Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, Aphorisms
, tr. R.J. Hollingdale (London: Penguin Books, 1990), p. 40:
To live when you do not want to is dreadful, but it would be even more terrible to be immortal when you did not want to be. As things are, however, the whole ghastly burden is suspended from me by a thread which I can cut in two with a penny-knife.
In classical mythology, who was immortal but did not want to be? Perhaps Eos' consort Tithonus, who was granted immortality but not eternal youth. Certainly the nymph Juturna in Vergil's Aeneid
12.879-884 (tr. H. Rushton Fairclough), who lamented:
Wherefore gave me he [Jove] life eternal? Why of the law of death am I bereaved? Now surely could I end such anguish, and pass at my poor brother's [Turnus'] side amid the shadows! I immortal! Nay, will aught of mine be sweet to me without thee, my brother? O what deepest earth can gape enough for me, and send me down, a goddess, to the nethermost shades?
quo vitam dedit aeternam? cur mortis adempta est
condicio? possem tantos finire dolores
nunc certe, et misero fratri comes ire per umbras!
immortalis ego? aut quicquam mihi dulce meorum
te sine, frater, erit? o quae satis ima dehiscat
terra mihi, Manisque deam demittat ad imos?