This reflection also tends to the removal of the desire of empty fame,
that it is no longer in thy power to have lived the whole
of thy life, or at least thy life from thy youth upwards,
like a philosopher; but both to many others and to thyself
it is plain that thou art far from philosophy. Thou hast
fallen into disorder then, so that it is no longer easy for thee to get the reputation of a philosopher; and thy plan of life
also opposes it. If then thou hast truly seen where the
matter lies, throw away the thought, How thou shalt seem to
others, and be content if thou shalt live the rest of thy
life in such wise as thy nature wills. Observe then what it
wills, and let nothing else distract thee; for thou hast had experience of many wanderings without having found happiness anywhere,
not in syllogisms, nor in wealth, nor in reputation, nor in
enjoyment, nor anywhere. Where is it then? In doing what
man's nature requires. How then shall a man do this? If he
has principles from which come his affects and his acts. What principles? Those which relate to good and bad: the belief
that there is nothing good for man, which does not make him
just, temperate, manly, free; and that there is nothing
bad, which does not do the contrary to what has been
On the occasion of every act ask
thyself, How is this with respect to me? Shall I repent of
it? A little time and I am dead, and all is gone. What more
do I seek, if what I am now doing is work of an intelligent living being, and a social being, and one who is under the same law
Alexander and Gaius and
Pompeius, what are they in comparison with Diogenes and
Heraclitus and Socrates? For they were acquainted with things, and their causes (forms), and their matter, and the ruling
principles of these men were the same. But as to the
others, how many things had they to care for, and to how
many things were they slaves?
Consider that men
will do the same things nevertheless, even though thou
This is the chief thing: Be not
perturbed, for all things are according to the nature of
the universal; and in a little time thou wilt be nobody and
nowhere, like Hadrian and Augustus. In the next place having fixed thy eyes steadily on thy business look at it, and at the same
time remembering that it is thy duty to be a good man, and
what man's nature demands, do that without turning aside;
and speak as it seems to thee most just, only let it be
with a good disposition and with modesty and without hypocrisy.
The nature of the universal
has this work to do, to remove to that place the things
which are in this, to change them, to take them away hence, and to carry them there. All things are change, yet we need
not fear anything new. All things are familiar to us; but
the distribution of them still remains the same.
Every nature is contented with itself when it goes on
its way well; and a rational nature goes on its way well,
when in its thoughts it assents to nothing false or
uncertain, and when it directs its movements to social acts
only, and when it confines its desires and aversions to the things which are in its power, and when it is satisfied with
everything that is assigned to it by the common nature. For
of this common nature every particular nature is a part, as
the nature of the leaf is a part of the nature of the
plant; except that in the plant the nature of the leaf is part of a nature which has not perception or reason, and is subject to
be impeded; but the nature of man is part of a nature which
is not subject to impediments, and is intelligent and just,
since it gives to everything in equal portions and
according to its worth, times, substance, cause (form), activity, and incident. But examine, not to discover that any one thing
compared with any other single thing is equal in all
respects, but by taking all the parts together of one thing
and comparing them with all the parts together of another.
Thou hast not leisure or ability to read. But thou
hast leisure or ability to check arrogance: thou hast
leisure to be superior to pleasure and pain: thou hast
leisure to be superior to love of fame, and not to be vexed
at stupid and ungrateful people, nay even to care for them.
Let no man any longer hear thee finding fault with
the court life or with thy own.
Repentance is a kind of self-reproof for having
neglected something useful; but that which is good must be
something useful, and the perfect good man should look
after it. But no such man would ever repent of having refused any sensual pleasure. Pleasure then is neither good
This thing, what is it
in itself, in its own constitution? What is its substance
and material? And what its causal nature (or form)? And what is it doing in the world? And how long does it subsist?
When thou risest from sleep
with reluctance, remember that it is according to thy
constitution and according to human nature to perform social acts, but sleeping is common also to irrational
animals. But that which is according to each individual's
nature is also more peculiarly its own, and more suitable
to its nature, and indeed also more agreeable.
Constantly and, if it be possible, on the occasion of
every impression on the soul, apply to it the principles of
Physic, of Ethic, and of Dialectic.
Whatever man thou meetest with, immediately say to
thyself: What opinions has this man about good and bad? For
if with respect to pleasure and pain and the causes of
each, and with respect to fame and ignominy, death and
life, he has such and such opinions, it will seem nothing wonderful or strange to me, if he does such and such things; and I shall
bear in mind that he is compelled to do so.
Remember that as it is a shame to be surprised if the
fig-tree produces figs, so it is to be surprised if the
world produces such and such things of which it is
productive; and for the physician and the helmsman it is a
shame to be surprised, if a man has a fever, or if the wind is unfavourable.
