August 31

BY placing over against you the imitation of great and good men, you will conquer any appearance, and not be drawn away by it. But, in the first place, be not hurried along with it, by its hasty vehemence: but say, Appearance, wait for me a little. Let me see what you are, and what you represent. Let me try you. Then, afterwards, do not suffer it to go on drawing gay pictures of what will follow : if you do, it will lead you wherever it pleases. But rather oppose to it some good and noble appearance, and banish this base and sordid one. If you are habituated to this kind of exercise, you will see what shoulders, what nerves, what sinews, you will have. But now it is mere trifling talk, and nothing more. He is the true practitioner who exercises himself against such appearances as these.

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


August 30

WILL you say that there is nothing independent which is in your own power alone, and unalienable? See, then, if you have anything of this sort. — "I do not know." But, consider it thus: Can anyone make you assent to a falsehood? — "No one." In the topic of assent, then, you are unrestrained and unhindered. — "Agreed." Well, and can anyone compel you to exert your pursuits towards what you do not like ? — "He can. For when he threatens me with death, or fetters, he compels me to exert them." If, then, you were to despise dying, or being fettered, would you any longer regard him? — "No." Is despising death, then, an action in our power, or is it not? — "It is." Is it, therefore, in your power also to exert your pursuits towards anything, or is it not? — "Agreed that it is. But in whose power is my avoiding anything?" This too, is in your own. — "What then, if, when I am exerting myself to walk, anyone should restrain me?" What part of you can he restrain? Can he restrain your assent? — "No, but my body." Ay, as he may a stone. — "Be it so. But still I walk no more." And who told you that walking was an action of your own that cannot be restrained? For I only said that your exerting yourself towards it could not be restrained.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book iv. §1, ¶11.


August 29

APPEARANCES to the mind are of four kinds. Things either are what they appear to be; or they neither are, nor appear to be; or they are, and do not appear to be; or they are not, and yet appear to be. To form a right judgment in all these cases, belongs only to the completely instructed.


AGAINST specious appearances we must have clear preconceptions brightened up and ready. When death appears as an evil, we ought immediately to remember that evils may be avoided, but death is necessity.


WHAT is the cause of assent to anything? Its appearing to be true. It is not possible then, to assent to what appears to be not true. Why? Because it is the very nature of the understanding to agree to truth, to be dissatisfied with falsehood, and to suspend its belief in doubtful cases. What is the proof of this? Persuade yourself if you can, that it is now night. Impossible. Unpersuade yourself that it is day. Impossible. When anyone then assents to what is false, be assured that he doth not wilfully assent to it as false; but what is false appears to him to be true.



August 28

I, TOO the other day had an iron lamp burning before my household deities. Hearing a noise at the window, I ran. I found my lamp was stolen. I considered, that he who took it away did nothing unaccountable. What then? Tomorrow, says I, you shall find an earthen one; for a man loses only what he hath. I have lost my coat. Ay, because you had a coat. I have a pain in my head. Why, can you have a pain in your horns? Why, then, are you out of humour? For loss and pain can be only of such things as are possessed.


THOU seest that those things, which for a man to hold on in a prosperous course, and to live a divine life, are requisite and necessary, are not many, for the gods will require no more of any man, that shall but keep and observe these things.



August 27

THE will of nature may be learned from those things in which we do not differ from each other. As, when our neighbour's boy hath broken a cup, or the like, we are presently ready to say, "These are things that will happen." Be assured, then, that when your own cup likewise is broken, you ought to be affected just as when another's cup was broken. Transfer this, in like manner, to greater things. Is the child or wife of another dead? There is no one who would not say, "This is an accident common to man." But if anyone's own child happens to die, it is presently, "Alas! how wretched am I!" But it should be remembered how we are affected in hearing the same thing concerning others.



August 26

A LIFE entangled with fortune resembles a wintry torrent; for it is turbulent, and muddy, and difficult to pass, and violent, and noisy, and of shorter continuance.

A soul conversant with virtue resembles a perpetual fountain; for it is clear, and gentle, and potable, and sweet, and communicative, and rich, and harmless, and innocent.


THOU must be like a promontory of the sea, against which though the waves bear continually, yet it both itself stands, and about it are those swelling waves stilled and quieted.


UNSPOTTED by pleasure, undaunted by pain; free from any manner of wrong, or contumely, by himself offered unto himself: not capable of any evil from others: a wrestler of the best sort, and for the highest prize.



August 25

YOU will commit the fewest faults in judging, if you are faultless in your own life.


USE thyself, as often as thou seest any man do anything, presently if it be possible to say unto thyself. What is this man's end in this his action? But begin this course with thyself first of all, and diligently examine thyself concerning whatsoever thou doest.


PIERCE and penetrate into the estate of everyone's understanding that thou hast to do with: as also make the estate of thine own open, and penetrable to any other.



August 24

HEALTH is a good, sickness an evil. No, sir. But what? A right use of health is good, a wrong one evil. So that in truth it is possible to be a gainer even by sickness.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book iii. §20. ¶1.

AS one who had lived, and were now to die by right, whatsoever is yet remaining, bestow that wholly as a gracious overplus upon a virtuous life. Love and affect that only, whatsoever it be that happeneth, and is by the Fates appointed unto thee. For what can be more reasonable? And as anything doth happen unto thee by way of cross, or calamity, call to mind presently and set before thine eyes, the examples of some other men, to whom the selfsame thing did once happen likewise. Well, what did they? They grieved; they wondered; they complained. And where are they now?



August 23

THE form of the Athenians' prayer did run thus; "O rain, rain good Jupiter, upon all the grounds and fields that belong to the Athenians." Either we should not pray at all, or thus absolutely and freely; and not everyone for himself in particular alone.


A MAN should come to sacrifices and prayers, previously purified. But you, when you have got the words by heart, say, "These words are sacred of themselves."

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

TAKE me and throw me where thou wilt: I am indifferent. For there also I shall have that Spirit which is within me propitious; that is well pleased and fully contented both in that constant disposition, and with those particular actions, which to its own proper constitution are suitable and agreeable.



August 22

HE who frequently converses with others, either in discourse or entertainments, or in any familiar way of living, must necessarily either become like his companions, or bring them over to his own way. For, if a dead coal be applied to a live one, either the first will quench the last, or the last kindle the first. Since, then, the danger is so great, caution must be used in entering into these familiarities with the vulgar; remembering that it is impossible to touch a chimney-sweeper without being partaker of his soot.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book iii. §16. ¶1

IT is not thine, but another man's sin. Why should it trouble thee? Let him look to it, whose sin it is.


CHOOSE the best life; for custom will make it pleasant.

Attributed to EPICTETUS.


