He ho acts unjustly acts impiously. For since the universal nature has
made rational animals for the sake of one another to help
one another according to their deserts, but in no way to
injure one another, he who transgresses her will, is
clearly guilty of impiety towards the highest divinity. And he too who lies is guilty of impiety to the same divinity; for
the universal nature is the nature of things that are; and
things that are have a relation to all things that come
into existence. And further, this universal nature is named
truth, and is the prime cause of all things that are true. He then who lies intentionally is guilty of impiety inasmuch as
he acts unjustly by deceiving; and he also who lies
unintentionally, inasmuch as he is at variance with the
universal nature, and inasmuch as he disturbs the order by
fighting against the nature of the world; for he fights against it, who is moved of himself to that which is contrary to truth,
for he had received powers from nature through the neglect
of which he is not able now to distinguish falsehood from
truth. And indeed he who pursues pleasure as good, and
avoids pain as evil, is guilty of impiety. For of necessity such a man must often find fault with the universal nature,
alleging that it assigns things to the bad and the good
contrary to their deserts, because frequently the bad are
in the enjoyment of pleasure and possess the things which
procure pleasure, but the good have pain for their share and the things which cause pain. And further, he who is afraid of pain
will sometimes also be afraid of some of the things which
will happen in the world, and even this is impiety. And he
who pursues pleasure will not abstain from injustice, and
this is plainly impiety. Now with respect to the things towards which the universal nature is equally affected- for it
would not have made both, unless it was equally affected
towards both- towards these they who wish to follow nature
should be of the same mind with it, and equally affected.
With respect to pain, then, and pleasure, or death and life, or honour and dishonour, which the universal nature
employs equally, whoever is not equally affected is
manifestly acting impiously. And I say that the universal
nature employs them equally, instead of saying that they
happen alike to those who are produced in continuous series and to those who come after them by virtue of a certain original
movement of Providence, according to which it moved from a
certain beginning to this ordering of things, having
conceived certain principles of the things which were to be, and having determined powers productive of beings and of
changes and of such like successions.
It would be a man's happiest lot to depart from
mankind without having had any taste of lying and hypocrisy
and luxury and pride. However to breathe out one's life
when a man has had enough of these things is the next best
voyage, as the saying is. Hast thou determined to abide with vice, and has not experience yet induced thee to fly from this
pestilence? For the destruction of the understanding is a
pestilence, much more indeed than any such corruption and
change of this atmosphere which surrounds us. For this
corruption is a pestilence of animals so far as they are animals; but the other is a pestilence of men so far as they are men.
Do not despise death, but be well
content with it, since this too is one of those things
which nature wills. For such as it is to be young and to
grow old, and to increase and to reach maturity, and to have teeth and beard and grey hairs, and to beget, and to be pregnant and
to bring forth, and all the other natural operations which
the seasons of thy life bring, such also is dissolution.
This, then, is consistent with the character of a
reflecting man, to be neither careless nor impatient nor contemptuous with respect to death, but to wait for it as one of the
operations of nature. As thou now waitest for the time when
the child shall come out of thy wife's womb, so be ready
for the time when thy soul shall fall out of this envelope. But if thou requirest also a vulgar kind of comfort which
shall reach thy heart, thou wilt be made best reconciled to
death by observing the objects from which thou art going to
be removed, and the morals of those with whom thy soul will
no longer be mingled. For it is no way right to be offended with men, but it is thy duty to care for them and to bear with
them gently; and yet to remember that thy departure will be
not from men who have the same principles as thyself. For
this is the only thing, if there be any, which could draw
us the contrary way and attach us to life, to be permitted to live with those who have the same principles as ourselves.
But now thou seest how great is the trouble arising from
the discordance of those who live together, so that thou
mayest say, Come quick, O death, lest perchance I, too,
should forget myself.
He who does wrong does wrong
against himself. He who acts unjustly acts unjustly to
himself, because he makes himself bad.
acts unjustly who does not do a certain thing; not only he
who does a certain thing.
Thy present opinion
founded on understanding, and thy present conduct directed
to social good, and thy present disposition of contentment with everything which happens- that is enough.
Wipe out imagination: check desire: extinguish
appetite: keep the ruling faculty in its own power.
