Otium

Otium

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Otium, a Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 abstract term, has a variety of meanings, including leisure time in which a person can enjoy eating, playing, resting, contemplation and academic endeavors. It sometimes, but not always, relates to a time in a person's retirement
Retirement
Retirement is the point where a person stops employment completely. A person may also semi-retire by reducing work hours.Many people choose to retire when they are eligible for private or public pension benefits, although some are forced to retire when physical conditions don't allow the person to...

 after previous service to the public or private sector, opposing "active public life". Otium can be a temporary time of leisure, that is sporadic. It can have intellectual, virtuous, or immoral implications. It originally had the idea of withdrawing from one's daily business (negotium) or affairs to engage in activities that were considered to be artistically valuable or enlightening (i.e. speaking, writing, philosophy). It had particular meaning to businessmen, diplomats, philosophers, and poets.

Greek philosophers


The favorable sense of otium in Ciceronian Latin reflects the Greek term σχολή (scholê, two syllables, "leisure"); this has a complex history in Greek philosophy before being used in Latin. Theophrastus
Theophrastus
Theophrastus , a Greek native of Eresos in Lesbos, was the successor to Aristotle in the Peripatetic school. He came to Athens at a young age, and initially studied in Plato's school. After Plato's death he attached himself to Aristotle. Aristotle bequeathed to Theophrastus his writings, and...

 and Dicaearchus
Dicaearchus
Dicaearchus of Messana was a Greek philosopher, cartographer, geographer, mathematician and author. Dicaearchus was Aristotle's student in the Lyceum. Very little of his work remains extant. He wrote on the history and geography of Greece, of which his most important work was his Life of Greece...

, students of Aristotle, debated much on the contemplative life and the active life. Epicurus
Epicurus
Epicurus was an ancient Greek philosopher and the founder of the school of philosophy called Epicureanism.Only a few fragments and letters remain of Epicurus's 300 written works...

's philosophy was contrary to Hellenistic Stoicism
Stoicism
Stoicism is a school of Hellenistic philosophy founded in Athens by Zeno of Citium in the early . The Stoics taught that destructive emotions resulted from errors in judgment, and that a sage, or person of "moral and intellectual perfection," would not suffer such emotions.Stoics were concerned...

. Epicurus promised enjoyment in retirement as a concept of otium. The concept of the Epicurean otium (private world of leisure) and the contemplative life were represented in Epicurus' school of philosophy and his Garden
Epicureanism
Epicureanism is a system of philosophy based upon the teachings of Epicurus, founded around 307 BC. Epicurus was an atomic materialist, following in the steps of Democritus. His materialism led him to a general attack on superstition and divine intervention. Following Aristippus—about whom...

. The portraits of the Garden of Epicurus near Athens represented political and cultural heroes of the time. Twenty-first–century historians Gregory Warden and David Romano have argued that the layout of the sculptures in "The Garden" were designed to give the viewer contrasting viewpoints of the Epicurean otium and the Hellenistic Stoic viewpoint of otium (i.e. private or public; contemplation or "employment"; otium or negotium).

A Epicurean proverb
The phrase "to be at ease" can have the meaning "to be of good cheer" or "to be without fear" these being interdependent. The Epicurean idea of otium favors contemplation, compassion, gratitude and friendship. The Epicurean view is that wisdom has as much to contribute to the benefit of the public as does that of contributions of politicians and laborers (i.e. sailors). The rustic otium concept incorporates country living into Epicureanism. The active city public life of otium and a reserved country life of reflection have been much written about by Cicero
Cicero
Marcus Tullius Cicero , was a Roman philosopher, statesman, lawyer, political theorist, and Roman constitutionalist. He came from a wealthy municipal family of the equestrian order, and is widely considered one of Rome's greatest orators and prose stylists.He introduced the Romans to the chief...

 and Seneca the Younger
Seneca the Younger
Lucius Annaeus Seneca was a Roman Stoic philosopher, statesman, dramatist, and in one work humorist, of the Silver Age of Latin literature. He was tutor and later advisor to emperor Nero...

