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Taylor Carmain

Professor Brook

ENG113, Composition

September 15, 2017

Carpe Diem means seize the day. It is to make the most of the day that you are living. It

is significant because it holds a place in many peoples hearts. It has been around for centuries

and is used by people to describe their philosophy of life. Carpe diem was first seen during the

Roman time period from a poet named Horace. This particular phrase was used quite often

during the 16-17c. According to The Editors of Encyclopdia Britannica the earliest form of

carpe diem was used in the 19-20c to encourage children to Be happy, happy, happy / seize the

day of pleasure (par 6.). Now in the 21c Carpe diem means that a person only lives once, it is

important to take on every opportunity and seize the moment for what it is. In addition, I am

writing this paper to analyze the rhetoric of carpe diem and evaluate the rhetoric of carpe diem.

My main goal is to show the similarities and differences of how carpe diem changed throughout

lifetime. The first body paragraph will be discussing the history of carpe diem. In the history

section it will consist of Horace, the man who coined the term. It will also have a section for 17c

poet John Donne and 19c writer fitzgerald. I will be giving brief history about each writer and

then I will get into what specific writing piece helped the term carpe diem. The objective for the

history part will be to analyze the similarities and differences of what carpe diem means to these

three writers. The second body paragraph will be the analyzing section. In the analyzing section

it will consist of the writer Camus and why its important for carpe diem. It be discussing how it

works, how it affects people, and how it inspires people. The last body paragraph will be the
evaluation of carpe diem. It will be about how carpe diem appears in our current culture such as

music, books, and tv shows. Then I will be using kierkegaard and biblical passage from

revelation and ecclesiastes to show how Christians should respond and react to carpe diem. It

will both pros and cons. My argument for this paper is carpe diem wasnt used at first for a

religious concept and then changed to a religious concept. I will show this argument by

analyzing Horace, Donne, and Fitzgerald and Evaluating Camus, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, and


In order to fully understand the differences of what carpe diem, we must look at the

history of where it came from and what its sole purpose is. Horace was the first to coin the term

carpe diem. He was a poet throughout the ancient roman time period in Italy. According to

Poets, Horace studied in Romethe Grammaticus Orbillus. He studied Literature and philosophy.

Before he started on his writing career, Horace had a few other jobs. Those jobs included being a

staff officer in the army and then a clerk. Later on in his literary career, it is written in The

Romans - Timelines, that horace met two other poets virgil and varius rufus who showed him

what maecenas is in c40. Horace coined the term Carpe Diem in 29 bc when he wrote odes

which is a lyric poem after taking his writing to another level. There was multiple writings to

odes. Horace imposed carpe diem as the meaning of not having to worry about the future

because nobody is in charge of their future.In the writing Odes where the term came alive,

Horace wrote this, seize the day, as little as possible trusting the future (Line 11.8). Carpe

diem also means to him, the gods are in charge of the future, try not have high goals but to seize

the day. Carpe diem has changed throughout the centuries.

One writer in particular in the 17c made an impact on how it happened. John Donne is an

English poet. According to Academy of American Poets, his poetry was highly liked amongst a

small group. In the same article it also states that Donne is the founder of Metaphysical Poets.

Metaphysical is poetry that startles the reader into thinking a certain way. It is trying to persuade

the reader. It is also written on Poets.org that Religion was a huge inspiration for Donne.

Majority of his writing was love poetry. He grew up Roman Catholic. The poetry he did that

helped transform the term carpe diem would be his poem The Flea. He used the term to try to

persuade the reader of love. A lot of his writing was about love. Donne says this in The Flea that

indicates his ideal vision of carpe diem

A sin, nor shame, nor loss of maidenhead,

Yet this enjoys before it woo,

And pampered swells with one blood made of two,

And this, alas, is more than we would do. (6-9)

Throughout the poem, the speaker is trying to persuade the lady to love. The reader sees that

even after the flea dies, the days will continue. This changed the way that people view carpe

diem because now its just not about how to live life. This shows love, passion, and reason. At

this point in time, people can now look carpe diem for things that are in life such as love, lust and

materialistic objects.

Another writer that helped shape how the world sees carpe diem is F. Scott Fitzgerald.

He was a 19c writer who also helped changed the view of carpe diem. Fitzgerald wrote his first

novel in St. Paul Minnesota when he got out war in. In the biography, F. Scott Fitzgerald. by

biography it says that by the age of 24 Fitzgerald was one of Americas favorite authors after
publishing This Side of Paradise. It goes on to say that his writing reputation became tarnished

when the celebrity lifestyle and fame got to him. During this time, he tried to turn that around to

fix his work. He wrote his famous novels The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and The Last of

the Belles. After these works, he wasnt happy with where his creativity was going. He then up

and moved to france to where he wrote his most popular piece, The Great Gatsby in 1925.

