We Want To Seduce Penelope, But Take Up With Her Maids Instead

That is why I started going back to source books. I, “procure(d) old books“, as Plutarch advised.

In this day and age there is a reason people despise the current state of the media. They pass off people with a mere cursery awareness of a subject, to down right ignorance of it, as having some moral or educational authority on a subject. To assume that what we read or listen to passes the tests of the huge historical body of science, history, philosophy, virtue, or morality is an assumption we can no longer make about any source.

From these “Old Books” I’m gaining a wealth of insight. These old books are highlighting for me just how insane and imbecilic the level of debate and conversation is on social platforms. We are listening to Uniformed people for the most part, and reacting as uninformed people who think we have been informed because of what our news feed puts there in front of us. (I am guilty)

We should remember that what is on top (be it Facebook or a News search) is paid to be on top. It’s marketing to us. It’s not values free, nor monetary free information. It’s what is being sold to you and I, or bought by others to be sent our way.

Mind blowing.

The more I read philosophy and history the less patients I have for social media.

Plutarch hit it out of the ball park again today.

“And as to education, I do not know that I need dwell any more on it. But in addition to what I have said, it is useful, if not necessary, not to neglect to procure old books, and to make a collection of them, as is usual in agriculture. For the use of books is an instrument in education, and it is profitable in learning to go to the fountain head.

– Plutarch. Plutarch’s Morals. 1st Century Greek Philosopher and Priest of Apollo and Guardian of the Oracle of Delphi.

On education of children he suggests kids study the soul because philosophy keeps us from a wasted life of useless pursuits and he lists virtues that are in no media conversation these days. We want affirmation, not truth from old books and old philosophers that tells us when we might be wise or being an idiot, when we might be living like a selfish, animalistic, immoral, or whore instead of a way that loves and benifits others around us.

We want to seduce Penelope, but take up with her maids instead when we find her not so easily seduced

Next our freeborn lad ought to go in for a course of what is called general knowledge, but a smattering of this will be sufficient, a taste as it were (for perfect knowledge of all subjects would be impossible); but he must seriously cultivate philosophy. I borrow an illustration to show my meaning: it is well to sail round many cities, but advantageous to live in the best. It was a witty remark of the philosopher Bion, that, as those suitors who could not seduce Penelope took up with her maids as a pis aller, so those who cannot attain philosophy wear themselves out in useless pursuits. Philosophy, therefore, ought to be regarded as the most important branch of study. For as regards the cure of the body, men have found two branches, medicine and exercise: the former of which gives health, and the latter good condition of body; but philosophy is the only cure for the maladies and disorders of the soul. For with her as ruler and guide we can know what is honourable, what is disgraceful; what is just, what unjust; generally speaking, what is to be sought after, what to be avoided; how we ought to behave to the gods, to parents, to elders, to the laws, to foreigners, to rulers, to friends, to women, to children, to slaves: viz., that we ought to worship the gods, honour parents, reverence elders, obey the laws, submit ourselves to rulers, love our friends, be chaste in our relations with women, kind to our children, and not to treat our slaves badly; and, what is of the greatest importance, to be neither over elated in prosperity nor over depressed in adversity, 2nor to be dissolute in pleasures, nor fierce and brutish in anger. These I regard as the principal blessings that philosophy teaches. For to enjoy prosperity nobly shows a man; and to enjoy it without exciting envy shows a moderate man; and to conquer the passions by reason argues a wise man; and it is not everybody who can keep his temper in control.

– Plutarch. Plutarch’s Morals. 1st Century Greek Philosopher and Priest of Apollo and Guardian of the Oracle of Delphi.

Plutarch reduces life to three pursuits that have to be in balance. I can see at times I have lived one compartment before.

I see the inballance in the media culture of today. To follow their virtues devoid of philosophy and historical insight into the intricat aspects of mankind, (anthropology is a subject) is a disaster.

How do we know this? Those “old books” Plutarch advises we gather and read, as the fountain heads of education, have well established written records of where all the various ideologies and values lead an individual, family, community, or even a whole nation, if followed over time.

We’ll not be the exception. We are not better people, our human condition is the same. This is the humble warning of philosophy and history.

“For, as there are three kinds of life, the practical, the contemplative, and the life of enjoyment, and of these three the one devoted to enjoyment is a paltry and animal life, and the practical without philosophy an unlovely and harsh life, and the contemplative without the practical a useless life, so we must endeavour with all our power to combine public life with philosophy as far as circumstances will permit. Such was the life led by Pericles, by Archytas of Tarentum, by Dion of Syracuse, by Epaminondas the Theban, one of whom was a disciple of Plato (viz., Dion).

Plutarch. Plutarch’s Morals

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