Wednesday

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.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book i. §15. ¶2.

Tuesday

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.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book i. §15. ¶2.

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.

MARCUS AURELIUS. MEDITATIONS. Book vii. 4.

Monday

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?

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book ii. §6. ¶2.

Sunday

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?

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book iv. §9. ¶2.

Saturday

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.

MARCUS AURELIUS. MEDITATIONS. Book vii. 16

Friday

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.

MARCUS AURELIUS. MEDITATIONS. Book vi. 26

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?

MARCUS AURELIUS. MEDITATIONS. Book vii. 15