Friday, April 11, 2008


Welcome to the ROMAN TREK--presented as an ancient
journal of a Praetorian-Philosopher. It was written from
February to April, 2008. To follow this journal, go to the
last post (which is the Introduction) and then move forward.



Epilogue. TREK'S END?

Now nearly sixty years old, I have reached that stage where
I am starting to muse over my life. Mine, probably like anyone's,
has been a long trek. I have been probing my feelings about
my choices, what I have done, what may I have accomplished,
and always that re-occurring question: what's next?

For the most part, I have considered my life in terms of my
"Seeding" hypothesis. For me seeds are symbolic of
*information.* The seeds that make the plants, the trees,
and us humans grow are informative. They determine how
we and all the other inhabitants of Creation should unfold.

I purposefully inserted the word "should," however, because
it's clear that often we created beings do *not* unfold
successfully. Again, there's those variables that can prevent
our becoming who we should be. They can range from
impoverishment to lack of awareness to plain stubbornness!
The lucky ones are those who managed, somehow, to follow
their inner daemon.

Thus far Fortune has attended me. Looking back, I feel positive
about my life. I followed my inner daemon and have no regrets.

Using a tree as an analogy, I am inclined to think of my soul as
the trunk--and, in this life, I have sprouted at least two branches:
one the Praetorian, the other the Philosopher. Seeming perhaps
an odd combination, I can only say that the seeds in my soul
determined me to develop these two major characteristics.

As for "what's next," well I am not a fortune teller. I'll continue to
pay attention to my inner daemon, read carefully those events
come my way in that they may point to yet another direction.
Maybe I am now just to be a man of leisure. If so, no apologies.
I will accept with gratitude even that.

Occasionally, too, I wonder about a future life. Yes, I am prone
towards believing in an ever occurring cycle of new lifetimes.
Perhaps not quite Stoic, in that mainstream philosophers of
Stoicism developed the idea of "eternal reoccurrence." They
were thinking that somehow, at given periods, the whole world
would recycle and return to the exact way that it had unfolded
before, *ad infinitum.*

But I am more prone towards the transmigration of the soul,
reincarnation if you will. Plato believed in reincarnation, as
expounded in his "Phado." And Pythagoras said that he could
remember some of his past lives. So I am not totally alone in
my opinion.

I'm inclined to believe that our soul--that analogous tree--resides
in the Universal Mind, taking leave, returning, ever growing new
branches, until it has reached a magnificent completion! This
opinion of mine gives me a meaningful sense of purpose--and
openness! There's also a "duty" involved, I believe. We must
come to understand our connection with the Logos, with the
Pneuma, in terms of the importance placed upon our lives.

As the Stoics say over and over, "we are as a microcosm to the

Carthage (4)

The years have been rolling-by. As one grows older, time
seems to move faster. It has been more than a decade since
I moved to Carthage. And lots of water has flowed under the
bridge. I still am astounded that I became a philosopher
and essayist. Still, I have to remember that some of the great
Stoics were also military men--even emperors like Hadrian,
who considered himself both a Stoic and an Epicurean.
Perhaps there's a contradiction here?

Regardless, no matter any rules or regulations--even in the
Stoa--we humans probably will never be perfect beings. More
likely we will be contradictory in many ways. I am surely such
an example; but, fortunately, I rarely have felt that I need
apologize for my imperfections.

Well, I meander. Just to bring my journal up-to-date, I must
make mention that both my nephews here in Carthage married
Phoenician women. Their offspring now share a new infusion
of ancient mariner blood that surely compliments our Roman
family's shipping interests. These marriages, too, pretty much
guarantee our family now being "anchored" in Carthage.

Eventually, though not surprising, my older brother decided to
retire in Carthage. No doubt he wanted to play with his grand-
children, but just as likely he wanted to play in our Carthage
office. As for our middle brother, he and his older sons are
now running the Ostia office. It would seem that our shipping
corporation, though integral, is now split permanently between
the two cities.

I was pleased to hear that one of the younger generation up
in Ostia desired a military career. He is going the same route
as I followed years ago. I wish him good fortune. Over my
years as a military tribune, then as a Praetorian, I had the good
luck living in a mostly peaceful era. Our emperors, thus far,
have been fairly decent men. And Hadrian had the good sense
not to expand our imperial borders, which more than often led
to conflict in earlier times.

