SPEAK the truth, slave, and do not run away from your masters, nor deny them, nor dare to assert your freedom when you have so many proofs of your slavery. One might indeed find some excuse for a person, compelled by love to do something contrary to his opinion, even when at the same time he sees what is best and yet hath not resolution enough to follow it, since he is withheld by something violent and, in some measure, divine. But who can bear you, who are in love with old men and women; and wipe their noses, and wash them, and bribe them with presents, and wait upon them when they are sick like a slave; at the same time wishing they may die, and inquiring of the physician whether their distemper be yet mortal? And again, when for these great and venerable magistracies and honours you kiss the hands of the slaves of others, so that you are the slave of those who are not free themselves! And then you walk about in state, a praetor, or a consul. Do not I know how you came to be praetor, whence you received the consulship, who gave it you? For my own part, I would not even live, if I must live by Felicio's means, and bear his pride and slavish insolence. For I know what a slave is, blinded by what he thinks good fortune.
EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book iv. §1. ¶16
"For I know what a slave is, blinded by what he thinks good fortune."ReplyDelete
We tend towards complacency when we have a "comfortable life". We can sit in suburbia and not feel the plight of the homeless or those suffering loss at the hands of natural disasters, etc. The challenge is to act in a virtuous manner in spite of the fact that we are comfortable. If we choose not to act or do what we can, we are making ourselves a slave to our comfort and good fortune. The very level of comfort that we strove to attain becomes the master that enslaves us to complacency.
Paraphrase: "Love often compels us to do things we don't understand, for it is powerful and in some measure divine. We are its willing slaves."ReplyDelete
Even the Stoic succumbs to the 'power' of love. It is the essence of life, not mere procreation, but more importantly partnership. It is not sexuality that drives us, but the need to build and belong to community. For we can only be fully human when we participate fully in humanity.
Having a down day today as we all do from time to time. Today I am wrestling with complacency and inactivity with a case of the doldrums. The phrase that popped out at me from today's reading is "he sees what is best and yet hath not resolution enough to follow it". Hmmm I need to find that ambition and resolution.ReplyDelete