Aristotle’s Poetics 1

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Part 1
Aristotle's Poetics (Greek: Περὶ ποιητικῆς Peri poietikês; Latin: De Poetica; c. 335 BC) is the earliest surviving work of dramatic theory and first extant philosophical treatise to focus on literary theory. In this text Aristotle offers an account of ποιητική, which refers to poetry or more literally "the poetic art," deriving from the term for "poet; author; maker," ποιητής. Aristotle divides the art of poetry into verse drama (to include comedy, tragedy, and the satyr play), lyric poetry, and epic.

THE POETICS OF ARISTOTLE

By Aristotle

A Translation By S. H. Butcher

Analysis of Contents (26 chapters)

  I     'Imitation' the common principle of the Arts of Poetry.
  II    The Objects of Imitation.
  III   The Manner of Imitation.
  IV    The Origin and Development of Poetry.
  
ARISTOTLE'S POETICS

I

I propose to treat of Poetry in itself and of its various kinds, noting the essential quality of each; to inquire into the structure of the plot as requisite to a good poem; into the number and nature of the parts of which a poem is composed; and similarly into whatever else falls within the same inquiry. Following, then, the order of nature, let us begin with the principles which come first.

Epic poetry and Tragedy, Comedy also and Dithyrambic: poetry, and the music of the flute and of the lyre in most of their forms, are all in their general conception modes of imitation. They differ, however, from one: another in three respects,--the medium, the objects, the manner or mode of imitation, being in each case distinct.

For as there are persons who, by conscious art or mere habit, imitate and represent various objects through the medium of colour and form, or again by the voice; so in the arts above mentioned, taken as a whole, the imitation is produced by rhythm, language, or 'harmony,' either singly or combined.

Thus in the music of the flute and of the lyre, 'harmony' and rhythm alone are employed; also in other arts, such as that of the shepherd's pipe, which are essentially similar to these. In dancing, rhythm alone is used without 'harmony'; for even dancing imitates character, emotion, and action, by rhythmical movement.

There is another art which imitates by means of language alone, and that either in prose or verse--which, verse, again, may either combine different metres or consist of but one kind--but this has hitherto been without a name. For there is no common term we could apply to the mimes of Sophron and Xenarchus and the Socratic dialogues on the one hand; and, on the other, to poetic imitations in iambic, elegiac, or any similar metre. People do, indeed, add the word 'maker' or 'poet' to the name of the metre, and speak of elegiac poets, or epic (that is, hexameter) poets, as if it were not the imitation that makes the poet, but the verse that entitles them all indiscriminately to the name. Even when a treatise on medicine or natural science is brought out in verse, the name of poet is by custom given to the author; and yet Homer and Empedocles have nothing in common but the metre, so that it would be right to call the one poet, the other physicist rather than poet. On the same principle, even if a writer in his poetic imitation were to combine all metres, as Chaeremon did in his Centaur, which is a medley composed of metres of all kinds, we should bring him too under the general term poet. So much then for these distinctions.

There are, again, some arts which employ all the means above mentioned, namely, rhythm, tune, and metre. Such are Dithyrambic and Nomic poetry, and also Tragedy and Comedy; but between them the difference is, that in the first two cases these means are all employed in combination, in the latter, now one means is employed, now another.

Such, then, are the differences of the arts with respect to the medium of imitation.



II

Since the objects of imitation are men in action, and these men must be either of a higher or a lower type (for moral character mainly answers to these divisions, goodness and badness being the distinguishing marks of moral differences), it follows that we must represent men either as better than in real life, or as worse, or as they are. It is the same in painting. Polygnotus depicted men as nobler than they are, Pauson as less noble, Dionysius drew them true to life.

Now it is evident that each of the modes of imitation above mentioned will exhibit these differences, and become a distinct kind in imitating objects that are thus distinct. Such diversities may be found even in dancing, flute-playing, and lyre-playing. So again in language, whether prose or verse unaccompanied by music. Homer, for example, makes men better than they are; Cleophon as they are; Hegemon the Thasian, the inventor of parodies, and Nicochares, the author of the Deiliad, worse than they are. The same thing holds good of Dithyrambs and Nomes; here too one may portray different types, as Timotheus and Philoxenus differed in representing their Cyclopes. The same distinction marks off Tragedy from Comedy; for Comedy aims at representing men as worse, Tragedy as better than in actual life.


III

There is still a third difference--the manner in which each of these objects may be imitated. For the medium being the same, and the objects the same, the poet may imitate by narration--in which case he can either take another personality as Homer does, or speak in his own person, unchanged--or he may present all his characters as living and moving before us.

These, then, as we said at the beginning, are the three differences which distinguish artistic imitation,--the medium, the objects, and the manner. So that from one point of view, Sophocles is an imitator of the same kind as Homer--for both imitate higher types of character; from another point of view, of the same kind as Aristophanes--for both imitate persons acting and doing. Hence, some say, the name of 'drama' is given to such poems, as representing action. For the same reason the Dorians claim the invention both of Tragedy and Comedy. The claim to Comedy is put forward by the Megarians,--not only by those of Greece proper, who allege that it originated under their democracy, but also by the Megarians of Sicily, for the poet Epicharmus, who is much earlier than Chionides and Magnes, belonged to that country. Tragedy too is claimed by certain Dorians of the Peloponnese. In each case they appeal to the evidence of language. The outlying villages, they say, are by them called {kappa omega mu alpha iota}, by the Athenians {delta eta mu iota}: and they assume that Comedians were so named not from {kappa omega mu 'alpha zeta epsilon iota nu}, 'to revel,' but because they wandered from village to village (kappa alpha tau alpha / kappa omega mu alpha sigma), being excluded contemptuously from the city. They add also that the Dorian word for 'doing' is {delta rho alpha nu}, and the Athenian, {pi rho alpha tau tau epsilon iota nu}.

This may suffice as to the number and nature of the various modes of imitation.


