CERP: Day 14 – XXXIV. To Metrocles (p. 85)

Standard

XXXIV. To Metrocles (p. 85)
This is one of the first true chreia of Diogenes in the letters.  I’ve read other versions of his being captured by pirates.  In the other, some wealthy man bought Diogenes to be a tutor for his children when Diogenes announced he could rule men.

The parable-like nature of the chreia are interesting, they’re well designed and the lessons they teach are couched in an artful way.

The question Diogenes asks about freedom is one worth pondering, if despite the liberties of bodies, are our minds/souls enslaved by pleasures and vice?


This is part of the Cynic Epistles Reading Plan.

SLRP: XLV. On Sophistical Argumentation (Part 2: 8 – 13)

Standard

Seneca,

Your letter bring up an interesting point today, or rather the second part of the letter from yesterday.  First, that the convoluted and hypothetical twists of certain logical problems, while interesting, don’t do much if anything to help us towards virtue.

A point does need to be made, as is implicit even here in your letter, however.  That while the paradoxes and riddles are not helpful in and of themselves, we still need to be proficient in the use of logic.

Your statement against the paradoxes is an argument:  one a good philosopher needs to be able to parse, weight, judge, and either assent or refute.  For a philosopher, Logic is indispensable, as your own argument here today proves.

Farewell.


Part of Michel Daw’s Reading Plan of Seneca’s Letters.

CERP: Day 13 – To the same (Hipparchia) x 4

Standard

XXX. To the Same (p. 81)
I still have a hard time imagining that Hipparchia is sitting in some room weaving and embroidering for Crates so she seems a dutiful wife.  Isn’t this the same Hipparchia whose coupling in public turned Zeno away from the Cynic path?

XXXI. To the Same (p. 81)
Here, the Pseudo-Crates states the goal of philosophy for the Cynic is wisdom, and that a would-be philosopher should go to great ends to acquire it.  In other places, we see freedom and natural purpose as goals as well.

XXXII. To the Same (p. 83)
I’m well and truly sure that these anecdotes of Hipparchia are not representative of the women and philosopher she was.

XXXIII. To the Same (p. 83)
Here, Crates is congratualting Hipparchia for the birth of their “pup.”  He asks her to send the boy to him to be educated in Cynic Philosophy, and makes a statement about storks and dogs.  The Greek word here is πελαργόν, which is a stork.  I’m not sure what the meaning is here, maybe some cultural reference?

Ps-Crates makes references to animals several times, their ability to live without the nomos of society, for instance.  But I’m not sure what the stork reference here is about.

 


This is part of the Cynic Epistles Reading Plan.

SLRP: XLV. On Sophistical Argumentation (Part 1: 1 – 7)

Standard

Seneca,

Your point about choosing a single path is one which until my recent studies I might have disagreed with.  The idea of philosophical eclecticism is sort of trendy.  Not syncretism, mind you, of which Stoicism is arguable a good example, but there mere plucking and  keeping of what seems pleasant or favorable.

It seems then we should choose path partly based on where it leads.  Stoic philosophy has never (and hopefully never will) claim to be ‘the one true path.’  It is in part this humility and uncertainty that I find attractive.

The question then of the Sage arises, whether it be achievable, or a mere measure.  I suppose whether the Sage can ever exist is a moot point; since we know for sure we can endeavor to be one.

Farewell.


Part of Michel Daw’s Reading Plan of Seneca’s Letters.

CERP: Day 12- To the Thessalians, the Athenians, the same, the same, Hipparchia, the same

Standard

XXIV. To the Thessalians (p. 75)
Again, we have a pseudo-Stoic sounding introduction, that horses were created for the sake of men.  I’m not sure Diogenes would agree with this statement.  I think it would be more clear to him that men were created for the sake of themselves, and that is where they ought to focus.

