Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Commentary on Meditations: B6:17-18

Up, down, round and round are the motions of the elements, but the movement of active virtue follows none of these: it is something more divine, and it journeys on to success along a path hard to understand.

What a way to behave! They refuse to speak well of people who live as their contemporaries and in their company, but they set great store by their own good name among future generations which they have never seen nor ever will see. Yet this is brother to feeling vexed that your predecessors were not singing your praises.

Change is constant, yet virtue is not.  Hence virtue is the sole good.

It indeed is interesting to observe people, who seemingly at all costs, pursue fame and legendary status.  As Marcus points out, all these people are doing is seeking out approval from people they will never know or meet.  And they seek this approval at the cost of their contemporaries!  Fate has brought together people in the here and now.  We are meant to work with people in the here and now.  It matters little what future generations will think.

Being a Lord of the Rings fan, the passage from Marcus Aurelius reminds me of a scene in the movie The Return of the King about how the kings forsook caring for the living and rather focused on the fame and lineage.  Gandalf tells Pippen why the kings of Gondor are no more.  "The old wisdom bourne out of the west was forsaken. Kings made tombs more splendid than the houses of the living, and counted the old names of their descent dearer than the names of their sons."

(see also Citadel p. 241)

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