Oxen, Horses, and Priam Are Not Happy

Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics 1100a

“We would not rightly say that an ox or a horse or any other animal is happy. For it is not possible for any of these to have a common share of ennobling work. This is the reason a child is not happy—they are not yet capable of ennobling actions because of their age. When children are called this, they are being blessed because of their hope for future nobility. There is a need yet, as we said, for complete excellence and a full lifetime.

There are certainly many changes and fortunes of every sort throughout life. It is possible for someone who is extremely fortunate to meet great troubles in old age, just as the story is told about Priam in the heroic epics. No one considers someone who faces these kinds of misfortunes and then dies terribly happy.

But if we then believe that no human being should be considered happy while they live, according to that Solonic saying, “look to the end”—if indeed it must mean this—is it really the case that a person is happy when they’re dead? Well, that would be really strange, right, for us to say others size that this is a kind of obvious happiness? Unless we mean that that dead person is happy, not in the way that Solon wants, but that someone can only say that someone is happy safely when he is out of the way of evils and misfortune.

Even this interpretation has some controversy. For then evil and good seem to be possible for the dead, even as it is for the living even when they do not perceive it, as in the case of honors, and dishonors or the noble or ignoble deeds of children and all of their descendants.

These things are a problem too. For it is possible that someone has lived a rather blessed life up to old age and died in the same way, he could still experience many troubles because of his descendants—some of whom are good and received a life worthy of this, and others who were opposite. It is clear that it is possible for them to be different in every way from their forebears. It would be strange if the dead man would change along with them and become wretched when he was blessed before. But it would also be strange if the affairs of descendants had no impact on their ancestors at all.”

ἰκότως οὖν οὔτε βοῦν οὔτε ἵππον οὔτε ἄλλο τῶν ζῴων οὐδὲν εὔδαιμον λέγομεν· οὐδὲν γὰρ αὐτῶν οἷόν τε κοινωνῆσαι νωνῆσαι τοιαύτης ἐνεργείας. διὰ ταύτην δὲ τὴν αἰτίαν οὐδὲ παῖς εὐδαίμων ἐστίν· οὔπω γὰρ πρακτικὸς τῶν τοιούτων διὰ τὴν ἡλικίαν· οἱ δὲ λεγόμενοι διὰ τὴν ἐλπίδα μακαρίζονται. δεῖ γάρ, ὥσπερ εἴπομεν, καὶ ἀρετῆς τελείας καὶ βίου τελείου. πολλαὶ γὰρ μεταβολαὶ γίνονται καὶ παντοῖαι τύχαι κατὰ τὸν βίον, καὶ ἐνδέχεται τὸν μάλιστ᾿ εὐθενοῦντα μεγάλαις συμφοραῖς περιπεσεῖν ἐπὶ γήρως, καθάπερ ἐν τοῖς ἡρωϊκοῖς περὶ Πριάμου μυθεύεται· τὸν δὲ τοιαύταις χρησάμενον τύχαις καὶ τελευτήσαντα ἀθλίως οὐδεὶς εὐδαιμονίζει.

