Email to Class: Instructor is Sick; Aurelius: I’m Dying

Marcus Aurelius to Fronto, Lorium 145-7 CE

“My teacher,

You must be messing with me, but you have sent me extraordinary worry and egregious anguish, the most severe pain and the hottest fever with your letter, so that I cannot eat, sleep or even study.

While you might find some relief in your speech today, what can I do when I have lost the pleasure of hearing it and I fear that you may come a bit late to Lorium and I am in pain because you are in pain?

Farewell my teacher, whose health makes my health untroubled and secure.”

| Magistro meo.

Ludis tu quidem, at mihi peramplam anxietatem et summam aegritudinem, <acerbissimum> dolorem, et ignem flagrantissimum litteris his tuis misisti, ne cenare, ne dormire, ne denique studere libeat. Verum tu orationis hodiernae tuae habeas aliquod solacium; at | ego quid faciam? qui et auditionis iam voluptatem consumpsi, et metuo ne Lorium tardiuscule venias, et doleo quod interim doles. Vale, mi magister, cuius salus meam salutem inlibatam et incolumem facit.

Image result for medieval manuscript sick teacher

c. 1480, Yates Thompson 7, f. 174r

Some Men’s Health Advice for the New Year

Celsus, On Medicine 4.7

“If a swelling develops in the testicles when they haven’t been struck, blood should be let from the ankle; the patient should fast; and the swelling should be treated with bean meal cooked in honeyed-wine or rubbed with cumin with boiled honey; or ground cumin with rose oil, or wheat flour with honey wine and cypress roots; or the root of a lily, pounded.

In testiculis vero si qua inflammatio sine ictu orta est, sanguis a talo mittendus est; a cibo abstinendum; inponenda ex faba farina eo ex mulso cocta cum cumino contrito et ex melle cocto; aut contritum cuminum cum cerato ex rosa facto; aut lini semen frictum, contritum et in mulso coctum; aut tritici farina ex mulso cocta cum cupresso; aut lilii radix contrita.


Pliny the Elder, Natural History 26.81

“Ebulum, when ground up with its tender leaves and drunk with wine, takes care of stones; when applied as a salve, it helps testicles. Erigeron, as well, when mixed with frankincense and sweet wine, relieves swollen testicles.”

ebulum teneris cum foliis tritum ex vino potum calculos pellit, inpositum testes sanat. erigeron quoque cum farina turis et vino dulci testium inflammationes sanat.


Pliny the Elder, Natural History 28.215

“They say that a goat’s dung is good for you with honey or vinegar, or just butter by itself. Testicular swelling can be treated  with veal suet mixed with soda, or by the calf’s dung reduced in vinegar.”

fimum etiam prodesse cum melle dicunt aut cum aceto et per se butyrum. testium tumor sebo vituli addito nitro cohibetur vel fimo eiusdem ex aceto decocto.

Image result for Ancient Roman medicine testicles

Xenophon, Juvenal, Thales, and Seneca: Bodily Health Supports a Healthy Mind

Xenophon, Memorabilia 3.5

“Certainly it is necessary—since the city does not provide public expenses for war—not to overlook it privately, nor otherwise to care for yourself less. Know well that you be no worse off in any other struggle or action because you have put your body in better shape. For the body is useful in everything people do. In all functions of the body it makes a big difference that the body is as healthy as possible. Even in something you might think the body is of little use—thinking—who doesn’t know that great errors come from having a sick body?

Forgetfuness, loss of spirit, ill-temper and madness often impinge upon perception because of the weakness of the body so badly that all knowledge is expelled. But for those who are healthy in body it is a great protection and they suffer no suffer no such risk of suffering this kind of thing because of the weakness of their body. It is probably that for those who have a healthy condition they will have the opposite experience. And, certainly, won’t anyone with some sense endure anything for the opposite of these things that have been mentioned?”

Anyway, is it not shameful to grow old because of carelessness before seeing how beautiful and strong a person you might be thanks to your body? It is not possible to witness this for someone who doesn’t make an effort. For it is not willing to develop on its own.”

