Saturday, 28 September 2013

Enjoying some bedtime reading

For pure enjoyment, I'm reading "Letters from a Stoic" by the Greek Philosopher Seneca (Spanish actually)  - a guy who tried and failed to keep the lid on Emperor Nero's eccentricities.

The feeling that comes across is of a culture with time to enjoy and reflect - so 'civilised' compared with the frenetic world we live in here in pagan Modern Britain where society has rules that are constantly broken by everyone who has a lot of money resulting a mirroring of criminality of those with very little who argue "If they can behave as criminals then why shouldn't I?"

I must say the opposite was true with lovely Ulverstonians who several times at 'my' bread stall when I offered a price reduction replied "Oh no that's not enough" and gave me more. That is why I love the people I meet at the market - but maybe they aren't typical. If I was in the 'wrong' part Manchester I'd expect then to be filching cash out of the open box on the table whilst trying to force me to accept peanuts - well Eastern coins as payment - whilst someone else was gently sliding the best bread into their bags whilst pointing to a kid crying behind me "What have you done to him?"

My what a butterfly mind I've got - time to pile into bed with my lovely book!

Which I did.

As the title tells you, this book is ideal for my pupose: it is compiled of  letters, each a few pages long and each on one subject. So I opened the book randomly and read.

So much for the 'civilised' society I describe in my second paragraph ! He warned against joining crowds, the larger the stronger the warning. This was an extremely violent society that for entertainment would  murder people at the drop of the hat. He added to the thought of not joining crowds: don't go to 'events' at midday because by then crowd fever had hotted up. Instead of entertaining themselves with mutilating a few minor criminals or slaves by throwing them to the lions or having them fight armed gladiators in organised events they could relax the rules and enjoy lots of blood by having fights to the death between unarmed people who had a minor reason to fight but just for added excitement would drag in some of the spectators and murder them for a lark. Blood and extreme violence - was - entertainment.

This was the society I describe as 'civilised'. So which society would I prefer. Ours where crowds are 'safe' (football crowds?) or theirs which was extremely dangerous if you valued your life. Ours were you went to sleep expecting to wake up without disturbance or theirs where to sleep similarly you had to be part of a large household of fortified buildings with slaves acting as guards and being a part of a disciplined unit of twenty people all acting for one another. Watching out for an enemy's plot to slip some poisoned food on your menu.

Theirs was far more unpredictable - from our viewpoint - that of the unprivileged 'commoner'. The idea of justice and fairness didn't exist for the majority. Rules and regulations and an extensive legal system for everyone had never been thought of. This took two thousand years to gradually develop to the mindnumbing concept it is now. So which would I prefer?

How can I tell? I can't- I'd need to live then and now to decide. Their society was far more vibrant - you really lived my your wits, even Seneca who became the most powerful man below Nero, came to a sticky end at the whim of the guy at the top of their tree - the Emperor. What comes across is a society of contrasting privileges. However I imagined depression hardly existed - you were far too involved in staying alive and 'living'. Yes it was LIVING or DYING with raw emphasis. Apathy was not part of the culture . . .

What a thought to go to sleep with and now at the beginning of my new day - how shall I live? - Safely and behave myself and fit the norm or DANGEROUSLY , as a lessor person in today's world. Then, relying on knowing my place amongst others who had no silly thoughts about fairness and equality and abiding by government rules. There were hardly any. . . . theirs was the 'simple life' - beware - depending on what you did you might not live to tell another tale on a blog next morning.

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