21 Nov

The properties of the rational soul – it views itself, determines itself, makes itself what it wills, bears and itself reaps its own fruit – while in the vegetable or animal world the fruit is reaped by others – and, finally, attains its proper end at the point where life reaches its term.

In a dance or a play or such like, an interruption leaves the action incomplete: but so with the soul; at every point and wheresoever attested, she leaves her task fulfilled and self-complete and can say ‘I have come by my own.’ Furthermore, the soul ranges the universe, alike the world of form and the world of void, and reaches forth into eternity, and encompasses and comprehends the cyclic regeneration of the universe, and perceives that our fathers had no fuller vision, neither will our children behold any new thing, but that the man of understanding who has come to two-score years has in effect beheld all the uniform past and the uniform to come. And yet another property of the rational soul is love of neighbours, truth, self-respect, and that supreme self-reverence which is likewise and attribute of Law. And this implies the law of Reason is coincident with laws of justice.

You will be disenchanted of the delights of song and dance and the pancratium, if you decompose the melody into its constituent notes, and ask yourself one by one, ‘Is this the spell I own?’ You will turn from each in disgust. Or analyse dancing in the same way into successions of motion and rest; or do the same with the pancriatum. In short, setting aside virtue and virtuous acts you have but to press analysis to the component parts and you are disenchanted.

Apply the process to life as a whole.

O for the soul ready, when the hour of dissolution comes, for extinction, dispersion or survival!

Marcus Aurelius (121–180)
To Himself
(Trans. Gerald H. Rendall, Cambridge, 1898.)


One Response to “WORDS”


  1. WORDS « STILL CHAOS - April 12, 2011

    […] eye, still less. The true pupil of Zeno, weren’t you? At any rate, you wouldn’t allow the prospect of nonbeing to color your being, Universe or no Universe. The eventual dance of particles, you held, should […]

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