Among the animals which have not reason one life is
distributed; but among reasonable animals one intelligent
soul is distributed: just as there is one earth of all
things which are of an earthy nature, and we see by one
light, and breathe one air, all of us that have the faculty of vision and all that have life.
things which participate in anything which is common to them all move towards that which is of the same kind with
themselves. Everything which is earthy turns towards the
earth, everything which is liquid flows together, and
everything which is of an aerial kind does the same, so that they require something to keep them asunder, and the
application of force. Fire indeed moves upwards on account
of the elemental fire, but it is so ready to be kindled
together with all the fire which is here, that even every
substance which is somewhat dry, is easily ignited, because there is less mingled with it of that which is a hindrance to
ignition. Accordingly then everything also which
participates in the common intelligent nature moves in
like manner towards that which is of the same kind with itself, or moves even more. For so much as it is superior in
comparison with all other things, in the same degree also
is it more ready to mingle with and to be fused with that
which is akin to it. Accordingly among animals devoid of
reason we find swarms of bees, and herds of cattle, and the nurture of young birds, and in a manner, loves; for even in animals
there are souls, and that power which brings them together
is seen to exert itself in the superior degree, and in
such a way as never has been observed in plants nor in
stones nor in trees. But in rational animals there are political communities and friendships, and families and meetings of
people; and in wars, treaties and armistices. But in the
things which are still superior, even though they are
separated from one another, unity in a manner exists, as
in the stars. Thus the ascent to the higher degree is able to produce a sympathy even in things which are separated. See, then,
what now takes place. For only intelligent animals have
now forgotten this mutual desire and inclination, and in
them alone the property of flowing together is not seen.
But still though men strive to avoid this union, they are caught and held by it, for their nature is too strong for them; and
thou wilt see what I say, if thou only observest. Sooner,
then, will one find anything earthy which comes in contact
with no earthy thing than a man altogether separated from
Both man and God and the universe
produce fruit; at the proper seasons each produces it. But
if usage has especially fixed these terms to the vine and
like things, this is nothing. Reason produces fruit both for all and for itself, and there are produced from it other
things of the same kind as reason itself.
If thou art able, correct by teaching those who do
wrong; but if thou canst not, remember that indulgence is
given to thee for this purpose. And the gods, too, are
indulgent to such persons; and for some purposes they even
help them to get health, wealth, reputation; so kind they are. And it is in thy power also; or say, who hinders thee?
Labour not as one who is wretched, nor yet as one who
would be pitied or admired: but direct thy will to one
thing only, to put thyself in motion and to check thyself,
as the social reason requires.
To-day I have got out of all trouble, or rather I
have cast out all trouble, for it was not outside, but
within and in my opinions.
things are the same, familiar in experience, and ephemeral in time, and worthless in the matter. Everything now is just
as it was in the time of those whom we have buried.
Things stand outside of us, themselves by themselves,
neither knowing aught of themselves, nor expressing any
judgement. What is it, then, which does judge about them?
The ruling faculty.
Not in passivity, but in
activity lie the evil and the good of the rational social
animal, just as his virtue and his vice lie not in passivity, but in activity.
stone which has been thrown up it is no evil to come down, nor indeed any good to have been carried up.
Penetrate inwards into men's leading principles, and
thou wilt see what judges thou art afraid of, and what
kind of judges they are of themselves.
All things are changing: and thou thyself art in
continuous mutation and in a manner in continuous
destruction, and the whole universe too.
It is thy duty to leave another man's wrongful act
there where it is.
activity, cessation from movement and opinion, and in a
sense their death, is no evil. Turn thy thoughts now to the consideration
of thy life, thy life as a child, as a youth, thy manhood,
thy old age, for in these also every change was a death.
Is this anything to fear? Turn thy thoughts now to thy
life under thy grandfather, then to thy life under thy
mother, then to thy life under thy father; and as thou findest many other differences and changes and terminations, ask thyself,
Is this anything to fear? In like manner, then, neither
are the termination and cessation and change of thy whole
life a thing to be afraid of.
Hasten to examine
thy own ruling faculty and that of the universe and that
of thy neighbour: thy own that thou mayest make it just: and that of the universe, that thou mayest remember of what thou art a
part; and that of thy neighbour, that thou mayest know
whether he has acted ignorantly or with knowledge, and
that thou mayest also consider that his ruling faculty is
akin to thine.
As thou thyself art a component
part of a social system, so let every act of thine be a
component part of social life. Whatever act of thine then
has no reference either immediately or remotely to a social end, this tears asunder thy life, and does not allow it to be
one, and it is of the nature of a mutiny, just as when in
a popular assembly a man acting by himself stands apart
from the general agreement.
