Begotten or Made?: Human Procreation and Medical Technique by Oliver O'Donovan

By Oliver O'Donovan

Begotten or Made?

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The discipline of assent, the separation of what can be controlled from what is external, and the freedom that results from suspending judgments are all summarized in Marcus’s counterintuitive observation: It’s the pursuit of these things, and your attempts to avoid them, that leave you in such turmoil. And yet they aren’t seeking you out; you are the one seeking them. Suspend judgment about them. And at once they will lie still, and you will be freed from fleeing and pursuing. ) In chapter 1, the young physician’s attempts to avoid the tunnel—attempts that lead him to evade his patient’s question about what happened there—leave him in turmoil.

It is not outside, but within, and when all is lost, it stands fast” (xlix–l). Percy catches Marcus’s uncanny ability to speak to a reader like a voice from within (and if the voice of one translation does not speak to you, try another), and Marcus’s attraction to those who seek to stand fast when all is lost. Phillip Simmons died soon after Learning to Fall was published. Marcus affirms his discovery that standing fast, in Percy’s phrase, can mean learning to fall, a practical necessity for a man with degenerative muscle disease.

Farquharson, a soldier as well as a classics teacher, died in 1942, and his translation was published two years later; the current edition is corrected by Rutherford. Farquharson’s Marcus sounds to me like an aphorist, speaking from some height to a reader below. ” More recent translations emphasize him speaking to himself, exhorting himself to live as he ought to. In Long’s and Farquharson’s translations, “you” seems addressed to the reader. Marcus sounds like one who already knows and is passing on his accumulated wisdom.

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