On Obedience And Disobedience

We spend most of lives in obedience to one form of authority or another.  Rarely, if ever, is it counted as a virtue worthy of discussion by us moderns.  On the contrary:  we are expected to applaud disobedience, disorder, and challenges to authority, as if such disobedience were automatically exempt from scrutiny.

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The Thief Who Stole The Pharaoh’s Money

One of Herodotus’s charms is that he is always willing to share a good tale.  Some of these stories he apparently believes; others strike him as dubious.  Either way, he considers them imporant, and dutifully records their details.  “Those who find such things credible,” he warns us, “must make what use of them they will of the stories of the Egyptians.  My own responsibility, however, as it has been throughout my writing of this entire narrative, is simply to record whatever I may be told by my sources [II.123].”

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Three Embalming Techniques Used In Ancient Egypt

Herodotus spends more time discussing Egypt than any other nation in his Histories.  One gets the feeling that he very much enjoyed himself there.  The amiable and curious Greek had a talent for getting along with nearly everyone; he seems to have fallen into conversation with priests and merchants in every country he visited.

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Surge And Consolidate, Surge And Recuperate

There is a line in one of Seneca’s letters (107.11) that reads:

Ducunt volentem fata, nolentem trahunt.

Seneca is quoting a line by the philosopher Cleanthes, which means, “The fates lead along the willing, and carry along the unwilling.”  It does not matter whether we want, or do not want, to move in some direction; we will be brought there by the operation of Fate.  Of course there are many who will say that this is nothing but a crude fatalism that promotes resignation and apathy.  Carried to excess, the idea does lend itself to these sentiments.  On the other hand, I am sure that there are many who can confirm that, in some cases, doing nothing is better than constantly straining to force a certain outcome.

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On The Acceptance Of Disappointments

There is no man who can boast of having enjoyed an unbroken string of successes.  The variability of Fortune, a pervasive theme in these pages, is a force of nature that ensures success will be liberally interspersed by failure.  So it seems to me that we ought to spent just as much time–perhaps even more time–in equipping ourselves with the tools needed to deal with defeats and disappointments, than we do in preparing ourselves for short-lived victory parades.  The seasoned, mature mind will wave to the crowd, and enjoy his moment of reflected glory, remembering all the while that dejection is waiting for him just around the next corner.  I believe it was Theodore Roosevelt who said that, nearly as soon as man passes through the triumphal arches of his victory parade, the crowd will be ready to pelt him in the back with bricks.  And this is undoubtedly true.

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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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