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It is Latin Tuesday, and Martial bids us ‘audīre’ (‘to listen’):

Vīta nōn est vīvere sed valēre.
Life is not to live, but to be strong.
La vida no es vivir, sino ser fuerte.

So many things come to mind, although we will focus on the ‘nōn’ here more than anything. Martial, in more than an admonishing tone, begs us to forsake life for what it is not meant to be: living. What? You ask. Well, consider that to Romans duty was everything; we even get our word ‘office’ from it (officium). To avoid your duties was ‘vitia,’ our modern ‘vices.’ In this context, life is not to be lived as a way to avoid duty (officium vitare – that’s just passive and lazy to the Romans), but to force it to work for you and make you stronger.

Strength becomes the end in itself to the citizens of Rome; they avoid life becoming such, making it a tool to achieve strength instead. In other words, those who want to live as the end-purpose of their lives will stop at nothing to see that end fulfilled, avoiding duties, cheating, stealing, stepping on others. However, Martial suggests, those who seek strength of character and body, and who use life to achieve it, make life a tool by which they can accomplish their task.

Valete (A typical Roman ‘farewell’ that had a more literal meaning: ‘be strong y’all’)

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