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.



  1. Wow! Talk about humbling and a dressing down. What is a truly human government then?

    You have to have skill, or the ability to rely on experts who have the skill, and then use virtues to make your judgements/decisions. Almost starting to sound like Plato's ideal of Philosopher Kings? A good example of this is Marcus Aurelius himself.

  2. What is our nature? To be fearful, vengeful, glutonous? No, it is to be free, noble-spirited, modest. Even pleasure is a servant to the vitues, for pleasure can draw us out and remind us of what is natural, when is it use virtuously. - Lessons from Epictetus.

  3. Do 'We the People' have the government of men that Epictetus speaks of today?

    I think, if we are honest, we can answer that while we may be marginally closer, we in fact do not.

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

    Epictetus reminds us that before we are even remotely qualified to judge others we must be highly skilled at judging ourselves.
    Let that be the proof of the 'judges' we choose.