Wednesday, February 9, 2005

Maimonides and Marcus Aurelius

I was reading excerpts from Maimonides' Mishneh Torah this week for my 'Classics of the Jewish Tradition' class and I ran across this passage:

"A man should always regard himself as if his death were iminent and think that he may die this very hour, while still in a state of sin. He shouldn't therefore repent of his sins immeadiately and not say, "When I grow old I shall repent," for he may die before he becomes old. So Solomon, in his wisdom, said, "Let your garmets be always white, and oil on your head not be lacking" (Eccles. 9.8)."
- Mishneh Torah Chapter 7.2, from I Twersky's Maimonides Reader.
Which immeadiately brought to mind this passage from Marcus Aurelius' Meditations:
"Do not act as if thou wert going to live ten thousand years. Death hangs over thee. While thou livest, while it is in thy power, be good."
- Meditations, Book 2, Translation by George Long
I wonder of there is any connection. Maimonides was well versed in Greek philosophy, but I'm not sure that the Meditations were widely available at this time. Interesting parallel none the less.


The background image on this page is a Hebrew translation of the verse from Bob Dylan's song  It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding), from which the title of this blog is taken. Translation courtesy of Yoram Aharon of Hod-HaSharon's page--found via YudelLine-- which has many Dylan lyrics in Hebrew.