Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Nothing Changes

I've been working my way through a translation of Pliny (Senior) these last couple weeks, and in the medical and herbs section, I came across the following:

"That such ignorance about (a particular honor) is rife among us I consider less strange when I see the further indifference to the means of preserving health, of banishing physical pain, and of warding off death. But who could not censure modern ways? The cost of living has been increased by luxuries and extravagance; never has there been more zest for life or less care taken of it. We believe that care for our lives is the duty of others, that others make it their business on instruction from us, and that physicians have already provided for our needs. The enjoyment of pleasures is our personal affair, but our lives we entrust to the charge of somebody else, thereby incurring what I personally hold to be the worst possible disgrace."

Um, anything familiar in that? How many people are out there, do you figure, that fit that description? Who doesn't know, or hasn't heard of, people who have health issues which could be avoided or improved by changing their diet or lifestyle? And how many of those don't change, because it would mean having to give up something they like, or do something extra.  Nope, go to the doctor and get another pill,  or live with the problem and complain about it. And not just health - how many people are there who complain about their finances, for example, but who still constantly spend money for these 'luxuries and extravagance'?

I read that section, and a couple where he's denouncing quack cures, which people pay for even when it should be obvious they won't work, and I couldn't help laughing to myself. Don't we have those too?

It's one of the reasons I love reading some of these classics. You get a glimpse through a window into life two thousand years ago or so (Pliny was writing in the 1st century AD; he died in the eruption that buried Pompeii, because he went back to rescue some friends, and then wanted to take a bit of extra time and observe the eruption...). The setting is a bit different, but the people are just the same as today.
Kinda makes you wonder what the people (if any still exist) in 4000 AD will be like, and what they'll think of our ideas.

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