Friday

May 24

STUDY these points, these principles, these discourses, contemplate these examples, if you would be free, if you desire the thing in proportion to its value. And where is the wonder that you should purchase so great a thing at the price of others, so many, and so great? Some hang themselves, others break their necks, and sometimes even whole cities have been destroyed, for that which is reputed freedom; and will not you, for the sake of the true and secure and inviolable freedom, repay God what He hath given when He demands it? Will you not study, not only as Plato says, to die, but to be tortured and banished and scourged, and, in short, to give up all that belongs to others? If not, you will be a slave among slaves, though you were ten thousand times a consul; and, even though you should rise to the palace, you will be nevertheless so. And you will feel that though philosophers (as Cleanthes says) do, perhaps, talk contrary to common opinion, yet not contrary to reason. For you will find it true, in fact, that the things that are eagerly followed and admired are of no use to those who have gained them; while they who have not yet gained them imagine that, if they are acquired, every good will come along with them; and then, when they are acquired, there is the same feverishness, the same agitation, the same nauseating, and the same desire of what is absent.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book iv. §1, ¶19.

Thursday

May 23

HE is free who lives as he likes; who is not subject either to compulsion, to restraint, or to violence; whose pursuits are unhindered, his desires successful, his aversions unincurred. Who, then, would wish to lead a wrong course of life? — "No one." Who would live deceived, prone to mistake, unjust, dissolute, discontented, dejected? — "No one." No wicked man, then, lives as he likes; therefore neither is he free. And who would live in sorrow, fear, envy, pity; with disappointed desires, and incurred aversions? — "No one." Do we then find any of the wicked exempt from sorrow, fear, disappointed desires, incurred aversions?—"Not one." Consequently, then, not free.

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

Wednesday

May 22

THE man who is unrestrained, who hath all things in his power as he wills, is free; but he who may be restrained, or compelled, or hindered, or thrown into any condition against his will, is a slave. "And who is unrestrained?" — He that desires none of those things that belong to others. "And what are those things which belong to others?" — Those which are not in our own power, either to have or not to have.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book iv. §1, ¶14.

THE things themselves (which either to get or to avoid thou art put to so much trouble) come not unto thee themselves; but thou in a manner goest unto them. Let then thine own judgment and opinion concerning those things be at rest; and as for the things themselves, they stand still and quiet, without any noise or stir at all; and so shall all pursuing and flying cease.

MARCUS AURELIUS. MEDITATIONS. Book xi. 10.

Tuesday

May 21

FREEDOM is the name of virtue ; and slavery, of vice.

EPICTETUS. FRAGMENTS. 7.

NO one is free, who doth not command himself.

E. F. 109.

WHAT is wickedness? It is that which many times and often thou hast already seen and known in the world. And so oft as anything doth happen that might otherwise trouble thee, let this memento presently come to thy mind, that it is that which thou hast already often seen and known. Generally, above and below, thou shalt find but the same things. The very same things whereof ancient stories, middle-age stories, and fresh stories are full: whereof towns are full, and houses full. There is nothing that is new. All things that are, are both usual and of little continuance.

MARCUS AURELIUS. MEDITATIONS. Book ii. I.

Monday

May 20

CEASE to make yourselves slaves, first of things, and then upon their account, of the men who have the power either to bestow or take them away. Is there any advantage then to be gained from these men? From all, even from a reviler. What advantage doth a wrestler gain from him with whom he exercises himself, before the combat? The greatest. Why, just in the same manner I exercise myself with this man. He exercises me in patience, in gentleness, in meekness. Is my neighbour a bad one? He is so to himself; but a good one to me. He exercises my good temper, my moderation. Is my father bad? To himself, but not to me. "This is the rod of Hermes. Touch with it whatever you please, and it will become gold." No; but bring whatever you please, and I will turn it into good. Bring sickness, death, want, reproach, capital trial. All these, by the rod of Hermes, shall turn to advantage.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book iii. 20, 1.

Sunday

May 19

WE will allow those creatures only to be free who do not endure captivity; but, as soon as they are taken, die, and escape. Thus Diogenes somewhere says, that the only way to freedom is to die with ease. And he writes to the Persian king, “You can no more enslave the Athenians than you can fish." — "How? What, shall not I take them?" — "If you do take them," says he, " they will leave you, and be gone like fish. For take a fish, and it dies. And, if the Athenians too die as soon as you have taken them, of what use are your warlike preparations?” This is the voice of a free man, who had examined the matter in earnest, and, as it might be expected, found it out. But, if you seek it where it is not, what wonder if you never find it?