Remember that to change
thy opinion and to follow him who corrects thy error is as
consistent with freedom as it is to persist in thy error. For it is thy own, the activity which is exerted according to
thy own movement and judgement, and indeed according to
thy own understanding too.
thing is in thy own power, why dost thou do it? But if it is in the power of another, whom dost thou blame? The atoms
(chance) or the gods? Both are foolish. Thou must blame
nobody. For if thou canst, correct that which is the
cause; but if thou canst not do this, correct at least the
thing itself; but if thou canst not do even this, of what use is it to thee to find fault? For nothing should be done
without a purpose.
That which has
died falls not out of the universe. If it stays here, it
also changes here, and is dissolved into its proper parts, which are elements of the universe and of thyself. And these too
change, and they murmur not.
Everything exists for some end, a horse, a vine. Why
dost thou wonder? Even the sun will say, I am for some
purpose, and the rest of the gods will say the same. For
what purpose then art thou? to enjoy pleasure? See if
common sense allows this.
Nature has had regard in
everything no less to the end than to the beginning and
the continuance, just like the man who throws up a ball. What good is it then for the ball to be thrown up, or harm
for it to come down, or even to have fallen? And what good
is it to the bubble while it holds together, or what harm
when it is burst? The same may be said of a light also.
Turn it (the body) inside out, and see what kind of
thing it is; and when it has grown old, what kind of thing
it becomes, and when it is diseased.
Short-lived are both the praiser and the praised, and
the rememberer and the remembered: and all this in a nook
of this part of the world; and not even here do all agree,
no, not any one with himself: and the whole earth too is a
Attend to the matter which is before thee,
whether it is an opinion or an act or a word.
Thou sufferest this justly: for thou choosest rather
to become good to-morrow than to be good to-day.
Am I doing anything? I do it with reference to the
good of mankind. Does anything happen to me? I receive it
and refer it to the gods, and the source of all things,
from which all that happens is derived.
Such as bathing appears to thee- oil, sweat, dirt,
filthy water, all things disgusting- so is every part of
life and everything.
Verus die, and then Lucilla died. Secunda saw Maximus die,
and then Secunda died. Epitynchanus saw Diotimus die, and Epitynchanus died. Antoninus saw Faustina die, and then Antoninus died.
Such is everything. Celer saw Hadrian die, and then Celer
died. And those sharp-witted men, either seers or men
inflated with pride, where are they? For instance the sharp-witted men, Charax and Demetrius the Platonist and
Eudaemon, and any one else like them. All ephemeral, dead
long ago. Some indeed have not been remembered even for a
short time, and others have become the heroes of fables,
and again others have disappeared even from fables. Remember this then, that this little compound, thyself, must either be
dissolved, or thy poor breath must be extinguished, or be
removed and placed elsewhere.
is satisfaction to a man to do the proper works of a man. Now it is a proper work of a man to be benevolent to his own
kind, to despise the movements of the senses, to form a
just judgement of plausible appearances, and to take a
survey of the nature of the universe and of the things which happen in it.
There are three
relations between thee and other things: the one to the
body which surrounds thee; the second to the divine cause from which all things come to all; and the third to those who live with
Pain is either an evil to
the body- then let the body say what it thinks of it- or
to the soul; but it is in the power of the soul to maintain its own serenity and tranquility, and not to think
that pain is an evil. For every judgement and movement and
desire and aversion is within, and no evil ascends so
Wipe out thy imaginations by often saying to
thyself: now it is in my power to let no badness be in
this soul, nor desire nor any perturbation at all; but
looking at all things I see what is their nature, and I use each according to its value.- Remember this power which thou
hast from nature.
Speak both in
the senate and to every man, whoever he may be, appropriately, not with any affectation: use plain discourse.
Augustus' court, wife, daughter, descendants,
ancestors, sister, Agrippa, kinsmen, intimates, friends,
Areius, Maecenas, physicians and sacrificing priests- the
whole court is dead. Then turn to the rest, not considering the death of a single man, but of a whole race,
as of the Pompeii; and that which is inscribed on the
tombs- The last of his race. Then consider what trouble
those before them have had that they might leave a successor; and then, that of necessity some one must be the last. Again
here consider the death of a whole race.
It is thy duty to order thy life well in every single
act; and if every act does its duty, as far as is
possible, be content; and no one is able to hinder thee so
that each act shall not do its duty.- But something external will stand in the way.- Nothing will stand in the
way of thy acting justly and soberly and considerately.-
But perhaps some other active power will be hindered.-
Well, but by acquiescing in the hindrance and by being content to transfer thy efforts to that which is allowed,
another opportunity of action is immediately put before
thee in place of that which was hindered, and one which
will adapt itself to this ordering of which we are speaking.
Receive wealth or
prosperity without arrogance; and be ready to let it go.
