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.


  1. It doesn't matter how much you have, as long as you still want more, I am far richer than you are. How is this possible? I have peace of mind, serenity and gratitude. You have unfulfilled desires, fear of failure and loss, and a sense of lack. From my bounty I can give. For your poverty, you must take. Tell me then, who is richer? - Lessons from Epictetus

  2. Troy Moses: The sentiment of the quote is very good although there is something that bothers me about it. It would seem that this ideal can be easily warped to coerce people into thinking that they need to remain where they are in life and be content with the role that they have. It's something that has been used by instituitions/governments for thousands of years to hold the common people down and to entrench the oligarchic elites in their ivory towers.

  3. Ah, but there is the difference. This comes from within, and is not imposed from without. Look around you. If you are grateful for anything at all in your life, someone from the outside could accuse you of 'settling', of giving up the pursuit. Only you know how wonderful your life is. Peace of mind, serenity and gratitude are far more than mere bread and circuses, they are the result of a reasoned examination of the world we are in.

    The most important part of the quote though is the last three lines. One who feels lack is focused on themselves. One who feels gratitude can move their focus to the needs and injustices around them, and from their own strength can start to work to do something about it.

  4. Troy Moses: This is why I used the phrase "warped". Many people don't think about themselves and their place in life, they are too concerned with what is going on externally and as a result they become open to the influence of others. Some would then try to impose this warped ideal onto them hoping for A) at least an adherence to custom for custom's sake or B) complete and utter acceptance of the notion that they ar a cog in the wheel and the wheel needs to always turn.