Πότερον οὖν οὐδ᾿ ἄλλον οὐδένα ἀνθρώπων εὐδαιμονιστέον ἕως ἂν ζῇ, κατὰ Σόλωνα δὲ χρεὼν “τέλος ὁρᾶν”; εἰ δὲ δὴ καὶ θετέον οὕτως, ἆρά γε καὶ ἔστιν εὐδαίμων τότε ἐπειδὰν ἀποθάνῃ; ἢ τοῦτό γε παντελῶς ἄτοπον, ἄλλως τε καὶ τοῖς λέγουσιν ἡμῖν ἐνέργειάν τινα τὴν εὐδαιμονίαν; εἰ δὲ μὴ λέγομεν τὸν τεθνεῶτα εὐδαίμονα, μηδὲ Σόλων τοῦτο βούλεται, ἀλλ᾿ ὅτι τηνικαῦτα ἄν τις ἀσφαλῶς μακαρίσειεν ἄνθρωπον ὡς ἐκτὸς ἤδη τῶν κακῶν ὄντα καὶ τῶν δυστυχημάτων, ἔχει μὲν καὶ τοῦτ᾿ ἀμφισβήτησίν τινα· δοκεῖ γὰρ εἶναί τι τῷ τεθνεῶτι καὶ κακὸν καὶ ἀγαθόν, εἴπερ καὶ τῷ ζῶντι <μὲν> μὴ αἰσθανομένῳ δέ, οἷον τιμαὶ καὶ ἀτιμίαι καὶ τέκνων καὶ ὅλως ἀπογόνων εὐπραξίαι τε καὶ δυστυχίαι. ἀπορίαν δὲ καὶ ταῦτα παρέχει· τῷ γὰρ μακαρίως βεβιωκότι μέχρι γήρως καὶ τελευτήσαντι κατὰ λόγον ἐνδέχεται πολλὰς μεταβολὰς συμβαίνειν περὶ τοὺς ἐκγόνους, καὶ τοὺς μὲν αὐτῶν ἀγαθοὺς εἶναι καὶ τυχεῖν βίου τοῦ κατ᾿ ἀξίαν, τοὺς δ᾿ ἐξ ἐναντίας· δῆλον δ᾿ ὅτι καὶ τοῖς ἀποστήμασι πρὸς τοὺς γονεῖς παντοδαπῶς ἔχειν αὐτοὺς ἐνδέχεται. ἄτοπον δὴ γίνοιτ᾿ ἂν εἰ συμμεταβάλλοι καὶ ὁ τεθνεὼς καὶ γίνοιτο ὁτὲ μὲν εὐδαίμων πάλιν δ᾿ ἄθλιος· ἄτοπον δὲ καὶ τὸ μηδὲν μηδ᾿ ἐπί τινα χρόνον συνικνεῖσθαι τὰ τῶν ἐκγόνων τοῖς γονεῦσιν.

Don’t we look happy? From Bestiary.ca

Tyrant, Lend Me Your Ear….

Diodorus Siculus 10.18.2–6

“Because his country was a tyranny was ruled harshly under Nearchus, he set up a conspiracy against the tyrant. But when he was discovered and was compelled by Nearchus under torture to divulge who was aiding him, he said, “if only I were as in control of my body as I were my tongue.” The tyrant attacked him even more with torture for this, but Zeno withstood it for some time.

After this exchange, because he wanted to be freed from the torture and also to pay back Nearchus, he made the following plan. When the pain of the torture was at its greatest peak, he pretend that he was about to die because of the pain and yelled out, “Stop, I will tell you everything.” Once they stopped, he asked him to come close to hear what he said alone since many of the things which were about to be said he would prefer to keep secret.

When the tyrant approached happily and brought his ear near Zeno’s mouth, Zeno grabbed the tyrant’s ear with his teeth and clamped down. Even though his attendants rushed up and were serving up everything kind of pain to the tortured man to loosen the bite, he sank his teeth in further. Finally, when they could not conquer the man’s bravery, they stabbed him until he released his teeth. By this plan he found freedom from his pains and obtained what payback their was from the tyrant.”

