Roman Calendar

Saturday, September 29, 2012

De "Humanitate"

I just found a chapter in M.L. Clarke's The Roman Mind entitled "Humanitas" (chapter 12). In this chapter, Clarke examines the Roman concept of Humanitas, and much of what he says is somewhat relevant to our discussion [In the Roman Virtues Project] about the Roman virtue of Humanitas. Some points condensed from the chapter:
* The Roman humanitas was said (by a combination of readings from Aulus Gellius and Cicero) to encompass the Greek concepts of both philanthropia ("and adaptability and general goodwill towards men") and paideia ("learning and education in the liberal arts").
* The aspect of humanitas regarding education may initially seem puzzling, but remember that education was revered for its primarily civilizing influence on peoples - a person with humanitas is civilized, above all, a proper human being, not a beast. Hence we continue, in English, to refer to education in the liberal arts as "humanities" (my M.A.T. degree is in "Latin and Classical Humanities"). To quote Clarke: "Cicero regarded education as having an effect on the character; the liberal arts civilized a man and made him into a true man. Even the most evil character could be humanized by education. A human man in one sense should be humane in the other. 'It is the part not only of a great man and one by nature temperate, but also of one educated in learning and liberal studies, to wield the great power he has in such a way that those under him want no other rule.' Humanism implies humaneness."
* Humanitas, then, implies civilization, kindliness, and learning. "Humanitas is joined with clementia and mansuetudo; it is contrasted with severitas. The word implies tolerance, politeness, easy manners and the social graces generally; witty and polished conversation"

     A wonderful fusion of the popular meme based on WWII-era British propaganda ("Keep Calm and Carry On") with Roman and Stoic ideals. Catullus says something close to this, Ovid says it twice (once in the Amores and once in the Tristia). Perfect!

From "The Roman Mind" on judging good and evil in life

     "[The Stoic] belief in a beneficent providence was not without its difficulties. In the time of Lucretius men had pointed to those features in nature which seemed to contradict it. Now it was rather the difficulties of the individual which hindered assent to the doctrine. Apart from the ordinary annoyances and discomforts of life which some made complain against providence, there was the problem presented by the spectacle of the good man suffering. If the gods cared for man, as Ennius put it, bene bonis sit, male malis, quod nunc abest [it would be well for the good, ill for the evil, which is nowhere the case now]. The correct Stoic answer was that the ills which afflicted the good were not ills at all. As Tacitus put it: 'Good and ill are not what the common people suppose them to be; many who appear to battle against adversity are blessed, many amid great wealth are utterly miserable, if the former bear their hard lot firmly and the latter make foolish use of their prosperity.' This view, however, was not easy to accept, for it might well be supposed that if the physical world was so ordered as to serve the needs of mankind, human society likewise would in some degree reflect the divine providence." (Clarke, The Roman Mind, p. 117) Of course, the traditional Stoic view on the last item is that while beneficent divine providence created nature, human beings have free will to order themselves, precisely because of their shared divinity - the divine spark within each human soul. As a result, human society is the product of human beings exercising their divinely-bestowed free will, with good or evil intent as they choose, whereas nature is what it is. Through neither nature not human activity, however, can the sage suffer evil in this world, since he cannot judge anything that befalls him to be evil, whether sickness, injustice, old age, death, or any other thing commonly but wrongly supposed to be "evils suffered" by the good.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Stoicism is everywhere . . . even in Plautus!

     I just found one of the simplest Latin condensations of Stoic thought in the comedies of Plautus, of all places! Check out this line from Aulularia:

"Quod di dant fero." - "I bear what the gods give me."

The Inner Citadel and the two Natures

     In The Inner Citadel, Pierre Hadot looks at Marcus Aurelius' idea of there being two "Natures" - an inner Nature (the soul), which emanates from outer, universal Nature (Providence, God, Zeus, whatever you want to call it).

"In this very moment I have what common Nature wants me to have at this moment, and at this moment I am doing what my own nature wants me to do at this moment (V, 25, 2).

