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Wednesday 1 February 2017

Words on Wednesday: ancient wisdom for contemporary fears

So, I have passed through the storm of January as expected. If you are still reading, you have my thanks. The world, as always, has kept on turning and people have kept on being foolish, mean-spirited, kind, and forgiving in equal measure. Such as it is, always in balance, except when the foolish and mean-spirited are the one's in power. In those times we have to think...

This too shall pass

این نیز بگذرد
īn nīz bogzarad

Phrase from a fable of the Sufi poets, Attar of Nishapur or others, which relates to a king who asks for a ring that will make him happy whenever he is sad. After consideration the sages craft a ring with this phrase, which has the unfortunate side effect of depressing him whenever he is happy too...

Or, if you prefer...

גם זה יעבור
gam zeh ya'avor

A Jewish folktale that relates to King Solomon.

Take courage, my heart: you have been through worse than this

τέτλαθι δή, κραδίη: καὶ κύντερον ἄλλο ποτ᾽ ἔτλης
Odyssey 20:18

Not so much, all is immaterial and will eventually fade, but rather 'hold on, you'll have your time soon.' In Homer's case it is a time for vengeance against the evil deeds he has suffered.

Full context:
His anger was roused, and he pondered in his mind, whether he should chase them down and kill them, or leave them to sleep with the arrogant Suitors one last time. He growled inside, like a bitch guarding her vulnerable pups, ready to fight on seeing a stranger. He growled inside with anger at their evil ways, but striking his chest he restrained his heart, saying: ‘Patience, my heart. You endured worse than this when the Cyclops, with his huge strength, ate my loyal friends: yet you held firm until your cunning released you from that cave where you faced death.’
Such were his words of self-rebuke, and his heart obediently steeled itself to patience, but he still lay tossing this way and that. Like a paunch filled with fat and blood turning in front of a blazing fire, twisted about by the man who roasts it, eager to see it done, so Odysseus turned from side to side, considering how to tackle the shameless Suitors, one man against many.