Today I had another difficult decision, with Cicero and Bias of Priene each offering some of the same sort of political wisdom that Odysseus offers in Sophocles’ Ajax and Oedipus does in the Oedipus Coloneus: in Cicero’s terms, “Love like you’re going to hate.” In other words, in enough time, friends become enemies (so Oedipus), and enemies friends (Odysseus), or even back again (Bias).
Better than this, of course, is the following, which I read tonight with my son when I got home from work. He was already in his pajamas and reading by himself in bed, but I was in time for the third chapter of The Hobbit: “A Short Rest”. It’s better than the wisdom of a vengeful father or a sophistical maneuverer for a frosty night like tonight with the smell of pine and the soft glow of a string of lights in the living room while the sounds of my wife making apples and truffles for the neighbors drift over from the dining room.
It needs no elaboration:
“And so at last they came to the Last Homely House, and found its doors flung wide.
“Now it is a strange thing, but things that are good to have and days that are good to spend are soon told about, and not much to listen to; while things that are uncomfortable, palpitating, and even gruesome, may make a good tale, and take a deal of telling anyway. They stayed long in that good house, fourteen days at least, and they found it hard to leave. Bilbo would gladly have stopped there for ever and ever—even supposing a wish would have taken him right back to his hobbit-hole without trouble. Yet there is little to tell about their stay.”
Thanks, dear reader, should you ever find me, for being the gadfly of my discipline.