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book iv. I, 6.

Saturday

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?"

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book iii. 23, 4.

Friday

May 17

PRISCUS HELVIDIUS, when Vespasian had sent to forbid his going to the senate, answered, "It is in your power to prevent my continuing a senator; but while I am one, I must go." "Well then, at least be silent there."—" Do not ask my opinion, and I will be silent."—"But I must ask it."—" And I must speak what appears to me to be right."—"But if you do, I will put you to death."—" Did I ever tell you that I was immortal? You will do your part, and I mine: It is yours to kill, and mine to die intrepid; yours to banish me, mine to depart untroubled."
What good, then, did Priscus do, who was but a single person? Why what good does the purple do to the garment? What but the being a shining character in himself, and setting a good example to others? Another, perhaps, if in such circumstances Caesar had forbidden his going to the senate, would have answered, “I am obliged to you for excusing me." But such a one he would not have forbidden to go, well knowing that he would either sit like a statue, or, if he spoke, he would say what he knew to be agreeable to Caesar, and would overdo it by adding still more.
EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book i. 2, 4, 5.

Thursday

May 16

I WOULD be the purple, that small and shining thing, which gives a lustre and beauty to the rest.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book i. 2, 3.

FOR as for him who is the Administrator of all, he will make good use of thee whether thou wilt or no, and make thee (as a part and member of the whole) so to co-operate with him, that whatsoever thou doest, shall turn to the furtherance of his own counsels, and resolutions. But be not thou for shame such a part of the whole, as that vile and ridiculous verse (which Chrysippus in a place doth mention) is a part of the Comedy.

MARCUS AURELIUS. MEDITATIONS. Book vi. 37.

PAY in, before you are called upon, what is due to the public, and you will never be asked for what is not due.

EPICTETUS. FRAGMENTS. 72.

Wednesday

May 15

IS freedom anything else than the power of living as we like?

Nothing else.

Well tell me, then, do you like to live in error?

We do not. No one, sure, that lives in error is free.

Do you like to live in fear? Do you like to live in sorrow? Do you like to live in perturbation?

By no means.

No one, therefore, in a state of fear, or sorrow, or perturbation, is free; but whoever is delivered from sorrow, fear, and perturbation, by the same means is delivered likewise from slavery.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book ii. §I, ¶4.

Tuesday

May 14

WHO is it that hath fitted the sword to the scabbard, and the scabbard to the sword? Is it no one? From the very construction of a complete work, we are used to declare positively, that it must be the operation of some artificer, and not the effect of mere chance. Doth every such work, then, demonstrate an artificer; and do not visible objects, and the sense of seeing, and Light, demonstrate one?

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book i. §6, ¶2.

SEE the practice of those who play skilfully at ball. No one contends for the ball, as either a good or an evil; but how he may throw and catch it again. Here lies the address, here the art, the nimbleness, the sagacity; that I may not be able to catch it, even if I hold up my lap for it; another may catch it whenever I throw it. But if we catch or throw it with fear or perturbation, what kind of play will this be? How shall we keep ourselves steady; or how see the order of the game? One will say, Throw; another, Do not throw; a third, You have thrown once already. This is a mere quarrel, not a play.

E. D. ii. 5, 3.

Monday

May 13

REMEMBER that you must behave in life as at an entertainment. Is anything brought round to you? Put out your hand and take your share with moderation. Doth it pass by you? Do not stop it. Is it not yet come? Do not stretch forth your desire towards it, but wait till it reaches you.

EPICTETUS. MANUAL. 15.

LET death and exile, and all other things which appear terrible, be daily before your eyes, but chiefly death, and you will never entertain any abject thought, nor too eagerly covet anything.

E. M. 21.

AT a feast, to choose the largest share is very suitable to the bodily appetite, but utterly inconsistent with the social spirit of an entertainment. When you eat with another, then, remember not only the value of those things which are set before you to the body, but the value of that behaviour which ought to be observed towards the person who gives the entertainment.

