December 31

WHERE, then, is the great good or evil of man?

Where his difference is. If this is preserved, and remains well fortified, and neither honour, fidelity, nor judgment is destroyed, then he himself is preserved likewise; but when any of these are lost and demolished, he himself is lost also. In this do all great events consist. Paris, they say, was undone, because the Greeks invaded Troy and laid it waste, and his family were slain in battle. By no means; for no one is undone by an action not his own. All that was only laying waste the nests of storks. But his true undoing was, when he lost the modest, the faithful, the hospitable, and the decent character. When was Achilles undone? When Patroclus died? By no means. But when he gave himself up to rage; when he wept over a girl; when he forgot that he came there not to get mistresses, but to fight. This is human undoing; this is the siege; this the overthrow: our right principles are ruined, when these are destroyed.



December 30

NO great thing is brought to perfection suddenly, when not so much as a bunch of grapes or a fig is. If you tell me that you would at this minute have a fig, I will answer you, that there must be time. Let it first blossom, then bear fruit, then ripen. Is then the fruit of a figtree not brought to perfection suddenly, and in one hour: and would you possess the fruit of the human mind in so short a time, and without trouble? I tell you, expect no such thing.


WORD after word, every one by itself, must the things that are spoken be conceived and understood; and so the things that are done, purpose after purpose, every one by itself likewise.



December 29

WHY are ears of corn produced, if it be not to ripen? and why do they ripen, if not to be reaped? For they are not separate individuals. If they were capable of sense, do you think they would wish never to be reaped? It would be a curse upon ears of corn not to be reaped: and we ought to know, that it would be a curse upon man not to die; like that of not ripening, and not being reaped. Since, then, it is necessary for us to be reaped, and we have, at the same time, understanding to know it, are we angry at it?



December 28

IF you should live 3000 years, or as many as 10,000, yet remember this, that man can part with no life properly save with that little part of life which he now lives: and that which he lives is no other than that which at every instant he parts with. That life then which is longest of duration, and that which is shortest, come both to one effect. For although in regard to the life which is already past there may be some inequality, yet that time which is now present and in being is equal for all men. And that being the only time which we part with when we die, it manifestly appears that it can be but a moment of time that we then part with. For as for that which is either past or to come, a man cannot be said properly to part with it. For how should a man part with that which he does not have?



December 27

THE time when thou shalt have forgotten all things, is at hand. And that time also is at hand, when thou thyself shalt be forgotten by all. Whilst thou art, apply thyself to that especially which unto man as he is a man, is most proper and agreeable, and that is, for a man even to love them that transgress against him. This shall be, if at the same time that any such thing doth happen, thou call to mind, that they are thy Kinsmen; that it is through ignorance and against their wills that they sin; and that within a very short while after, both thou and he shall be no more. But above all things, that he hath not done thee any hurt; for that by him thy mind and understanding is not made worse or more vile than it was before.



December 26

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.


IS any man so foolish as to fear change, to which all things that once were not owe their being? And what is it, that is more pleasing and more familiar to the nature of the Universe? How couldst thou thyself use thy ordinary hot baths, should not the wood that heateth them first be changed? How couldst thou receive any nourishment from those things that thou hast eaten, if they should not be changed? Can anything else almost (that is useful and profitable) be brought to pass without change? How then dost not thou perceive, that for thee also, by death, to come to change, is a thing of the very same nature, and as necessary for the nature of the Universe?


October 31

WHEN you see another in power, set against it that you have the advantage of not wanting power. When you see another rich, see what you have instead of riches; for, if you have nothing in their stead, you are miserable. But, if you have the advantage of not needing riches, know that you have something more than he hath, and of far greater value.


TAKE heed, lest that whilst thou dost settle thy contentment in things present, thou grow in time so to overprize them, as that the want of them (whensoever it shall so fall out) should be a trouble and a vexation unto thee.



October 30

"BUT I am rich," you may say, "as well as other people."

What, richer than Agamemnon?