Οὔτοι χρὴ ὅτι ἡ πόλις οὐκ ἀσκεῖ δημοσίᾳ τὰ πρὸς τὸν πόλεμον, διὰ τοῦτο καὶ ἰδίᾳ ἀμελεῖν, ἀλλὰ μηδὲν ἧττον ἐπιμελεῖσθαι. εὖ γὰρ ἴσθι, ὅτι οὐδὲ ἐν ἄλλῳ οὐδενὶ ἀγῶνι οὐδὲ ἐν πράξει οὐδεμιᾷ μεῖον ἕξεις διὰ τὸ βέλτιον τὸ σῶμα παρεσκευάσθαι· πρὸς πάντα γάρ, ὅσα πράττουσιν ἄνθρωποι, χρήσιμον τὸ σῶμά ἐστιν· ἐν πάσαις δὲ ταῖς τοῦ σώματος χρείαις πολὺ διαφέρει ὡς βέλτιστα τὸ σῶμα ἔχειν· ἐπεὶ καὶ ἐν ᾧ δοκεῖς ἐλαχίστην σώματος χρείαν εἶναι, ἐν τῷ διανοεῖσθαι, τίς οὐκ οἶδεν, ὅτι καὶ ἐν τούτῳ πολλοὶ μεγάλα σφάλλονται διὰ τὸ μὴ ὑγιαίνειν τὸ σῶμα; καὶ λήθη δὲ καὶ ἀθυμία καὶ δυσκολία καὶ μανία πολλάκις πολλοῖς διὰ τὴν τοῦ σώματος καχεξίαν εἰς τὴν διάνοιαν ἐμπίπτουσιν οὕτως, ὥστε καὶ τὰς ἐπιστήμας ἐκβάλλειν. τοῖς δὲ τὰ σώματα εὖ ἔχουσι πολλὴ ἀσφάλεια καὶ οὐδεὶς κίνδυνος διά γε τὴν τοῦ σώματος καχεξίαν τοιοῦτόν τι παθεῖν, εἰκὸς δὲ μᾶλλον πρὸς τὰ ἐναντία τῶν διὰ τὴν καχεξίαν γιγνομένων τὴν εὐεξίαν χρήσιμον εἶναι. καίτοι τῶν γε τοῖς εἰρημένοις ἐναντίων ἕνεκα τί οὐκ ἄν τις νοῦν ἔχων ὑπομείνειεν;

8Αἰσχρὸν δὲ καὶ τὸ διὰ τὴν ἀμέλειαν γηρᾶναι, πρὶν ἰδεῖν ἑαυτὸν ποῖος ἂν κάλλιστος καὶ κράτιστος τῷ σώματι γένοιτο. ταῦτα δὲ οὐκ ἔστιν ἰδεῖν ἀμελοῦντα· οὐ γὰρ ἐθέλει αὐτόματα γίγνεσθαι.


Diogenes Laertius, 1.37.2

“When someone asked who is lucky, [Thales said] “whoever has a healthy body, a sophisticated mind, and teachable nature.”

τίς εὐδαίμων, “ὁ τὸ μὲν σῶμα ὑγιής, τὴν δὲ ψυχὴν εὔπορος, τὴν δὲ φύσιν εὐπαίδευτος.”

Juvenal, Satire 10.356

“We must beg for a healthy mind in a healthy body”

orandum est ut sit mens sana in corpore sano

Related image

Seneca, De Beata Vita 3

“The happy life is one that matches its own nature—it cannot be gained unless first the mind is sound and in consistent possession of its own sanity. Second, it needs to be brave and vigorous. Third, it endures most nobly, ready for events, solicitous of the body and all that matters to it but not anxiously. Finally, it must care for all the matters which make life good but without obsession for any particular one—to be one who enjoys but does not serve the gifts of fortune.”

Beata est ergo vita conveniens naturae suae, quae non aliter contingere potest, quam si primum sana mens  est et in perpetua possessione sanitatis suae; deinde fortis ac vehemens, tunc pulcherrime patiens, apta temporibus, corporis sui pertinentiumque ad id curiosa non anxie, tum aliarum rerum quae vitam instruunt diligens sine admiratione cuiusquam, usura fortunae muneribus, non servitura.

The Greatest Good: Some Ancient Words on Health

Plato, Gorgias 452b

“What greater good is there for people than health?”

τί δ᾿ ἐστὶ μεῖζον ἀγαθὸν ἀνθρώποις ὑγιείας·


Plato, Republic 333d (book 9)

“There is nothing sweeter than being healthy; but its sweetness evades our notice until we are sick”

Ὡς οὐδὲν ἄρα ἐστὶν ἥδιον τοῦ ὑγιαίνειν, ἀλλὰ σφᾶς ἐλελήθει, πρὶν κάμνειν, ἥδιστον ὄν.

Aristotle, Magna Moralia 1.18 (1190a)

“We all agree on these things, for example that health is a good.