E. M. 36.

Sunday

May 12

IF you would have your house securely inhabited, imitate the Spartan Lycurgus. And as he did not enclose his city with walls, but fortified the inhabitants with virtue, and preserved the city always free, so you do likewise; not surround yourself with a great courtyard, nor raise high towers, but strengthen those that live with you by benevolence and fidelity and friendship. And thus nothing hurtful will enter, even if the whole band of wickedness was set in array against it.

EPICTETUS. FRAGMENTS. 40.

THERE is nothing more shameful than perfidious friendship.

MARCUS AURELIUS. MEDITATIONS. Book xi. 7.

HE is the master of every other person who is able to confer or remove whatever that person wishes to have or to avoid. Whoever then would be free, let him wish nothing, let him decline nothing, which depends on others, else he must necessarily be a slave.

EPICTETUS. MANUAL. 14.

Saturday

May 11

DO not say to what excels, Who are you? If you do, it will, somehow or other, find a voice to tell you, "I am like the purple thread in a garment. Do not expect me to be like the rest, or find fault with my nature, which hath distinguished me from others."

What then, am I such a one? How should I? Indeed, are you such a one as to be able to hear the truth? I wish you were. But, however, since I am condemned to wear a grey beard and a cloak, and you come to me as to a philosopher, I will not treat you cruelly, nor as if I despaired of you, but will ask you—Whom is it, young man, whom you would render beautiful? Know first who you are, and then adorn yourself accordingly. You are a man ; that is, a mortal animal, capable of a rational use of the appearances of things. And what is this rational use? A perfect conformity to nature. What have you then particularly excellent? Is it the animal part? No. The mortal? No. That which is capable of the use of the appearances of things? No. The excellence lies in the rational part. Adorn and beautify this, but leave your hair to him who formed it, as he thought good.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book iii. §1. ¶4, 5.

Friday

May 10

DO you think you deserve to have an unpleasant odour? Be it so. But do those deserve to suffer by it who sit near you, who are placed at table with you, who salute you? Either go into a desert, as you deserve, or live solitary at home, and smell yourself; for it is fit you should enjoy your nastiness alone. But to what sort of character doth it belong to live in a city, and behave so carelessly and inconsiderately? If nature had trusted even a horse to your care, would you have overlooked and neglected him? Now, consider your body as committed to you instead of a horse. Wash it, rub it, take care that it may not be anyone's aversion, nor disgust anyone. Who is not more disgusted at a stinking, unwholesome-looking sloven, than at a person who hath been rolled in filth? The stench of the one is adventitious from without, but that which arises from want of care is a kind of inward putrefaction.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book iv. §11. ¶3.

Thursday

May 9

WHAT, then, would anybody have you dress yourself out to the utmost? By no means, except in those things where our nature requires it; in reason, principles, actions; but, in our persons, only as far as neatness, as far as not to give offence. But if you hear that it is not right to wear purple, you must go, I suppose, and roll your cloak in the mud, or tear it.— "But where should I have a fine cloak?" — You have water, man; wash it. "What an amiable youth is here! How worthy this old man to love and be loved!" — A fit person to be trusted with the instruction of our sons and daughters, and attended by young people, as occasion may require — to read them lectures on a dunghill! Every deviation proceeds from something human, but this approaches very nearly towards being not human.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book iv. §11. ¶5.

Wednesday

May 8

USE thyself even unto those things that thou dost at first despair of. For the left hand we see, which for the most part lieth idle because not used; yet doth it hold the bridle with more strength than the right, because it hath been used unto it.

MARCUS AURELIUS. MEDITATIONS. Book xii. 5.

REMEMBER that you are an actor in a drama, of such a kind as the author pleases to make it. If short, of a short one; if long, of a long one. If it be his pleasure you should act a poor man, a cripple, a governor, or a private person, see that you act it naturally. For this is your business, to act well the character assigned you; to choose it, is another's.

EPICTETUS. MANUAL. 17.

Tuesday

May 7

WILL this querulousness, this murmuring, this complaining and dissembling never be at an end? What, then, is it that troubleth thee? Doth any new thing happen unto thee? What dost thou so wonder at ? At the cause, or the matter? Behold either by itself, is either of that weight and moment indeed? And besides these, there is not anything. But thy duty towards the 'gods also, it is time that thou shouldst acquit thyself of it with more goodness and simplicity.

MARCUS AURELIUS. MEDITATIONS. Book ix. 35.

MANY of those things that trouble and straighten thee, it is in thy power to cut off, as wholly depending from mere conceit and opinion, and then thou shalt have room enough.

