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Latin/Memento Mori theme

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Question
Hello Maria,

I'm working on an art project that puts a twist on the well-known phrase "memento mori." I've most often seen that phrase translated as "remember you will die" or "remember you must die." I'm curious as to what you think the most accurate translation of that phrase is. What I also would like to know is how would you translate the phrase "remember you will live" or "remember you live?" My crude google translation is giving me "momento vivere" and translating it as "remember to live."  Would this be accurate? Thanks in advance for your help :)

-Jeremy

Answer
Hello,

the most accurate translation  of the phrase “Memento mori” is “Remember you are mortal” as in this context the present infinitive “mori” is not used in its literal meaning, i.e.“to die”, but in its implicit sense, i.e. “to be mortal”, and then the best rendering of “Memento mori” would be “Remember you are mortal”.

Such a phrase (or its equivalent “Hominem te esse memento!”meaning ”Remember that you are a man!”) is said to have been used as an admonishment addressed by a slave to the Roman general when he was riding in his triumphal chariot through the streets of Rome. A slave in fact who stood behind the victorious general whispered this to him just to remind him that he was mortal, though he was at the height  of his success at that time.

As for the translations  "Remember you will die" or "Remember you must die", they are correct, though they are not literal.

With regard to the translation of  "Remember you will live" or "Remember you live" used as a twist on the phrase "Memento mori”, it is correct to say “Memento vivere” (literally, “Remember to live”) just as an exhortation to  live at one's best.

Hope all is clear enough.
Best regards,
Maria
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Please note that:

-MEMENTO (2nd.person singular, imperative of MEMINI, I remember) = Remember
-MORI (present infinitive of MORIOR, I die) = you are mortal (literally,  “to  be mortal”)


-MEMENTO (2nd.person singular, imperative of MEMINI, I remember) = Remember
-VIVERE(present infinitive of VIVO= I live) = to live

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Maria

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I am an expert in Latin Language and Literature and I'll be glad to answer any questions concerning this matter.

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Over 25 years teaching experience.

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I received my Ph.D. in Classics (summa cum laude) from Genova University (Italy).

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