.

Roman Republic


In early and colloquial Latin, despite the etymological contrast, otium is often used pejoratively, in contrast rather to officium, "office, duty" than to negotium ('business"). The original sense of otium may well have been winter idleness, as opposed to the business (negotium) of the rest of the year; the most ancient Roman calendar divided the year into ten months devoted to war and farming, leaving winter vacant. Another sense covers the idleness from public business enforced by festivals, feriae; Our oldest citation for otium is a chorus of soldiers, singing about idleness on campaign, in an otherwise lost Latin tragedy. Cato the Elder
Cato the Elder
Marcus Porcius Cato was a Roman statesman, commonly referred to as Censorius , Sapiens , Priscus , or Major, Cato the Elder, or Cato the Censor, to distinguish him from his great-grandson, Cato the Younger.He came of an ancient Plebeian family who all were noted for some...

, the moralist, writes extensively against otium as wasted time. Cicero uses the word often, in this negative sense, in the neutral to positive sense of "peace and quiet", and in a positive sense, since often repeated, of literary leisure; he describes his involuntary retirement from public life under the First Triumvirate
First Triumvirate
The First Triumvirate was the political alliance of Gaius Julius Caesar, Marcus Licinius Crassus, and Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus. Unlike the Second Triumvirate, the First Triumvirate had no official status whatsoever; its overwhelming power in the Roman Republic was strictly unofficial influence, and...

 as otium, giving it the positive spin of the Greek σχολή, schole, "leisure," the desirable state of Greek philosophers.

Titus Maccius Plautus in his play Mercator
Mercator (play)
Mercator, or The Merchant, is a Latin comedic play for the early Roman theatre by Titus Maccius Plautus. It is based on a Greek play by the playwright Philemon.-Plot:...

says that while you are young is the time to save up for your retirement otium so you can enjoy it later, in his claim tum in otium te conloces, dum potes, ames (then you may set yourself at your ease; drink, and be amorous).

Cicero
Cicero
Marcus Tullius Cicero , was a Roman philosopher, statesman, lawyer, political theorist, and Roman constitutionalist. He came from a wealthy municipal family of the equestrian order, and is widely considered one of Rome's greatest orators and prose stylists.He introduced the Romans to the chief...

 speaks of himself, with the expression otium cum dignitate, that time spent in activities one prefers is suitable for a Roman citizen who has retired from public life. When Caesar ousted him from each office, this forced an inactive period, which he used for "worthy leisure". During this time he composed Tusculanae Disputationes, a series of books on Stoic
STOIC
STOIC was a variant of Forth.It started out at the MIT and Harvard Biomedical Engineering Centre in Boston, and was written in the mid 1970s by Jonathan Sachs...

 philosophy
Philosophy
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational...

. Cicero saw free time as a time to devote to writing. Cicero defines otium as leisure, avoiding active participation in politics. He further defines it as a state of security and peace (pax). It is often associated with tranquility. Cicero advises in his third book On Duties that when the city life becomes too much
Frustration
This article concerns the field of psychology. The term frustration does, however, also concern physics. In this context, the term is treated in a different article, geometric frustration....

, one should retreat to the country for leisure. The term otium cum dignitate in Cicero's Pro Sestio was to mean peace (pax) for all and distinction for some. Cicero says in Pro Sestio, XLV., 98
Cicero explains that, while not necessarily his cup of tea, he recognized many different ways to spend leisure time and otium. In one passage of De Oratore
De Oratore
De Oratore is a dialogue written by Cicero in 55 BCE. It is set in 91 BCE, when Lucius Licinius Crassus dies, just before the social war and the civil war between Marius and Sulla, during which Marcus Antonius Orator, the other great orator of this dialogue, dies...

he explains that Philistus
Philistus
Philistus , son of Archomenidas, was Greek historian of Sicily. Philistus was born at Syracuse about the beginning of the Peloponnesian War. He was a faithful supporter of the elder Dionysius, and commander of the citadel. Cicero who had a high opinion of his work, calls him the miniature Thucydides...

 spent his retirement writing history as his otium. He goes on to say in De Oratore Book iii that other men passed their otium of leisure due to bad weather that prevented them from doing their daily chores to playing ball, knucklebones
Knucklebones
Knucklebones also known as astragaloi, hucklebones, dibs, dibstones, jackstones, chuckstones or five-stones, is a game of very ancient origin, played with five small objects, originally the "knucklebones" of a sheep, which are thrown up and caught in various ways...