"But I am handsome too."

What, handsomer than Achilles?

"But I have fine hair too."

Had not Achilles finer and brighter? Yet he neither combed it nicely, nor curled it.

"But I am strong too."

Can you lift such a stone, then, as Hector or Ajax?

"But I am of a noble family too."

Is your mother a goddess, or your father descended from Zeus? And what good did all this do to Achilles, when he sat crying for a girl?

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


October 29

I AM a better man than you, says one, for I have many estates, and you are pining with hunger. I have been consul, says another; I am a governor, a third; and I have a fine head of hair, says a fourth. Yet one horse doth not say to another, "I am better than you, for I have a great deal of hay and a great deal of oats; and I have a gold bridle and embroidered trappings"; but, "I am swifter than you." And every creature is better or worse, from its own good or bad qualities. Is man, then, the only creature which hath no natural good quality? And must we consider hair, and clothes, and ancestors to judge of him?



October 28

I AM better than you, for my father hath been consul. I have been a tribune, says another, and not you. If we were horses, would you say, My father was swifter than yours? I have abundance of oats and hay, and fine trappings? What now, if while you were saying this, I should answer, "Be it so. Let us run a race, then"? Is there nothing in man analogous to a race in horses, by which it may be known which is better or worse? Is there not honour, fidelity, justice? Show yourself the better in these, that you may be the better, as a man. But if you tell me you can kick violently, I will tell you again that you value yourself on the property of an ass.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book iii. §15. ¶5.


October 27

WHEN a person is possessed of some either real or imagined superiority, unless he hath been well instructed, he will necessarily be puffed up with it. A tyrant, for instance, says: "I am supreme over all." — And what can you do for me? Can you exempt my desires from disappointment? How should you? For do you never incur your own aversions? Are your own pursuits infallible? Whence should you come by that privilege? Pray, on shipboard, do you trust to yourself, or to the pilot? In a chariot, to whom but the driver? And to whom in all other arts? Just the same. In what then, doth your power consist? — " All men pay regard to me."

So do I to my desk. I wash it and wipe it; and drive a nail for the service of my oil flask. — "What then, are these things to be valued beyond me? " — No: but they are of some use to me, and therefore I pay regard to them. Why, do not I pay regard to an ass? Do not I wash his feet? Do not I clean him? Do not you know that everyone pays regard to himself, and to you, just as he doth to an ass? For who pays regard to you as a man? Show that. Who would wish to be like you?



October 26

O MORTALS, whither are you hurrying? What are you about? Why do you tumble up and down, wretches, like blind men? You are going a wrong way, and have forsaken the right. You seek prosperity and happiness in a wrong place, where it is not; nor do you give credit to another who shows you where it is. Why do you seek it without? It is not in body: if you do not believe me, look upon Myro, look upon Ofellius. It is not in wealth: if you do not believe me, look upon Croesus, look upon the rich of the present age, how full of lamentation their life is. It is not in power; for, otherwise, they who have been twice and thrice consuls must be happy, but they are not.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book iii. §22. ¶3.


October 25

GIVE what Thou wilt, and take away what Thou wilt, saith he that is well taught and truly modest, to Him that gives, and takes away. And it is not out of a stout, and peremptory resolution, that he saith it, but in mere love, and humble submission.


NEVER say of anything, "I have lost it"; but "I have restored it." Is your child dead? It is restored. Is your wife dead? She is restored. Is your estate taken away? Well, and is not that likewise restored? "But he who took it away is a bad man." What is it to you by whose hands He, who gave it, hath demanded it back again? While He gives you to possess it, take care of it; but as of something not your own, as passengers do of an inn.



October 24

TRY also how a good man's life; (of one, who is well pleased with those things whatsoever, which among the common changes and chances of this world fall to his own lot and share; and can live well contented and fully satisfied in the justice of his own proper present action, and in the goodness of his disposition for the future:) will agree with thee. Thou hast had experience of that other kind of life: make now trial of this also. Trouble not thyself any more henceforth, reduce thyself unto perfect simplicity.


