July 12

OLYMPIAN ZEUS doth not lift up his brow, but keeps a steady countenance, as becomes him who is about to say—

“The immutable decree No force can shake: what is, that ought to be."


“Such will I show myself to you: faithful, modest, noble, tranquil."—What, and immortal too, and exempt from age and sickness?—"No. But sickening and dying as becomes a god. This is in my power; this I can do. The other is not in my power, nor can I do it." Shall I show you the sinews of a philosopher?

What are they ?

A desire undisappointed: an aversion unincurred: pursuits duly exerted: a careful resolution: an unerring assent. These you shall see.



July 11

A MAN must know many things first, before he be able truly and judiciously to judge of another man's action.


IF anyone tells you that such a person speaks ill of you, do not make excuses about what is said of you, but answer : "He doth not know my other faults, else he would not have mentioned only these."


OUT of Antisthenes. "It is a princely thing to do well, and to be ill spoken of. It is a shameful thing that the face should be subject unto the mind, to be put into what shape it will, and to be dressed by it as it will ; and that the mind should not bestow so much care upon herself, as to fashion herself, and to dress herself as best becometh her."



July 10

IF you would be good, first believe that you are bad.


WHAT is it then that doth keep thee here, if things sensible be so mutable and unsettled? and the senses so obscure, and so fallible? and our souls nothing but an exhalation of blood ? and to be in credit among such, be but vanity? What is it that thou dost stay for? an Extinction, or a Translation; either of them with a propitious and contented mind. But till that time come, what will content thee? what else, but to worship and praise the Gods; and to do good unto men. To bear with them, and to forbear to do them any wrong. And for all external things belonging either to this thy wretched body, or life, to remember that they are neither thine, nor in thy power.



July 9

IF in this kind of life thy body be able to hold out, it is a shame that thy soul should faint first, and give over. Take heed lest of a philosopher thou become a mere Caesar in time, and receive a new tincture from the Court. For it may happen if thou dost not take heed. Keep thyself, therefore, truly simple, good, sincere, grave, free from all ostentation, a lover of that which is just, religious, kind, tender-hearted, strong and vigorous to undergo anything that becomes thee.


DEATH is a cessation from the impressions of the senses, the tyranny of the passions, the errors of the mind, and the servitude of the body.



July 8

WHY, then, are you anxious? Why do you keep yourself waking? Why do not you calculate where your good and evil lies; and say they are both in my own power, neither can any deprive me of the one, or involve me, against my will, in the other? Why, then, do not I lay myself down and snore? What is my own is safe. Let what belongs to others look to itself who carries it off, how it is given away by him that hath the disposal of it. Who am I, to will that it should be so and so? For is the option given to me? Hath anyone made me the dispenser of it? What I have in my own disposal is enough for me. I must make the best I can of this. Other things must be as the master of them pleases.



July 7

EVERY place is safe to him who lives with justice.


SO live as indifferent to the world, and all worldly objects, as one who liveth by himself alone upon some desert hill. For whether here, or there, if the whole world be but as one Town, it matters not much for the place.


WHATSOEVER doth happen in the world, doth happen justly, and so if thou dost well take heed, thou shalt find it. I say not only in right order by a series of inevitable consequences, but according to Justice and as it were by way of equal distribution, according to the true worth of everything. Continue then to take notice of it, as thou hast begun, and whatsoever thou doest, do it not without this proviso, that it be a thing of that nature that a good man, (as the word good is properly taken) may do it. This observe carefully in every action.



July 6

LET not the general representation unto thyself of the wretchedness of this our mortal life, trouble thee. Let not thy mind wander up and down, and heap together in her thoughts, the many troubles and grievous calamities which thou art as subject unto as any other. But as everything in particular doth happen, put this question unto thyself, and say ; What is it that in this present matter, seems unto thee so intolerable? For thou wilt be ashamed to confess it. Then upon this presently call to mind, that neither that which is future, nor that which is past can hurt thee; but that only which is present. (And that also is much lessened, if thou dost rightly circumscribe it!) and then check thy mind if for so little a while, (a mere instant) it cannot hold out with patience.