IV

Poetry in general seems to have sprung from two causes, each of them lying deep in our nature. First, the instinct of imitation is implanted in man from childhood, one difference between him and other animals being that he is the most imitative of living creatures, and through imitation learns his earliest lessons; and no less universal is the pleasure felt in things imitated. We have evidence of this in the facts of experience. Objects which in themselves we view with pain, we delight to contemplate when reproduced with minute fidelity: such as the forms of the most ignoble animals and of dead bodies. The cause of this again is, that to learn gives the liveliest pleasure, not only to philosophers but to men in general; whose capacity, however, of learning is more limited. Thus the reason why men enjoy seeing a likeness is, that in contemplating it they find themselves learning or inferring, and saying perhaps, 'Ah, that is he.' For if you happen not to have seen the original, the pleasure will be due not to the imitation as such, but to the execution, the colouring, or some such other cause.

Imitation, then, is one instinct of our nature. Next, there is the instinct for 'harmony' and rhythm, metres being manifestly sections of rhythm. Persons, therefore, starting with this natural gift developed by degrees their special aptitudes, till their rude improvisations gave birth to Poetry.

Poetry now diverged in two directions, according to the individual character of the writers. The graver spirits imitated noble actions, and the actions of good men. The more trivial sort imitated the actions of meaner persons, at first composing satires, as the former did hymns to the gods and the praises of famous men. A poem of the satirical kind cannot indeed be put down to any author earlier than Homer; though many such writers probably there were. But from Homer onward, instances can be cited,--his own Margites, for example, and other similar compositions. The appropriate metre was also here introduced; hence the measure is still called the iambic or lampooning measure, being that in which people lampooned one another. Thus the older poets were distinguished as writers of heroic or of lampooning verse.

As, in the serious style, Homer is pre-eminent among poets, for he alone combined dramatic form with excellence of imitation, so he too first laid down the main lines of Comedy, by dramatising the ludicrous instead of writing personal satire. His Margites bears the same relation to Comedy that the Iliad and Odyssey do to Tragedy. But when Tragedy and Comedy came to light, the two classes of poets still followed their natural bent: the lampooners became writers of Comedy, and the Epic poets were succeeded by Tragedians, since the drama was a larger and higher form of art.

Whether Tragedy has as yet perfected its proper types or not; and whether it is to be judged in itself, or in relation also to the audience,--this raises another question. Be that as it may, Tragedy--as also Comedy--was at first mere improvisation. The one originated with the authors of the Dithyramb, the other with those of the phallic songs, which are still in use in many of our cities. Tragedy advanced by slow degrees; each new element that showed itself was in turn developed. Having passed through many changes, it found its natural form, and there it stopped.

Aeschylus first introduced a second actor; he diminished the importance of the Chorus, and assigned the leading part to the dialogue. Sophocles raised the number of actors to three, and added scene-painting. Moreover, it was not till late that the short plot was discarded for one of greater compass, and the grotesque diction of the earlier satyric form for the stately manner of Tragedy. The iambic measure then replaced the trochaic tetrameter, which was originally employed when the poetry was of the Satyric order, and had greater affinities with dancing. Once dialogue had come in, Nature herself discovered the appropriate measure. For the iambic is, of all measures, the most colloquial: we see it in the fact that conversational speech runs into iambic lines more frequently than into any other kind of verse; rarely into hexameters, and only when we drop the colloquial intonation. The additions to the number of 'episodes' or acts, and the other accessories of which tradition; tells, must be taken as already described; for to discuss them in detail would, doubtless, be a large undertaking.

The Moho the Merrier

I’m a little late with this, as it happened December of last year, but –

After many years with Smith Micro, Moho animation software is finally back with its creator Mike Clifton and his company Lost Marble – with help from former Moho Product Manager, Victor Paredes, who is now Supervisor of Moho Animation at Cartoon Saloon.

The software was originally developed under the name “Moho” in 1999 by Mike Clifton at LostMarble. (LostMarble is also the developer of Papagayo, a free lip sync software which works with Moho.) The software was distributed by E Frontier until 2007, when it was taken over by Smith Micro and renamed Anime Studio, as a marketing companion for the former Manga Studio.

http://www.lostmarble.com/

I’ve been using Moho since it was Anime Studio, and I’m glad to see it back in the hands of it’s creator. It’s already an excellent software, but I think this change will breathe new life into it.

Case in point:

On 26th April 2021, Lost Marble LLC released Moho 13.5, with new features including Vitruvian Bones, Wind Dynamics and Quad meshes, as well as a slightly refreshed User Interface.

And the great work by Cartoon Saloon, is proving Moho is professional level good.

Cartoon Saloon was established in Kilkenny during 1999 by Tomm Moore, Nora Twomey, and Paul Young.

The studio is best known for its animated feature films The Secret of Kells, Song of the Sea, The Breadwinner and Wolfwalkers. Their works have received five Academy Award nominations, their first four feature length works all received nominations for Best Animated Feature and one for Best Animated Short Film (Late Afternoon). The company also developed the cartoon series Skunk Fu!, Puffin Rock, Dorg Van Dango and Vikingskool.

As of 2020, the studio employs 300 animators.

As of 2021, Cartoon Saloon is in production of its TV series, Vikingskool and Nora Twomey’s second feature for Netflix, My Father’s Dragon.

Project Snowcap (working title) will be animated with Moho animation software.

