On The Forgetting Of Offenses And Insults

It is a good thing for us to cultivate our aggressive spirit.  Life requires participation, and participation demands endurance and adrenaline; and he who enters battle with a spirit of meek submissiveness is likely to get precisely what he asks for.  All this is true.  Yet the patient endurance of the pack-mule may be just as valuable as the explosive fury of the panther:  the former triumphs by being able to endure, while the latter may find itself fatally exhausted once its initial burst of energy is spent.  Life more often demands the ability to absorb punishment than the ability to deliver it to others.

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The Man Of Action Should Not Expect Gratitude From Others

We have recently discussed ways of handling a lack of appreciation.  A certain independence of spirit–a soaring greatness of soul–is one of the main ways we can limit our expectations of appreciation from others.  Consider again, if you need to, the verses of Ibn Munir on this subject, which capture perfectly this spiritual independence.  As I see it, no more powerful statement of this ethic has ever been put into poetic form.

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At What Point Can A Man Be Called Happy?

The historian Herodotus (I.30) relates an anecdote involving a conversation between the Lydian king Croesus and the Athenian statesman Solon.  Solon once found himself as a guest at Croesus’s court.  The king knew that Solon was renowned for his wise judgment and careful consideration of life’s important questions.  So he could not resist asking the Athenian a question that was troubling him.  The question he asked him was this:  “Who, Solon, was the happiest man you have ever seen?”  It was expected for royal visitors to tell the king what he wanted to hear, of course.  Croesus was expecting some words of flattery from Solon to reassure himself that he was living a meaningful life.

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The Emperor Julian Cleans House With Bold Reforms

When a new leader assumes a position, it is often necessary for him to undertake significant reforms.  If he wishes to make lasting changes to the system, he should undertake to do so both quickly and boldly.  To wait too long is to risk seeing one’s foes united against you; and when embarking on a course of reform, it must be made clear that the old ways of doing things will no longer do.  Bold adjustments are often more effective than half-hearted measures.

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Knowledge Is One Thing, But Implementing That Knowledge Is Something Else

For those who wish to seek it, precious knowledge can be found in many different places.  The secrets of history, warfare, personality, leadership, good, evil, life, love and many other things can usually be located by diligent seekers.  But it is one thing to know something:  and it is quite another to put that knowledge into practice.  Why is this?  There are many reasons.

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Adrastia: The Goddess Who Punishes Hubris And Arrogance

We have observed that one of the themes of ancient literature is the concept of Fate or Fortune.  We find it first expressed in the plays and heroic poems of the Greeks; the idea then seeped into the writing of history and biography.  Closely associated with this concept is the idea of divine retribution for offending the gods.  Those who showed contempt for divine or human law would be humbled by the harsh blows of Fate:  no man could expect to thumb his nose at the laws of the universe and get away with it.

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The Wisdom Of Ibn Al-Sammak

The biographical encyclopedia of Ibn Khallikan–that deep well of collective anecdotal wisdom–has an interesting entry for one Abu Al-Abbas Muhammad Ibn Sabih.  His surname was Al Mazkur, but like many famous figures it is his nickname that posterity recalls best.  This nickname is Ibn Al-Sammak, which literally means “son of a fish-monger” in Arabic (the word for fish is samak, سمك).  It is not clear where this name came from; perhaps he had a fish-merchant as an ancestor.

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