June 30

SUCH a one is a philosopher. Why? Because he wears a cloak and long hair. What, then, do mountebanks wear? And so, when people see any of these acting indecently, they presently say, “See what the philosopher doth." But they ought rather, from his acting indecently, to say he is no philosopher.


AS soon as they have put on a cloak and let their beard grow they cry, "I am a philosopher." Yet no one says, “I am a musician," because he hath bought a fiddle and fiddlestick; nor, "I am a smith," because he is dressed in the Vulcanian cap and apron. But they take their name from their art, not from their habit.



June 29

EUPHRATES was in the right to say, "I long endeavoured to conceal my embracing the philosophic life, and it was of use to me. For, in the first place, I knew that what I did right I did it not for spectators, but for myself. I ate in a proper manner for myself. I had a composed look and walk, all for God and myself. Then, as I fought alone, I was alone in danger. Philosophy was in no danger, on my doing anything shameful or unbecoming; nor did I hurt the rest of the world, which, by offending as a philosopher, I might have done. For this reason, they who were ignorant of my intention used to wonder, that while I conversed and lived entirely with philosophers, I never took up the character. And where was the harm, that I should be discovered to be a philosopher by my actions and not by the usual badges?"



June 28

NEVER call yourself a philosopher, nor talk a great deal among the unlearned about philosophic principles, but act conformably to them. Thus, at an entertainment, do not talk how persons ought to eat, but eat as you ought. For remember that in this manner Socrates also universally avoided all ostentation. And when persons came to him and desired to be recommended by him to philosophers, he took and recommended them, so well did he bear being overlooked. And, if anyone tells you that you know nothing, and you are not nettled at it, then you may be sure that you have begun your business. For sheep do not throw up the grass to show the shepherds how much they have eaten; but, inwardly digesting their food, they outwardly produce wool and milk. Thus, therefore, do you likewise not show theorems to the unlearned, but the actions produced by them after they have been digested.



June 27

A CARPENTER doth not come and say, "Hear me discourse on the art of building"; but he hires a house and fits it up and shows himself master of his trade. Let it be your business likewise to do something like this: eat like a man; drink, dress, marry, have children, perform the duty of a citizen; bear reproach; bear with an unreasonable brother; bear with a father; bear with a son, a neighbour, a companion, as becomes a man. Show us these things that we may see that you have really learnt somewhat from the philosophers.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book iii. §21. ¶1


June 26

BUT you set up for a physician, provided with nothing but medicines, and without knowing, or having studied, where or how they are to be applied. "Why, such a one had medicines for the eyes, and I have the same." Have you, then, a faculty too of making use of them? Do you at all know when and how and to whom they will be of service?

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book iii. §21. ¶1

HIPPOCRATES having cured many sicknesses, fell sick himself and died. The Chaldeans and Astrologians having foretold the deaths of divers, were afterwards themselves surprised by the fates. Alexander and Pompeius, and Caius Caesar, having destroyed so many towns, and cut off in the field so many thousands both of horse and foot, yet they themselves at last, were fain to part with their own lives. Heraclitus having written so many natural tracts concerning the last and general conflagration of the world, died afterwards all filled with water within, and all bedaubed with dirt and dung without. Lice killed Democritus; and Socrates, another sort of vermin, wicked ungodly men.



June 25

BE willing to approve yourself to yourself. Be willing to appear beautiful in the sight of God: be desirous to converse in purity with your own pure mind, and with God; and then, if any such appearance strikes you, Plato directs you: "Have recourse to expiations: go a suppliant to the temples of the averting deities." It is sufficient, however, if you propose to yourself the example of wise and good men, whether alive or dead; and compare your conduct with theirs.



June 24

WHAT is it that we must bestow our care and diligence upon? even upon this only: That our minds and wills be just; that our actions be charitable; that our speech be never deceitful, or that our understanding be not subject to error; that our inclination be always set to embrace whatsoever shall happen unto us, as necessary, as usual, as ordinary, as flowing from such a beginning, and such a fountain, from which both thou thyself, and all things are.


ENDEAVOUR to continue such, as philosophy (hadst thou wholly and constantly applied thyself unto it) would have made and secured thee. Worship the gods, procure the welfare of men, this life is short. Charitable actions, and a holy disposition, is the only fruit of this mortal life.



June 23

W HATSOEVER any man either doth or saith, thou must be good; not for any man's sake, but for thine own nature's sake.


