Pause a moment as you pass by.
As you are now, so once were we.
As we are now, so shall you be!
This is an old epitaph, featured on many tombstones in various forms and sometimes posted on the entrances to graveyards.
It is a sober reminder of our mortality and the shortness of our life.
I haven’t found any definitive origin for it. There is a lot of misattribution. You can find people attributing it to the 18th century and others referencing earlier similar ancient Roman gravestones. These gravestones had carved, in Latin;
“Fui quod es, eris quod sum” which means “I was what you are, you will be what I am”.
***A memento mori is a reminder of death. It is a key practice in Stoicism but is not unique to it. It can be a simple visual reminder or quote or a more serious mediation on death. Stoics use it to remind themselves of how short and fragile life is and therefore how much we have to be grateful for, to live virtuous lives, and not to waste our time.
In this series, each Monday, I will post a memento mori from various sources, either from the primary Stoic texts themselves or other sources.