, dice games or just games they made up. Others that were "retired" from public life for whatever reason devoted their otium cum seritio (leisure with service) to poetry, mathematics, music, and teaching children.

German historian Klaus Bringmann
Klaus Bringmann
Klaus Bringmann is a German historian, author of Roman history, and professor of antiquity.- Biography :Bringmann studied from 1956 to 1962 history, classical philology and philosophy at the Universities of Marburg and Munich...

 shows in Cicero's works that one can not characterize him as a hypocrite while in otium because of his sense of duty to serve the state. Cicero's concept of otium does not mean selfish pursuit of pleasure. It means the well-earned leisure which is a culmination of a long career of action and achievement. Its a reward. Idleness (desidia) had derogatory implications and unqualified otium was a problem for Cicero's elite group of followers. Its break away from civic affairs contrasted with negotia publica, participation in civic affairs of the republican aristocracy. To distinguish between plain "idleness" and aristocratic otium homestum, otium liberale, or otium cum dignitate, writers of the day said that literary and philosophical pursuits were worthwhile activities and that they had benefit to res publica (the general public). These pursuits were a type of 'employment' and therefore not mere laziness. Cicero praises Cato the Elder
Cato the Elder
Marcus Porcius Cato was a Roman statesman, commonly referred to as Censorius , Sapiens , Priscus , or Major, Cato the Elder, or Cato the Censor, to distinguish him from his great-grandson, Cato the Younger.He came of an ancient Plebeian family who all were noted for some...

 for his respectful use of otium in his expression non minus otii quam negotii (no less for doing nothing than business). Cicero was associating otium with writing and thinking when he admires Cato for pointing out that Scipio Africanus
Scipio Africanus
Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus , also known as Scipio Africanus and Scipio the Elder, was a general in the Second Punic War and statesman of the Roman Republic...

 claimed he was never less idle than when he was at leisure, and never less lonely than when he was alone. Cicero in his De Officiis
De Officiis
De Officiis is an essay by Marcus Tullius Cicero divided into three books, in which Cicero expounds his conception of the best way to live, behave, and observe moral obligations.- Origin :...

(book III 1-4) further says of Scipio Africanus Leisure and solitude, which serve to make others idle, in Scipio's case acted as a goad
Goad
The goad is a traditional farming implement, used to spur or guide lifestock, usually oxen, which are pulling a plough or a cart; used also to round up cattle. It is a type of a long stick with a pointed end, also known as the cattle prod. Though many people are unfamiliar with them today, goads...

.
Cicero's idea of otium cum dignitate (leisure with dignity) is considerably different than today's version of the concept. In his time this kind of "free time" was only for the few privileged elite and was mostly due to the toil of slaves. It was associated with an egotistic and arrogant lifestyle, compared to one that had to earn their own living with no slaves. Today technology and educatonal systems enter into the equation on making leisure time (otium) available to most everyone, not just the privileged elite, which is turned into hobbies
Hobby
A hobby is a regular activity or interest that is undertaken for pleasure, typically done during one's leisure time.- Etymology :A hobby horse is a wooden or wickerwork toy made to be ridden just like a real horse...

. Cicero has a number of different concept versions for otium. In one concept he feels that a lifetime of loyalty attending one's duty (maximos labores) should be rewarded with some form of retirement. This then promotes great sacrifices which promotes civic peace with honor within the state. He points out that the tranquillity one enjoys is due to the efforts of the majority. This concept of retirement through a lifetime of work was enjoyed only by the ruling class and the elite. The common people could only hope to enjoy a leisurely retirement with dignity as an inheritance.

