Tuesday

January 31

I AM persuaded there must be someone among you who sit here that feels secret pangs of impatience, and says: "When will such a difficulty come to my share as hath now fallen to his? Must I sit wasting my life in a corner when I might be crowned at Olympia? When will anyone bring the news of such a combat for me?" Such should be the disposition of you all. Even among the gladiators of Caesar there are some who bear it very ill, that they are not brought upon the stage and matched; and who offer vows to God, and address the officers, begging to fight. And will none among you appear such? I would willingly take a voyage on purpose to see how a champion of mine acts; how he treats his subject. "I do not choose such a subject," say you. Is it in your power, then, to take what subject you choose? Such a body is given you; such parents, such brothers, such a country, and such a rank in it; and then you come to me and say: "Change my subject." Besides, have not you abilities to manage that which is given you?

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book i. §29. ¶6.

Monday

January 30

WHAT, then, ought each of us to say upon every difficult occasion? "It was for this that I exercised, it was for this that I prepared myself." God says to you, Give me a proof if you have gone through the preparatory combats, according to rule; if you have followed a proper diet, a proper exercise; if you have obeyed your master; and after this, do you faint at the very time of action? Now is the proper time for a fever—bear it well; for thirst, bear it well; for hunger, bear it well. Is it not in your power? Who shall restrain you? A physician may restrain you from drinking, but he cannot restrain you from bearing your thirst well. He may restrain you from eating, but he cannot restrain you from bearing hunger well.—But I cannot follow my studies.—And for what end do you follow them, wretch? Is it not that you may be prosperous? That you may be constant? That you may think and act conformably to nature? What restrains you, but that in a fever you may preserve your ruling faculty conformable to nature? Here is the proof of the matter. Here is the trial of the philosopher; for a fever is a part of life, just as a walk, a voyage, or a journey.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book iii. §10. ¶1.

Sunday

January 29

DIFFICULTIES are the things that show what men are. For the future, on any difficulty, remember that God, like a master of exercise, has engaged you with a rough antagonist. For what end? That you may be a conqueror like one in the Olympic games, and it cannot be without toil. No man, in my opinion, has a more advantageous difficulty on his hands than you have; provided you will but use it as an athletic champion doth his antagonist.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book i. §24. ¶1.

Saturday

January 28

WHENEVER, therefore, anyone makes his interest to consist in the same thing with sanctity, virtue, his country, parents, and friends, all these are secured; but wherever they are made to interfere, friends, and country, and family, and justice itself, all give way, borne down by the weight of self-interest. For wherever I and mine are placed, thither must every animal gravitate. If in body, that will sway us; if in choice, that; if in externals, these. If, therefore, I be placed in a right choice, then only I shall be a friend, a son, or a father, such as I ought. For in that case it will be for my interest to preserve the faithful, the modest, the patient, the abstinent, the beneficent character; to keep the relations of life inviolate. But, if I place myself in one thing, and virtue in another, the doctrine of Epicurus will stand its ground, That virtue is nothing, or mere opinion.

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book ii. §22. ¶2.

Friday

January 27

IF thou shalt find anything in this mortal life better than righteousness, than truth, temperance, fortitude, and in general better than a mind contented both with those things which according to right and reason she doth, and in those, which without her will and knowledge happen unto thee by the Providence: If I say, thou canst find out anything better than this; apply thyself unto it with thy whole heart.

MARCUS AURELIUS. MEDITATIONS. Book iii. 7.

BUT who ever came into the world without an innate idea of good and evil, fair and base, becoming and unbecoming, happiness and misery, proper and improper, what ought to be done and what not to be done?

EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book ii. §11. ¶1.

Thursday

January 26

DO all things as becometh the Disciple of Antoninus Pius. Remember his resolute constancy in things that were done by him according to reason, his equability in all things, his sanctity; the cheerfulness of his countenance, his sweetness, and how free he was from all vainglory; how careful to come to the true and exact knowledge of matters in hand, and how he would by no means give over till he did fully and plainly understand the whole state of the business; and how patiently, and without any contestation he would bear with them, that did unjustly condemn him: how he would never be overhasty in anything, nor give ear to slanders and false accusations, but examine and observe with best diligence the several actions and dispositions of men. Again, how he was no backbiter, nor easily frighted, nor suspicious, and in his language free from all affectation and curiosity: and how easily he would content himself with few things, as lodging, bedding, clothing, and ordinary nourishment, and attendance. How able to endure labour, how patient: his uniformity and constancy in matter of friendship. How he would bear with them that with all boldness and liberty opposed his opinions; and even rejoice if any man could better advise him: and lastly, how religious he was without superstition. All these things of him remember, that whensoever thy last hour shall come upon thee, it may find thee, as it did him, ready for it in the possession of a good conscience.

MARCUS AURELIUS. MEDITATIONS. Book vi. 28.

Wednesday

January 25

NOTHING is meaner than the love of pleasure, the love of gain, and insolence. Nothing is nobler than magnanimity, meekness, and goodnature.

EPICTETUS. FRAGMENTS. 46.

IN my Father, I observed his meekness; his constancy without wavering in those things, which after a due examination and deliberation, he had determined. How free from all vanity he carried himself in matter of honour and dignity, (as they are esteemed ) his laboriousness, and assiduity, his readiness to hear any man, that had aught to say, tending to any common good: how generally and impartially he would give every man his due; his skill and knowledge, when rigour or extremity, or when remissness or moderation was in season.

MARCUS AURELIUS. MEDITATIONS. Book i. 13.