You wish to be different…

You are here for a reason. You no longer wish to follow the common herd. Read what Socrates describes as the common man. Do you wish to stay like this?

SOCRATES: In fact, he [the common man] lives from day to day, indulging the pleasure of the moment. One day it is wine, women and song, the next water to drink and a strict diet: one day it’s hard physical training, the next indolence and careless ease, and then a period of philosophical study. Often he takes to politics and keeps jumping to his feet and saying or doing whatever comes into his head. Sometimes all his ambitions and efforts are military, sometimes they are all directed to success in business. There is no order or restraint in his life, and he reckons his way of living is pleasant, free and happy, and sticks to it through thick and thin.[1]

PlatoThe Republic 561d-e

SOCRATES: Then those who have no experience of intelligence and virtue and always spend their time feasting and suchlike are carried down, it seems, and back to the middle again and stray about in this way throughout their lives. They go neither beyond this point nor ever look up toward what is truly the upper region, nor are they conveyed that way. They are never filled with reality, nor have a taste of steadfast pure pleasure, but like cattle they are always looking downward, stooping toward the ground, and they eat at table and fatten themselves up and copulate, and in order to gain advantage in such things, they trample over and butt each other and kill each other with horns and hooves of iron on account of their insatiable desire, in that they are not filling the part of themselves which is real and continent with reality.”

“All in all, you’re pronouncing on the life of the majority of people, Socrates, like an oracle,” said Glaucon.[2]

PlatoThe Republic 586a-b

You wish to be different than the vulgar crowd. In fact vulgar or vulgus in Latin originally meant the crowd or the multitude. You do not wish to be like everyone else like all the similar statues in the museum but like this one from Perge, Ancient Attaleia, near Antalya, Turkey today, right? Different, expressive, free, and in motion.

Remember Seneca says avoid the crowd in Letter VII but we have also in our own capacity to make the crowd better and should as Stoics, not succumbing to them as most of us do.

Roman statue of a Dancing Woman . Marble. Perge. 2nd century AD. Inv no 10.29.81 . Antalya Archaeology Museum; Turkey. 

[1] Penguin Books 1955-2003

[2] Loeb Library 2013 Edition

Mementō morī; Remember that you are going to die…

Enjoy the Holiday Seasons:

Horace’s Ode II.3 discusses to keep a level head in bad times and in good, and to remember that no matter who you are rich or poor, you will die. So his advice is to enjoy your life, stop acquiring, be in Nature, and start enjoying what you have because when you die your heir or heirs will divide it up…and most of you will know how bad that can be. So enjoy what you have now. You know the phrase, ” You can’t take it with you.” So enjoy the holidays, because whether Zeus gives you more or just one, you must enjoy them and stop acquiring; see Carpe diem. Lastly, in the end, we end up in the same place, so live a good life and be an exemplar for others.

Aequam mementō rēbus in arduīs
servāre mentem, nōn secus in bonīs
ab īnsolentī temperātam
laetitiā, moritūre Dellī,

seu maestus omnī tempore vīxeris
seu tē in remōtō grāmine per diēs
fēstōs reclīnātum beāris
interiōre notā Falernī.

Quō pīnus ingēns albaque pōpulus
umbram hospitālem cōnsociāre amant
rāmīs? Quid oblīquō labōrat
lympha fugāx trepidāre rīvō?

Hūc vīna et unguenta et nimium brevīs
flōrēs amoenae ferre iubē rosae,
dum rēs et aetās et Sorōrum
fīla trium patiuntur ātra.

Cēdēs coēmptīs saltibus et domō
vīllāque, flāvus quam Tiberis lavit,
cēdēs, et exstructīs in altum
dīvitiīs potiētur hērēs.

Dīvesne prīscō nātus ab Īnachō
nīl interest an pauper et īnfimā
dē gente sub dīvō morēris,
victima nīl miserantis Orcī;

omnēs eōdem cōgimur, omnium
versātur urnā sērius ōcius
sors exitūra et nōs in aeternum
exilium impositūra cumbae.