     As Marcus says, the road that these twwo different natures follow is, in fact, the same (V,3,2); it is the straightest and shortest road. It is here, moreover, that the notion of the daimōn briefly reappears, and it is extremely interesting to observe an identification and an opposition between the 'outer' god, who is universal Nature or Reason, and the 'inner' god - the daimōn or hēgemonikon - who emanates from it (V, 10, 6):

Nothing will happen to me which is not in conformity with the Nature of the All. It depends on me to do nothing which is contrary to my god and my daimōn."

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

From "The Inner Citadel" on Virtue and Joy

     In Pierre Hadot's The Inner Citadel, he analyzes some of what is meant by "Virtue" and how it leads to joy . . .

     Hadot believes that he detects a threefold structure repeated throughout the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, derived from Epictetus, and accounts for it as "an internal necessity, in the sense that there can be neither more nor fewer than three exercise-themes for the philosopher, because there can be neither more nor fewer than three acts of the soul."

     The Greek word translated as "Virtue" is "Aretē." Aretē originally denoted pure excellence in an aristocratic warrior-elite sense, rather than moral excellence, but over time the sense had shifted somewhat. "We may suppose that this ideal of excellence and value always remained present in the mind of the philosophers. For the Stoics, aretē is absolute value, based no longer on warrior nobility, but on the nobility of the soul represented by the purity of our intentions." Virtue is one, in Stoic thought, yet may be thought of as consisting in the four "cardinal virtues," all of which, Hadot notes, imply one another, creating this unitarian view of Virtue.

     Hadot notes that Marcus "often summarizes the three disciplines - of assent, of desire, and of action - by making the names of the virtues correspond  to them. Thus the discipline of assent takes on the name of the virtue of 'truth;' the discipline of desire acquires the name of the virtue of 'temperance;' and the discipline of action, that of the virtue of 'justice.'" (Substituting "trutt" for the usual phrasing, "prudence," is not surprising, notes Hadot, since Plato uses "truth" for "prudence" in The Republic). There is a lengthy passage of the Meditations (IX, 1) cited to show Marcus following this division, in which "it is easy to recognize the three disciplines: that of action, which ordains that people should help one another; that of assent, which consists in distinguishing the true from the false; and that of desire, which consists in accepting the lot which universal Nature has reserved for us. To these three disciplines correspond three virtues. In the discipline of action, we must respect the value hierarchy of people and things, and thus act in accordance with justice. According to the discipline of assent, our discourse must be true, and the virtue particular to this discipline is truth. He who knowingly lies commits a twofold sin: in the area of assent, since his discourse is not true, and in the area of action, since he is committing an injustice with regard to other people. As for the person who lies involuntarily - in other words, who deceived himself - it is because he has not succeeded in criticizing his judgments and in becoming the master of his assent that he is no longer capable of distinguishing the true from the false. Finally, in the discipline of desire, we must desire only that which universal  Nature wants, and we must not desire pleasures or flee sufferings. This discipline is characterized by temperance."

     According to Hadot's analysis, then, "Nature appears to us in three aspects. She is the principle of attraction, which urges human beings to help one another and to practice justice, and is therefore the basis of justice. She is also the basis of truth; that is to say, the principle which founds the order of discourse, and the necessary relationship which must exist between beings and the true attributes that are said about them. To speak falsely, whether voluntarily or involuntarily, is therefore to be in disaccord with the order of the world. Finally, universal Nature, since she is indifferent to indifferent things, is the basis of temperance, in other words of that virtue which, instead of desiring pleasure, wants to consent to the will of universal Nature."

     "Marcus here portrays universal Nature as the most ancient and august of goddesses, in such a way that any lapse with regard to the virtues - justice, truth, and temperance - of which this goddess is the model and the principle, is an impiety. The Stoics traditionally identified God, Nature, Truth, Destiny, and Zeus."

     "In Marcus' view, these three disciplines and virtues bring into the soul the only true joy which exists in the world, since they place the soul in possession of all that is necessary: the one absolute value." "Joy, then, is the sign of an action's perfection." "Unlike Epicurean pleasure, Stoic joy is not the motive and end of moral action: rather, virtue is its own reward. Virtue seeks nothing above and beyond itself; instead, for the Stoics, joy, like Aristotelian pleasure, comes along as an extra surplus in addition to action in conformity with nature . . ." "Such joy is not, moreover, an irrational passion, because it is in conformity with reason."

