Summum Bonum

Some months back I loaned my copy of Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens to a friend-of-a-friend. He messaged me awhile ago and said that he ‘owed me a book’. I asked for clarification and apparently his dog, a Vizsla that goes by the moniker Frank Tempo, had ‘dispatched’ the book with due prejudice. I laughed and said I could think of no better way for that book to have met it’s untimely end.

I said to not worry about the book, but noted that he’d given an Memento Mori coin to our mutual friend and hinted that one of those would be nice…

Summum Bonum coin from dailystoic.com

This morning in the mail I received a very nice gift from him, surpisingly a Summum Bonum coin instead. From the attached card:

Summum Bonum is an expression from Cicero, Rome’s greatest orator. In Latin, it means “the highest good.”

And what is the highest good? What is it that we are supposed to be aiming for in this life?

To the Stoics, the answer is virtue. If we act virtuously, they believed, everything else important could follow: Happiness, success, meaning, reputation, honor, love.

Our goal in creating this medallion is that you will feel its weight in your pocket and remember that no matter the circumstance, no matter how dire or desperate, how straightforward or scary, virtue is the answer.

The coin is very well made, nicely sized and with a substantial heft. Feels really nice in the hand. I am inspired to honor my friend and his gift by striving each day for “the highest good.”

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