July 5

LET not him think he is loved by any who loves none.

Attributed to EPICTETUS.

DEATH hangs over thee: whilst thou livest, whilst thou mayest, be good.


LOOK not about upon the evil conditions of others, but run on straight in the line.


WHAT you avoid suffering yourself, attempt not to impose on others.


COMMUNICATE to strangers and persons in need, according to your ability. For he who gives nothing to the needy, shall receive nothing in his own need.



July 4

"WE would live immediately as men already wise, and be of service to mankind."—Of what service? What are you doing? Why, have you been of service to yourself? "But you would exhort them." You exhort! Would you be of service to them, show them, by your own example, what kind of men philosophy makes, and be not impertinent. When you eat, be of service to those who eat with you; when you drink, to those who drink with you. Be of service to them, by giving way to all, yielding to them, bearing with them; and not by throwing out your own ill humour upon them.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book iii. §13. ¶3

THERE is, who without so much as a Coat; and there is, who without so much as a book, doth put philosophy in practice. I am half naked, neither have I bread to eat, and yet I depart not from Reason, saith one. But I say; I want the food of good teaching, and instructions, and yet I depart not from Reason.



July 3

IF a person drinks water, or doth anything else for the sake of exercise, upon every occasion he tells all he meets, "I drink water." Why, do you drink water merely for the sake of drinking it? If it doth you any good to drink it, drink it; if not, you act ridiculously. But, if it is for your advantage, and you drink it, say nothing about it before those who are apt to take offence. What then? These are the very people you wish to please.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book iii. §14. ¶2

WHAT art, and profession soever thou hast learned, endeavour to affect it, and comfort thyself in it ; and pass the remainder of thy life as one who from his whole heart commits himself and whatsoever belongs unto him, unto the gods, and as for men, carry not thyself either tyrannically or servilely towards any.



July 2

AS WE ought, however, to be prepared in some manner for this also, to be self-sufficient and able to bear our own company. For as Jupiter converses with himself, acquiesces in himself, and contemplates his own administration, and is employed in thoughts worthy of himself: so should we too be able to talk with ourselves, and not to need the conversation of others, nor be at a loss for employment; to attend to the divine administration ; to consider our relation to other beings; how we have formerly been affected by events, how we are affected now; what are the things that still press upon us, how these too may be cured, how removed; if anything wants completing, to complete it according to reason.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book iii. §13. ¶1


July 1

AS bad performers cannot sing alone but in a chorus, so some persons cannot walk alone. If you are anything, walk alone, talk by yourself, and do not skulk in the chorus. Think a little at last; look about you, sift yourself, that you may know what you are.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book iii. §14. ¶1

THOU art now ready to die, and yet hast thou not attained to that perfect simplicity: thou art yet subject to many troubles, and perturbations; not yet free from all fear and suspicion of external accidents; nor yet either so meekly disposed towards all men, as thou shouldst; or so affected as one, whose only study, and only wisdom is, to be just in all his actions.



April 21

"CAN you show us, then, in what manner you have taken care of this soul? For it is not probable that a person of your wisdom, and approved character in the State, should carelessly suffer the most excellent thing that belongs to you to be neglected and lost." — "No, certainly." "But do you take care of it yourself? And is it by the instructions of another, or by your own discovery how it ought to be done?" Here now comes the danger, that he may first say. "Pray, good sir, what business is that of yours? What are you to me?" Then, if you persist to trouble him, he may lift up his hand and give you a box on the ear. I myself was once a great admirer of this method of instruction, till I fell into such kind of adventures.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book ii. §12. ¶1.


April 20

"PRAY, sir, can you tell me to whom you entrust your horses?" — "Yes, certainly." "Is it, then, to anyone indifferently, though he be ignorant of horsemanship?" — "By no means." "To whom do you entrust your gold, or your silver, or your clothes?" — "Not to anyone indifferently." "And did you ever consider to whom you committed the care of your body?" — "Yes, surely." "To one skilled in exercise, or medicine, I suppose?" — " Without doubt." " Are these things your chief good; or are you possessed of something better than all of them?" — "What do you mean?" "Something which makes use of these, and proves and deliberates about each of them ?" — "What then, do you mean the soul?" "You have guessed right; for indeed I do mean that." — "I do really think it a much better possession than all the rest."

