Friday, November 17, 2017

Commentary on Meditations: B7:45-46

'The truth of the matter, my fellow Athenians, is this. Whatever position a man has taken up in his own best judgement, or is assigned by his commander, there, it seems to me, he should stay and face the danger, giving no thought to death or anything else before dishonour.'

'But, my dear fellow, consider it possible that nobility and virtue are something other than saving one's life or having it saved. Could it not be that anyone who is truly a man should dismiss any concern for a particular length of life, and not simply live for the sake of living? Rather he should leave all this to god and believe what the womenfolk say, that no one ever escapes the day of his fate: his thought should be on this further question, how best to live his life in the time he has to be alive.'

For the Stoics, virtue is the sole good.  Concern for life or death is not the purpose of life.  Rather, it is living virtuously.  It is a noble attempt to live a life content and focused on virtue.  We will all fall short of that goal, but we can dust ourselves off, get up and try again.  Don't worry about death.  Death will come to us all.  Best to choose to live a life of virtue with the time you have left.

(see also Citadel p. 57, 269)

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