                                                                                                       Horace, Odes II.3



Nightingale on a Reed with Pompeiian Roses. From Pompeii, 79 AD.


My translation of Horace’s Ode II.3:

Remember to keep a level mind in arduous situations
just as in good times restrain
from excessive joy,
Dellius you who are about to die,

Whether sadly you will have lived all your life,
or you will have enjoyed yourself in the grassy meadow
reclining during the festival holidays, with a choice
bottle of Falerian wine.

To what end does the huge pine and the white poplar
love to make common hospitable shade with their branches?
Why does the fleeting water struggle to rush
in its winding stream?

Order someone to bring to here wine, perfume, and too short-lived
flowers of the pleasant rose,
while circumstances, life, and the dark threads
of the three Sisters of Fate allow.

You will depart from your pasture lands having been bought up on all sides,
from your home, and from your villa in the country that the yellow Tiber washes;
You will depart, and of your heaped-up wealth
an heir will take possession.

Whether you linger under the open sky born wealthy
from the ancient line of Inachus, or whether you linger under the open sky
born poor from the lowest class, it does not matter,
You all are a victim of Death who goes by the name Orcus or Hades, who pities no one.

We are all herded to the same place, like cattle,
everyone’s lot about to exit from the funerary urn
sooner or later is shaken,
about to place us on the ferry boat into eternal exile.


Marcus Aurelius also says something similar:


Democritus (460 BC to 370 BC)  also has something to tell us:

Men achieve tranquillity through moderation in pleasure and through the symmetry of life. Want and superfluity are apt to upset them and to cause great perturbations in the soul.

        • The souls that are rent by violent conflicts are neither stable nor tranquil.
        • One should therefore set his mind upon the things that are within his power, and be content with his opportunities, nor let his memory dwell very long on the envied and admired of men, nor idly sit and dream of them.
        • Rather, he should contemplate the lives of those who suffer hardship, and vividly bring to mind their sufferings, so that your own present situation may appear to you important and to be envied, and so that it may no longer be your portion to suffer torture in your soul by your longing for more.
        • For he who admires those who have, and whom other men deem blest of fortune, and who spends all his time idly dreaming of them, will be forced to be always contriving some new device because of his [insatiable] desire, until he ends by doing some desperate deed forbidden by the laws.
        • And therefore one ought not to desire other men’s blessings, and one ought not to envy those who have more, but rather, comparing his life with that of those who fare worse, and laying to heart their sufferings, deem himself blest of fortune in that he lives and fares so much better than they. Holding fast to this saying you will pass your life in greater tranquillity and will avert not a few of the plagues of life—envy and jealousy and bitterness of mind




Whatever will be…

quidquid erit,     superanda      omnis fortūna  ferendō       est.

whatever   will be,  to be overcome  all         fortune    by endurance  is.

                             Vergil, Aeneid, Book V, Line 710


Whatever will be, all fortune must be overcome by endurance.

ἔχεις μὲν ἀλγείν᾿, οἶδα· σύμφορον δέ τοι
ὡς ῥᾷστα τἀναγκαῖα τοῦ βίου φέρειν.

Your lot is painful, I admit. But it is best, you know, to bear life’s harsh necessities as lightly as you can.

Euripides, Helen, Line 253

Difficult lines to accept. Stoic philosophy says the same thing, that we cannot control what is not up to us, only the things that are (up to us). Epictetus talks about this a lot in his Enchiridion and Marcus Aurelius states these very clearly in his Meditations. But how to follow these? That is the question. It is difficult.

But we must endure. We must move on. As the previous post recently states, When things look really bad. The bear turns from bad to good and back again. When things are good we prepare for the bad, and when bad, you should prepare for the good. That is our fortuna.

Aeneas suffered much when he left Troy to found a new land. He sailed through tumultuous waters and dangers. Eventually he reached Italy to find even more trouble. But he endured and through that came Rome itself. It is easy to tell these stories of endurance and courage but to live by them in our own lives is the real challenge.


Durum. When things look really bad

As Horace says.

