August 22

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

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

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


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

Attributed to EPICTETUS.


  1. I've been following you for a few weeks via Google Reader. I appreciate you sharing this book with us.

    1 Corinthians 15:33 (New International Version)

    Do not be misled: "Bad company corrupts good character."

    I like the idea of this as a caution, rather than a universal mandate. In my conservative Christian high school, the idea was "don't associate" with those of inferior moral behavior. Here it's a caution to take into account the influence others have on us. I can make a decision to not be swayed, and to endeavor to bring them over to "my" side.

  2. Sorry to post twice, but I fell on a Confucius quote that sort of looks at this from the opposite angle:

    Go before the people with your example, and be laborious in their affairs.

  3. Excellent comments both Julia, thanks!

  4. With whom we decide to share the journey depends on one's own moral strength. The reason why to practice virtue is not so much a matter of making the road be pleasant, I think, as to make it safe - safe for oneself, safe for everybody else and safe for the whole of nature...