If thou didst ever see a hand cut off, or a foot,
or a head, lying anywhere apart from the rest of the body,
such does a man make himself, as far as he can, who is not
content with what happens, and separates himself from
others, or does anything unsocial. Suppose that thou hast detached thyself from the natural unity- for thou wast made by nature
a part, but now thou hast cut thyself off- yet here there
is this beautiful provision, that it is in thy power again
to unite thyself. God has allowed this to no other part,
after it has been separated and cut asunder, to come together again. But consider the kindness by which he has
distinguished man, for he has put it in his power not to
be separated at all from the universal; and when he has
been separated, he has allowed him to return and to be united and to resume his place as a part.
As the nature of the universal has given to every
rational being all the other powers that it has, so we
have received from it this power also. For as the
universal nature converts and fixes in its predestined place everything which stands in the way and opposes it, and
makes such things a part of itself, so also the rational
animal is able to make every hindrance its own material,
and to use it for such purposes as it may have designed.
Do not disturb thyself by thinking of the whole of
thy life. Let not thy thoughts at once embrace all the
various troubles which thou mayest expect to befall thee:
but on every occasion ask thyself, What is there in this
which is intolerable and past bearing? For thou wilt be ashamed to confess. In the next place remember that neither the
future nor the past pains thee, but only the present. But
this is reduced to a very little, if thou only
circumscribest it, and chidest thy mind, if it is unable to hold out against even this.
Panthea or Pergamus now sit by the tomb of Verus? Does Chaurias or Diotimus sit by the tomb of Hadrian? That would be
ridiculous. Well, suppose they did sit there, would the
dead be conscious of it? And if the dead were conscious,
would they be pleased? And if they were pleased, would that make them immortal? Was it not in the order of destiny
that these persons too should first become old women and
old men and then die? What then would those do after these
were dead? All this is foul smell and blood in a bag.
If thou canst see sharp, look and judge wisely, says
constitution of the rational animal I see no virtue which is opposed to justice; but I see a virtue which is opposed to
love of pleasure, and that is temperance.
If thou takest away thy opinion about that which
appears to give thee pain, thou thyself standest in
perfect security.- Who is this self?- The reason.- But I
am not reason.- Be it so. Let then the reason itself not
trouble itself. But if any other part of thee suffers, let it have its own opinion about itself.
Hindrance to the perceptions of sense is an evil to
the animal nature. Hindrance to the movements (desires) is
equally an evil to the animal nature. And something else
also is equally an impediment and an evil to the
constitution of plants. So then that which is a hindrance to the intelligence is an evil to the intelligent nature. Apply
all these things then to thyself. Does pain or sensuous
pleasure affect thee? The senses will look to that.- Has
any obstacle opposed thee in thy efforts towards an
object? if indeed thou wast making this effort absolutely
(unconditionally, or without any reservation), certainly
this obstacle is an evil to thee considered as a rational
animal. But if thou takest into consideration the usual
course of things, thou hast not yet been injured nor even impeded. The things however which are proper to the understanding no
other man is used to impede, for neither fire, nor iron,
nor tyrant, nor abuse, touches it in any way. When it has
been made a sphere, it continues a sphere.
It is not fit that I should give myself pain, for I
have never intentionally given pain even to another.
Different things delight different people. But it is
my delight to keep the ruling faculty sound without
turning away either from any man or from any of the things
which happen to men, but looking at and receiving all with
welcome eyes and using everything according to its value.
See that thou secure this present time to thyself:
for those who rather pursue posthumous fame do consider
that the men of after time will be exactly such as these
whom they cannot bear now; and both are mortal. And what
is it in any way to thee if these men of after time utter this or that sound, or have this or that opinion about thee?
Take me and cast me where thou wilt; for there I
shall keep my divine part tranquil, that is, content, if
it can feel and act conformably to its proper
constitution. Is this change of place sufficient reason why my soul should be unhappy and worse than it was, depressed,
expanded, shrinking, affrighted? And what wilt thou find
which is sufficient reason for this?
Nothing can happen to any man which is not a human
accident, nor to an ox which is not according to the
nature of an ox, nor to a vine which is not according to
the nature of a vine, nor to a stone which is not proper to a stone. If then there happens to each thing both what is
usual and natural, why shouldst thou complain? For the
common nature brings nothing which may not be borne by
If thou art pained by any external thing, it
is not this thing that disturbs thee, but thy own
judgement about it. And it is in thy power to wipe out
this judgement now. But if anything in thy own disposition gives thee pain, who hinders thee from correcting thy
opinion? And even if thou art pained because thou art not
doing some particular thing which seems to thee to be
right, why dost thou not rather act than complain?- But
some insuperable obstacle is in the way?- Do not be grieved then, for the cause of its not being done depends not on thee.- But it
is not worth while to live if this cannot be done.- Take
thy departure then from life contentedly, just as he dies
who is in full activity, and well pleased too with the
things which are obstacles.
