Monday

July 24

“EITHER teach them, or bear with them."
MARCUS. AURELIUS.

“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?"

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

Sunday

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.
EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book ii. §26. ¶2

Saturday

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.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book ii. §15. ¶2

Friday

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.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book ii. §15. ¶2

Thursday

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.

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

Wednesday

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.

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

Tuesday

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.
EPICTETUS. FRAGMENTS. 3.
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.
MARCUS AURELIUS. MEDITATIONS. Book viii. 47.

Monday

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.

MARCUS AURELIUS. MEDITATIONS. Book xii. 12.

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.

EPICTETUS. MANUAL. 42.

Sunday

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?

MARCUS AURELIUS. MEDITATIONS. Book x. 32.

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.

MARCUS AURELIUS. MEDITATIONS. Book xi. 15.

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

Saturday

July 15

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

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book ii. §4. ¶1

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.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book ii. §6. ¶1

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.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book ii. §17. ¶1

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.

MARCUS AURELIUS. MEDITATIONS. Book xi. 7.

Friday

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."

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

Thursday

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.]

Wednesday

July 12

OLYMPIAN ZEUS doth not lift up his brow, but keeps a steady countenance, as becomes him who is about to say—

“The immutable decree No force can shake: what is, that ought to be."

Pope.

“Such will I show myself to you: faithful, modest, noble, tranquil."—What, and immortal too, and exempt from age and sickness?—"No. But sickening and dying as becomes a god. This is in my power; this I can do. The other is not in my power, nor can I do it." Shall I show you the sinews of a philosopher?

What are they ?

A desire undisappointed: an aversion unincurred: pursuits duly exerted: a careful resolution: an unerring assent. These you shall see.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book ii. §8. ¶4

Tuesday

July 11

A MAN must know many things first, before he be able truly and judiciously to judge of another man's action.

MARCUS AURELIUS. MEDITATIONS. Book ix. 16.


IF anyone tells you that such a person speaks ill of you, do not make excuses about what is said of you, but answer : "He doth not know my other faults, else he would not have mentioned only these."

EPICTETUS. MANUAL. 46.


OUT of Antisthenes. "It is a princely thing to do well, and to be ill spoken of. It is a shameful thing that the face should be subject unto the mind, to be put into what shape it will, and to be dressed by it as it will ; and that the mind should not bestow so much care upon herself, as to fashion herself, and to dress herself as best becometh her."

MARCUS AURELIUS. MEDITATIONS. Book vii. 24.

Monday

July 10

IF you would be good, first believe that you are bad.

EPICTETUS. FRAGMENTS. 2.

WHAT is it then that doth keep thee here, if things sensible be so mutable and unsettled? and the senses so obscure, and so fallible? and our souls nothing but an exhalation of blood ? and to be in credit among such, be but vanity? What is it that thou dost stay for? an Extinction, or a Translation; either of them with a propitious and contented mind. But till that time come, what will content thee? what else, but to worship and praise the Gods; and to do good unto men. To bear with them, and to forbear to do them any wrong. And for all external things belonging either to this thy wretched body, or life, to remember that they are neither thine, nor in thy power.

MARCUS AURELIUS. MEDITATIONS. Book v. 27.

Sunday

July 9

IF in this kind of life thy body be able to hold out, it is a shame that thy soul should faint first, and give over. Take heed lest of a philosopher thou become a mere Caesar in time, and receive a new tincture from the Court. For it may happen if thou dost not take heed. Keep thyself, therefore, truly simple, good, sincere, grave, free from all ostentation, a lover of that which is just, religious, kind, tender-hearted, strong and vigorous to undergo anything that becomes thee.

MARCUS AURELIUS. MEDITATIONS. Book iv. 27.

DEATH is a cessation from the impressions of the senses, the tyranny of the passions, the errors of the mind, and the servitude of the body.

MARCUS AURELIUS. MEDITATIONS. Book vi. 26.