As for Hadrian, he died a few years ago. He was succeeded
by his adoptive son, our Emperor Antoninus Pius, who also has
proved to be a connoisseur of the Arts. Like his predecessor,
he has built theatres and temples. He even has granted prizes
to philosophers! Most important, however, thus far he has kept
the peace!

Marc's landscaping business has flourished. He even acquired
a small farm full of groves of olive trees. Though an absentee
owner, he manages to visit his farm frequently. For both the farm
and his business, he has hired many locals who seem to share
his enthusiasm when it comes to both horticulture and agriculture.
Over the years I have been very pleased with my cousin. He is
a man of good taste, full of vigor when it comes to his interests.

Me? Well, I have been winding down slowly. I still teach at the
Stoa, and I write an occasional essay. Maybe I'll get back into
my writing more prolifically--some day--but right now it's all on
a slow burner. I guess that I have become a man of leisure, in
that I quite enjoy sitting around reading, taking walks, attending
the theatre and musicals, enjoying lectures, or visiting the city
forums. Most of all, I love going down to the seashore--just
relaxing, watching the waves crashing onto the beach.

I have even made friends of our local birds. When walking in
the atrium, or sitting on our hillside, I have discovered the most
sweet little birds. And over time they, too, have discovered me!
Some sit nearby and sing. Other birds perform acrobatics for
my pleasure. And the hummimgbirds constantly mistake me for
a food source, sometimes nearly bouncing into my head before
realizing they have made a mistake.

Life in Carthage has been good. And I will never be sorry that
I made my home in this fair city!

Carthage (3)

Coming close to the time I was to give my first lecture at the
Stoa, I realized that I really had to send my old toga to a
laundry. The thought of it disgusted me, but it wouldn't do
wearing a toga yellowed by age. The laundry uses urine
as a bleaching agent. Indeed urine is used to dye our
clothing as well, mixing a color into the urine. My concern
was about whether my toga would come back nice and
white, yet smelling like pee! Fortunately all laundry is aired
thoroughly, before being returned to the customer.

So the day arrived. I stood up, smart in my glistening toga
with the narrow purple stripe, nervous as a caught cat,
scared to death of a bunch of people who all seemed far
younger than me! Where was that tough Praetorian in me,
when I needed him?

Fortunately I found him! Awkward at first, I slowly became
caught-up in my thoughts and mouthed them quite nicely.
The students and scholastics applauded, grabbing me after
the lecture, asking me all sorts of excited questions. They
seemed delighted to hear what I had to say. I was most
appreciative--and relieved. With such a happy beginning,
I felt confident that I could continue presenting future lectures.

So, with that, I became an adjunct lecturer at the Stoa as
well as a recognized scholar at the Collegio Carthago.
I had once again found a place in the world, if you will.
Like when I was in the Praetorian Guard, I now again
was a member of a collegial community and enjoyed a
comradeship that I respected.

Over time I came to enjoy the activities held in our Commons
building. There were free lectures, plays, musical events
for the entire community of the Collegio Carthago. Sometimes
there were even functions open to the public. One such in
which I occasionally partook was what we called the "Sun Day
Meet." We would come together in festive song, listen to a
small talk, and share a meal together.

On one such Sun Day, enjoying the festive music, I looked up
at the far wall. I had seen it many times before, but this time
the plaque on the wall hit me square. A large plaque, it
consisted of a huge golden sun disk with an engraved word
at bottom: "Illumination." This sun disk was the symbol of
the Collegio.

I thought about this idea of illumination, meaning light. For
the Collegio Carthago it was about the Light of Knowledge.
For me it was that, but also I felt that it was about the Light of
the Logos, permeating Creation and all of us who lived in
the world. This Great Light, the Light of the World, was our
hope, our meaning! Strange, but tears came to my eyes.
I touched that little sun disk pendent that I wore around my
neck and dedicated myself to this Great Light. Once again
I declared a sacred allegiance, but to the Logos--the true
Sol Invictus!

Carthage (2)

After attending the lectures on Providence and the Pneuma,
I decided to review all those notes on the religious cults that
had attracted me over all my years wandering about the Empire.
Reading through, I really wasn't able to make anything concrete
out of them--other than they reflected impressions of what
God might be like for any given person or people. Religion
had been around forever, and (for me) it seems strange.

