September 30

OH, wretched I! to whom this mischance is happened! nay, happy I, to whom this thing being happened, I can continue without grief; neither wounded by that which is present, nor in fear of that which is to come. For as for this, it might have happened unto any man, but any man having such a thing befallen him, could not have continued without grief. Why then should that rather be an unhappiness, than this a happiness? But however, canst thou, O man! term that unhappiness, which is no mischance to the nature of man! Canst thou think that a mischance to the nature of man, which is not contrary to the end and will of his nature? What then hast thou learned is the will of man's nature? Doth that then which hath happened unto thee, hinder thee from being just? or magnanimous? or temperate? or wise? or circumspect? or true? or modest? or free? or from anything else of all those things in the present enjoying and possession whereof the nature of man (as then enjoying all that is proper unto her,) is fully satisfied?



September 29

BUT show me that he who hath the worst principles gets the advantage over him who hath the better. You never will show it, nor anything like it: for the law of nature and of God is this: Let the better be always superior to the worse.

In what?

In that wherein it is better. One body is stronger than another: many than one; and a thief than one who is not a thief. Thus I, too, lost my lamp because the thief was better at keeping awake than I. But he bought a lamp at the price of being a thief, a rogue, and a wild beast. This seemed to him a good bargain, and much good may it do him!



September 28

CAST away from thee opinion, and thou art safe. And what is it that hinders thee from casting of it away? When thou art grieved at anything, hast thou forgotten that all things happen according to the Nature of the Universe; and that him only it concerns, who is in fault; and moreover, that what is now done, is that which from ever hath been done in the world, and will ever be done, and is now done everywhere: how nearly all men are allied one to another by a kindred not of blood, nor of seed, but of the same mind. Thou hast also forgotten that every man's mind, partakes of the Deity, and issueth from thence; and that no man can properly call anything his own, no not his son, nor his body, nor his life; for that they all proceed from that One who is the giver of all things: that all things are but opinion; that no man lives properly, but that very instant of time which is now present. And therefore that no man whensoever he dieth can properly be said to lose any more, than an instant of time.



September 27

WHAT is this, that now my fancy is set upon? of what things doth it consist? how long can it last? which of all the virtues, is the proper virtue for this present use? as whether meekness, fortitude, truth, faith, sincerity, contentedness, or any of the rest? Of everything therefore thou must use thyself to say. This immediately comes from God, This by that fatal connection and concatenation of things, or (which almost comes to one) by some coincidental casualty. And as for this, it proceeds from my neighbour, my kinsman, my fellow: through his ignorance indeed, because he knows not what is truly natural unto him: But I know it, and therefore carry myself towards him according to the natural law of fellowship; that is kindly, and justly. As for those things that of themselves are altogether indifferent, as in my best judgment I conceive everything to deserve more or less, so I carry myself towards it.



September 26

LET us see your principles. For is it not evident that you consider your own choice as nothing, but look out for something external and independent on it? As, what such a one will say of you, and what you shall be thought: whether a man of letters, whether to have read Chrysippus or Antipater; for, if Archedemus too, you have everything you wish. Why are you still solicitous, lest you should not show us what you are? Will you let me tell you what you have showed us that you are? A mean, discontented, passionate, cowardly fellow; complaining of everything; accusing everybody; perpetually restless; good for nothing. This you have showed us.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book iii. §2. ¶5.


September 25

LET not things future trouble thee. For if necessity so require that they come to pass, thou shalt (whensoever that is) be provided for them with the same reason, by which whatsoever is now present, is made both tolerable and acceptable unto thee. All things are linked and knitted together, and the knot is sacred, neither is there anything in the world, that is not kind and natural in regard of any other thing, or, that hath not some kind of reference, and natural correspondence with whatsoever is in the world besides. For all things are ranked together, and by that decency of its due place and order that each particular doth observe, they all concur together to the making of one and the same orderly composition.


AS several members are in one body united, so are reasonable creatures, in a body divided and dispersed, all made and prepared for one common operation.


THAT which is not good for the beehive, cannot be good for the bee.