Fox in a Moho timeline

Aristotle’s Poetics 8

Part 8 Aristotle’s Poetics (Greek: Περὶ ποιητικῆς Peri poietikês; Latin: De Poetica; c. 335 BC) is the earliest surviving work of dramatic theory and first extant philosophical treatise to focus on literary theory. In this text Aristotle offers an account of ποιητική, which refers to poetry or more literally “the poetic art,” deriving from theContinue reading “Aristotle’s Poetics 8”

Aristotle’s Poetics 7

Part 7 Aristotle’s Poetics (Greek: Περὶ ποιητικῆς Peri poietikês; Latin: De Poetica; c. 335 BC) is the earliest surviving work of dramatic theory and first extant philosophical treatise to focus on literary theory. In this text Aristotle offers an account of ποιητική, which refers to poetry or more literally “the poetic art,” deriving from theContinue reading “Aristotle’s Poetics 7”

Aristotle’s Poetics 6

Part 6 Aristotle’s Poetics (Greek: Περὶ ποιητικῆς Peri poietikês; Latin: De Poetica; c. 335 BC) is the earliest surviving work of dramatic theory and first extant philosophical treatise to focus on literary theory. In this text Aristotle offers an account of ποιητική, which refers to poetry or more literally “the poetic art,” deriving from theContinue reading “Aristotle’s Poetics 6”

Meditations 04

Meditations (Medieval Greek: Τὰ εἰς ἑαυτόν, romanized: Ta eis he'auton, lit. 'things to one's self') is a series of personal writings by Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor from AD 161 to 180, recording his private notes to himself and ideas on Stoic philosophy.

Marcus Aurelius wrote the 12 books of the Meditations in Koine Greek as a source for his own guidance and self-improvement. It is possible that large portions of the work were written at Sirmium, where he spent much time planning military campaigns from 170 to 180. Some of it was written while he was positioned at Aquincum on campaign in Pannonia, because internal notes tell us that the first book was written when he was campaigning against the Quadi on the river Granova (modern-day Hron) and the second book was written at Carnuntum.

It is unlikely that Marcus Aurelius ever intended the writings to be published. The work has no official title, so "Meditations" is one of several titles commonly assigned to the collection. These writings take the form of quotations varying in length from one sentence to long paragraphs.


MEDITATIONS

By Marcus Aurelius


INTRODUCTION (Part 4)

In Logic, the Stoic system is noteworthy for their theory as to the test of truth, the _Criterion_. They compared the new-born soul to a sheet of paper ready for writing. Upon this the senses write their impressions (φαντασίαι), and by experience of a number of these the soul unconsciously conceives general notions (κοιναὶ ἔννοιαι) or anticipations (προλήψεις). When the impression was such as to be irresistible it was called (καταληπτικὴ φαντασία) one that holds fast, or as they explained it, one proceeding from truth. Ideas and inferences artificially produced by deduction or the like were tested by this 'holding perception.' Of the Ethical application I have already spoken. The highest good was the virtuous life. Virtue alone is happiness, and vice is unhappiness. Carrying this theory to its extreme, the Stoic said that there could be no gradations between virtue and vice, though of course each has its special manifestations. Moreover, nothing is good but virtue, and nothing but vice is bad. Those outside things which are commonly called good or bad, such as health and sickness, wealth and poverty, pleasure and pain, are to him indifferent (ἀδιάφορα). All these things are merely the sphere in which virtue may act. The ideal Wise Man is sufficient unto himself in all things (αὐταρκής); and knowing these truths, he will be happy even when stretched upon the rack. It is probable that no Stoic claimed for himself that he was this Wise Man, but that each strove after it as an ideal much as the Christian strives after a likeness to Christ. The exaggeration in this statement was, however, so obvious, that the later Stoics were driven to make a further subdivision of things indifferent into what is preferable (προηγμένα) and what is undesirable (ἀποπροηγμένα). They also held that for him who had not attained to the perfect wisdom, certain actions were proper. (καθήκοντα) These were neither virtuous nor vicious, but, like the indifferent things, held a middle place.

Two points in the Stoic system deserve special mention. One is a careful distinction between things which are in our power and things which are not. Desire and dislike, opinion and affection, are within the power of the will; whereas health, wealth, honour, and other suchare generally not so. The Stoic was called upon to control his desires and affections, and to guide his opinion; to bring his whole being under the sway of the will or leading principle, just as the universeis guided and governed by divine Providence. This is a special application of the favourite Greek virtue of moderation, (σωφροσύνη)and has also its parallel in Christian ethics. The second point is a strong insistence on the unity of the universe, and on man's duty as part of a great whole. Public spirit was the most splendid political virtue of the ancient world, and it is here made cosmopolitan. It is again instructive to note that Christian sages insisted on the same thing. Christians are taught that they are members of a worldwide brotherhood, where is neither Greek nor Hebrew, bond nor free and that they live their lives as fellow-workers with God.

Such is the system which underlies the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius. Some knowledge of it is necessary to the right understanding of the book, but for us the chief interest lies elsewhere. We do not come to Marcus Aurelius for a treatise on Stoicism. He is no head of a school to lay down a body of doctrine for students; he does not even contemplate that others should read what he writes. His philosophy is not an eager intellectual inquiry, but more what we should call religious feeling. The uncompromising stiffness of Zeno or Chrysippus is softened and transformed by passing through a nature reverent and tolerant, gentle and free from guile; the grim resignation which made life possible to the Stoic sage becomes in him almost a mood of aspiration. His book records the innermost thoughts of his heart, set down to ease it, with such moral maxims and reflections as may help him to bear the burden of duty and the countless annoyances of a busy life.

(Chrysippus, 280-207 B.C., a Stoic philosopher, and the founder of Stoicism as a systematic philosophy.)