Quarrels of little
children and their sports, and poor spirits carrying about
dead bodies, such is everything; and so what is exhibited in the representation of the mansions of the dead strikes our
eyes more clearly.
the quality of the form of an object, and detach it altogether from its material part, and then contemplate it;
then determine the time, the longest which a thing of this
peculiar form is naturally made to endure.
Thou hast endured infinite troubles through not being
contented with thy ruling faculty, when it does the things
which it is constituted by nature to do. But enough of
When another blames thee or hates thee, or
when men say about thee anything injurious, approach their
poor souls, penetrate within, and see what kind of men
they are. Thou wilt discover that there is no reason to take any trouble that these men may have this or that opinion
about thee. However thou must be well disposed towards
them, for by nature they are friends. And the gods too aid
them in all ways, by dreams, by signs, towards the
attainment of those things on which they set a value.
The periodic movements of the universe are the same,
up and down from age to age. And either the universal
intelligence puts itself in motion for every separate
effect, and if this is so, be thou content with that which
is the result of its activity; or it puts itself in motion once, and everything else comes by way of sequence in a manner; or
indivisible elements are the origin of all things.- In a
word, if there is a god, all is well; and if chance rules,
do not thou also be governed by it.
Soon will the earth cover us all: then the earth,
too, will change, and the things also which result from
change will continue to change for ever, and these again
for ever. For if a man reflects on the changes and transformations which follow one another like wave after wave
and their rapidity, he will despise everything which is
The universal cause is like a winter
torrent: it carries everything along with it. But how
worthless are all these poor people who are engaged in
matters political, and, as they suppose, are playing the philosopher! All drivellers. Well then, man: do what nature now requires.
Set thyself in motion, if it is in thy power, and do not
look about thee to see if any one will observe it; nor yet
expect Plato's Republic: but be content if the smallest
thing goes on well, and consider such an event to be no small matter. For who can change men's opinions? And without
a change of opinions what else is there than the slavery
of men who groan while they pretend to obey? Come now and
tell me of Alexander and Philip and Demetrius of Phalerum.
They themselves shall judge whether they discovered what the common nature required, and trained themselves accordingly.
But if they acted like tragedy heroes, no one has
condemned me to imitate them. Simple and modest is the
work of philosophy. Draw me not aside to indolence and pride.
Look down from above on the
countless herds of men and their countless solemnities,
and the infinitely varied voyagings in storms and calms, and the differences among those who are born, who live together,
and die. And consider, too, the life lived by others in
olden time, and the life of those who will live after
thee, and the life now lived among barbarous nations, and
how many know not even thy name, and how many will soon forget it, and how they who perhaps now are praising thee will very
soon blame thee, and that neither a posthumous name is of
any value, nor reputation, nor anything else.
Let there be freedom from perturbations with respect
to the things which come from the external cause; and let
there be justice in the things done by virtue of the
internal cause, that is, let there be movement and action
terminating in this, in social acts, for this is according to thy nature.
Thou canst remove out of the
way many useless things among those which disturb thee,
for they lie entirely in thy opinion; and thou wilt then
gain for thyself ample space by comprehending the whole universe in thy mind, and by contemplating the eternity of time, and
observing the rapid change of every several thing, how
short is the time from birth to dissolution, and the
illimitable time before birth as well as the equally boundless time after dissolution.
that thou seest will quickly perish, and those who have been spectators of its dissolution will very soon perish too. And
he who dies at the extremest old age will be brought into
the same condition with him who died prematurely.
What are these men's leading principles, and about
what kind of things are they busy, and for what kind of
reasons do they love and honour? Imagine that thou seest
their poor souls laid bare. When they think that they do
harm by their blame or good by their praise, what an idea!
Loss is nothing else than change. But the
universal nature delights in change, and in obedience to
her all things are now done well, and from eternity have
been done in like form, and will be such to time without end. What, then, dost thou say? That all things have been and
all things always will be bad, and that no power has ever
been found in so many gods to rectify these things, but
the world has been condemned to be found in never ceasing
The rottenness of the matter which is the
foundation of everything! Water, dust, bones, filth: or
again, marble rocks, the callosities of the earth; and
gold and silver, the sediments; and garments, only bits of hair; and purple dye, blood; and everything else is of the same
kind. And that which is of the nature of breath is also
another thing of the same kind, changing from this to
Enough of this wretched life and murmuring
and apish tricks. Why art thou disturbed? What is there
new in this? What unsettles thee? Is it the form of the
thing? Look at it. Or is it the matter? Look at it. But
besides these there is nothing. Towards the gods, then, now become at last more simple and better. It is the same whether we
examine these things for a hundred years or three.
