What is badness? It is that which thou hast often seen. And on the
occasion of everything which happens keep this in mind,
that it is that which thou hast often seen. Everywhere up
and down thou wilt find the same things, with which the old
histories are filled, those of the middle ages and those of
our own day; with which cities and houses are filled now. There is nothing
new: all things are both familiar and short-lived.
How can our principles become dead, unless the
impressions (thoughts) which correspond to them are
extinguished? But it is in thy power continuously to fan
these thoughts into a flame. I can have that opinion about anything, which I ought to have. If I can, why am I disturbed? The
things which are external to my mind have no relation at
all to my mind.- Let this be the state of thy affects, and
thou standest erect. To recover thy life is in thy power.
Look at things again as thou didst use to look at them; for in this consists the recovery of thy life.
The idle business of show, plays on the stage, flocks
of sheep, herds, exercises with spears, a bone cast to
little dogs, a bit of bread into fish-ponds, labourings of
ants and burden-carrying, runnings about of frightened
little mice, puppets pulled by strings- all alike. It is thy duty then in the midst of such things to show good humour
and not a proud air; to understand however that every man
is worth just so much as the things are worth about which
he busies himself.
In discourse thou must attend to
what is said, and in every movement thou must observe what
is doing. And in the one thou shouldst see immediately to
what end it refers, but in the other watch carefully what is the thing signified.
Is my understanding
sufficient for this or not? If it is sufficient, I use it
for the work as an instrument given by the universal nature. But if it is not sufficient, then either I retire from the work
and give way to him who is able to do it better, unless
there be some reason why I ought not to do so; or I do it
as well as I can, taking to help me the man who with the
aid of my ruling principle can do what is now fit and useful for the general good. For whatsoever either by myself or with
another I can do, ought to be directed to this only, to
that which is useful and well suited to society.
How many after being celebrated by fame have been
given up to oblivion; and how many who have celebrated the
fame of others have long been dead.
Be not ashamed to be helped; for it is thy business to
do thy duty like a soldier in the assault on a town. How
then, if being lame thou canst not mount up on the
battlements alone, but with the help of another it is
Let not future things disturb thee, for
thou wilt come to them, if it shall be necessary, having
with thee the same reason which now thou usest for present
All things are implicated with one another,
and the bond is holy; and there is hardly anything
unconnected with any other thing. For things have been
co-ordinated, and they combine to form the same universe (order). For there is one universe made up of all things, and one God
who pervades all things, and one substance, and one law,
one common reason in all intelligent animals, and one
truth; if indeed there is also one perfection for all animals which are of the same stock and participate in the
soon disappears in the substance of the whole; and
everything formal (causal) is very soon taken back into the universal reason; and the memory of everything is very soon overwhelmed
To the rational animal the
same act is according to nature and according to reason.
Be thou erect, or be made erect.
Just as it is with the members in those bodies which are
united in one, so it is with rational beings which exist
separate, for they have been constituted for one
co-operation. And the perception of this will be more
apparent to thee, if thou often sayest to thyself that I am a member (melos) of the system of rational beings. But if (using the
letter r) thou sayest that thou art a part (meros) thou
dost not yet love men from thy heart; beneficence does not
yet delight thee for its own sake; thou still doest it
barely as a thing of propriety, and not yet as doing good to thyself.
Let there fall externally what
will on the parts which can feel the effects of this fall.
For those parts which have felt will complain, if they
choose. But I, unless I think that what has happened is an evil, am not injured. And it is in my power not to think so.
Whatever any one does or says, I must be good, just as
if the gold, or the emerald, or the purple were always
saying this, Whatever any one does or says, I must be
emerald and keep my colour.
The ruling faculty does
not disturb itself; I mean, does not frighten itself or
cause itself pain. But if any one else can frighten or pain it, let him do so. For the faculty itself will not by its own
opinion turn itself into such ways. Let the body itself
take care, if it can, that is suffer nothing, and let it
speak, if it suffers. But the soul itself, that which is
subject to fear, to pain, which has completely the power of forming an opinion about these things, will suffer nothing, for it
will never deviate into such a judgement. The leading
principle in itself wants nothing, unless it makes a want
for itself; and therefore it is both free from perturbation and unimpeded, if it does not disturb and impede itself.
Eudaemonia (happiness) is a good daemon, or a good
thing. What then art thou doing here, O imagination? Go
away, I entreat thee by the gods, as thou didst come, for I
want thee not. But thou art come according to thy old
fashion. I am not angry with thee: only go away.
