Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Commentary on Meditations: B6:46-47

Just as all the business of the amphitheatre and such places offends you as always one and the same sight, and this monotony of the spectacle bores you, so it is too with your experience of life as a whole: everything, up or down, is the same, with the same causes. How much longer, then?

Think constantly of all the sorts of men, of various professions and of all the nations on earth, who have died: and so bring your thought down to Philistion, Phoebus, and Origanion. Pass now to the other classes of men. We too are bound to change our abode to that other world, where there are so many skilled orators, so many distinguished philosophers - Heraclitus, Pythagoras, Socrates - so many heroes of old, so many later commanders and kings.

Add Eudoxus, Hipparchus, Archimedes; add other men of penetrating intellect, men of great vision, men dedicated to their work; add rogues, bigots, and even satirists of this transient mortal life, like Menippus and his kind. Reflect of all of these that they are long dead and buried. So is this anything terrible for them - or indeed for men whose very names are lost? In this world there is only one thing of value, to live out your life in truth and justice, tolerant of those who are neither true nor just.

Marcus speaks to me!  I cannot help but see, on every side, the "business of the amphitheater."  Star athletes and movie stars and the drama that follows them ad nauseam on TV and the Internet.  Observing high school students and listening to their conversations is also revealing - about the repetitive topics, the endless selfies and the total lack living an examined life.  I am convinced more and more of Marcus' opinion that forty years is as good as ten thousand years of seeing all that can happen in this life (B7.49 & B11.1).

Upon further reflection, you will notice everyone passes on to death and oblivion.  Pillars of men and nations disappear and succumb to The Agent of Change.  What's left?  What's the purpose?  What is it all about?  It is about virtue; justice.  Finding unalterable truth - digging and searching until you find that foundation of bedrock that won't move under your feet.  You will find a life in pursuit of attaining virtue (wisdom, justice, courage, temperance) is the only thing of value.  Pursuit of fame, fortune, notoriety, pleasure / avoiding pain ... all futile and useless.

(see also Citadel p. 48, 164, 177-178, 228, 242, 276, 286)

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