Foundations 003 - "Thus The Living Force of His Soul Won The Day."

  • Thus the living force of his soul won the day. On he passed, far beyond the flaming walls of the world, traversing the immeasurable universe through mind and spirit. (Lucretius Book 1, Line 62)

    This passage makes a couple of points worth considering, starting with these:

    1. "The living force of his soul" - Not his "reason" or his "logic," though those were no doubt part of the picture.
    2. "Won the day" - Can be considered as a conqueror; definitely not a waste of time or ultimately futile.
    3. "Far beyond the flaming walls of the world" - Presumably means his survey reached beyond "our world" (which the Epicureans considered to be our system of earth and visible stars, while thinking that that there are innumerable other similar systems beyond ours). The "flaming walls" is an interesting reference too.
    4. "The immeasurable universe" - Regardless of what modern physics may or may not say about that, concluding that the universe as a whole is without end played an important role in Epicurus' thinking -- thus there are no supernatural gods "outside" or "beyond" it, because there can be no "outside" or "beyond" due to the conclusion that the universe is without end.
    5. "Through mind and spirit" - Anyone who thinks that Epicureans were only concerned with filling their "bellies" ought to take stock of this comment.

  • The Latin is great for that initial phrase:

    ...vivida vis animi... (Latin line I.72)

    vivida = lively, vigorous

    vis = energy, mental strength, power, vigor

    animi (animus) = "the rational soul", LSJ gives "the general power of perception and thought, reason, intellect, mind"

    So, a more wordy, less poetic, less metaphysical rendition may be:

    "the vigorous power of his perception and thought"

    I just get antsy seeing the word "soul" bandied about.

  • I just get antsy seeing the word "soul" bandied about.

    You materialists have such low tolerance for poetry! ;)

    Yep I agree - "soul" just automatically conveys "immortal soul" to us today, so that's another chain of thought that has to get rewired.