August 21

SUCH is the present case. Because by speech and verbal precepts we are to arrive at perfection, and purify our own choice, and rectify that faculty, of which the office is, the use of the appearances of things; and because for the delivery of theorems a certain manner of expression, and some variety and subtlety of discourse, becomes necessary; many, captivated by these very things one by expression, another by syllogisms, a third by convertible propositions, just as our traveller was by the good inn—go no further, but sit down and waste their lives shamefully there, as if amongst the sirens. Your business, man, was to prepare yourself for such an use of the appearances of things as nature demands : not to be frustrated of your desires, or incur your aversions; never to be disappointed or unfortunate, but free, unrestrained, uncompelled; conformed to the administration of Jupiter, obedient to that, finding fault with nothing, but able to say from your whole soul the verses which begin,

Conduct me, Jove; and thou, O Destiny.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book iii. §23. ¶4.


August 20

IF you would give a just sentence, mind neither parties nor pleaders, but the cause itself.


THESE two rules, thou must have always in a readiness. First do nothing at all, but what Reason proceeding from the regal and supreme part, shall for the good and benefit of men, suggest unto thee. And secondly, if any man that is present, shall be able to rectify thee or to turn thee from some erroneous persuasion, that thou be always ready to change thy mind, and this change to proceed, not from any respect of any pleasure or credit thereon depending, but always from some probable apparent ground of justice, or of some public good thereby to be furthered; or from some other such inducement.



August 18

IF anyone opposes very evident truths, it is not easy to find a reason which may persuade him to alter his opinion. This arises neither from his own strength, nor from the weakness of his teacher: but when, after being driven upon an absurdity, he becomes petrified, how shall we deal with him any longer by reason?

Now there are two sorts of petrifaction: the one, a petrifaction of the understanding; the other, of the sense of shame, when a person hath obstinately set himself not to assent to evident truths, nor to quit the defence of contradictions. We all dread a bodily mortification; and would make use of every contrivance to avoid it: but none of us is troubled about a mortification of the soul. And yet, indeed, even with regard to the soul, when a person is so affected as not to apprehend or understand anything, we think him in a sad condition: but where the sense of shame and modesty is under an absolute mortification, we go so far as even to call this, strength of mind.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book i. §5. ¶¶1, 2.

August 19

DELIBERATE much before you say and do anything; for, it will not be in your power to recall what is said or done.


REMEMBER, that to change thy mind upon occasion, and to follow him that is able to rectify thee, is equally ingenuous, as to find out at the first, what is right and just, without help. For of thee nothing is required, that is beyond the extent of thine own deliberation and judgment, and of thine own understanding.


SOLON, when he was silent at an entertainment, being asked by Periander whether he was silent for want of words, or from folly: "No fool," answered he, "can be silent at a feast."



August 18

IF anyone opposes very evident truths, it is not easy to find a reason which may persuade him to alter his opinion. This arises neither from his own strength, nor from the weakness of his teacher: but when, after being driven upon an absurdity, he becomes petrified, how shall we deal with him any longer by reason?

Now there are two sorts of petrifaction: the one, a petrifaction of the understanding ; the other, of the sense of shame, when a person hath obstinately set himself not to assent to evident truths, nor to quit the defence of contradictions. We all dread a bodily mortification; and would make use of every contrivance to avoid it: but none of us is troubled about a mortification of the soul. And yet, indeed, even with regard to the soul, when a person is so affected as not to apprehend or understand anything, we think him in a sad condition: but where the sense of shame and modesty is under an absolute mortification, we go so far as even to call this, strength of mind.



August 17

SUCH there be, who when they have done a good turn to any, are ready to set them on the score for it, and to require retaliation. Others there be, who though they stand not upon retaliation, to require any, yet they think with themselves nevertheless, that such a one is their debtor, and they know (as their word is) what they have done. Others again there be, who when they have done any such thing, do not so much as know what they have done; but are like unto the vine, which beareth her grapes, and when once she hath borne her own proper fruit, is contented and seeks for no further recompense. As a horse after a race, and a hunting dog when he hath hunted, and a bee when she hath made her honey, look not for applause and commendation; so neither doth that man that rightly doth understand his own nature when he hath done a good turn: but from one doth proceed to do another, even as the vine after she hath once borne fruit in her own proper season, is ready for another time. Thou therefore must be one of them, who what they do, barely do it without any further thought, and are in a manner insensible of what they do.



August 16

IF anybody shall reprove me, and shall make it apparent unto me, that in any either opinion or action of mine I do err, I will most gladly retract. For it is the truth that I seek after, by which I am sure that never any man was hurt; and as sure, that he is hurt that continues in any error, or ignorance whatsoever.


TEACH them that sin better, and make it appear unto them: but be not angry with them.


WHEN you have done well, and another is benefited by your action, must you like a very fool look for a third thing besides, as that it may appear unto others also that you have done well, or that you may in time, receive one good turn for another?



August 15

IT is better, by yielding to truth, to conquer opinion; than, by yielding to opinion, to be defeated by truth.


IF you seek truth you will not seek to conquer by ail possible means; and when you have found truth, you will have a security against being conquered.


TRUTH conquers by itself, opinions by foreign aids.


THE soul resembles a vessel filled with water: the appearances of things resemble a ray falling upon its surface. If the water is moved, the ray will seem to be moved likewise, though it is in reality without motion. Whenever, therefore, anyone is seized with a swimming in his head, it is not the arts and virtues that are confounded, but the mind in which they are: and, if this recover its composure, so will they likewise.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book iii. §3. ¶6.


August 14

GOVERN us like reasonable creatures. Show us what is for our interest, and we will pursue it; show us what is against our interest, and we will avoid it. Like Socrates, make us imitators of yourself. He was properly a governor of men, who subjected their desires and aversions, their pursuits, their avoidances, to himself. "Do this; do not do that, or I will throw you into prison." Going thus far only is not governing men like reasonable creatures. But — "Do as Zeus hath commanded, or you will be punished. You will be a loser."

What shall I lose?

Nothing more than the not doing what you ought. You will lose your fidelity, honour, decency. Look for no greater losses than these.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book iii. §7. ¶2.


August 13

IS there not a divine and powerful and inevitable law which exacts the greatest punishments from those who are guilty of the greatest offences? For what says this law? Let him who claims what doth not belong to him be arrogant, be vainglorious, be base, be a slave; let him grieve, let him envy, let him pity; and, in a word, let him be unhappy, let him lament.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book iii. §24. ¶4.

HE that sinneth, sinneth unto himself. He that is unjust, hurts himself, in that he makes himself worse than he was before. Not he only that committeth, but he also that omitteth something, is oftentimes unjust.



August 12

CHASTISE your passions, that they may not punish you.


THERE are some punishments appointed, as by a law, for such as disobey the divine administration. Whoever shall esteem anything good, except what depends on choice, let him envy, let him covet, let him flatter, let him be full of perturbation. Whoever esteems anything else to be evil, let him grieve, let him mourn, let him lament, let him be wretched. And yet, though thus severely punished, we cannot desist.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book iii. §11. ¶1.

WHENSOEVER thou findest thyself, that thou art in danger of a relapse, and that thou art not able to master and overcome those difficulties and temptations that present themselves in thy present station: get thee into any private corner, where thou mayest be better able. Or if that will not serve, forsake even thy life rather. But so that it be not in passion, but in a plain voluntary modest way: this being the only commendable action of thy whole life, that thus thou art departed, or this having been the main work and business of thy whole life, that thou mightest thus depart.



August 11

ONE prayeth how he may be rid of such a one: pray thou that thou mayest so patiently bear with him, as that thou have no such need to be rid of him.


WHEN at any time thou art offended with anyone's impudence, put presently this question to thyself: What? Is it then possible, that there should not be any impudent men in the world! Certainly it is not possible. Desire not then that which is impossible. For this one (thou must think), whosoever he be, is one of those impudent ones, that the world cannot be without. So of the subtle and crafty, so of the perfidious, so of everyone that offendeth, must thou ever be ready to reason with thyself. For whilst in general thou dost thus reason with thyself, that the kind of them must needs be in the world, thou wilt be the better able to use meekness towards every particular. This also thou shalt find of very good use, upon every such occasion, presently to consider with thyself, what proper virtue nature hath furnished man with, against such a vice, or to encounter with a disposition vicious in this kind. As for example, against the unthankful, it hath given goodness and meekness, as an antidote, and so against another vicious in another kind some other peculiar faculty. And generally, is it not in thy power to instruct him better, that is in an error?



August 10

HOW is my brother to lay aside his anger against me?

Bring him to me, and I will tell him; but I have nothing to say to you about his anger.


AFTER this, know likewise, that you are a brother; and that to this character it belongs, to make concessions; to be easily persuaded: to use gentle language; never to claim for yourself any of the things dependent on choice, but cheerfully to give these, that you may have the larger share of what is dependent on it. For consider what it is, instead of a lettuce, for instance, or a chair, to procure for yourself a good temper? How great an advantage gained!

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book ii. §10. ¶3.


August 9

SOME are peevish and fastidious, and say, I cannot dine with such a fellow, to be obliged to hear him all day recounting how he fought in Mysia. "I told you, my friend, how I gained the eminence. There I am besieged again." But another says, "I had rather get a dinner, and hear him prate as much as he pleases."

Do you compare the value of these things, and judge for yourself; but do not let it be with depression and anxiety, and with a supposition that you are unhappy, for no one compels you to go.


RECEIVE temporal blessings without ostentation, when they are sent; and thou shalt be able to part with them with all readiness and facility when they are taken from thee again.



August 8

EPICTETUS being asked how a person might grieve his enemy, answered, "By doing as well as possible himself."


HE that is unjust, is also impious. For the Nature of the Universe, having made all reasonable creatures one for another, to the end that they should do one another good ; more or less according to the several persons and occasions ; but in no wise hurt one another : it is manifest that he that doth transgress against this her will, is guilty of impiety towards the most ancient and venerable of all the Deities.


THOSE things that are his own, and in his own power, he himself takes order for that they be good : and as for those that happen unto him, he believes them to be so.



August 7

A WISE and good person neither quarrels with anyone himself nor so far as possible, suffers another. The life of Socrates affords us an example of this too. For he well remembered that no one is master of the ruling faculty of another, and therefore desired nothing but what was his own. " And what is that? " Not that this or that person should be moved conformably to nature, for that belongs to others; but that while they act in their own way as they please, he should nevertheless be affected and live according to nature.


THE best kind of revenge is not to become like unto them.

Let this be your only joy, and your only comfort, to pass from one sociable, kind action without intermission unto another, God being ever in thy mind.


IF he has sinned, his is the harm, not mine. But perchance he has not.



August 6

TO desire things impossible is the part of a mad man. But it is a thing impossible, that wicked man should not commit some such things. Neither doth anything happen to any man, which in the ordinary course of nature as natural unto him doth not happen. Again, the same things happen unto others also. And truly, if either he that is ignorant that such a thing hath happened unto him, or he that is ambitious to be commended for his magnanimity, can be patient, and is not grieved: is it not a grievous thing, that either ignorance, or a vain desire to please and to be commended, should be more powerful and effectual than true prudence? As for the things themselves, they touch not the soul, neither can they have any access unto it: neither can they of themselves any ways either affect it, or move it.



August 5

THEY are thieves and pilferers.

What do you mean by thieves and pilferers? They are in an error concerning good and evil. Ought you, then, to be angry, or to pity them? Do but show them their error, and you will see that they will amend their faults; but, if they do not see it, the principles they form are to them their supreme rule.

What, then, ought not this thief and this adulterer to be destroyed?

By no means [ask that]; but say rather, “Ought not he to be destroyed who errs and is deceived in things of the greatest importance; blinded, not in the sight that distinguishes white from black, but in the judgment that distinguishes good from evil?" By stating your question thus you see how inhuman it is, and just as if you would say, "Ought not this blind, or that deaf, man to be destroyed?" For, if the greatest hurt be a deprivation of the most valuable things, and the most valuable thing to every one is a right judgment in choosing; when any one is deprived of this, why, after all, are you angry? You ought not to be affected, man, contrary to nature, by the ills of another. Pity him rather. Do not be angry; nor say, as many do, What! shall these execrable and odious wretches dare to act thus? Whence have you so suddenly learnt wisdom? Because we admire those things which such people take from us. Do not admire your clothes, and you will not be angry with the thief.



August 4

EITHER teach them better if it be in thy power; or if it be not, remember that for this use, to bear with them patiently, was mildness and goodness granted unto thee. The gods themselves are good unto such; yea and in some things, (as in matter of health, of wealth, of honour), are content often to further their endeavours: so good and gracious are they. And mightest thou not be so too? or, tell me, what doth hinder thee?


HIM that offends, teach with love and meekness, and show him his error. But if thou canst not, then blame thyself, or rather not thyself neither, if thy will and endeavours have not been wanting.



August 3

WILL you say, Hath no one any regard for me, a man of letters? Why, you are wicked, and fit for no use. Just as if wasps should take it ill that no one hath any regard for them, but all shun, and whoever can beats them down. You have such a sting, that whoever you strike with it is thrown into troubles and pangs. What would you have us do with you?



