Growing up, I’ve always been interested in ancient history. My parents love to travel, so my sister and I also caught the “travel bug.” Their favourite place to go is Europe which is full of history and relics from past civilizations. So naturally, I took an interest in History and Classical Civilizations at school.
In second year Classics, I read a couple of works from ancient writers. Sounds boring, right? Wrong.
Maybe history isn’t your thing. That’s okay. This isn’t an article on the “Pros of taking a Classics course;” everyone has different likes and dislikes.
After reading these speeches and tragedies, I stumbled upon quotes that I found especially applicable to my life. They are words I like to live by and, maybe after reading them, you’ll begin to live by them too.
This is the time of year where we begin to reflect on everything that happened in the past 12 months and how we will change or live better lives in the new year. Here are three not-so-ancient quotes I live by that might give you some inspiration:
“There is advantage in the wisdom won from pain.”
Chorus of Furies (page 142) from Aeschylus’ Oresteia
At many points in our lives, we will experience pain. A death in the family, a bad breakup or maybe even your favourite character dying in a movie or book (don’t get me started on “Marley & Me”). The point is pain is inevitable, but as young adults, it is up to you to decide how you will deal with it.
Pain is hard to deal with—you feel broken or hurt inside, and things in the moment seem so bad that you don’t remember how to be happy. But you can get through it; don’t let pain stop you from living the best life possible.
That is what’s so great about this quote: once we overcome pain, we will be able to look back at the experience and we will have learned so much about ourselves and others. So yes, I like happiness and sunshine and all that fun stuff, but sometimes you need pain to teach you the hard things in life.
“We shouldn’t refuse to restrain our desires, because that condemns us to a life of endlessly trying to satisfy them.”
Socrates (page 106) from Plato’s Gorgias
In today’s generation and those to follow, there is a growing desire for material things to satisfy our happiness. The new iPhone or a new car or a shopping spree all seem like the best Christmas gifts, right? But once you get these items, will there ever be a day where you won’t want the next newest product?
That’s what Socrates is getting at in this dialogue: we can’t always be satisfying our greatest desires because then we will be living in a dangerous cycle. The cycle will begin with happiness once we get what we want, then boredom with this new item, then desire for something else, and so on. Socrates reminds us that we will never be happy if we are always focusing on ourselves; we have to care for and put our energy into being with, those around us.
“Time is the answer; or any day; or Fortune, whose whim governs the world. Whatever happens will befall those men.”
Caesar (page 35-36) from Sallust’s Catiline’s War
Okay, so Caesar may be deciding the fate of a group of men who may or may not be sentenced to die. But I promise this has relevance in your life.
This quote is something to live by because it reminds us of the beauty of karma: people get what they deserve in life, whether it be something good or bad coming for them. I believe in Fortune (or maybe you know her as Fate) helping the world go round. So remember, live your life; don’t worry about other people. Why waste your precious time thinking about what other people are doing. Let Fate be the guide.
These are some quotes I found to keep in mind each day and hopefully some stick with you!