Roman Calendar

Sunday, December 15, 2013

On Human Relationships (from "Stoicism and Emotion")

     On dies Saturni (Saturday), a.d. XII Kalendas Ianuarias (the 21st of December), I, Gaius Tullius Valerianus Germanicus, shall be marrying Appia Gratia Avita, my dearest love, who is also a practicing Stoic. Many people, who labor under the misconception that Stoicism is somehow the repression of emotion, seem surprised about the idea of Stoics getting married. Can a Stoic be married? How can a Stoic fall in love? But social contracts, including marriage, were and are highly valued by Stoics. Here are some thoughts from Margaret R. Graver's Stoicism and Emotion:

     "The fact that nearly all humans live together in organized groups is not just a result of our contingent need for mutual assistance. It is also an expression of a deep-seated preference which is characteristic of our species. The Stobaean source indicates that marriage and political action are in accordance with the nature of humans as creatures who are not only rational but also communal (koinonikos) and gregarious (philallelos). The treatise of Hierocles supports a similar assertion from the ease with which social ties are formed.

But we are the kind of animal that has a herd instinct and a need for one another. This is why we live in cities. For every person without exception is part of some polis. In addition, we form friendships easily. For by sharing a meal or sitting together in the theater. . .'

     Unfortunately the papyrus tails off in mid-sentence, but it is clear enough what the argument must have been: if we can feel connected to another person from so slight an acquaintance as sitting next to one another at a performance, we must indeed be companionable beings."

      Appia Gratia Avita and I are indeed "companionable beings," and are looking forward to spending the rest of our lives together in a companionable relationship. Feliciter!

Margaret R. Graver. Stoicism and Emotion (p. 176). Kindle Edition.

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