Catullus
Catullus
Gaius Valerius Catullus was a Latin poet of the Republican period. His surviving works are still read widely, and continue to influence poetry and other forms of art.-Biography:...

, a late Roman Republic
Roman Republic
The Roman Republic was the period of the ancient Roman civilization where the government operated as a republic. It began with the overthrow of the Roman monarchy, traditionally dated around 508 BC, and its replacement by a government headed by two consuls, elected annually by the citizens and...

 poet, in his poems shows that the significance of otium of the middle Republican time of autonomy
Autonomy
Autonomy is a concept found in moral, political and bioethical philosophy. Within these contexts, it is the capacity of a rational individual to make an informed, un-coerced decision...

 into the concept of how, why, and when a member of the patronal class might exchange political activity for literary leisure.

otium, Catulle, tibi molestum est;
otio exsultas nimiumque gestis;
otium et reges prius et beatas
perdidit urbes.

Leisure, Catullus, is mischievous to you:
You revel in and desire leisure too much:
Leisure has previously destroyed kings and
lost cities. (51.13-16)

Imperial Rome



The imperial dictatorship by Augustus
Augustus
Augustus ;23 September 63 BC – 19 August AD 14) is considered the first emperor of the Roman Empire, which he ruled alone from 27 BC until his death in 14 AD.The dates of his rule are contemporary dates; Augustus lived under two calendars, the Roman Republican until 45 BC, and the Julian...

 during the fall of the Roman Republic
Roman Republic
The Roman Republic was the period of the ancient Roman civilization where the government operated as a republic. It began with the overthrow of the Roman monarchy, traditionally dated around 508 BC, and its replacement by a government headed by two consuls, elected annually by the citizens and...

 put the Roman ruling classes into a state of change as their traditional role as always being in town was no longer needed. They were given much leisure time (otium) because of their wealth. The home of choice (domus) then became the countryside villa
Villa
A villa was originally an ancient Roman upper-class country house. Since its origins in the Roman villa, the idea and function of a villa have evolved considerably. After the fall of the Roman Republic, villas became small farming compounds, which were increasingly fortified in Late Antiquity,...

 as the rise of the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

 made them even wealthier. They could afford almost anything they could dream up in the way of a residence. Greek-style architecture became their new villa otium
Roman villa
A Roman villa is a villa that was built or lived in during the Roman republic and the Roman Empire. A villa was originally a Roman country house built for the upper class...

 outside of town. In ancient Roman times the "otium villa " was a Dionysian idealistic rural home setting that evoked peace, leisure, simplicity, and serenity. Often in ancient writings is found the mention of restorative powers due its natural setting (otium) in the rural country home, contrasted to the busy city life with all the businesses (negotium). The Imperial Roman poet Statius
Statius
Publius Papinius Statius was a Roman poet of the 1st century CE . Besides his poetry in Latin, which include an epic poem, the Thebaid, a collection of occasional poetry, the Silvae, and the unfinished epic, the Achilleid, he is best known for his appearance as a major character in the Purgatory...

 writes of a "otium villa" that he plans on retiring to in Naples in his work Silvae
Silvae
The Silvae is a collection of Latin occasional poetry in hexameters, hendecasyllables, and lyric meters by Publius Papinius Statius . There are 32 poems in the collection, divided into five books. Each book contains a prose preface which introduces and dedicates the book...

: It has secure peace, an idle life of leisure, non-troubled rest and sleep. There is no madness in the market-place, no strict laws in dispute... Pliny the Younger
Pliny the Younger
Gaius Plinius Caecilius Secundus, born Gaius Caecilius or Gaius Caecilius Cilo , better known as Pliny the Younger, was a lawyer, author, and magistrate of Ancient Rome. Pliny's uncle, Pliny the Elder, helped raise and educate him...

 exemplified the philosophy of the Roman elite in otium of the time by the life he lived from his "otium villas". He would dictate letters to his secretary, read Greek and Latin speeches, go on walks on the villas grounds, dine and socialize with friends, meditate, exercise, bath, take naps, and occasionally hunt.

