On Arete, the Love of Excellence
Reading the classics infects one with, arete, the love of excellence.
Aurelius, Chapter Two, Paragraph 17:
“In the life of a man, his time is but a moment, his being an incessant flux, his senses a dim rushlight, his body a prey of worms, his soul an unquiet eddy, his fortune dark, and his fame doubtful. In short, all that is of the body is as coursing waters, all that is of the soul as dreams and vapours; life a warfare, a brief sojourning in an alien land; and after repute, oblivion.
Where, then, can man find the power to guide and guard his steps?
In one thing and one thing alone: Philosophy.
To be a philosopher is to keep unsullied and unscathed the divine spirit within him, so that it may transcend all pleasure and all pain, take nothing in hand without purpose and nothing falsely or with dissimulation, depend not upon another’s actions or inactions, accept each and every dispensation as coming from the same Source as itself – and last and chief, wait with a good grace for death, as no more than a simple dissolving of the elements whereof each living thing is composed. If those elements themselves take no harm from their ceaseless forming and re-forming, why look with mistrust upon the change and dissolution of the whole? It is but Nature’s way; and in the ways of nature there is no evil to be found.”
Or try this magnificent statement of faith in a rational universe:
“The whole divine economy is pervaded by Providence”. Paragraph 3.