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cum dignitate otium, or Sabbath
So, I discovered that otium was the Latin word for leisure, and although I have not encountered it in education talks, it seems to have been the word used by philosophers to mean precisely what Pieper in Leisure, the Basis of Culture was trying to convey: that to truly cultivate arts – including those of reading, thinking, and discussing – we must have a space apart from the cares of marketing, buying, and selling.
Otium – leisure – can mean idle amusement. Just as our word leisure can be used to talk about watching tv at night, so otium could carry similar connotations of mere unproductiveness. The phrase otium cum dignitas was a phrase used to distinguish the kind of leisure being discussed. It is a leisure that is with dignity, not a leisure of sloth or indolence. That is, it is a leisure characterized by worthiness, appropriateness, propriety, nobility, dignity, and self-respect.
In the classical world, otium cum dignities meant one had time apart from an income-earning job to read, think, discuss, and participate in politics. Such a state was either a retirement earned after a lifetime of occupation or came as a result of inheritance.
Cicero defines otium as a state of security and peace, of tranquility of mind, which is cultivated when one is not seeking profit and personal gain, but rather contemplating and having a mind at ease.
In the medieval period, this word otium came to be used primarily to indicate peace of mind – a leisure that is internal more than an external circumstance. Petrarch, writing in the 13th century, says that otium is ideally spent on nature appreciation, serious research, meditation, contemplation, writing, and friendship.
So in this phrase we have wrapped up both the concept of a space set apart from economic considerations or “getting ahead” and also the concept that leisure is internal, a way of being. I think we need both meanings in our lives.
Read the original post: Living from Rest - cum dignitate otiumResources:
- Dr. Perrin's lecture "Eight Essential Principles of Classical Education
- Leisure, the Basis of Culture by Joseph Pieper
- Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman
- Crazy Busy by Kevin DeYoung
- Teaching from Rest by Sarah Mackenzie