Friday, August 24, 2012

Do not be discontented by life (Τω βιω μη αχθου)

Today is my birthday. I'm now officially twenty-seven years old. Today is a busy day so I'm doing a short one, one of the Delphic Maxims series I have been doing on my blog for a while.

A little less than I week ago, I discussed the Delphic Maxim of  'be grateful' (Ευγνωμων γινου). Today I'm addressing a related maxim but one with a very different reasoning behind it; 'do not be discontented by life' (Τω βιω μη αχθου).

We are all told our fate soon after we are born. At night, the Moirae (Μοιραι)--better known as the Fates--enter the room where the newborn lies and they whisper their destiny into their ear. They are the only ones who can do this, as they have spun the threads that make up our fate. Mothers can invite the Moirae by leaving offerings on a table in the nursery. If they wait long enough, the Moirae will appear and, while they enjoy the offerings, will tell the faith of the child. The most well known myth surrounding this event is that of Althaea and Melaeger, who are told that Melaeger will only live as long as the log in the hearth remains unconsumed. Althaea hurries to extinguish the log but eventually kills her son by burning the log.

Fate, although set, is not unbendable. Odysseus was destined to return home to Ithaca, and although the Gods did everything to stop him, he eventually returned home. Myth suggests that, if Zeus really wants someone's faith to change, He can make it so. Yet, overall, our fate does not change. We do what we must, die when we must, live through what we must. We can plead to the Gods to lighten our load when it's too much to bare, but this Maxim reminds us that, if we would ask for anything, it be the strength to bare what we were given, because what we were given, was given to us by the Gods.

To be discontent with life is to question the will of the Gods. It's hubris. Because of this it's dangerous. The Maxim may seem close to 'be grateful', but it's far more severe. It's a warning, not a reminder. So, perhaps, the next time you feel like cursing the Gods or your bad luck, you will remember the Moirae and this Maxim and think twice.

For more Delphic Maxim discussions, go here.

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