[2] ὅτι τυραννουμένης τῆς πατρίδος ὑπὸ Νεάρχου σκληρῶς, ἐπιβουλὴν κατὰ τοῦ τυράννου συνεστήσατο. καταφανὴς δὲ γενόμενος, καὶ κατὰ τὰς ἐν ταῖς βασάνοις ἀνάγκας διερωτώμενος ὑπὸ τοῦ Νεάρχου τίνες ἦσαν οἱ συνειδότες, ὤφελον γάρ, ἔφησεν, ὥσπερ τῆς γλώττης εἰμὶ κύριος, οὕτως ὑπῆρχον καὶ τοῦ σώματος. [3] τοῦ δὲ τυράννου πολὺ μᾶλλον ταῖς βασάνοις προσεπιτείναντος, ὁ Ζήνων μέχρι μέν τινος διεκαρτέρει· μετὰ δὲ ταῦτα σπεύδων ἀπολυθῆναί ποτε τῆς ἀνάγκης καὶ ἅμα τιμωρήσασθαι τὸν Νέαρχον, ἐπενοήσατό τι τοιοῦτον. [4] κατὰ τὴν ἐπιτονωτάτην ἐπίτασιν τῆς βασάνου προσποιηθεὶς ἐνδιδόναι τὴν ψυχὴν ταῖς ἀλγηδόσιν ἀνέκραγεν, ἄνετε, ἐρῶ γὰρ πᾶσαν ἀλήθειαν. ὡς δ’ ἀνῆκαν, ἠξίωσεν αὐτὸν ἀκοῦσαι κατ’ ἰδίαν προσελθόντα· πολλὰ γὰρ εἶναι τῶν λέγεσθαι μελλόντων ἃ συνοίσει τηρεῖν ἐν ἀπορρήτῳ. [5] τοῦ δὲ τυράννου προσελθόντος ἀσμένως καὶ τὴν ἀκοὴν τῷ στόματι παραβαλόντος, ὁ Ζήνων τοῦ δυνάστου περιχανὼν τὸ οὖς ἐνέπρισε τοῖς ὀδοῦσι. τῶν δὲ ὑπηρετῶν ταχὺ προσδραμόντων, καὶ πᾶσαν τῷ βασανιζομένῳ προσφερόντων τιμωρίαν εἰς τὸ χαλάσαι τὸ δῆγμα, πολὺ μᾶλλον προσενεφύετο. [6] τέλος δ’ οὐ δυνάμενοι τἀνδρὸς νικῆσαι τὴν εὐψυχίαν, παρεκέντησαν αὐτὸν ἵνα διίῃ τοὺς ὀδόντας. καὶ τοιούτῳ τεχνήματι τῶν ἀλγηδόνων ἀπελύθη καὶ παρὰ τοῦ τυράννου τὴν ἐνδεχομένην ἔλαβε τιμωρίαν.

In the other version of this story, Zeno of Elea bites off his own tongue

From the Suda

“Zeno, the son of Teleutagoros, Elean, one of the philosophers who lived in the same time as Pythagoras and Democritus during the 78th Olympiad. He was a student of Xenophanes or Parmenides. He wrote Disagreements, and Explanation of Empedokles and Against the Philosophers on Nature. They say that he invented dialectic, and that Empedokles invented rhetoric. Some say that he was caught trying to kill the tyrant Nearkhos—although some say it was Diomedon. When he was being questioned by him, he bit down on his own tongue, cut it off, and spat it at the Tyrant. Then he was thrown into a mortar and ground down into a mush.”

Ζήνων, Τελευταγόρου, Ἐλεάτης, φιλόσοφος τῶν ἐγγιζόντων Πυθαγόρᾳ καὶ Δημοκρίτῳ κατὰ τοὺς χρόνους, ἦν γὰρ ἐπὶ τῆς οη# Ὀλυμπιάδος, μαθητὴς Ξενοφάνους ἢ Παρμενίδου. ἔγραψεν Ἔριδας, Ἐξήγησιν τῶν Ἐμπεδοκλέους, Πρὸς τοὺς φιλοσόφους περὶ φύσεως. τοῦτόν φασιν εὑρετὴν εἶναι τῆς διαλεκτικῆς, ὡς Ἐμπεδοκλέα τῆς ῥητορικῆς. καθελεῖν δὲ θελήσας Νέαρχον, οἱ δὲ Διομέδοντα, τὸν Ἐλέας τύραννον, ἑάλω. καὶ ἐρωτώμενος ὑπ’ αὐτοῦ τὴν γλῶτταν αὑτοῦ ἐνδακὼν καὶ ἀποτεμὼν προσέπτυσε τῷ τυράννῳ. καὶ ἐν ὅλμῳ βληθεὶς συνετρίβη πτισσόμενος.

Diogenes Laertius tells the same story as Diodorus:

Diogenes Laertius, Lives of the Philosophers 9.26

“When he was interrogated about his conspirators and the arms he was bringing to Liparas, he informed on all the friends of the tyrant because he wished to isolate that man. Then, telling him that he could tell him something about these things to his ear only, he bit down on [Nearchus’] ear and would not let go until he was stabbed to death, suffering the same fate as the tyrannocide Aristogeiton.”

