Maxim: Σαυτον ισθι or "Know yourself"
Plain Interpretation: Be introspective
So, this is one of the more well known and liked maxims if my observations serve correctly, and I have seen it plastered here or there a couple of times, yet some people seem to be using it with an air of inappropriateness.A means or way to just say 'Fuck you' to expectations and obligations to and from society at will, which I don't believe is the intent of the maxim at all. The ancient Athenians, like many ancient peoples, had a full understanding that every person had certain societal obligations that they had to fulfill whether they wanted to or not. Some folks had to step into the hereditary priesthood, you had to get military experience, you had to do your stint in the Jury, and yes, you had a certain obligation to produce an heir (even if you fancied Lads over Ladys). A maxim would not have arisen which amounted to 'Fuck it all! Do what is true to you, and only do that!' as some modernists would like to interpret it. Which, is perfectly fine and well I suppose.
I see it as a call to introspect though. Who are you what do you believe about the Gods? What have the Gods done for you? Who are the important people in your life? How do you function in others? So on and so forth on a great number of issues, your own feelings, the source of those feelings, your beliefs and their source. In doing this, we are better able to suss out our life in general and what actions we can take that will benefit ourselves AND those around us. It is not a call to ignore obligations, rather it is a call to figure out the source of things and examine your own psyche.
An added benefit to this, I believe, is that by knowing ourselves better we can build a relationship with the Gods that is more wholesome and good. We can plant the seeds of gratitude more efficiently when we know where the soil in our minds is fertile and where it is barren. For example, I like to eat, but I used to (and sometimes still do) have trouble remembering to do the morning devotional. I figured out that if I force myself to do the devotional before I eat I am more likely to remember it. This has GREATLY improved my consistency with doing my morning devotionals.
Now I just need to apply a method that will help me improve my consistency with the evening ones.
|Mind Warp by Gambafrolla on Flickr|