MARCUS AURELIUS. MEDITATIONS. Book ix. 3.

Monday

May 6

ONLY give any of us that you please some illiterate person for an antagonist, and he will not find out how to treat him. But when he hath a little moved the man, if he happens to answer beside the purpose, he knows not how to deal with him any further; but either reviles or laughs at him, and says, "He is an illiterate fellow; there is no making anything of him." Yet a guide, when he perceives his charge going out of the way, doth not revile and ridicule and then leave him; but leads him into the right path. Do you also show your antagonist the truth, and you will see that he will follow. But till you do show it, do not ridicule him; but rather be sensible of your own incapacity.

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

Sunday

May 5

WHEN children come to us clapping their hands and saying: "To-morrow is the good feast of Saturn," do we tell them that good doth not consist in such things? By no means: but we clap our hands along with them. Thus, when you are unable to convince anyone, consider him as a child, and clap your hands with him; or if you will not do that, at least hold your tongue.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book i. §29. ¶5.

I ONCE saw a person weeping and embracing the knees of Epaphroditus, and deploring his hard fortune that he had not £50,000 left. What said Epaphroditus, then? Did he laugh at him, as we should do? No; but cried out with astonishment: "Poor man! How could you be silent? How could you bear it?"

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book i. §26. ¶2.

Saturday

May 4

MY friend Heraclitus, in a trifling suit about a little estate at Rhodes, after having proved to the judges that his cause was good, when he came to the conclusion of his speech, "I will not entreat you," says he, "nor care what judgment you give: for it is rather you who are to be judged than I." And thus he lost his suit. What need was there of this? Be content not to entreat: do not tell them, too, that you will not entreat, unless it be a proper time to provoke the judges designedly, as in the case of Socrates. But if you too are preparing such a speech, what do you wait for? Why do you submit to be tried? For if you wish to be hanged, have patience, and the gibbet will come. But if you choose rather to submit, and make your defence as well as you can, all the rest is to be ordered accordingly: with a due regard, however, to the preservation of your own character.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book ii. §2. ¶3.

Friday

May 3

WHAT are you doing, man? You contradict yourself every day, and yet you will not give up these paltry cavils. When you eat, where do you carry your hand? To your mouth, or to your eye? When you bathe, where do you go? Do you ever call a kettle a dish; or a spoon a spit? If I were a servant to one of these gentlemen, were it at the hazard of being flayed every day, I would plague him. "Throw some oil into the bath, boy." I would take pickle and pour upon his head. "What is this?" Really, sir, an appearance struck me so perfectly alike, as not to be distinguished from oil. "Give me the soup." I would carry him a dish full of vinegar. "Did not I ask for the soup?" Yes, sir, this is the soup. "Is not this vinegar?" Why so, more than soup? "Take it and smell to it; take it and taste it." How do you know, then, but our senses deceive us? If I had three or four fellow-servants to join with me, I would make him either choke with passion and burst, or change his opinions. But now they insult us by making use of the gifts of nature, while in words they destroy them. Grateful and modest men, truly!

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book ii. §20. ¶6.

Thursday

May 2

I MAY be at a loss, perhaps, to give a reason how sensation is performed; whether it be diffused universally, or reside in a particular part; for I find difficulties that shock me in each case; but, that you and I are not the same person, I very exactly know.

How so?

Why, I never, when I have a mind to swallow anything, carry it to your mouth, but my own. I never, when I wanted to take a loaf, took a brush; but went directly to the loaf, as fit to answer my purpose. And do you yourselves, who deny all evidence of the senses, act any otherwise ? Who of you, when he intended to go into a bath, ever went into a mill?

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book i. §27. ¶2.

Wednesday

May 1

IN parties of conversation, avoid a frequent and excessive mention of your own actions and dangers. For, however agreeable it may be to yourself to mention the risks you have run, it is not equally agreeable to others to hear your adventures. Avoid, likewise, an endeavour to excite laughter. For this is a slippery point, which may throw you into vulgar manners, and, besides, may be apt to lessen you in the esteem of your acquaintance. Approaches to indecent discourse are likewise dangerous. Whenever, therefore, anything of this sort happens, if there be a proper opportunity, rebuke him who makes advances that way ; or, at least, by silence and blushing and a forbidding look, show yourself to be displeased by such talk.

EPICTETUS. MANUAL. 33.