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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Petrarch Reflects On Ignorance And Happiness

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The great humanist Francesco Petrarca (Petrarch) had opportunity to reflect on the fact that the more he gained in knowledge and experience, the less and less certain he became of his own judgments.  These thoughts were recorded in an essay called On His Own Ignorance And That Of Many Others (De sui ipsius et multorum ignorantia).  Some of these observations are incredibly frank.

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