So endure as much as you can. As the philosopher said to the King who asked if his happiness would last. He said, ‘It will pass.’ But so too will the bad.


storm Vergil
Aeneas weathering the storm sent by Juno.


Maybe there is a way:


Seneca states in his Epistula, Letter V, that he has some advice for his friend Lucilius about how to limit our desires (i.e. our hopes and dreams):


He says:


Dēsinēs timere, sī sperāre dēsieris.


Seneca, Episulae Moralēs, Book I, Letter V.7   


You cease to fear, if you will have ceased to hope.







Being in solitude

C. Plinius Cornelio Tacito Suo S.

Ridebis, et licet rideas. Ego, ille quem nosti, apros tres et quidem pulcherrimos cepi. “Ipse?” inquis. Ipse; non tamen ut omnino ab inertia mea et quiete discederem. Ad retia sedebam; erat in proximo non venabulum aut lancea, sed stilus et pugillares; meditabar aliquid enotabamque, ut si manus vacuas, plenas tamen ceras reportarem. Non est quod contemnas hoc studendi genus; mirum est ut animus agitatione motuque corporis excitetur; iam undique silvae et solitudo ipsumque illud silentium quod venationi datur, magna cogitationis incitamenta sunt. Proinde cum venabere, licebit auctore me ut panarium et lagunculam sic etiam pugillares feras: experieris non Dianam magis montibus quam Minervam inerrare.


                                                   Pliny the Younger, Letter I.6


Mirum est ut animus agitatione motuque corporis excitetur; iam undique silvae et solitudo ipsumque illud silentium quod venationi datur, magna cogitationis incitamenta sunt.


Pliny is writing a letter to Tacitus, yes, the Historian. He says that how wonderful it is that the mind is sharpened by physical exercise, movement of the body. More importantly he says being alone in the silence of the woods which is a given for hunting and can be substituted by camping or a walk in the woods is a great incitement or stimulus of thought (cogitationis).

How the modern world keeps reminding us that this is true. Yet 2000 years ago, writers like Pliny or Seneca, urged people to get outside. Plato also states in the republic that you cannot have a mind without the body. See  Exercise the mind and body.

huntboar pliny
A boar hunt.


So I urge you to get outside, maybe not to hunt, but to go camping, run, walk in the woods. Exercise the body so that to have a sound mind. As Horace says Carpe Diem. See Carpe diem.



When things look really bad


Friends, hitherto we have been not at all ignorant of sorrow; surely this evil that besets us now is no greater than when the Cyclops penned us in his hollow cave by brutal strength; yet even from there we made our escape through my valor and counsel and wit; these dangers, too, I think, we shall some day remember.


ὦ φίλοι, οὐ γάρ πώ τι κακῶν ἀδαήμονές εἰμεν:
οὐ μὲν δὴ τόδε μεῖζον ἕπει κακόν, ἢ ὅτε Κύκλωψ
εἴλει ἐνὶ σπῆι γλαφυρῷ κρατερῆφι βίηφιν:
ἀλλὰ καὶ ἔνθεν ἐμῇ ἀρετῇ, βουλῇ τε νόῳ τε,
ἐκφύγομεν, καί που τῶνδε μνήσεσθαι ὀίω.

Homer, Odyssey, Book 12, Lines 208-212


Later Vergil quoted similar lines in his Epic the Aeneid.


O comrades—for ere this we have not been ignorant of misfortune—you who have suffered worse, this also the gods will end. You drew near to Scylla’s fury and her deep-echoing crags; you have known, too, the rocks of the Cyclopes; recall your courage and banish sad fear. Perhaps even this distress it will some day be a joy to recall.


O socii (neque enim ignari sumus ante malorum),

o passi graviora, dabit deus his quoque finem.

vos et Scyllaeam rabiem penitusque sonantis

accestis scopulos, vos et Cyclopia saxa

experti; revocate animos maestumque timorem

mittite; forsan et haec olim meminisse iuvabit.