It is instructive to compare the _Meditations_ with another famous book, the _Imitation of Christ_. There is the same ideal of self-control in both. It should be a man's task, says the _Imitation_, 'to overcome himself, and every day to be stronger than himself.' 'In withstanding of the passions standeth very peace of heart.' 'Let us set the axe to the root, that we being purged of our passions may have a peaceable mind.' To this end there must be continual self-examination. 'If thou may not continually gather thyself together, namely sometimes do it, at least once a day, the morning or the evening. In the morning purpose, in the evening discuss the manner, what thou hast been this day, in word, work, and thought.' But while the Roman's temper is a modest self-reliance, the Christian aims at a more passive mood, humbleness and meekness, and reliance on the presence and personal friendship of God. The Roman scrutinises his faults with severity, but without the self-contempt which makes the Christian 'vile in his own sight.' The Christian, like the Roman, bids 'study to withdraw thine heart from the love of things visible'; but it is not the busy life of duty he has in mind so much as the contempt of all worldly things, and the 'cutting away of all lower delectations.' Both rate men's praise or blame at their real worthlessness; 'Let not thy peace,' says the Christian, 'be in the mouths of men.' But it is to God's censure the Christian appeals, the Roman to his own soul. The petty annoyances of injustice or unkindness are looked on by each with the same magnanimity. 'Why doth a little thing said or done against thee make thee sorry? It is no new thing; it is not the first, nor shall it be the last, if thou live long. At best suffer patiently, if thou canst not suffer joyously.' The Christian should sorrow more for other men's malice than for our own wrongs; but the Roman is inclined to wash his hands of the offender. 'Study to be patient in suffering and bearing other men's defaults and all manner infirmities,' says the Christian; but the Roman would never have thought to add, 'If all men were perfect, what had we then to suffer of other men for God?' The virtue of suffering in itself is an idea which does not meet us in the _Meditations_. Both alike realise that man is one of a great community. 'No man is sufficient to himself,' says the Christian; 'we must bear together, help together, comfort together.' But while he sees a chief importance in zeal, in exalted emotion that is, and avoidance of lukewarmness, the Roman thought mainly of the duty to be done as well as might be, and less of the feeling which should go with the doing of it. To the saint as to the emperor, the world is a poor thing at best. 'Verily it is a misery to live upon the earth,' says the Christian; few and evil are the days of man's life, which passeth away suddenly as a shadow.

Check out Hermit Life.

Meditations 55

55 Meditations (Medieval Greek: Τὰ εἰς ἑαυτόν, romanized: Ta eis he’auton, lit. ’things to one’s self’) is a series of personal writings by Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor from AD 161 to 180, recording his private notes to himself and ideas on Stoic philosophy. Marcus Aurelius wrote the 12 books of the Meditations in Koine Greek asContinue reading “Meditations 55”

Meditations 54

54 Meditations (Medieval Greek: Τὰ εἰς ἑαυτόν, romanized: Ta eis he’auton, lit. ’things to one’s self’) is a series of personal writings by Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor from AD 161 to 180, recording his private notes to himself and ideas on Stoic philosophy. Marcus Aurelius wrote the 12 books of the Meditations in Koine Greek asContinue reading “Meditations 54”

Meditations 53

53 Meditations (Medieval Greek: Τὰ εἰς ἑαυτόν, romanized: Ta eis he’auton, lit. ’things to one’s self’) is a series of personal writings by Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor from AD 161 to 180, recording his private notes to himself and ideas on Stoic philosophy. Marcus Aurelius wrote the 12 books of the Meditations in Koine Greek asContinue reading “Meditations 53”

Solstice for the Oak King and Holly King

The tale of the Oak King and Holly King from Celtic mythology

The Summer Solstice is here – Sunday, June 20, 11:31 PM Eastern Time.

Time to ruminate on the Oak King and Holly King, because they are all about the turning of the year.

And because the are the foundation of my new Project Snowcap (working title).

From Wikipedia:

The Holly King and Oak King are personifications of the winter and summer in various folklore and mythological traditions. The two kings engage in endless “battle” reflecting the seasonal cycles of the year: not only solar light and dark, but also crop renewal and growth. During warm days of Midsummer the Oak King is at the height of his strength; the Holly King regains power at the Autumn equinox, then his strength peaks during Midwinter, at which point the Oak King is reborn, regaining power at the Spring equinox, and perpetuating the succession.

Greenman tile
Greenman by Sergeff Suomi

From Patti Wigington over at Learn Religions:

In many Celtic-based traditions of neopaganism, there is the enduring legend of the battle between the Oak King and the Holly King. These two mighty rulers fight for supremacy as the Wheel of the Year turns each season. At the Winter Solstice, or Yule, the Oak King conquers the Holly King, and then reigns until Midsummer, or Litha. Once the Summer Solstice arrives, the Holly King returns to do battle with the old king, and defeats him. In the legends of some belief systems, the dates of these events are shifted; the battle takes place at the Equinoxes, so that the Oak King is at his strongest during Midsummer, or Litha, and the Holly King is dominant during Yule. From a folkloric and agricultural standpoint, this interpretation seems to make more sense.

I agree: the switch over occurs at the Equinoxes. Though in my version there’s not much real battling.

Nellie Cole has a nice piece on the duo. Which includes the robin and the wren.

And there’s an interesting story about the pair over at Patheos by Erica Baron – it’s about balance.

This Oak King / Holly King tale is the seed from which my new animated feature (Project Snowcap) story will spring. Check in on the progress of the process at Twig & Hermit.

And I am looking for Productions Partners – so if you think you might like to help, drop me an email.

olkiou@gmail.com

Meditations 03

3 Meditations (Medieval Greek: Τὰ εἰς ἑαυτόν, romanized: Ta eis he'auton, lit. 'things to one's self') is a series of personal writings by Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor from AD 161 to 180, recording his private notes to himself and ideas on Stoic philosophy.

Marcus Aurelius wrote the 12 books of the Meditations in Koine Greek as a source for his own guidance and self-improvement. It is possible that large portions of the work were written at Sirmium, where he spent much time planning military campaigns from 170 to 180. Some of it was written while he was positioned at Aquincum on campaign in Pannonia, because internal notes tell us that the first book was written when he was campaigning against the Quadi on the river Granova (modern-day Hron) and the second book was written at Carnuntum.

It is unlikely that Marcus Aurelius ever intended the writings to be published. The work has no official title, so "Meditations" is one of several titles commonly assigned to the collection. These writings take the form of quotations varying in length from one sentence to long paragraphs.


