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The Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius writes in his notebooks: “You are a little soul carrying a corpse,” quoting the Greek stoic philosopher Epictetus. As he was likely writing these notes to himself as a form of mental discipline in the throes of a military campaign, he obviously meant that observation to be comforting. To most it is far from that, of course—but the reason why this is so is worthy of some attention. [excerpt]

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