Meditations for submissives 008: Severus

The Meditation for May is good advice for everyone regarding being a decent human, leader and friend.

This is Book One, Number Fourteen.

The Maxwell Stanisforth translation in full:

From my brother Severus I learnt to love my relations, to love the truth, and to love justice. Through him I came to know of Thrasea, Cato, Helvidius, Dion, and Brutus, and became acquainted with the conception of a community based on equality and freedom of speech for all, and a monarchy concerned primarily to uphold the liberty of the subject. He showed me the need for a fair and dispassionate appreciation of philosophy, an addiction to good works, open-handedness, a sanguine temper, and confidence in the affection of my friends. I remember, too, his forthrightness with those who came under his censure, and his way of leaving his friends in no doubt of his likes and dislikes, but of telling them plainly.

There’s a lot going on this time out, so let’s break it down a little.

From my brother Severus I learnt to love my relations, to love the truth, and to love justice.

Severus was neither Marcus’ birth nor adoptive brother, so he must mean spiritual brother.

Not this one, either. Looks like he’s about to drop some philosophy, though. (source)

I’m fully in favour of loving and respecting people who’ve earned it, though, whether they’re related to you or not. I’m sure Severus was wise indeed, but not all relations deserve your time and energy.

Truth and justice—yes and yes. The truth may make you miserable, but it’s better than a happy lie. Children are placated with happy lies.

Through him I came to know of [many fun names to say, but people we don’t really need to concern ourselves with*] and became acquainted with the conception of a community based on equality and freedom of speech for all…

We’re all still on board for this, right?

…and a monarchy concerned primarily to uphold the liberty of the subject.

And we were sailing along so smoothly. Marcus was co-Emperor of Rome a couple of times and he believed in civic responsibility and doing the right thing for the people. This statement calls back to that—if a person has absolute power they should use it to ensure the well-being and freedom of the people they have power over.

Considering we can’t seem to reach that ideal with democracy I’m going to side with Marcus on this.

Fire and blood, friend. Fire and blood.

He showed me the need for a fair and dispassionate appreciation of philosophy…

Whether or not a person would like to study philosophy is up to each individual. Learning to think and examine one’s own thoughts and how other people think is highly useful, but it can also be taken to an extreme that’s unproductive.

Stoicism was revolutionary because it was the first (or one of the first, though I believe the actual first) philosophy that could be lived. Meaning, people could base their lives and conduct on the philosophy, rather than sitting around yakking about something that wasn’t going to affect their behaviour or the world around them all day.

I’m on the side of doing something productive rather than pondering infinite hypotheticals to no good end, so, while it’s interesting to learn about other philosophical schools (just as it’s interesting to learn about anything in the world), at a certain point I feel like: AND?

…an addiction to good works, open-handedness, a sanguine temper, and confidence in the affection of my friends.

Sevvy…Russ? Marcus’ brother was big on helping people out and being useful, being generous, not flipping out about everything little thing and knowing your friends had your back.

This is the only section of this piece that would apply specifically to s-types. Being of service, being generous and maintaining an even temper.

He sounds all right to me, really. The sort of person you’d enjoy spending time with who’d make you want to be a better person. I still wouldn’t name my kid after him. It’s an awkward name. (Though it was one of Marcus’ names at birth.)

I remember, too, his forthrightness with those who came under his censure, and his way of leaving his friends in no doubt of his likes and dislikes, but of telling them plainly.

Severus was also a straightforward person. The stoics valued straightforwardness in general and this guy had it in spades. If he rebuked you he told you exactly why and if you were friends you knew where he stood on all things. He was confident in his opinions and shared them easily.

*I say we don’t need to concern ourselves with the people Marcus mentions, because Meditations was written for himself—it was called To Myself—and wasn’t intended for public consumption. When he included names, it would have been to remind himself of connections between people like a diary—an audience wouldn’t be expected to know who those mentioned were.

Also, many of these people have been lost to antiquity and we wouldn’t know who they were anyway. (Not that I wouldn’t love a deluxe edition of this book with links to everyone they could find information on.)

For more information on this series, please see this post.

Meditations for submissives 007

The Meditation for April is all-round good advice and completely straightforward, as well.

(For less-than-straightforward, but no less useful entries in this series, start here.)