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

From "The Inner Citadel" on Altruism

     In The Inner Citadel, Pierre Hadot analyzes the Stoic rationale for valuing altruism.

     Human beings participate in Reason - Reason is the defining characteristic of humanity, shared only with the gods, if such exist. In fact, many ancient Stoics believed that the logical faculty within a human being was in fact a spark of the Divine within us, essentially a small god, or a "piece" of God. Hence, "Intelligence and reason are common to all reasonable beings, for by virtue of their universality which transcends individuals, they allow us to shift from the egocentric viewpoint of the individual to the universal perspective of the All. This is why intelligence and reason tend naturally to envisage the good and interests of the Whole. Logikon ("rational") and koinōnikon ("caring about the common welfare") are inseparable (VII, 55)"

     Hadot goes on to analyze the Stoic view of egotism, which is that it is harmful to the individual as well as for the whole. The oft-repeated maxim that "Universal Nature has made rational beings for the sake of one another" leads to the conclusion that a person who separates his own interests from those of the human race is like a severed body part - useless to itself and the whole of which it was part.

Third post from Seneca's "De Constantia"

Today's Stoic meditation from Seneca's De Constantia expands upon the theme that the sage (sapiens) cannot be injured or receive harm As I wrote previously, this is probably the hardest part of Stoic doctrine to "swallow," and indeed the insistence on this point has driven more people away from Stoicism than anything else, I think. No one likes to hear that if they are suffering, it is because they choose to accept something other than Virtue as a good.

Once, as I was explaining to students that the Stoics believed that no one could harm a sage, a student said, "How silly! Anyone could walk up and stab a Stoic with a knife, and he would be injured." I replied, "Only if he held his physical body to be more important than Virtue, but the sage regards his body as unimportant - did he ever say his body was indestructible?" "But he would die!" exclaimed the student. "Yes, and did he ever claim that dying was bad, or that he was immortal? Only if one regards death as an evil is it harm - the sage knows it is not," I answered. The majority of the students then declared that the Stoics were insane. But the Stoic would say it is simply because they have been trained all their lives to accept indifferent things, and even bad things, as if they were good. They do not choose to see that their material comforts are temporary, their youth and bodies are temporary, even life is temporary, but the soul is immortal and divine and the Virtue that can be its only permanent possession is the only real, lasting good. So Seneca writes:

“Moreover, justice can suffer no injustice, because opposites do not meet. But no injury can be done without injustice; therefore no injury can be done to the wise man. And you need not be surprised; if no one can do him an injury, no one can do him a service either. The wise man, on the one hand, lacks nothing that he can receive as a gift; the evil man, on the other, can bestow nothing good enough for the wise man to have. For a man must have before he can give; the evil man, however, has nothing that the wise man would be glad to have transferred to himself. It is impossible, therefore, for any one either to injure or to benefit the wise man, since that which is divine does not need to be helped, and cannot be hurt; and the wise man is next-door neighbor to the gods and like a god in all save his mortality.”- Seneca, De Constantia, VIII.1-2

“Praeterea iustitia nihil iniustum pati potest, quia non coeunt contraria. Iniuria autem non potest fieri nisi iniuste; ergo sapienti iniuria non potest fieri. Nec est quod mireris; si nemo illi potest iniuriam facere, ne prodesse quidem quisquam potest. Et sapienti nihil deest quod accipere posit loco muneris, et malus nihil potest dignum tribuere sapiente; habere enim prius debet quam dare, nihil autem habet quod ad se transferri sapiens gavisurus sit. Non potest ergo quisquam aut nocere sapienti aut prodesse, quoniam divina nec iuvari desiderant nec laedi possunt, sapiens autem vicinus proximusque dis consistit, excepta mortalitate similis deo.”

