It is a busy idleness that is our bane

From Horace Epistles 1.11.25-29 in the Loeb edition. The middle line (caelum … currunt) is the famous one but I like the Huxleyan strenua nos exercet inertia better:

For if it is reason and wisdom that take away cares, and not a site commanding a wide expanse of sea, they change their clime, not their mind, who rush across the sea. It is a busy idleness that is our bane; with yachts and cars we seek to make life happy.

nam si ratio et prudentia curas,
non locus effusi late maris arbiter aufert,
caelum, non animum, mutant, qui trans mare currunt.
strenua nos exercet inertia: navibus atque
quadrigis petimus bene vivere.

‘Yachts and cars’ (for a literal ‘boats and chariots’) shows the translation’s age (1926) – but also how much closer to Horace life still was 100 years ago. Modernizing to ‘streaming and twitter’ is grotesque to ponder.

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