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The Path to True Happiness: Choosing Love over Desire Essay

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Motivation is the reason why people behave the way they do. It is the driving force behind human behavior and is what compels actions toward a desired goal. There are copious amounts of varying motivating forces. In Homer’s Iliad, it is honor and glory, whereas, love drives Augustine’s actions in The Confessions. In Meditations, Marcus Aurelius holds that the transient nature of life be the incentive behind human action. Despite the differences in reasoning and motivation, all four texts demonstrate the natural tendency of humans to give into desire in pursuit of happiness. However, true happiness only exists in divine love. As follows, focusing on the ego and one’s desires results in separation from and rejection of divine love and leads, inevitably, to unhappiness and harm to oneself and others.
The desire and ultimate goal of the heroes in The Iliad is the fame that endures even after death. Honor and glory guide every action and response they make because honor and glory define the hero in their society. The war served as an opportunity for many to find honor and glory, as they could be gained through great, gallant deeds in battle. Achilles and Hector are both portrayed as great fighters seeing that their presence greatly affect a battle. Paris, on the other hand, must be dragged out of the city to fight in the war he instigated. Only when Hector “raked [him] with insults, stinging taunts” and shameful things about his character did he return to battle (6.384). Good social standing is essential to the fame and power that the heroes desire. If Paris is to be deemed honorable and glorious, he must leave the safety and comfort of his home and pull his weight in battle. Ultimately, Paris’s pride and desire to be liked and respe...


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...n to die. Therefore, it is important to live like it is your last day and to strive to be a better person. For this reason, humans should realize that yielding to desires in the physical world will not constitute eternal happiness. It is only with the help of the gods can humans truly be happy and when it is time to depart from life, Marcus Aurelius encourages humans to welcome death “for [the gods] would not involve you in anything bad” (2.11). Death should be seen as a precious release because with God’s love and grace, the soul is freed from the battered flesh casing.
By actively choosing the corruptible elements of the physical world rather than the eternal, perfect forms, humans bring evil unto themselves. Throughout The Confessions, Augustine is divided between sexual desire and spiritual desire. Motivated by love he seeks to find a solution to his division.



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