AFTER one consideration, man is nearest unto us; as we are bound to do them good, and to bear with them. But as he may oppose any of our true proper actions, so man is unto me but as a thing indifferent: even as the sun, or the wind, or some wild beast. By some of these it may be, that some operation or other of mine, may be hindered; however, of my mind and resolution itself, there can be no let or impediment.


WE ought to do well by our friends when they are present, and speak well of them when they are absent.

Attributed to EPICTETUS.


June 22

BUT the care of thine honour and reputation will perchance distract thee. How can that be, if thou dost look back, and consider both how quickly all things that are, are forgotten, and what an immense chaos of eternity was before, and will follow after all things: and the vanity of praise, and the inconstancy and variableness of human Judgments and opinions, and the narrowness of the place, wherein it is limited and circumscribed? For the whole earth is but as one point; and of it, this inhabited part of it, is but a very little part; and of this part, how many in number, and what manner of men are they, that will commend thee? What remains then, but that thou often put in practice this kind of retiring of thyself, to this little part of thyself; and above all things, keep thyself from distraction, and intend not anything vehemently, but be free and consider all things, as a man, whose proper object is virtue, as a man, whose true nature is to be kind and sociable, as a Citizen, as a mortal creature.



June 21

HE who is greedy of credit and reputation after his death, doth not consider, that they themselves by whom he is remembered, shall soon after every one of them be dead : And they likewise that succeed those ; until at last all memory, which hitherto by the succession of men admiring and soon after dying hath had its course, be quite extinct. But suppose that both they that shall remember thee, and thy memory with them should be immortal, what is that to thee? I will not say to thee after thou art dead but even to thee living, what is thy praise? That which is fair and goodly, whatsoever it be, and in what respect soever it be, that it is fair and goodly, it is so of itself, and terminates in itself, not admitting praise as a part or member ; that therefore which is praised, is not thereby made either better or worse. This I understand even of those things, that are commonly called fair and good, as those which are commended either for the matter itself, or for curious workmanship. As for that which is truly good, what can it stand in need of more, than either Justice or Truth; or more than either kindness and modesty? Which of all those, either becomes good or fair, because commended; or dispraised suffers any damage?



June 20

THERE is not any man that is so happy in his death, but that some of those that are by him when he dies, will be ready to rejoice at his supposed calamity. Is it one that was virtuous and wise indeed? Will there not someone or other be found, who thus will say to himself, Well now at last shall I be at rest from this Pedagogue? He did not indeed otherwise trouble us much; but I know well enough that in his heart, he did much condemn us. Thus will they speak of the virtuous.


REMEMBER that all is but opinion, and all opinion depends of the mind. Take thine opinion away, and then as a ship that hath stricken in within the arms and mouth of the harbour, a present calm ; all things safe and steady ; a Bay, not capable of any storms and tempests : as the Poet hath it.



June 19

AS the sun doth not wait for prayers and incantations to be prevailed on to rise, but immediately shines forth, and is received with universal salutation: so, neither do you wait for applauses and shouts and praises, in order to do good ; but be a voluntary benefactor, and you will be beloved like the sun.


WHEN it is our duty to share the danger of a friend or of our country, we ought not to consult the oracle whether we shall share it with them or not. For, though the diviner should forewarn you that the victims are unfavourable, this means no more than that either death or mutilation or exile is portended. But we have reason within us, and it directs, even with these hazards, to stand by our friend and our country. Attend, therefore, to the greater diviner, the Pythian god, who cast out of the temple the person who gave no assistance to his friend while another was murdering him.



June 18

A MAN is carried to prison. What hath happened? He is carried to prison. That he is unhappy, is an addition that everyone makes of his own.—But Zeus doth not order these things right. Why so? Because he hath made you patient? Because he hath made you brave? Because he hath made them to be no evils? Because it is permitted you, while you suffer them, to be happy? Because he hath opened you the door, whenever they do not suit you? Go out, man, and do not complain.


BEING asked what common sense was, he answered : As that may be called a common ear which distinguishes only sounds, but that which distinguishes notes an artistic one ; so there are some things which men not totally perverted discern by their common natural powers ; and such a disposition is called common sense.