Saturday

July 8

WHY, then, are you anxious? Why do you keep yourself waking? Why do not you calculate where your good and evil lies; and say they are both in my own power, neither can any deprive me of the one, or involve me, against my will, in the other? Why, then, do not I lay myself down and snore? What is my own is safe. Let what belongs to others look to itself who carries it off, how it is given away by him that hath the disposal of it. Who am I, to will that it should be so and so? For is the option given to me? Hath anyone made me the dispenser of it? What I have in my own disposal is enough for me. I must make the best I can of this. Other things must be as the master of them pleases.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book iv. §9. ¶4

Friday

July 7

EVERY place is safe to him who lives with justice.

EPICTETUS. FRAGMENTS. 97.

SO live as indifferent to the world, and all worldly objects, as one who liveth by himself alone upon some desert hill. For whether here, or there, if the whole world be but as one Town, it matters not much for the place.

MARCUS AURELIUS. MEDITATIONS. Book x. 17.

WHATSOEVER doth happen in the world, doth happen justly, and so if thou dost well take heed, thou shalt find it. I say not only in right order by a series of inevitable consequences, but according to Justice and as it were by way of equal distribution, according to the true worth of everything. Continue then to take notice of it, as thou hast begun, and whatsoever thou doest, do it not without this proviso, that it be a thing of that nature that a good man, (as the word good is properly taken) may do it. This observe carefully in every action.

MARCUS AURELIUS. MEDITATIONS. Book iv. 8.

Thursday

July 6

LET not the general representation unto thyself of the wretchedness of this our mortal life, trouble thee. Let not thy mind wander up and down, and heap together in her thoughts, the many troubles and grievous calamities which thou art as subject unto as any other. But as everything in particular doth happen, put this question unto thyself, and say ; What is it that in this present matter, seems unto thee so intolerable? For thou wilt be ashamed to confess it. Then upon this presently call to mind, that neither that which is future, nor that which is past can hurt thee; but that only which is present. (And that also is much lessened, if thou dost rightly circumscribe it!) and then check thy mind if for so little a while, (a mere instant) it cannot hold out with patience.

MARCUS AURELIUS. MEDITATIONS. Book viii. 34.

Wednesday

July 5

LET not him think he is loved by any who loves none.

Attributed to EPICTETUS.

DEATH hangs over thee: whilst thou livest, whilst thou mayest, be good.

MARCUS AURELIUS. MEDITATIONS. Book iv. 14.

LOOK not about upon the evil conditions of others, but run on straight in the line.

MARCUS AURELIUS. MEDITATIONS. Book iv. 15.

WHAT you avoid suffering yourself, attempt not to impose on others.

EPICTETUS. FRAGMENTS. 38.

COMMUNICATE to strangers and persons in need, according to your ability. For he who gives nothing to the needy, shall receive nothing in his own need.

EPICTETUS. FRAGMENTS. 103.

Tuesday

July 4

"WE would live immediately as men already wise, and be of service to mankind."—Of what service? What are you doing? Why, have you been of service to yourself? "But you would exhort them." You exhort! Would you be of service to them, show them, by your own example, what kind of men philosophy makes, and be not impertinent. When you eat, be of service to those who eat with you; when you drink, to those who drink with you. Be of service to them, by giving way to all, yielding to them, bearing with them; and not by throwing out your own ill humour upon them.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book iii. §13. ¶3

THERE is, who without so much as a Coat; and there is, who without so much as a book, doth put philosophy in practice. I am half naked, neither have I bread to eat, and yet I depart not from Reason, saith one. But I say; I want the food of good teaching, and instructions, and yet I depart not from Reason.

MARCUS AURELIUS. MEDITATIONS. Book iv. 25.

Monday

July 3

IF a person drinks water, or doth anything else for the sake of exercise, upon every occasion he tells all he meets, "I drink water." Why, do you drink water merely for the sake of drinking it? If it doth you any good to drink it, drink it; if not, you act ridiculously. But, if it is for your advantage, and you drink it, say nothing about it before those who are apt to take offence. What then? These are the very people you wish to please.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book iii. §14. ¶2

WHAT art, and profession soever thou hast learned, endeavour to affect it, and comfort thyself in it ; and pass the remainder of thy life as one who from his whole heart commits himself and whatsoever belongs unto him, unto the gods, and as for men, carry not thyself either tyrannically or servilely towards any.

MARCUS AURELIUS. MEDITATIONS. Book iv. 26.

