Tuesday, February 05, 2008

The keys to inner calm...

A read a great little book towards the end of my holidays, called Dating Aphrodite: Modern Adventures in the Ancient World, by Australian Luke Slattery. It's a collection of short reflections on the influence of the Classical world on our times and on the author himself, and some very insightful thoughts on what we can learn from the Greeks and Romans today.

One of the most interesting chapters was called The Good Life, where Slattery discusses Stoic, Epicurean and Sceptic philosophy in a really accessible way. Here's a short taste:

The symptoms of anxiety are too common to categorise, yet they manage to sustain the psychiatric profession, the pharmaceutical industry, and perhaps late capitalism itself. Where would the market be without consumer therapy? Many seek answers in the New Age: in Eastern religions, Celtic earth worship, dubious gurus, dietary fads, crystals self-help manuals, spas, colonic irrigation. In reality the keys to inner calm are where they have always been- hanging by the door to Western Civilisation.

Stoicism and Epicureanism are worthy of re-examinationand rehabilitation in our restive anxious age. These two antagonistic creeds - an argument between body and soul, pleasure and virtue - are not easily reconciled. Nevertheless, it is possible to negotiate between them a pact that meets concrete human needs... The unfettered energies of Scepticism give us the confidence to put such famously antagonistic creeds to work in a united cause. After all, a truly therapeutic philosophy of life has first to align itself with the vicissitudes of life.

Epicureanism is a philosophical shelter which nourishes the fraternal bonds between men and women, because friendship, in the words of Epicurus, 'dances around the world, announcing to us all that we should bestir ourselves for the enjoyment of happiness'. The Stoic, on the other hand, has no need of a physical sanctuary; for the wise, the tranquil self is retreat enough. The aim of Stoic meditation, though Marcus Aurelius, was to 'send you back without repugnance' to life. Armed with the shield of Stoicism we advance upon life; lured by Epicureanism we retreat and repair. Zeno and Epicurus may have been opponents in the ancient world, but to me they are the most companionable of rivals: encountered long ago at a time of illness, I think of them as physicians of the soul.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Okay, so "Rei novae" isn't a partitive genitive. In that case, I'm making things up. Or, alternately, I'm going crazy. The latter is the most likely.

Anyway, sir, I have an explanation for the case of rei novae:

It is first of all genitive in apposition to 'litterarum' - then of course we need to establish why 'litterarum' is in the genitive.

Easy answer - it is genitive because it is dependent on 'miraculo'. 'because of the marvel of the alphabet/letters' - but if I had to put a fancy title to the genitive I would say . . . . . characteristic? It is not possessive since the letters don't own the marvel; it isn't partitive since the letters are not 'part' of the marvel; maybe it is saying what 'sort' of marvel it is?

I hope it helps with your ponderings, Sir. =]