Virgil, The Aeneid, Book I, Lines 198-203


Yes, even the greatest of poets plagiarized! But Virgil is imitating the best. Isn’t that how we should be? The Stoics said we should imitate The Sage, but we can never be the Sage, we can never ‘be good’ as Simonides says. So even in your hard times, endure, be patient, the bear will turn in time from misfortune to fortune again and back. (See Do ut des. I give so that you may give.).


As the Chorus says to Deianeira in The Women of Trachis by Sophocles:

When you complain of this fortune, I feel with you, but I shall oppose you; for I say that you should not wear away all hopefulness. Not even the son of Kronos, who ordains all things, has given mortals a fate free from pain; but as it were the revolving paths of the Bear bring to all suffering and joy in turn. For neither spangled Night nor spirits of death nor riches abide for mortals, but joy or loss at once is gone, and then comes back.


ὧν ἐπιμεμφομένας ἁδεῖα

μέν, ἀντία δ᾿ οἴσω.

φαμὶ γὰρ οὐκ ἀποτρύειν

ἐλπίδα τὰν ἀγαθὰν

χρῆναί σ᾿· ἀνάλγητα γὰρ οὐδ᾿

ὁ πάντα κραίνων βασιλεὺς

ἐπέβαλε θνατοῖς Κρονίδας·

ἀλλ᾿ ἐπὶ πῆμα καὶ χαρὰν

πᾶσι κυκλοῦσιν οἷον Ἄρ-

κτου στροφάδες κέλευθοι.

μένει γὰρ οὔτ᾿ αἰόλα

νὺξ βροτοῖσιν οὔτε κῆ-

ρες οὔτε πλοῦτος, ἀλλ᾿ ἄφαρ

βέβακε, τῷ δ᾿ ἐπέρχεται

χαίρειν τε καὶ στέρεσθαι.

Sophocles, The Women of Trachis, Lines 122-135


These are hard for us to hear. But in time things will get better.


The Great Bear, also known as The Big Dipper, rotates around the north star, the axis of the Earth, a metaphor for the passing of time in Ancient Greek Mythology and thus a  change in fortuna.



As Horace says in Ode 1.24 to his friend Virgil:


It is hard. But becomes lighter with patience

whatever is not allowed by Nature to correct.


durum: sed levius fit patientia
quidquid corrigere est nefas.

Horace, Ode 1.24


house of livia pears
Wall fresco in the House of Livia

Life grants nothing to us mortals without hard work.


Life grants nothing to us mortals without hard work.


Nil sine magno vita labore dedit mortalibus.

                                              Horace, Satires, Book I, IX, line 59

I found this quote in a old Latin text from the 1930’s, Latin Second Year, Berry-Lee, 1938.


Work hard. Study hard. How many times have you heard that?

The more and more I live, the more and more I see that this adage is true, through and through. It doesn’t mean you work forever and never take a break or never enjoy life, but the people who have succeeded in life, are the hard workers.

Cum multum laborēs, multa discēs.

Unknown…I found in the Ecce Romani series.

When you work much, you learn many things.

I  keep coming back constantly in my readings to Horace. Once in awhile, a small quote will pop up somewhere, in a Latin text or some book, or as a word of advice on a website. And again, I am reminded and pickup his text and read some more, after enduring a grueling work week or some other vicissitude of life. He has so many wonderful sayings that speak to us even now about life, about the brevity of life, about the importance of living in the moment and cherishing what you have, and enduring life’s hardships and despairs. All this sounds like cliche but they are not.

Read some Horace especially what I have posted here. Time and time again you will agree with him. Pick up Horace’s Odes, Epodes, and Satires. They are a joy to read.

Idealized sketch of Horace


Of course Aesop has much to say about this as well:

Perry 112 (Chambry 241 *)

During the summer, the ant went around the fields collecting grains of wheat and barley so that he could store up some food for the winter. A dung beetle watched the ant and decided that he must be a wretched creature since he worked all the time, never taking a moment’s rest, unlike the other animals. The ant didn’t pay attention to the dung beetle and simply went about his business. When winter came and the dung was washed away by the rain, the beetle grew hungry. He went to the ant and begged him to share a little bit of his food. The ant replied, ‘O beetle, if you had done some work yourself instead of making fun of me while I was working so hard, then you would not need to be asking me for food.’

