Consider


These words of Plutarch.

[..]It may be possible enough, that statues may seem to sweat, and to run with tears, and to stand with certain dewy drops of a sanguine color; for timber and stones are frequently known to contract a kind of scurf and rottenness, productive of moisture; and various tints may form on the surfaces, both from within and from the action of the air outside; and by these signs it is not absurd to imagine that the deity may forewarn us.  It may happen, also, that images and statues may sometimes make a noise not unlike that of a moan or groan, through a rupture or violent internal separation of the parts; but that an articulate voice, and such express words, and language so clear and exact and elaborate, should proceed from inanimate things, is, in my judgment, a thing utterly out of possibility.  For it was never known that either the soul of man, or the deity himself, uttered vocal sounds and language, alone, without an organized body and members fitted for speech.  But where history seems in a manner to force our assent by the concurrence of numerous and credible witnesses, we are to conclude that an impression distinct from sensation affects the imaginative part of our nature, and then carries away the judgment, so as to believe it to be a sensation:  just as in sleep we fancy we see and hear, without really doing either.  Persons, however, whose strong feelings of reverence to the deity, and tenderness for religion, will not allow them to deny or invalidate anything of this kind, have certainly a strong argument for their faith, in the wonderful and transcendent character of the divine power; which admits no manner of comparison with ours, either in its nature or its action, the modes or the strength of its operations.  It is no contradiction to reason that it should do things that we cannot do, and effect what for us is impracticable:  differing from us in all respects, in its acts yet more than in other points we may well believe it to be unlike us and remote from us.  Knowledge of divine things for the most part, as Heraclitus says, is lost to us by incredulity.

Then we get to know partly his motivation for writing this history. He writes

It was for the sake of others that I first commenced writing biographies; but I find myself proceeding and attaching myself to it for my own; the virtues of these great men serving me as a sort of looking-glass, in which I may see how to adjust and adorn my own life.  Indeed, it can be compared to nothing but daily living and associating together; we receive, as it were, in our inquiry, and entertain each successive guest, view

Their stature and their qualities,

and select from their actions all that is noblest and worthiest to know.

Ah, and what greater pleasure could one have?

or, what more effective means to one’s moral improvement?

And he continues to write

My method[in response to what he writes Democritus advice], on the contrary, is, by the study of history, and by the familiarity acquired in writing, to habituate my memory to receive and retain images of the best and worthiest characters.  I thus am enabled to free myself from any ignoble, base, or vicious impressions, contracted from the contagion of ill company that I may be unavoidably engaged in, by the remedy of turning my thoughts in a happy and calm temper to view these noble examples.

I don’t know about you, but yours truly agrees with Plutarch and hopes that by the end of this study, we, individually and severally, will be better for it and  also that in my brief snippets do justice to the men as illustrated by Plutarch.

 

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About makagutu

As Onyango Makagutu I am Kenyan, as far as I am a man, I am a citizen of the world

22 thoughts on “Consider

  1. john zande says:

    Is he referring to Democritus the atomist?

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    • makagutu says:

      I think so, he doesn’t say though I suspect he could be the one he has in mind. He writes

      Democritus
      tells us we ought to pray that of the phantasms appearing in the circumambient air, such may present themselves to us as are propitious, and that we may rather meet with those that are agreeable to our natures and are good, than the evil and unfortunate; which is simply introducing into philosophy a doctrine untrue in itself, and leading to endless superstitions.

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  2. fabryhistory says:

    I love this quote best, so true:
    “It was for the sake of others that I first commenced writing biographies; but I find myself proceeding and attaching myself to it for my own; the virtues of these great men serving me as a sort of looking-glass, in which I may see how to adjust and adorn my own life. Indeed, it can be compared to nothing but daily living and associating together; we receive, as it were, in our inquiry, and entertain each successive guest, view

    Their stature and their qualities,

    and select from their actions all that is noblest and worthiest to know.

    Ah, and what greater pleasure could one have?

    or, what more effective means to one’s moral improvement?”

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  3. Is it not good to know that from the earliest times humans have had the wisdom to know better than fall victim to religious superstitions?

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    • makagutu says:

      It is a refreshing thought.
      How have you been my friend?

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      • I’ve been busier than someone working 2 jobs… it’s crash time at work, so have been neglecting personal things and time. Other than that I’ve been well. Pushing forward always. Good to see you are still provoking thought as always.

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        • makagutu says:

          It is the least we can do.
          Glad to hear you are well. I have been well. A bit busy but mine is manageable.

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          • I’m trying to get mine manageable.. it’s a hobby LOL

            Good to hear you are well. It strikes me that now is a good time to say that I have often wondered about your life situation. I have thought about it and I can’t bring any image to mind of what it would be. I suppose the same can be said of me in general terms. I hope the world is calm and cogent in your part

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          • makagutu says:

            In brief, mine is not too hard. Work 8-5, then home to do whatever I find interesting at that time. Once in a while I do work for people at my own time. And since I live alone, I have so much time in my hand that instead of passing it watching movies, I read blogs, books and listen to music. Once in a while after work go have a beer or two with colleagues and that is it.

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          • I think I would enjoy having a beer with you… or six 🙂 I work in the tech world, which happens 24/7 so currently I find that when my eyes are open I am working… sigh

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          • makagutu says:

            Architecture is easy. When clients or contractors are not piling pressure on me, am easy. When they start, all I think of is outstanding drawings.
            The feeling is mutual

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  4. Arkenaten says:

    Knowledge of divine things for the most part, as Heraclitus says, is lost to us by incredulity.

    Enough said, I reckon.

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  5. Sonel says:

    What a beautiful post Mak! Have a great weekend my friend. 😀

    Like

  6. Daniela says:

    Just came over to say ‘Hi’ and have a great weekend -:)!

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  7. Aquileana says:

    The beginning of the post makes me think in our reality… So actual, it seems Plutarch was talking today… :O
    “And by these signs it is not absurd to imagine that the deity may forewarn us”.
    Cheers and thanks for sharing, Aquileana 😛

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