Remember that the
ruling faculty is invincible, when self-collected it is
satisfied with itself, if it does nothing which it does not choose to do, even if it resist from mere obstinacy. What then will
it be when it forms a judgement about anything aided by
reason and deliberately? Therefore the mind which is free
from passions is a citadel, for man has nothing more
secure to which he can fly for, refuge and for the future be inexpugnable.
He then who has not seen this is an ignorant man; but he
who has seen it and does not fly to this refuge is
Say nothing more to thyself than what the
first appearances report. Suppose that it has been
reported to thee that a certain person speaks ill of thee.
This has been reported; but that thou hast been injured, that has not been reported. I see that my child is sick. I do see;
but that he is in danger, I do not see. Thus then always
abide by the first appearances, and add nothing thyself
from within, and then nothing happens to thee. Or rather
add something, like a man who knows everything that happens in the world.
A cucumber is bitter.-
Throw it away.- There are briars in the road.- Turn aside
from them.- This is enough. Do not add, And why were such
things made in the world? For thou wilt be ridiculed by a man who is acquainted with nature, as thou wouldst be ridiculed by a
carpenter and shoemaker if thou didst find fault because
thou seest in their workshop shavings and cuttings from
the things which they make. And yet they have places into
which they can throw these shavings and cuttings, and the universal nature has no external space; but the wondrous part of her
art is that though she has circumscribed herself,
everything within her which appears to decay and to grow
old and to be useless she changes into herself, and again
makes other new things from these very same, so that she requires neither substance from without nor wants a place into which
she may cast that which decays. She is content then with
her own space, and her own matter and her own art.
Neither in thy actions be sluggish nor in thy
conversation without method, nor wandering in thy
thoughts, nor let there be in thy soul inward contention
nor external effusion, nor in life be so busy as to have no leisure.
Suppose that men kill thee,
cut thee in pieces, curse thee. What then can these things
do to prevent thy mind from remaining pure, wise, sober,
just? For instance, if a man should stand by a limpid pure spring, and curse it, the spring never ceases sending up potable
water; and if he should cast clay into it or filth, it
will speedily disperse them and wash them out, and will
not be at all polluted. How then shalt thou possess a
perpetual fountain and not a mere well? By forming thyself hourly to freedom conjoined with contentment, simplicity and modesty.
He who does not know what the world is, does not
know where he is. And he who does not know for what
purpose the world exists, does not know who he is, nor
what the world is. But he who has failed in any one of
these things could not even say for what purpose he exists himself. What then dost thou think of him who avoids or seeks the
praise of those who applaud, of men who know not either
where they are or who they are?
Dost thou wish to be praised by a man who curses
himself thrice every hour? Wouldst thou wish to please a
man who does not please himself? Does a man please himself
who repents of nearly everything that he does?
No longer let thy breathing only act in concert with
the air which surrounds thee, but let thy intelligence
also now be in harmony with the intelligence which
embraces all things. For the intelligent power is no less
diffused in all parts and pervades all things for him who is willing to draw it to him than the aerial power for him who is able
to respire it.
wickedness does no harm at all to the universe; and particularly, the wickedness of one man does no harm to
another. It is only harmful to him who has it in his power
to be released from it, as soon as he shall choose.
To my own free will the free will of my neighbour is
just as indifferent as his poor breath and flesh. For
though we are made especially for the sake of one another,
still the ruling power of each of us has its own office, for otherwise my neighbour's wickedness would be my harm,
which God has not willed in order that my unhappiness may
not depend on another.
appears to be poured down, and in all directions indeed it
is diffused, yet it is not effused. For this diffusion is extension: Accordingly its rays are called Extensions [aktines] because
they are extended [apo tou ekteinesthai]. But one may
judge what kind of a thing a ray is, if he looks at the
sun's light passing through a narrow opening into a darkened room, for it is extended in a right line, and as it
were is divided when it meets with any solid body which
stands in the way and intercepts the air beyond; but there
the light remains fixed and does not glide or fall off.
Such then ought to be the out-pouring and diffusion of the understanding,
and it should in no way be an effusion, but an extension,
and it should make no violent or impetuous collision with
the obstacles which are in its way; nor yet fall down, but
be fixed and enlighten that which receives it. For a body
will deprive itself of the illumination, if it does not admit it.
He who fears death either
fears the loss of sensation or a different kind of
sensation. But if thou shalt have no sensation, neither wilt thou feel any harm; and if thou shalt acquire another kind of
sensation, thou wilt be a different kind of living being
and thou wilt not cease to live.
Men exist for the sake of one another. Teach them
then or bear with them.
In one way
an arrow moves, in another way the mind. The mind indeed, both when it exercises caution and when it is employed about
inquiry, moves straight onward not the less, and to its
Enter into every man's ruling faculty; and
also let every other man enter into thine.
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