The fable teaches us that we should not neglect important things that require our attention, and instead we should attend in good time to our future well-being.


Perry 373 (Syntipas 43)

During the wintertime, an ant was living off the grain that he had stored up for himself during the summer. The cricket came to the ant and asked him to share some of his grain. The ant said to the cricket, ‘And what were you doing all summer long, since you weren’t gathering grain to eat?’ The cricket replied, ‘Because I was busy singing I didn’t have time for the harvest.’ The ant laughed at the cricket’s reply, and hid his heaps of grain deeper in the ground. ‘Since you sang like a fool in the summer,’ said the ant, ‘you better be prepared to dance the winter away!’

This fable depicts lazy, careless people who indulge in foolish pastimes, and therefore lose out.

But there can be consequences to working too much, so there must be a balance:


Perry (Odo 42b)

Ants gather up a big pile of grain so that they can consume it during the winter, but at a certain point the pigs come along and they scatter the grain and eat it all up.

A fable against the vain accumulation of material goods. 

The same thing often happens to people: they gather much and often, but thieves come, or the bailiffs of the prince, or their own family members, and everything gets devoured, or else they end up leaving their wealth to strangers.

Source: Aesop’s FablesA new translation by Laura Gibbs. Oxford University Press (World’s Classics): Oxford, 2002.
NOTE: New cover, with new ISBN, published in 2008; contents of book unchanged.  


Also the Penguin Classics book on Aesop’s Complete Fables is a good read before bedtime. Maybe once a day, open to wherever it guides you and read the fable listed. You will be surprised how much advice is there.






On traveling for a cure of discontent: What you are seeking is here: Quod petis hic est…

We have all heard, I presume, that traveling will make you feel better, especially during Christmas Holiday, New Years, or for that matter, the Saturnalia.

“Go on holiday!”

“Get out of here. It will make you feel better!”

And on and on.

Seneca in his Epistles (letters) has something to say about this, and we should take heed:

Do you suppose that you alone have had this experience? Are you surprised, as if it were a novelty, that after such long travel and so many changes of scene you have not been able to shake off the gloom and heaviness of your mind? You need a change of soul rather than a change of climate (i.e. you should change your attitude not your surroundings.) Though you may cross vast spaces of sea, and though, as our Vergil remarks,

“Lands and cities are left behind,”

                                                                         Virgil, Book III. Line 72.
your faults will follow you whithersoever you travel.

                                                                         Seneca, Epistles, Letter XXVIII.1


Hoc tibi soli putas accidisse et admiraris quasi rem novam, quod peregrinatione tam longa et tot locorum varietatibus non discussisti tristitiam gravitatemque mentis? Animum debes mutare, non caelum. Licet vastum traieceris mare, licet, ut ait Vergilius noster,

“Terraeque urbesque recedant,”

                                                                                                   Virgil, Liber III.72

sequentur te, quocumque perveneris, vitia.

                                                                                                   Seneca, Epistula, XXVIII.1

Your faults, your problems will follow you. They go where you go. The cure is to deal with them internally, in your mind, in your soul. Once you do this you may go anywhere. You are only masking this when you travel and eventually it will come to the surface and become apparent.

Algeria, timgad, Ruins of Roman colonial town founded by Emperor Trajan around 100 A.D.
A Roman road in the Ancient World.

Horace also discusses this in his own Epistles, I.11.27 as mentioned by Elaine Fantham in Seneca  – Selected Letters:


And you—whatever hour God has given for your weal, take it with grateful hand, nor put off joys from year to year; so that, in whatever place you have been, you may say that you have lived happily. For if ’tis reason and wisdom that take away cares, and not a site commanding a wide expanse of sea, they change their clime, not their mind, who rush across the sea.a ’Tis a busy idleness that is our bane; with yachts and cars we seek to make life happy.