Tibullus
Tibullus
Albius Tibullus was a Latin poet and writer of elegies.Little is known about his life. His first and second books of poetry are extant; many other texts attributed to Tibullus are of questionable origins. There are only a few references to him in later writers and a short Life of doubtful authority...

 was an Augustan
Augustan literature (ancient Rome)
Augustan literature is the period of Latin literature written during the reign of Augustus , the first Roman emperor. In literary histories of the first part of the 20th century and earlier, Augustan literature was regarded along with that of the Late Republic as constituting the Golden Age of...

 elegiac
Elegiac couplet
The elegiac couplet is a poetic form used by Greek lyric poets for a variety of themes usually of smaller scale than the epic. Roman poets, particularly Ovid, adopted the same form in Latin many years later...

 poet who offered an alternative lifestyle to the Roman ideal of the military man or the man of action. He preferred the country lifestyle. In his existing first two books of poetry he compares the lifestyle of his chief friend and patron Marcus Valerius Messalla Corvinus
Marcus Valerius Messalla Corvinus
Marcus Valerius Messalla Corvinus was a Roman general, author and patron of literature and art.-Family:He was the son of politician Marcus Valerius Messalla Niger Although, some dispute his parentage and claim another descendant of Marcus Valerius Corvus to be his father.Messalla Corvinus is...

 as a commander and soldier to that of a farmer. Tibullus in his poem 1.3 rejects the work style of the rich man, adsiduus labor, and military service (militia). He shows in his poetry that originally otium was a military concept, the no longer use of one's weapons. Tibullus prefers the rustic agricultural landscape and a simple life. He indicates that while he would do agricultural work, he would only be interested in doing it sometimes (interdum) and therefore inserts otium (peace and leisure time) into agricultural life. He expresses in his attitude of his poetry that the qualities of the Epicurean resolve to quietism (occultism—religious mysticism) and pacifism (abstention from violence) as the pursuits of ignobile otium (mean leisure) - peace of mind (peace with one's self) and detachment from worldy ambitions.

Seneca
Seneca the Younger
Lucius Annaeus Seneca was a Roman Stoic philosopher, statesman, dramatist, and in one work humorist, of the Silver Age of Latin literature. He was tutor and later advisor to emperor Nero...

 compares the difference in the Epicurean and Stoic choice of otium. He confesses that classic Stoicism urges active public life while Epicurus has a tendency not to advance public life unless forced to. Seneca views Stoicism
Stoicism
Stoicism is a school of Hellenistic philosophy founded in Athens by Zeno of Citium in the early . The Stoics taught that destructive emotions resulted from errors in judgment, and that a sage, or person of "moral and intellectual perfection," would not suffer such emotions.Stoics were concerned...

 and Epicureanism
Epicureanism
Epicureanism is a system of philosophy based upon the teachings of Epicurus, founded around 307 BC. Epicurus was an atomic materialist, following in the steps of Democritus. His materialism led him to a general attack on superstition and divine intervention. Following Aristippus—about whom...

 as legitimate to inaction in the proper situations. He defends the Stoic philosophy as leaning toward otium. The main responsibility for the Stoic is to benefit the public in some manner. This could be done by the cultivation of virtue or the research of nature in retirement. This would mean a life of meditation and contemplation rather than an active political life. Seneca shows that otium is not really "free time", but a study of other matters (i.e., reading, writing) other than political and career gains.

The increase of retirees retreating to rural villas became more attractive as writers of the day wrote that Stoic ways included pursuits of reading, writing, and philosophy. This meant that the work of public duties was replaced by otium liberale (liberal leisure) and was sanctified if the retiree did pursuits of reading, writing, and philosophy. The benefits of the simplicity of rustic country life was reinforced in the intellectual legitimacy of otium ruris (rural leisure) because it drew out the spiritual implications of Horatian and Vergilian images of this type of life. Seneca's doctrine of De Otio describes retirement from public life.

