How We Occupy Our Sorry Days…

Cicero, De Inventione 1.41

“For, in all things, familiarity is the mother of boredom”

nam omnibus in rebus similitudo mater est satietatis.

Sidonius, Letters 2.2.7 to Ecdicus

 “What more? Nothing will be discovered in these places which might be more sacred to examine. Still, only a few little verses will delay a reader a little bit—and these are only slightly inappropriate. Although they leave no desire to read them again, they can be read completely without boredom.”

quid plura? nihil illis paginis impressum reperietur quod non vidisse sit sanctius. pauci tamen versiculi lectorem adventicium remorabuntur minime improbo temperamento, quia eos nec relegisse desiderio est nec perlegisse fastidio.

Jerome, Letters 43.2

“Why do we, animals of the stomach, ever act this way? If a second hour reading falls on us, we yawn and distract our hunger by rubbing our face with our hands and then, as if after hard work, we distract ourselves with worldly duties again. I won’t even mention the meals by which our burdened minds are oppressed.

It is shameful to mention all the visits to say ‘hello’, how we go daily to someone else’s home or we wait for others to come to ours. When they come, we fall to conversation and our absent friends are attacked; others’ lives are detailed, and as we sink our teeth into others we are chewed on in turn. This is the kind of meal that entertains and then dismisses us. Then, when our friends have left, we add up our accounts. Now our anger dons the face of a lion and now silly concerns work out schemes for many years ahead.”

Quid nos, ventris animalia, tale umquam fecimus? Quos si secunda hora legentes invenerit, oscitamus, manu faciem defricantes continemus stomachum et quasi post multum laborem mundialibus rursum negotiis occupamur. Praetermitto prandia, quibus onerata mens premitur. Pudet dicere de frequentia salutandi, qua aut ipsi cotidie ad alios pergimus aut ad nos venientes ceteros expectamus. Deinceps itur in verba, sermo teritur, lacerantur absentes, vita aliena describitur et mordentes invicem consumimur ab invicem. Talis nos cibus et occupat et dimittit. Cum vero amici recesserint, ratiocinia subputamus. Nunc ira personam nobis leonis inponit, nunc cura superflua in annos multos duratura praecogitat

Death and Love from Friendship

Augustine, Confessions 4.8-9

“Certainly, the comfort of various friends used to repair and refresh me—friends whom I once loved in your place. This was an immense fiction and a long-lasting lie, the incitement of which in our ears made our mind corrupted. But my fiction would was not relenting even if some of my friends would die.

There were other things that attracted my mind more: conversation, laughter, doing each other favors, reading sweet-tongued books together, having fun, being serious, sometimes disagreeing without anger just as a people might do on his own and even mixing up our many agreements with occasional dissent. We get pain when some are absent only to receive them with joy as they return. By these kinds of signs coming from the heart of those who love and love in return, through their mouth, tongue, eyes and a thousand very grateful gestures,  fan the burning of our minds and  make one out of many.

This is what is loved in friends and what we love such that the human conscience—if it does not love what loves it back or if it does not return love when loved—seeks nothing from that source except for a sign of kindness. This is where grief comes from if someone dies—the shadows of sorrows—and when sweetness turns bitter a heart weighs heavy and the loss of the life of those who are dying is the death of those still alive.”

Maxime quippe me reparabant atque recreabant aliorum amicorum solacia, cum quibus amabam quod pro te amabam, et hoc erat ingens fabula et longum mendacium, cuius adulterina confricatione corrumpebatur mens nostra pruriens in auribus. sed illa mihi fabula non moriebatur, si quis amicorum meorum moreretur. alia erant quae in eis amplius capiebant animum, conloqui et conridere et vicissim benivole obsequi, simul legere libros dulciloquos, simul nugari et simul honestari, dissentire interdum sine odio tamquam ipse homo secum atque ipsa rarissima dissensione condire consensiones plurimas, docere aliquid invicem aut discere ab invicem, desiderare absentes cum molestia, suscipere venientes cum laetitia: his atque huius modi signis a corde amantium et redamantium procedentibus per os, per linguam, per oculos et mille motus gratissimos, quasi fomitibus conflare animos et ex pluribus unum facere.

