Saturday, April 23, 2022

You Are Not Your Body: Cicero's Dream of Scipio

The world is a frightening place right now. Whether you are battling transphobia, homophobia, sexism, racism, war, domestic violence, chronic illness, or oppression, I hope that the words of Cicero can give you the same comfort that they have given me over the years:

Tu vero enitere et sic habeto, non esse te mortalem, sed corpus hoc; nec enim tu is es, quem forma ista declarat, sed mens cuiusque is est quisque, non ea figura, quae digito demonstrari potest. Deum te igitur scito esse, si quidem est deus, qui viget, qui sentit, qui meminit, qui providet, qui tam regit et moderatur et movet id corpus, cui praepositus est, quam hunc mundum ille princeps deus, et ut mundum ex quadam parte mortalem ipse deus aeternus, sic fragile corpus animus sempiternus movet.

 --Cicero, De Re Publica [Somnium Scipionis] VI.26

Just keep going, and know that *you* are not mortal, just your body is. You are not defined by your body; it’s a person’s mind that defines them, not their physical form. Know that you are a god, since it is a god that thrives, that feels, that remembers, that anticipates, that regulates, controls and moves the body that is given to them, just like the supreme being* does to the world; and, just as an eternal god controls a mortal universe, your eternal soul controls your mortal body.

* In Stoic philosophy, the universe is regulated not by an anthropomorphic god, but by Reason / Logic



Name:  Marcus Tullius Cicero

Date:  106 BCE – 43 BCE

Works: de Amicitia

               de Divinatione*


               In Catilinam

              Pro Archiam, etc.



Region 1: Peninsular Italy; Region 2: Western Europe; Region 3: Western Coast of Africa; Region 4: Egypt and Eastern Mediterranean; Region 5: Greece and the Balkans



 Cicero was an Italian-born Roman statesman and author who lived during the complexities of Rome’s transition from Republic to monarchy. Cicero spent most of his life in service of his country, serving as both a lawyer, senator, and even consul [Roman equivalent of president]. He is known for his suppression of the failed governmental coup in 63 BCE known as the Catilinarian conspiracy that occurred during his consulship. After the rise of Octavian [later known as the first Roman emperor Augustus], his views fell out of favor and he was eventually put to death during the proscriptions under the Second Triumvirate (Octavian, Marc Antony and Lepidus). He was a prolific author with a wide range in genres, and his literary style was adopted by Petrarch as the default model for the Latin language.


Early Roman Lit: through 2nd c BCE: Republican Rome: through 1st c. BCE; Golden Age: 70 BCE to 18 CE; Silver Age: 18 CE to 150 CE; Age of Conflict: 150 CE - 410 CE; Byzantine and Late Latin: after 410 CE

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