Familiarity breeds content

Continuing with Meditation 3.1 (or 3.2 depending on the translation), Marcus argues that only those who are fully familiar with nature will see the true beauty of all these ‘unintended consequences’. Seeing beauty everywhere also helps to put conventional beauty (for example the beauty of youth) in perspective.

[…] if a man should have a feeling and deeper insight with respect to the things which are produced in the universe, there is hardly one of those which follow by way of consequence which will not seem to him to be in a manner disposed so as to give pleasure. And so he will see even the real gaping jaws of wild beasts with no less pleasure than those which painters and sculptors show by imitation; and in an old woman and an old man he will be able to see a certain maturity and comeliness; and the attractive loveliness of young persons he will be able to look on with chaste eyes; and many such things will present themselves, not pleasing to every man, but only to him who has become truly familiar with nature and her works.

I don’t know how much of a key component of ancient Stoicism this contemplation of nature was; there is less of it in Epictetus and Seneca. However, it seemed important to Marcus – and so it is to me.

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