The Joy in My Heart

“’When I was sick,' says Epicurus, 'I never used to talk about my bodily ailments. I did not,' he says, 'discuss any topics of that kind with my visitors. I went on dealing with the principles of natural philosophy; and the point I particularly dwelt on was how the mind, while having its part in all these commotions of the flesh, can still remain unruffled and pursue its own proper good. Nor,' he adds, 'did I give the doctors a chance to brag of their own triumphs; my life merely went on its normal way, smoothly and happily.' In sickness, then, if you are sick, or in trouble of any other kind, be like Epicurus. Never let go your hold on philosophy for anything that may befall, and never take part in the nonsense that is talked by the ignorant and uninstructed (this is a maxim on which all schools agree). Concentrate wholly on the task before you, and on the instrument you possess for its accomplishment.” (Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, Book IX, 41; translated by Maxwell Staniforth, 1996)

“Passing a delightful day, which will also be the last of my life, I write you this note. Dysentery and an inability to urinate have occasioned the worst possible sufferings. But the counterweight to all this is the joy in my heart when I remember our conversations. I beseech you, in light of how admirably, from childhood, you have stood by me and by philosophy, to keep watch over Metrodorus’ children”. (Epicurus, Epistle to Idomeneus; translated by Pamela Mensch, 2018)

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  • I have been thinking about this:"In sickness, then, if you are sick, or in trouble of any other kind, be like Epicurus." Since I currently have a back ache (and a certain amount of pain) have been pondering this -- and if we consider how animals behave when they are ill or in pain, they remain still and at rest.

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