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.



  1. This seems to be a good frame for a Stoic exercise. A kind of reality check and course correction mental review.

  2. He seems to be saying, to me at least:

    "Look down at all that stuff down there. The cars. Skyscrapers. Business. New born children and old people.. even barbarians in third world countries.. Think of how many of these don't know your name. Know nothing of you. And remember how fleeting it all is. And take whatever comes that is not within your control. And since it is in your nature as a man to behave reasonably and to be rational.. live and make your choices according to reason..."

    I was always amazed at the fact that two very similar philosophies of life came about from two whose life experiences were so different; Marcus Aurelius and Epictetus. Someone correct me if I'm wrong, wasn't Epictetus a slave? At least for some time?

  3. Yes he was a slave. Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius, the Emperor of Rome, Seneca, a politician, Cato, a soldier and statesman, Musonius Rufus, all followed Stoicism, which was created by Zeno of Citium in 300 B.C.E. The philosophy is witness a minor revival of late, as a practical life style. Thanks for your comment.

  4. I thought this was interesting.. sorry if a bit lengthy:

    "Look down from above on the countless herds of men and their countless solemnities, and the infinitely varied voyagings in storms and calms, and the differences among those who are born, who live together, and die. And consider, too, the life lived by others in olden time, and the life of those who will live after thee, and the life now lived among barbarous nations, and how many know not even thy name, and how many will soon forget it, and how they who perhaps now are praising thee will very soon blame thee, and that neither a posthumous name is of any value, nor anything else.

    Let there be freedom from perturbations with respect to the things which come from the external cause; and let there be justice in the things done by virtue of the internal cause, that is, let there be movement and action terminating in this, in social acts, for this is according to thy nature."

    -ix 30. -ix 31. Meditations. (or the same passage that you posted on Sept 24th)

    I was always fascinated by how different two translations of the same text can be. I have a Harvard Classics edition from 1909 with with Plato, Epictetus, and Marcus Aurelius. Lucked out at a library sale and picked it up for about 4 bucks. Imagine how difficult it must be to translate from ancient Latin or Greek. Or even some even more obscure ancient languages. I wonder how much of what we read is not translated correctly? My brother got me in the habit of checking out a few different translations of the same work to see which one I thought best. I've read that some translations of Friedrich Nietzsche's works are just plain wrong. Anyway.. just thought that was interesting. Sorry about the ramblings!