Monday, June 18, 2012

Second post from Seneca's "De Constantia"

     Today's Stoic meditation from Seneca's De Constantia reminds us of the sometimes difficult-to-grasp principle that to the sage (sapiens), no harm may ever truly be done, even if the wicked try to harm the good (and the good must, of necessity, be sapientes). This is the part of Stoic ethics that is the hardest for the outside observer or novice to "buy into" - can it really be that I have never suffered harm in my life? But it is so - get rid of the judgement and you get rid of the harm. As long as I do not count as injury what has happened to me, I have suffered no injury. As long as I consider what is taken from me no loss, I have lost nothing. And so no wicked person can ever harm me - for if a person tries to harm me, that person is wicked. The wicked do not have Virtue, and so are less than the good. That which is lesser cannot harm that which is greater. Besides, what injury could be done to me? The wicked cannot harm my Virtue, which is the only true harm. So Seneca writes:

“Again, that which injures must be more powerful than that which is injured; but wickedness is not stronger than righteousness; therefore it is impossible for the wise man to be injured. Only the bad attempt to injure the good; the good are at peace with each other, the bad are no less harmful to the good than to each other. But if only the weaker man can be injured, and if the bad man is weaker than the good man, and the good have to fear no injury except from one who is no match for them, then injury cannot befall the wise man. For by this time you do not need to be reminded that there is no good man except the wise man.” – Seneca, De Constantia, VII.2

“Denique validius debet esse quod laedit eo quod laeditur; non est autem fortiori nequitia virtute; non potest ergo laedi sapiens. Iniuria in bonos nisi a malis non temptatur; bonis inter se pax est, mali tam bonis perniciosi quam inter se. Quodsi laedi nisi infirmmior non potest, malus autem bono infirmior est, nec iniuria bonis nisi a dispari verenda est; iniuria in sapientem virum non cadit. Illud enim iam non es admonendus neminem bonum esse nisi sapientem.” 

Saturday, June 16, 2012

On Pity for Those Who Do Wrong

     In Pierre Hadot's "The Inner Citadel: The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, he observes that many Stoics followed the logic which Plato attributes to Socrates, in which it is reasoned that all wrongdoing is really through error - that one who does wrong, even intentionally, can be said to be in error, because they have made incorrect value-judgments (which, from a Stoic perspective, means valuing anything - anything at all - as good which is not The Good, i.e. Virtue. Epictetus quotes (really, paraphrases) Plato as saying, "Every soul is deprived of the truth against its will." Marcus Aurelius quotes the same version of this in his Meditations, showing that he is following Epictetus.
     Therefore, whenever anyone does any wrong, it is because they are submerged in ignorance - as everyone but the sage is, for our entire lives. "'This ignorance of genuine values in which people are submerged,' says Marcus, is, 'in a sense, worthy of pity.' (II.13, 3) . . . 'In a sense, worthy of pity': this qualification is an allusion to the traditional Stoic critique of pity, which the Stoics considered a passion. 'Pity,' said Seneca, 'is an illness of the soul produced by the sight of the suffering of others, or a state of sadness caused by the misfortunes of others. But no illness affects the mind of the sage, who always remains serene.'
      Marcus Aurelius and Epictetus remain faithful to Stoic doctrine, insofar as what they call 'pity' is not a passion or an illness of the soul, but is instead defined negatively as the lack of anger and hatred toward those who are ignorant of genuine values. It is not enough, moreover, to have pity on people or to be indulgent to them. We must above all try to help them, by informing them about their error, and teaching them genuine letters (IX, 42, 6):

     'In general, it is within your power to instruct the mistaken person so as to make him change his mind, for whoever commits a misdeed is a person who misses what he was aiming at, and goes astray.'

     We must, then, try to reason with the mistaken person (V, 28, 3; VI, 27, 3; VI, 50, 1; IX, 11). If we fail in our efforts, then it will be time to practice patience, forgiveness, and benevolence."

Friday, June 15, 2012

From "The Inner Citadel" by Pierre Hadot

     "Stoicism is often regarded as a philosophy of certainty and intellectual self-confidence. In fact, however, it was only to the sage - that is, to an extremely rare being who represented more an inaccessible ideal than a concrete reality - that Stoics attributed infallibility and perfect soundness of judgment. Most people, including philosophers - who, in their own view, are precisely not sages - must painfully orient themselves within the uncertainty of everyday life, making choices which seem to be justified reasonably - in other words, probabilistically."

