Happy Twentieth: O Fortuna!

Happy Twentieth to all Epicureans everywhere! This month I’m sharing epic and ecstatic music–merely for the sake of pleasure! But first some literary updates: SoFE recently published a translation of a chapter of the book Cosmos by Michel Onfray titled A Transcendental Epicureanism. He makes the case that natural cosmology can be as full of wonder, beauty and as sublime as supernatural belief–a point I’ve made while discussing ancient Epicurean works of sci-fi. The book Cosmos was written by the eminent French intellectual shortly after the death of his father, and is an exploration of our place in the universe.

Aeon frequently publishes very intellectually stimulating, usually unbiased, and enjoyable reads. This month, it published a piece titled Philosophy shrugged: ignoring Ayn Rand won’t make her go away. I haven’t read Rand’s novels, but did read and enjoy the non-fiction exposition of her personal philosophy, The Virtue of Selfishness. I do not subscribe to many of her views, and in the past I’ve written critical essays about how her philosophy fails when translated into practice in human relations and government policy. However, I did find Virtue of Selfishness a very stimulating read, and–as long as we read her critically, as the Aeon piece advises–would recommend it.

Today, I’m sharing the song O Fortuna. I’ve heard it many times, but it never occurred to me to think on its meaning until I came across this online version in Latin with English translation, and it reminded me of VS 47.

I have anticipated you, Fortune, and entrenched myself against all your secret attacks. And we will not give ourselves up as captives to you or to any other circumstance; but when it is time for us to go, spitting contempt on life and on those who here vainly cling to it, we will leave life crying aloud in a glorious triumph-song that we have lived well. – Vatican Saying 47

O Fortuna is just that “glorious triumph-song” to Fortune: perhaps even a song of disdain, and a proud declaration of independence from her whims. It never occurred to me before that there may be songs out there that provide THE perfect soundtrack to the various Principal Doctrines and Sayings in our tradition, and now I will continue to make it my mission to find them, to be on the lookout for more instances of philosophically inspired soundtracks. If you know of any, please share them with me in the comments section!

Other songs I’ve found and enjoyed online recently are Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, Marios Strofalis’ Eroica, Sequentia’s Ragnarok–an ecstatic homage to the Norse epic, Wardruna’s Laukr (a meditation on the rune Laguz and on the natural magic of lakes) and Jara (a meditation on the harvest rune, and a blessing for the opening of a new year), and a beautiful grand piano cover of Binary Sunset–the song we hear in the iconic Star Wars scene after Luke Skywalker argues with his uncle about having to work another season, when he stands under the double sunset of the planet Tatooine to ponder his destiny.

About hiramcrespo

Hiram Crespo is the author of 'Tending the Epicurean Garden' (Humanist Press, 2014), 'How to Live a Good Life' (Penguin Random House, 2020), and Epicurus of Samos – His Philosophy and Life: All the principal Classical texts Compiled and Introduced by Hiram Crespo (Ukemi Audiobooks, 2020). He's the founder of societyofepicurus.com, and has written for The Humanist, Eidolon, Occupy, The New Humanism, The Secular Web, Europa Laica, AteístasPR, and many other outlets.
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