Fitzgerald also helped change the viewpoint of carpe diem. He wrote Winter Dreams in 1922. In

this writing, fitzgerald wrote about a character named Dexter and his life. Throughout the writing

it goes on about how he trying to become successful and wealthy. Fitzgerald used symbols to

help bring his story together. One symbol in particular that helped determine what he meant by

carpe diem was a girl, named Judy. Fitzgerald wrote this about how much impact a person can

have one somebody else. His heart turned over like the fly-wheel of the boat, and, for the

second time, her casual whim gave a new direction in his life (4; ch. 2, sec. 27). Judy represents

that wealth and success. Fitzgerald changed carpe diem into no matter how much material

objects a person has, love is something that must come every single day. There are many

differences and similarities between these three writers. Some differences would be how carpe

diem started to where it ended with fitzgerald.

In the beginning, carpe diem was meant to please a certain type of person, in Horaces

case, the gods. Now carpe diem has stemmed off into a phrase of living for oneself. Another

difference would be the time that they were written. Even though its an obvious difference

between the three, its significant because it shows how long carpe diem has been around. Carpe

diem has changed throughout the year because of how the world has changed. Some similarities

that carpe diem has through these three writers would be that it is living something rather it be
for themselves, for gods, for the Lord, or just taking a day at a time. Another one would be that

each writer has a particular targeted audience. That audience would be the people during that

time period.

Now that we went over the history and how carpe diem changed, we will now be

analyzing carpe diem. I will be analyzing the writer Albert Camus and his writing The Myth of

Sisyphus - Absurd Freedom. This writing piece in particular is important to carpe diem because

it helped shaped the way that people view it. This was written in a Christian sense and how

Christians should view carpe diem. Camus defines the term Carpe Diem as not living for

something, or worrying the past. Camus wrote, Knowing whether or not man is free involves

knowing whether he can have a master (481). This changed the way that people view carpe

diem drastically because now it wasnt just about living for themselves, but now living for a high

power, which would be God. The master is the Lord, the one who holds all and knows

everything. Camus tries to persuade the reader of this by breaking it down into three parts. Those

three parts would be Revolt, Freedom and Passion. Revolt is the only truth about the world that

doesnt conform to pattern or shape. From the beginning of life to the end, it is measured by how

somebody spends their life and what they do. It is connected by conflict by human reason and the

universe. Everyday revolt happens, which helps humans learn their truth and their worth in the

universe. Freedom is as a metaphysics.The belief that humans are slave without hope of an

eternal revolution (camus, 482). Humans are able to chose their own paths in the universe,

making sure to keep in count what is expected of us. Although humans are able to follow their

own path, camus beliefs that it puts people in a confined bubble because the focus would be on

what they're able to do, not what they should try and do. Passion is living in the present, in the
now. Passion is shared with the existing world. The feeling of passion is driven with in humans

Everything comes to an end, its just how a person decides to live their life because we all end up

in the same place. Its about focusing on the present, and the now. In Seizing The Day with God

by Jose Cabral, he states that Camus wants us to believe that we have a third choice from just

living and existing. We can believe we live in a world where we live without recognizing our

meaning and purpose. This version of carpe diem started to affect people in a way where it

challenges them to think outside the box. Camus uses words such as absurd meaning death and

his three steps people can chose to live such as the revolt, freedom, and passion. The writers

before Camus didnt have a christian view on carpe diem and who is in charge of everything that

humans do in everyday life. It inspires humans to think about why and who they are living for.

Now that weve analyzed carpe diem, we will be evaluating carpe diem and how it

appears in modern day culture. Carpe diem appears in music and books. An example of carpe

diem in music would be Drakes song The Motto (Yolo). In this song, Drake is trying to

persuade the reader that a person only lives once and its time to make the best out of the days.

Carpe Diem is an action that somebody must do in order to live life through the fullest, Yolo is a

suggestion made, to not think about the risk factor but go for it. An example of how carpe diem

is in books would be the book Its Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini. While this book

tackles very important causes such as mental health, it tackles a great load of carpe diem.

Throughout the book, the reader sees a struggle of a teen boy who wants to get better. While the

boy is getting help for his mental well being, he is taking it day-by-day, wanting to receive that

help to be able to go on and live a happy life. Carpe diem also shows up in modern day culture
through school, the people around each other, and even from the writers that started carpe diem.

People live life differently, but many hold the montre carpe diem.

While carpe diem comes to people from all over different sources, its important how

somebody reacts and responds to it. Many people have different worldviews, as Christians, it

would be a christian worldview. We will be evaluating how Christians should view carpe diem

through Revelation, Ecclesiastes, and kierkegaard. While evaluating these writers, I will be

discussing the positive and negative outcomes of following carpe diem in both a christian and

and non christian way.

Revelation shows that it is not about focusing on day to day living, but it is focusing on

living for the eternity. In Revelation it says, And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the

heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea (New International

Version, Rev 22.1). Everything that humans once knew is gone, and everything has been

replaced with good. This good new place is eternal, positive, and without sin. It also says,

There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, For

the Lord will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever ( Rev 22.5). Everything a

person does on earth will be judged during judgement day. Everything that is happening now on

earth is so humans can take advantage of it and make it something will live on with them forever.

