THE WISDOM OF THE AGES
The teachings of ancient philosophers as well as the actions of ancient statesmen have had a lasting influence on the modern world. Most sayings of the Chinese philosopher Confucius hold true today. As for the Greeks, there is even a famous remark: "We are all Greeks -- our laws, our literature, our religion, our arts, have their root in Greece."
The students of the Faculty of World Politics pay the tribute to the wisdom of the past by speculating upon the matters of philosophy.
Ancient Greek statesman Solon was also a noted poet. He used his poetry to give his ideas easy access to the minds of the Athenians. His views on ordered society and moderation are revealed in the following poem:
Is not more rich for all those heaps and hoards
Than some poor man who has enough to feed
And clothe his corpse with such as God affords.
I have no use for men who steal and cheat;
The fruit of evil poisons those who eat.
Some wicked men are rich, some good men poor,
But I would rather trust in what's secure;
Our virtue sticks with us and makes us strong,
But money changes owners all day long.
The best translations:
Не станет от этих запасов богаче,
Чем нищий, что тело прикроет дерюгой,
Но, корку сжевав, будет рад, не заплачет.
Не вижу я пользы от жуликов, воров,
От тех, кто плоды, что запретны, срывает,
И брюхо свое насыщают с позором
Меж тем же, добыча их мозг убивает!
Уверен я в том лишь, что просто и честно -
И нищему, и богатею известно:
Богатство - порок; беднота - добродетель
И это дороже всех денег на свете!
Чья экономность не идет уж впрок,
Или бедняк, полунагой, полуголодный,
Что чистотой души богат, как Бог, -
Кто ближе мне? Ответить так хочу:
Не лжец, не вор, отравленный монетой,
А тот, кому и в бедности невзгоды по плечу,
Кто добр, не будучи богатым в жизни этой.
Мне добродетель, дух и кроткий нрав милей,
Чем деньги, что людей меняют, но не делают сильней.
Не делают они умней, храбрей, смелей.
Но кто оделся лишь, как боги позволяют,
Мечта им знак дает – идти за ней.
Воры, лжецы не обретут желанной славы,
Нажива их – для них же и отрава.
Два человека: злой богач и добрый нищий….
А в наше время нужно чтить и уважать того,
Чья добродетель остальных признанье сыщет.
Зла позолота мудрым сменится добром.
Не станет ведь счастливей бедняка,
Который слаб, но может прокормиться,
Прикрывшись тем, что Бог послал издалека!
В ворах и жуликах не вижу я нужды,
Из благоденствия отравлены плоды.
Я вот бы что сказал, без лжи и без сомнений:
Простой бедняк способен на благое дело,
Богач же часто сеет зло на свете белом.
We are also publishing the BEST ESSAYS on ancient statecraft and philosophy.
Hard-heartedness is the gravest human crime
The teachings of the famous Chinese philosopher Confucius were based on traditional values, such as love for humanity, ancestor worship, reverence for parents, devotion to friends and harmony in thought and conduct. But does his philosophy still hold true in the 21st century?
I’m not really a cynic and I do believe that there’s true love or true friendship somewhere in the world. I could say that I’m a pessimist by my observations and an optimist by my actions. However, what I see doesn’t make me too happy. Modern people seem to be obsessed with money, success, fame, glamour. We’re living in the age of ‘thingism’ and everyone is just pressing toward his place of honour under the Sun. People have become hard-hearted in this constant rage for fame, pleasure and authority.
Is there any code of ethics nowadays? I doubt that. “I deserve the best! Give it to me NOW” – is the motto of today’s generation. The epidemic of selfishness and narcissism has resulted in general moral decadence.
However I believe I have a simple solution to the problem: Do just a couple of good deeds during your day to those who are suffering, who are needy and sick, and you will feel happier and more self-confident!
