Monday, January 21, 2013

Quotes from Gracian

Number 152
Never have a Companion who casts you in the Shade.
The more he does so, the less desirable a companion he is. The more he excels in quality the more in repute: he will always play first fiddle and you second. If you get any consideration, it is only his leavings. The moon shines bright alone among the stars: when the sun rises she becomes either invisible or imperceptible. Never join one that eclipses you, but rather one who sets you in a brighter light. By this means the cunning Fabula in Martial was able to appear beautiful and brilliant, owing to the ugliness and disorder of her companions. But one should as little imperil oneself by an evil companion as pay honour to another at the cost of one's own credit. When you are on the way to fortune associate with the eminent; when arrived, with the mediocre.

Number 192
Peaceful Life, a long Life.
To live, let live. Peacemakers not only live: they rule life. Hear, see, and be silent. A day without dispute brings sleep without dreams. Long life and a pleasant one is life enough for two: that is the fruit of peace. He has all that makes nothing of what is nothing to him. There is no greater perversity than to take everything to heart. There is equal folly in troubling our heart about what does not concern us and in not taking to heart what does.

#152 above seems to indicate a certain ruthlessness and conniving activity, why should it matter if a companion is flashier or smarter than ourselves?  I suppose we should look at it from the outsider's point of view, as in a movie, in this way we would see the other guy or gal soaking up all the attention of the people we have to live and work with, giving them the impression we are less capable by comparison.  So if this sort of association is continued for a long time, we are sure to lose the respect of others who matter most in our life, even if it is unfair and absurd.  

#192 shows  a Stoic bent, that is to say, let us not worry about that which we have little or no control, but concentrate our attention on that which we have some measure of power to effect the outcome.  It is also Stoic in its emphasis on the value of peacefulness and tranquility.  So here we have a softer side of Gracian's ideology.

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