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book ii. §12. ¶1.


April 19

"They are mad, who make no account of riches, health, freedom from pain, and integrity of the body, nor take any care to attain them."

Seneca's Epistles, cxxiii, sec. 3.

"The wise man will not love wealth, but yet he will prefer to have it. He will receive it into his house, though not into his heart, not rejecting it, but controlling it, and willing to have larger opportunities for virtue."

Pliny's Epistles, vi, book i, sec. 2.

"In poverty there can be no virtues but perseverance and self-respect, but wealth gives a free field for temperance, generosity, economy, industry, and magnanimity."

Chrysippus, quoted in Plutarch's Morals, Goodwin's Ed., vol. iv, p. 437.


April 18

THERE will come a day when the passage of time and the efforts of a longer stretch of human history will bring to light things that are now obscure... There will come a day when our descendants are astonished that we did not know such obvious facts.

SENECA. Natural Questions. Book vii. §25. ¶4-5.


April 17

THE people of a future age will know much that is unknown to us; much is being kept for the generations to come after memory of us has faded away. The world is a paltry thing unless it contains something for every age to discover.



April 16

AS a traveller inquires the road of the person he meets, without any desire for that which turns to the right hand, more than to the left; for he wishes for neither of these, but that only which leads him properly. Thus we should come to God as to a guide. Just as we make use of our eyes, not persuading them to show us one object rather than another, but receiving such as they present to us. But now we hold the bird with fear and trembling, and, in our invocations to God, entreat Him, "Lord, have mercy upon me: suffer me to come off safe." You wretch! would you have anything, then, but what is best? And what is best, but what pleases God? Why do you, as far as in you lies, corrupt your judge and seduce your adviser?



April 15

WHAT use is there of suspicion at all? or, why should thoughts of mistrust, and suspicion concerning that which is future, trouble thy mind at all? What now is to be done, if thou mayest search and inquire into that, what needs thou care for more? And if thou art well able to perceive it alone, let no man divert thee from it. But if alone thou dost not so well perceive it, suspend thine action, and take advice from the best. And if there be anything else that doth hinder thee, go on with prudence and discretion, according to the present occasion and opportunity, still proposing that unto thyself, which thou dost conceive most right and just. For to hit that aright, and to speed in the prosecution of it, must needs be happiness, since it is that only which we can truly and properly be said to miss of, or, miscarry in.



April 14

FROM an unseasonable regard to divination, we omit many duties. For what can the diviner see, besides death, or danger, or sickness, or, in short, things of this kind? When it is necessary, then, to expose oneself to danger for a friend, or even a duty to die for him, what occasion have I for divination? Have not I a diviner within, who hath told me the essence of good and evil, and who explains to me the indications of both? What further need, then, have I of the entrails of victims, or the flight of birds!



April 13

IF anyone comes and tells you, that in a dispute which was the best of the philosophers, one of the company said that such a one was the only philosopher, that little soul of yours grows to the size of two cubits, instead of an inch; but if another should come and say, "You are mistaken, he is not worth hearing, for what doth he know? He hath the first rudiments, but nothing more," you are thunderstruck; you presently turn pale and cry out, "I will show him what a man, and how great a philosopher, I am." It is evident what you are by these very things; why do you aim to show it by others? Do not you know that Diogenes showed some sophist in this manner by extending his middle finger; and, when he was mad with rage, This, says Diogenes, is he; I have showed him to you. For a man is not shown in the same sense as a stone, or a piece of wood, by the finger; but whoever shows his principles, shows him as a man.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book iii. §2. ¶4.


April 12

HENCE he who is thus qualified is neither impertinent nor a busybody, for he is not busied about the affairs of others, but his own, when he oversees the transactions of men. Otherwise say that a general is a busybody when he oversees, examines, and watches his soldiers, and punishes the disorderly. But if you reprove others at the very time that you have a cake under your own arm, I will ask you: Had you not better, sir, go into a corner and eat up what you have stolen? But what have you to do with the concerns of others? For what are you? Are you the bull in the herd, or the queen of the bees? Show me such ensigns of empire as she hath from nature. But, if you are a drone, and arrogate to yourself the kingdom of the bees, do not you think that your fellow-citizens will drive you out, just as the bees do the drones?

