Page:Marcus Aurelius (Haines 1916).djvu/34

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STOICISM

eyes.[1] He often puts the alternative God (or Gods) and Atoms,[2] but himself firmly believes that there are immortal Gods[3] who care for mankind, live with them, and help even bad men.[4] He bids himself call upon them, follow them,[5] be their minister, live with them and be likened to them.[6] They too are part of the Cosmos and subject to its limitations, and by our own loyalty to Destiny we contribute to the welfare and permanence of God himself. But a predestined Order of things involved fatalism, and the Stoics were hard put to it to maintain the complete freedom of the will.

Unfortunately the Stoic scheme left no room for Immortality. At most a soul could only exist till the next conflagration, when it must be absorbed again into the Primary Being. Seneca indeed, who was no true Stoic, speaks in almost Christian terms of a new and blissful life to come,[7] but Epictetus turns resolutely, and Marcus with evident reluctance, from a hope so dear to the human heart. In one place the latter even uses the expression "another life,"[8] and finds it a hard saying that the souls of those who were in closest communion with God should die for ever when they die.[9] But he does not repine. He is ready for either fate, extinction or transference elsewhere.[10]

One more question remains, that of Suicide. The Stoics allowed* this, if circumstances made it im-

  1. xii. 28; iii. 16; viii. 19: 6 (Symbol missingGreek characters)
  2. iv. 3, 2; viii. 17; xi. 18, 1.
  3. ii. 11; vii. 70.
  4. ix. 11, 27, 40.
  5. A Stoic precept.
  6. cp. Julian, Conv. 421.
  7. Ep. 54, 102; Polyb. Consol. 28; ad Marciam, 25.
  8. iii. 3. 9
  9. xii. 5.
  10. iv. 21; xi. 3; xii. 31.