June 17

THAT meekness is a thing unconquerable, if it be true and natural, and not affected, or hypocritical. For how shall even the most fierce and malicious that thou shalt conceive, be able to hold on against thee, if thou shalt still continue meek and loving unto him; and that even at that time, when he is about to do thee wrong, thou shalt be well disposed, and in good temper, with all meekness to teach him, and to instruct him better? As for example; My son, we were not born for this, to hurt and annoy one another; It will be thy hurt not mine, my son; and so to show him forcibly and fully, that it is so in very deed: and that neither Bees do it to one another, nor any other creatures that are naturally sociable. But this thou must do, not scoffingly, not by way of exprobration, but tenderly without any harshness of words. Neither must thou do it by way of exercise, or ostentation, that they that are by and hear thee, may admire thee: but so always that nobody be privy to it, but himself alone: yea, though there be more present at the same time.



June 16

FROM MY GRANDFATHER'S FATHER, I learned to dispense with attendance at public schools, and to enjoy good teachers at home, and to recognize that on such things money should be eagerly spent.


MERE wisdom, perhaps, is not a sufficient qualification for the care of youth. There ought to be likewise a certain readiness and aptitude for this, and, indeed, a particular constitution of body ; and, above all, a counsel from God to undertake this office.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book iii. §21. ¶1

CHOOSE rather to have your children well instructed than rich.

Attributed to EPICTETUS..


June 15

SAITH the Poet, "The winds blow upon the trees, and their leaves fall upon the ground. Then do the trees begin to bud again, and by the springtime they put forth new branches. So is the generation of men; some come into the world, and others go out of it." Of these leaves then thy Children are. And they also that applaud thee so gravely, or, that applaud thy speeches, with that their usual acclamation, O wisely spoken! and speak well of thee, as on the other side, they that stick not to curse thee, they that privately and secretly dispraise and deride thee, they also are but leaves. And they also that shall follow, in whose memories the names of men famous after death, is preserved, they are but leaves neither. For even so is it of all these worldly things. Their spring comes, and they are put forth. Then blows the wind, and they go down. And then in lieu of them grow others out of the common matter of all things, like unto them. But, to endure but for a while, is common unto all. Why then shouldst thou so earnestly either seek after these things, or fly from them, as though they should endure for ever? Yet a little while, and thine eyes will be closed up, and for him that carries thee to thy grave shall another mourn within a while after.



June 14

SPEAK the truth, slave, and do not run away from your masters, nor deny them, nor dare to assert your freedom when you have so many proofs of your slavery. One might indeed find some excuse for a person, compelled by love to do something contrary to his opinion, even when at the same time he sees what is best and yet hath not resolution enough to follow it, since he is withheld by something violent and, in some measure, divine. But who can bear you, who are in love with old men and women; and wipe their noses, and wash them, and bribe them with presents, and wait upon them when they are sick like a slave; at the same time wishing they may die, and inquiring of the physician whether their distemper be yet mortal? And again, when for these great and venerable magistracies and honours you kiss the hands of the slaves of others, so that you are the slave of those who are not free themselves! And then you walk about in state, a praetor, or a consul. Do not I know how you came to be praetor, whence you received the consulship, who gave it you? For my own part, I would not even live, if I must live by Felicio's means, and bear his pride and slavish insolence. For I know what a slave is, blinded by what he thinks good fortune.



June 13

ARE you free yourself, then? (it will be said). By heaven, I wish and pray for it. But I cannot yet face my masters. I still pay a regard to my body, and set a great value on keeping it whole, though at the same time it is not whole. But I can show you one who was free, that you may no longer seek an example. Diogenes was free. — "How so?" Not because he was of free parents, for he was not; but because he was so himself, because he had cast away all the handles of slavery, nor was there any way of getting at him, nor anywhere to lay hold on him to enslave him. Everything sat loose upon him, everything only just hung on. If you took hold on his possessions, he would rather let them go than follow you for them; if on his leg, he let go his leg; if his body, he let go his body; acquaintance, friends, country, just the same. For he knew whence he had them, and from whom and upon what conditions he received them. But he would never have forsaken his true parents the gods, and his real country, nor have suffered anyone to be more dutiful and obedient to them than he; nor would anyone have died more readily for his country than he.



June 12

WHENEVER you see any one subject to another, and flattering him, contrary to his own opinion, confidently say that he too is not free ; and not only if he doth it for a supper, but even if it be for a government, nay, a consulship ; but call those indeed little slaves who act thus for the sake of little things, and the others, as they deserve, great slaves. — "Be this, too, agreed." Well, do you think freedom to be something independent and self-determined? — "How can it be otherwise?" Him, then, whom it is in the power of another to restrain or to compel, affirm confidently to be not free. And do not mind his grandfathers, or great-grandfathers, or inquire whether he hath been bought or sold; but if you hear him say from his heart, and with emotion, My master, though twelve lictors should march before him, call him a slave. And if you should hear him say. Wretch that I am, what do I suffer! call him a slave. In short, if you see him wailing, complaining, unprosperous, call him a slave in purple. “Suppose, then, he doth nothing of all this?” — Do not yet say he is free, but learn whether his principles are liable to compulsion, to restraint, or disappointment, and, if you find this to be the case, call him a slave keeping holiday during the Saturnalia. Say that his master is abroad: he will come presently, and you will know what he suffers. “Who will come?” — Whoever hath the power either of bestowing or taking away any of the things he wishes for.