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book iii. §22. ¶15.


April 11

BUT above all, the ruling faculty of a Cynic must be purer than the sun, otherwise he must necessarily be a common cheat, and a rascal, if, while he is guilty of some vice himself, he reproves others. For, consider how the case stands. Arms and guards give a power to common kings and tyrants of reproving and of punishing delinquents, though they are wicked themselves; but to a Cynic, instead of arms and guards, conscience gives this power, when he knows that he hath watched and laboured for mankind; that he hath slept pure, and waked still purer; and that he hath regulated all his thoughts as the friend, as the minister of the gods, as a partner of the empire of Jupiter; that he is ready to say upon all occasions.

Conduct me, Jove; and thou, O Destiny.

And, "If it thus pleases the gods, thus let it be." Why should he not dare to speak boldly to his own brethren, to his children; in a word, to his kindred?

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book iii. §22. ¶13.


April 10

A CYNIC must besides have so much patience as to seem insensible and a stone to the vulgar. No one reviles, no one beats, no one affronts him; but he hath surrendered his body to be treated at pleasure by anyone who will. For he remembers that the inferior, in whatever instance it is the inferior, must be conquered by the superior, and the body is inferior to the multitude, the weaker to the stronger. He never therefore enters into a combat where he can be conquered, but immediately gives up what belongs to others; he doth not claim what is slavish and dependent; but, where choice and the use of the Appearances are concerned, you will see that he hath so many eyes, you would say Argos was blind to him. Is his assent ever precipitate? His pursuits ever rash? His desire ever disappointed? His aversion ever incurred? His intention ever fruitless? Is he ever querulous, ever dejected, ever envious? Here lies all his attention and application. With regard to other things, he snores supine. All is peace. There is no robber, no tyrant of the choice.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book iii. §22. ¶14.


April 9

SHOW me one who is sick, and happy; in danger, and happy; dying, and happy; exiled, and happy; disgraced, and happy. Show him me, for, by heaven, I long to see a Stoic. But (you will say) you have not one perfectly formed. Show me, then, one who is forming, one who is approaching towards this character. Do me this favour. Do not refuse an old man a sight which he hath never yet seen. Let any of you show me a human soul, willing to have the same sentiments with those of God, not to accuse either God or man, not to be disappointed of its desire, or incur its aversion, not to be angry, not to be envious, not to be jealous, in a word, willing from a man to become a God, and, in this poor mortal body, aiming to have fellowship with Jupiter. Show him to me. But you cannot. Why, then, do you impose upon yourselves, and play tricks with others?

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book ii. §19. ¶3.


April 8

OBSERVE yourselves in your actions, and you will find of what sect you are. You will find that most of you are Epicureans, a few Peripatetics, and those but loose ones. For, by what action will you prove that you think virtue equal, and even superior, to all other things? Show me a Stoic if you have one. Where? Or how should you? You can show, indeed, a thousand who repeat the Stoic reasonings. But do they repeat the Epicurean worse! Are they not just as perfect in the Peripatetic? Who, then, is a Stoic? As we call that a Phidian statue, which is formed according to the art of Phidias, so show me some one person, formed according to the principles which he professes.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book ii. §19. ¶3.


April 7

"AND why did he speak?"

You may as well ask, Why was he Apollo, why doth he deliver oracles, why hath he placed himself in such a post as a prophet and the fountain of truth, to whom the inhabitants of the world should resort? Why is Know Thyself inscribed on the front of his temple, when no one minds it?

Did Socrates prevail on all who came to him, to take care of themselves? Not on the thousandth part; but however, being, as he himself declares, divinely appointed to such a post, he never deserted it. What doth he say even to the judges?

 "If you would acquit me, on condition that I should no longer act as 1 do now, I will not accept it, nor desist, but I will accost all I meet, whether young or old, and interrogate them just in the same manner, but particularly you, my fellow-citizens, as you are more nearly related to me."