What you are seeking is here…

                                                                    Horace, Epistles, I.11.27

tu quamcumque deus tibi fortunaverit horam
grata sume manu, neu dulcia differ in annum;
ut quocumque loco fueris vixisse libenter
te dicas. nam si ratio et prudentia curas,
non locus effusi late maris arbiter aufert,
caelum, non animum, mutant, qui trans mare currunt.
strenua nos exercet inertia: navibus atque
quadrigis petimus bene vivere. quod petis hic est…

                                                                   Quintus Horatius Flaccus, Epistulae I.11.27

Fresco of a bird in the House of Livia, Rome.


However, I’d like to add my slight dissent.

Sometimes, taking a break into nature or another surrounding that is comforting can help us deal with our internal struggles. As long as you know this, traveling can be a respite and a cure for our damaged soul. But we must be aware of this: traveling itself does not help us, we help ourselves. So read these letters and delve into other letters by these authors. They will comfort you on your travels.


Seneca in the same letter then quotes Socrates to add legitimacy to his claim:

How can you wonder your travels do you no good, when you carry yourself around with you?

Socrates (Unknown Source – I am unable to cite this source).

He continues:

How can novelty of surroundings abroad and becoming acquainted with foreign scenes or cities be of any help? You are running away form your own company. You must lay aside the burdens of the mind; until you do this, no place will satisfy you.

Quid cognitio urbium aut locorum? In inritum cedit ista iactatio. Quaeris quare te fuga ista non adiuvet? Tecum fugis.

The very dashing about just adds to the trouble it causes you.

As it is, intend of traveling, you are rambling and drifting, exchanging one place for another when the thing you are looking for, the good life, is available everywhere.

quod quaeris, bene vivere, omni loco positum sit.

Again, it (traveling) can be a temporary respite from your troubles, but unless confronted (i.e your troubles, problems, internal conflicts), they remain.

That trouble once removed, all change of scene will become pleasant; though you may be driven to the uttermost ends of the earth, in whatever corner of a savage land you may find yourself, that place, however forbidding, will be to you a hospitable abode.

At cum istud exemeris malum, omnis mutatio loci iucunda fiet; in ultimas expellaris terras licebit, in quolibet barbariae angulo conloceris, hospitalis tibi illa qualiscumque sedes erit. 




On the Education of Children: No free person should learn any subject under forced labor.

Socrates said, “For a start then we must introduce children to arithmetic and geometry while they are young, and they must be taught all the preliminaries before they tackle dialectic, without making them learn the system of education compulsorily.”

“What do you mean?”

No free man should learn any subject under forced labor,” I said. “While physical exertion undertaken by force has no adverse effect on the body, any exercise forced on the soul has no lasting value.

“True,” he said.

“So don’t bring your children up by force in their studies,” I said, “but in a playful way so that you are in a better position also to observe what the natural abilities of each pupil are.”

                                                                                    Plato, The Republic, 536a



Μὴ τοίνυν βίᾳ, εἶπον, ὦ ἄριστε, τοὺς παῖδας ἐν τοῖς μαθήμασιν ἀλλὰ παίζοντας τρέφε, ἵνα καὶ μᾶλλον οἷός τ’ ᾖς καθορᾶν ἐφ’ ὃ ἕκαστος πέφυκεν.


Seated Socrates copy
Seated Socrates from Ephesus, Turkey.

People often dismiss the education of children. Plato discusses this explicitly in the Republic. However, it is also discussed by many other authors including Roman authors such as Quintilian and Plutarch.

Quintilianus mentions that forced education, possibly looking back at Plato, is bad for children:

Marcus Fabius Quintilianus (c. A.D. 35-c. 95) was born in Calagurris, Spain, and was brought as a child to Home. Emperor Vespasian appointed him public teacher of oratory in Rome; among his pupils were Pliny the Younger and the future emperor Hadrian. At the age of 48 Quintilian retired from teaching to find time to write his celebrated Institutio Oratoria. The quotations below taken from this book demonstrate that his ideas on childhood education might have been written by a contemporary educator.

Above all things we must take care that the child, who is not yet old enough to love his studies, does not come to hate them and dread the bitterness which he has once tasted, even when the years of infancy are left behind. His studies must be made an amusement.

