“Eat, drink, and be merry …”

So a couple of friends of mine were chatting today about some of the more troubling developments abroad (hint: Russia, North Korea), and my friend Michelle invoked the expression, “Eat, drink and be merry.”

It was a reference to the oft-quoted “Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we may die.”

I always thought that the line came from William Shakespeare.  (It sounds Shakespearian, doesn’t it?)

But a little research set me straight. (You guys know I am weirdly OCD about these things.)  Like “Oh, how the mighty have fallen,” another saying that I thought was the Bard’s, it is actually derived from the Bible.

It’s a conflation of two Biblical quotes.  The first is Ecclesiastes 8:15: “Then I commended mirth, because a man hath no better thing under the sun, than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry.”  The second is Isaiah 22:13, “Let us eat and drink; for tomorrow we shall die.”

And, hey … while we are on the subject of my own feckless assumptions, here’s another one that turned up on a webpage devoted to falsely attributed quotes — Henry David Thoreau never said “An unexamined life is not worth living.”  That’s a loose translation of something Socrates told us.

Madonna actually included that quote in one of her songs back in the 80’s.  I’m willing to bet she knew where it came from.  So Madonna understands literary references better than I do.

Anyway, you learn something new every day.

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