(ταῦτα μὲν γὰρ ἅπαντες ὁμογνωμονοῦσιν, οἷον τὴν ὑγίειαν ὅτι ἀγαθόν)

Plutarch, To an Uneducated Ruler 789f

“Philosophy is a partner to a ruler and reason has been established as a guard just as a doctor removes what harms a person but leaves the healthy part intact”

 ὁ δ᾿ ἐκ φιλοσοφίας τῷ ἄρχοντι πάρεδρος καὶ φύλαξ ἐγκατοικισθεὶς λόγος, ὥσπερ εὐεξίας τῆς δυνάμεως τὸ ἐπισφαλὲς ἀφαιρῶν, ἀπολείπει τὸ ὑγιαῖνον.

Carmen Convivialia 890

“The best thing for a mortal man is to be healthy
And second, to be pretty.
Third, is to be wealthy without deceit.
And, fourth, is to be young with friends.”

ὑγιαίνειν μὲν ἄριστον ἀνδρὶ θνητῷ,
δεύτερον δὲ φυὰν καλὸν γενέσθαι,
τὸ δὲ τρίτον πλουτεῖν ἀδόλως,
τέταρτον δὲ ἡβᾶν μετὰ τῶν φίλων.

From the Suda, a proverb:

“Healthier than a tick”: A proverb used for people who are entirely healthy. It comes from the animal, the tick which is completely smooth and has neither blemish nor injury.”

Ὑγιέστερος Κρότωνος: ἐπὶ τῶν πάνυ ὑγιαινόντων ἡ παροιμία. ἀπὸ τοῦ ζῴου τοῦ κρότωνος: λεῖον γάρ ἐστιν ὅλον καὶ χωρὶς ἀμυχῆς καὶ μηδὲν ἔχον σίνος.


Athena Hygeia (“Health”; “Cleansing”), A cult-name

Euripides, Hippolytus 261-6

“In life, they say, strict and unrelenting occupation is more likely to ruin than please us, and it wages war with our health. Therefore, I am more inclined to praise moderation than excessive strain; and wise people agree with me.”

βιότου δ᾽ ἀτρεκεῖς ἐπιτηδεύσεις
φασὶ σφάλλειν πλέον ἢ τέρπειν
τῇ θ᾽ ὑγιείᾳ μᾶλλον πολεμεῖν
οὕτω τὸ λίαν ἧσσον ἐπαινῶ
τοῦ μηδὲν ἄγαν:
καὶ ξυμφήσουσι σοφοί μοι.

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Death is a Pre-existing Condition

Lucretius, De Rerum Natura 3.1076-1094

“Finally, what great and vile desire for life compels us
To quake so much amidst doubts and dangers?
Mortals have an absolute end to our lives:
Death cannot be evaded—we must leave.
Nevertheless, we move again and still persist—
No new pleasure is procured by living;
But while what we desire is absent, that seems to overcome
All other things; but later, when we have gained it, we want something else—
An endless thirst for life grips us as we gasp for it.
It remains unclear what fortune life will offer,
What chance may bring us and what end awaits.
But by extending life we do not subtract a moment
Of time from death nor can we shorten it
So that we may somehow have less time after our ends.
Therefore, you may continue as living as many generations as you want,
But that everlasting death will wait for you still,
And he will be there for no less a long time, the man who
Has found the end of life with today’s light, than the man who died
Many months and many years before.”

Denique tanto opere in dubiis trepidare periclis
quae mala nos subigit vitai tanta cupido?
certe equidem finis vitae mortalibus adstat
nec devitari letum pote, quin obeamus.
praeterea versamur ibidem atque insumus usque
nec nova vivendo procuditur ulla voluptas;
sed dum abest quod avemus, id exsuperare videtur
cetera; post aliud, cum contigit illud, avemus
et sitis aequa tenet vitai semper hiantis.
posteraque in dubiost fortunam quam vehat aetas,
quidve ferat nobis casus quive exitus instet.
nec prorsum vitam ducendo demimus hilum
tempore de mortis nec delibare valemus,
quo minus esse diu possimus forte perempti.
proinde licet quod vis vivendo condere saecla,
mors aeterna tamen nihilo minus illa manebit,
nec minus ille diu iam non erit, ex hodierno
lumine qui finem vitai fecit, et ille,
mensibus atque annis qui multis occidit ante.