 Hoc est quod diligitur in amicis, et sic diligitur ut rea sibi sit humana conscientia si non amaverit redamantem aut si amantem non redamaverit, nihil quaerens ex eius corpore praeter indicia benivolentiae. hinc ille luctus si quis moriatur, et tenebrae dolorum, et versa dulcedine in amaritudinem cor madidum, et ex amissa vita morientium mors viventium.

Image result for medieval manuscript augustine friendship

Hot and cold bath Livre de la Vigne nostre Seigneur, France ca. 1450

Why Doesn’t Remembering Sadness Make Me Sad?

Augustine, Confessions X. 21-22

“The same memory holds my mind’s affections too—not in that manner in which the mind has them when it is experiencing them, but in a very different manner, just as the power of memory conducts itself. For I remember that I was once happy even when I am not happy; and I may recall that I was previously said without being said; I can recollect that I once feared something without fear and also remember ancient desire without feeling desire. But sometimes it is the opposite: I remember previous sadness when I am happy and happiness when I am sad.

This fact is not remarkable for the body: the soul is a different thing from the body. So if I take pleasure in remembering prior pain, this is not surprising. Here, honestly, the mind may also be like memory itself. For when we command that something be recalled, we say “look, keep that in mind.” And when we forget, we said “it’s not in my mind” and “it slipped from my mind”, calling memory itself our mind—although were this the case, why is it that when I recall my past sadness while I am happy, my soul keeps its happiness and my memory its sadness and my mind is happy because of the happiness within it even though the memory which is within it is sad?

Perhaps this is because the memory isn’t integral to the mind? Who could say this? It is not unlikely that the memory is something like the mind’s stomach and happiness and sadness are like its sweet or bitter food. When they are contained within memory, they are unable to be tasted like food taken into the stomach. It is absurd to think that this things are comparable—but still, they are not completely different.”


  1. (21) Affectiones quoque animi mei eadem memoria continet, non illo modo quo eas habet ipse animus cum patitur eas, sed alio multum diverso, sicut sese habet vis memoriae. nam et laetatum me fuisse reminiscor non laetus, et tristitiam meam praeteritam recordor non tristis, et me aliquando timuisse recolo sine timore et pristinae cupiditatis sine cupiditate sum memor. aliquando et e contrario tristitiam meam transactam laetus reminiscor et tristis laetitiam. quod mirandum non est de corpore: aliud enim animus, aliud corpus. itaque si praeteritum dolorem corporis gaudens memini, non ita mirum est. hic vero, cum animus sit etiam ipsa memoria—nam et cum mandamus aliquid ut memoriter habeatur, dicimus, “vide ut illud in animo habeas,” et cum obliviscimur, dicimus, “non fuit in animo” et “elapsum est animo,” ipsam memoriam vocantes animum—cum ergo ita sit, quid est hoc, quod cum tristitiam meam praeteritam laetus memini, animus habet laetitiam et memoria tristitiam laetusque est animus ex eo quod inest ei laetitia, memoria vero ex eo quod inest ei tristitia tristis non est? num forte non pertinet ad animum? quis hoc dixerit? nimirum ergo memoria quasi venter est animi, laetitia vero atque tristitia quasi cibus dulcis et amarus: cum memoriae commendantur, quasi traiecta in ventrem recondi illic possunt, sapere non possunt. ridiculum est haec illis similia putare, nec tamen sunt omni modo dissimilia.
  2. Image result for St. Augustine Medieval

Stumbling After Pleasure Like a Drunk Looking for Home

Boethius, Consolation of Philosophy III. 38-55

“Now all good things dependent upon the body may be understood as we have said. Strength and size seem to confer prominence; beauty and speed bring fame; health brings pleasure. It is clear that happiness alone is sought through all of these qualities. For whatever any man seeks foremost is the very thing he believes is the greatest good. But we have then defined the greatest good as happiness, which is why each man judges the state of happiness to be the very thing he desires beyond all else.

Therfore, you have laid bare before your eyes the basic shape of human happiness: wealth, honor, power, glory and pleasure. When Epicurus examined these things, he decied that his highest good was pleasure because all others seemed to bring enjoyment to the mind. But I return to human desires: for human minds even when the memory is hazy still seeks its own good but, just like a drunk, does not know which path will lead home. Certainly how can those who struggle not to lack anything seem to do wrong?”

