Saturday, November 25, 2017

Commentary on Meditations: B7:66

How do we know that Telauges' character did not make him a better man than Socrates? It is not enough that Socrates died a more glorious death, that he argued more skilfully with the sophists, that he showed greater endurance in spending a whole night out in the frost, that he was braver in his decision to refuse the order to arrest Leon of Salamis, that he 'swaggered in the streets' (though one could well question if this last is true). No, what we need to investigate is the nature of Socrates' soul. We should ask whether he was able to be content with a life of justice shown to men and piety to the gods; neither condemning all vice wholesale nor yet toadying to anyone's ignorance; not regarding anything allotted to him by the Whole as misplaced in him or a crushing burden to endure; not lending his mind to share the poor passions of the flesh.

The key part of this passage begins with "content with a life ..."  Here, Marcus writes about what is important in life.

First, we should be just with other humans.

Second, we should revere the Gods and accept what they have sent our way (amor fati).

Third, we don't condemn vice wholesale, but understand that men engage in vice out of ignorance; and at the same time, we can accept that men can strive to live a life of virtues.

Fourth, and closely related to revering the Gods, we don't think that what the Gods or God has sent to us is "misplaced" nor is it a "crushing burden to endure" (meaning we don't complain about our lot in life).

Fifth, and lastly, we don't give into pleasure and passions of the flesh.

(see also Citadel p. 268)

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