August 2

WHY is it that they have railed at you ? Because every man hates what hinders him. They would have one actor crowned, you another. They hindered you; and you, them. You proved the stronger. They have done what they could; they have railed at the person who hindered them. What would you have, then? Would you do as you please, and not have them even talk as they please? Where is the wonder of all this? Doth not the husbandman rail at Zeus when he is hindered by him? Doth not the sailor? Do men ever cease railing at Caesar? What then, is Zeus ignorant of this? Are not the things that are said reported to Caesar? How then doth he act? He knows that if he was to punish all railers, he would have nobody left to command.



August 1

IF you go and revile your brother, I tell you you have forgot who you are, and what is your name. For even if you were a smith and made an ill use of the hammer, you would have forgot the smith: and, if you have forgot the brother, and are become, instead of a brother, an enemy do you imagine you have made no change of one thing for another in that case? If, instead of a man, a gentle social creature, you are become a wild beast, mischievous, insidious, biting; have you lost nothing? But must you lose money, in order to suffer damage; and is there no other thing, the loss of which damages a man? If you were to part with your skill in grammar, or in music, would you think the loss of these damage? But if you part with honour, decency, and gentleness, do you think that no matter?



July 31

WHAT is it to be reviled, for instance? Stand by a stone and revile it; and what will you get? If you, therefore, would hear like a stone, what would your reviler be the better? But if the reviler hath the weakness of the reviled for an advantage ground, then he carries his point. "Strip him." — "What do you mean by him?" "Take my clothes; strip off them if you will." I have put an affront upon you." — "Much good may it do you."


WHAT is it then that should be dear unto us ? to hear a clattering noise? if not that, then neither to be applauded by the tongues of men. For the praises of many tongues, is in effect no better, than the clattering of so many tongues. If then neither applause, what is there remaining that should be dear unto thee? This I think: that in all thy motions and actions thou be moved, and restrained according to thine own true natural constitution and construction only.



July 30

IF you are hasty, man, let it be your exercise to bear ill language patiently ; and when you are affronted, not to be angry.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book iii. §12. ¶2

BUT if this be done for mere ostentation, it belongs to one who looks out and hunts for something external, and seeks for spectators to exclaim, "What a great man!" Hence Apollonius said well: “If you have a mind to exercise yourself for your own benefit, when you are choking with heat, take a little cold water in your mouth and spit it out again, and tell nobody."

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book iii. §12. ¶5

AN angry countenance is much against nature, and it is oftentimes the proper countenance of them that are at the point of death.



July 29

WHEN thou art offended with any man's transgression, presently reflect upon thyself, and consider what thou thyself art guilty of in the same kind.


WHENSOEVER any man doth trespass against thee, presently consider with thyself what it was that he did suppose to be good, what to be evil, when he did trespass. For this when thou knowest, thou wilt pity him; thou wilt have no occasion either to wonder, or to be angry. For either thou thyself dost yet live in that error and ignorance, as that thou dost suppose either that very thing that he doth, or some other like worldly thing, to be good; and so thou art bound to pardon him if he have done that which thou in the like case wouldst have done thyself. Or if so be that thou dost not any more suppose the same things to be good or evil, that he doth; how canst thou but be gentle unto him that is in an error?



July 28

WHEN any shall either impeach thee with false accusations, or hatefully reproach thee, or shall use any such carriage towards thee, get thee presently to their minds and understandings, and look in them, and behold what manner of men they be. Thou shalt see that there is no such occasion why it should trouble thee, what such as they think of thee. Yet must thou love them still, for by nature they are thy friends.


IF it were thine act and in thine own power, why wouldst thou do it ? If it were not, whom dost thou accuse? the atoms, or the gods? For to do either, is the part of a madman. Thou must therefore blame nobody, but if it be in thy power, redress what is amiss; if it be not, to what end dost thou complain?



July 27

DOTH any man offend? It is against himself that he doth offend: why should it trouble thee?


ONE thing there is, and that only, which is worth our while in this World, and ought by as much to be esteemed; and that is, according to truth and righteousness, meekly and lovingly to converse with false, and unrighteous men.


WHEN thou wilt comfort and cheer thyself, call to mind the several gifts and virtues of them, whom thou dost daily converse with; as for example, the industry of the one; the modesty of another; the liberality of a third ; of another some other thing. For nothing can so much rejoice thee, as the resemblances and parallels of several virtues, visible and eminent in the dispositions of those who live with thee.



July 26

IN another man's mind and understanding thy evil cannot subsist, nor in any proper temper or distemper of the natural constitution of thy body, which is but as it were the coat, or cottage of thy soul. Wherein then, but in that part of thee, wherein the conceit, and apprehension of any misery can subsist? Let not that part therefore admit any such conceit, and then all is well. Though thy body which is so near it, should either be cut or burnt, or suffer any corruption, or putrefaction, yet let that part to which it belongs to judge of these, be still at rest; that is. Let her judge this, that, whatsoever it is, that equally may happen to a wicked man, and to a good man, is neither good, nor evil. For that which happens equally to him that lives according to Nature, and to him that doth not, is neither according to nature, nor against it; and by consequence, neither good, nor bad.



July 25

WHY do not you, as we pity the blind and lame, so likewise pity those who are blinded and lamed in their superior faculties ? Whoever, therefore, duly remembers that the appearance of things to the mind is the standard of every action to man : that this is either right or wrong : and, if right, he is without fault, if wrong, he himself bears the punishment ; for that one man cannot be the person deceived, and another the sufferer : will not be outrageous and angry at anyone ; will not revile, or reproach, or hate, or quarrel with anyone.


IS the cucumber bitter? set it away. Brambles are in the way? avoid them. Let this suffice. Add not presently speaking unto thyself. What serve these things for in the world? For, this, one that is acquainted with the mysteries of Nature, will laugh at thee for it ; as a Carpenter would or a Shoemaker, if meeting in either of their shops with some shavings, or small remnants of their work, thou shouldst blame them for it.



July 24

“EITHER teach them, or bear with them."

“AM I to blame, then, sir, and ignorant of my duty and of what is incumbent on me? If this is neither to be learnt nor taught, why do you find fault with me? If it is to be taught, pray teach me yourself; or, if you cannot, give me leave to learn it from those who profess to understand it. Besides: do you think that I voluntarily fall into evil, and miss of good? Heaven forbid! What, then, is the cause of my faults?" — Ignorance. "Are you not willing, then, that I should get rid of my ignorance? Who was ever taught the art of music or navigation by anger? Do you expect, then, that your anger should teach me the art of living?"



