A Healthy Man Is a Better Philosopher

A healthy man can help others better and longer. Anntonius the Pious, the adopted stepfather of Marcus Aurelius and one of the truly great Roman Emperors, kept a simple diet so he could work from dawn to dusk with as few bathroom interruptions as possible—so he could be at the service of the people for longer. And as Seneca wrote to a friend, the better you eat, the less you need to exercise, thus leaving more time for philosophy. Our keen edge, he said, is too often dulled by heavy eating and then wasted further as we drain our life-force in exercise trying to work it off. It’s ironic and sad how many people think they eat well but really sentence themselves to needless time at the gym. Imagine what would have come of that time if spent doing good for themselves and others.

An Athenian statesman once attended a dinner party put on by Plato. When he met his host again, he is reported to have said “Plato, your dinners are enjoyable not only when one is eating them, but on the morning after as well.” The man’s point was that he’d felt good the next day too. He was sharp and ready to go instead of a miserable bloated mess. To me, this is a host and a guest understanding the proper role of food, health and pleasure in our lives