Saturday, December 17, 2016

As is the Water-dish, so is the Soul

Illustration designed by the Earl of Shaftesbury; frontispiece to volume 1,  The Characteristicks of Men, Manners, and Opinion (1737)

What view you take is everything, and your view is in your power. Remove it then when you choose, and then, as if you had rounded the cape, come calm serenity, a waveless bay.

- Marcus Aurelius

As is the water-dish, so is the soul; as is the ray which falls on the water, so are the appearances. When then the water is moved the ray too seems to be moved, yet is not. And when, accordingly, a man is giddy, it is not the arts and the virtues which are thrown into confusion, but the spirit to which they belong; and when he is recovered so are they.

- Epictetus


888 said...

The encircled snake (the ouroboros) stands for eternal truth, the sphinx for error and delusion, the caducei and Athene’s shield stand for wisdom, bit and bridle and lion biting column for the curbing of passions. Pens, torches, scrolls and books (open at the top, shut at the bottom) stand for practical, moral kind of philosophy which should be communicated and not kept secret.

-Aspects of the Emblem. Karl Josef Höltgen

888 said...

"The philosophy of Epictetus was an influence on the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius (121 to 180 A.D.) whose reign was marked by wars with the resurgent Parthia in southern Asia and against the Germanic tribes in Europe. Aurelius quotes from Epictetus repeatedly in his own work, Meditations, written during his campaigns in central Europe."
"That alone is in our power, which is our own work; and in this class are our opinions, impulses, desires, and aversions. What, on the contrary, is not in our power, are our bodies, possessions, glory, and power. Any delusion on this point leads to the greatest errors, misfortunes, and troubles, and to the slavery of the soul.

"We have no power over external things, and the good that ought to be the object of our earnest pursuit, is to be found only within ourselves." - Epictetus

"Practise then from the start to say to every harsh impression, "You are an impression, and not at all the thing you appear to be." Then examine it and test it by these rules you have, and firstly, and chiefly, by this: whether the impression has to do with the things that are up to us, or those that are not; and if it has to do with the things that are not up to us, be ready to reply, "It is nothing to me."