ὅτε καὶ ἐξεταζόμενος τοὺς συνειδότας καὶ περὶ τῶν ὅπλων ὧν ἦγεν εἰς Λιπάραν, πάντας ἐμήνυσεν αὐτοῦ τοὺς φίλους, βουλόμενος αὐτὸν ἔρημον καταστῆσαι· εἶτα περί τινων εἰπεῖν ἔχειν  τινα <ἔφη> αὐτῷ πρὸς τὸ οὖς καὶ δακὼν οὐκ ἀνῆκεν ἕως ἀπεκεντήθη, ταὐτὸν ᾿Αριστογείτονι τῷ τυραννοκτόνῳ παθών.

This is not the same Zeno as Zeno of Citium, who is credited with founding stoicism. Zeno from Elea is known for paradoxes!

Image result for zeno of elea
If you bite off half your tongue and then the other half…

Wine for Older Men

Plutarch, Table Talk 4, 2, 677ef

“But I was demonstrating that their own struggle was rather juvenile since they were too frightened to agree that zôteron means stronger because this would make things strange for Achilles. Zoilos from Amphipolis did just this when he did not understand that Achilles was telling Patroklos to make the wine stronger because he understood that older men like Phoenix and Odysseus do not enjoy watery wine.”

ἀλλὰ μειρακιώδη τὴν φιλοτιμίαν αὐτῶν ἀπέφαινον, δεδιότων ὁμολογεῖν ἀκρατότερον εἰρῆσθαι τὸ ζωρότερον, ὡς ἐν ἀτόπωι τινὶ τοῦ ᾽Αχιλλέως ἐσομένου· καθάπερ ὁ ᾽Αμφιπολίτης Ζωίλος ὑπελάμβανεν, ἀγνοῶν ὅτι πρῶτον μὲν ὁ Ἀχιλλεὺς τὸν Φοίνικα καὶ τὸν Ὀδυσσέα πρεσβυτέρους ὄντας εἰδὼς οὐχ ὑδαρεῖ χαίροντες, ἀλλ’ ἀκρατοτέρῳ, καθάπερ οἱ ἄλλοι γέρονες, ἐπιτεῖναι κελεύει τὴν κρᾶσιν.

File:Greek - Wine Jug with Boy Riding Goat - Walters 4895.jpg
Wine jug with boy riding goat

On Falling in Love in Old Age

87 Plato Parmen. 137a and Ibykos fr. 287

“And I certainly seem to be experiencing the fate of Ibykos’ horse, a prize-winner who, even though old, was about to compete in the chariot race and was trembling because of experience at what was about to happen. Ibykos compared himself to him when he said that he too was old and was being compelled to move towards lust”

καίτοι δοκῶ μοι τὸ τοῦ Ἰβυκείου ἵππου πεπονθέναι ᾧ ἐκεῖνος ἀθλητῇ ὄντι καὶ πρεσβυτέρῳ ὑφ᾿ ἅρματι μέλλοντι ἀγωνιεῖσθαι καὶ δι᾿ ἐμπειρίαν τρέμοντι τὸ μέλλον ἑαυτὸν ἀπεικάζων ἄκων ἔφη καὶ αὐτὸς οὕτω πρεσβευτὴς ὢν εἰς τὸν ἔρωτα ἀναγκάζεσθαι ἰέναι.

schol. ad loc. 

[Scholiast] Here is the saying of Ibykos the lyric poet:

τὸ τοῦ μελοποιοῦ Ἰβύκου ῥητόν·

“Love again, gazing up from under dark lashes,
Throws me down with every kind of spell
Into the Cyprian’s endless nets.
In truth, I tremble at this arrival,
Just as a prize-winning horse on the yoke in old age
Goes into the contest with his swift wheels, but not willingly.”

Ἔρος αὖτέ με κυανέοισιν ὑπὸ
βλεφάροις τακέρ᾿ ὄμμασι δερκόμενος
κηλήμασι παντοδαποῖς ἐς ἀπειρα
δίκτυα Κύπριδος ἐσβάλλει·
ἦ μὰν τρομέω νιν ἐπερχόμενον,
ὥστε φερέζυγος ἵππος ἀεθλοφόρος ποτὶ γήρᾳ
ἀέκων σὺν ὄχεσφι θοοῖς ἐς ἅμιλλαν ἔβα

Greek Anthology, 5.26

“If I saw you shining with dark hair
Or at another time with blond locks, mistress,
The same grace would gleam from both.
Love will make its home in your hair even when it’s gray.”