September 24

FROM some high place as it were to look down, and to behold here flocks, and there sacrifices, without number; and all kind of navigation; some in a rough and stormy sea, and some in a calm: the general differences, or different estates of things, some, that are now first upon being; the several and mutual relations of those things that are together; and some other things that are at their last. Their lives also, who were long ago, and theirs who shall be hereafter, and the present estate and life of those many nations of Barbarians that are now in the world, thou must likewise consider in thy mind. And how many there be, who never so much as heard of thy Name, how many that will soon forget it ; how many who but even now did commend thee, within a very little while perchance will speak ill of thee. So that neither fame, nor honour, nor anything else that this world doth afford, is worth the while. The sum then of all; Whatsoever doth happen unto thee, whereof God is the cause, to accept it contentedly: whatsoever thou doest, whereof thou thyself art the cause, to do it justly: which will be, if both in thy resolution and in thy action thou have no further end, than to do good unto others, as being that, which by thy natural constitution, as a man, thou art bound unto.



September 23

WHAT behaviour, then, is assigned you in return? If you consider yourself as a wolf — to bite again, to throw more stones. But if you ask the question as a man, examine your treasure; see what faculties you have brought into the world with you. Are they dispositions to ferocity? to revenge? When is a horse miserable? When he is deprived of his natural faculties. Not when he cannot crow, but when he cannot run. And a dog? not when he cannot fly, but when he cannot hunt. Is not a man, then, also unhappy in the same manner? Not he who cannot strangle lions, (for he hath received no faculties for this purpose from nature) but who hath lost his rectitude of mind, and fidelity. Such a one is the person who ought to be publicly lamented for the misfortunes into which he is fallen.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book iii. §5. ¶2.


September 22

WHAT room is there, then, for quarrelling to a person thus disposed? For doth he wonder at anything that happens? Doth it appear new to him? Doth not he expect worse and more grievous injuries from bad people than happen to him? Doth he not reckon it so much gained, as they come short of the last extremities? Such a one hath reviled you. — You are much obliged to him that he hath not struck you. — But he hath struck you too. — You are much obliged to him that he hath not wounded you too. — But he hath wounded you too. — You are much obliged to him that he hath not killed you. For when did he ever learn, or from whom, that he is a gentle, that he is a social animal, that the very injury itself is a great mischief to the injurious? As, then, he hath not learned these things, nor believes them, why should he not follow what appears for his interest? Your neighbour hath thrown stones. What then? Is it any fault of yours? But your goods are broken. What then? Are you a piece of furniture? No, but your essence consists in the faculty of choice.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book iii. §5. ¶2.


September 21

"FOR what purpose have I received these things?" — To use them. "How long?" — As long as he who lent them pleases. If, then, they are not necessary, do not attach yourself to them, and they will not be so; do not tell yourself that they are necessary, and they are not.

This should be our study from morning till night, beginning from the least and frailest things, from an earthen vessel, from a glass. Afterwards, proceed to a suit of clothes, a dog, a horse, an estate; from thence to yourself, body, parts of the body, children, wife, brothers. Look everywhere around you, and throw them from yourself. Correct your principles. See that nothing cleave to you which is not your own; nothing grow to you that may give you pain when it is torn away. And say, when you are daily exercising yourself as you do here, not that you act the philosopher (admit this to be an insolent title), but that you are asserting your freedom. For this is true freedom. This is the freedom that Diogenes gained from Antisthenes, and declared it was impossible that he should ever after be a slave to anyone.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book iv. §1. ¶13.


September 20

PASSION is produced no otherwise than by a disappointment of the desires, and an incurring of the aversions. It is this which introduces perturbations, tumults, misfortunes, and calamities; this is the spring of sorrow, lamentation, and envy; this renders us envious, and emulous, and incapable of hearing reason.