June 11

WHEN you are going to any one of the great, remember there is another, who sees from above what passes; and whom you ought to please rather than man. He therefore asks you:

In the school, what did you use to call exile, and prison, and chains, and death, and defamation?

I? Indifferent things.

What, then, do you call them now? Are they at all changed? — No.

Are you changed, then? — No.

Tell me, then, what things are indifferent.

Things independent on choice.

Tell me the consequence too.

Things independent on choice, are nothing to me.

Tell me, likewise, what appeared to us to be the good of man.

A right choice and a right use of the appearances of things,

What his end?

To follow thee.

Do you say the same things now, too?

Yes, I do say the same things, even now.

Well, go in, then, boldly, and mindful of these things: and you will see what a youth, who hath studied what he ought, is among men who have not. I protest, I imagine you will have such thoughts as these: " Why do we provide so many and great qualifications for nothing? Is the power, the antechamber, the attendants, the guards, no more than this? Is it for these that I have listened to so many dissertations? These are nothing: and I had qualified myself as for some great encounter."



June 10

BUT he who hath the power hath given sentence. “I judge you to be impious and profane." What hath befallen you? — I have been judged to be impious and profane. Anything else? — Nothing. Suppose he had passed his judgment upon an hypothetical proposition, and pronounced it to be a false conclusion, that if it be day it is light; what would have befallen the proposition? In this case who is judged; who condemned; the proposition, or he who is deceived concerning it? Doth he, who hath the power of pronouncing anything concerning you, know what pious or impious mean? Hath he made it his study, or learned it? Where? From whom? A musician would not regard him if he pronounced bass to be treble: nor a mathematician, if he passed sentence that lines drawn from the centre to the circle are not equal. And shall he, who is truly learned, regard an unlearned man, when he pronounces upon pious and impious, just and unjust?



June 9

CONSIDER, you who are going to take your trial, what you wish to preserve, and in what to succeed. For if you wish to preserve a choice conformable to nature, you are resting safe; everything goes well; you have no trouble on your hands. While you wish to preserve what is in your own power, and which is naturally free, and are contented with that, whom have you longer to care for? For who is the master of things like these? Who can take them away.''If you wish to be a man of honour and fidelity, who shall prevent you? If you wish not to be restrained or compelled, who shall compel you to desires contrary to your principles; to aversions contrary to your opinion? The judge, perhaps, will pass a sentence against you which he thinks formidable: but how can he likewise make you receive it with aversion? Since, then, desire and aversion are in your own power, what have you else to care for? Let this be your introduction, this your narration, this your proof, this your victory, this your conclusion, and this your applause.



June 8

WHAT, then, must I at one time be called to a trial; must another at another time be scorched by a fever; another be exposed to the sea; another die; and another be condemned?

Yes; for it is impossible, in such a body, in such a world, and among such companions, but that some or other of us must fall into such circumstances. Your business, when you come into them, is to say what you ought, to order things as you can. Then, says one, “I decide that you have acted unjustly." Much good may it do you; I have done my part. You are to look to it, whether you have done yours; for there is some danger of that too, let me tell you.



June 7

WHAT makes a tyrant formidable? His guards, say you, and their swords; they who belong to the bedchamber, and they who shut out those who would go in. What is the reason, then, that, if you bring a child to him when he is surrounded by his guards, it is not afraid? Is it because the child doth not know what they mean? Suppose, then, that anyone doth know what is meant by guards, and that they are armed with swords, and, for that very reason, comes in the tyrant's way, being desirous, on account of some misfortune, to die, and seeking to die easily by the hand of another : doth such a man fear the guards? No; for he wants the very thing that renders them formidable. Well, then, if anyone without an absolute desire to live or die, but, as it may happen, comes in the way of a tyrant, what restrains his approaching him without fear? Nothing.



