November 22

IT vexes me, say you, to be pitied. Is this your affair, then, or theirs who pity you? And further: How is it in your power to prevent it? — "It is, if I show them that I do not need pity." But are you now in such a condition as not to need pity, or are you not? — "I think I am. But these people do not pity me for what, if anything, would deserve pity — my faults; but for poverty and want of power, and sicknesses, and deaths, and other things of that kind." Are you, then, prepared to convince the world that none of these things is in reality an evil; but that it is possible for a person to be happy, even when he is poor and without honours and power? Or are you prepared to appear to them rich and powerful? The last of these is the part of an arrogant, silly, worthless fellow.



November 21

WHATSOEVER thou dost hereafter aspire unto, thou mayest even now enjoy and possess, if thou dost not envy thyself thine own happiness. And that will be, if thou shalt forget all that is past, and for the future, refer thyself wholly to the divine providence, and shalt bend and apply all thy present thoughts and intentions, to holiness and righteousness. To holiness, in accepting willingly whatsoever is sent by the divine providence, as being that which the nature of the Universe hath appointed unto thee, which also hath appointed thee for that, whatsoever it be. To righteousness, in speaking the Truth freely, and without ambiguity ; and in doing all things justly and discreetly. Now in this good course, let not other men's either wickedness, or opinion, or voice hinder thee: no, nor the sense of this thy pampered mass of flesh: for let that which suffers, look to itself



November 20

"BUT how is it possible that a man worth nothing, naked, without house or home, squalid, unattended, who belongs to no country, can lead a prosperous life?" — See, God hath sent us one to show, in fact, that it is possible. "Take notice of me, that I am without a country, without a house, without an estate, without a servant; I lie on the ground; no wife, no children, no coat, but only earth and heaven and one sorry cloak. And what do I want? Am not I without sorrow, without fear? Am not I free? Did any of you ever see me disappointed of my desire, or incurring my aversion? Did I ever blame God or man? Did I ever accuse anyone? Hath any of you seen me look discontented? How do I treat those whom you fear, and of whom you are struck with awe? Is it not like sorry slaves? Who that sees me doth not think that he sees his own king and master?" This is the language, this the character, this the undertaking, of a Cynic.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book iii. §22. ¶5.


November 19

I AM at leisure. My mind is under no distraction. In this freedom from distraction, what shall I do? Have I anything more becoming a man than this? You, when you have nothing to do, are restless ; you go to the theatre, or perhaps to bathe. Why should not the philosopher polish his reasoning? You have fine crystal and myrrhin vases; I have acute forms of reasoning. To you, all you have appears little; to me, all I have great. Your appetite is insatiable; mine is satisfied. When children thrust their hand into a narrow jar of nuts and figs, if they fill it they cannot get it out again; then they fall a-crying. Drop a few of them and you will get out the rest. And do you too drop your desire; do not covet many things, and you will get some.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book iii. §9. ¶1, 2.


November 18

IF you possess many things, you still want others; so that, whether you will or not, you are poorer than I.
What, then, do I want?
What you have not: constancy, a mind conformable to nature, and a freedom from perturbation. Patron or no patron, what care I? But you do. I am richer than you. I am not anxious what Caesar will think of me. I flatter no one on that account. This I have, instead of silver and gold plate. You have your vessels of gold; but your discourse, your principles, your assents, your pursuits, your desires, of mere earthenware. When I have all these conformable to nature, why should not I bestow some study upon my reasoning too?

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book iii. §9. ¶1, 2.


November 17

SUPPOSE I should prove to you that you are deficient in what is most necessary and important to happiness, and that hitherto you have taken care of everything, rather than your duty ; and, to complete all, that you understand neither what God or man or good or evil means? That you are ignorant of all the rest, perhaps, you may bear to be told; but if I prove to you that you are ignorant even of yourself, how will you bear with me, and how will you have patience to stay and be convinced? Not at all. You will immediately be offended and go away. And yet what injury have I done you? unless a looking-glass injures a person not handsome, when it shows him to himself such as he is. Or unless a physician can be thought to affront his patient when he says to him, "Do you think, sir, that you ail nothing? You have a fever. Eat no meat to-day, and drink water." Nobody cries out here, "What an intolerable affront!" But if you say to anyone, Your desires are in a fermentation; your aversions are low; your intentions contradictory; your pursuits not conformable to nature; your opinions rash and mistaken; he presently goes away, and complains he is affronted.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book ii. §14. ¶3.


November 16

LET them see to it who pity me. But I am neither hungry, nor thirsty, nor cold. But, because they are hungry and thirsty, they suppose me to be so too. What can I do for them, then ? Am I to go about making proclamation, and saying, Do not deceive yourselves, good people, I am very well: I regard neither poverty, nor want of power, nor anything else, but right principles. These I possess unrestrained. I care for nothing further. — But what trifling is this? How have I right principles when I am not contented to be what I am, but am out of my wits how I shall appear? — But others will get more, and be preferred to me. — Why, what is more reasonable than that they who take pains for anything should get most in that particular in which they take pains? They have taken pains for power; you, for right principles.