EVEN as if any of the gods should tell thee, thou shall certainly die to-morrow, or next day, thou wouldst not, except thou wert extremely base, and pusillanimous, take it for a great benefit, rather to die the next day after, than to-morrow; (for alas what is the difference!) so, for the same reason, think it no great matter to die rather many years after, than the very next day.



October 23

TIME delivers fools from grief; and reason, wise men.


AS a pig that cries and flings when his throat is cut, fancy to thyself everyone to be, that grieves for any worldly thing and takes on. Such a one is he also, who upon his bed alone, doth bewail the miseries of this our mortal life. And remember this, that unto reasonable creatures only it is granted that they may willingly and freely submit unto Providence: but absolutely to submit, is a necessity imposed upon all creatures equally.


ANY person may live happily in poverty; but few in wealth and power.



October 22

LET thy chief fort and place of defence be, a mind free from passions. A stronger place, (whereunto to make his refuge, and so to become impregnable) and better fortified than this, hath no man.


AND in thy passions, take it presently to thy consideration, that to be angry, is not the part of a man, but that to be meek and gentle, as it savours of more humanity, so of more manhood. That in this, there is strength and nerves, or vigour and fortitude ; whereof anger and indignation is altogether void. For the nearer everything is unto dispassionateness, the nearer it is unto power. And as grief doth proceed from weakness, so doth anger. For both, both he that is angry and that grieveth, have received a wound, and cowardly have as it were yielded themselves unto their affections.



October 21

FOR, without strong and constant exercise, it is not possible to preserve our desire undisappointed, and our aversion unincurred; and therefore, if we suffer it to be externally employed on things independent on choice, be assured that your desire will neither gain its object, nor your aversion avoid it.

And, because habit hath a powerful influence, and we are habituated to apply our desire and aversion to externals only, we must oppose one habit to another, and where the appearances are most slippery, there oppose exercise. I am inclinable to pleasure. I will bend myself beyond a due proportion to the other side for the sake of exercise.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book iii. §12. ¶1, 2.

AFTERWARDS you will venture into the lists at some proper season, by way of trial, if at all, to see whether appearances get the better of you as much as they used to do. But at first, fly from what is stronger than you.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book iii. §12. ¶2.


October 20

THE great point is to leave to each thing its own proper faculty, and then to see what the value of that faculty is, and to learn what is the principal thing; and upon every occasion, to follow that and to make it the chief object of our attention; to consider other things as trifling in comparison of this; and yet, as far as we are able, not to neglect even these. We ought, for instance, to take care of our eyes; but not as of the principal thing, but only on account of the principal; because that will no otherwise preserve its own nature, than by making a due estimation of the rest, and preferring some to others. What is the usual practice, then? That of a traveller, who, returning into his own country, and meeting on the road with a good inn, being pleased with the inn, should remain at the inn. Have you forgot your intention, man? You were not travelling to this place, but only through it. "But this a fine place." And how many other fine inns are there, and how many pleasant fields? But only to be passed through in your way. The business is, to return to your country, to relieve the anxieties of your family, to perform the duties of a citizen, to marry, have children, and go through the public offices. For you did not set out to choose the finest places, but to return to live in that where you were born, and of which you are appointed a citizen.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book ii. §23. ¶3.


October 19

KEEP yourself awake. It is no inconsiderable matter you have to guard, but modesty, fidelity, constancy, enjoyment, exemption from grief, fear, perturbation; in short, freedom. For what will you sell these? Consider what the purchase is worth.—"But shall I not get such a thing instead of it? "—Consider, if you do get it, what it is that you obtain for the other. I have decency; another the office of a tribune: I have modesty; he has the proetorship.


JUSTICE cannot be preserved, if either we settle our minds and affections upon worldly things; or be apt to be deceived, or rash, and inconstant.