Iam vero corporis bona promptum est ut ad superiora referantur. Robur enim magnitudoque videtur praestare valentiam, pulchritudo atque velocitas celebritatem, salubritas voluptatem; quibus omnibus solam beatitudinem desiderari liquet. Nam quod quisque prae ceteris petit, id summum esse iudicat bonum. Sed summum bonum beatitudinem esse definivimus; quare beatum esse iudicat statum quem prae ceteris quisque desiderat.

Habes igitur ante oculos propositam fere formam felicitatis humanae—opes, honores, potentiam, gloriam, voluptates. Quae quidem sola considerans Epicurus consequenter sibi summum bonum voluptatem esse constituit, quod cetera omnia iucunditatem animo videantur afferre. Sed ad hominum studia revertor, quorum animus etsi caligante memoria tamen bonum suum repetit, sed velut ebrius domum quo tramite revertatur ignorat. Num enim videntur errare hi qui nihilo indigere nituntur?


Image result for boethius

Education and Religion Can Corrupt: Augustine, Confessions IV,1

“Through the same nine-year span from my nineteenth year until my twenty-eighth, we were seduced and we were seducing, tricked and tricking others with a variety of desires: we did this openly through the teachings that we call ‘liberal’ but also secretly under the name of a false religion. In the first, we were haughty; in the other, superstitious—but we were arrogant everywhere. In the liberal education, we were pursuing the emptiness of popular glory, even for applause for our performances, our songs for the competitions, contests for brief-lived crowns, the sideshows of spectacle and unrestrained desires. In our ‘religion’ we were longing to be cleansed from those filthy acts when we used to bring meals to the men who were considered chosen and holy. In the factories of their stomachs they were going to create the angels and gods who would free us. And I was pursuing these things and I did it with the friends who were deceived with me and by me.”

per idem tempus annorum novem, ab undevicensimo anno aetatis meae usque ad duodetricensimum, seducebamur et seducebamus, falsi atque fallentes in variis cupiditatibus, et palam per doctrinas quas liberales vocant, occulte autem falso nomine religionis, hic superbi, ibi superstitiosi, ubique vani, hac popularis gloriae sectantes inanitatem, usque ad theatricos plausus et contentiosa carmina et agonem coronarum faenearum et spectaculorum nugas et intemperantiam libidinum, illac autem purgari nos ab istis sordibus expetentes, cum eis qui appellarentur electi et sancti afferremus escas de quibus nobis in officina aqualiculi sui fabricarent angelos et deos per quos liberaremur. et sectabar ista atque faciebam cum amicis meis per me ac mecum deceptis.

Augustine Was Ripped off by Students: He hated them, and himself (Confessions 5.12)

“I then started to pursue the work for which I traveled there, to teach the art of Rhetoric at Rome. Soon, certain men gathered at my home among whom and through whom I became well known. But look: I learned that some things happened in Rome which I would not have endured in Africa. For, in truth, the destruction caused by wasted youths which I saw there would not have happened in Africa. They said to me: “Suddenly, in order not to pay their teacher, many young men will conspire and move on to another—they abandon their promises: because of their love of money, justice is cheap.” My heart hated those bastards, but not with a complete hatred: surely, I hated more what I would suffer because of them than the wrongs they committed against others.”

sedulo ergo agere coeperam, propter quod veneram, ut docerem Romae artem rhetoricam, et prius domi congregare aliquos quibus et per quos innotescere coeperam. et ecce cognosco alia Romae fieri, quae non patiebar in Africa. nam re vera illas eversiones a perditis adulescentibus ibi non fieri manifestatum est mihi: ‘sed subito,’ inquiunt, ‘ne mercedem magistro reddant, conspirant multi adulescentes et transferunt se ad alium, desertores fidei et quibus prae pecuniae caritate iustitia vilis est.’ oderat etiam istos cor meum, quamvis non perfecto odio. quod enim ab eis passurus eram magis oderam fortasse quam eo quod cuilibet inlicita faciebant.

%d bloggers like this: