Marcus Aurelius, Meditations (Nature’s Beauty)

We ought to observe… that even the things which follow after the things that are produced according to nature contain something pleasing and attractive. For instance, when bread is baked, some parts are split at the surface, and these parts which thus open, and have a certain fashion contrary to the purpose of the baker’s art, are beautiful in a manner, and in a peculiar way excite our appetite. And again, figs, when they are quite ripe, gape open; and in the ripe olives the very circumstance of their being near to rottenness adds a peculiar beauty to the fruit. And the ears of corn bending down, and the lion’s eyebrows, and the foam that flows from the mouth of wild boars, and many other things – though they are far from being beautiful, if a man should examine them separately – still, because they follow from the things that are formed by nature, help to adorn them, and they please the mind; so that if a man should have a feeling and deeper insight with respect to the things that are produced in the universe, there is hardly one of those by-products that will not fail to give pleasure. And so he will see even the real gaping jaws of wild beasts with no less pleasure than those that painters and sculptors show by imitation; and in an old woman and an old man he will be able to see a certain maturity and comeliness; and the attractive loveliness of young persons he will be able to look on with chaste eyes; and many such things will seem pleasing, but only to him who has become truly familiar with nature and her works.

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