October 18

FOR, amidst perturbations and griefs and fears, and disappointed desires and incurred aversions, how can there be any entrance for happiness? And, where there are corrupt principles, there must all these things necessarily be.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book iii. §22. ¶6.

EVERY nature is content with itself when it speeds well on its way; and a rational nature speeds well on its way, when in its impressions it gives assent to nothing that is false or obscure, and directs its impulses towards none but social acts, and limits its inclinations and its aversions only to things that are in its power, and welcomes all that the Universal Nature allots it.



October 16

OF things, some are in our power and others not. In our power are opinion, pursuit, desire, aversion, and, in one word, whatever are our own actions. Not in our power are body, property, reputation, command, and, in one word, whatever are not our own actions.

Now, the things in our power are by nature free, unrestrained, unhindered; but those not in our power, weak, slavish, restrained, belonging to others. Remember, then, that if you suppose things by nature slavish to be free, and what belongs to others your own, you will be hindered; you will lament; you will be disturbed; you will find fault both with gods and men. But if you suppose that only to be your own which is your own, and what belongs to others such as it really is, no one will ever compel you; no one will restrain you; you will find fault with no one; you will accuse no one; you will do no one thing against your will; no one will hurt you; you will not have an enemy, for you will suffer no harm.



October 15

THE condition and characteristic of a vulgar person is, that he never expects either benefit or hurt from himself, but from externals. The condition and characteristic of a philosopher is, that he expects all hurt and benefit from himself. The marks of a proficient are, that he censures no one, praises no one, blames no one, accuses no one, says nothing concerning himself as being anybody, or knowing anything: when he is, in any instance, hindered or restrained, he accuses himself; and, if he is praised, he secretly laughs at the person who praises him; and, if he is censured, he makes no defence.



October 14

THUS are we too affected. What do we admire? Externals. For what do we strive? Externals. And are we, then, in any doubt how we come to fear and be solicitous? What is the consequence, then, when we esteem the things that are brought upon us to be evils? We cannot but fear; we cannot but be solicitous. And then we say, "O Lord God, how shall I avoid solicitude!" Have you not hands, fool? Hath not God made them for you? Sit down now and pray that your nose may not run! Wipe it rather, and do not murmur. Well: and hath He given you nothing in the present case? Hath not He given you patience? Hath not He given you magnanimity? Hath not He given you fortitude? When you have such hands as these, do you still seek for somebody to wipe your nose? But we neither study nor regard these things.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book ii. §16. ¶2.


October 13

IF, then, the things independent on choice are neither good nor evil; and all that do depend on choice are in our own power, and can neither be taken away from us, nor given to us, unless we please; what room is there left for solicitude? But we are solicitous about this paltry body or estate of ours, or about the determination of Caesar, and not at all about anything internal. Are we ever solicitous not to take up a false opinion? No, for this is in our own power. Or not to exert our pursuits contrary to nature? No, nor this neither. When, therefore, you see anyone pale with solicitude, as the physician pronounces from the complexion that such a patient is disordered in the spleen, another in the liver, so do you likewise say, this man is disordered in his desires and aversions, he cannot walk steady, he is in a fermentation. For nothing else changes the complexion or causes a trembling or sets the
teeth a-chattering.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book ii. §13. ¶2.


October 12

TO live happily is an inward power of the soul, when she is affected with indifference, towards those things that are by their nature indifferent.


IT is in thy power absolutely to exclude all manner of conceit and opinion, as concerning this matter; and by the same means, to exclude all grief and joy from thy soul. For as for the things and objects themselves, they of themselves have no such power, whereby to beget and force upon us any opinion at all.


DOST thou grieve that thou dost weigh but so many pounds, and not 300 rather? Just as much reason hast thou to grieve that thou must live but so many years, and not longer. For as for bulk and substance thou dost content thyself with that proportion of it that is allotted unto thee, so shouldst thou for time.