Is any man afraid of change? Why what can take place
without change? What then is more pleasing or more
suitable to the universal nature? And canst thou take a
bath unless the wood undergoes a change? And canst thou be
nourished, unless the food undergoes a change? And can anything else that is useful be accomplished without change? Dost thou not
see then that for thyself also to change is just the same,
and equally necessary for the universal nature?
Through the universal substance as through a furious
torrent all bodies are carried, being by their nature
united with and cooperating with the whole, as the parts
of our body with one another. How many a Chrysippus, how
many a Socrates, how many an Epictetus has time already swallowed up? And let the same thought occur to thee with reference to
every man and thing.
only troubles me, lest I should do something which the constitution of man does not allow, or in the way which it
does not allow, or what it does not allow now.
Near is thy forgetfulness of all things; and near the
forgetfulness of thee by all.
is peculiar to man to love even those who do wrong. And this happens, if when they do wrong it occurs to thee that they
are kinsmen, and that they do wrong through ignorance and
unintentionally, and that soon both of you will die; and
above all, that the wrong-doer has done thee no harm, for
he has not made thy ruling faculty worse than it was before.
The universal nature out of
the universal substance, as if it were wax, now moulds a
horse, and when it has broken this up, it uses the material for a tree, then for a man, then for something else; and each
of these things subsists for a very short time. But it is
no hardship for the vessel to be broken up, just as there
was none in its being fastened together.
A scowling look is altogether unnatural; when it is
often assumed, the result is that all comeliness dies
away, and at last is so completely extinguished that it
cannot be again lighted up at all. Try to conclude from
this very fact that it is contrary to reason. For if even the perception
of doing wrong shall depart, what reason is there for
living any longer?
governs the whole will soon change all things which thou
seest, and out of their substance will make other things, and again other things from the substance of them, in order that the
world may be ever new.
When a man
has done thee any wrong, immediately consider with what opinion about good or evil he has done wrong. For when thou
hast seen this, thou wilt pity him, and wilt neither
wonder nor be angry. For either thou thyself thinkest the
same thing to be good that he does or another thing of the
same kind. It is thy duty then to pardon him. But if thou dost not think such things to be good or evil, thou wilt more readily
be well disposed to him who is in error.
Think not so much of what thou hast not as of what
thou hast: but of the things which thou hast select the
best, and then reflect how eagerly they would have been
sought, if thou hadst them not. At the same time however take care that thou dost not through being so pleased with
them accustom thyself to overvalue them, so as to be
disturbed if ever thou shouldst not have them.
Retire into thyself. The rational principle which
rules has this nature, that it is content with itself when
it does what is just, and so secures tranquility.
Wipe out the imagination. Stop the pulling of the
strings. Confine thyself to the present. Understand well
what happens either to thee or to another. Divide and
distribute every object into the causal (formal) and the
material. Think of thy last hour. Let the wrong which is done by a man stay there where the wrong was done.
Direct thy attention to what is said. Let thy
understanding enter into the things that are doing and the
things which do them.
thyself with simplicity and modesty and with indifference towards the things which lie between virtue and vice. Love
mankind. Follow God. The poet says that Law rules all.-
And it is enough to remember that Law rules all.
About death: Whether it is a dispersion, or a
resolution into atoms, or annihilation, it is either
extinction or change.
About pain: The pain which
is intolerable carries us off; but that which lasts a long
time is tolerable; and the mind maintains its own tranquility by retiring into itself, and the ruling faculty is not made
worse. But the parts which are harmed by pain, let them,
if they can, give their opinion about it.
About fame: Look at the minds of those who seek fame,
observe what they are, and what kind of things they avoid,
and what kind of things they pursue. And consider that as
the heaps of sand piled on one another hide the former
sands, so in life the events which go before are soon covered by those which come after.
Plato: The man who has an elevated mind and takes a view of all time and of all substance, dost thou suppose it possible
for him to think that human life is anything great? it is
not possible, he said.- Such a man then will think that
death also is no evil.- Certainly not.
From Antisthenes: It is royal to do good and to be abused.
It is a base thing for the
countenance to be obedient and to regulate and compose
itself as the mind commands, and for the mind not to be regulated and composed by itself.
It is not
right to vex ourselves at things,
For they care nought
To the immortal gods and us give joy.
Life must be reaped like the ripe ears of corn:
One man is born; another dies.
gods care not for me and for my children,
There is a
reason for it.
For the good is with me, and the
No joining others in their wailing, no
From Plato: But I
would make this man a sufficient answer, which is this:
Thou sayest not well, if thou thinkest that a man who is good for anything at all ought to compute the hazard of life or
death, and should not rather look to this only in all that
he does, whether he is doing what is just or unjust, and
the works of a good or a bad man.
For thus it is, men of Athens, in truth: wherever a
man has placed himself thinking it the best place for him,
or has been placed by a commander, there in my opinion he
ought to stay and to abide the hazard, taking nothing into
the reckoning, either death or anything else, before the baseness of deserting his post.
But, my good
friend, reflect whether that which is noble and good is
not something different from saving and being saved; for as to a man living such or such a time, at least one who is really a man,
consider if this is not a thing to be dismissed from the
thoughts: and there must be no love of life: but as to
these matters a man must intrust them to the deity and
believe what the women say, that no man can escape his destiny, the next inquiry being how he may best live the time that he
has to live.
Look round at the
courses of the stars, as if thou wert going along with
them; and constantly consider the changes of the elements into one another; for such thoughts purge away the filth of the
This is a fine
saying of Plato: That he who is discoursing about men
should look also at earthly things as if he viewed them from some higher
place; should look at them in their assemblies, armies,
agricultural labours, marriages, treaties, births, deaths,
noise of the courts of justice, desert places, various
nations of barbarians, feasts, lamentations, markets, a mixture of all things and an orderly combination of contraries.
Consider the past; such
great changes of political supremacies. Thou mayest
foresee also the things which will be. For they will certainly be of like form, and it is not possible that they should
deviate from the order of the things which take place now:
accordingly to have contemplated human life for forty
years is the same as to have contemplated it for ten thousand years. For what more wilt thou see?
That which has grown from the earth to the earth,
But that which has sprung from heavenly seed,
Back to the heavenly realms returns. This is either a
dissolution of the mutual involution of the atoms, or a
similar dispersion of the unsentient elements.
With food and drinks and cunning magic arts
Turning the channel's course to 'scape from death.
The breeze which heaven has sent
must endure, and toil without complaining.
may be more expert in casting his opponent; but he is not more social, nor more modest, nor better disciplined to meet
all that happens, nor more considerate with respect to the
faults of his neighbours.
any work can be done conformably to the reason which is common to gods and men, there we have nothing to fear: for where we
are able to get profit by means of the activity which is
successful and proceeds according to our constitution,
there no harm is to be suspected.
at all times it is in thy power piously to acquiesce in
thy present condition, and to behave justly to those who are about thee,
and to exert thy skill upon thy present thoughts, that
nothing shall steal into them without being well examined.
Do not look around thee to discover other men's
ruling principles, but look straight to this, to what
nature leads thee, both the universal nature through the
things which happen to thee, and thy own nature through the acts which must be done by thee. But every being ought to
do that which is according to its constitution; and all
other things have been constituted for the sake of
rational beings, just as among irrational things the inferior for the sake of the superior, but the rational for the sake
of one another.
principle then in man's constitution is the social. And the second is not to yield to the persuasions of the body,
for it is the peculiar office of the rational and
intelligent motion to circumscribe itself, and never to be
overpowered either by the motion of the senses or of the
appetites, for both are animal; but the intelligent motion claims superiority and does not permit itself to be overpowered by
the others. And with good reason, for it is formed by
nature to use all of them. The third thing in the rational
constitution is freedom from error and from deception. Let
then the ruling principle holding fast to these things go straight on, and it has what is its own.
Consider thyself to be dead, and to have completed
thy life up to the present time; and live according to
nature the remainder which is allowed thee.
Love that only which happens to thee and is spun with
the thread of thy destiny. For what is more suitable?
In everything which happens keep before thy eyes
those to whom the same things happened, and how they were
vexed, and treated them as strange things, and found fault
with them: and now where are they? Nowhere. Why then dost
thou too choose to act in the same way? And why dost thou not leave these agitations which are foreign to nature, to
those who cause them and those who are moved by them? And
why art thou not altogether intent upon the right way of
making use of the things which happen to thee? For then
thou wilt use them well, and they will be a material for thee to work on. Only attend to thyself, and resolve to be a good man in
every act which thou doest: and remember...
Look within. Within is the fountain of good, and it
will ever bubble up, if thou wilt ever dig.
The body ought to be compact, and to show no
irregularity either in motion or attitude. For what the
mind shows in the face by maintaining in it the expression
of intelligence and propriety, that ought to be required also in the whole body. But all of these things should be
observed without affectation.
art of life is more like the wrestler's art than the dancer's, in respect of this, that it should stand ready and firm to
meet onsets which are sudden and unexpected.