Sunday

July 2

AS WE ought, however, to be prepared in some manner for this also, to be self-sufficient and able to bear our own company. For as Jupiter converses with himself, acquiesces in himself, and contemplates his own administration, and is employed in thoughts worthy of himself: so should we too be able to talk with ourselves, and not to need the conversation of others, nor be at a loss for employment; to attend to the divine administration ; to consider our relation to other beings; how we have formerly been affected by events, how we are affected now; what are the things that still press upon us, how these too may be cured, how removed; if anything wants completing, to complete it according to reason.

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

Saturday

July 1

AS bad performers cannot sing alone but in a chorus, so some persons cannot walk alone. If you are anything, walk alone, talk by yourself, and do not skulk in the chorus. Think a little at last; look about you, sift yourself, that you may know what you are.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book iii. §14. ¶1

THOU art now ready to die, and yet hast thou not attained to that perfect simplicity: thou art yet subject to many troubles, and perturbations; not yet free from all fear and suspicion of external accidents; nor yet either so meekly disposed towards all men, as thou shouldst; or so affected as one, whose only study, and only wisdom is, to be just in all his actions.

MARCUS AURELIUS. MEDITATIONS. Book iv. 3.

Tuesday

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.

MARCUS AURELIUS. MEDITATIONS. Book iv. 3.

Monday

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?

MARCUS AURELIUS. MEDITATIONS. Book x. 24.

Sunday

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.

MARCUS AURELIUS. MEDITATIONS. Book xi. 19.

Saturday

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.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book ii. §1. ¶5.

Friday

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.

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

Thursday

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.

"Yes."

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

"Granted."

"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.

Wednesday

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.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book iv. §3. ¶5.

Tuesday

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.

Monday

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.

Sunday

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.

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

Saturday

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.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book ii. §9. ¶2.

Friday

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.

Thursday

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.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book ii. §5. ¶1.

Wednesday

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.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book ii. §1. ¶2.

Tuesday

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?

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book iv. §4. ¶5.

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.

MARCUS AURELIUS. MEDITATIONS. Book vi. 9.

Monday

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.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book i. §4. ¶4.

Sunday

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.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book i. §22. ¶2.

Saturday

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.

Friday

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.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book i. §4. ¶4.

Thursday

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

MARCUS AURELIUS. MEDITATIONS. Book viii. 2.

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.

MARCUS AURELIUS. MEDITATIONS. Book viii. 3.

Wednesday

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.

MARCUS AURELIUS. MEDITATIONS. Book xii. 15.

Tuesday

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.

MARCUS AURELIUS. MEDITATIONS. Book ii. 11.

Monday

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.

Sunday

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.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book iv. §9. ¶2.

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.

EPICTETUS. FRAGMENTS. 77.

Saturday

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.

MARCUS AURELIUS. MEDITATIONS. Book iii. §7.

Friday

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.

Thursday

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.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book i. §6. ¶6.

Wednesday

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.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book iv. §9. ¶2.

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.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book iv. §9. ¶2.

Tuesday

January 31

I AM persuaded there must be someone among you who sit here that feels secret pangs of impatience, and says: "When will such a difficulty come to my share as hath now fallen to his? Must I sit wasting my life in a corner when I might be crowned at Olympia? When will anyone bring the news of such a combat for me?" Such should be the disposition of you all. Even among the gladiators of Caesar there are some who bear it very ill, that they are not brought upon the stage and matched; and who offer vows to God, and address the officers, begging to fight. And will none among you appear such? I would willingly take a voyage on purpose to see how a champion of mine acts; how he treats his subject. "I do not choose such a subject," say you. Is it in your power, then, to take what subject you choose? Such a body is given you; such parents, such brothers, such a country, and such a rank in it; and then you come to me and say: "Change my subject." Besides, have not you abilities to manage that which is given you?

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book i. §29. ¶6.