October 11

HEREIN doth consist happiness of life, for a man to know thoroughly the true nature of everything; What is the matter, and what is the form of it: with all his heart and soul, ever to do that which is just, and to speak the truth. What then remaineth but to enjoy thy life in a course and coherence of good actions, one upon another immediately succeeding, and never interrupted, though for never so little a while?.


HE that is endowed with true magnanimity, who hath accustomed himself to the contemplation both of all times, and of all things in general; can this mortal life (thinkest thou) seem any great matter unto him? It is not possible; answered he. Then neither will such a one account death a grievous thing? By no means.



October 10

CONSIDER well whether magnanimity rather, and true liberty, and true simplicity, and equanimity, and holiness; whether these be not most kind and natural.


WHAT is the use that now at this present I make of my soul? Thus from time to time and upon all occasions thou must put this question to thyself, what is now that part of mine which they call the rational mistress part, employed about; Whose soul do I now properly possess? a child's? or a youth's? a woman's? or a tyrant's? some brute, or some wild beast's soul?


SUCH as thy thoughts and ordinary cogitations are, such will thy mind be in time. For the soul doth as it were receive its tincture from the fancies, and imaginations. Dye it therefore and thoroughly soak it with the assiduity of these cogitations.



October 9

THE best kind of revenge is, not to become like unto them.


PUBLIC this be thy only joy, and thy only comfort, from one sociable kind action without intermission to pass unto another, God being ever in thy mind.


CHARITABLE actions, and a holy disposition, is the only fruit of this earthly life.


TAKE heed lest at any time thou stand so affected, though towards unnatural lived men, as ordinary men are commonly one towards another.



October 8

OUTWARD pomp and appearance, is a great juggler; and then especially art thou most in danger to be beguiled by it, when (to a man's thinking) thou most seemest to be employed about matters of moment.


PUBLIC shows and solemnities with much pomp and vanity, stage plays, flocks and herds; conflicts and contentions: a bone thrown to a company of hungry curs; a bait for greedy fishes; the painfulness, and continual burden-bearing of wretched ants, the running to and fro of terrified mice: little puppets drawn up and down with wires and nerves: these be the objects of the World.



October 7

"OUR wall is secure, we have provisions for a very long time, and every other preparation." These are what render a city fortified and impregnable, but nothing but its principles render the human soul so. For what wall is so strong, what body so impenetrable, or what possession so unalienable, or what dignity so secured against stratagems? All things else, everywhere else, are mortal, easily reduced; and whoever in any degree fixes his mind upon them, must necessarily be subject to perturbation, despair, terrors, lamentations, disappointed desires, and incurred aversions.


THE things or objects themselves, reach not unto the soul, but stand without still, and quiet, and that it is from the opinion only which is within, that all the tumult and all the trouble doth proceed.



October 6

IN a voyage, for instance, casting my eyes down upon the ocean below, and looking round me and seeing no land, I am out of my wits, and imagine that if I should be shipwrecked I must swallow all that ocean; nor doth it once enter my head, that three pints are enough to do my business. What is it then that alarms me? The ocean? No, but my own principle. Again, in an earthquake, I imagine the city is going to fall upon me; but is not one little stone enough to knock my brains out? What is it then that oppresses and puts us out of our wits? Why, what else but our principles?

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book ii. §16. ¶3.


July 27

DOTH any man offend? It is against himself that he doth offend: why should it trouble thee?


ONE thing there is, and that only, which is worth our while in this World, and ought by as much to be esteemed; and that is, according to truth and righteousness, meekly and lovingly to converse with false, and unrighteous men.


WHEN thou wilt comfort and cheer thyself, call to mind the several gifts and virtues of them, whom thou dost daily converse with; as for example, the industry of the one; the modesty of another; the liberality of a third ; of another some other thing. For nothing can so much rejoice thee, as the resemblances and parallels of several virtues, visible and eminent in the dispositions of those who live with thee.