November 15

WHAT says Antisthenes, then? Have you never heard? "It is kingly, O Cyrus, to do well, and to be ill spoken of." My head is well, and all around me think it aches. What is that to me ? I am free from a fever; and they compassionate me as if I had one." Poor soul, what a long while have you had this fever! "I say, too, with a dismal countenance, Ay, indeed, it is now a long time that I have been ill.—" What can be the consequence, then? "What pleases God. And at the same time I secretly laugh at them who pity me. What forbids, then, but that the same may be done in the other case? I am poor, but I have right principles concerning poverty. What is it to me, then, if people pity me for my poverty? I am not in power, and others are; but I have such opinions as I ought to have concerning power, and the want of power.



November 14

THINK thyself fit and worthy to speak, or to do anything, that is according to Nature, and let not the reproach, or report of some that may ensue upon it, ever deter thee. If it be right and honest to be spoken or done, undervalue not thyself so much, as to be discouraged from it. As for them, they have their own rational overruling part, and their own proper inclination : which thou must not stand and look about to take notice of, but go on straight.



November 13

IF a person had delivered up your body to anyone whom he met in his way, you would certainly be angry. And do you feel no shame in delivering up your own mind to be disconcerted and confronted by anyone who happens to give you ill language?


WHAT pain soever thou art in, let this presently come to thy mind, that it is not a thing whereof thou needest to be ashamed, neither is it a thing whereby thy understanding, that hath the government of all, can be made worse.


"THE philosophers talk paradoxes."
And are there not paradoxes in other arts? What is more paradoxical than the pricking anyone's eye to make him see? If a person was to tell this to one ignorant of surgery, would not he laugh at him? Where is the wonder then, if in philosophy too, many truths appear paradoxes to the ignorant!

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book iii. §11. ¶1.


November 12

I HAVE often wondered, how it should come to pass, that every man loving himself best, should more regard other men's opinions concerning himself, than his own.


WHAT are their minds and understanding; and what the things that they apply themselves unto ; what do they love, and what do they work for? Fancy to thyself the estate of their souls openly to be seen. When they think they hurt them shrewdly, whom they speak ill of; and when they think they do them a very good turn, whom they commend and extol : O how full are they then of conceit and opinion !



November 11

YOUR father deprives you of your money, but he doth not hurt you. Your brother will possess as much larger a portion of land than you as he pleases; but will he possess more honour, more fidelity, more fraternal affection? Who can throw you out of this possession? Not even Jupiter, for, indeed, it is not his will; but he hath put this good into my own power, and given it me like his own, uncompelled, unrestrained, and unhindered. But when anyone hath a coin different from this, for his coin whoever shows it to him may have whatever is sold for it in return. A thievish proconsul comes into the province: what coin doth he use? Silver. Show it him, and carry off what you please. An adulterer comes: what coin doth he use? Women. Take the coin, says one, and give me this trifle. "Give it me, and it is yours." Another is fond of hunting: give him a fine nag or a puppy ; and, though with sighs and groans, he will sell you for it what you will, for he is inwardly compelled by another who hath constituted this coin.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book iii. §3. ¶2.


November 10

HENCE depends every movement both of God and man ; and hence good is preferred to every obligation, however near. My connection is not with my father, but with good. — Are you so hard-hearted? — Such is my nature, and such is the coin which God hath given me. If, therefore, good is made to be anything but fair and just, away go father, and brother, and country, and everything. What! Shall I overlook my own good and give it up to you? For what? "I am your father." But not my good. "I am your brother." But not my good. But, if we place it in a right choice, good will consist in an observance of the several relations of life; and then, he who gives up some externals acquires good.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book iii. §3. ¶2.


November 9

DO you not often see little dogs caressing and playing with each other, that you would say nothing could be more friendly; but, to learn what this friendship is, throw a bit of meat between them, and you will see. Do you too throw a bit of an estate betwixt you and your son, and you will see that he will quickly wish you underground, and you him: and then you, no doubt, on the other hand, will exclaim, What a son have I brought up! He would bury me alive! Throw in a pretty girl, and the old fellow and the young one will both fall in love with her; or let fame or danger intervene, the words of the father of Admetus will be yours:

You hold life dear; doth not your father too? 

Do you suppose that he did not love his own child when he was a little one? That he was not in agonies when he had a fever, and often wished to undergo that fever in his stead ? But, after all, when the trial comes home, you see what expressions he uses. Were not Eteocles and Polynices born of the same mother and of the same father? Were they not brought up, and did they not live and eat and sleep, together? Did not they kiss and fondle each other? So that anyone who saw them would have laughed at all the paradoxes which philosophers utter about love. And yet, when a kingdom, like a bit of meat, was thrown betwixt them, see what they say, and how eagerly they wish to kill each other.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book ii. §22. ¶1.


