Marcus Aurelius writes: 'How useful, when roasted meats and other foods are before you, to see them in your mind as here the dead body of a fish, there the dead body of a bird or a pig. Or again to think of Falerian wine as the juice of a cluster of grapes, of a purple robe as sheep's wool dyed with the blood of a shellfish and of sexual intercourse as internal rubbing accompanied by the ejection of mucus. What useful images these are. They go to the heart of things and pierce right through them so that you see things for what they are.' What key insight is Marcus Aurelius trying to establish in the passage above?
a) He is condemning luxury living, such as drinking "Falerian wine" and expensive foods, such as fish. He is also arguing that "sex" is a bad thing.b) He is asking us to live a life dedicated to material comforts, as this is the key to happiness.c) Such descriptions get to the "heart" of things because they describe things in a totally neutral, objective, and rational manner that does not call upon us to issue a positive judgment, to become attached, to develop desire, etc. When we are free and rational, then we will be free to see things as they really are and to lead lives that can be useful, cooperative, and beneficial.d) Marcus was an Emperor who fought in many wars. Thus, material comforts such as good food, wine, and sex were very difficult to obtain. Hence he is arguing that during times of war it is best if solders keep their minds on the battle field, thus ensuring victory and glory.e) All of the above are true.
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