Trying to remember a quote about sleep being the greatest reward
August 7, 2013 6:35 AM   Subscribe

Somewhere in the back of my brain there's a memory of a quote I once read, possibly by a Greek philosopher but just as possibly not. The quote was something about sleep (and maybe dreams?) being the greatest reward in life - that the only reason we toil through the day is to "earn" our sleep at night.

There's a slight chance that I'm completely making this quote up, but I swear I've read it somewhere - possibly even on MeFi (though I searched pretty extensively). All of my googling has been for naught, and so I turn to you, fair hivemind.
posted by DulcineaX to Grab Bag (4 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
There's a parody of a sophist in Thus Spoke Zarathustra, by Nietzsche-

People commended unto Zarathustra a wise man, as one who could discourse well about sleep and virtue... No small art is it to sleep: it is necessary for that purpose to keep awake all day.
posted by bhnyc at 6:56 AM on August 7, 2013

Your question made me think immediately of the Choric Song of the Lotus Eaters, by Tennyson. I could be way off, but have a scan through it for the words "toil" and "sleep".

Surely, surely, slumber is more sweet than toil, the shore
Than labour in the deep mid-ocean, wind and wave and oar;
O, rest ye, brother mariners, we will not wander more.

posted by kev23f at 7:09 AM on August 7, 2013

I don't think Frost had that meaning in mind but my grandfather (truck driver, cab driver) always did when he used this poem on me. So I have since also felt Frost was telling us that sleep was the reward for hard work.

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
posted by wobumingbai at 8:29 AM on August 7, 2013

Do but consider what an excellent thing sleep is: it is so inestimable a jewel that, if a tyrant would give his crown for an hour's slumber, it cannot be bought: of so beautiful a shape is it, that though a man lie with an Empress, his heart cannot beat quiet till he leaves her embracements to be at rest with the other: yea, so greatly indebted are we to this kinsman of death, that we owe the better tributary, half of our life to him: and there is good cause why we should do so: for sleep is that golden chain that ties health and our bodies together. Who complains of want? of wounds? of cares? of great men's oppressions? of captivity? whilst he sleepeth? Beggars in their beds take as much pleasure as kings: can we therefore surfeit on this delicate Ambrosia? Can we drink too much of that whereof to taste too little tumbles us into a churchyard, and to use it but indifferently throws us into Bedlam? No, no, look upon Endymion, the moon's minion, who slept three score and fifteen years, and was not a hair the worse for it.

Thomas Dekker
posted by timeo danaos at 6:58 PM on August 8, 2013

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