April 30

WHEN a person inquired, how any one might eat acceptably to the gods: If he eats with justice, says Epictetus, and gratitude, and fairly and temperately and decently, must he not also eat acceptably to the gods? And when you call for hot water, and your servant doth not hear you, or, if he doth, brings it only warm; or perhaps is not to be found at home; then not to be angry, or burst with passion, is not this acceptable to the gods?


IN the mind that is once truly disciplined and purged, thou canst not find anything, either foul or impure, or as it were festered: nothing that is either servile, or affected: no partial tie; no malicious averseness; nothing obnoxious; nothing concealed. The life of such an one. Death can never surprise as imperfect; as of an Actor, that should die before he had ended, or the play itself were at an end, a man might speak.



April 29

IT would be best if, both while you are personally making your preparations, and while you are feasting at table, you could give among the servants part of what is before you. But, if such a thing be difficult at that time, remember that you, who are not weary, are attended by those who are; you, who are eating and drinking, by those who are not; you, who are talking, by those who are silent; you, who are at ease, by those who are under constraint; and thus you will never be heated into any unreasonable passion yourself, nor do any mischief by provoking another.



April 28

WHEN we are invited to an entertainment, we take what we find; and if anyone should bid the master of the house set fish or tarts before him, he would be thought absurd. Yet, in the world, we ask the gods for what they do not give us, and that though they have given us so many things.


IN every feast remember that there are two guests to be entertained, the body and the soul ; and that what you give the body you presently lose, but what you give the soul remains for ever.


AGRIPPINUS, when Florus was considering whether he should go to Nero's shows, so as to perform some part in them himself, bid him go. — "But why do not you go then?" says Florus. "Because," replied Agrippinus, "I do not deliberate about it." For he who once sets himself about such considerations, and goes to calculating the worth of external things, approaches very near to those who forget their own character.



April 22

Y0U carry a god about with you, wretch. I know nothing of it. Do you suppose I mean some god without you, of gold or silver? It is within yourself you wrong him, and profane him, without being sensible of it, by impure thoughts and unclean actions.


HAVE you not God? Do you seek any other, while you have Him ? Or will He tell you any other than these things ? If you were a statue of Phidias, either Zeus or Athena, you would remember both yourself and the artist ; and, if you had any sense, you would endeavour to do nothing unworthy of him who formed you, or of yourself: nor to appear in an unbecoming manner to spectators. And are you now careless how you appear, because you are the workmanship of Jupiter ?



April 10

A CYNIC must besides have so much patience as to seem insensible and a stone to the vulgar. No one reviles, no one beats, no one affronts him; but he hath surrendered his body to be treated at pleasure by anyone who will. For he remembers that the inferior, in whatever instance it is the inferior, must be conquered by the superior, and the body is inferior to the multitude, the weaker to the stronger. He never therefore enters into a combat where he can be conquered, but immediately gives up what belongs to others; he doth not claim what is slavish and dependent; but, where choice and the use of the Appearances are concerned, you will see that he hath so many eyes, you would say Argos was blind to him. Is his assent ever precipitate? His pursuits ever rash? His desire ever disappointed? His aversion ever incurred? His intention ever fruitless? Is he ever querulous, ever dejected, ever envious? Here lies all his attention and application. With regard to other things, he snores supine. All is peace. There is no robber, no tyrant of the choice.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book iii. §22. ¶14.


April 9

SHOW me one who is sick, and happy; in danger, and happy; dying, and happy; exiled, and happy; disgraced, and happy. Show him me, for, by heaven, I long to see a Stoic. But (you will say) you have not one perfectly formed. Show me, then, one who is forming, one who is approaching towards this character. Do me this favour. Do not refuse an old man a sight which he hath never yet seen. Let any of you show me a human soul, willing to have the same sentiments with those of God, not to accuse either God or man, not to be disappointed of its desire, or incur its aversion, not to be angry, not to be envious, not to be jealous, in a word, willing from a man to become a God, and, in this poor mortal body, aiming to have fellowship with Jupiter. Show him to me. But you cannot. Why, then, do you impose upon yourselves, and play tricks with others?

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book ii. §19. ¶3.