July 26

IN another man's mind and understanding thy evil cannot subsist, nor in any proper temper or distemper of the natural constitution of thy body, which is but as it were the coat, or cottage of thy soul. Wherein then, but in that part of thee, wherein the conceit, and apprehension of any misery can subsist? Let not that part therefore admit any such conceit, and then all is well. Though thy body which is so near it, should either be cut or burnt, or suffer any corruption, or putrefaction, yet let that part to which it belongs to judge of these, be still at rest; that is. Let her judge this, that, whatsoever it is, that equally may happen to a wicked man, and to a good man, is neither good, nor evil. For that which happens equally to him that lives according to Nature, and to him that doth not, is neither according to nature, nor against it; and by consequence, neither good, nor bad.



July 25

WHY do not you, as we pity the blind and lame, so likewise pity those who are blinded and lamed in their superior faculties ? Whoever, therefore, duly remembers that the appearance of things to the mind is the standard of every action to man : that this is either right or wrong : and, if right, he is without fault, if wrong, he himself bears the punishment ; for that one man cannot be the person deceived, and another the sufferer : will not be outrageous and angry at anyone ; will not revile, or reproach, or hate, or quarrel with anyone.


IS the cucumber bitter? set it away. Brambles are in the way? avoid them. Let this suffice. Add not presently speaking unto thyself. What serve these things for in the world? For, this, one that is acquainted with the mysteries of Nature, will laugh at thee for it ; as a Carpenter would or a Shoemaker, if meeting in either of their shops with some shavings, or small remnants of their work, thou shouldst blame them for it.



July 24

“EITHER teach them, or bear with them."

“AM I to blame, then, sir, and ignorant of my duty and of what is incumbent on me? If this is neither to be learnt nor taught, why do you find fault with me? If it is to be taught, pray teach me yourself; or, if you cannot, give me leave to learn it from those who profess to understand it. Besides: do you think that I voluntarily fall into evil, and miss of good? Heaven forbid! What, then, is the cause of my faults?" — Ignorance. "Are you not willing, then, that I should get rid of my ignorance? Who was ever taught the art of music or navigation by anger? Do you expect, then, that your anger should teach me the art of living?"



July 23

HE, then, is an able speaker, and excels at once in exhortation and conviction, who can discover to each man the contradiction by which he errs, and prove clearly to him, that what he would, he doth not ; and what he would not do, that he doth. For if that be shown, he will depart from it of his own accord: but till you have shown it, be not surprised that he remains where he is: for he doth it on the appearance that he acts rightly. Hence Socrates, relying on this faculty, used to say, “It is not my custom to cite any other witness of my assertions; but I am always contented with my opponent. I call and summon him for my witness; and his single evidence is instead of all others." For he knew that if a rational soul be moved by anything, the scale must turn whether it will or no. Show the governing faculty of reason a contradiction, and it will renounce it: but, till you have shown it, rather blame yourself than him who is unconvinced.


July 22

”NO; but talk to me about other things; for upon this I am determined." What other things? What is of greater consequence than to convince you that it is not sufficient to be determined, and to persist? This is the tension of a madman, not of one in health. “I will die if you compel me to this." Why so, man: what is the matter?—"I am determined." I have a lucky escape that you are not determined to kill me. "I take no money." Why so? "I am determined." Be assured that with that very tension which you now make use of to refuse it, you may very possibly, hereafter, have as unreasonable a propensity to take it; and again to say, "I am determined." As in a distempered and rheumatic body the humour tends sometimes to one part, sometimes to another; thus it is uncertain which way a sickly mind will incline. But if to its inclination and bent an obstinate tension be likewise added, the evil then becomes desperate and incurable.



July 21

THERE are some whom there is no convincing. So that now I think I understand what before I did not, the meaning of that common saying, that a fool will neither bend nor break. May it never fall to my lot to have a wise, that is an intractable, fool for my friend. "It is all to no purpose: I am determined." So are madmen too; but the more strongly they are determined upon absurdities, the more need have they of hellebore. Why will you not act like a sick person, and apply yourself to a physician? “Sir, I am sick. Give me your assistance: consider what I am to do. It is my part to follow your directions." So, in the present case, I know not what I ought to do; and I am come to learn.