July 23

HE, then, is an able speaker, and excels at once in exhortation and conviction, who can discover to each man the contradiction by which he errs, and prove clearly to him, that what he would, he doth not ; and what he would not do, that he doth. For if that be shown, he will depart from it of his own accord: but till you have shown it, be not surprised that he remains where he is: for he doth it on the appearance that he acts rightly. Hence Socrates, relying on this faculty, used to say, “It is not my custom to cite any other witness of my assertions; but I am always contented with my opponent. I call and summon him for my witness; and his single evidence is instead of all others." For he knew that if a rational soul be moved by anything, the scale must turn whether it will or no. Show the governing faculty of reason a contradiction, and it will renounce it: but, till you have shown it, rather blame yourself than him who is unconvinced.


July 22

”NO; but talk to me about other things; for upon this I am determined." What other things? What is of greater consequence than to convince you that it is not sufficient to be determined, and to persist? This is the tension of a madman, not of one in health. “I will die if you compel me to this." Why so, man: what is the matter?—"I am determined." I have a lucky escape that you are not determined to kill me. "I take no money." Why so? "I am determined." Be assured that with that very tension which you now make use of to refuse it, you may very possibly, hereafter, have as unreasonable a propensity to take it; and again to say, "I am determined." As in a distempered and rheumatic body the humour tends sometimes to one part, sometimes to another; thus it is uncertain which way a sickly mind will incline. But if to its inclination and bent an obstinate tension be likewise added, the evil then becomes desperate and incurable.



July 21

THERE are some whom there is no convincing. So that now I think I understand what before I did not, the meaning of that common saying, that a fool will neither bend nor break. May it never fall to my lot to have a wise, that is an intractable, fool for my friend. "It is all to no purpose: I am determined." So are madmen too; but the more strongly they are determined upon absurdities, the more need have they of hellebore. Why will you not act like a sick person, and apply yourself to a physician? “Sir, I am sick. Give me your assistance: consider what I am to do. It is my part to follow your directions." So, in the present case, I know not what I ought to do; and I am come to learn.



July 20

WHAT is the reason of all this? The principal is an inconsistency and confusion in what relates to good and evil. But different people have different inducements. In general, whatever they imagine to be base they do not absolutely confess. Fear and compassion they imagine to belong to a well-meaning disposition; but stupidity to a slave. Offences against society they do not own; but, in most faults, they are brought to a confession chiefly from imagining that there is something involuntary in them, as in fear and compassion. And, though a person should in some measure confess himself intemperate in his desires, he accuses his passion, and expects forgiveness as for an involuntary fault. But dishonesty is not imagined to be, by any means, involuntary. In jealousy, too, there is something, they suppose, of involuntary; and this likewise, in some degree, they confess.



July 19

THERE are some things which men confess with ease ; others, with difficulty. No one, for instance, will confess himself a fool, or a blockhead; but, on the contrary, you will hear everyone say, "I wish my fortune was equal to my mind." But they easily confess themselves fearful, and say, “I am somewhat timorous, I confess; but in other respects you will not find me a fool." No one will easily confess himself intemperate in his desires; upon no account dishonest, nor absolutely very envious, or meddling; but many confess themselves to have the weakness of being compassionate.



July 18

IT is better to offend seldom (owning it when we do), and act often wisely, than to say we seldom err, and offend frequently.
BUT if it be somewhat that is amiss in thine own disposition, that doth grieve thee, mayest thou not rectify thy moral tenets and opinions. But if it grieve thee, that thou dost not perform that which seemeth unto thee right and just, why dost not thou choose rather to perform it than to grieve? But somewhat that is stronger than thyself doth hinder thee. Let it not grieve thee then, if it be not thy fault that the thing is not performed. Yea but it is a thing of that nature, as that thy life is not worth the while, except it may be performed. If it be so, upon condition that thou be kindly and lovingly disposed towards all men, thou mayest be gone. For even then, as much as at any time, art thou in a very good estate of performance, when thou dost die in charity with those, that are an obstacle unto thy performance.


July 17

AT the conceit and apprehension that such and such a one hath sinned, thus reason with thyself, What do I know whether this be a sin indeed, as it seems to be? But if it be, what do I know but that he himself hath already condemned himself for it? And that is all one as if a man should scratch and tear his own face, an object of compassion rather than of anger.


WHEN any person doth ill by you, or speaks ill of you, remember that he acts or speaks from a supposition of its being his duty. Now, it is not possible that he should follow what appears right to you, but what appears so to himself. Therefore, if he judges from a wrong appearance, he is the person hurt, since he too is the person deceived. For if anyone should suppose a true proposition to be false, the proposition is not hurt, but he who is deceived about it.



July 16

LET it not be in any man's power to say truly of you that you are not simple or that you are not good; if anyone thinks anything of this kind about you, let him be a liar; and this is altogether in your power. For who is it that will hinder you from being good or simple?


HOW unsound and insincere is he who says, "I have determined to deal with you in a fair way." What are you doing, man? There is no occasion to give this notice! It will soon show itself by its acts. The voice ought to be plainly written on the forehead.


*The quotes were changed to G. Long's 1862 translation (2012)


July 15

MAN is made for fidelity, and whoever subverts this subverts the peculiar property of man.


IT is good to know your own qualifications and powers; that, where you are not qualified, you may be quiet, and not angry that others have the advantage of you in such things.


WHAT is the first business of one who studies philosophy? To part with self-conceit. For it is impossible for anyone to begin to learn what he hath a conceit that he already knows.


THERE is nothing more shameful than perfidious friendship. Above all things, that must be avoided. However, true goodness, simplicity, and kindness cannot so be hidden, but that as we have already said in the very eyes and countenance they will show themselves.



July 14

SHOW me that you are faithful, a man of honour, steady; show me that you have friendly principles; show me that your vessel is not leaky, and you shall see that I will not stay till you have trusted your affairs to me; but I will come and entreat you to hear an account of mine. For who would not make use of a good vessel? Who despises a benevolent and friendly adviser? Who will not gladly receive one to share the burden of his difficulties, and by sharing to make it lighter? "Well, but I trust you, and you do not trust me." You do not really trust me: but you are a blab, and therefore can keep nothing in. For if the former be the case, trust only me. But now, whoever you see at leisure, you sit down by him and say: " My dear friend, there is not a man in the world that wishes me better, or hath more kindness for me than you: I entreat you to hear my affairs."


[Note: In the published volume, the July 13th and 14th entries are the reverse of those posted here. We have changed the order so that the passages follow each other as they do in the Discourses.]


July 13

WHEN one hath safely entrusted his secrets to me, shall I, in imitation of him, trust mine to anyone who comes in my way? The case is different. I indeed hold my tongue (supposing me to be of such a disposition), but he goes and discovers them to everybody ; and then, when I come to find it out, if I happen to be like him, from a desire of revenge I discover his, and asperse, and am aspersed. But, if I remember that one man doth not hurt another, but that everyone is hurt and profited by his own actions, I indeed keep to this, not to do anything like him; yet, by my own talkative folly, I suffer what I do suffer.

