Thursday

August 31

BY placing over against you the imitation of great and good men, you will conquer any appearance, and not be drawn away by it. But, in the first place, be not hurried along with it, by its hasty vehemence: but say, Appearance, wait for me a little. Let me see what you are, and what you represent. Let me try you. Then, afterwards, do not suffer it to go on drawing gay pictures of what will follow : if you do, it will lead you wherever it pleases. But rather oppose to it some good and noble appearance, and banish this base and sordid one. If you are habituated to this kind of exercise, you will see what shoulders, what nerves, what sinews, you will have. But now it is mere trifling talk, and nothing more. He is the true practitioner who exercises himself against such appearances as these.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book ii. §18, ¶5.

Wednesday

August 30

WILL you say that there is nothing independent which is in your own power alone, and unalienable? See, then, if you have anything of this sort. — "I do not know." But, consider it thus: Can anyone make you assent to a falsehood? — "No one." In the topic of assent, then, you are unrestrained and unhindered. — "Agreed." Well, and can anyone compel you to exert your pursuits towards what you do not like ? — "He can. For when he threatens me with death, or fetters, he compels me to exert them." If, then, you were to despise dying, or being fettered, would you any longer regard him? — "No." Is despising death, then, an action in our power, or is it not? — "It is." Is it, therefore, in your power also to exert your pursuits towards anything, or is it not? — "Agreed that it is. But in whose power is my avoiding anything?" This too, is in your own. — "What then, if, when I am exerting myself to walk, anyone should restrain me?" What part of you can he restrain? Can he restrain your assent? — "No, but my body." Ay, as he may a stone. — "Be it so. But still I walk no more." And who told you that walking was an action of your own that cannot be restrained? For I only said that your exerting yourself towards it could not be restrained.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book iv. §1, ¶11.

Tuesday

August 29

APPEARANCES to the mind are of four kinds. Things either are what they appear to be; or they neither are, nor appear to be; or they are, and do not appear to be; or they are not, and yet appear to be. To form a right judgment in all these cases, belongs only to the completely instructed.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book i. §27, ¶1.

AGAINST specious appearances we must have clear preconceptions brightened up and ready. When death appears as an evil, we ought immediately to remember that evils may be avoided, but death is necessity.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book i. §27, ¶1.

WHAT is the cause of assent to anything? Its appearing to be true. It is not possible then, to assent to what appears to be not true. Why? Because it is the very nature of the understanding to agree to truth, to be dissatisfied with falsehood, and to suspend its belief in doubtful cases. What is the proof of this? Persuade yourself if you can, that it is now night. Impossible. Unpersuade yourself that it is day. Impossible. When anyone then assents to what is false, be assured that he doth not wilfully assent to it as false; but what is false appears to him to be true.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book i. §28, ¶1.

Monday

August 28

I, TOO the other day had an iron lamp burning before my household deities. Hearing a noise at the window, I ran. I found my lamp was stolen. I considered, that he who took it away did nothing unaccountable. What then? Tomorrow, says I, you shall find an earthen one; for a man loses only what he hath. I have lost my coat. Ay, because you had a coat. I have a pain in my head. Why, can you have a pain in your horns? Why, then, are you out of humour? For loss and pain can be only of such things as are possessed.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book i. §18. ¶1.

THOU seest that those things, which for a man to hold on in a prosperous course, and to live a divine life, are requisite and necessary, are not many, for the gods will require no more of any man, that shall but keep and observe these things.

MARCUS AURELIUS. MEDITATIONS. Book ii. 2.

Sunday

August 27

THE will of nature may be learned from those things in which we do not differ from each other. As, when our neighbour's boy hath broken a cup, or the like, we are presently ready to say, "These are things that will happen." Be assured, then, that when your own cup likewise is broken, you ought to be affected just as when another's cup was broken. Transfer this, in like manner, to greater things. Is the child or wife of another dead? There is no one who would not say, "This is an accident common to man." But if anyone's own child happens to die, it is presently, "Alas! how wretched am I!" But it should be remembered how we are affected in hearing the same thing concerning others.

EPICTETUS. MANUAL. 26.

Saturday

August 26

A LIFE entangled with fortune resembles a wintry torrent; for it is turbulent, and muddy, and difficult to pass, and violent, and noisy, and of shorter continuance.

A soul conversant with virtue resembles a perpetual fountain; for it is clear, and gentle, and potable, and sweet, and communicative, and rich, and harmless, and innocent.

EPICTETUS. FRAGMENTS. 1.

THOU must be like a promontory of the sea, against which though the waves bear continually, yet it both itself stands, and about it are those swelling waves stilled and quieted.

MARCUS AURELIUS. MEDITATIONS. Book iv. 40.

UNSPOTTED by pleasure, undaunted by pain; free from any manner of wrong, or contumely, by himself offered unto himself: not capable of any evil from others: a wrestler of the best sort, and for the highest prize.

MARCUS AURELIUS. MEDITATIONS. Book iii. 4.

Friday

August 25

YOU will commit the fewest faults in judging, if you are faultless in your own life.

EPICTETUS. FRAGMENTS. 57.

USE thyself, as often as thou seest any man do anything, presently if it be possible to say unto thyself. What is this man's end in this his action? But begin this course with thyself first of all, and diligently examine thyself concerning whatsoever thou doest.

MARCUS AURELIUS. MEDITATIONS. Book x. 37.

PIERCE and penetrate into the estate of everyone's understanding that thou hast to do with: as also make the estate of thine own open, and penetrable to any other.

MARCUS AURELIUS. MEDITATIONS. Book viii. 58.