XXV. To the Athenians (p. 75)
Crates shouts across the century directly to my fellow citizens.  A small political side, my country is currently in the midst of a mass delusion, in which they believe they can make certain things ‘free’ which can only be gotten by the labor of others.  Unless there’s a slave caste of doctors, nurses, construction workers, electric workers, facilities managers, educators, etc, then certain things in society which must be paid for will continue to be paid for.

Nevertheless, Crates suggests that they simply vote themselves wealthy, vote themselves the recipients of “free” things, and all manner of voting will solve the problems which yesteryear’s voting brought about!

XXVI. To the Same (p. 77)
The less that we might not own things, but merely lease them or posses them for a time is a useful one.  I’m not sure that I’m willing to extend that Diogenes, or any of the Wise, then, own all things being that they are friends of the gods, the gods own everything, and friends share all things.

That seems as conspicuously useful to the Cynic as plenary indulgences were for the Catholic Church…

XXVII. To the Same (p. 77)
I didn’t mean to anticipate the moral of this letter in the last… but i did.  So just read that one again.

XXVIII. To Hipparchia (p. 79)
I have a hard time imagining Hipparchia sitting at home weaving and embroidering robes for Crates.  This smacks of latter revisionism to appeal to the traditional roles of Roman women, rather than the feisty firebrand that was Hipparchia.

XIX. To the Same (p. 79)
This seems more along the lines of the philosophical admonitions I can imagine Hipparchia and Crates sharing with each other.

 


This is part of the Cynic Epistles Reading Plan.

SLRP: XLIV. On Philosophy And Pedigrees

Standard

Seneca,

Today’s letter is set about to remind us of both the humility of all humans, as well as the heights to which they may rise if they so will and so work.  Philosophy does not care for the titles, lands, and class of the people who come to her.

Surely, we can compare Diogenes and Plato (as history often does), and see that it is not their wealth or status which pits them against each other, but their minds, their virtue, and their philosophy.

Generally, we privilege academic titles, world success, fame, and all of the accoutrements of the world.  Seneca reminds us today that the common conception bears no force in the concerns of philosophy.

Farewell.


Part of Michel Daw’s Reading Plan of Seneca’s Letters.

CERP: Day 11 – To Metrocles, Metrocles the Cynic, Metrocles, Ganymedes

Standard

XX. To Metrocles (p. 71)
I had read before about Crates’ running, and the young men who then followed him.  I didn’t realize that came from the Epistles.  The philosophers of the Cynic and Stoic schools who were runners, or wrestlers, or boxers as well is an interesting phenomenon, and is very different from our modern stereotype.

XXI. To Metrocles the Cynic (p. 71)
I was asked almost two years ago, I think, whether Stoics were born or made.  Crates seems to have his idea on which it is for Cynics.

XXII. To Metrocles (p. 73)
Short and to the point.  I still think many Cynics must have been hungry fellows if they are only accepting ‘their due’ from the wise and virtuous.

XXIII. To Ganymedes (p. 73)
Again, the Pseudo-Crates makes the uniform of the philosopher akin to weapons.  I chuckled, at the poor devil Ganymedes beset on all sides by lovers!  Yet, all it takes is the uniform… and life … of a Cynic to drive them away!


This is part of the Cynic Epistles Reading Plan.

SLRP: XLIII. On The Relativity Of Fame

Standard

Seneca,

“Do not, however, deem yourself truly happy until you find that you can live before men’s eyes, until your walls protect but do not hide you; although we are apt to believe that these walls surround us, not to enable us to live more safely, but that we may sin more secretly.”

Privacy is a funny thing.  There are folks close to us for whom the idea is barely existent, and others for whom even the mildest interjection is an affront.  The advice is good nonetheless, that we should live as if every act we take is witnessed by some great person whom we should admire.  Whither that be the Sage, God, or merely the person we wish we were and are striving to be.

Farewell.


Part of Michel Daw’s Reading Plan of Seneca’s Letters.