In Ecclesiastes it shows that every day on earth is a day for learning. As humans continue

to work on their relationship with the Lord, humans continue to learn from the Lord. Ecclesiastes

is seen through human eyes, but these humans eyes are looking at Gods power and mighty

force. In Ecclesiastes is says, And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many

books [there is] no end; and much study [is] a weariness of the flesh. Let us hear the conclusion
of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this [is] the whole [duty] of

man (The Old Testament, Ecc. 12.12-13). It says, there is no end. The ending Christians

experience would be eternity. It also says, He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has

also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to

end (Ecc 3.11). After we pass on earth, we go live on forever in heaven with the Lord. As we

live on earth, we have a duty. That duty would be to keep working, learning, and doing as were

told. While people are going through tough obstacles in life, Ecclesiastes is used to show Gods


Kierkegaard wrote a poem titled Purity of Heart Is to Will One Thing believes that carpe

diem as time not being relevant because we go onto living an eternal life. He says, Only the

eternal is always appropriate and always present; is always true. Only the eternal applies to each

human being, whatever his age may be (2). No matter the age, the time, or the day, its never a

bad time to think about life as eternal, or start thinking about a Christian lifestyle. Time is

focused on the now and because of time people are stuck in a position of being surrounded by

what is happening to them instead of focusing on the bigger picture and bigger outcome, being in

heaven forever. According to the article Faith and Reason: Kierkegaard's Legacy, Kierkegaard

saw God as utterly transcendent and an infinite qualitative difference. It also says in this article

that Kierkegaard thought that faith just isnt about knowing or trusting in Gods goodness, but

knowing that there is trust in the absurd. The absurd is also mentioned with Camus. The absurd

is death. As Christians, death just doesnt end the lives, its one more step to living forever.

While looking at these three Christian writings, one thing that is repeated throughout is how

Christians should focus on the eternity instead of just focusing on the day that we live. This is a
positive outlook on carpe diem because it is constant reminder to Christians what the Lords

promise is. The promise of being able to spend eternity in a happy, sinless place. This could also

be seen as negative because while people are focused on the eternity, they might be worrying

about how they could make that day their living a good one.

While looking at these three writings and how they represent a Christian's worldview, its

important to the pros and cons of believing what carpe diem should truly mean to somebody. The

positives to following this view of carpe diem would be that we are focusing on the eternity,

which is what the initial promise of the Lord is. While following this, we are able to live life to

the fullest in a way that the Lord is calling us to do so. At the end of our lives here on earth, we

will be judged. Everything that weve accomplished and that we havent accomplished will come

forth to the Lord, and he will be fruitfully honest. Another positive would be helping others find

their way to the Lord. If somebody's life is driven because of the thought of eternity, it might

intrigue non Christians to ask questions. When questions are asked, a conversation is started.

That would be the main point to what our job here on earth is, to help spread the gospel and help

call people to the Lord. The negative sides of following this particular outlook on carpe diem

would be focusing too much on the outcome instead of focusing on what can be done in the

moment. Many people get caught up in the end result, instead of looking at what it happening in

front of them. There are many jobs on earth that can be done with the Lords light. After all, we

have jobs that we must accomplish such as helping people, giving to charity, and being kid.

While it is important to keep the outcome in mind, it is important what Christians are doing here

on earth to make it a better place.

Carpe diem has come from full circle from the ancient roman time period, to the 21st

century. This paper showed analyzing and evaluating carpe diem through multiple steps. I was

able to argue that carpe diem wasnt always a christian topic through showing the history,

different writers, and how carpe diem changed throughout history with these different writers. As

Christians, focusing on eternity is important because it shows that every single day we are

working on our relationship with the Lord, earning what his prize is.
Works Cited

Cabral, Jose. "Seizing the Day with God." Carpediem. Wix, 25 Jan. 2015. Web. 14 Oct. 2017.

Colson, Charles. "Faith and Reason: Kierkegaard's Legacy." CBN.com (beta). The Christian

Broadcasting Network, 26 May 2016. Web. 15 Oct. 2017.

Donne, John. "The Flea by John Donne." Poetry Foundation. Poetry Foundation, 2017. Web. 14

Oct. 2017.

Ecclesiastes. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.

The Editors of Encyclopdia Britannica. "Carpe Diem." Encyclopdia Britannica.

Encyclopdia Britannica, Inc., 18 Aug. 2017. Web. 14 Oct. 2017.

"F. Scott Fitzgerald." Biography.com. A&E Networks Television, 28 Apr. 2017. Web. 14 Oct.


"The Flea (poem)." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 26 May 2017. Web. 14 Oct. 2017.

"Horace." Poets.org. Academy of American Poets, 29 Sept. 2015. Web. 16 Oct. 2017.


"John Donne." Poetry Foundation. Poetry Foundation, 2017. Web. 16 Oct. 2017.


Kierkegaard, Soren. "Chapter." Purity of Heart Is to Will One Thing. N.p.: n.p., 1938. 1-4. Print.

Revelation (also Apocalypse). NIV Vers. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.

"The Romans - Timelines." The Romans - Timelines: Horace. Taylor & Francis, 2017. Web. 16

Oct. 2017. <https://www.the-romans.co.uk/timelines/horace.htm>.

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