March 23

WHAT is man?
A rational and mortal being.
Well: from what are we distinguished by reason?
From wild beasts.
From what else?
From sheep and the like.
Take care, then, to do nothing like a wild beast; otherwise you have destroyed the man: you have not fulfilled what your nature promises. Take care, too, to do nothing like cattle; for thus likewise the man is destroyed.
In what do we act like cattle?
When we act gluttonously, lewdly, rashly, sordidly, inconsiderately, into what are we sunk?
Into cattle.
What have we destroyed?
The rational being.
When we behave contentiously, injuriously, passionately, and violently, into what are we sunk?
Into wild beasts. And further: some of us are wild beasts of a larger size; others, little mischievous vermin.

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


  1. "When you behave contentiously, injuriously, and violently, you destroy yourself: you do not fulfill what your nature promises."

    While I don't agree with the debasement of other animals, based on a likely false dichotomy of reasoning vs. unreasoning beings, the gist of the message holds true.

    When we allow ourself to act viciously, we fall below our potential, and betray our better and our future selves. Someone I am, the one I will become, is counting on my choices today, he will be the victim to the mistakes I make now.

    So to honour that man, I will make the choices that will give him the best chance for a long and serene life.

  2. In some ways I think many humans act in a manner that is "less" than our fellow animals. We can kill without reason, rather than for a need to survive, hurt without guilt, etc.

    We need to strive to be the best of humanity.