Seneca, Letters to Lucilius, 1.1:

“Act thus, my Lucilius: justify yourself, collect and save all of the time which to this point has been taken off, or stolen, or simply slipped away. Persuade yourself that the matter stands as I write: some time is stolen from us, some is drawn off, and some just flows away. The most shameful loss, though, is the one which occurs through negligence. If you wish to take note, you will see that a large part of life slips away from those who act badly, the greatest portion slips away from those who do nothing, and all of life slips away from those who are busy doing something else. What person can you cite who places a price upon his time, who takes an account of the day, who understands that he is dying every day? We are deceived in this, that we look forward to death: a large part of it has already gone by, and whatever part of our lives is in the past is death’s property now. Therefore, act as you claim to do, and embrace every hour; thus it will happen that you weigh out less of tomorrow, if you throw your hand upon today. Life runs away when it is delayed. All things, my Lucilius, are foreign to us: time alone is ours. Nature has granted us the possession of this one fleeting, slippery thing, from which she expels whoever wishes it. The stupidity of humans is so great that they allow the smallest, most worthless things (certainly, those which can be retrieved) to be added to their account when they have accomplished them, but no one thinks that he owes any debt when he receives time, though this is the one thing which no one is able to pay back readily.

You will perhaps ask how I act, I who deliver these precepts to you. I will confess honestly: as happens among the diligent partaker of luxury, I keep an account of the cost. I can not say that I have wasted nothing, but I can give an account of why and how I wasted it. I will explain the causes of my poverty. But it happens to me as to many who have been reduced to poverty through no fault of their own: all ignore him, no one helps him. What then? I do not consider a man poor if whatever is left to him seems enough to him. I advise you, though to hold on to what is yours, and do it in good time. For, as the ancients say, ‘Parsimony is too late on the ground,’ for not only is the remaining portion at the bottom the smallest, but it is also the worst. Goodbye.”

Ita fac, mi Lucili: vindica te tibi, et tempus quod adhuc aut auferebatur aut subripiebatur aut excidebat collige et serva. Persuade tibi hoc sic esse ut scribo: quaedam tempora eripiuntur nobis, quaedam subducuntur, quaedam effluunt. Turpissima tamen est iactura quae per neglegentiam fit. Et si volueris attendere, magna pars vitae elabitur male agentibus, maxima nihil agentibus, tota vita aliud agentibus. [2] Quem mihi dabis qui aliquod pretium tempori ponat, qui diem aestimet, qui intellegat se cotidie mori? In hoc enim fallimur, quod mortem prospicimus: magna pars eius iam praeterit; quidquid aetatis retro est mors tenet. Fac ergo, mi Lucili, quod facere te scribis, omnes horas complectere; sic fiet ut minus ex crastino pendeas, si hodierno manum inieceris. [3] Dum differtur vita transcurrit. Omnia, Lucili, aliena sunt, tempus tantum nostrum est; in huius rei unius fugacis ac lubricae possessionem natura nos misit, ex qua expellit quicumque vult. Et tanta stultitia mortalium est ut quae minima et vilissima sunt, certe reparabilia, imputari sibi cum impetravere patiantur, nemo se iudicet quicquam debere qui tempus accepit, cum interim hoc unum est quod ne gratus quidem potest reddere.

[4] Interrogabis fortasse quid ego faciam qui tibi ista praecipio. Fatebor ingenue: quod apud luxuriosum sed diligentem evenit, ratio mihi constat impensae. Non possum dicere nihil perdere, sed quid perdam et quare et quemadmodum dicam; causas paupertatis meae reddam. Sed evenit mihi quod plerisque non suo vitio ad inopiam redactis: omnes ignoscunt, nemo succurrit. [5] Quid ergo est? non puto pauperem cui quantulumcumque superest sat est; tu tamen malo serves tua, et bono tempore incipies. Nam ut visum est maioribus nostris, ‘sera parsimonia in fundo est’; non enim tantum minimum in imo sed pessimum remanet. Vale.

Older Wine is Better For You! Pindar and Eubulus on Old Wine And New

From Athenaeus’ Deipnosophists (1.47)

“Pindar praises “old wine, but the blossoms of newer songs” (Ol. 9.48). Eubulus notes that:

It is strange that the escorts always praise
Old wine but rather than an old man
They prefer a young one.

Alexis says nearly the same thing except that he says “very high” instead of “always”. In fact, old wine is not only sweeter but it is better for your health. It digests foot better since it is more refined itself, it is more readily absorbed; it also gives your body strength, reddens your blood and makes it absorb more; and it offers untroubled sleep.”

