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.]


  1. "You have a leaky barrel!" I love it. Great phrase for gossips!

    The most important part: remember that one man doth not hurt another, but that everyone is hurt and profited by his own actions.

    The key to this definition is in remembering that Hurt can only happen to the virtue. I bear all things, and forbear with others. It is my own viciousness that is damaging.

  2. Yoink.... You have a leaky barrel. I love this phrase!

    Seriously though, there are many times in our lives that people feel the need to tell us their burdens, secrets, etc. and yet I have a relatively drama free life and have not reciprocated. I can totally relate to this illustration. :) To thine own self be true... Usually you won't accidentally or intentionally blab your own secrets. ;)

  3. Gossip is a poison that can destroy a friendship, relationship or community faster than poisonous gases. Participating in Gossip destroys your own character faster than it destroys anyone else's. By participating in the gossip you lose your integrity and credibility in other's eyes.

    I will not be a "leaky barrel"!

  4. You aren't harmed by what others say to you, or even about you. For what can they say to force you to be unjust, or immoderate, or cruel. Justice, moderation and compassion are always in our power. However, when we in turn retort with barbed words and slander, we have become cruel, immoderate, unjust, cowardly and foolish. It is by our own actions that we are truly harmed. And so it must be by our own actions that we must be redeemed. - Inspired by Epictetus

  5. I have been the victim of gossip and guilty of spreading it. I honestly think the damage is on both sides as well. My father always said that you cannot judge a "man" until you have walked a day in their shoes. I think it is a good thing to remember whenever you we are tempted to open our mouths and spew any kind of poison about another.

  6. It has been nearly a decade since this was posted, and I need this reminder more than ever. Am I a 'leaky barrel?' Do I entrust myself to those that are? I need to remember that, despite the temptation to appear open, "Silence is one of the great arts of conversation." (Marcus Tullius Cicero)