Prohairesis

Beneath the plodding of my weary feet
My path seems to forevermore extend
Unceasingly, no respite or retreat,
Without beginning nor with hope of end.
The possibility I might complete
This journey seems far too much to pretend
For one who can’t imagine what he’ll meet
Around the very next upcoming bend.
Yet even if I stop, or turn aside
There’s no foretelling what might come my way:
All that’s my own, within a world so wide,
Is whether I will choose to go or stay.
I place one foot before the other, free
To shape the course of my own destiny.

A Common Source

In my last post, I alluded to the critical distinction between simply interpreting the writings of Plato as an endpoint in themselves, and using the writings of Plato as tools to access, understand, and explain the same transcendent realities that Plato himself was also trying to access, understand, and explain. It is only in the latter case that we are thinking like the ancient commentators, that we are approaching Plato with a mindset akin to theirs. Here is one small illustration of the difference, from Morrow and Dillon’s English translation of Proclus’ commentary on Plato’s Parmenides.

Continue reading “A Common Source”

Message in a Bottle

Today, we remember Proclus, who died in Athens on this date, in 485 CE.

It’s quite possible, by mistranslating a few words here, a few key phrases there, for modern readers to ignore the Gods in the works of Plato, Aristotle, and so many of the other philosophers of antiquity. It’s quite possible, with only a little bit of squinting, to look past the deep and genuine piety that informed these great thinkers.

Not so, when it comes to Proclus. The Gods—who are at once the source and summit of all being, and the immortal divine persons we approach in prayer and devotion—cannot be ignored in Proclus’ work, no matter how hard you squint. Proclus thus provides us a vital key, which can open for us the brilliant and inspired words of Plato, and indeed of all the thousand years to Hellenic philosophy and theology, of which Proclus was the inheritor. And this is a vital key, in the most literal sense of “bringing to life” the tradition which has been handed on to us.

Continue reading “Message in a Bottle”

April Snow

Was it only yesterday
I sat for hours
Barefoot in the yard
Sipping iced tea,
Delighting in songbirds,
Basking in warm springtime sun?

Now I sit by the window,
Warm mug held close,
While fresh snow blankets the earth.
The stillness, the softness –
Turn inward, in silence,
As winter returns, one last time.

A Prayer for Aretē

O bright and holy Gods
Who are the source and fountain of all that is good,
Who fill the cosmos with your blessings,
I come to you in my need.

O providential Gods, mighty saviors,
Who know all things throughout the whole world,
Who care for all mortal creatures,
I entrust my cares to you.

Brilliant Apollon of the golden lyre,
Whose gifts bring balance, poise, harmony,
Set each part of my soul, my life, in due order.
In all things, grant perfect, proper measure.

Lord Dionysos, ever-future king,
Captivated by the mirror, torn apart yet reborn entire,
Direct my gaze toward what is good.
Bring me to unity: in my soul, in my life, in my devotion.

Mighty Zeus, father and creator,
Source of all life, ruler of all things,
Uphold and sustain me, in justice, truth, and piety.
Bring me through life’s storms, to your blessed harbor.

All you holy Gods whom I adore,
Who fill every cosmos – large and small – with your gifts,
Perfect my soul. Bring me to aretē.
I come to you in trust, and in supplication.