The Price is Pain
The struggle against the French has pared the Russian army down to its most hardened and stalwart soldiers. The past few chapters document how difficult life on the campaign has become. We’ve seen that the remaining soldiers lack proper clothing, food and shelter. Today we learn that they greet this hardship not with grief but with gladness.
They joke with and insult each other. They talk excitedly about the captured French soldiers. They admire the brightly shining stars above. All this while their bare feet freeze and their hunger sharpens.
This noble endurance is born of dedication to a just cause. The soldiers in today’s chapter suffer for Mother Russia. We, the readers, have any number of worthy causes to fight and suffer for. Whatever cause we assume, however, we must recall that the price of purchase is often pain.
We suffer for the sake of something good, either to help our friends, to aid our city, to fight on behalf of women or children, or for the most important and weighty reason of all, to be good and just and self-controlled. No one achieves this without pain.
Musonius Rufus, Lectures