Εἴτε σε κυανέῃσιν ἀποστίλβουσαν ἐθείραις,
εἴτε πάλιν ξανθαῖς εἶδον, ἄνασσα, κόμαις,
ἴση ἀπ’ ἀμφοτέρων λάμπει χάρις. ἦ ῥά γε ταύταις
θριξὶ συνοικήσει καὶ πολιῇσιν ῎Ερως.

Image result for ancient greek chariot horse
A force of nature

#MondayMotivation: Where Does Happiness Come From?

The following essay by Dio Chrysostom is fragmentary. I can imagine where it goes from where it starts, but I might be wrong. One of the seductive things about fragments is their lure to be ‘completed’ or ‘restored’. Here’s one about happiness–a topic perhaps profitably left unfinished for each of us to write our own endings.

Dio Chrysostom, 24 Discourse on Happiness

“The majority of people have generally given no thought regarding what kind of people they should be nor what at all is best for a person, nor what it is right to do in all other things. Instead, they have spent their lives in private pursuits—some dedicate themselves to horses; others to military leadership; others to athletic competition. Some are devoted to music; while others look to farming; and others to being able to speak well. But they neither know nor try to figure out what use each of these pursuits has for them or what profit might come from it.

As a result, while some people do become good horsemen—the kinds of people who love to work at it and care about it completely—and while others are better than some at wrestling and boxing, and running, and the rest of the athletic games, or in not screwing up planting, or sailing without ruining a ship, and some know the matters of the art of better than others—it is not possible to find among them a good and prudent man who also knows what makes a good and intelligent person.

Start first with the example of oratory—there are many people altogether of noble families who also seem to be ambitious who are dedicated to it so much that they compete in public courts, even speaking to the people and because of this have gained more than others and can do what they want while others [endeavor] so that they might be considered clever on account of the fame of their field.

But there are some people who say that they want what they get from experience, and some of these are speakers some are only writers, people whom someone of former times said were on the border of philosophy and politics. Whatever advantage their work brings them or what use their reputation is or what the profit of their experience might be, they do not examine.

But I claim that all the rest is worthless without this kind of care and examination  For the person who has considered and understood this, it is clear that the advantage of public speaking or military leadership or any other thing we do comes when it it directed towards good.

For being praised by ignorant people in itself—for most people are like that—or having power among them or living pleasurably will not bring any more happiness than being rebuked by these people, having no power among them, or living a hard life.”

Οἱ πολλοὶ ἄνθρωποι καθόλου μὲν οὐδὲν πεφροντίκασιν ὁποίους χρὴ εἶναι οὐδὲ ὅ τι βέλτιστον ἀνθρώπῳ ἐστίν, οὗ ἕνεκα χρὴ πάντα τἄλλα πράττειν, ἰδίᾳ δὲ ἐσπουδάκασιν οἱ μὲν ἱππεύειν, οἱ δὲ στρατηγεῖν, οἱ δὲ περὶ ἀγωνίαν, οἱ δὲ περὶ μουσικήν, ἄλλοι περὶ γεωργίαν, ἄλλοι δύνασθαι λέγειν. ἥντινα δὲ χρείαν αὐτοῖς ἔχει τούτων ἕκαστον ἢ τί τὸ ὄφελος ἐξ αὐτοῦ γίγνοιτ᾿ ἄν, οὐκ ἴσασιν οὐδὲ ζητοῦσιν. τοιγαροῦν ἱππεῖς μὲν ἀγαθοὶ γίγνονταί τινες, οἳ ἂν φιλοπονῶσιν αὐτὸ καὶ ἐκμελετῶσι, καὶ παλαῖσαι ἄλλοι ἄλλων ἱκανώτεροι καὶ πυκτεῦσαι καὶ δραμεῖν καὶ τἄλλα ἀγωνίσασθαι, καὶ τοῦ σπόρου μὴ διαμαρτεῖν, καὶ πλέοντες μὴ διαφθεῖραι τὴν ναῦν, καὶ τὰ κατὰ μουσικήν τινες ἐπίστανται βέλτιον ἑτέρων· ἀγαθὸν δὲ ἄνδρα καὶ φρόνιμον, καὶ αὐτὸ τοῦτο εἰδότα ὅστις ἐστὶν ὁ χρηστὸς ἀνὴρ καὶ νοῦν ἔχων, οὐδένα τούτων ἔστιν εὑρεῖν.

