The Miser "One Must Eat To Live, Not Live To Eat"

Moliere

"One Must Eat To Live, Not Live To Eat"

Context: Miserly Harpagon is giving a party honoring Mariane, the lovely girl he hopes to marry; but he wishes the party to cost no more than necessary. Valère, a rich young Neapolitan who is acting incognito as Harpagon's steward, curries favor with his master by pretending to approve of his stingy ways. When Jacques, the cook, says the banquet should include a great variety of foods, Valère instructs him in the virtue of thrift. (The great man whose name Valère cannot recall was Socrates. "He used to say that other men lived to eat, but that he ate to live."–Diogenes Laertius (c. 200): Socrates, 14.)


VALÈRE
You must learn, maître Jacques, you and your likes, that to invite to a table overladen with food is the act of an assassin; in order to show yourself the friend of those whom you ask, frugality must reign over the repast you give; and, following the old saying, one must eat to live, and not live to eat (il faut manger pour vivre, et non pas vivre pour manger).
HARPAGON
Ah! that is well said! Come, let me embrace you for that word. It is the finest sentence I have heard in my life. One must live to eat, and not eat to li . . . No, that is not it. What was it you said?
VALÈRE
That one must eat to live, and not live to eat.
HARPAGON
Yes. Do you hear? Who is the great man who said that?
VALÈRE
I do not now remember his name.