By Oswald Sobrino, J.D.; M.A. (Econ.); M.A. (Theo.); M.L. (Master of Latin), doctoral student, University of Florida.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Now, Terence (circa 185 to 159 B.C.)

He was a freed slave from North Africa, who uttered one of my favorite quotations (one that fanatics of all stripes should consider carefully):

"Homo sum, humani nihil a me alienum puto"/"I am human, I do not consider anything human to be alien to me" (see link).

Like Plautus, he wrote Latin comedies. The one I read today was The Brothers.

Here is a wise tidbit:

"Life is like a game of dice. If you don't get the exact throw you want, you have to use your skill and make the best of the one you do get" (Loeb translation).

As a fan of the great and underappreciated philosopher José Ortega y Gasset (maybe, his being underappreciated is a good and telling sign), I have always loved how Ortega captured the drama of each of our lives: "I am I and my circumstance; and, if I do not save it, I do not save myself." See link. What is this "saving"? It is finding meaning and purpose.

It's ancient wisdom as Terence attests. It also strikes me that those who get the throw they want may actually be worse off: what they want is often the product of vanity, egotism, and ignorance. They have their reward. For the rest of us, the rewards are surprising and come in unexpected ways that our small minds could not have foreseen.

(Images of Terence and of Latin manuscript of The Brothers are in the public domain.)