These are some of the elements in his doctrine:
  1. virtue, freedom and happiness by reasoning.
  2. the military metaphor.
  3. that the virtuous person chooses statio, a specific place for doing one's 'employment'.
  4. otium (leisure) is still negotium (business) even if withdrawal from public activity.
  5. that the virtuous person's otium, as a citizen of the universe, is the field for the performance of his duty.

Later writers


While Seneca's doctrine appears to be close to the doctrine of Athenodorus
Athenodorus of Soli
Athenodorus of Soli was a Stoic philosopher, and disciple of Zeno of Citium, who lived in the 3rd century BC.He was the son of Athenodorus, and was born in the town of Soli, Cilicia, and was the compatriot of another disciple of Zeno, Chrysippus. Athenodorus was the brother of the poet Aratus of...

's De Tranquillitate it is basically different. In De Otio 3.5 Seneca points out the benefits towards man in general, while in De Tranquillitate the theme is peace of mind.

Saint Augustine of Hippo reminded Romans of otium philosophandi, a positive element, that life was happiest when one had time to philosophize. Augustine points out that otium was the prerequisite for contemplation. It was because of otium that Alypius of Thagaste
Alypius of Thagaste
Saint Alypius of Thagaste was bishop of the see of Tagaste in 394. He is also credited with building the first monastery in Africa. He was a lifelong friend of Saint Augustine of Hippo and joined him in his conversion and life in Christianity. He came from an aristrocratic family and his early...

 steered Augustine away from marriage. He said that they could not live a life together in the love of wisdom if he married. Augustine described Christianae vita otium as the Christian life of leisure. Many Christian writers of the time interpreted the Roman idea of otium as the deadly sin of acedia
Acedia
Acedia describes a state of listlessness or torpor, of not caring or not being concerned with one's position or condition in the world. It can lead to a state of being unable to perform one's duties in life. Its spiritual overtones make it related to but distinct from depression...

 (sloth). Some Christian writers formulated otium as meaning to serve God through deep thought. Christian writers encouraged biblical studies to justify otium. These same Christian writers also showed otium ruris (secluded rural leisure) as a needed step to monastic propositum. Augustine describes the monastic life as otium sanctum (sanctified leisure or approved leisure). In Augustine's time the idea of philosophy had two poles of ambitions—one to be a worthy Christian (vacation - negotium) and the other to be a worthy friend of God (devotion - otium).

Petrarch
Petrarch
Francesco Petrarca , known in English as Petrarch, was an Italian scholar, poet and one of the earliest humanists. Petrarch is often called the "Father of Humanism"...

, 14th-century poet and Renaissance humanist
Renaissance humanism
Renaissance humanism was an activity of cultural and educational reform engaged by scholars, writers, and civic leaders who are today known as Renaissance humanists. It developed during the fourteenth and the beginning of the fifteenth centuries, and was a response to the challenge of Mediæval...

, discusses otium in his De vita solitaria
De vita solitaria
is a philosophical treatise composed in Latin and written between 1346 and 1356 by Italian Renaissance humanist Petrarch...

as it relates to a human life of simple habits and self-restraint. Like his favorite Roman authors Cicero, Horace, Seneca, Ovid, and Livy, he sees otium not as leisure time devoted to idleness, passion, entertainment, or mischievous wrongdoing; but time ideally spent on nature appreciation, serious research, meditation, contemplation, writing, and friendship. Petrarch considered solitude (i.e., rural setting, "villa otium", his Vaucluse home) and its relationship to otium as a great possession for a chance at intellectual activity, the same philosophy as Cicero and Seneca. He would share such a precious commodity with his best friends in the spirit of Seneca when he said "no good thing is pleasant to possess without friends to share it."

Historian Julia Bondanella translates Petrarch's Latin words of his own personal definition of otium:
Petrarch stressed the idea of an active mind even in otium (leisure). He refers back to Augustine's Vetus Itala in De otio religioso where in Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 it was associated with contemplation and vacatio (vacate—be still). He points out that this is associated with videre (to see), which in Christianity is physical and mental activity aimed at moral perfection. He relates this concept of otium as vacate et videte (be still and see—a form of meditation
Meditation
Meditation is any form of a family of practices in which practitioners train their minds or self-induce a mode of consciousness to realize some benefit....