Αὐτίκα περὶ τὸ λέγειν πάντως ἐσπουδάκασι πολλοὶ τῶν ἐλευθέρων, καὶ φιλοτίμων εἶναι δοκούντων, οἱ μὲν ὥστε ἐν δικαστηρίοις ἀγωνίζεσθαι, καὶ πρὸς δῆμον λέγοντες, διὰ δὲ τοῦτο ἰσχύειν πλέον τῶν ἄλλων καὶ πράττειν ὅ τι ἂν αὐτοὶ θέλωσιν, οἱ δὲ τῆς δόξης ἕνεκα τῆς ἀπὸ τοῦ πράγματος, ὅπως δεινοὶ νομίζωνται. τινὲς δὲ αὐτῆς φασι τῆς ἐμπειρίας ἐπιθυμεῖν, καὶ τούτων οἱ μὲν λέγοντες, οἱ δὲ συγγράφοντες μόνον, οὓς ἔφη τις τῶν πρότερον μεθόρια εἶναι τῶν φιλοσόφων καὶ τῶν πολιτικῶν. ὅτι δὲ συμφέρει πράττουσιν ἢ πρὸς ὅ τι ἡ δόξα αὐτοῖς ὠφέλιμος ἢ τί τῆς ἐμπειρίας ταύτης ὄφελος, οὐ σκοποῦσιν.

Ἐγὼ δέ φημι πάντα τἄλλα δίχα τῆς τοιαύτης ἐπιμελείας καὶ ζητήσεως ὀλίγου ἄξια εἶναι, τῷ δὲ ἐκεῖνο ἐννοήσαντι καὶ ξυνέντι, τούτῳ καὶ τὸ λέγειν καὶ τὸ στρατηγεῖν καὶ ὅ τι ἂν ἄλλο ποιῇ, ξυμφέρον τε εἶναι καὶ ἐπ᾿ ἀγαθῷ γίγνεσθαι. ἐπεὶ τό γε ἐπαινεῖσθαι καθ᾿ ἑαυτὸ ὑπὸ ἀνθρώπων ἀνοήτων, οἷοίπερ εἰσὶν οἱ πολλοί, ἢ τὸ δύνασθαι ἐν τοῖς τοιούτοις ἢ τὸ ἡδέως ζῆν οὐδὲν ἂν διαφέροι πρὸς εὐδαιμονίαν τοῦ ψέγεσθαι καὶ μηδὲν ἰσχύειν καὶ ἐπιπόνως ζῆν.

Cologny, Fondation Martin Bodmer, Cod. Bodmer 174, detail of f. 3r (Isis gathering Osiris’ body parts). Boccaccio, Des cas des nobles hommes et femmes. 15th century
Cologny, Fondation Martin Bodmer, Cod. Bodmer 174, detail of f. 3r (Isis gathering Osiris’ body parts)

When You Can, Live as You Should

Seneca, Moral Epistles 7.8-9

“Both habits, moreover, should be avoided. Don’t imitate bad people, because there are many of them, nor hate the many, because you aren’t like them. Take shelter in yourself, whenever you can. Spend time with people who will make you a better person. Embrace those whom you can make better. Such improvement is a partnership, for people learn while they teach.”

Utrumque autem devitandum est; neve similis malis fias, quia multi sunt, neve inimicus multis, quia dissimiles sunt. Recede in te ipsum, quantum potes. Cum his versare, qui te meliorem facturi sunt. Illos admitte, quos tu potes facere meliores. Mutuo ista fiunt, et homines, dum docent, discunt.