June 6

DO not you know that freedom is a very beautiful and valuable thing? But for me to choose at random, and for things to happen agreeably to such a choice, may be so far from a beautiful thing as to be, of all others, the most shocking. For how do we proceed in writing? Do I choose to write the name of Dion (for instance) as I will? No; but I am taught to be willing to write it as it ought to be writ. And what is the case in music? The same. And what in every other art or science? Otherwise, it would be to no purpose to learn anything, if it was to be adapted to each one's particular humour. Is it, then, only in the greatest and principal point, that of freedom, permitted me to will at random? By no means, but true instruction is this: learning to will that things should happen as they do. And how do they happen? As the appointer of them hath appointed. He hath appointed that there should be summer and winter, plenty and dearth, virtue and vice, and all such contrarieties, for the harmony of the whole. To each of us he hath given a body and its parts, and our several properties and companions. Mindful of this appointment, we should enter upon a course of education and instruction not to change the constitutions of things, which is neither put within our reach nor for our good ; but that, being as they are, and as their nature is with regard to us, we may have our mind accommodated to what exists.



June 5

WHAT is our nature ?

To be free, noble-spirited, modest. (For what other animal blushes? What other hath the idea of shame?) But pleasure must be subjected to these, as an attendant and handmaid, to call forth our activity and to keep us constant in natural operations.

But I am rich and want nothing.

Then why do you pretend to philosophize? Your gold and silver plate is enough for you. What need have you of principles?

Besides, I am judge of the Greeks.

Do you know how to judge? Who hath imparted this knowledge to you?

Ceasar hath given me a commission.

Let him give you a commission to judge of music; and what good will it do you? But how were you made a judge? Whose hand have you kissed? Before whose bed-chamber have you slept? To whom have you sent presents?

But I can throw whom I please into prison.

As you may a stone.

But I can beat whom I will too.

As you may an ass. This is not a government of men.



June 4

WHAT is by nature free, cannot be disturbed or restrained by anything but itself. But its own principles disturb it. Thus, when the tyrant says to anyone: “I will chain your leg”: he who values his leg, cries out for pity: while he who sets the value on his own will and choice, says: “If you imagine it for your interest, chain it." — "What! do not you care?" — No; I do not care. — "I will show you that I am master." — You? How should you? God has set me free. What! do you think He would suffer His own son to be enslaved? You are master of my carcase. Take it. — “So that when you come into my presence, you pay no regard to me?” — No; but to myself.



June 3

IF Hercules had sat loitering at home, what would he have been? Eurystheus, and not Hercules. Besides, by travelling through the world, how many acquaintances and how many friends had he? But none more his friend than God, for which reason he was believed to be the son of God, and was so. In obedience to Him, he went about extirpating injustice and lawless force. But you are not Hercules, nor able to extirpate the evils of others ; nor even Theseus to extirpate the evils of Attica. Extirpate your own, then. Expel, instead of Procrustes and Sciron, grief, fear, desire, envy, malevolence, avarice, effeminacy, intemperance, from your mind. But these can be no otherwise expelled than by looking up to God alone as your pattern; by attaching yourself to Him alone, and being consecrated to His commands. If you wish for anything else, you will, with sighs and groans, follow what is stronger than you, always seeking prosperity without, and never able to find it. For you seek it where it is not, and neglect to seek it where it is.



June 2

BOLDLY make a desperate push, man, as the saying is, for prosperity, for freedom, for magnanimity. Lift up your head at last, as free from slavery. Dare to look up to God and say, “Make use of me for the future as Thou wilt. I am of the same mind; I am equal with Thee. I refuse nothing which seems good to Thee. Lead me whither Thou wilt. Clothe me in whatever dress Thou wilt. Is it Thy will, that I should be in a public or a private condition, dwell here or be banished, be poor or rich? Under all these circumstances I will make Thy defence to men. I will show what the nature of everything is." No. Rather sit alone in a warm place, and wait till your mamma comes to feed you.



June 1

BUT what says God? “O Epictetus, if it were possible, I had made this little body and property of thine free, and not liable to hindrance. But now do not mistake: it is not thine own, but only a finer mixture of clay. Since, then, I could not give thee this, I have given thee a certain portion of myself: this faculty of exerting the powers or pursuit and avoidance, of desire and aversion; and, in a word, the use of the appearances of things. Taking care of this point, and making what is thy own to consist in this, thou wilt never be restrained, never be hindered ; thou wilt not groan, wilt not complain, wilt not flatter anyone. How then! Do all these advantages seem small to thee?" Heaven forbid! "Let them suffice thee then, and thank the gods."