, contemplation). Petrarch points out that one should not take leisure as so relaxed as to weaken the mind, but to be active in leisure to build up strength in the view of a unique character and religion.

Andrew Marvell
Andrew Marvell
Andrew Marvell was an English metaphysical poet, Parliamentarian, and the son of a Church of England clergyman . As a metaphysical poet, he is associated with John Donne and George Herbert...

’s seventeenth-century poem The Garden
The Garden (poem)
"The Garden", by Andrew Marvell, is one of the most famous English poems of the seventeenth century. "In his poem called 'The Garden'", H.C. Beeching noted over a century ago, "Marvell has sung a palinode that for richness of phrasing in its sheer sensual love of garden delights is perhaps...

 is a lyric
Lyric poetry
Lyric poetry is a genre of poetry that expresses personal and emotional feelings. In the ancient world, lyric poems were those which were sung to the lyre. Lyric poems do not have to rhyme, and today do not need to be set to music or a beat...

 of nine stanzas in which he rejects all forms of activity in the world in favor of solitude of the retiree in a garden. It is a type of retirement poem expressing the love of retirement—an ancient Roman concept related to otium. The poem shows the high degree of pleasure of rural retirement. Some critics see that he shows otium to mean peace, quiet and leisure—a goal for retirement from politics and business. Others see a Christianized otium with Marvell showing a representation of the progress of a soul from the pursuit for the pagan promised land of the peaceful countryside and contemplation to the search for the lost heaven on earth.

Part of Marvell's poem The Garden below:

What wondrous life is this I lead!

Ripe apples drop about my head;

The luscious clusters of the vine

Upon my mouth do crush their wine;

The nectarine and curious peach

Into my hands themselves do reach;

Stumbling on melons as I pass,

Insnared with flowers, I fall on grass.

Meanwhile mind, from pleasure less,

Withdraws into its happiness:

The mind, that ocean where each kind

Does straight its own resemblance find;

Yet it creates, transcending these,

Far other worlds, and other seas;

Annihilating all that's made

To a green thought in a green shade.

Here at the fountain's sliding foot,

Or at some fruit-tree's mossy root,

Casting the body's vest aside,

My soul into the boughs does glide:

There like a bird it sits and sings,

Then whets and combs its silver wings;

And, till prepared for longer flight,

Waves in its plumes the various light.

Such was that happy garden-state,

While man there walked without a mate:

After a place so pure and sweet,

What other help could yet be meet!

But 'twas beyond a mortal's share

To wander solitary there:

Two paradises 'twere in one

To live in Paradise alone.


Brian Vickers, a 20th-century British literary scholar, points out an expression made by Friedrich Nietzsche
Friedrich Nietzsche
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche was a 19th-century German philosopher, poet, composer and classical philologist...

, a 19th-century German philosopher, on scholars' opinion of otium in his 1878 publication Menschliches, Allzumenschliches
Human, All Too Human
Human, All Too Human , subtitled A Book for Free Spirits , is a book by 19th century philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, originally published in 1878...

:

Private life and public life meanings


Private life meaning of otium meant personal retirement
Retirement
Retirement is the point where a person stops employment completely. A person may also semi-retire by reducing work hours.Many people choose to retire when they are eligible for private or public pension benefits, although some are forced to retire when physical conditions don't allow the person to...

—the opposite of business. It meant leisure only for one's own pleasure with no benefit to the state or public. Examples here is where one attends only his own farm or estate. Another is hunting. It was the opposite of "active public life". One would not be a historian in this case.

