April 30

WHEN a person inquired, how any one might eat acceptably to the gods: If he eats with justice, says Epictetus, and gratitude, and fairly and temperately and decently, must he not also eat acceptably to the gods? And when you call for hot water, and your servant doth not hear you, or, if he doth, brings it only warm; or perhaps is not to be found at home; then not to be angry, or burst with passion, is not this acceptable to the gods?


IN the mind that is once truly disciplined and purged, thou canst not find anything, either foul or impure, or as it were festered: nothing that is either servile, or affected: no partial tie; no malicious averseness; nothing obnoxious; nothing concealed. The life of such an one. Death can never surprise as imperfect; as of an Actor, that should die before he had ended, or the play itself were at an end, a man might speak.



April 29

IT would be best if, both while you are personally making your preparations, and while you are feasting at table, you could give among the servants part of what is before you. But, if such a thing be difficult at that time, remember that you, who are not weary, are attended by those who are; you, who are eating and drinking, by those who are not; you, who are talking, by those who are silent; you, who are at ease, by those who are under constraint; and thus you will never be heated into any unreasonable passion yourself, nor do any mischief by provoking another.



April 28

WHEN we are invited to an entertainment, we take what we find; and if anyone should bid the master of the house set fish or tarts before him, he would be thought absurd. Yet, in the world, we ask the gods for what they do not give us, and that though they have given us so many things.


IN every feast remember that there are two guests to be entertained, the body and the soul ; and that what you give the body you presently lose, but what you give the soul remains for ever.


AGRIPPINUS, when Florus was considering whether he should go to Nero's shows, so as to perform some part in them himself, bid him go. — "But why do not you go then?" says Florus. "Because," replied Agrippinus, "I do not deliberate about it." For he who once sets himself about such considerations, and goes to calculating the worth of external things, approaches very near to those who forget their own character.



April 27

FOR how much are lettuces sold? A halfpenny, for instance. If another, then, paying a halfpenny, takes the lettuces, and you, not paying it, go without them, do not imagine that he hath gained any advantage over you. For as he hath the lettuces, so you have the halfpenny which you did not give. So, in the present case, you have not been invited to such a person's entertainment, because you have not paid him the price for which a supper is sold. It is sold for praise; it is sold for attendance. Give him then the value, if it be for your advantage. But if you would, at the same time, not pay the one and yet receive the other, you are insatiable, and a blockhead. Have you nothing, then, instead of the supper ? Yes, indeed, you have: the not praising him, whom you do not like to praise; the not bearing with his behaviour at coming in.



April 26

IS anyone preferred before you at an entertainment, or in a compliment, or in being admitted to a consultation? If these things are good, you ought to rejoice that he hath got them; and if they are evil, do not be grieved that you have not got them. And remember that you cannot, without using the same means to acquire things not in our own power, expect to be thought worthy of an equal share of them. For how can he who doth not frequent the door of any man, doth not attend him, doth not praise him, have an equal share with him who doth? You are unjust, then, and insatiable, if you are unwilling to pay the price for which these things are sold, and would have them for nothing.



April 25

All the things of the body are as a river, and the things of the soul as a dream and a vapour; and life is a warfare and a pilgrim's sojourn, and fame after death is only forgetfulness.

Thou hast gone aboard, thou hast set sail, thou hast touched land; go ashore; if indeed for another life, there is nothing even there void of Gods; but if to a state of non-sensation, thou shalt cease being at the mercy of pleasure and pain...

The business of life is more akin to wrestling than dancing, for it requires of us to stand ready and unshakable against every assault however unforeseen.


April 24

Can any man hinder you from assenting to the truth? No man can. Can any man compel you to receive what is false? No man can. You see that in this matter you have the faculty of the will free from hindrance, free from compulsion, unimpeded. 

Well then, in the matter of desire and pursuit of an object, is it otherwise? And what can overcome pursuit except for another pursuit? And what can overcome desire and aversion except for another desire and aversion? 

But, you object: “If you place before me the fear of death, you do compel me.” No, it is not what is placed before you that compels, but your opinion that it is better to do so and so than to die. 

In this matter then it is your opinion that compelled you.



April 23

And yet is the artist in the one case like the artist in the other? or the work in the one case like the other? And what work of an artist, for instance, has in itself the faculties, which the artist shows in making it? Is it not marble or bronze, or gold or ivory? and the Athena of Phidias when she has once extended the hand and received in it the figure of Victory stands in that attitude forever. But the works of God have the power of motion, they breathe, they have the faculty of using the appearances of things and the power of examining them. Being the work of such an artist do you dishonour him? And what shall I say, not only that he made you, but also entrusted you to yourself and made you a deposit to yourself? Will you not think of this too, but do you also dishonour your guardianship? But if God had entrusted an orphan to you, would you thus neglect him? He has delivered yourself to your own care, and says, I had no one fitter to entrust him to than yourself: keep him for me such as he is by nature, modest, faithful, erect, unterrified, free from passion and perturbation. And then you do not keep him such.

Epictetus. Discourses. Book ii. §8. ¶3.


April 22

You are carrying about a god with you, and you know it not. Do you think that I mean some God of silver or of gold, and external? You carry him within yourself, and you perceive not that you are polluting him by impure thoughts and dirty deeds.


Have you not God with you? and do you seek for any other, when you have him? or will God tell you anything else than this? If you were a statue of Phidias, either Athena or Zeus, you would think both of yourself and of the artist, and if you had any understanding you would try to do nothing unworthy of him who made you or of yourself, and try not to appear in an unbecoming dress to those who look on you. But now because Zeus has made you, for this reason, do you care not how you shall appear?