"Ay, but it is unfair, when you have heard the secrets of your neighbour, not to communicate anything to him in return."—"Why, did I ask you to do it, sir? Did you tell me your affairs upon condition that I should tell you mine in return? If you are a blab, and believe all you meet to be friends, would you have me, too, become like you? But what if the case be this: that you did right in trusting your affairs to me, but it is not right that I should trust you? Would you have me run headlong and fall? This is just as if I had a sound barrel and you a leaky one, and you should come and deposit your wine with me to put it into my barrel, and then should take it ill that in my turn I did not trust you with my wine. No. You have a leaky barrel."

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book iv. §13. ¶2, 3

[Note: In the published volume, the July 13th and 14th entries are the reverse of those posted here. We have changed the order so that the passages follow each other as they do in the Discourses.]


February 28

SOLITUDE is the state of a helpless person. For not he who is alone is therefore solitary, any more than one in a crowd the contrary. When therefore, we lose a son, or a brother, or a friend on whom we have been used to repose, we often say we are left solitary even in the midst of Rome, where such a crowd is continually meeting us.

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

AT what time soever thou wilt, it is in thy power, to retire into thyself, and to be at rest, and free from all businesses. A man cannot anywhither retire better, than to his own soul: he especially who is beforehand provided of such things within, which whensoever he doth withdraw himself to look in, may presently afford unto him perfect ease and tranquillity.



February 27

LET it always appear, and be manifest unto thee, that solitariness, and desert places, by many Philosophers, so much esteemed of, and affected, are of themselves but thus and thus; and that all things are here to them that live in Towns, and converse with others: as they are the same nature everywhere to be seen and observed: to them that have retired themselves to the top of mountains, and to desert Havens, or what other desert and inhabited places soever. For anywhere if thou wilt mayest thou quickly find and apply that to thyself, which Plato saith of his Philosopher, in a place; as private and retired saith he, as if he were shut up and enclosed about in some Shepherd's lodge, on the top of a hill. There by thyself to put these questions to thyself, or to enter into these considerations: What is my chief and principal part, which hath power over the rest? What is now the present estate of it, as I use it; and what is it, that I employ it about? Is it now void of reason or no? Is it free, and separated; or so affixed, so congealed and grown together, as it were with the flesh, that it is swayed by the motions and inclinations of it?



February 26

HE that hath not one and the selfsame general end always as long as he liveth, cannot possibly be one and the selfsame man always. But this will not suffice except thou add also what ought to be this general end. For as the general conceit and apprehension of all those things which upon no certain ground are by the greater part of men deemed good, cannot be uniform and agreeable, but that only which is limited, and restrained by some certain proprieties and conditions, as of community: that nothing be conceived good, which is not commonly, and publicly good : so must the end also that we propose unto ourselves, be common and sociable. For he that doth direct all his own private motions and purposes to that end, all his actions will be agreeable and uniform; and by that means will be still the same man.



February 25

SET death before me, set pain, set a prison, set ignomony, set condemnation before me, and you will know me. This is the proper ostentation of a young man come out from the schools. Leave the rest to others. Let no one ever hear you utter a word about them, nor suffer it, if anyone commends you for them: but think that you are nobody, and that you know nothing. Appear to know only this, how you may never be disappointed of your desire; never incur your aversion. Let others study causes, problems, and syllogisms. Do you study death, chains, torture, exile: and all these with courage, and reliance upon him who hath called you to them, and judged you worthy a post in which you may show what the rational governing faculty can do when set in array against powers independent on the choice. And thus, this paradox becomes neither impossible nor a paradox, that we must be at once cautious and courageous: courageous in what doth not depend upon choice, and cautious in what doth.



February 24

WHAT is asserted by the philosophers may, perhaps, appear a paradox to some: let us, however, examine, as well as we can, whether this be true: That it is possible in all things to act at once with caution and courage. For caution seems, in some measure, contrary to courage; and contraries are by no means consistent. The appearance of a paradox to many, in the present case, seems to me to arise from something like this. If, indeed, we assert that courage and caution are to be used in the same instances, we should justly be accused of uniting contradictions: but, in the way that we afifirm it, where is the absurdity? For, if what hath been so often said, and so often demonstrated, be certain, that the essence of good and evil consists in the use of the appearances; and that things independent on choice are not of the nature either of good or evil: what paradox do the philosophers assert, if they say: "Where things are not dependent on choice, be courageous; where they are, be cautious?" For in these only, if evil consists in a bad choice, is caution to be used.



February 23

WHEN one of the company said to him, "Convince me that logic is necessary."

"Would you have me demonstrate it to you?" says he.


"Then I must use a demonstrative form of argument."


"And how will you know then whether I argue sophistically?"

On this, the man being silent, "You see," says he, "that even by your own confession, logic is necessary; since without its assistance, you cannot learn so much as whether it be necessary or not."

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


February 22

THIS, again, is folly and insolence to say: "I am impassive and undisturbed. Be it known to you, mortals, that while you are fluctuating and bustling about for things of no value, I alone am free from all perturbation." — Are you then so far from being contented with having no pain yourself, that you must needs make proclamation: "Come hither, all you who have the gout, or the headache, or a fever, or are lame, or blind, and see me free from every distemper." This is vain and shocking, unless you could show, like Aesculapius, by what method of cure they may presently become as free from distempers as yourself, and bring your own health as a proof of it.



February 21

EVERY error in life implies a contradiction: for, since he who errs doth not mean to err, but to be in the right, it is evident that he acts contrary to his meaning. What doth a thief mean ? His own interest. If, then, thieving be against his interest, he acts contrary to his own meaning. Now every rational soul is naturally averse to self-contradiction: but so long as anyone is ignorant that it is a contradiction, nothing restrains him from acting contradictorily: but whenever he discovers it, he must as necessarily renounce and avoid it, as anyone must dissent from a falsehood whenever he perceives it to be a falsehood: but while this doth not appear, he assents to it as to a truth.

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


February 20

YOU see that Caesar hath procured us a profound peace; there are neither wars nor battles, nor great robberies nor piracies, but we may travel at all hours, and sail from east to west. But can Caesar procure us peace from a fever too? From a shipwreck ? From a fire? From an earthquake? From a thunderstorm? Nay, even from love? He cannot. From grief? From envy? No, not from any one of these. But the doctrine of philosophers promises to procure us peace from these too. And what doth it say? "If you will attend to me, O mortals, wherever you are, and whatever you are doing, you shall neither grieve nor be angry, nor be compelled nor restrained ; but you shall live impassive, and free from all." Shall not he who enjoys this peace, proclaimed, not by Cresar (for how should he have it to proclaim?) but by God, through reason, be contented, when he is alone reflecting and considering: "To me there can now no ill happen; there is no thief, no earthquake. All is full of peace, all full of tranquillity; every road, every city, every assembly. My neighbour, my companion, unable to hurt me."

