Tuesday

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.

MARCUS AURELIUS. MEDITATIONS. ix. 18.

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

Attributed to EPICTETUS.

Monday

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.

Sunday

August 20

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

EPICTETUS. FRAGMENTS. 56.

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.

MARCUS AURELIUS. MEDITATIONS. Book iv. 10.

Saturday

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.

EPICTETUS. FRAGMENTS. 96.

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.

MARCUS AURELIUS. MEDITATIONS. Book viii. 14.

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."

EPICTETUS. FRAGMENTS. 71.

Friday

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. I. 5, 1-2.

Thursday

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.

MARCUS AURELIUS. MEDITATIONS. Book v. 6.

Wednesday

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.

MARCUS AURELIUS. MEDITATIONS. Book vi. 60.

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

MARCUS AURELIUS. MEDITATIONS. Book vi. 25.

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?

MARCUS AURELIUS. MEDITATIONS. Book vii. 43.

Tuesday

August 15

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

EPICTETUS. FRAGMENTS. 34.

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.

EPICTETUS. FRAGMENTS. 35.

TRUTH conquers by itself, opinions by foreign aids.

EPICTETUS. FRAGMENTS. 36.

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.

Monday

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.

Sunday

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.

MARCUS AURELIUS. MEDITATIONS. Book ix. 4.

Saturday

August 12

CHASTISE your passions, that they may not punish you.

EPICTETUS. FRAGMENTS. 4.

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.

MARCUS AURELIUS. MEDITATIONS. Book x. 5.

Friday

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.

MARCUS AURELIUS. MEDITATIONS. Book ix. 40.

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?

MARCUS AURELIUS. MEDITATIONS. Book ix. 43.

Thursday

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.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book i. §15. ¶1.

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.

Wednesday

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.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book i. §25. ¶3.

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.

MARCUS AURELIUS. MEDITATIONS. Book iii. 31.

Tuesday

August 8

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

EPICTETUS. FRAGMENTS. 125.

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.

MARCUS AURELIUS. MEDITATIONS. Book ix. 1.

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.

MARCUS AURELIUS. MEDITATIONS. Book iii. 4.

Monday

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.

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

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.

MARCUS AURELIUS. MEDITATIONS. Book vi. 5, 6.

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

MARCUS AURELIUS. MEDITATIONS. Book ix. 37.

Sunday

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.

MARCUS AURELIUS. MEDITATIONS. Book vi. 16.

Saturday

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.

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

Friday

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?

MARCUS AURELIUS. MEDITATIONS. Book ix. 9.

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.

MARCUS AURELIUS. MEDITATIONS. Book x. 4.

Thursday

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?

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

Wednesday

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.

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

Tuesday

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?

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book ii. §10. ¶4