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Every man’s last day is fixed.
Lifetimes are brief and not to be regained,
For all mankind. But by their deeds to make
Their fame last: that is labor for the brave.

[Stat sua cuique dies, breve et inreparabile tempus
Omnibus est vitae; sed famam extendere factis,
Hoc virtutis opus.]

Virgil (70-19 BC) Roman poet [b. Publius Vergilius Maro; also Vergil]
The Aeneid [Ænē̆is], Book 10, l. 467ff (10.467-69) [Jove] (29-19 BC) [tr. Fitzgerald (1981)]

Jove, to Alcides (Hercules), comforting him on the pending, but brave, death of Pallas.

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

Short bounds of life are set to mortal man.
'Tis virtue's work alone to stretch the narrow span.
[tr. Dryden (1697)]

To every one his day is fixed: a short and irretrievable term of life is given to all: but by deeds to lengthen out fame, this is virtue's task.
[tr. Davidson/Buckley (1854)]

Each has his destined time: a span
Is all the heritage of man:
'Tis virtue's part by deeds of praise
To lengthen fame through after days.
[tr. Conington (1866)]

To every one his day
Stands fixed by fate. The term of mortal life
Is brief, and irretrievable to all.
But to extend the period of its fame
By noble actions, this is virtue's work.
[tr. Cranch (1872), l. 615ff]

Each hath his own appointed day; short and irrecoverable is the span of life for all: but to spread renown by deeds is the task of valour.
[tr. Mackail (1885)]

His own day bideth every man; short space that none may mend
Is each man's life: but yet by deeds wide-spreading fame to send,
Man's valour hath this work to do.
[tr. Morris (1900)]

Each hath his day; irreparably brief
Is mortal life, and fading as the leaf.
'Tis valour's part to bid it bloom anew
By deeds of fame.
[tr. Taylor (1907), st. 63, l. 562ff]

To each his day is given. Beyond recall
man's little time runs by: but to prolong
life's glory by great deeds is virtue's power.
[tr. Williams (1910)]

Each has his day appointed; short and irretrievable is the span of life to all: but to lengthen fame by deeds -- that is valour's task.
[tr. Fairclough (1918)]

Every man, my son,
Has his appointed time; life’s day is short
For all men; they can never win it back,
But to extend it further by noble deeds
Is the task set for valor.
[tr. Humphries (1951)]

Every man's hour is appointed. Brief and unalterable
For all, the span of life. To enlarge his fame by great deeds
Is what the brave man must aim at.
[tr. Day-Lewis (1952)]

Each has his day; there is, for all, a short,
irreparable time of life; the task
of courage: to prolong one's fame by acts.
[tr. Mandelbaum (1971), l. 648ff]

Each man has his allotted day. All life is brief and time once past can never be restored. But the task of the brave man is to enlarge his fame by his actions.
[tr. West (1990)]

Every man has his day, the course
of life is brief and cannot be recalled: but virtue’s task
is this, to increase fame by deeds.
[tr. Kline (2002)]

Each man has his day, and the time of life
is brief for all, and never comes again.
But to lengthen out one’s fame with action,
that’s the work of courage.
[tr. Fagles (2006), l. 553ff]

The day of death awaits all men; their time is brief and comes just once. But they can prolong their fame by action. This is the task of valor.
[tr. Bartsch (2021)]

Added on 8-Mar-23 | Last updated 8-Mar-23
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More quotes by Virgil

It was later that the story of Windle Poons really came to an end, if “story” means all that he did and caused and set in motion. In the Ramtop village where they dance the real Morris dance, for example, they believe that no one is finally dead until the ripples they cause in the world die away — until the clock he wound up winds down, until the wine she made has finished its ferment, until the crop they planted is harvested. The span of someone’s life, they say, is only the core of their actual existence.

Terry Pratchett (1948-2015) English author
Reaper Man (1991)
Added on 29-May-17 | Last updated 29-May-17
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Every hour wounds. The last one kills.


Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
American Gods, epigraph (2001)

Gaiman notes this as an "old saying." It is frequently found on sun dials or other clocks, sometimes in Latin. Variations:
  • "All hours wound; the last one kills."
  • "All the hours wound you, the last one kills."
  • "They all wound; the last one kills."
  • "Vulnerant omnes, ultima necat."
  • "Omnes vulnerant. Postuma necat."
Added on 17-Nov-16 | Last updated 17-Nov-16
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You may get a large amount of truth into a brief space.

Beecher - into a brief space - wist_info quote

Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887) American clergyman and orator
Added on 11-Mar-16 | Last updated 11-Mar-16
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