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

THIS faculty in particular we have received from nature, that whatsoever doth oppose itself unto her, and doth withstand her in her purposes and intentions, she doth, though against its will and intention, bring it about to herself, to serve herself of it in the execution of her own destined ends; and so by this though not intended co-operation of it with herself makes it part of herself whether it will or no. So may every reasonable Creature, what crosses or impediments soever it meets with in the course of this mortal life, it may use them as fit and proper objects, to the furtherance of whatsoever it intended, and absolutely proposed unto itself as its natural end and happiness.



September 19

THE more rarely the objects of pleasure occur, the more delightful they are.


LET not that chief commanding part of thy soul be ever subject to any variation through any corporal either pain or pleasure, neither suffer it to be mixed with these, but let it both circumscribe itself, and confine those affections to their own proper parts and members. But if at any time they do reflect, and rebound upon the mind and understanding (as in an united and compacted body it must needs;) then must thou not go about to resist sense and feeling, it being natural. However let not thy understanding to this natural sense and feeling, which whether unto our flesh pleasant or painful, is unto us nothing properly, add an opinion of either good or bad, and all is well.



September 18

HE is a man of sense who doth not grieve for what he hath not, but rejoices in what he hath.


HE that hath broken off the bonds of the body, and perceiving that in a very little while he must of necessity bid the World farewell, and leave all these things behind him, he wholly applied himself, as to righteousness in all his actions, so to the common Nature in all things that should happen unto him. And contenting himself with these two things, to do all things justly, and whatsoever God doth send to like well of it: what others shall either say or think of him, or shall do against him, he doth not so much as trouble his thoughts with it. To go on straight, whither right and reason directed him, and by so doing to follow God, was the only thing that he did mind, that, his only business and occupation.



September 17

UPON every accident, remember to turn towards yourself and inquire what powers you have for making a proper use of it. If you see a handsome person, you will find continence a power against this: if pain be presented to you, you will find fortitude: if ill language, you will find patience. And thus habituated, the appearances of things will not hurry you away along with them.


BE not elated on any excellence not your own. If a horse should be elated and say, "I am handsome," it would be supportable. But when you are elated, and say, "I have a handsome horse," know that you are elated on what is, in fact, only the good of the horse.



September 16

HE hath a stronger body, and is a better wrestler than I. What then? Is he more bountiful? is he more modest? Doth he bear all adverse chances with more equanimity: Or with his neighbour's offences with more meekness and gentleness than I?


A VERY ridiculous thing it is, that any man should dispense with vice and wickedness in himself, which is in his power to restrain; and should go about to suppress it in others, which is altogether impossible.



September 15

AND when you are thus prepared and thus exercised to distinguish what belongs to others from your own; what is liable to restraint from what is not; to esteem your own property, the other not; to keep your desire, to keep your aversion carefully turned to this point; whom have you any longer to fear? — "No one." For about what should you be afraid? About what is your own, in which consists the essence of good and evil? And who hath any power over this? Who can take it away? Who can hinder you? No more than God can be hindered. But are you afraid for body, for possessions, for what belongs to others, for what is nothing to you? And what have you been studying all this while, but to distinguish between your own and not your own; what is in your power and what is not in your power; what is liable to restraint and what is not?

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book iv. §1. ¶12.


September 14

"IS not my hand my own?" It is a part of you, but it is by nature clay, liable to restraint, to compulsion, a slave to everything stronger than itself. And why do I say your hand? You ought to possess your whole body as a paltry ass with a pack-saddle on, as long as may be, as long as it is allowed you. But if there should come a press and a soldier should lay hold on it, let it go. Do not resist or murmur, otherwise you will be first beat, and lose the ass after all. And, since you are to consider the body itself in this manner, think what remains to do concerning those things which are provided for the sake of the body. If that be an ass, the rest are bridles, pack-saddles, shoes, oats, hay, for the ass. Let these go too. Quit them more easily and expeditiously than the ass.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book iv. §1. ¶12.


September 13

WHAT shall I do, then?

What do you do when you come out of a ship? Do you take away the rudder or the oars along with you? What do you take, then? Your own: your bottle, and your bundle. So in the present case, if you will remember what is your own, you will not claim what belongs to others. Are you bid to put off your consular robe? Well, I am in my equestrian. — Put off that too. Well, I am naked. — Still, you raise my envy. Then e'en take my whole body. If I can throw off a paltry body, am I any longer afraid of a tyrant?



