 'diem' means 'day'. The relative pronoun 'quam' means 'which'. The adjective 'minimum' means 'the fewest, the least, the minimum'. The adjective 'postero' means 'posterity'.
carpe is indeed imperative mood, but the word means "pluck" or "harvest" not seize. the word is probably related, if not borrowed from the Greek "karpos" meaning fruit. "postero" means with regard to the future.
So it's more like: harvest the day and don't trust too much in the future.
The line is from Horace's Odes Book I. Number 11. The poem is full allusions to agriculture like "pluck" and earlier line "prune back your desires". It's a great poem. There's a reason it's been around for a couple of thousand years.
If you're looking for something that actually means "never giving up, even when things look so bad" try the Aenead Book I: Durate, et vosmet rebus servate secundis.