Study depends on the good will of the student, a quality that cannot be secured by compulsion.

I disapprove of flogging, although it is the regular custom and meets with the acquiescence of Chrysippus [the Stoic philosopher], because in the first place it Is a disgraceful form of punishment and in any case it is an insult, as you will realize if you imagine its infliction at a later age.

I will content myself with saying that children are helpless and easily victimized, and that therefore no one should be given unlimited power over them.

Taken from Pediatrics, November 1973, VOLUME 52 / ISSUE 5. Which summarizes his ancient work: Institutio Oratoria

in Latine:

Nec sum adeo aetatium inprudens ut instandum protinus teneris acerbe putem exigendamque plane operam. Nam id in primis cavere oportebit, ne studia qui amare nondum potest oderit et amaritudinem semel perceptam etiam ultra rudes annos reformidet. Lusus hic sit, et rogetur et laudetur et numquam non fecisse se gaudeat, aliquando ipso nolente doceatur alius cui invideat, contendat interim et saepius vincere se putet: praemiis etiam, quae capit illa aetas, evocetur.

Quintilianus, Institutio Oratoria, Book 1.1, 20.


As a educator myself and a father, I have found it difficult to teach when a child is insolent or lazy or acts as if they do not want to learn. I have gotten angry and insolent myself but now realize that these were mistakes. The child learns less and does not enjoy learning anymore. We must take heed in this and apply ancient philosophy to our techniques. Use other forms or methods that help the child enjoy learning, not despise it.

Remember they are a sponge absorbing knowledge instantaneously. As Critias says to Socrates in the Timaeus, Line 26B:

Marvellous, indeed, is the way in which the lessons of one’s childhood “grip the mind,” as the saying is. For myself, I know not whether I could recall to mind all that I heard yesterday; but as to the account I heard such a great time ago, I should be immensely surprised if a single detail of it has escaped me.

ὡς δή τοι, τὸ λεγόμενον, τὰ παίδων μαθήματα θαυμαστὸν ἔχει τι μνημεῖον! ἐγὼ γὰρ ἃ μὲν χθὲς ἤκουσα, οὐκ ἂν οἶδα εἰ δυναίμην ἅπαντα ἐν μνήμῃ πάλιν λαβεῖν· ταῦτα δὲ ἃ πάμπολυν χρόνον διακήκοα, παντάπασι θαυμάσαιμ᾿ ἂν εἴ τί με αὐτῶν διαπέφευγεν.

PlatoTimaeus, Line 26B



Take a step back, reevaluate the methods, stop, or continue the lesson with less and build upon it the next day. For the teacher, read Quintilianus, read Plato, and read Plutarch as well. Then become a better teacher and person.

Later Plato says:



(Taken from:


So expose children to the Good. What is that, The Good? Being a good example. Be a good example to them. They will model themselves after YOU.





How do we find the Form of the True Good?

The republic by Plato is a book about questioning what is Justice, but it is also about how to find the True Form of the Good. Actually at the end of book IX, Socrates surprisingly says that the construction of the Just City can probably never happen on this earth and that we must construct it within our minds instead. But how do go about that? One hint is given in The Symposium, by the Priestess from Mantinea, Diotima.

She says, and I am quoting from the end of the Republic by Plato, Appendix I, translated by Desmond Lee, by Penguine books (Because he summarizes it so well. I paraphrase it here with additions):

Anyone who wants to pursue this goal correctly must begin by turning to physical beauty, and then if he (or she) gets the right guidance fall in love with a particular individual and with her (or him) produce thought of beauty. He/She must then perceive that the beauty in one individual is similar to that in another, and that if beauty of form is what he/she is pursuing it is stupid not to recognize that the beauty exhibited by all individuals is the same. With that recognition he/she becomes the lover of all physical beauty, and his/her passion for a single individual slackens as something of a small account.

The next stage is for him/her to reckon beauty of mind more valuable than beauty of body, and if he/she meets someone who has an attractive mind but little bodily charm, to be content to love and care for him/her and produce thoughts which improve the young; this again will compel him/her to look for beauty in habits of life and customs and to recognize that here again all beauty is akin, and that bodily beauty is a poor thing in comparison.