MEDITATIONS

By Marcus Aurelius


INTRODUCTION (Part 3)

To a thoughtful mind such a religion as that of Rome would give small satisfaction. Its legends were often childish or impossible; its teaching had little to do with morality. The Roman religion was in fact of the nature of a bargain: men paid certain sacrifices and rites, and the gods granted their favour, irrespective of right or wrong. In this case all devout souls were thrown back upon philosophy, as they had been, though to a less extent, in Greece. There were under the early empire two rival schools which practically divided the field between them, Stoicism and Epicureanism. The ideal set before each was nominally much the same. The Stoics aspired to ἁπάθεια, the repression of all emotion, and the Epicureans to ἀταραξία, freedom from all disturbance; yet in the upshot the one has become a synonym of stubborn endurance, the other for unbridled licence. With Epicureanism we have nothing to do now; but it will be worth while to sketch the history and tenets of the Stoic sect.

(Stoics, a philosophic system founded by Zeno (4th century B.C.), and systematised by Chrysippus (3rd century B.C.). Their physical theory was a pantheistic materialism, their summum bonum "to live according to nature." Their wise man needs nothing, he is sufficient to himself; virtue is good, vice bad, external things indifferent.)

(Epicureans, a sect of philosophers founded by Epicurus, who "combined the physics of Democritus," i.e. the atomic theory, "with the ethics of Aristippus." They proposed to live for happiness, but the word did not bear that coarse and vulgar sense originally which it soon took.)

(Sceptics, a school of philosophy founded by Pyrrho (4th century B.C.). He advocated "suspension of judgment," and taught the relativity of knowledge and impossibility of proof. The school is not unlike the Agnostic school.)

Zeno, the founder of Stoicism, was born in Cyprus at some date unknown, but his life may be said roughly to be between the years 350 and 250B.C. Cyprus has been from time immemorial a meeting-place of the Eastand West, and although we cannot grant any importance to a possibles train of Phoenician blood in him (for the Phœnicians were no philosophers), yet it is quite likely that through Asia Minor he may have come in touch with the Far East. He studied under the cynic Crates, but he did not neglect other philosophical systems. After many years' study he opened his own school in a colonnade in Athens called the Painted Porch, or Stoa, which gave the Stoics their name. Next to Zeno, the School of the Porch owes most to Chrysippus (280--207 b.c.),who organised Stoicism into a system. Of him it was said,

'But for Chrysippus, there had been no Porch.'

(Crates, a Cynic philosopher of the 4th century B.C.)

The Stoics regarded speculation as a means to an end and that end was, as Zeno put it, to live consistently (ὁμολογουμένος ζῆν), or as it was later explained, to live in conformity with nature (ὁμολογουμένος τῇ φύσει ζῆν). This conforming of the life to nature was the Stoic idea of Virtue. This dictum might easily be taken to mean that virtue consists in yielding to each natural impulse; but that was very far from the Stoic meaning. In order to live in accord with nature, it is necessary to know what nature is; and to this end a threefold division of philosophy is made—into _Physics_, dealing with the universe and its laws, the problems of divine government and teleology; _Logic_, which trains the mind to discern true from false; and _Ethics_, which applies the knowledge thus gained and tested to practical life.

The Stoic system of physics was materialism with an infusion of pantheism. In contradiction to Plato's view that the Ideas, or Prototypes, of phenomena alone really exist, the Stoics held that material objects alone existed; but immanent in the material universe was a spiritual force which acted through them, manifesting itself under many forms, as fire, æther, spirit, soul, reason, the ruling principle.

(Plato of Athens, 429-347 B.C. He used the dialectic method invented by his master Socrates. He was, perhaps, as much poet as philosopher. He is generally identified with the Theory of Ideas, that things are what they are by participation with our eternal Idea. His "Commonwealth" was a kind of Utopia.)

The universe, then, is God, of whom the popular gods are manifestations; while legends and myths are allegorical. The soul of man is thus an emanation from the godhead, into whom it will eventually be re-absorbed. The divine ruling principle makes all things work together for good, but for the good of the whole. The highest good of man is consciously to work with God for the common good, and this is the sense in which the Stoic tried to live in accord with nature. In the individual it is virtue alone which enables him to do this; as Providence rules the universe, so virtue in the soul must rule man.

Check our Hermit Life.

And/or Hermit’s Page.

Chestnut Grove Cemetery

I spent the first 9 years of my life in a little city called Ashtabula, Ohio. My family and I lived in an old Colonial house with a big backyard on McCreery Avenue. We often walked over to main street to buy a dozen donuts from the Swedish Pastry Shoppe or colorful candy from the corner convenience store.

Our sidewalks were crooked where the tree roots had pushed up the cement slabs. We walked to school. We wore polyester. We packed our lunches. We led an idyllic 1970’s life. We scrambled for change when we heard the ice cream truck coming our way. Everyone knew each other on our block.

Every Sunday, my mom would gather her three children into the car and drive us to the country to visit our grandparents’ farm. We always drove the same route; over the rickety bridge above the railroad tracks and plunging down into the magical world of “The Gulf”.

The Ashtabula Gulf is a deep, tree covered river gorge that was made into a state park. It covers 369 acres of forest, hiking trails, footbridges, waterfalls and wetlands. Lots of places for wildlife, camping, fishing and the reason we went there: SWIMMING! The water was clear and golden because the bottom was made of shale, smooth as silk. The road that goes through and past the gulf is a scary series of steep and twisting hills.

At the top of this beautiful fairy wonderland, there was a cemetery. It was only visible if you turned your head to the left just before you descended into the Gulf. After that, it was the dark, mysterious forest and that scary, twisting road.

For years, I thought about that cemetery. How does one get there? Where is the entrance? It looked very old and full of secrets. I wanted to go there, but my mother would think it a silly idea. “We don’t know anyone buried there”. I still thought about it. Maybe someday, I would be buried there. Then, I could look down at all the cars going into the Gulf from my lovely secret garden.

It took me fifty years to get there, but visit that cemetery I did! The Hermit and I drove around a bit to find the entrance and, to my delight, the road goes all the way to the top. Its name is Chestnut Grove Cemetery and the beauty of the place did not disappoint.

It was old and full of secrets, just as I had suspected. Glorious trees all around us and the gulf and river below us, it was just the sort of place to rest one’s bones. It was peaceful and shady and green. I felt as if I had discovered paradise! Every turn was a new surprise. A gothic mausoleum with the name of Collins (I wonder if Barnabas Collins is in there! ) cast a pretty shadow.

This is the place where they built a monument for the Ashtabula Railroad Disaster of 1876. The bridge failed just as the train was passing over and all but the lead locomotive plunged into the gulf and the Ashtabula river below. Then, stoves and lamps set the wooden cars ablaze, so many who survived the crash ended up burning to death. Ninety two people died. It was the worst rail accident in the U.S. in the 19th century.

All morning I felt as if I was under a magic spell. This place, so special to me in my fantasy world as a child, was still here. Gently changing with the seasons and the years, but unchanged in its quiet solitude. Chestnut Grove remains. Always here, as long as the Gulf remains wild and alive, fed by the river that flows through it, like a secret garden belonging only to me.

Meditations 02

Meditations (Medieval Greek: Τὰ εἰς ἑαυτόν, romanized: Ta eis he'auton, lit. 'things to one's self') is a series of personal writings by Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor from AD 161 to 180, recording his private notes to himself and ideas on Stoic philosophy.

Marcus Aurelius wrote the 12 books of the Meditations in Koine Greek as a source for his own guidance and self-improvement. It is possible that large portions of the work were written at Sirmium, where he spent much time planning military campaigns from 170 to 180. Some of it was written while he was positioned at Aquincum on campaign in Pannonia, because internal notes tell us that the first book was written when he was campaigning against the Quadi on the river Granova (modern-day Hron) and the second book was written at Carnuntum.

It is unlikely that Marcus Aurelius ever intended the writings to be published. The work has no official title, so "Meditations" is one of several titles commonly assigned to the collection. These writings take the form of quotations varying in length from one sentence to long paragraphs.

MEDITATIONS

By Marcus Aurelius

INTRODUCTION (Part 2)

The settlement made after these troubles might have been more satisfactory but for an unexpected rising in the east. Avidius Cassius, an able captain who had won renown in the Parthian wars, was at this time chief governor of the eastern provinces. By whatever means induced, he had conceived the project of proclaiming himself emperor as soon as Marcus, who was then in feeble health, should die; and a report having been conveyed to him that Marcus was dead, Cassius did as he had planned. Marcus, on hearing the news, immediately patched up a peace and returned home to meet this new peril. The emperors great grief was that he must needs engage in the horrors of civil strife. He praised the qualities of Cassius, and expressed a heartfelt wish that Cassius might not be driven to do himself a hurt before he should have the opportunity to grant a free pardon. But before he could come to the east news had come to Cassius that the emperor still lived; his followers fell away from him, and he was assassinated. Marcus now went to the east, and while there the murderers brought the head of Cassius to him; but the emperor indignantly refused their gift, nor would he admit the men to his presence.

On this journey his wife, Faustina, died. At his return the emperor celebrated a triumph (176). Immediately afterwards he repaired to Germany, and took up once more the burden of war. His operations were followed by complete success; but the troubles of late years had been too much for his constitution, at no time robust, and on March 17, 180,he died in Pannonia.

The good emperor was not spared domestic troubles. Faustina had borne him several children, of whom he was passionately fond. Their innocent faces may still be seen in many a sculpture gallery, recalling with odd effect the dreamy countenance of their father. But they died one by one, and when Marcus came to his own end only one of his sons still lived--the weak and worthless Commodus. On his father's death Commodus, who succeeded him, undid the work of many campaigns by a hasty and unwise peace; and his reign of twelve years proved him to be a ferocious and bloodthirsty tyrant. Scandal has made free with the name of Faustina herself, who is accused not only of unfaithfulness, but of intriguing with Cassius and egging him on to his fatal rebellion, it must be admitted that these charges rest on no sure evidence; and the emperor, at all events, loved her dearly, nor ever felt the slightest qualm of suspicion.

(FATAL, fated.)

As a soldier we have seen that Marcus was both capable and successful; as an administrator he was prudent and conscientious. Although steeped in the teachings of philosophy, he did not attempt to remodel the world on any preconceived plan. He trod the path beaten by his predecessors, seeking only to do his duty as well as he could, and to keep out corruption. He did some unwise things, it is true. To create a compeer in empire, as he did with Verus, was a dangerous innovation which could only succeed if one of the two effaced himself; and under Diocletian this very precedent caused the Roman Empire to split into halves. He erred in his civil administration by too much centralising. But the strong point of his reign was the administration of justice. Marcus sought by-laws to protect the weak, to make the lot of the slaves less hard, to stand in place of father to the fatherless. Charitable foundations were endowed for rearing and educating poor children. The provinces were protected against oppression, and public help was given to cities or districts which might be visited by calamity. The great blot on his name, and one hard indeed to explain, is his treatment of the Christians. In his reign Justin at Rome became a martyr to his faith, and Polycarp at Smyrna, and we know of many outbreaks of fanaticism in the provinces which caused the death of the faithful. It is no excuse to plead that he knew nothing about the atrocities done in his name: it was his duty to know, and if he did not he would have been the first to confess that he had failed in his duty. But from his own tone in speaking of the Christians it is clear he knew them only from calumny; and we hear of no measures taken even to secure that they should have a fair hearing. In this respect Trajan was better than he.

(Trajan, 13th Roman Emperor, 52-117 A.D.)

Check out Meditations 01.

Check out Hermit Life.

