Two Slaves for the Price of One

Aristippus was a philosopher who could make any outfit look cool

His secret was that he simultaneously enjoyed the simple pleasure of looking stylish, but felt no attachment to his appearance.  (So he claimed)

He was a well known and sought after teacher in ancient Athens, and fetched a high price.

One day a father approached Aristippus, interested in getting a quote to educate his son.

The price? “1000 drachmas.”  In other words, 1000 times the daily wage of a moderately skilled laborer.

“Good Heavens! That’s a fortune!  Why, I could buy myself a slave for a thousand drachmas!”

Aristippus smiled.  “Great. Then you can have two slaves for the price of one.  Your son, and the other one you buy.”

Plutarch (or “pseudo-Plutarch”) observes that in his day, many parents preferred to skimp on their children’s tutors, like the father in the story.

But what did Aristippus mean? How would a poorly educated son be a slave? A slave to what?

Aristippus believed that philosophical training should liberate a person from false beliefs, from useless desires, and from all the lesser parts of our nature that drag us down and keep us from reaching our potential.

If you have not mastered your desires, and mastered your fears, then you are their servant, simple as that.  You become “your” own slave.

Don’t cheap out on investing in self-mastery. 

The greatest cost, however, is not money, but time.  Or, better stated, it is that most valuable (and now heavily monetizable) commodity: your attention.

Take time today to collect your thoughts, and bring to mind the kind of person you want to be.  The kind of person you truly can be.  Pay attention to that image, and carry it with you throughout the day.