Saturday, January 02, 2016


Difficult to Escape from Oneself

Basil, Letter 2 (to Gregory of Nazianzus; tr. Roy J. Deferrari):
But I am ashamed to write what I myself do night and day in this out-of-the way place. For I have indeed left my life in the city, as giving rise to countless evils, but I have not yet been able to leave myself behind. On the contrary, I am like those who go to sea, and because they have had no experience in sailing are very distressed and sea-sick, and complain of the size of the boat as causing the violent tossing; and then when they leave the ship and take to the dinghy or the cock-boat, they continue to be sea-sick and distressed wherever they are; for their nausea and bile go with them when they change. Our experience is something like this. For we carry our indwelling disorders about with us, and so are nowhere free from the same sort of disturbances. Consequently we have derived no great benefit from our present solitude.

ἐγὼ δὲ ἃ μὲν ποιῶ αὐτὸς ἐπὶ τῆς ἐσχατιᾶς ταύτης, νυκτὸς καὶ ἡμέρας, γράφειν αἰσχύνομαι. κατέλιπον μὲν γὰρ τὰς ἐν ἄστει διατριβὰς ὡς μυρίων κακῶν ἀφορμάς, ἐμαυτὸν δὲ οὔπω ἀπολιπεῖν ἠδυνήθην. ἀλλ᾿ ὅμοιός εἰμι τοῖς ἐν θαλάσσῃ ὑπὸ τῆς κατὰ τὸν πλοῦν ἀπειρίας ἀπορουμένοις καὶ ναυτιῶσιν· οἳ τῷ μεγέθει τοῦ πλοίου δυσχεραίνουσιν ὡς πολὺν τὸν σάλον παρεχομένῳ, κἀκεῖθεν ἐπὶ τὸν λέμβον ἢ τὸ ἀκάτιον μεταβαίνοντες, πανταχοῦ ναυτιῶσι καὶ ἀποροῦνται· συμμετέρχεται γὰρ αὐτοῖς ἡ ἀηδία καὶ ἡ χολή. τοιοῦτον οὖν τι καὶ τὸ ἡμέτερον. τὰ γὰρ ἔνοικα πάθη συμπεριφέροντες πανταχοῦ μετὰ τῶν ὁμοίων θορύβων ἐσμέν, ὥστε οὐδὲν μέγα τῆς ἐρημίας ἀπωνάμεθα ταύτης.
Augustine, Confessions 4.7.12 (tr. E.B. Pusey):
For whither should my heart flee from my heart? Whither should I flee from myself? Whither not follow myself?

quo enim cor meum fugeret a corde meo? quo a me ipso fugerem? quo non me sequerer?
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