Category Archives: Montaigne

Montaigne on death

Where death waits for us is uncertain; let us look for him everywhere. The premeditation of death is the premeditation of liberty; he who has learned to die has unlearned to serve. There is nothing evil in life for him who rightly comprehends that the privation of life is no evil: to know, how to die delivers us from all subjection and constraint.
And as the Egyptians after their feasts were wont to present the company with a great image of death, by one that cried out to them, ‘Drink and be merry, for such shalt thou be when thou art dead’; so it is my custom to have death not only in my imagination, but continually in my mouth.
All the whole time you live, you purloin from life and live at the expense of life itself. The perpetual work of your life is but to lay the foundation of death. You are in death, whilst you are in life, because you still are after death, when you are no more alive; or, if you had rather have it so, you are dead after life, but dying all the while you live; and death handles the dying much more rudely than the dead, and more sensibly and essentially.

— Montaigne, ‘That to Study Philosophy is to Learn to Die‘ (tr. C. Cotton)

Us and them

There is as much difference between us and ourselves as between us and others.

— Montaigne