Psychomachia

Patience is a virtue, so they say; whomever they are. The proverbial phrase is said to originate from a character in the epic poem, “Psychomachia,” written by late-antique Latin poet, Aurelius Prudentius Clemens, in the fifth century CE.

The poem’s title translates as “The Battle for the Soul of Man.” In the lyrics, man’s vices and virtues are personified into characters. Among them are the Seven Heavenly Virtues: Chastity, Temperance, Clarity, Diligence, Kindness, Humility and Patience, all of whom fight the personified vices of Paganism, Avarice, Pride, Wrath and Lust, to name a few.

All the personifications are of women, which makes sense to me; although, the reason for this is probably the fact that in Latin, abstract terms are all in the feminine gender.

Patience is up against Wrath in the story, who both meet on the battlefield. The former was watching the chaos from the sidelines. Her placid demeanor never changed as weapons inflicted their mortal wounds to the other virtues and vices.

Wrath, out in the distance, observed Patience and became enraged at seeing the even-tempered woman who remained neutral to the goings-on. As the poem reads, translated from Latin:

Baring her teeth in anger and letting flecks of foam fall from her gaping black mouth, the vice darts her bloodshot eyes this way and that and challenges Patience to fight both by brandishing the weapons of combat and by making a speech: she mocks Patience for keeping a place on the side, infuriated by such reticence.

Wrath threw a spear with upmost accuracy, which struck Patience’s belly, but was deflected and fell into the dirt; for “The virtue has wrapped her body in a jacket of steel links: this garment is three layers in thickness and its fabric is stitched together with leather.

Patience stood there unemotionally as a barrage of ancient weapons of mass destruction fell at her feet, watching calmly as her foe raged in “uncontrolled frenzy.” She knew Wrath will perish as a result of her own violence.

After all of Wrath’s resources had been repelled by Patience, weapons littered the battlefield that surrounded the unharmed woman. The voracious warrior had become exhausted during the brouhaha; her right hand was rendered useless, relying on the left to pull the sword from its sheath and striking her adversary over the head with the blade, which shattered after bouncing off Patience’s bronze-forged helmet, crumbling and landing before the angry vice’s protective battle sandals.

The virtuous woman remained standing collectedly as ever, which thoroughly infuriated Wrath. Throwing at Patience the sword’s hilt that remained in hand, the antagonist discovered she hadn’t any more weapons, resorting to the last honorable way out, as far as she was concerned, committing suicide after picking up the shaft of one of the useless weapons, sticking it in the dirt and falling on the upturned point.

Patience stood over the lifeless body of her enemy and said:

We have conquered. With no danger to life, our accustomed virtue has won the day again. This is the way we live, wiping out the devils of passion and all their attendant evils by standing as they attack. Wrath is its own enemy.  Fury kills herself.

As she turned away and walked amongst the dead and wounded in the battlefield, Patience was the one without injury. I assume the opening proverb in this essay comes from the following lines of the poem:

Patience allies herself with the other virtues and freely gives assistance wherever it is needed. No virtue enters the battle without the help of Patience. Only Patience has the strength needed by all the others.

tele

Fender Squire Telecaster

So what has all of this to do with my weekly tirade? Patience is something I’m very short of.

For example, I just bought a guitar like the one on the left.

It’s been on my bucket list and I decided to go for it, buying it online from a music store that I thought was out of Oakland, New Jersey, having just bought a dozen pairs of drum sticks at a phenomenally low price from that outfit.

The merchandise was sent out from N.J. on the day after I ordered them, arriving at my front door on the day after that.

Figuring the guitar would get to me in one or two days, I ordered it from them last Tuesday.

Come to find out, after tracking the package when receiving the shipping notification from the vendor, I was mortified to see it shipped out of Reno, Nevada.

The expected delivery is this coming Wednesday instead. I went through this with the last guitar I bought online, which took over a week to get to me: talk about being a nervous wreck.

Following the route so far on the FedEx Web site, I see my latest object of desire had left Reno at 4:48 p.m. on Wednesday, made it past Coalville, UT, on Thursday; and was “In Transit” from Ogallala, NE, and then Gilson, IL, on Friday.

As of today my prized axe is in Limbo, with no mention of where it’s at. Since the guitar shipped ground, it’s probably holed up for the weekend. I presume the carton must be somewhere in Indiana.

Talk about no patience, I’m biting at the bit and foaming out the mouth like a race horse at the starting gate, waiting for this beauty to arrive. At least this dilemma gave me fodder about which to write in tonight’s diatribe.

I’m about to get started on another duet with my good friend, the multi-talented Rie Waits, in which the Telecaster will sound great. I’m hoping it will get here sooner than Wednesday, so I can use it to play on the recording. At least until then, I can get the rudimentary tracks down beforehand.

Thanks for reading my scribbling and for your continued support.

Allow me to offer my latest Cover Your Ears. If you have ever seen the 1979 movie, 10, with Bo Derek and Dudley Moore, I’m sure you’ll appreciate my efforts:

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About Mike Slickster

As an early retiree with an honorary doctorate degree from the proverbial "School of Hard Knocks," this upcoming author with a lot of free time on his hands utilizes his expansive repertoire for humorous yet tragic, wildly creative writing that contains years of imaginative fantasy, pure nonsense, classic slapstick, extreme happiness and searing heartbreak; gathered by a wealth of personal experiences throughout his thrilling—sometimes mundane or unusually horrid—free-spirited, rock-'n'-roller-coaster ride around our beloved Planet Earth. Mike Slickster's illustrious quest continues, living now in Act Three of his present incarnation, quite a bit on the cutting edge of profundity and philosophical merriment as seen through his colorful characters, most notably evident in the amusing Thirty Days Across the Big Pond series, all of which can be found at Lulu.com.
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4 Responses to Psychomachia

  1. As an addendum to this, I received the guitar strap plus a spare in the post today from Amazon that I ordered on the same night as the new axe. What an expedient world we live in to get mail on Sunday. Tracking says the guitar case I ordered, which unbeknownst to me was shipped out of Newbury Park, CA, is scheduled to arrive tomorrow. The guitar is still listed in Limbo and scheduled for Wednesday delivery. Still biting at the bit 🙂

  2. Mike Slickster says:

    OK, now this really is getting to me. Tracking on the guitar hasn’t been updated since Friday, three days ago, nor has the postal tracking for the case which was suppose to be here today. It’s like they read my tirade and aren’t giving me the time of day. Phooey!

  3. Mike Slickster says:

    Finally FedEx updated its tracking of the guitar. It’s at Grove City, Ohio, which is a good clip from Philly, but still on schedule to be delivered on the day after tomorrow. The guitar case is is still listed on the USPS tracking site as being in California. Talk about snail mail. I have a sinking feeling about that one. The package was suppose to arrive today, but no cigar. At least I got the guitar straps I ordered. I’ll use one to play air guitar in the meantime 🙂

  4. Mike Slickster says:

    Today’s update: Guitar is in Lewisberry, PA, which is about two hours away from Philly. That’ll put it on schedule for tomorrow’s delivery to me in Andalusia (yay!). The case is still unaccounted for. I placed a complaint ticket with USPS to search for it. They said they’d let me know when they find something out. The company who sold and shipped it has been notified. They are willing to ship out another if US Postal Service doesn’t find it soon. Always something.

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