July 20

WHAT is the reason of all this? The principal is an inconsistency and confusion in what relates to good and evil. But different people have different inducements. In general, whatever they imagine to be base they do not absolutely confess. Fear and compassion they imagine to belong to a well-meaning disposition; but stupidity to a slave. Offences against society they do not own; but, in most faults, they are brought to a confession chiefly from imagining that there is something involuntary in them, as in fear and compassion. And, though a person should in some measure confess himself intemperate in his desires, he accuses his passion, and expects forgiveness as for an involuntary fault. But dishonesty is not imagined to be, by any means, involuntary. In jealousy, too, there is something, they suppose, of involuntary; and this likewise, in some degree, they confess.



July 19

THERE are some things which men confess with ease ; others, with difficulty. No one, for instance, will confess himself a fool, or a blockhead; but, on the contrary, you will hear everyone say, "I wish my fortune was equal to my mind." But they easily confess themselves fearful, and say, “I am somewhat timorous, I confess; but in other respects you will not find me a fool." No one will easily confess himself intemperate in his desires; upon no account dishonest, nor absolutely very envious, or meddling; but many confess themselves to have the weakness of being compassionate.



July 18

IT is better to offend seldom (owning it when we do), and act often wisely, than to say we seldom err, and offend frequently.
BUT if it be somewhat that is amiss in thine own disposition, that doth grieve thee, mayest thou not rectify thy moral tenets and opinions. But if it grieve thee, that thou dost not perform that which seemeth unto thee right and just, why dost not thou choose rather to perform it than to grieve? But somewhat that is stronger than thyself doth hinder thee. Let it not grieve thee then, if it be not thy fault that the thing is not performed. Yea but it is a thing of that nature, as that thy life is not worth the while, except it may be performed. If it be so, upon condition that thou be kindly and lovingly disposed towards all men, thou mayest be gone. For even then, as much as at any time, art thou in a very good estate of performance, when thou dost die in charity with those, that are an obstacle unto thy performance.


July 17

AT the conceit and apprehension that such and such a one hath sinned, thus reason with thyself, What do I know whether this be a sin indeed, as it seems to be? But if it be, what do I know but that he himself hath already condemned himself for it? And that is all one as if a man should scratch and tear his own face, an object of compassion rather than of anger.


WHEN any person doth ill by you, or speaks ill of you, remember that he acts or speaks from a supposition of its being his duty. Now, it is not possible that he should follow what appears right to you, but what appears so to himself. Therefore, if he judges from a wrong appearance, he is the person hurt, since he too is the person deceived. For if anyone should suppose a true proposition to be false, the proposition is not hurt, but he who is deceived about it.



July 16

LET it not be in any man's power to say truly of you that you are not simple or that you are not good; if anyone thinks anything of this kind about you, let him be a liar; and this is altogether in your power. For who is it that will hinder you from being good or simple?


HOW unsound and insincere is he who says, "I have determined to deal with you in a fair way." What are you doing, man? There is no occasion to give this notice! It will soon show itself by its acts. The voice ought to be plainly written on the forehead.


*The quotes were changed to G. Long's 1862 translation (2012)


July 15

MAN is made for fidelity, and whoever subverts this subverts the peculiar property of man.


IT is good to know your own qualifications and powers; that, where you are not qualified, you may be quiet, and not angry that others have the advantage of you in such things.


WHAT is the first business of one who studies philosophy? To part with self-conceit. For it is impossible for anyone to begin to learn what he hath a conceit that he already knows.


THERE is nothing more shameful than perfidious friendship. Above all things, that must be avoided. However, true goodness, simplicity, and kindness cannot so be hidden, but that as we have already said in the very eyes and countenance they will show themselves.