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


February 19

HOW do we act in a voyage? What is in my power? To choose the pilot, the sailors, the day, the time of day. Afterwards comes a storm. What have I to care for? My part is performed. The subject belongs to another, to the pilot. But the ship is sinking: what then have I to do? That which alone I can do; I am drowned, without fear, without clamour, or accusing God; but as one who knows that what is born must likewise die. For I am not eternity, but a man; a part of the whole, as an hour is of the day. I must come like an hour, and like an hour must pass away. What signifies it whether by drowning or by a fever? For, in some way or other, pass I must.



February 18

ALL are preserved and improved by operations correspondent to their several faculties; as a carpenter, by building; a grammarian, by grammar; but if he accustom himself to write ungrammatically, his art will necessarily be spoiled and destroyed. Thus modest actions preserve the modest man, and immodest ones destroy him; faithful actions, the faithful man, and the contrary destroy him. On the other hand, contrary actions heighten contrary characters. Thus impudence, an impudent one; knavery, a knavish one; slander, a slanderous one; anger, an angry one; and inequitable dealings, a covetous one.



February 17

HERE is the artificer; here are the materials; what is it we want? Is not the thing capable of being taught? It is. Is it not in our own power, then? The only thing of all others that is so. Neither riches, nor health, nor fame, nor, in short, anything else, is in our power, except the right use of the appearances of things. This alone is, by nature, not subject to restraint, not subject to hindrance. Why, then, do not you finish it? Tell me the cause. It must be by my fault, or yours, or from the nature of the thing. The thing itself is practicable, and the only one in our power. The fault then must be either in me, or in you, or, more truly, in both. Well, then, shall we now, at last, bring this intention along with us? Let us lay aside all that is past. Let us begin. Only believe me, and you will see the consequence.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book ii. §19. ¶4.


February 16

THE materials of action are indifferent; but the use of them is not indifferent.

How, then, shall one preserve intrepidity and tranquillity; and at the same time be careful, and neither rash nor indolent?

By imitating those who play at tables. The dice are indifferent; the pieces are indifferent. How do I know what will fall out? But it is my business to manage carefully and dexterously whatever doth fall out. Thus in life, too, this is the chief business; distinguish and separate things, and say, "Externals are not in my power, choice is. Where shall I seek good and evil? Within; in what is my own." But in what belongs to others, call nothing good, or evil, or profit, or hurt, or anything of that sort.



February 15

IT is not death or pain that is to be feared; but the fear of pain or death. Hence we commend him who says:

Death is no ill, but shamefully to die.

Courage, then, ought to be opposed to death, and caution to the fear of death: whereas we, on the contrary, oppose to death, flight; and to our principle concerning it, carelessness and desperateness and indifference.



February 14

IF you perceive any of those things which you have learned and studied occurring to you in action, rejoice in them. If you have laid aside ill-nature and reviling; if you have lessened your harshness, indecent language, inconsiderateness, effeminacy; if you are not moved by the same things as formerly, if not in the same manner as formerly, you may keep a perpetual festival: to-day, because you have behaved well in one affair; to-morrow, because in another. How much better a reason for sacrifice is this, than obtaining a consulship or a government?


WHENSOEVER by some present hard occurrences thou art constrained to be in some sort troubled and vexed, return unto thyself as soon as may be, and be not out of tune longer than thou must needs. For so shalt thou be the better able to keep thy part another time, and to maintain the harmony, if thou dost use thyself to this continually; once out, presently to have recourse unto it, and to begin again.



February 13

IT is not easy to gain the attention of effeminate young men, for you cannot take custard by a hook; but the ingenuous, even if you discourage them, are the more eager for learning. Hence Rufus, for the most part, did discourage them, and made use of that as a criterion of the ingenuous and disingenuous. For he used to say, As a stone, even if you throw it up, will by its own propensity be carried downward; so an ingenuous mind, the more it is forced from its natural bent, the more strongly will it incline towards it.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book iii. §6. ¶4.

WHATEVER rules you have deliberately proposed to yourself for the conduct of life, abide by them as so many laws, and as if you would be guilty of impiety in transgressing any of them; and do not regard what anyone says of you, for this, after all, is no concern of yours.



February 12

TWO things must be rooted out of man: conceit and diffidence. Conceit lies in thinking you want nothing; and diffidence, in supposing it impossible, that under such adverse circumstances, you should succeed.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book iii. §14. ¶4.

WHAT, then, is it to be properly educated? To learn how to adapt natural preconceptions to particular cases, conformably to nature; and, for the future, to distinguish that some things are in our own power, others not. In our own power are choice, and all actions dependent on choice; not in our power, the body, the parts of the body, property, parents, brothers, children, country, and, in short, all with whom we are engaged in society. Where, then, shall we place good? To what kind of things shall we adapt the preconception of it? To that in our own power.



February 11

WHEN you let go your attention for a little while, do not fancy you may recover it whenever you please; but remember this, that by means of the fault of to-day your affairs must necessarily be in a worse condition for the future. First, what is the saddest thing of all, a habit arises of not attending; and then a habit of deferring the attention, and always driving off from time to time, and procrastinating a prosperous life, a propriety of behaviour, and the thinking and acting conformably to nature. Now, if the procrastination of anything is advantageous, the absolute omission of it is still more advantageous; but, if it be not advantageous, why do not you preserve a constant attention?

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

"WHAT, then, is it possible by these means to be faultless?"

Impracticable; but this is possible, to use a constant endeavour to be faultless. For we shall have cause to be satisfied if, by never remitting this attention, we shall be exempt at least from a few faults.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book iv. §12. ¶4.


February 10

WHERE is improvement, then?

If any of you, withdrawing himself from externals, turns to his own faculty of choice, to exercise, and finish, and render it conformable to nature; elevated, free, unrestrained, unhindered, faithful, decent: if he hath learnt too, that whoever desires, or is averse to, things out of his own power, can neither be faithful nor free, but must necessarily be changed and tossed up and down with them; must necessarily too be subject to others, to such as can procure or prevent what he desires or is averse to: if, rising in the morning, he observes and keeps to these rules; bathes and eats as a man of fidelity and honour; and thus, on every subject of action, exercises himself in his principal duty; as a racer, in the business of racing; as a public speaker, in the business of exercising his voice: this is he who truly improves; this is he who hath not wrought in vain.