This is from Book One, Number Ten

The Maxwell Stanisforth translation in full:

It was the critic Alexander who put me on my guard against unnecessary fault-finding. People should not be sharply corrected for bad grammar, provincialisms, or mispronunciations; it is better to suggest the proper expression by tactfully introducing it oneself in, say, one’s reply to a question or one’s acquiescence in their sentiments, or into a friendly discussion of the topic itself (not of the diction), or by some other suitable form of reminder.

This is always necessary advice to us pedants. No one likes an overly-fussy submissive. Or Dominant, for that matter. Be polite, basically.

Meditations for submissives 006

This month’s Meditation has advice for both D-types and s-types.

Please see the first post in the series for an introduction to this feature.

This is Book One, Number Nine.

The Maxwell Stanisforth translation:

My debts to Sextus include kindliness, how to rule a household with paternal authority, the real meaning of the Natural Life, an unselfconscious dignity, an intuitive concern for the interests of one’s friends, and a good-natured patience with amateurs and visionaries. The aptness of his courtesy to each individual lent a charm to his society more potent than any flattery, yet at the same time it enacted the complete respect of all present. … Never displaying a sign of anger nor any kind of emotion, he was at once entirely imperturbable and yet full of kindly affection. His approval was always quietly and undemonstratively expressed, and he never paraded his encyclopaedic learning.

Let’s take it a bit at a time.

My debts to Sextus include kindliness, how to rule a household with paternal authority,

Once again, it doesn’t matter who Sextus was. He was kind and was apparently a paragon of other admirable qualities and that’s what we’re here for—to pilfer his admirable qualities for our nefarious purposes.

Good ol’ Sexy knew how to—not run—but ‘rule’ a household, which is rather Dominant. The word used is ‘paternal’ authority, but it’s difficult to believe there were no houses in Rome where the women were in charge.

the real meaning of the Natural Life,

I don’t know enough about Stoicism to properly interpret this, though the Stoics believed everyone was part of nature/the natural plan and this may refer to that. Your mileage may vary on this phrase depending on your personal philosophy on that topic. (If I’m even interpreting that correctly.)

an unselfconscious dignity, an intuitive concern for the interests of one’s friends, and a good-natured patience with amateurs and visionaries.

I’m not sure if a self-conscious person can have dignity, but the point is Sexy had it in spades. Which is one of those traits people on both sides of the slash should have. An inherent concern for your friends’ interests (what’s best for them in life—not their hobbies) is a mark of a decent human being.

Possessing not only patience, but good-natured patience with amateurs and visionaries is useful today in the kink scene for both sides of the slash.

‘My, yes, you are Lord Master Domly Dragon Cock. It’s exciting you’re finally old enough to drink, as well.’

The Stoics are like immortals—they take the very long view. Absolutely nothing is new. Humans have been doing the same things, for good or ill, since time immemorial so getting riled up about it is a waste of time and energy. It’s best to use your time and energy to control the things you can and to make the world a better place for those around you because all anyone has is this very moment and we’re all in this together.

In the kink scene, as long as no one is in danger then that brand new twenty year old Master on the scene will get over it and improve. Deal with them with good-natured patience or they’ll never learn.

The aptness of his courtesy to each individual lent a charm to his society more potent than any flattery, yet at the same time it enacted the complete respect of all present.

Basically, people can be suspicious of flattery. All you have to do is be genuinely nice. Simple courtesy makes people like and respect you. This works for all humans—not just kinky people.

Never displaying a sign of anger nor any kind of emotion, he was at once entirely imperturbable and yet full of kindly affection. His approval was always quietly and undemonstratively expressed, and he never paraded his encyclopaedic learning.

Stoics highly valued moderation in all things, particularly displays of emotion, even when in physical pain, no matter what is happening. Certain sorts of both D and s-types also place a high value on the control of extreme emotion as a sign of mastery of self or respect, depending on the side of slash the person resides on. Being imperturbable no matter the situation is a mark of a person prepared for anything—also highly valuable in either a D or s-type.

Sextus not only didn’t give over to flattery, but he was also quiet in his approval, which must have made it that much more valuable. This may or may not work for a D-type, in that some s-types want lots of praise, others only want it when they’ve felt they’ve earned it.

And finally, he was a smart guy but didn’t make people feel badly about not being as smart as he was. That’s just basic human decency. No one wants to serve a braggart and no one wants to own a braggart. Being around a pompous ass is no fun as a human being, either.