Why Religion? Is it a way that the Logos communes with us?
If the Logos is Cosmic Reason, why is Religion often so
unreasonable? Maybe the issue points to our own inability
to receive the Numinous in a straightforward way. We have
not yet developed enough; thus, we work through our emotions.
More importantly, perhaps we are coming to grips with Deity
through our intuition? And in the end these efforts come to
reside in varied religious cults.

Eventually I stashed my notes back in one of my trunks, no
doubt frustrated trying to make sense of any of this. Then
Providence played a joke on me.

I found out that the patron god of Carthage was Saturn, who
was the god of agriculture. Considering all the farmlands
around, Saturn would seem a good selection. But Saturn was
more--he was oft called the "god of seeds." Oh yes, Someone
was pulling my strings!

Over time I tried to work into astronomy. It seemed an effort
in futility. Wherever I turned, I ran into astrology. It was like
meeting twins--one trying to be scientific, and the other delving
into magical fortune-telling. It was just too difficult trying to pull
these two areas of study apart. As for our recent efforts to devise
a more correct calendar, such was mainly based on lunar and
solar cycles that seemed to have more import for agriculture--
what with the emphasis being on seasonal change.

In the end I decided to keep trying to become more expert
reading the naturalist writings that Marc had collected. Also,
I made use of the library at the Collegio Carthago. And,
finally, I began writing some small essays--and effort, at first,
to try to help me see a pattern out of all the information I had
come across, whether philosophical, religious, or naturalist

I knew that I was treading on unsteady ground, but fortunately
I didn't sink into a bog. My essays kept growing until I had
quite a collection. If nothing else, they might prove interesting
to someone. Than again, maybe not. I had both Quint and
Marc look them over. Both of them found my ideas challenging.
At least my thinking was different.

Quint suggested that I might compile all these essays into a book.
How do you do that, I asked. Easy, go down to one of the local
booksellers and let them put all my material together. The process
proved fascinating. The owner of the bookshop explained to me
that booksellers all over the Empire have thousands of copyists
at hand. His copyists would make duplicates of my notes; and
through gluing together the pages, they are rolled into a scroll.
Depending on the size, sometimes two scrolls are tied together.
These scrolls become books. And depending on their popularity,
they can be duplicated again and again.

Hence, I became an author of a book. And much to my
amazement, my book became popular and was duplicated over
and over--sent to private collectors as well as libraries. My
bookshop owner made a lot of money, and I made some. So
I made us both happy by writing more essays, turned into books.
As time went by, I had become fairly well known. At this point,
Quint (who had now become the head of the Carthage Stoa)
invited me to be a guest lecturer, giving at least three
presentations over a year.

I warned Quint that I was *not* a purebred Stoic. No matter, he
laughed. Putting together all these variables--whether philosophy,
whether religions. whether natural studies--would make for a
fascinating lecture. Besides I had become well known as an
author and surely would draw a crowd. Quint felt that what I had
been doing, trying to integrate the information in these fields,
seeing new patterns, formulating new models of understanding,
was well worth hearing about.

Amused, I walked home shaking my head. I had become a

Carthage (1)

Chapter Twelve. LIFE IN CARTHAGE

Eventually I returned to the Stoa, and sat-in on lectures given
at the other schools, trying to understand better the various
concepts of both Providence and the Pneuma. As best as I
could determine, Providence was just another term or aspect
for the Logos (Cosmic Reason). As for the Pneuma, it was
the Spirit of the Logos that flows through all things and helps
evolve the world and all of life. Again a synopsis of these
teachings come my way.

• The Logos Teaching in the Pythogorean and Platonic
Schools was as follows: the Logos is not the First Cause...rather
the Logos represents the first level of real manifestation or Being,
for it encompasses within itself all the laws and relations which
are later articulated in the phenomenal universe.

• For the Stoics God as the Logos--as Cosmic Reason--was
Providence. This Providence ordained all things. God was Fate,
too. The Stoics believed Fate imposed upon humanity a certain
determinism that allowed for freedom only within the context of
a person's inner acceptance of cosmic necessity.

• Philo Judaeus--a Jewish philosopher who lived in Alexandria
during the last century--distinguished between the Logos and
God. His idea of the Logos as the "word of God" was specifically
derived from Jewish Hellenistic wisdom literature which used the
word "wisdom" essentially as the "word of God." Philo was
talking about the Sophia.

