Chaco Travel

Chaco Travel on seek what is fitting at the hands of the gods, knowing what lies at our feet, and to what portion we are born. Strive not, my soul, for an immortal life, but use to the full the resources that are at thy command.1 Tragedy offers plenty of examples, and the chorus in Euripides Bacchae are repeating a commonplace when they utter words which may be paraphrased as The cleverness of men is no real wisdom if it means forgetting their mortality.2 This however is not the only attitude which has to be taken into account. What are we to say to the conception of man’s religious duty which we find in Plato, namely that his aim should be the completest possible assimilation to god, and the downright statement of his pupil Aristotle that man’s chief end is to put off mortality as far as possible?3 These philosophers lived a century and more after Pindar, but Empedocles, a contemporary from Sicily (an island not unknown to the Theban poet), greeted his fellow-citizens with the exultant cry: All hail! I go about among you an immortal god, no longer a mortal!4 Pindar may even have read these words. How did he reconcile their fine abandon with his own prudent counsel? Which idea, then, are we to take as the more truly representative of the Greek religious mind: that there was a great gulf between mortal and immortal, between man and god, and that for man to attempt to bridge it was hybris and could only end in disaster, or that there was a kinship between human and divine, and that it was the duty of man to live a life which would emphasize this kinship and make it as close as possible? Undoubtedly both ideas are strongly represented. It might be argued that Plato and Aristotle were philosophers, and that the immortality or divinity which they set before their hearers as the goal, signifying as it did the development of man’s highest spiritual and intellectual potentialities, was something different from the competition with heaven against which the advocates of mortal thoughts sought to warn their fellows. Chaco Travel 2016.

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