In public life otium meant public peace and relief after war. It meant freedom from the enemy with no hostilities. It was not only freedom from external assault (the enemy), it was also freedom from internal disorder (civil war). This then had the meaning of leisure, peace and safety at the homeland. This eventually became the status quo
Status quo
Statu quo, a commonly used form of the original Latin "statu quo" – literally "the state in which" – is a Latin term meaning the current or existing state of affairs. To maintain the status quo is to keep the things the way they presently are...

: acceptance of existing political and social conditions of the local laws, the custom of the ancestors, the powers of magistrates, authority of the senate, religions, the military, the treasury, and the praise of the empire..

Other uses


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  • The term cum dignitate otium ("leisure with dignity") is found in Cicero
    Cicero
    Marcus Tullius Cicero , was a Roman philosopher, statesman, lawyer, political theorist, and Roman constitutionalist. He came from a wealthy municipal family of the equestrian order, and is widely considered one of Rome's greatest orators and prose stylists.He introduced the Romans to the chief...

    's writings and refers to an aim and purpose of the Optimates
    Optimates
    The optimates were the traditionalist majority of the late Roman Republic. They wished to limit the power of the popular assemblies and the Tribunes of the Plebs, and to extend the power of the Senate, which was viewed as more dedicated to the interests of the aristocrats who held the reins of power...

    .
  • Leisure without literature is death and burial for a living man. – a quote from Seneca the Younger
    Seneca the Younger
    Lucius Annaeus Seneca was a Roman Stoic philosopher, statesman, dramatist, and in one work humorist, of the Silver Age of Latin literature. He was tutor and later advisor to emperor Nero...

    .
  • Leisure is a system of symbols which acts to establish a feeling of freedom and pleasure by formulating a sense of choice and desire.
  • Mr. Morgan was enjoying his otium in a dignified manner, surveying the evening fog, and smoking a cigar ...
  • The Art nouveau
    Art Nouveau
    Art Nouveau is an international philosophy and style of art, architecture and applied art—especially the decorative arts—that were most popular during 1890–1910. The name "Art Nouveau" is French for "new art"...

     or Jugendstyle residence of the United States Ambassador to Norway
    United States Ambassador to Norway
    Prior to 1905, Sweden and Norway were politically united. The United States Ambassador to Sweden thus was the US representative for Norway as well as Sweden. In 1905 Sweden and Norway peacefully separated and Norway became an independent constitutional monarchy. On November 14, 1905, the US State...

     is called the Villa Otium.By Norwegian architect Henrik Bull
    Henrik Bull
    Henrik Bull was a Norwegian architect and designer. Among his works are the Paulus Church at Grünerløkka in Oslo, the National Theater, the Historical Museum in Oslo, and the Government Building. He also designed coins for Norges Bank, and participated at the Kristiania Jubilée exhibition at...

    . The building was inspired by Russian architecture, and was built for Hans Andreas Olsen, who had encountered it when he was the Consul General for Norway at St. Petersburg, Russia with his wife Ester, the niece of Alfred Nobel
    Alfred Nobel
    Alfred Bernhard Nobel was a Swedish chemist, engineer, innovator, and armaments manufacturer. He is the inventor of dynamite. Nobel also owned Bofors, which he had redirected from its previous role as primarily an iron and steel producer to a major manufacturer of cannon and other armaments...

    .

Synonyms


Otium carried with it many different meanings (including but not limited to time, chance, opportunity), depending on the time period or the philosophers involved in determining the concept.

Positive sense


Synonyms of positive connotations are:
  • quies - rest, repose, relief from toil.
  • requies - rest, repose, rest from labor, a hobby.
  • tranquilitas - tranquility, calm, quiet.
  • peace - as a state or condition of freedom from external enemies.
  • pax - to pacify or appease, as the outcome of diplomatic conference and agreement with an enemy.

Negative sense


Synonyms of negative connotations are:
  • inhonestum otium - dishonorable leisure, idle self-indulgence leisure.
  • desidia - slackness, idleness.
  • inertia - sloth, idleness, indolence.
  • ignavia - sloth, idleness, faint-heartedness.
  • desidiosissimum otium - a sluggard's free time, he that fears labor; a man careless to attend to his duty first.

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