Vatican Saying 66

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Template:Vatican Saying 66


While the sentiment of this Saying is certainly noble, the meaning is somewhat ambiguous: if the friends towards whom we are urged to show sympathy are deceased, then this Saying correlates to Principal Doctrine 40, which assures us that the passing of a friend is hardly lamentable, but should be experienced along with the consolation that flows from pleasant memories of friendship; if, however, this Saying refers to living friends --in which case the term threnountes seems overly dramatic-- then we are urged to be pro-active in supporting our friends.

In the first possible case, a threnos, an outcry of grief and pain, would be the most common reaction of most ancient (and often also modern) people; this, however, leaves a question mark on exactly how we can "take care" of a person already deceased. Perhaps Epicurus meant that we ought to take care of their burial rites (an extremely important aspect of ancient Greek culture), or perhaps that we ought to take care of their widows and orphans (as Epicurus himself did, when it came to his own friends).

The second, and less likely case, would mean that we ought not join our friends too readily in their own lamenting of their misfortune (e.g. over a love lost, a business venture gone awry, a setback of any sort), but should rather show our sympathy by helping them out of their predicament. If this is the case, this would be a piece of both profound and practical advice: joining our friends in their unhappiness over whatever negative experience they may have had is all too common, yet ineffectual, or even counterproductive; far better to help them out of the experience altogether, to move onwards from it.

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