The Stoic Traveler

"Wherever I go, it will be well with me."

22 November 2007

As the Athenians Do

L.A.S. s.d. C.L.:

Today, my friend, is, in the United States, a national day of Thanksgiving. It is a day we are to set aside from our usual workaday to show gratitude for the good things bestowed upon us by the Almighty, and to eat vast quantities of Turkey.
One of the enduring traditions or, some might say, parodies of this pious day is the long-winded grace. Such a prayer goes on for ever, as turkey turns cold and dry, potatoes lump, and gravy congeals. The Stoic sages even turned their attention to such things, although without thoughts of ruined meals (for, after all, "ruin" is but a perception):

"A prayer of the Athenians: Rain, rain, O dear Zeus, down on the ploughed fields of the Athenians and on the plains.- In truth we ought not to pray at all, or we ought to pray in this simple and noble fashion." - Meditations, 5.7

The Emperor has a twofold point. For the Stoic Sage (the hypothetical culmination of Stoic thought), all things are as they ought to be and must be endured. Prayer, therefore, is not only pointless, it is damaging to practice. For the rest of us, perhaps we should keep our entreaties to the Almighty short, clear, and to the point.
I wish you, my dear friends, a happy Thanksgiving, and offer hopes that your harvest was bountiful, and that your winter be not too arduous.