How many there are who look back with bitter regret upon the indulgences of youth, and mourn unavailingly the vigour that their own folly has driven away! The same poignant sorrow is felt also by those who, in labouring for their own ambitious projects, have enfeebled their bodily powers.
The possession of health means ability to enjoy the pleasures of life, to take delight in the exercise of the body, in outdoor games and sports. It makes a pleasure of study for the studious, enable men to go through their daily work without undue fatigue and with a spirit that makes even drudgery tolerable.
The healthy man is generally a courageous man, who can look unfalteringly upon difficulties and anxieties, and meet trouble and sorrow bravely and without despair. The state of the body affects the state of the mind, which can take a clear, calm and unjaundiced view of the problems of life when stimulated by a healthy body.
Everyone is familiar with the oft-quoted phrase of the satirist Juvenal, “Mens sana in corpore sano” — a healthy mind in a healthy body. He has in one of his satires been indigantly describing the foolish prayers of the men around him. This one asks for wealth, that for fame, another desires the death of a relative, or the favour of some great noble.
Many pray for things which would prove their ruin, if their prayers were granted by some malignant deity. Then the poet pauses, “You ask me,” he says, “what men would should pray for. If they must pray, let them ask for a sound mind in a sound body.”
These are surely the greatest blessings the gods can bestow upon us; for without them fame and riches and power and the means of gratifying the senses, can give little enjoyment.