Hermit Life

A Little Something from Ryan Holiday

Stoic person Ryan Holiday says:

Having thought about this, and trying to get them all straight for my own practice, here are 50 rules from the Stoics, gathered from their immense body of work across two thousand years. These rules functioned, then, as now, as guides to what the ancients called “the good life.” Hopefully some of them will illuminate your own path.

  1. Focus on what you can control.
  2. You control how you respond to things. 
  3. Ask yourself, “Is this essential?” 
  4. Meditate on your mortality every day.
  5. Value time more than money/possessions.
  6. You are the product of your habits.
  7. Remember you have the power to have no opinion.
  8. Own the morning.
  9. Put yourself up for review (Interrogate yourself).
  10. Don’t suffer imagined troubles.
  11. Try to see the good in people.
  12. Never be overheard complaining…even to yourself.
  13. Two ears, one mouth…for a reason (Zeno)
  14. There is always something you can do. 
  15. Don’t compare yourself to others.
  16. Live as if you’ve died and come back (every minute is bonus time).
  17. “The best revenge is not to be like that.” Marcus Aurelius
  18. Be strict with yourself and tolerant with others.
  19. Put every impression, emotion, to the test before acting on it.
  20. Learn something from everyone.
  21. Focus on process, not outcomes.
  22. Define what success means to you.
  23. Find a way to love everything that happens (Amor fati).
  24. Seek out challenges.
  25. Don’t follow the mob.
  26. Grab the “smooth handle.”
  27. Every person is an opportunity for kindness (Seneca)
  28. Say no (a lot).
  29. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
  30. Find one thing that makes you wiser every day.
  31. What’s bad for the hive is bad for the bee (Marcus Aurelius)
  32. Don’t judge other people.
  33. Study the lives of the greats.
  34. Forgive, forgive, forgive.
  35. Make a little progress each day.
  36. Journal.
  37. Prepare for life’s inevitable setbacks (premeditatio malorum)
  38. Look for the poetry in ordinary things.
  39. To do wrong to one, is to do wrong to yourself. (sympatheia)
  40. Always choose “Alive Time.”
  41. Associate only with people that make you better.
  42. If someone offends you, realize you are complicit in taking offense. 
  43. Fate behaves as she pleases…do not forget this. 
  44. Possessions are yours only in trust.
  45. Don’t make your problems worse by bemoaning them.
  46. Accept success without arrogance, handle failure with indifference. 
  47. Courage. Temperance. Justice. Wisdom. (Always).
  48. The obstacle is the way.
  49. Ego is the enemy.
  50. Stillness is the key.

I’ll leave you with the one rule that captures all the rules. It comes from Epictetus: “Don’t explain your philosophy. Embody it.” 

Check out Hermit Life.

Meditations 01

Meditations (Medieval Greek: Τὰ εἰς ἑαυτόν, romanized: Ta eis he'auton, lit. 'things to one's self') is a series of personal writings by Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor from AD 161 to 180, recording his private notes to himself and ideas on Stoic philosophy.

Marcus Aurelius wrote the 12 books of the Meditations in Koine Greek as a source for his own guidance and self-improvement. It is possible that large portions of the work were written at Sirmium, where he spent much time planning military campaigns from 170 to 180. Some of it was written while he was positioned at Aquincum on campaign in Pannonia, because internal notes tell us that the first book was written when he was campaigning against the Quadi on the river Granova (modern-day Hron) and the second book was written at Carnuntum.

It is unlikely that Marcus Aurelius ever intended the writings to be published. The work has no official title, so "Meditations" is one of several titles commonly assigned to the collection. These writings take the form of quotations varying in length from one sentence to long paragraphs.


MEDITATIONS

By Marcus Aurelius


INTRODUCTION (Part 1)


MARCUS AURELIUS ANTONINUS was born on April 26, A.D. 121. His real name was M. Annius Verus, and he was sprung of a noble family which claimed descent from Numa, second King of Rome. Thus the most religious of emperors came of the blood of the most pious of early kings. His father, Annius Verus, had held high office in Rome, and his grandfather, of the same name, had been thrice Consul. Both his parents died young, but Marcus held them in loving remembrance. On his father's death Marcus was adopted by his grandfather, the consular Annius Verus, and there was deep love between these two. On the very first page of his book Marcus gratefully declares how of his grandfather he had learned to be gentle and meek, and to refrain from all anger and passion. The Emperor Hadrian divined the fine character of the lad, whom he used to call not Verus but Verissimus, more Truthful than his own name. He advanced Marcus to equestrian rank when six years of age, and at the age of eight made him a member of the ancient Salian priesthood. The boy's aunt, Annia Galeria Faustina, was married to Antoninus Pius, afterwards emperor. Hence it came about that Antoninus, having no son, adopted Marcus, changing his name to that which he is known by, and betrothed him to his daughter Faustina. His education was conducted with all care. The ablest teachers were engaged for him, and he was trained in the strict doctrine of the Stoic philosophy, which was his great delight. He was taught to dress plainly and to live simply, to avoid all softness and luxury. His body was trained to hardihood by wrestling, hunting, and outdoor games; and though his constitution was weak, he showed great personal courage to encounter the fiercest boars. At the same time he was kept from the extravagancies of his day. The great excitement in Rome was the strife of the Factions, as they were called, in the circus. The racing drivers used to adopt one of four colours--red, blue, white, or green--and their partisans showed an eagerness in supporting them which nothing could surpass. Riot and corruption went in the train of the racing chariots; and from all these things Marcus held severely aloof.

(Avoid, void.)

(Circus, the Circus Maximus at Rome, where games were held. There were four companies who contracted to provide horses, drivers, etc. These were called Factiones, and each had its distinguishing colour: russata (red), albata (white), veneta (blue), prasina (green). There was high rivalry between them, and riots and bloodshed not infrequently.)

In 140 Marcus was raised to the consulship, and in 145 his betrothal
was consummated by marriage. Two years later Faustina brought him a
daughter; and soon after the tribunate and other imperial honours were
conferred upon him.