     "Action thus risks introducing worry and care into the Stoic's life, to the same extent to which he does good, and where he intends to do good. By means of a remarkable reversal, however, it is precisely by becoming aware of the transcendent value of doing good that the Stoic can regain peace of mind and serenity, which will enable him to act effectively. There is nothing surprising about this, for it is precisely within the moral good - that is to say, the intention of doing good - that the good is situated for the Stoics.
     For the Stoics, intentions bear within themselves a value which infinitely transcends all the objects and 'matters' to which they are applied, for these objects and matters are in themselves indifferent, and only assume a value to the extent that they provide an opportunity for intentions to be applied and become concrete."

     "In Marcus Aurelius, but also in Epictetus and in Seneca, the vocabulary of the discipline of action includes a technical term meaning 'to act 'with a reserve clause' ' (Greek hypexairesis; Latin exceptio), which implies a transcendence of intention with regard to its objects. The idea of a 'reserve clause' reminds us that, for the Stoics, act and intention are fused into an inner discourse which enunciates, as it were, the plans of the agent. According to Seneca, the sage undertakes everything 'with a reserve clause,' insofar as he says to himself"
'I want to do thus and so, as long as nothing happens which may present an obstacle to my action.'
'I will sail across the ocean, if nothing prevents me.'
     Putting matters this way may seem banal and useless; from the Stoic point of view, however, it is full of meaning. In the first place, it reveals to us the seriousness of Stoic 'intention.' To be sure, Seneca's formula could be reduced to the following: 'I want to do x, if I can'; and it would be easy to joke about such a 'good intention' which quickly gives up its goal at the first difficulty that arises. In fact, however, the contrary is true. Stoic intentions are not 'good intentions' but 'intentions that are good' - in other words, firm, determined, and resolved to overcome all obstacles. It is precisely because the Stoic refuses to give up easily on his decision that he formulates a reserve clause, in quasi-judiciary terms."

      "The 'reserve clause' means that this firm decision and intention always remain integral, even if an obstacle should arise which prevents their realization. Such an obstacle is part of what the sage has foreseen, and it does not prevent him from willing what he wants to do. In the words of Seneca:
'Everything succeeds for him, and nothing unexpected happens to him, for he foresees that something may intervene which prevents him from that which he had planned to carry out.'"

The Inner Citadel

From "The Inner Citadel: The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius" by Pierre Hadot:

"The Inner Citadel

Things Cannot Touch the Soul

Things cannot touch the soul.
They have no access to the soul.
They cannot produce our judgments.
They are outside of us.
They themselves know nothing, and by themselves they affirm nothing.
(Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, IV, 3, 10; V, 19; VI, 52; IX, 15)"

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

First post from Seneca's "De Constantia"

Today's Stoic meditation is from Seneca's De Constantia, a less "quotable" text than the De Providentia. 

The point for today is that the wise, sapiens, considers the only possession of value to be Virtue. All other things are mere attachments; they are not truly ours, but are "on loan" to us from Providence. So if the sapiens truly possesses naught but Virtue (of which one cannot be deprived by anyone but oneself), the sapiens cannot truly suffer any loss or injury. The trick, of course, is becoming a sapiens who can feel that nothing is a possession save Virtue. It's very much like becoming a buddha - it's not an easy path.

“Therefore the wise man will lose nothing which he will be able to regard as a loss’ for the only possession he has is virtue, and of this he can never be robbed. Of all else he has merely the use on sufferance. Who, however, is moved by the loss of that which is not his own?” – Seneca, De Constantia, V.5
“Itaque nihil perdet quod perire sensurus sit; unius enim in possessione virtutis est, ex qua depelli numquam potest, ceteris precario utitur; quis autem iactura moventur alieni?”

Reposted from "Florilegium Sapientiae"

Idibus Iuniis anno A.U.C. MMDCCLXV (Cn. Caesare C. Tullio consulibus)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

What is Virtue?

     It has occurred to me that there is an apparent flaw in the otherwise perfect logic of Stoicism. Stoicism defines Virtue as the only real good - as the Good, in fact. According to the Stoics, only decisions to act in accord with Virtue can be good, and nothing else is. Decisions to act in opposition to Virtue are the only Evil, and everything else is indifferent, although according to some Stoics, we may distinguish between "preferred" and "dispreferred" indifferents.

