I’m almost ashamed to be writing this.
Although I’ve been familiar with the great names of our ancient western heritage—names like Homer, Virgil, Plato, Tacitus, Sophocles and many, many others—for pretty much my entire life, I didn’t begin earnestly reading and studying them until after I’d already passed my half-century mark. And me, the degreed historian too! I can recall playing King Agamemnon in a Junior High School class play, though I don’t remember much more than that. And everyone’s read The Iliad, right?
Oh boy—what I’ve been missing…
“We also, I say, ought to copy [the] bees, and sift whatever we have gathered from a varied course of reading, for such things are better preserved if they are kept separate; then, by applying the supervising care with which our nature has endowed us—in other words, our natural gifts—we should so blend those several flavors into one delicious compound that, even though it betrays its origin, yet it nevertheless is clearly a different thing from that whence it came.”
— Seneca, Epistle LXXXIV
(Note: this is the first of several Seneca quotes from the same source—Epistle LXXXIV, On Gathering Ideas)
“And reading, I hold, is indespensible—primarily, to keep me from being satisfied with myself alone, and besides, after I have learned what others have found out by their studies, to enable me to pass judgment on their discoveries and reflect upon discoveries that remain to be made. Reading nourishes the mind and refreshes it when it is wearied with study; nevertheless, this refreshment is not obtained without study. We ought not to confine ourselves either to writing or reading; the one, continuous writing, will cast a gloom over our strength, and exhaust it; the other will make our strength flabby and watery. It is better to have recourse to them alternately, and to blend one with the other, so that the fruits of one’s reading may be reduced to concrete form by the pen.”
— Seneca, Epistle LXXXIV
It’s a fresh, new year
Now awaiting your input
To lay in its course;
Will it be a different one,
Or the same as last year’s was?
© MMXVI Douglas P. Kendrick, all rights reserved.
I wrote this piece last week over on the Golden Pen Writers Guild’s brand-new blog, Blogs, Bits and Banter. Be sure to hop over and visit sometime to see more writing by my fellow authors.
“All that goes to make you a good man lies within yourself. And what do you need in order to become good? To wish it.”
— Seneca, Epistle LXXX
“But there is no bitterness in doing without that which you have ceased to desire.”
— Seneca, Epistle LXXVIII, On the Healing Power of the Mind