"Are you so curious and officious, Socrates? What is it to you how we act?" —

"What do you say? While you are of the same community, and the same kindred with me, shall you be careless of yourself, and show yourself a bad citizen to the city, a bad kinsman to your kindred, and a bad neighbour to your neighbourhood?"

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book iii. §1. ¶3, 4.


April 6

TO judge of reasonable and unreasonable, we make use not only of a due estimation of things without us, but of what relates to each person's particular character. Thus, it is reasonable for one man to submit to a dirty disgraceful office, who considers this only, that if he does not submit to it he shall be whipped, and lose his dinner; but if he does, that he has nothing hard or disagreeable to suffer : whereas to another it appears insupportable, not only to submit to such an office himself, but to bear with anyone else who does. If you ask me, then, whether you shall do this dirty office or not, I will tell you, it is a more valuable thing to get a dinner, than not; and a greater disgrace to be whipped than not to be whipped : so that, if you measure yourself by these things, go and do your office.

"Ay, but this is not suitable to my character."

It is you who are to consider that, not I: for it is you who know yourself, what value you set upon yourself, and at what rate you sell yourself: for different people sell themselves at different prices.



April 5

AS thou thyself, whoever thou art, wert made for the perfection and consummation, being a member of it, of a common society; so must every action of thine tend to the perfection and consummation of a life that is truly sociable. What action soever of thine therefore that either immediately or afar off, hath not reference to the common good, that is an exorbitant, and disorderly action; yea it is seditious; as one among the people who from such and such a consent and unity, should factiously divide and separate himself.


THERE is but one light of the sun, though it be intercepted by walls and mountains, and other thousand objects. There is but one common soul, though divided into innumerable particular essences and natures.



April 4

DO not you know what sort of a thing a warfare is? One must keep guard, another go out for a spy, another to battle too. It is neither possible that all should be in the same place, nor, indeed, better: but you, neglecting to perform the orders of your general, complain whenever anything a little hard is commanded, and do not consider what you make the army become as far as lies in your power. For, if all should imitate you, nobody will dig a trench, or throw up a rampart, or watch, or expose himself to danger; but everyone will appear useless to the expedition. Again, if you were a sailor in a voyage, fix upon one place, and there remain. If it should be necessary to climb the mast, refuse to do it; if to run to the head of the ship, refuse to do it. And what captain will bear you? Would not he throw you overboard as a useless piece of goods and mere luggage, and a bad example to the other sailors? Thus, also, in the present case, every one's life is a warfare, and that long and various. You must observe the duty of a soldier, and perform everything at the nod of your general; and even, if possible, divine what he would have done.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book iii. §24. ¶2.


April 3

WHATSOEVER I do either by myself, or with some other, the only thing that I must intend, is that it be good and expedient for the public. For as for praise, consider how many who once were much commended, are now already quite forgotten; yea they that commended them, how even they themselves are long since dead and gone.


SHOULD I do it? I will: so the end of my action be, to do good unto men. Doth anything by way of cross or adversity happen unto me? I accept it, with reference unto the gods and their providence; the fountain of all things, from which whatsoever comes to pass doth hang and depend.



April 2

HAVE the very leaves, and our own bodies, this connection and sympathy with the whole, and have not our souls much more? But our souls are thus connected and intimately joined to God, as being indeed members and distinct portions of His essence.


GOD hath universally so constituted the nature of every reasonable creature, that no one can attain any of its own proper advantages without contributing something to the use of society.


SOONER mayest thou find a thing earthly, where no earthly thing is, than find a man that naturally can live by himself alone.



April 1

IN all vice, pleasure being presented with a bait, draws sensual minds to the hook of perdition.


REPENTANCE, is an inward and self-reprehension for the neglect or omission of somewhat that was profitable. Now whatsoever is good, is also profitable, and it is the part of an honest virtuous man to set by it, and to make reckoning of it accordingly. But never did any honest virtuous man repent of the neglect or omission of any carnal pleasure: no carnal pleasure then is either good or profitable.


IT is the character of a wise man to resist pleasure, and of a fool to be enslaved by it.