‘παλαιὸν μὲν οἶνον, ἄνθεα δ’ ὕμνων νεωτέρων’ Πίνδαρος ἐπαινεῖ (ol. IX 48). Εὔβουλος δέ φησιν(II 209 K)·
ἄτοπον δὲ τὸν μὲν οἶνον εὐδοκιμεῖν ἀεὶ
παρὰ ταῖς ἑταίραις τὸν παλαιόν, ἄνδρα δὲ
μὴ τὸν παλαιόν, ἀλλὰ τὸν νεώτερον.
τὸ αὐτὸ δὲ καὶ ῎Αλεξις σχεδὸν ἀπαραλλάκτως (II 400 K), τοῦ σφόδρα μόνου κειμένου ἀντὶ τοῦ ἀεί. ὄντως δὲ ὁ παλαιὸς οἶνος οὐ πρὸς ἡδονὴν μόνον, ἀλλὰ καὶ πρὸς ὑγίειαν προσφορώτερος. πέσσει τε γὰρ μᾶλλον τὰ σῖτα καὶ λεπτομερὴς ὢν εὐανάδοτός ἐστι δύναμίν τε τοῖς σώμασιν ἐμποιεῖ τὸ αἷμά τε ἐνερευθὲς καὶ εὐανάδοτον κατασκευάζει καὶ τοὺς ὕπνους ἀταράχους παρέχει.

Workout like Socrates While Watching March-Madness: Aulus Gellius, Attic Nights, 1.1

The way that Socrates developed the endurance of his body; and also on the temperance of that man.

“Among the voluntary actions and bodily exercises for enhancing his endurance against any possible event, we have heard that Socrates used to do this regularly: it is reported that Socrates was in that habit of standing all day long in one position, from the first shine of light one day until the next sunrise, without moving from the same footprints, keeping his eyes directed in a single place and in deep thought, as if his mind and spirit were separated from his body. This is why, when Favorinus was mentioning the strength of that man and his other qualities, he added: “He often stood from sunrise to sunrise, more solid than tree-trunks” (fr. 97.1).
His temperance was so great, as it is reported, that he lived his entire life with uncompromised health. Even during the ruin of that plague, which at the beginning of the Peloponnesian war destroyed the Athenian state with an unknown type of disease, he is said to have avoided the dangers of pleasure and to have maintained the health of his body with his habits of abstention and moderation to such a degree that he was not at all afflicted by the disaster touching everyone else.”

Quo genere solitus sit philosophus Socrates exercere patientiam corporis; deque eiusdem viri temperantia.

1 Inter labores voluntarios et exercitia corporis ad fortuitas patientiae vices firmandi id quoque accepimus Socraten facere insuevisse: 2 stare solitus Socrates dicitur pertinaci statu perdius atque pernox a summo lucis ortu ad solem alterum orientem inconivens, immobilis, isdem in vestigiis et ore atque oculis eundem in locum directis cogitabundus tamquam quodam secessu mentis atque animi facto a corpore. 3 Quam rem cum Favorinus de fortitudine eius viri ut pleraque disserens attigisset: πολλάκις ἐξ ἡλίου εἰς ἥλιον εἱστήκει ἀστραβέστερος τῶν πρέμνων (Fav. Fr. 97.1).

4 Temperantia quoque fuisse eum tanta traditum est, ut omnia fere vitae suae tempora valitudine inoffensa vixerit. 5 In illius etiam pestilentiae vastitate, quae in belli Peloponnesiaci principis Atheniensium civitatem internecivo genere morbi depopulata est, is parcendi moderandique rationibus dicitur et a voluptatum labe cavisse et salubritates corporis retinuisse, ut nequaquam fuerit communi omnium cladi obnoxius.

Earlier in the Attic Nights Aulus reports a difference type of exercise to keep the philosopher sharp.

A Drinking Song For New Year’s Eve: Carmen Convivialia 890


“The best thing for a mortal man is to be healthy
And second, to be pretty.
Third, is to be wealthy without deceit.
And, fourth, is to be young with friends.”


ὑγιαίνειν μὲν ἄριστον ἀνδρὶ θνητῷ,
δεύτερον δὲ φυὰν καλὸν γενέσθαι,
τὸ δὲ τρίτον πλουτεῖν ἀδόλως,
τέταρτον δὲ ἡβᾶν μετὰ τῶν φίλων.

This appears in the Scholia to Plato’s Gorgias where it is attributed to either Simonides or Epikharmos.

(1) τὸ σκολιὸν τοῦτο οἱ μὲν Σιμωνίδου (Scolia Anonyma 7 Diehl)
φασίν, οἱ δὲ ᾿Επιχάρμου (fr. 262 Kaibel). ἔστι δὲ τοιοῦτον•
ὑγιαίνειν μὲν ἄριστον ἀνδρὶ θνητῷ,
δεύτερον δὲ φυὰν καλὸν γενέσθαι,
τὸ δὲ τρίτον πλουτεῖν ἀδόλως,
τέταρτον δὲ ἡβᾶν μετὰ τῶν φίλων.
τοῦτο δὲ τὸ τελευταῖον παραλέλειπται ὡς μὴ πρὸς ὃ βούλεται Πλάτων
χρήσιμον ὄν.

Happy New Year to all of our friends!

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