Sunday

May 19

WE will allow those creatures only to be free who do not endure captivity; but, as soon as they are taken, die, and escape. Thus Diogenes somewhere says, that the only way to freedom is to die with ease. And he writes to the Persian king, “You can no more enslave the Athenians than you can fish." — "How? What, shall not I take them?" — "If you do take them," says he, " they will leave you, and be gone like fish. For take a fish, and it dies. And, if the Athenians too die as soon as you have taken them, of what use are your warlike preparations?” This is the voice of a free man, who had examined the matter in earnest, and, as it might be expected, found it out. But, if you seek it where it is not, what wonder if you never find it?

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book iv. I, 6.

7 comments:

  1. Only if you fear death can someone control you, ultimately. You may have other reasons for fighting, i.e. family, community, etc. but you will not strive to continue just to avoid death, for death's sake. This state is the ultimate freedom. Death holds no power over you...

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  2. My first reaction is the idea that Xerxes wants their lands not the people. So it works out better for him. But the truth is that we would defend our people (not the lands themselves, but our peoples livelihood) to the death. We control our own lives so that we can support the opportunity of life in others.

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  3. What you hold to have the most value in your life is what your enemy can use to capture you. You are free when you truly hold everything, even your very existence, with an open hand. Ultimate freedom is to realize that everything in life is a gift and can be easily lost, even life.

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  4. You wish to be free, but free of what, and for what purpose? Do you look for freedom in possessions, power, or people? But none of these are yours to control! Do seek freedom by withdrawing into solitude and silence? The you are but a hermit who has cut off life before a natural death. True freedom lies within, in fearless virtue. But, if you seek freedom where it is not, why wonder if you never find it?

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  5. What we desire is what controls us. It is unrealistic for us not to care but we need to temper these emotions so that we do not value outside circumstances too much. This desire created by our unbalanced values is what can be used against us to defeat us. Often we use these values against ourselves and end up unhappy and disatisfied with our life.
    Temperance in wants and desires, true contemplation regarding what we wish to hold as valuable and tempering these wants with reason, is what will enable us to live a truly contented life.

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  6. The two of you are such a great stoic team. It must be a real joy to work through stoicism together. Cheers!

    Anytime I think about temperance: moderation, self-control --balance. I can't help but hear ol' Mr. Miyagi: "You remember lesson about balance? Lesson not just karate only. Lesson for whole life. Whole life have a balance. Everything be better. Understand?"

    Mr. Miyagi, for me, was an early Epictetus pointing the way further down the road. :)

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  7. Mr. Miyagi was an inspiration to me too Scott. :)

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