Ars longa, vita brevis

Vīta brevis,
ars longa,
occāsiō praeceps,
experīmentum perīculōsum,
iūdicium difficile.
Life is short,
and art long,
opportunity fleeting,
experimentations perilous,
and judgment difficult.

The most common and significant caveat made regarding this saying by Hippocrates is that “art” originally meant “technique, craft” (as in The Art of War), not “fine art”. Hippocrates was an ancient Greek physician who made this the opening statement in a medical text. The lines which follow: “The physician must not only be prepared to do what is right himself, but also to make the patient, the attendants, and externals cooperate.” Thus in plainer language “it takes a long time to acquire and perfect one’s expertise (in, say, medicine) and one has but a short time in which to do it”. It can be interpreted as “art lasts forever, but artists die and are forgotten” (in this use sometimes rendered in the Greek order as “Life is short, Art eternal”), but most commonly it refers to how time limits our accomplishments in life.