Maxims and Admonitions

“Know yourself” and “Nothing in excess” are the best known of the Delphic Maxims once displayed at the Temple of Apollo in Delphi. The contemplation of these very short phrases can be very instructive and inspirational. Here are my own versions of these ancient maxims.

 

Know Yourself

Know who you are and what you are.

Know what you can be, and what you can do.

Know what you can not be, and what you can not do.

 

Nothing in Excess

All things in moderation, including, sometimes, moderation.

 

Heaven helps those who help themselves.

The Gods will not do for Man what Man must do for himself.

 

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The stoic philosophers are advocates of the idea that one should accept the meanderings of fate and live a quiet and resigned life, detached from ordinary everyday concerns. The philosophers are not always correct or even practical in their ideas, and the pursuit of a resigned detached life is not necessarily a good ideal. Sometimes, rather than going quietly into the night, you need to go fighting and screaming all the way. Sometimes you should defy fate, as best you can. I rather like the old poem “Invictus” by William Earnest Henley, which can be viewed as a hymn to the virtues of persistence and determination.

 

INVICTUS

by William Earnest Henley

 

Out of the night that covers me,

Black as the Pit from pole to pole,

I thank whatever gods may be

For my unconquerable soul.

 

In the fell clutch of circumstance,

I have not winced nor cried aloud.

Under the bludgeonings of chance

My head is bloody, but unbowed.

 

Beyond this place of wrath and tears

Looms but the Horror of the shade,

And yet the menace of the years

Finds and shall find me unafraid.

 

It matters not how strait the gate,

How charged with punishment the Scroll,

I an the master of my fate;

I am the captain of my soul.  

 

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Some general advice, culled from various sources:

 

If you can imagine it, you can achieve it.

 

Find a way, or make one.

 

Stay motivated and never lose hope.

 

Never, never, never give up.

 

Of course, advice is easy to give and hard to take, and even the best intended advice sometimes doesn’t work.

Published in: on June 9, 2011 at 11:06 am  Comments (1)  
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