July 14

SHOW me that you are faithful, a man of honour, steady; show me that you have friendly principles; show me that your vessel is not leaky, and you shall see that I will not stay till you have trusted your affairs to me; but I will come and entreat you to hear an account of mine. For who would not make use of a good vessel? Who despises a benevolent and friendly adviser? Who will not gladly receive one to share the burden of his difficulties, and by sharing to make it lighter? "Well, but I trust you, and you do not trust me." You do not really trust me: but you are a blab, and therefore can keep nothing in. For if the former be the case, trust only me. But now, whoever you see at leisure, you sit down by him and say: " My dear friend, there is not a man in the world that wishes me better, or hath more kindness for me than you: I entreat you to hear my affairs."



July 13

WHEN one hath safely entrusted his secrets to me, shall I, in imitation of him, trust mine to anyone who comes in my way? The case is different. I indeed hold my tongue (supposing me to be of such a disposition), but he goes and discovers them to everybody ; and then, when I come to find it out, if I happen to be like him, from a desire of revenge I discover his, and asperse, and am aspersed. But, if I remember that one man doth not hurt another, but that everyone is hurt and profited by his own actions, I indeed keep to this, not to do anything like him; yet, by my own talkative folly, I suffer what I do suffer.

"Ay, but it is unfair, when you have heard the secrets of your neighbour, not to communicate anything to him in return."—"Why, did I ask you to do it, sir? Did you tell me your affairs upon condition that I should tell you mine in return? If you are a blab, and believe all you meet to be friends, would you have me, too, become like you? But what if the case be this: that you did right in trusting your affairs to me, but it is not right that I should trust you? Would you have me run headlong and fall? This is just as if I had a sound barrel and you a leaky one, and you should come and deposit your wine with me to put it into my barrel, and then should take it ill that in my turn I did not trust you with my wine. No. You have a leaky barrel."

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book iv. §13. ¶2, 3


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 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

YOUR life is a warfare, and a mere pilgrimage.


THOU hast taken ship, thou hast sailed, thou art come to land: go out, if to another life, there also shalt thou find gods, who are everywhere. If all life and sense shall cease, then shalt thou cease also to be subject to either pains, or pleasures.


THE art of true living in this world, is more like a wrestler's than a dancer's practice. For in this they both agree, to teach a man, whatsoever falls upon him, that he may be ready for it, and that nothing may cast him down.



April 24

I COME therefore to the diviner and interpreter of these things, and say, "Inspect the entrails for me: what is signified to me?" Having taken and laid them open, he thus interprets them: — You have a choice, man, incapable of being restrained or compelled. This is written here in the entrails. I will show you this first in the faculty of assent. Can any one restrain you from assenting to truth? — "No one." — Can anyone compel you to admit a falsehood? — "No one." — You see, then, that you have in this topic a choice incapable of being restrained or compelled or hindered. AV'ell, is it any otherwise with regard to pursuit and desire? What can conquer one pursuit? — "Another pursuit." — What desire and aversion? — "Another desire and another aversion." If you set death before me (say you) you compel me. No; not what is set before you doth it, but your principle, that it is better to do such or such a thing than to die. Here, again, you see it is your own principle which compels you — that is, choice compels choice. For, if God had constituted that portion which He hath separated from His own offence and given to us, capable of being restrained or compelled, either by Himself or by any other. He would not have been God, nor have taken care of us in a due manner.



April 23

"Most people seek in the tavern for that pleasure which is to be found in labor."

Zeno, quoted in Stobaeus' Florilegium, vol. i, p. 150.

"To those who, to excuse their prodigality, urged that they spent only money that they did not know how to use otherwise, Zeno said, 'Would you forgive the cook who made his sauce too salty for you, and said it was because he had more salt than he knew what to do with?'"

Stobaeus' Florilegium, vol. i, p. 271.

"That pleasure which is worthy of a man consists in not overloading the body, nor exciting those passions whose rest is our safety."

Seneca's De Beneficiis, book vii, chap.ii, sec. 3


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. NATRUAL 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.