Seneca, De Beata Vita 17-18

“ ‘This is enough for me: to each day lose one of my vices and recognize my mistakes. I have not perfected my health, nor certainly will I. I hope to relieve my gout rather than cure it, happy if it comes less frequently and cause less pain. But when I compare myself to your feet, I am a sprinter even though crippled.’

I do not say these things for myself—since I am deep in every kind of vice—but for the person who has done something.

You say, “You talk one way but you live another.” This insult, most shameful and hateful friend, was thrown at Plato, tossed at Epicurus, and dropped on Zeno. For all these people were talking not about how they were living themselves but about how they should live. When it comes to virtue, I do not talk about myself, and my fight is with vices, but chiefly my own. When I can, I will live as I should.”

Hoc mihi satis est, cotidie aliquid ex vitiis meis demere et errores meos obiurgare. Non perveni ad sanitatem, ne perveniam quidem; delenimenta magis quam remedia podagrae meae compono, contentus, si rarius accedit et si minus verminatur; vestris quidem pedibus comparatus, debilis1 cursor sum.” Haec non pro me loquor—ego enim in alto vitiorum omnium sum—, sed pro illo, cui aliquid acti est.

 “Aliter,” inquis, “loqueris, aliter vivis.” Hoc, malignissima capita et optimo cuique inimicissima, Platoni obiectum est, obiectum Epicuro, obiectum Zenoni; omnes enim isti dicebant non quemadmodum ipsi viverent, sed quemadmodum esset ipsis vivendum. De virtute, non de me loquor, et cum vitiis convicium facio, in primis meis facio. 2Cum potuero, vivam quomodo oportet.

Image result for medieval manuscripts meditating
Verdun, Bibl. mun., ms. 0070, f. 42v.

Anger and Masks of Injury

Seneca, De Ira 5-8

“Some one will be said to have spoken badly of you: think whether you did this first; think of how many people you talk about. Let us think, I say, that some are not offending us, but repaying us; that some are doing good for us, that others are forced to act, and some are just ignorant. There are those who do what they do willingly and with full understanding who attach us not for the injury itself: one is either seduced by the sweetness of his wit; other does it not to move against us but because he cannot pursue his own aims unless he moves through us.

Often praise, although it flatters, offends. Whoever reminds himself of how many times he has encountered false suspicion or how many good services fortune has disguised with masks of injury, or how many people he learned to love after hating them, he will not anger quickly. As you are offended each time, say to yourself quietly: “I have done this myself.”

And where would you encounter a judge this just? The one who desires everyone’s wife and believes that it is just enough a reason to love her that someone else has her refuses to have his own wife seen. The traitor has the harshest demands on loyalty and the perjurer is obsessed with lies himself. The devious lawyer despises any charge made against him and the man who thinks nothing of his own shame will not abide the temptation of others. We keep everyone else’s vices in clear view, but own own behind our backs.”

Dicetur aliquis male de te locutus; cogita an prior feceris, cogita de quam multis loquaris. Cogitemus, inquam, alios non facere iniuriam sed reponere, alios pro nobis facere, alios coactos facere, alios ignorantes, etiam eos, qui volentes scientesque faciunt, ex iniuria nostra non ipsam iniuriam petere; aut dulcedine urbanitatis prolapsus est, aut fecit aliquid, non ut nobis obesset, sed quia consequi ipse non poterat, nisi nos repulisset; saepe adulatio, dum blanditur, offendit. Quisquis ad se rettulerit, quotiens ipse in suspicionem falsam inciderit, quam multis officiis suis fortuna speciem iniuriae induerit, quam multos post odium amare coeperit, poterit non statim irasci, utique si sibi tacitus ad singula quibus offenditur dixerit: “Hoc et ipse commisi.” Sed ubi tam aequum iudicem invenies? Is qui nullius non uxorem concupiscit et satis iustas causas putat amandi, quod aliena est, idem uxorem suam aspici non vult; et fidei acerrimus exactor est perfidus, et mendacia persequitur ipse periurus, et litem sibi inferri aegerrime calumniator patitur; pudicitiam servulorum suorum adtemptari non vult qui non pepercit suae. Aliena vitia in oculis habemus, a tergo nostra sunt.

 

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Roman Calvary Sports Mask, MET