Socrates consented serenely to taking hemlock, having been sentenced unjustly to death by the Athenians.
Cato stabbed himself to death after having meditated upon Socrates’ example, in order not to cede to Julius Caesar’s To achieve such “philosophic” constancy, Montaigne saw, requires a good deal more than book learning.
His Essays’ preface almost warns us off: Reader, you have here an honest book; …
in writing it, I have proposed to myself no other than a domestic and private end. No one before Montaigne in the Western canon had thought to devote pages to subjects as diverse and seemingly insignificant as “Of Smells”, “Of the Custom of Wearing Clothes”, “Of Posting” (letters, that is), “Of Thumbs” or “Of Sleep” — let alone reflections on the unruliness of the male appendage, a subject which repeatedly concerned him.
Philosophy, in this classical view, involves a retraining of our ways of thinking, seeing and being in the world.
Essays Of Montaigne Too Much Homework For Students
Montaigne’s earlier essay “To philosophise is to learn how to die” is perhaps the clearest exemplar of his indebtedness to this ancient idea of philosophy.
Their wisdom, he suggests, was chiefly evident in the lives they led (neither wrote a thing).
In particular, it was proven by the nobility each showed in facing their deaths.
When Michel de Montaigne retired to his family estate in 1572, aged 38, he tells us that he wanted to write his famous Essays as a distraction for his idle mind.
He neither wanted nor expected people beyond his circle of friends to be too interested.