February 9

UPON every action that thou art about, put this question to thyself; How will this when it is done agree with me? Shall I have no occasion to repent of it? Yet a very little while and I am dead and gone; and all things are at end. What then do I care for more than this, that my present action, whatsoever it be, may be the proper action of one that is reasonable; whose end is, the common good; who in all things is ruled and governed by the same law of right and reason, by which God Himself is


CONTRACT thy whole life to the measure and proportion of one single action. And if in every particular action thou dost perform what is fitting to the utmost of thy power, let it suffice thee. And who can hinder thee, but that thou mayest perform what is fitting? But there may be some outward let and impediment. Not any, that can hinder thee, but that whatsoever thou doest, thou may do it, justly, temperately, and with the praise of God. Yea, but there may be somewhat, whereby some operation or other of thine may be hindered. And then, with that very thing that doth hinder, thou mayest be well pleased, and so by this gentle and aequanimous conversion of thy mind unto that which may be, instead of that which at first thou didst intend, in the room of that former action there succeedeth another, which agrees as well with this contraction of thy life, that we now speak of.



February 8

IT is high time for thee to understand that there is somewhat in thee, better and more divine than either thy passions, or thy sensual appetites and affections. What is now the object of my mind, is it fear, or suspicion, or lust, or any such thing? To do nothing rashly without some certain end; let that be thy first care. The next, to have no other end than the common good. For, alas! yet a little while, and thou art no more: no more will any, either of those things that now thou seest, or of those men that now are living, be any more.



February 7

KEEP thyself pure from all violent passion, and evil affection, from all rashness and vanity, and from all manner of discontent, either in regard of the gods, or men. For indeed whatsoever proceeds from the gods, deserves respect for their worth and excellency; and whatsoever proceeds from men, as they are our kinsmen, should by us be entertained, with love, always; sometimes, as proceeding from their ignorance of that which is truly good and bad (a blindness no less, than that by which we are not able to discern between white and black:) with a kind of pity and compassion also.



February 6

WHAT doth an adulterer lose? The modest, the chaste character; the neighbour. What doth an angry person lose? Something else. A coward? Something else. No one is wicked without some loss or damage. Now, if, after all, you make the loss of money the only damage, all these are unhurt and undamaged. Nay, it may be, even gainers; as, by such practices, their money may possibly be increased. But consider: if you refer everything to money, the man who loses his nose is not hurt. Yea, say you, he is maimed in his body. Well; but doth he, who loses his smell itself, lose nothing? Is there, then, no faculty of the soul which he who possesses it is the better for, and he who parts with it the worse?

What sort do you mean?

Have we not a natural sense of honour?

We have.

Doth he who loses this suffer no damage? Is he deprived of nothing? Doth he part with nothing that belongs to him? Have we no natural fidelity? No natural affection? No natural disposition to mutual usefulness, to mutual forbearance? Is he, then, who carelessly suffers himself to be damaged in these respects, unhurt and undamaged ?

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book ii. §10. ¶5.


February 5

DO men lose nothing but money? Is not modesty to be lost? Is not decency to be lost ? Or may he who loses these suffer no damage? You, indeed, perhaps no longer think anything of this sort to be a damage. But there was once a time when you accounted this to be the only damage and hurt; when you were anxiously afraid lest anyone should shake your regard from these discourses and actions. See, it is not shaken by another, but by yourself. Fight against yourself, recover yourself to decency, to modesty, to freedom.


DO not variegate the structure of your walls with Euboean and Spartan stone; but adorn both the minds of the citizens and of those who govern them by the Grecian education. For cities are made good habitations by the sentiments of those who live in them, not by wood and stone.



February 4

NEVER regard something as doing you good if it makes you betray a trust, or lose your sense of shame, or makes you show hatred, suspicion, ill-will, or hypocrisy, or a  desire for things best done behind closed doors. If you can privilege your own mind, your guiding spirit and your reverence for its powers, that you keep you clear of dramatics, of wailing and gnashing of teeth. You won't need solitude - or a cast of thousands either. Above all, you'll be free of fear and desire. And long your body will contain the soul that inhabits it will cause you not a moment's worry. If it's time for you to go, leave willingly - as you would to accomplish anything that can be done with grace and honor. And concentrate on this, you whole life long:  for your mind to be in the right state - the state a rational, civic mind should be in.



February 3

THE first and highest purity, or impurity, then, is that which is formed in the soul. But you will not find the impurity of the soul and body to be alike. For what else of impurity can you find in the soul than that which renders it filthy with regard to its operations? Now the operations of the soul are its pursuits and avoidances, its desires, aversions, preparations, intentions, assents. What, then, is that which renders it defiled and impure in these operations? Nothing else than its perverse judgments. So that the impurity of the soul consists in wicked principles, and its purification in the forming right principles; and that is pure which hath right principles, for that alone is unmixed and undefiled in its operations.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book iv. §11. 5-8.


February 2

PRAY, what figure do you think Hercules would have made if there had not been such a lion, and a hydra, and a stag, and unjust and brutal men; whom he expelled and cleared away? And what would he have done if none of these had existed? Is it not plain that he must have wrapped himself up and slept? In the first place, then, he would never have become a Hercules by slumbering away his whole life in such delicacy and ease; or if he had, what good would it have done? What would have been the use of his arm, and the rest of his strength; of his patience, and greatness of mind, if such circumstances and subjects of action had not roused and exercised him?

What then: must we provide these things for ourselves, and introduce a boar, and a lion, and a hydra, into our country?

This would be madness and folly. But as they were in being, and to be met with, they were proper subjects to set off and exercise Hercules. Do you therefore likewise, being sensible of this, inspect the faculties you have, and after taking a view of them, say, "Bring on me now, O Jupiter, what difficulty thou wilt, for I have faculties granted me by thee, and abilities by which I may acquire honour and ornament to myself." — No; but you sit trembling, for fear this or that should happen; and lamenting, and mourning, and groaning at what doth happen; and then you accuse the gods.



February 1

PRAY, what would Hercules have been if he had said: "What can be done to prevent a great lion or a great boar or savage men from coming in my way?" Why, what is that to you? If a great boar should come in your way, you will fight the greater combat; if wicked men, you will deliver the world from wicked men. — "But, then, if I should die by this means?" — You will die a good man in the performance of a gallant action.


CONDEMN your actions: but when you have condemned them, do not despair of yourself, nor be like those poor-spirited people who, when they have once given way, abandon themselves entirely, and are carried along as by a torrent. Take example from the wrestling masters. Hath the boy fallen down? Get up again, they say; wrestle again till you have acquired strength.