As a follow-up of two previous questions on Latin grammar, I was wondering if examples like Memento moriendi (cf. Memento mori) and Me paenitet vivendi (cf. Me paenitet vivere) are also attested.

This question is motivated by:

(i) Joonas’s insightful comment, whose intuition there I tend to share: “memento mori and memento moriendi mean slightly different things, something like 'remember to die' and 'be mindful of the phenomenon of dying'".


(ii) my specific question at the end of a previous post: "(...) e.g., Me, mi Pomponi, valde paenitet vivere. (Cic. Att. 3,4). As for the latter example, I was wondering why a gerund in genitive case could not instead be used: e.g., Me paenitet vivendi".

1 Answer 1


In Q. Memento Mori--Revisited offered gerundive (neuter impersonal) alternatives to "memento mori": "nunc est moriendum" = "now must die" & "mox erit moriendum" = "soon one must die". Of course, yourself will recognise these as having been inspired by your own Q:Nunc est bibendum: gerund or gerundive?. The gerundive genitive is a more complex species: "memento moriendi" cannot be translated as "remember one must of dying". The more long-winded gerundive-of-obligation style: "Remember it-ought-to-be-(a time)-of-dying/ of-death ("a time" being understood); alternatively: "Remember it-ought-to-be-(a concept)-of-dying/ of-death (again, "a concept" is undertood). This, second one is reminiscent of what Joonas has already said.

These may appeal to literal-translation purists (like me); but, they are clumsy, jerky & rambling. A more succinct offer may be: "miles Romanus, memento mox erit moriendum" = "Roman soldier (rank is now irrelevant) remember soon one must die." The Romans were well-aware of the rapid passage of time (tempus fugit). This continues to fit with the teachings of Seneca--everyone is dying--a Roman mindset.

The next one: "me paenitet vivendi" = "it makes me sorry of living", it's not a good translation; but, the grammatical rule for impersonal verb paenitet with construction (+ accusative of the person and genitive of the cause) allows for genitive of the cause of the sorrow, here, living.

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    I don't think the gerund proposed in the question has any sense of obligation to it. For a certainly attested type of obligation free gerund, one can say domum redii cenandi causa. Gerundives can be used similarly.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Commented Oct 14, 2019 at 15:43
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    As noted by Joonas, the examples in my question above do not involve obligation. However, as pointed out in your answer, things are different when the copula verb esse is present: e.g., Memento moriendum esse nobis omnibus
    – Mitomino
    Commented Oct 14, 2019 at 17:15
  • @Mitomino: Thank you. What is more obligatory than death? Isn't that the whole point, here? Gerund genitive, "moriendi", did not appear to fit: "Remember of-the-dying"; which, can only work if more words are added (understood) than are there already. Is that what Joonas was attempting to achieve (Be-mindful-of-the-phenomenon-of-dying.)? How, then, is this any improvement on the panoply of translations offered in the preceding three Qs? Yes, a pithy, two-word, aphorism is now in its fourth Q. If yourself feels that the answer is unhelpful I'll delete it.
    – tony
    Commented Oct 15, 2019 at 9:55
  • @Joonas llmavirta: Apologies, misunderstood yourself, yesterday.
    – tony
    Commented Oct 15, 2019 at 11:48
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    @tony Thanks for your comment. You're absolutely right: (un)fortunately, nothing is more obligatory than death. As for my grammar question above, I was wondering if examples like Me paenitet vivendi are attested (along with attested ones like Me paenitet vivere). Joonas's intuition is that they could exist (with a slightly different meaning) but I don't know for sure. Hence my question.
    – Mitomino
    Commented Oct 15, 2019 at 13:25

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