Tempus fugit is a Latin phrase, usually translated into English as "time flies". The expression comes from line 284 of book 3 of Virgil's Georgics,1 where it appears as FVGIT INREPARABILE TEMPVS: "it escapes, irretrievable time". The phrase is used in both its Latin and English forms as a proverb that "time's a-wasting". Tempus fugit, however, is typically employed as an admonition against sloth and procrastination (cf. carpe diem) rather than a motto in favor of licentiousness (cf. "gather ye rosebuds while ye may"); the English form is often merely descriptive: "time flies like the wind", "time flies when you're having fun". Then there is the geneticists version: "time flies like an arrow; but fruit flies like a banana."
The phrase's full appearance in the Georgics is:
|OMNE ADEO GENVS IN TERRIS HOMINVM QVE FERARVM QVE||Thus every Creature , and of every Kind ,
The ſecret Joys of ſweet Coition find :
Not only Man's Imperial Race ; . . .
|Nay, every race on earth of men, and beasts,|
|ET GENVS ÆQVOREVM PECVDES PICTÆ QVE VOLVCRES|| . . . but they
That wing the liquid Air ; or ſwim the Sea ,
Or haunt the Deſart , . . .
|And ocean-folk, and flocks, and painted birds,|
|IN FVRIAS IGNEM QVE RVVNT AMOR OMNIBVS IDEM...|| . . . ruſh into the flame :
For Love is Lord of all ; and is in all the ſame .
|Rush to the raging fire: love sways them all.|
|SED FVGIT INTEREA FVGIT INREPARABILE TEMPVS||But time is loſt , which never will renew ,||Fast flies meanwhile the irreparable hour,|
|SINGVLA DVM CAPTI CIRCVMVECTAMVR AMORE||While we too far the pleaſing Path purſue ;
Surveying Nature , with too nice a view .
|As point to point our charmed round we trace.|
- Vergilius Maro, Publius. Georgicon, III. c. 29 BC. Hosted at Wikisource. (Latin)
- Dryden, John (trans.). The Works of Virgil: Containing His Pastorals, Georgics, and Æneis, 3rd ed., Vol. I, pp. 163–166. Jacob Tonson (London), 1709. Hosted at Google Books. Accessed 30 May 2014.
- Rhoades, James (trans.). Bucolics, Aeneid, and Georgics of Vergil. Ginn & Co. (Boston), 1900. Hosted at MIT. Accessed 30 May 2014.
- Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana
- ars longa, vita brevis; carpe diem; memento mori
- (Italian) breve et inreparabile tempus omnibus est vitae
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