Is Your Appearance Equal to Your Virtue?

Is Your Appearance Equal to Your Virtue?

Sarcophagus of Scipio Barbatus (appearance equal to virtue)
Sarcophagus of Scipio Barbatus whose appearance was equal to his virtue by Giovanni Battista Piranesi c. 1762 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
In Mary Beard’s new documentary Ultimate Rome: Empire Without Limit (episode 1), she visits the sarcophagus of Scipio Barbatvs (or in English, Beardie Scipio) and reads us part of his epitaph. Among the other impressive things about him, it turns out that his appearance was equal to virtue. Or as Mary translates, “he looked the part – he cut a dash”.

Which fascinates me given my effort to develop the virtue of beauty. Particularly as I came at it from the notion of a Starship Captain’s Command Presence. If that’s not a whole new strange and interesting ball of string theory, I don’t know what is.

Don’t you think it’s amazing that 2,500 years after his death, Beardie Scipio is as well-known for his good looks as for his battlefield victories? In fact, given that his beauty comes before his conquest, was he perhaps better known for being a bit of all right than for warfare? Or would his beauty have been forgotten without his other exploits? Or is it more that he was an all round good bloke? A man’s man, but a ladies man when he needed to be.

Hard to know – I’m expecting rather a lot from 31 words.

What Has This Got to do With You

Today was an exciting day for me, but for the purpose of this post, I spent a little more time thinking about wisdom and friendship than I otherwise might. Katy more or less asked me whether I thought people had to have their own brush with death before they could wake up and pay attention to living their version of a worthwhile life.

Perhaps there are some people who can, and maybe do, but I think most of us are more like Ebenezer Scrooge. We bustle busily and unconsciously along doing what we think are important things like going home to whine to our partners about our bosses before taking a work call or email. When you could be spending time with the person you ostensibly wanted to spend the rest of your life with. Or the tiny unique people you created with that person. Or your pet dogs, cats, birds, fish or zombies.

So this weekend, try to come up with just one thing that makes your life better and set aside some time to do it in. And if it involves people you love and want to spend more time with, then bonus points to you. And if the best you can do is shopping and chores, then choose to make your appearance equal to your virtue.

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