Monday, July 24, 2017

Mens sana in corpore sano

The only road to a life of peace is virtue

Rudolf Steiner:
We need teachers who are able to educate children on the basis of a conception of the world that understands the true being of man. This was the thought underlying the Course I gave to the teachers when the Waldorf School at Stuttgart was founded. All the principles of the art of education as expounded in that Course strive in the direction of making men and women out of the children who are being educated — men and women in whom lungs, liver, heart, stomach, will be healthy in later life because, in childhood, they were helped to develop their life-functions in the right way, because, in effect, the soul worked in the right way.

This conception of the world will never give a materialistic interpretation of the old saying, Mens sana in corpore sano. Interpreted in the materialistic sense this means: If the body is healthy, if it has been made healthy by all kinds of physical methods, then it will of itself be the bearer of a healthy soul. Now this is pure nonsense. The only real meaning of the phrase is this: a healthy body bears witness to the fact that the force of healthy soul has built it up, moulded it, made it healthy. A healthy body proves that a healthy soul has worked within it. That is the right interpretation of the phrase — and only in this sense can it be a principle of true hygiene.

"Mens sana in corpore sano": The phrase comes from Satire X of the Roman poet Juvenal (10.356). It is the first in a list of what is desirable in life:
English translation:
You should pray for a healthy mind in a healthy body.
Ask for a stout heart that has no fear of death,
and deems length of days the least of Nature's gifts;
that can endure any kind of toil;
that knows neither wrath nor desire and thinks
the woes and hard labors of Hercules better than
the loves and banquets and downy cushions of Sardanapalus.
What I commend to you, you can give to yourself;
For assuredly, the only road to a life of peace is virtue.

In the original Latin:

orandum est ut sit mens sana in corpore sano.
fortem posce animum mortis terrore carentem,
qui spatium vitae extremum inter munera ponat
naturae, qui ferre queat quoscumque labores,
nesciat irasci, cupiat nihil et potiores
Herculis aerumnas credat saevosque labores
et venere et cenis et pluma Sardanapalli.
monstro quod ipse tibi possis dare; semita certe
tranquillae per virtutem patet unica vitae.


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