Antoninus Pius died in 161, and Marcus assumed the imperial state. He at once associated with himself L. Ceionius Commodus, whom Antoninus had adopted as a younger son at the same time with Marcus, giving him the name of Lucius Aurelius Verus. Henceforth the two are colleagues in the empire, the junior being trained as it were to succeed. No sooner was Marcus settled upon the throne than wars broke out on all sides. In the east, Vologeses III. of Parthia began a long-meditated revolt by destroying a whole Roman Legion and invading Syria (162). Verus was sent off in hot haste to quell this rising; and he fulfilled his trust by plunging into drunkenness and debauchery, while the war was left to his officers. Soon after Marcus had to face a more serious danger at home in the coalition of several powerful tribes on the northern frontier. Chief among those were the Marcomanni or Marchmen, the Quadi (mentioned in this book), the Sarmatians, the Catti, the Jazyges. In Rome itself there was pestilence and starvation, the one brought from the east by Verus's legions, the other caused by floods which had destroyed vast quantities of grain. After all had been done possible to allay famine and to supply pressing needs--Marcus being forced even to sell the imperial jewels to find money--both emperors set forth to a struggle which was to continue more or less during the rest of Marcus's reign. During these wars, in 169, Verus died. We have no means of following the campaigns in detail; but thus much is certain, that in the end the Romans succeeded in crushing the barbarian tribes, and effecting a settlement which made the empire more secure. Marcus was himself commander-in-chief, and victory was due no less to his own ability than to his wisdom in choice of lieutenants, shown conspicuously in the case of Pertinax. There were several important battles fought in these campaigns; and one of them has become celebrated for the legend of the Thundering Legion. In a battle against the Quadi in 174, the day seemed to be going in favour of the foe, when on a sudden arose a great storm of thunder and rain the lightning struck the barbarians with terror, and they turned to rout. In later days this storm was said to have been sent in answer to the prayers of a legion which contained many Christians, and the name Thundering Legion should be given to it on this account. The title of Thundering Legion is known at an earlier date, so this part of the story at least cannot be true; but the aid of the storm is acknowledged by one of the scenes carved on Antonine's Column at Rome, which commemorates these wars.

(VERUS, Lucius Aurelius, colleague of M. Aurelius in the Empire. He married Lucilla, daughter of M. A., and died 169 A.D.)

(Sarmatae, a tribe dwelling in Poland.)

(QUADI, a tribe of S. Germany. M. Aurelius carried on war against them, and part of this book was written in the field.) 

Victorian Wall Decor

Here’s my first pass at sprucing up the Twigthorne Manor parlor.

into the woodlands

Crown molding and a picture rail have been added. I kept them all white to match the existing trim, but I might experiment with something darker.

Fun Fact: There is no difference between crown molding versus moulding — except for the spelling, of course. “Moulding” is the British spelling while “molding” is the American version.

There are countless types of moulding out there. We do want Victorian-era styles, and to take the existing style into account – so that narrows it down a bit. But not much.

For some, the epitome of Victorian-style crown molding is a plethora of dentils, acanthus leaves, egg-and-dart details. But Arts and Crafts was also Victorian – late, but Victorian – and it was all about clean lines.

Steven Corley Randel, Architect

Twigthorne has the clean lines. Although, who knows how much it has changed over the years.

Currently, there is little crown moulding in the place. The dining room, the side entrance, and the butler’s pantry have crown moulding. The molding of the latter two seems more related to the rest of the house’s trim and is, I’m guessing, original. The dining room crown moulding is of a different style and was probably added later.

Now, crown molding in the dining room make sense. But it also seems that the parlor should have some. Certainly, you would put crown moulding in the parlor before you put it in the butler’s pantry. Wouldn’t you?

To me, it seems likely the parlor did at one time have crown moulding. There could be evidence under the wallpaper.

And another strange thing – there’s beadboard wainscoting in these three aforementioned rooms, and the kitchen, but nowhere else. Is this another feature that was installed when the house was built only to vanish later? It’s a mystery.

For the frieze and wallpaper, I used Bradbury & Bradbury Woodland Set. Of course, this isn’t how these would look if applied in the real world. The Deer & Rabbit frieze is much larger in real life and wouldn’t actually fit our border area. Maybe without the crown moulding… And the Sweet Briar wallpaper isn’t to scale.

I just wanted to try some things.

With future configurations, I’ll get more serious about making it true to life.

The lamp is meant to mimic a Tiffany – it’s my own design.

stained glass texture for 3D lamp

And speaking of my own design – I’m half tempted to try my hand at designing some wallpapers and friezes.

Check out Twig & Hermit – Twigthorne Interior Design.

We’ll by trying some William Morris designs, as well.

Morris & Co. was founded by William Morris in 1875.

The Arts and Crafts movement was an international trend in the decorative and fine arts that developed earliest and most fully in the British Isles and subsequently spread across the British Empire and to the rest of Europe and America.

Initiated in reaction against the perceived impoverishment of the decorative arts and the conditions in which they were produced, the movement flourished in Europe and North America between about 1880 and 1920. It is the root of the Modern Style, the British expression of what later came to be called the Art Nouveau movement, which it strongly influenced.[4] In Japan it emerged in the 1920s as the Mingei movement. It stood for traditional craftsmanship, and often used medieval, romantic, or folk styles of decoration. It advocated economic and social reform and was anti-industrial in its orientation. It had a strong influence on the arts in Europe until it was displaced by Modernism in the 1930s, and its influence continued among craft makers, designers, and town planners long afterwards.

The term was first used by T. J. Cobden-Sanderson at a meeting of the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society in 1887, although the principles and style on which it was based had been developing in England for at least 20 years. It was inspired by the ideas of architect Augustus Pugin, writer John Ruskin, and designer William Morris. In Scotland it is associated with key figures such as Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

Check out Twig and Hermit – House Page

William Morris