September 12

Neither the labour which the hand does nor that of the foot is contrary to nature, so long as the foot does the foot's work and the hand the hand's. So then neither to a man, as a man, is his labour contrary to nature, so long as it does the things of a man. But if the labour is not contrary to his nature, neither is it an evil to him.

How many pleasures have been enjoyed by robbers, patricides, tyrants.


DOTH either the Sun take upon him to do that which belongs to the rain? or his son Esculapius that, which unto the Earth doth properly belong? How is it with every one of the stars in particular? Though they all differ one from another, and have their several charges and functions by themselves, do they not all nevertheless concur and co-operate to one end?



September 11

WHEN a person maintains his proper station in life, he doth not gape after externals. What would you have, man?

"I am contented if my desires and aversions are conformable to nature: if I manage my powers of pursuit and avoidance, my purposes and intentions and assent, in the manner I was formed to do."

Why, then, do you walk as if you had swallowed a spit?

"I could wish, moreover, to have all who meet me admire me, and all who follow me cry out. What a great philosopher!"

Who are those by whom you would be admired? Are they not the very people who you used to say were mad? What, then, would you be admired by madmen?



September 10

"WHAT, then, must my leg be lame?" And is it for one paltry leg, wretch, that you accuse the world? Why will you not give it up to the whole? Why will you not withdraw yourself from it? Why will you not gladly yield it to him who gave it? And will you be angry and discontented with the decrees of Jupiter, which he, with the Fates who spun in his presence the thread of your birth, ordained and appointed? Do not you know how very small a part you are of the whole? That is, as to body; for as to reason you are neither worse, nor less, than the gods. For reason is not measured by length or height, but by principles. Will you not therefore place your good there, where you are equal to the gods?



September 9

A GOOD eye must be good to see whatsoever is to be seen, and not green things only. For that is proper to sore eyes. So must a good ear, and a good smell be ready for whatsoever is either to be heard, or smelt: and a good stomach as indifferent to all kinds of food, as a millstone is, to whatsoever she was made for, to grind. As ready therefore must a sound understanding be for whatsoever shall happen. But he that saith, O that my Children might live! and, O that all men might commend me for whatsoever I do! is an eye that seeks after green things; or as teeth, after that which is tender.



September 8

REQUIRE not things to happen as you wish, but wish them to happen as they do happen, and you will go on well.


FIT and accommodate thyself to that estate and to those occurrences, which by the destinies have been annexed unto thee ; and love those men whom thy fate it is to live with; but love them truly. An instrument, a tool, an utensil, whatsoever it be, if it be fit for the purpose it was made for, it is as it should be, though he perchance that made and fitted it, be out of sight and gone. But in things natural, that power which hath framed and fitted them, is and abideth within them still: for which reason she ought also the more to be respected, and we are the more obliged (if we may live and pass our time according to her purpose and intention) to think that all is well with us, and according to our own minds. After this manner also, and in this respect, it is that he that is all in all doth enjoy his happiness.



September 7

IS that shameful to you which is not your own act? Of which you are not the cause? Which hath happened to you by accident, like a fever, or the headache? If your parents were poor, or left others their heirs, or, though they are living, do not assist you, are these things shameful for you? Is this what you have learned from the philosophers? Have you never heard, that what is shameful is blamable; and what is blamable deserves to be blamed? Whom do you blame for an action not his own, which he hath not done himself?

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book iii. §26. ¶1.

SHAME doth not consist in not having anything to eat, but in not having reason enough to exempt you from fear and sorrow.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book iii. §24. ¶7.


September 6

PASSION this day forward, whenever we do anything wrong we will impute it only to the principle from which we act; and we will endeavour to remove that, and cut it up by the roots with greater care than we would wens and tumours from the body. In like manner, we will ascribe what we do right to the same cause; and we will accuse neither servant, nor neighbour, nor wife, nor children as the causes of any evils to us; persuaded that if we had not such principles, such consequences would not follow. Of these principles we ourselves, and not externals, are the masters.