If any man has done wrong, the harm is his own. But
perhaps he has not done wrong.
Either all things proceed from one intelligent source
and come together as in one body, and the part ought not
to find fault with what is done for the benefit of the
whole; or there are only atoms, and nothing else than
mixture and dispersion. Why, then, art thou disturbed? Say to the ruling faculty, Art thou dead, art thou corrupted, art
thou playing the hypocrite, art thou become a beast, dost
thou herd and feed with the rest?
Either the gods have no power or they have power. If,
then, they have no power, why dost thou pray to them? But
if they have power, why dost thou not pray for them to
give thee the faculty of not fearing any of the things
which thou fearest, or of not desiring any of the things which thou desirest, or not being pained at anything, rather
than pray that any of these things should not happen or
happen? for certainly if they can co-operate with men,
they can co-operate for these purposes. But perhaps thou
wilt say, the gods have placed them in thy power. Well, then, is it not better to use what is in thy power like a free man
than to desire in a slavish and abject way what is not in
thy power? And who has told thee that the gods do not aid
us even in the things which are in our power? Begin, then,
to pray for such things, and thou wilt see. One man prays thus: How shall I be able to lie with that woman? Do thou
pray thus: How shall I not desire to lie with her? Another
prays thus: How shall I be released from this? Another
prays: How shall I not desire to be released? Another
thus: How shall I not lose my little son? Thou thus: How shall I not be afraid to lose him? In fine, turn thy prayers this
way, and see what comes.
says, In my sickness my conversation was not about my bodily sufferings, nor, says he, did I talk on such subjects
to those who visited me; but I continued to discourse on
the nature of things as before, keeping to this main
point, how the mind, while participating in such movements as go on in the poor flesh, shall be free from perturbations
and maintain its proper good. Nor did I, he says, give the
physicians an opportunity of putting on solemn looks, as
if they were doing something great, but my life went on
well and happily. Do, then, the same that he did both in sickness, if thou art sick, and in any other circumstances;
for never to desert philosophy in any events that may
befall us, nor to hold trifling talk either with an
ignorant man or with one unacquainted with nature, is a
principle of all schools of philosophy; but to be intent only on that which thou art now doing and on the instrument by which thou
When thou art offended
with any man's shameless conduct, immediately ask thyself,
Is it possible, then, that shameless men should not be in the world? It is not possible. Do not, then, require what is
impossible. For this man also is one of those shameless
men who must of necessity be in the world. Let the same
considerations be present to thy mind in the case of the
knave, and the faithless man, and of every man who does wrong in any way. For at the same time that thou dost remind
thyself that it is impossible that such kind of men should
not exist, thou wilt become more kindly disposed towards
every one individually. It is useful to perceive this,
too, immediately when the occasion arises, what virtue nature has given to man to oppose to every wrongful act. For she has
given to man, as an antidote against the stupid man,
mildness, and against another kind of man some other
power. And in all cases it is possible for thee to correct by teaching the man who is gone astray; for every man who
errs misses his object and is gone astray. Besides wherein
hast thou been injured? For thou wilt find that no one
among those against whom thou art irritated has done
anything by which thy mind could be made worse; but that which is evil to thee and harmful has its foundation only in the
mind. And what harm is done or what is there strange, if
the man who has not been instructed does the acts of an
uninstructed man? Consider whether thou shouldst not rather blame thyself, because thou didst not expect such a
man to err in such a way. For thou hadst means given thee
by thy reason to suppose that it was likely that he would
commit this error, and yet thou hast forgotten and art
amazed that he has erred. But most of all when thou blamest a man as faithless or ungrateful, turn to thyself. For the fault is
manifestly thy own, whether thou didst trust that a man
who had such a disposition would keep his promise, or when
conferring thy kindness thou didst not confer it
absolutely, nor yet in such way as to have received from thy very act all the profit. For what more dost thou want when
thou hast done a man a service? Art thou not content that
thou hast done something conformable to thy nature, and
dost thou seek to be paid for it? Just as if the eye demanded a recompense for seeing, or the feet for walking.
For as these members are formed for a particular purpose,
and by working according to their several constitutions
obtain what is their own; so also as man is formed by
nature to acts of benevolence, when he has done anything benevolent or in any other way conducive to the common interest, he has
acted conformably to his constitution, and he gets what is
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