Monday

January 30

WHAT, then, ought each of us to say upon every difficult occasion? "It was for this that I exercised, it was for this that I prepared myself." God says to you, Give me a proof if you have gone through the preparatory combats, according to rule; if you have followed a proper diet, a proper exercise; if you have obeyed your master; and after this, do you faint at the very time of action? Now is the proper time for a fever—bear it well; for thirst, bear it well; for hunger, bear it well. Is it not in your power? Who shall restrain you? A physician may restrain you from drinking, but he cannot restrain you from bearing your thirst well. He may restrain you from eating, but he cannot restrain you from bearing hunger well.—But I cannot follow my studies.—And for what end do you follow them, wretch? Is it not that you may be prosperous? That you may be constant? That you may think and act conformably to nature? What restrains you, but that in a fever you may preserve your ruling faculty conformable to nature? Here is the proof of the matter. Here is the trial of the philosopher; for a fever is a part of life, just as a walk, a voyage, or a journey.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book iii. §10. ¶1.

Sunday

January 29

DIFFICULTIES are the things that show what men are. For the future, on any difficulty, remember that God, like a master of exercise, has engaged you with a rough antagonist. For what end? That you may be a conqueror like one in the Olympic games, and it cannot be without toil. No man, in my opinion, has a more advantageous difficulty on his hands than you have; provided you will but use it as an athletic champion doth his antagonist.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book i. §24. ¶1.

Saturday

January 28

WHENEVER, therefore, anyone makes his interest to consist in the same thing with sanctity, virtue, his country, parents, and friends, all these are secured; but wherever they are made to interfere, friends, and country, and family, and justice itself, all give way, borne down by the weight of self-interest. For wherever I and mine are placed, thither must every animal gravitate. If in body, that will sway us; if in choice, that; if in externals, these. If, therefore, I be placed in a right choice, then only I shall be a friend, a son, or a father, such as I ought. For in that case it will be for my interest to preserve the faithful, the modest, the patient, the abstinent, the beneficent character; to keep the relations of life inviolate. But, if I place myself in one thing, and virtue in another, the doctrine of Epicurus will stand its ground, That virtue is nothing, or mere opinion.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book ii. §22. ¶2.

Friday

January 27

IF thou shalt find anything in this mortal life better than righteousness, than truth, temperance, fortitude, and in general better than a mind contented both with those things which according to right and reason she doth, and in those, which without her will and knowledge happen unto thee by the Providence: If I say, thou canst find out anything better than this; apply thyself unto it with thy whole heart.

MARCUS AURELIUS. MEDITATIONS. Book iii. 7.

BUT who ever came into the world without an innate idea of good and evil, fair and base, becoming and unbecoming, happiness and misery, proper and improper, what ought to be done and what not to be done?

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

Thursday

January 26

DO all things as becometh the Disciple of Antoninus Pius. Remember his resolute constancy in things that were done by him according to reason, his equability in all things, his sanctity; the cheerfulness of his countenance, his sweetness, and how free he was from all vainglory; how careful to come to the true and exact knowledge of matters in hand, and how he would by no means give over till he did fully and plainly understand the whole state of the business; and how patiently, and without any contestation he would bear with them, that did unjustly condemn him: how he would never be overhasty in anything, nor give ear to slanders and false accusations, but examine and observe with best diligence the several actions and dispositions of men. Again, how he was no backbiter, nor easily frighted, nor suspicious, and in his language free from all affectation and curiosity: and how easily he would content himself with few things, as lodging, bedding, clothing, and ordinary nourishment, and attendance. How able to endure labour, how patient: his uniformity and constancy in matter of friendship. How he would bear with them that with all boldness and liberty opposed his opinions; and even rejoice if any man could better advise him: and lastly, how religious he was without superstition. All these things of him remember, that whensoever thy last hour shall come upon thee, it may find thee, as it did him, ready for it in the possession of a good conscience.

MARCUS AURELIUS. MEDITATIONS. Book vi. 28.

Wednesday

January 25

NOTHING is meaner than the love of pleasure, the love of gain, and insolence. Nothing is nobler than magnanimity, meekness, and goodnature.

EPICTETUS. FRAGMENTS. 46.

IN my Father, I observed his meekness; his constancy without wavering in those things, which after a due examination and deliberation, he had determined. How free from all vanity he carried himself in matter of honour and dignity, (as they are esteemed ) his laboriousness, and assiduity, his readiness to hear any man, that had aught to say, tending to any common good: how generally and impartially he would give every man his due; his skill and knowledge, when rigour or extremity, or when remissness or moderation was in season.

MARCUS AURELIUS. MEDITATIONS. Book i. 13.