In short: Sextus was a super chill guy knew how to keep his subs in line.

Meditations for submissives 005

This post guest-stars Epictetus! Bonus! (source)

For an introduction to this series, please see the first post.

Unlike some selections in this series, this is the entire segment.

Book One, Entry Seven.

From the Stanisforth translation:

From Rusticus I derived the notion that my character needed training and care, and that I must not allow myself to be led astray into a sophist’s enthusiasm for concocting speculative treatises, edifying homilies, or imaginary sketches of The Ascetic or The Altruist. He also taught me to avoid rhetoric, poetry and verbal conceits, affectations of dress at home, and other such lapses of taste, and to imitate the easy epistolary style of his own letter written at Sinuessa to my mother. If anyone, after falling out with me in a moment of temper, showed signs of wanting to make peace again, I was to be ready at once to meet them half-way. Also I was to be accurate in my reading, and not content with a mere general idea of the meaning; and not let myself be too quickly convinced by a glib tongue. Through him, too, I came to know Epictetus’s Dissertations, of which he gave me a copy from his library.

There’s much to discuss here but we’ll take it bit-by-bit.

First, with any of Marcus’ writing (yes, that’s what people call him, I know it sounds like I’m being overly familiar—it feels weird), don’t get hung up on names of people or places that mean nothing to you. Rusticus sounds like a great name for a Rottweiler or a Pomeranian to me, for example, and I haven’t the foggiest clue what his letter written at Sinuessa was like. That’s not important most of the time. We’re looking for the overall meaning.

The take-aways from this one:

Your character needs training and care.

Well. I should think so. If anyone can understand needing training and care it’s an s-type. If you’re not with a D-type you should be improving (training) yourself in order to make yourself worth owning.

Then he goes on a run:

I must not allow myself to be led astray into a sophist’s enthusiasm for concocting speculative treatises, edifying homilies, or imaginary sketches of The Ascetic or The Altruist.

Short version: Don’t be distracted by the unattainable or practically impossible. A sophist is a philosopher and, yes, Marcus was a Stoic philosopher, but Stoicism is a philosophy that can be practiced rather than only discussed. It’s not practical for most people to be ascetic (avoiding physical pleasure) or completely altruistic (entirely unselfish).

Stoicism was about moderation in all things and recognised human nature for what it was and the need to help our fellow man and forgive him for being human.

Next up!

He also taught me to avoid rhetoric, poetry and verbal conceits, affectations of dress at home, and other such lapses of taste, and to imitate the easy epistolary style of his own letter written at Sinuessa to my mother.

We’ve covered the letter part—I suppose Rusticus wrote great letters? No clue. This sentence is about what the French would call ‘farting higher than your ass‘ or being pretentious. This goes back to moderation in all things.

Boy, ol’ Rusty taught Marcus a lot. Next on the scroll:

If anyone, after falling out with me in a moment of temper, showed signs of wanting to make peace again, I was to be ready at once to meet them half-way.

I admit, this is one I struggle with. No one is saying any of these things is easy and I’m certainly not saying I achieve these every day, but they’re attributes and actions I strive for and believe make better s-types and D-types.

This one is pretty self-explanatory, I think.

Also I was to be accurate in my reading, and not content with a mere general idea of the meaning; and not let myself be too quickly convinced by a glib tongue.

At first glance, this looks like it’s two separate thoughts separated by a semicolon, but they’re both about looking beneath the surface. Check the methodology. Ask who funded the study. Read more than the headline. Be aware of confirmation bias. Apparently they had fake news 2,000 years ago.

We made it! We finally made it!

Through him, too, I came to know Epictetus’s Dissertations, of which he gave me a copy from his library.

Epictetus was also a Stoic philosopher. I admit I have not read his work, spending most of my time luxuriating in Meditations. Only fragments of Dissertations remain—his most well-known and available works are Discourses and Enchiridion.

From Wikipedia:

Epictetus taught that philosophy is a way of life and not just a theoretical discipline. To Epictetus, all external events are beyond our control; we should accept calmly and dispassionately whatever happens. However, individuals are responsible for their own actions, which they can examine and control through rigorous self-discipline.

That’s a core tenet of Stoicism, along with the other things I’ve mentioned.