Wednesday Quotes
Rising at Night
July 30, 2014


“…and when anything needs doing it ought not to be left undone, whether it be day or night. There are occasions when a householder should rise while it is still night; for this helps to make a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” Aristotle, Economics

I wonder what occasions Aristotle had in mind.

A need to attend to some seasonal work of the household, or some repair that otherwise simply will not get done?

Staying up with an ailing child; and perhaps not administering a drug with dubious side effects?

Or getting up very early most days of the week, just to hold a job needed to support the family?

Maybe rising before others to set aside the time one needs for silence, reflection, and prayer?

Today I completed a two day visit to a Trappist monastery, where men rise at 3 AM, while it is still night. Every single day of their lives. This makes me ponder again, just what is health, wealth, and wisdom. And for what am I willing to rise, while it is still night.

Aristotle (384-322 B.C.), student of Plato, tutor of Alexander the Great, has been considered by many to be the greatest ancient philosopher. The work cited, ‘Economics,’ is attributed to him, but might have been authored by his students.

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  1. It may actually refer to the fact that our current concept of sleep is very different from that of old. There are indications in ancient texts such as these, and even more recent documents, that unlike the current habit of sleeping non-stop through the night, people, following their natural circadian body rhythms, uninterrupted by artificial light and noise, would be awake for short periods of time during the night. This time was used for quiet reflection, writing letters, thought, etc. It probably does not mean getting up before the dawn.

    1. That is to say, they didn’t get up before day to start the day. People were up before dawn, and then they went back to bed. Here is an article that references research: