Monday, June 24, 2013

Why Bother with Tales from History?

Why bother with tales from history? Strangely enough, writing, reading, thinking about, and discussing them can be an act of piety. It can be one way we honor our ancestors. By appreciating tales from history together, we may rightly celebrate anew all the truth, goodness, and beauty to which our illustrious ancestors witnessed.

Stories from our Olympian past may also serve us well as cautionary tales. Not only does our lengthy past contain inspiring examples of truth, freedom, love, and vitality. It also contains a disproportionate amount of falsehood, power, indifference, violence, and gratuitous death. While celebrating past expressions of wisdom, we also do well to avoid repeating the past expressions of folly committed by our more notorious ancestors.

Our shared minding of Olympian tales is also a way in which we may become culturally literature. This allows us to participate meaningfully in the great conversation which stretches from the distant past to our own day. If, for example, we read only Homer and the Bible, we may then actively appreciate the meaning of so much literature, painting, and sculpture which, over the centuries, was inspired by and refers to them.

This pious recollection of past wisdom, prudent familiarity with past follies, and active participation in the great conversation of the ages blesses our lives with an irreplaceable density of meaning. Strangely enough, the astonishing splendor of this density eventually grows too wonderful to express.

Copyright © 2013 by Steven Farsaci.
All rights reserved. Fair use encouraged.