Constantly observe who those are whose approbation
thou wishest to have, and what ruling principles they
possess. For then thou wilt neither blame those who offend
involuntarily, nor wilt thou want their approbation, if
thou lookest to the sources of their opinions and appetites.
Every soul, the
philosopher says, is involuntarily deprived of truth;
consequently in the same way it is deprived of justice and temperance and benevolence and everything of the kind. It is most
necessary to bear this constantly in mind, for thus thou
wilt be more gentle towards all.
In every pain let this thought be present, that there
is no dishonour in it, nor does it make the governing
intelligence worse, for it does not damage the
intelligence either so far as the intelligence is rational or so far as it is social. Indeed in the case of most pains let
this remark of Epicurus aid thee, that pain is neither
intolerable nor everlasting, if thou bearest in mind that
it has its limits, and if thou addest nothing to it in
imagination: and remember this too, that we do not perceive that many things which are disagreeable to us are the same as
pain, such as excessive drowsiness, and the being scorched
by heat, and the having no appetite. When then thou art
discontented about any of these things, say to thyself,
that thou art yielding to pain.
Take care not to
feel towards the inhuman, as they feel towards men.
How do we know if Telauges was not superior in character
to Socrates? For it is not enough that Socrates died a
more noble death, and disputed more skilfully with the
sophists, and passed the night in the cold with more
endurance, and that when he was bid to arrest Leon of Salamis, he considered it more noble to refuse, and that he walked in a
swaggering way in the streets- though as to this fact one
may have great doubts if it was true. But we ought to
inquire, what kind of a soul it was that Socrates possessed, and if he was able to be content with being just
towards men and pious towards the gods, neither idly vexed
on account of men's villainy, nor yet making himself a
slave to any man's ignorance, nor receiving as strange
anything that fell to his share out of the universal, nor enduring it as intolerable, nor allowing his understanding to
sympathize with the affects of the miserable flesh.
Nature has not so mingled the intelligence with the
composition of the body, as not to have allowed thee the
power of circumscribing thyself and of bringing under
subjection to thyself all that is thy own; for it is very
possible to be a divine man and to be recognised as such by no one. Always bear this in mind; and another thing too, that
very little indeed is necessary for living a happy life.
And because thou hast despaired of becoming a dialectician
and skilled in the knowledge of nature, do not for this
reason renounce the hope of being both free and modest and social and obedient to God.
It is in thy
power to live free from all compulsion in the greatest tranquility of mind, even if all the world cry out against
thee as much as they choose, and even if wild beasts tear
in pieces the members of this kneaded matter which has
grown around thee. For what hinders the mind in the midst
of all this from maintaining itself in tranquility and in a just judgement of all surrounding things and in a ready use of the
objects which are presented to it, so that the judgement
may say to the thing which falls under its observation:
This thou art in substance (reality), though in men's
opinion thou mayest appear to be of a different kind; and the use shall say to that which falls under the hand: Thou art the
thing that I was seeking; for to me that which presents
itself is always a material for virtue both rational and
political, and in a word, for the exercise of art, which
belongs to man or God. For everything which happens has a relationship either to God or man, and is neither new nor
difficult to handle, but usual and apt matter to work on.
The perfection of moral character consists in
this, in passing every day as the last, and in being
neither violently excited nor torpid nor playing the
The gods who are immortal are not vexed
because during so long a time they must tolerate
continually men such as they are and so many of them bad;
and besides this, they also take care of them in all ways. But thou, who art destined to end so soon, art thou wearied
of enduring the bad, and this too when thou art one of
It is a ridiculous thing for a man not to
fly from his own badness, which is indeed possible, but to
fly from other men's badness, which is impossible.
Whatever the rational and political (social) faculty
finds to be neither intelligent nor social, it properly
judges to be inferior to itself.
When thou hast done a good act and another has
received it, why dost thou look for a third thing besides
these, as fools do, either to have the reputation of
having done a good act or to obtain a return?
No man is tired of receiving what is useful. But it
is useful to act according to nature. Do not then be tired
of receiving what is useful by doing it to others.
The nature of the An moved to make the universe. But
now either everything that takes place comes by way of
consequence or continuity; or even the chief things
towards which the ruling power of the universe directs its
own movement are governed by no rational principle. If this is remembered it will make thee more tranquil in many things.
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