From ways of life he/she must proceed to forms of knowledge and see their beauty too, and look to the fullness of beauty as a whole, giving up the slavish and small-minded devotion to individual examples, whether a girl or boy, man or woman, or a way of life, and turning instead to the great sea of beauty now before their eyes. They can then in their generous philosophical love beget great and beautiful words and thoughts, and be strengthened to glimpse the one supreme form of knowledge, whose object is the beauty of which I will now speak…For anyone who has been guided so far in their pursuit of love, and surveyed these beauties in right and due order, will at this final stage of love suddenly have revealed to himself or herself a beauty whose nature is marvelous indeed, which is the culmination of all his/her efforts.

 Plato, The Symposium, Lines 210a-e

Another is that we must meditate and look inwards. This is suggested by Buddhism, but also by Stoicism. Marcus Aurelius says that we should not expect or hope for Plato’s Republic. We should not even hope for approval by others. This is a personal journey.

Marcus Aurelius says:

 The universal cause is a torrent, sweeping everything in its stream. So, man, what does that mean for you? Do what nature requires at this moment. Start straight away, if that is in your power: don’t look over your shoulder to see if people will know. Don’t hope for Plato’s utopian republic, but be content with the smallest step forward, and regard even that result as unimportant.

μὴ τὴν Πλάτωνος πολιτείαν ἔλπιζε.

Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, Book IX, 29.

Plato indicating that The Good resides in the Forms somewhere up in the sky beyond our world.                                                                 Painting by Raphael, The School of Athens.


Bronson Alcott, and George Ripley, tried to found Utopian Schools in Massachusetts in the 19th century, but these schools, Fruitlands and Brookfarm, failed miserably. Bronson Alcott’s daughter, yes, you know her, Louis May Alcott, wrote about it in Wild Oats. So find beauty in things and knowledge. Find it in architecture, nature, in your own mind. Find it in the minds of others, not just their bodies.


Menander sums it up in one of his Sententiae #851:

Ψυχῆς ὄλεθρός ἐστι σωμάτων ἔρως.

Destruction of/for the soul is love of bodies (only).

I added the implicit, “only”. So although we all start out loving bodies and people, you must progress beyond this to attain true knowledge and wisdom, and to see the Form of the Good.

See also: What makes a person beautiful? τί ποιεῖ ἄνθρωπον καλόν;

And see: The most beautiful thing, κάλλιστον by Sappho











Living Virtuously

Ambition means tying your well-being to what other people say or do.
Self-indulgence means tying it to the things that happen to you.
Sanity means tying it to your own actions.

Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, Book VI, Line 51

good men

In a classical English translation:


He who loves fame considers another man’s activity to be his own good;
and he who loves pleasure, his own sensations; but he who has understanding,
considers his own acts to be his own good.

In the Ancient Greek:

Ὁ μὲν φιλόδοξος ἀλλοτρίαν ἐνέργειαν

ἴδιον ἀγαθὸν ὑπολαμβάνει, ὁ δὲ

φιλήδονος ἰδίαν πεῖσιν, ὁ δὲ νοῦν

ἔχων ἰδίαν πρᾶξιν.

Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, Book VI, Line 51


Don’t live for other’s opinions. Of course, respect your parents and elders, but do not fall into society’s backward thinking. We are all trained from birth how to behave selfishly and this is the problem in today’s world. TV, radio, social media is destroying our culture. STOP watching them. Society is no longer functioning and we need a new path to community, happiness, and dignity. We can achieve this by reading Marcus Aurelius, Epictetus, and other ancient authors like Seneca, and practicing Stoicism by participating in Stoic Week or Stoic Mindfulness & Resilience Training (SMRT).

(see –

I always think about societies who are living in accordance with Nature outside our own and how different they are especially from Africa or on small islands. They are always respectful of their elders, kind, generous, healthy, and strong. Then Western culture enters their land and they are destroyed.

Who is really correct then?

Are we better?