There can be the objection: “That is all very good and your Confucius was wise for his time. But in our time if I act like a jelly-fish, I will be eaten by the sharks of business”. In reply I’d like to quote Confucius again. Once the scholar was asked: “Is it right that we should return good for evil?” The Master answered: “But what should we return for good then? Pay justice for evil and kindness for good”.
In the end we might conclude that hard-heartedness is the vice of our time. The wheel of fate is spinning with the horrifying speed. And in this total rush we should stop for a moment, sit back and think everything over. And then – start doing small good deeds. That might help us to make this word a better place!
We are all Greeks. Our laws, our arts, our literature have their roots in Greece.
My paper deals with the topic “We are all Greeks. Our laws, our art, our literature -- have their roots in Greece.” I wish to say that we owe the large part of what we have in our life to Ancient Greece. It was a country of true democracy; it had its own legislative and judicial bodies.
Firstly, I would like to speak on the Greeks laws. No society would operate properly if it doesn’t have such a strong basis at the foot of it. For example, every person has the right to vote. And this concept was born in Greece. The Greeks also had and respected the institute of Private Property. It helped them to form a stable nation and develop their economics. According to Solon’s reforms of 500 B.C., any person could take part in the government if he was of-age, but he could not occupy the post for longer than a year. This system still works in many Western countries, reflecting people’s right to be represented in government. Nowadays everyone understands that human rights are essential.
Secondly, the influence of Ancient Greece on World Art is enormous. The Greeks were the nation who brought realism into art and made it a part of the modern Art. Their sculpture is still amazing. The shapes of the statues are considered ideal. People, such as Myron, Policlet and others are true masters.
And the last but not the least is the influence of Greece over literature. They invented the epic genre and used it to portray their life – it’s notable that their ways still hold true these days. They also invented the alphabet, which was a large step forward in the history of mankind. If it weren’t for the alphabet, the world might have never read the essays of Plato, Aristotle, Socrates on all the aspects of human life. These philosophers studied the whole variety of human life - its moral and social values. They also wanted to get the answer to the main philosophic questions.
In conclusion I would like to say that we all should respect our history and what was before us, as what we have now has its roots in history. A person who doesn’t know history can’t make progress in his life.
On the sweet and sour ways of government
It is really difficult to rule a country.
That is why every ruler has his/her own methods and style of ruling and
reigning. Some choose cruel and severe ways. - for example, Draco, the Ancient
Greek Statesman, whose law code still makes its readers tremble with fear. Some
choose a more democratic style, like Solon, whose reforms were the first steps
of the rapidly developing Greek Democracy. In my opinion, the best approach to
government is the combination of the “sweet and sour“. It means that the
sovereign is combining the rough and the soft measures, using them in turns. As
Italian political philosopher Niccolo Machiavelli once noticed, a perfect ruler
can gain his people’s loyalty in two ways. The first way is to gain public
support and respect through compulsion and fear. But if the ruler presses too
hard on his peoples’ rights and liberties, he will soon face resistance. The
other approach consists of showing true generosity to your people. But once you
stop being generous, you are also soon to have trouble.
Let us reform in our schools, and we shall find little reform needed in our prisons.
It is a well-known fact that a person’s future character and manners of behavior are formed in his or her childhood. When children attend school, they receive not only knowledge but they also learn the basic rules of living in society. They acquire the ways of dealing with each other; ethical norms and moral values.
I quite agree with the opinion that if our schools can be reformed so that children are brought up in humane atmosphere and have a possibility to get proper education, in future they will grow into honest and respectable citizens.
On the one hand, they will be able to get an interesting and well-paid job. There will be no need to commit any crimes. On the other hand, their very nature will give them no chance to think of treating others severely. In other words, the healthier is the moral state of society the less people will be put into prisons. Therefore there will be no need to reform prisons.
Kamilla Akhmerova, Faculty of World Politics
This verse was written by Tamila Akhmadova after reading Solon's poem.
Стихам уж нету места в жизни,
© Just English 2007