Tuesday

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.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book i. §28. ¶2

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.

MARCUS AURELIUS. MEDITATIONS. Book viii. 48.

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.