Friday, July 14, 2017

Commentary on Meditations: B4:19-20

One who is all in a flutter over his subsequent fame fails to imagine that all those who remember him will very soon be dead - and he too. Then the same will be true of all successors, until the whole memory of him will be extinguished in a sequence of lamps lit and snuffed out. But suppose immortality in those who will remember you, and everlasting memory. Even so, what is that to you? And I do not simply mean that this is nothing to the dead, but to the living also what is the point of praise, other than for some practical aspect of management? As it is, you are losing the opportunity of that gift of nature which does not depend on another's word. So ...

Everything in any way beautiful has its beauty of itself, inherent and self-sufficient: praise is no part of it. At any rate, praise does not make anything better or worse. This applies even to the popular conception of beauty, as in material things or works or art. So does the truly beautiful need anything beyond itself? No more than law, no more than truth, no more than kindness or integrity. Which of these things derives its beauty from praise, or withers under criticism? Does an emerald lose its quality if it is not praised? And what of gold, ivory, purple, a lyre, a dagger, a flower, a bush?

Fame is fleeting.  It is not real.  It adds no value.  And the value inherent in people and things does not go up or down because of fame or the lack of it.

I enjoy history and reading about it.  What impresses me the most when I read and study history is the amount of fame people place on others.  History is so deep and wide, you also quickly gain an appreciation for how obscure important people become.  Kings, emperors, tyrants, queens, vicars, popes, dictators - all have held sway and power over millions in their time.  Yet they are all forgotten today.  We only know and remember people because someone else thought it important to put their names in a book.

The real value of things is inherent.  People ought to focus on their nature (the ability to reason and think and to help others.)  People ought to focus on excelling at improving their character.

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