April 8

OBSERVE yourselves in your actions, and you will find of what sect you are. You will find that most of you are Epicureans, a few Peripatetics, and those but loose ones. For, by what action will you prove that you think virtue equal, and even superior, to all other things? Show me a Stoic if you have one. Where? Or how should you? You can show, indeed, a thousand who repeat the Stoic reasonings. But do they repeat the Epicurean worse! Are they not just as perfect in the Peripatetic? Who, then, is a Stoic? As we call that a Phidian statue, which is formed according to the art of Phidias, so show me some one person, formed according to the principles which he professes.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book ii. §19. ¶3.


April 7

NEITHER is any of the virtues an object of choice per se nor any of the vices an object of avoidance but all these must be referred to the aim one has assumed.
Quoted by Plutarch


April 6

TO judge of reasonable and unreasonable, we make use not only of a due estimation of things without us, but of what relates to each person's particular character. Thus, it is reasonable for one man to submit to a dirty disgraceful office, who considers this only, that if he does not submit to it he shall be whipped, and lose his dinner; but if he does, that he has nothing hard or disagreeable to suffer : whereas to another it appears insupportable, not only to submit to such an office himself, but to bear with anyone else who does. If you ask me, then, whether you shall do this dirty office or not, I will tell you, it is a more valuable thing to get a dinner, than not; and a greater disgrace to be whipped than not to be whipped : so that, if you measure yourself by these things, go and do your office.

"Ay, but this is not suitable to my character."

It is you who are to consider that, not I: for it is you who know yourself, what value you set upon yourself, and at what rate you sell yourself: for different people sell themselves at different prices.



April 5

AS thou thyself, whoever thou art, wert made for the perfection and consummation, being a member of it, of a common society; so must every action of thine tend to the perfection and consummation of a life that is truly sociable. What action soever of thine therefore that either immediately or afar off, hath not reference to the common good, that is an exorbitant, and disorderly action; yea it is seditious; as one among the people who from such and such a consent and unity, should factiously divide and separate himself.


THERE is but one light of the sun, though it be intercepted by walls and mountains, and other thousand objects. There is but one common soul, though divided into innumerable particular essences and natures.



April 4

DO not you know what sort of a thing a warfare is? One must keep guard, another go out for a spy, another to battle too. It is neither possible that all should be in the same place, nor, indeed, better: but you, neglecting to perform the orders of your general, complain whenever anything a little hard is commanded, and do not consider what you make the army become as far as lies in your power. For, if all should imitate you, nobody will dig a trench, or throw up a rampart, or watch, or expose himself to danger; but everyone will appear useless to the expedition. Again, if you were a sailor in a voyage, fix upon one place, and there remain. If it should be necessary to climb the mast, refuse to do it; if to run to the head of the ship, refuse to do it. And what captain will bear you? Would not he throw you overboard as a useless piece of goods and mere luggage, and a bad example to the other sailors? Thus, also, in the present case, every one's life is a warfare, and that long and various. You must observe the duty of a soldier, and perform everything at the nod of your general; and even, if possible, divine what he would have done.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book iii. §24. ¶2.


April 3

WHATSOEVER I do either by myself, or with some other, the only thing that I must intend, is that it be good and expedient for the public. For as for praise, consider how many who once were much commended, are now already quite forgotten; yea they that commended them, how even they themselves are long since dead and gone.


SHOULD I do it? I will: so the end of my action be, to do good unto men. Doth anything by way of cross or adversity happen unto me? I accept it, with reference unto the gods and their providence; the fountain of all things, from which whatsoever comes to pass doth hang and depend.



April 2

HAVE the very leaves, and our own bodies, this connection and sympathy with the whole, and have not our souls much more? But our souls are thus connected and intimately joined to God, as being indeed members and distinct portions of His essence.


GOD hath universally so constituted the nature of every reasonable creature, that no one can attain any of its own proper advantages without contributing something to the use of society.


SOONER mayest thou find a thing earthly, where no earthly thing is, than find a man that naturally can live by himself alone.



April 1

IN all vice, pleasure being presented with a bait, draws sensual minds to the hook of perdition.


REPENTANCE, is an inward and self-reprehension for the neglect or omission of somewhat that was profitable. Now whatsoever is good, is also profitable, and it is the part of an honest virtuous man to set by it, and to make reckoning of it accordingly. But never did any honest virtuous man repent of the neglect or omission of any carnal pleasure: no carnal pleasure then is either good or profitable.


IT is the character of a wise man to resist pleasure, and of a fool to be enslaved by it.