THOROUGHLY consider, how man's life is but for a very moment of time, and so depart meek, and contented: even as if a ripe Olive falling, should praise the ground that bare her, and give thanks to the tree that begat her.



September 5

THE first difference between one of the vulgar and a philosopher is this: the one says, I am undone on the account of my child, my brother, my father; but the other, if ever he be obliged to say, I am undone! reflects, and adds, On account of myself. For choice cannot be restrained or hurt by anything to which choice doth not extend, but only by itself. If, therefore, we always would incline this way, and, whenever we are unsuccessful, would lay the fault on ourselves, and remember that there is no cause of perturbation and inconstancy but principle, I engage we should make some proficiency. But we set out in a very different way, from the very beginning. In infancy, for example, if we happen to stumble, our nurse doth not chide us, but beats the stone. Why, what harm hath the stone done? Was it to move out of its place for the folly of your child? Again, if we do not find something to eat when we come out of the bath, our governor doth not try to moderate our appetite, but beats the cook.



September 4

IF these things are true, and we are not stupid or acting a part when we say that the good or ill of man consists in choice, and that all besides is nothing to us, why are we still troubled? Why do we still fear? What hath been our concern is in no one's power; what is in the power of others we do not regard. What embarrassment have we left?

But direct me.

Why should I direct you? Hath not God directed you? Hath He not given you what is your own, incapable of restraint or hindrance; and what is not your own, liable to both? What directions, then, what orders have you brought from Him? "By all methods keep what is your own: what belongs to others do not covet. Honesty is your own; a sense of virtuous shame is your own. Who, then, can deprive you of these? Who can restrain you from making use of them but yourself? And how do you do it? When you make that your concern which is not your own, you lose what is." Having such precepts and directions from God, what sort do you still want from me? Am I better than He? More worthy of credit? If you observe these, what others do you need? Or are not these directions His?

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book iii. §25. ¶1.


September 3

WHAT then, would you have it appear and bear testimony against itself? What means this? If the case be thus, that which serves may be superior to that to which it is subservient; the horse to the rider; the dog to the hunter; the instrument to the musician; or servants to the king. What is it that makes use of all the rest? Choice. What takes care of all? Choice. What destroys the whole man, at one time by hunger; at another by a rope or a precipice? Choice. Hath man, then, anything stronger than this? And how is it possible, that what is liable to restraint should be stronger than what is not? What hath a natural power of hindering the faculty of sight? Both choice, and what depends on choice. And it is the same of the faculties of hearing and speech. And what hath a natural power of hindering choice? Nothing independent on itself, only its own perversion. Therefore choice alone is vice; choice alone is virtue.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book ii. §23. ¶1.


September 2

WHETHER we ought to believe, or to disbelieve, what is said; or whether, if we do believe, we ought to be moved by it or not; what is it that tells us? Is it not the faculty of choice? Again, the very faculty of elocution, and that which ornaments discourse, if there be any such peculiar faculty, what doth it more than merely ornament and arrange expressions, as curlers do the hair? But whether it be better to speak or to be silent; or better to speak in this or in that manner; whether this be decent or indecent; and the season and use of each; what is it that tells us, but the faculty of choice?

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book ii. §23. ¶1.


September 1

STAY wretch, do not be hurried away. The combat is great, the achievement divine; for empire, for freedom, for prosperity, for tranquillity. Remember God. Invoke Him for your aid and protector, as sailors do Castor and Pollux in a storm. For what storm is greater than that which arises from violent appearances, contending to overset our reason? Indeed, what is the storm itself, but appearance? For, do but take away the fear of death, and let there be as many thunders and lightnings as you please, you will find that, in the ruling faculty, all is serenity and calm: but if you are once defeated, and say you will get the victory another time, and then the same thing over again; assure yourself, you will at last be reduced to so weak and wretched a condition, that you will not so much as know when you do amiss; but you will even begin to make defences for your behaviour, and thus verify the saying of Hesiod: "With constant ills the dilatory strive."

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