     So the non-sage may think that money, or possessions, or good health, or long life are good things. But they are not; they are indifferent (though we may prefer them to the alternatives). Only things that enter the sphere of moral action can be good or evil.

     The apparent flaw? Well . . . what is Virtue? It is fine to say, "Only acting with Virtue is Good," but one must know what that means. Do the Stoics?

     Interestingly, I don't know of a single place where a Stoic author defines what is and is not Virtue, not definitively. It almost seems like the famous "definition" of "pornography" - "I don't know what it is, but I know it when I see it!" But I think there are clues to the thought of the ancient Stoics.

     For one thing, the Stoics often speak of and seem to take for granted the "four cardinal virtues" - Wisdom (Sophia), Courage (Andreia), Justice (Dikaiosyne), and Temperance (Sophrosyne). In some places, these seem to be synonymous with the Virtue, in other places, they are simply spoken of as if they were "part of" Virtue, or contribute to it somehow. But even these may seem vague, anyway. What, after all, is Wisdom? Or Courage? Or Justice, or Temperance?

     I think another clue is to be found in the fact that the Stoics, like virtually every school of ancient philosophy, considered themselves to be the intellectual heirs of Socrates. I think they have a better claim to it than most. The important point here is that Socrates would never have given a final definition of any of these virtues, nor of Virtue. He would be perpetually seeking it through Reason. So many of his discussions, as Plato depicts them, begin with him asking someone who considers himself an expert, "So, what is 'Courage,' anyway?" The purpose of the dialogue is to expand and refine that definition, to seek its heart, to understand it better . . . and to always keep asking, rather than to settle for a fixed definition. Plato would later depict Socrates as believing in absolute fixed "Forms" of concepts like "Courage," but it seems totally out of character from what we know of Socrates, the eternal questioner, that he would accept that anyone living could really know it. Only by philosophy - only by asking questions - can we even approach the Truth.  And I rather think this might be part of the "missing" component of Stoic thought on Virtue - that while it may (or may not be) a fixed and eternal Truth, we cannot perfectly know it, and are obliged to keep considering it, questioning it, and learning it.

     Other than this, say the Stoics, Virtue consists in knowing the difference between what you can control and what you cannot, accepting that which you cannot change, and doing your best to use your faculty of moral choice for those things you can.

     These are just some thoughts, not necessarily as coherent as I would like, on the topic. I may have to expand this more at a later time . . .

"No one is free who is not in control of himself" - Epictetus (?)

Οὐδεὶς ἐλεύθερος ἑαυτοῦ μὴ κρατῶν - Attributed to Epictetus (although this attribution is not certain), this one makes good Stoic sense - "No one is free who is not in control of himself."

In other words, a person who is ruled by his passions is a slave to them.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Fifth post from Seneca's "De Providentia"

Another of the Stoic meditations from Seneca: First, he asserts:

“No proof of virtue is ever mild.” – Seneca, De Providentia, IV.12
“Numquam virtutis molle documentum est.”
Seneca elaborates at length, but this pithy phrase sums up his contention that apparent misfortunes that befall the good merely give proof to the character of the good - and that the proving itself is likely to be brutal.
Secondly, Seneca explains that the sage cannot be compelled or forced, since he makes it his will to do what must be done. Furthermore, most of the things that befall that one might wish to avoid are part of the unbreakable and irrevocable chain of cause-and-effect; one cannot logically wish that something had not happened without wishing to undo the entire chain of causality leading up to that (i.e., negating the universe itself) - the world follows set and strict laws of causality, and the Stoic believes that this is to the good (set in motion by the hand of Providence):
“I am under no compulsion, I suffer nothing against my will, and I am not God’s slave but his follower, and the more so, indeed, because I know that everything proceeds according to law that is fixed and enacted for all time.” – Seneca, De Providentia, V.6
“Nihil cogor, nihil patior invitus nec servio deo sed assentior, eo quidem magis, quod scio omnia certa et in aeternum dicta lege decurrere.”