• Philo likened this wisdom, this Word, as to a spring of water--
in that out of reason flowed speech. Especially important in this
analogy is that Reason is the Source and the Speech is the Flow.
Philo presents us with a two-fold Logos--a Ground of Being out
of which flows manifested intelligence.

• Philo believed God acted in this world through certain Powers:
God's Goodness (Creative or Beneficient or Gracious Power);
and God's Sovereignty (Regent, Punitive, or Legislative Power).
Pneuma, in turn, is the sustaining cause of all existing bodies
and guides the growth and development of animate bodies.

Again, any scholastic could see that all these Greek or
Hellenistic philosophies, even that of the Stoa, were following
the same current of thought. As for myself, if I were eventually
to work this material into my "Seeding" hypothesis, later to
integrate these philosophies with any naturalist studies, or
with astronomy, I would have to begin with a certain perspective.

Frankly, I felt that all these philosophers to be initially speculative.
Still, they seemed to follow the same current of thinking. Was this
representative of a *deep intuition* on their part? Maybe so, in
that perhaps Providence and its Pneuma were guiding these
philosophers along a certain path--having them follow the same
mental current.

Being a pragmatic fellow myself, I narrowed all these philosophies
into a simple three-fold structure: The CREATOR of the world,
who as the LOGOS is the "Pantokrator," the sustainer of the
world, the Ground, the Godhead, who also moves the world as
the PNEUMA, the Spirit spreading forth in all directions, unto

From my own perspective, it would seem that we are dealing
with an Intelligent Universal Mind or Force who acts upon us
and the world, evolving and moving us towards an unknown goal
or a completion--both individually and collectively! Within this
structure, I felt that finally I might slowly be able to weave in my
"Seeding" hypothesis.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Africa (4)

Once the commitment had been made, it was like I had been
thrust into a whirlwind. Marc and my older brother would soon
return to Ostia and Rome; but, just as quick, my cousin planned
to return with his and my collection of travel chests. During the
interim I was to scout around looking for a villa.

Before he left, I asked how we would pay for a villa? Not to
worry, Marc noted that he was a rich man. And once I collected
my thoughts, I realized that I was also financially capable what
with not only my Praetorian pension but also an un-cashed
property stipend. Beyond this I had interest money--as a "silent
partner" in my family's shipping corporation. It had steadily
accrued during all those years I spent in the Praetorian Guard.

So it appeared that I had a bundle that would help go to pay for
a villa. Marc agreed to the terms I put about the villa. But then
he dumped on me the task of finding one!

The Collegio Carthago was located in the gentle highlands at
the edge of Carthage, and there were villas situated in the area.
So I asked Quint to ask around about any that might be for sale.
I also went to my Praetorian friend, who had his finger on the
pulse of the province. Between the two I might have some luck
finding something quickly.

It worked! My Praetorian friend notified me that an unused villa
had been up for sale for a long time. It was in the right sector,
not at all far from the Collegio Carthago. The only trouble was
that it was small. Most people ignored this little villa, because
they were looking to house their family. But I figured it might
be perfect for a couple of bachelors like Marc and me.

The little villa was run down, but appeared to be architecturally
sturdy. There would be a lot of work to be done, but the price
was right. So I bid on a contract, but would not sign until Marc
returned. My cousin moved fast and was back in Carthage
before the month was out. He looked over the villa very
carefully, with a more trained eye than mine. Well, yes, it
needed some serious repairs and the atrium garden would
have to be re-established. No problem, Marc could build us
a garden that would be the envy of Carthage.

As for any architectural renovation, well we could both have
input and oversight. Agreed, we bought the little villa and
moved in our travel chests. No matter we didn't have any
furniture. That would come soon enough. First of all we
needed beds upon which to lay our head. The rest would
follow. It just took time.

After some months getting all this endeavor completed, we
finally had a home. It was the first *real* home for me since
my youth, when I grew-up in my father's house. Inaugurating
our villa, we threw a party for friends and family in Carthage.
Quietly observing all this, I was standing outside looking
down the slight hillside. There were a number of young people
lounging on the grass, laughing, eating, tasting wine. All of a
sudden it seemed in my mind's eye that I stood outside of
myself and looked across at the scene. Then it flashed before
me, I remembered that prophetic dream I had so long ago at
the Pergamon Asclepeion.

It was like at least a part of this curious dream had come true!
Though still not boasting white hair, I had begun to gray around
my temples. The party was actually a birthday party--mine!
I had just turned forty-five.