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He who without necessity embarks
In many matters, is a fool for slighting
The obvious blessings of a tranquil life.

[ὅστις δὲ πράσσει πολλὰ µὴ πράσσειν παρόν,
µῶρος, παρὸν ζῆν ἡδέως ἀπράγµονα.]

Euripides (485?-406? BC) Greek tragic dramatist
Antiope [Αντιοπη], frag. 193 (TGF, Kannicht) [Amphion] (c. 410 BC) [tr. Wodhall (1809)]

Barnes fragment 104, Musgrave 25. (Source (Greek)). Alternate translation:

Whoever is very active when he may be inactive, is a moron,
when he may live pleasantly keeping clear from politics.
[tr. Will (2015)]

Whoever is overactive when he could relax
is foolish, for he misses out on a pleasant life.

Added on 11-Oct-22 | Last updated 11-Oct-22
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Efficiency is a thief of time when it leaves no leisure.

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Marcelene Cox (1900-1998) American writer, columnist, aphorist
“Ask Any Woman” column, Ladies’ Home Journal (Feb 1949)
Added on 13-Sep-22 | Last updated 13-Sep-22
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In short, the contradiction in the old defense of class stratification is that it defends leisure for the leisure class, but not for the underclass. With reference to the underclass, leisure is said to destroy the incentive to work, leads to slothfulness and self-indulgence, and retards cognitive and moral development. When applied to the leisure class, the concept evokes an image of Plato and Aristotle, whose leisure was based on slave labor, creating the intellectual foundations of Western civilization; or patrician slave-owners like Washington and Jefferson laying the foundations of American civilization; or creative aristocrats like Count Leo Tolstoy or Bertrand, Earl Russell; or, even closer to home, of our own sons and daughters (or of ourselves, when we were young adults) being freed from the stultifying tasks of earning a living until well into our adult years so that we could study in expensive universities to gain specialized knowledge and skills.

James Gilligan (b. c. 1936) American psychiatrist and author
Preventing Violence, ch. 5 (2001)
Added on 16-Aug-22 | Last updated 16-Aug-22
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Happiness is thought to imply leisure; for we toil in order that we may have leisure, as we make war in order that we may enjoy peace.

[δοκεῖ τε ἡ εὐδαιμονία ἐν τῇ σχολῇ εἶναι, ἀσχολούμεθα γὰρ ἵνα σχολάζωμεν καὶ πολεμοῦμεν ἵν᾽ εἰρήνην ἄγωμεν.]

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Nicomachean Ethics [Ἠθικὰ Νικομάχεια], Book 10, ch. 7 (10.7) / 1177b.4 (c. 325 BC) [tr. Peters (1893), 10.7.6]

(Source (Greek)). Alternate translations:

Happiness is thought to stand in perfect rest; for we toil that we may rest, and war that we may be at peace.
[tr. Chase (1847), ch. 6]

It would seem that happiness is the very antithesis of a busy life, in that it is compatible with perfect leisures. And it is with such leisure in view that a busy life is always led, exactly as war is only waged for the sake of ultimate peace.
[tr. Williams (1869)]

The end of labor is to gain leisure.
[in Ballou, Treasury of Thought (1872)]

Happiness is thought to depend on leisure; for we are busy that we may have leisure, and make war that we may live in peace.
[tr. Ross (1908)]

Happiness is thought to involve leisure; for we do business in order that we may have leisure, and carry on war in order that we may have peace.
[tr. Rackham (1934)]

Happiness seems to reside in leisure, since we do unleisured things in order to be at leisure, and wage war in order to live in peace.
[tr. Reeve (1948)]

Happiness is thought to depend on leisure; for we toil for the sake of leisurely activity, and we are at war for the sake of peaceful activity.
[tr. Apostle (1975)]

Happiness seems to depend on leisure, because we work to have leisure, and wage war to live in peace.
[tr. Crisp (2000)]

[Because], happiness seems to reside in leisure, we labor [sacrifice leisure] so that we may have leisure.
[tr. @sentantiq (2018)]

Added on 8-Mar-22 | Last updated 8-Mar-22
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Most people, when they are left free to fill their own time according to their own choice, are at a loss to think of anything sufficiently pleasant to be worth doing. And whatever they decide on, they are troubled by the feeling that something else would have been pleasanter. To be able to fill leisure intelligently is the last product of civilization, and at present very few people have reached this level.

Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) English mathematician and philosopher
The Conquest of Happiness, ch. 14 (1930)
Added on 6-Oct-21 | Last updated 6-Oct-21
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I attended to some of the business on my table to-day. Many matters of minor importance and of detail remain on my table to be attended to. The public have no idea of the constant accumulation of business requiring the President’s attention. No President who performs his duties faithfully and conscientiously can have any leisure. If he entrusts the details and smaller matters to subordinates constant errors will occur. I prefer to supervise the whole operations of the government myself rather than entrust the public business to subordinates, and this makes my duties very great.

James K. Polk (1795-1849) American lawyer, politician, US President (1845-1849)
Diary entry (29 Dec 1848)
Added on 4-Nov-20 | Last updated 4-Nov-20
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If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.

[Si hortum in bibliotheca habes, deerit nihil.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
Epistulae ad Familiares [Letters to Friends], Book 9, Letter 4 “To Varro” (9.4) (46-45 BC)

In June 708 AUC. Sometimes rendered "nihil deerit."

Alt. trans.: "If you have a garden in your library, everything will be complete." [Source].

Original Latin in context.
Added on 12-Oct-20 | Last updated 11-Aug-22
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That which is most excellent, and is most to be desired by all happy, honest and healthy-minded men, is dignified leisure.

[Id quod est praestantissimum, maximeque optabile omnibus sanis et bonis et beatis, cum dignitate otium.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
Pro Publio Sestio, ch. 45, sec. 98

Alt. trans.:
  • "That which stands first, and is most to be desired by all happy, honest, and healthy-minded men, is ease with dignity." [tr. Source)]
  • "The thing that is the most outstanding, and chiefly to be desired by all healthy and good and well-off persons, is leisure with honor." [Source]
  • "What is desired the most, by those who are healthy, good, and blessed, is leisure with honor." [Source]
  • "That which is most excellent and most desirable to all men in their senses, and to all good and happy men, -- ease conjoined with duty." [Source]
  • "They are the finest, noblest aims of all men of wisdom, integrity, and substance -- civil peace for Rome and honor for those who deserve it." [tr. Baldwin & Lacey (1978), adapted]
Added on 5-Oct-20 | Last updated 5-Oct-20
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But I think a life of raising prize cattle, going shooting two or three times a year, fishing in the summer, and interspersing the whole thing with some golf and bridge — and whenever I felt like talking or writing, doing it with abandon and with no sense of responsibility whatsoever — maybe such a life wouldn’t be so bad.

Dwight David Eisenhower (1890-1969) American general, US President (1953-61)
Letter to Alfred M. Gruenther (2 Nov 1956)
Added on 3-Sep-15 | Last updated 3-Sep-15
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Undoubtedly “a full dinner pail” is a great achievement as compared with an empty one, but no people ever did or can attain a worthy civilization by the satisfaction merely of material needs, however high these needs are raised. The American standard of living demands not only a high minimum wage, but a high minimum of leisure, because we must meet also needs other than material ones.

Louis Brandeis (1856-1941) American lawyer, activist, Supreme Court Justice (1916-39)
“Hours of Labor,” speech, Civic Federation of New England (11 Jan 1906)

Reprinted in his Business -- A Profession (1914).
Added on 30-Sep-14 | Last updated 30-Sep-14
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A Life of Leisure and a Life of Laziness are two things.

Thomas Fuller (1654-1734) English writer, physician
Gnomologia: Adages and Proverbs, # 240 (1732)
Added on 5-Aug-11 | Last updated 26-Jan-21
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Leisure is the mother of Philosophy; and Common-wealth, the mother of Peace, and Leisure: Where first were great and flourishing Cities, there was first the study of Philosophy.

Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) English philosopher
Leviathan, Part 4, ch. 46 (1651)
Added on 14-Oct-10 | Last updated 6-Nov-20
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What I love the most about deadlines is the whooshing sound they make as they go by.

Douglas Adams (1952-2001) English writer
The Salmon of Doubt (2002)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 26-Aug-14
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