May 18

DIOGENES used to say, "Ever since Antisthenes made me free, I have ceased to be a slave." How did he make him free? Hear what he says. “He taught me what was my own, and what not. An estate is not my own. Kindred, domestics, friends, reputation, familiar places, manner of life, all belong to another."

"What is your own, then?"

"The use of the appearances of things. He showed me that I have this, not subject to restraint or compulsion; no one can hinder or force me to use them any otherwise than I please. Who, then, after this, hath any power over me? Philip, or Alexander, or Perdiccas, or the Persian king? Whence should they have it? For he that is to be subdued by man must, long before, be subdued by things. He, therefore, of whom neither pleasure nor pain, nor fame nor riches, can get the better, and who is able, whenever he thinks fit, to throw away his whole body with contempt, and depart, whose slave can he ever be?"



  1. This is one of the key principles of Stoicism, that no one controls a person without their consent. For the body and all external things we never under our control, merely our influence.

  2. Wow... the materialism of our society takes a huge hit! How true this is... we have all been owned by our things and need to purchase or maintain our possessions. Personal freedom is sacrificed for the ownership of things, etc.

  3. Ah a couple of years later and I have to say that this is even more apparent in my life. I can honestly say that in following this principle I have failed lately. I have acquired some nice things and now I must work to pay for them and no longer have the same freedom I had last year to maintain our household and lifestyle as we wished.

    Sometimes our lessons that we learn are painful.

  4. We do not own things. When we try to possess things, we are actually possessed by them. And moreover, we are subject to the people and forces that control the things we think we own. For he that is to be subdued by man must, long before, be subdued by things. - Lessons from Epictetus

  5. It is somewhat disheartening to know that our society is built around making and keeping us slaves of one kind or another. The only hope of changing that for the whole is to recognize it and work to change it in ourselves.

  6. Well said Scott. Take heart, though, each of us is making a bit of a difference as we learn the Stoic way.