Reposted from "Florilegium Sapientiae"

a.d. III Idus Iunias anno A.U.C. MMDCCLXV (Cn. Caesare C. Tullio consulibus)

Fourth post from Seneca's "De Providentia"

Today's Stoic meditations from Seneca are two short sententious quotes from De Providentia:

“Not what you endure, but how you endure, is important.” – Seneca, De Providentia, II.6
“Non quid sed quemadmodum feras interest.”
Disaster is Virtue’s opportunity.” – Seneca, De Providentia, IV.6
“Calamitas virtutis occasio est.”

Reposted from "Florilegium Sapientiae"

a.d. III Idus Iunias anno A.U.C. MMDCCLXV (Cn. Caesare C. Tullio consulibus)

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Third post from Seneca's "De Providentia"

My Stoic meditation for today - that the sapiens considers all adversities to be mere exercises and training set for him by Providence:

“No evil can befall a good man; opposites do not mingle. Just as the countless rivers, the vast fall of rain from the sky, the huge volume of mineral springs do not change the taste of the sea, do not even modify it, so the assaults of adversity do not weaken the spirit of a brave man. It always maintains its poise, and it gives its own colour to everything that happens; for it is mightier than external things. And yet I do not mean to say that the brave man is insensible to these, but that he overcomes them, and being in all else unmoved and calm rises to meet whatever assails him. All his adversities he counts mere training.” – Seneca, De Providentia, II.1-2
“Nihil accidere bono viro mali potest; non miscentur contraria. Quemadmodum tot amnes, tantum superne deiectorum imbrium, tanta medicatorum vis fontium non mutant saporem maris, ne remittunt quidem, ita adversarum impetus rerum viri fortis non vertit animum. Manet in statu et quicquid evenit in suum colorem trahit; est enim omnibus externis potentior. Nec hoc dico: non sentit illa, sed vincit et alioqui quietus placidusque contra incurrentia attollitur. Omnia adverse exercitationes putat.”

Reposted from "Florilegium Sapientiae"

a.d. IV Idus Iunias anno A.U.C. MMDCCLXV (Cn. Caesare C. Tullio consulibus)

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Second post from Seneca's "De Providentia"

Today's Stoic meditation from Seneca - that God "durius educat;" that apparent hardship is the hand of Providence shaping us for the good:
“Friendship, do I say? Nay, rather there is a tie of relationship and a likeness, since, in truth, a good man differs from God in the element of time only; he is God’s pupil, his imitator, and true offspring, whom his all-glorious parent, being no mild taskmaster of virtues, rears, as strict fathers do, with much severity.” – Seneca, De Providentia, I.5
“Amicitiam dico? Immo etiam necessitudo et similitude, quoniam quidem bonus tempore tantum a deo differt, discipulus eius aemulatorque et vera progenies, quam parens ille magnificus, virtutum non lenis exactor, sicut severi patres, durius educat.”
“He (God) does not make a spoiled pet of a good man; he tests him, hardens him, and fits him for his own service.” – Seneca, De Providentia, I.6
“Bonum virum in deliciis non habet, experitur, indurate, sibi illum parat.”

Reposted from "Florilegium Sapientiae"

a.d. V Idus Iunias anno A.U.C. MMDCCLXV (Cn Caesare C. Tullio consulibus)

Friday, June 8, 2012

From Seneca's "De Providentia"

From Seneca's De Providentia:

“I shall reconcile you to the gods, who are ever best to those who are best. For Nature never permits good to be injured by good; between good men and the gods there exists a friendship brought about by virtue.” – Seneca, De Providentia, I. 5
“In gratiam te reducam cum diis adversus optimos optimis. Neque enim rerum natura patitur ut umquam bona bonis noceant; inter bonos viros ac deos amicitia est conciliante virtute.”

Reposted from the "Florilegium Sapientiae"

a.d. VI Idus Iunias anno A.U.C. MMDCCLXV (Cn. Caesare C. Tullio consulibus)

Return to Philosophy

     For some time, I maintained a blog elsewhere about ancient philosophy, particularly Stoicism. It is my intention to return to that practice with this new blog, as a sort of "Stoic Devotional" - daily (if possible) thoughts on Stoicism and life. Welcome back.