November 8

AS when you see a viper, or an asp, or a scorpion, in an ivory or gold box, you do not love or think it happy on account of the magnificence of the materials in which it is enclosed, but shun and detest it because it is of a pernicious nature; so likewise, when you see vice lodged in the midst of wealth and the swelling pride of fortune, be not struck by the splendour of the materials with which it is surrounded, but despise the base alloy of its manners.


IS this then a thing of that worth, that for it my soul should suffer, and become worse than it was? as either basely dejected, or disordinately affected, or confounded within itself, or terrified? What can there be, that thou shouldst so much esteem?



November 7

RICHES are not among the number of things which are good; prodigality is of the number of those which are evil; Rightness of mind, of those which are good. Now, rightness of mind invites to frugality and the acquisition of things that are good; but riches invite to prodigality, and seduce from rightness of mind. It is dilificult, therefore, for a rich person to be right-minded, or a right-minded person rich.


FROM the gods I received that I had good Grandfathers, and Parents, a good Sister, good masters, good domestics, loving kinsmen, almost all that I have; and that I never through haste, and rashness transgressed against any of them, notwithstanding that my disposition was such, as that such a thing (if occasion had been) might very well have been committed by me, but that it was the mercy of the gods, to prevent such a concurring of matters and occasions, as might make me to incur this blame.



November 6

NO one who is a lover of money, a lover of pleasure, or a lover of glory, is likewise a lover of mankind; but only he who is a lover of virtue.


THAT which doth not hurt the city, itself, cannot hurt any Citizen. This rule thou must remember to apply and make use of upon every conceit and apprehension of wrong. If the whole City be not hurt by this, neither am I certainly. And if the whole be not, why should I make it my private grievance? Art not thou then a very fool, who for these things, art either puffed up with pride, or distracted with cares, or canst find in thy heart to make such moans as for a thing that would trouble thee for a very long time? Consider the whole Universe, whereof thou art but a very little part, and the whole age of the world together, whereof but a short and very momentary portion is allotted unto thee, and all the Fates and Destinies together, of which how much is it that comes to thy part and share! Again: Another doth trespass against me. Let him look to that. He is master of his own disposition, and of his own operation.



November 5

WHEN I hear anyone congratulated on the favour of Caesar, I say, What hath he got? "A province." — Hath he, then, got such principles, too, as he ought to have? — "A public charge." — Hath he, then, got with it the knowledge how to use it too? If not, why should I be thrust about any longer to get in? Someone scatters nuts and figs. Children scramble and quarrel for them, but not men, for they think them trifles. — Provinces are distributing. Let children look to it. — Money. Let children look to it. Military command, a consulship. Let children scramble for them. Let these be shut out, be beat, kiss the hands of the giver, of his slaves. But to me they are but mere figs and nuts. — "What, then, is to be done?" If you miss them, while he is throwing them, do not trouble yourself about it; but if a fig should fall into your lap, take it and eat it, for one may pay so much regard even to a fig. But if I am to stoop and throw down one, or be thrown down by another, and flatter those who are got in, a fig is not worth this, nor any other of the things which are not really good, and which the philosophers have persuaded me not to esteem as good.



November 4

A PERSON was talking with me to-day about the priesthood of Augustus. I say to him, Let the thing alone, friend: you will be at great expense for nothing. "But my name," says he, "will be written in the annals." Will you stand by, then, and tell those who read them, "I am the person whose name is written there?" But, if you could tell everyone so now, what will you do when you are dead? — "My name will remain." — Write it upon a stone and it will remain just as well. But, pray, what remembrance will there be of you out of Nicopolis? — "But I shall wear a crown of gold." — If your heart is quite set upon a crown, take and put on one of roses, for it will make the prettier appearance.



November 3

IT is impossible but that habits and faculties must either be first produced, or strengthened and increased, by corresponding actions. Hence the philosophers derive the growth of all infirmities. When you once desire money, for example, if a degree of reasoning sufficient to produce a sense of the evil be applied, the desire ceases, and the governing faculty of the mind regains its authority: whereas, if you apply no remedy, it returns no more to its former state; but, being again excited by a corresponding appearance, it kindles at the desire more quickly than before, and, by frequent repetitions, at last becomes callous: and by this infirmity is the love of money fixed.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book ii. §13. ¶2.


November 2

REMEMBER hat it is not only the desire of riches and power that makes us mean and subject to others, but even of quiet and leisure, and learning and travelling


THOU hast no opportunity to read. What then? Hast thou not time and opportunity to exercise thyself, not to wrong thyself; to strive against all carnal pleasures and pains, and to get the upper hand of them; to contemn honour and vainglory; and not only not to be angry with them, whom towards thee thou dost find insensible and unthankful, but also to have a care of them still, and their welfare?