Infomotions, Inc.The Enchiridion, Or Manual / Epictetus

Author: Epictetus
Title: The Enchiridion, Or Manual
Date: 0000-00-00
Contributor(s): Eric Lease Morgan (Infomotions, Inc.)
Size: 50523
Identifier: epictetus-enchiridion-747
Language: en
Publisher: Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Rights: GNU General Public License
Tag(s): Western philosophy
Versions: original; local mirror; plain HTML (this file);
concordance (most frequent 100 words, etc.)
Related: Alex Catalogue of Electronic Texts



   Copyright 1996, James Fieser ( See end note for
   details on copyright and editing conventions. This text file is based
   on and adapted from Elizabeth Carter's 1758 English translation of the
   Enchiridion. This is a working draft; please report errors.1



   The Enchiridion

           1. Some things are in our control and others not. Things in
           our control are opinion, pursuit, desire, aversion, and, in a
           word, whatever are our own actions. Things not in our control
           are body, property, reputation, command, and, in one word,
           whatever are not our own actions.

           The things in our control are by nature free, unrestrained,
           unhindered; but those not in our control are weak, slavish,
           restrained, belonging to others. Remember, then, that if you
           suppose that things which are slavish by nature are also free,
           and that what belongs to others is your own, then you will be
           hindered. You will lament, you will be disturbed, and 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, then no one will ever compel you
           or restrain you. Further, you will find fault with no one or
           accuse no one. You will do nothing against your will. No one
           will hurt you, you will have no enemies, and you not be

           Aiming therefore at such great things, remember that you must
           not allow yourself to be carried, even with a slight tendency,
           towards the attainment of lesser things. Instead, you must
           entirely quit some things and for the present postpone the
           rest. But if you would both have these great things, along
           with power and riches, then you will not gain even the latter,
           because you aim at the former too: but you will absolutely
           fail of the former, by which alone happiness and freedom are

           Work, therefore to be able to say to every harsh appearance,
           "You are but an appearance, and not absolutely the thing you
           appear to be." And then examine it by those rules which you
           have, and first, and chiefly, by this: whether it concerns the
           things which are in our own control, or those which are not;
           and, if it concerns anything not in our control, be prepared
           to say that it is nothing to you.

           2. Remember that following desire promises the attainment of
           that of which you are desirous; and aversion promises the
           avoiding that to which you are averse. However, he who fails
           to obtain the object of his desire is disappointed, and he who
           incurs the object of his aversion wretched. If, then, you
           confine your aversion to those objects only which are contrary
           to the natural use of your faculties, which you have in your
           own control, you will never incur anything to which you are
           averse. But if you are averse to sickness, or death, or
           poverty, you will be wretched. Remove aversion, then, from all
           things that are not in our control, and transfer it to things
           contrary to the nature of what is in our control. But, for the
           present, totally suppress desire: for, if you desire any of
           the things which are not in your own control, you must
           necessarily be disappointed; and of those which are, and which
           it would be laudable to desire, nothing is yet in your
           possession. Use only the appropriate actions of pursuit and
           avoidance; and even these lightly, and with gentleness and

           3. With regard to whatever objects give you delight, are
           useful, or are deeply loved, remember to tell yourself of what
           general nature they are, beginning from the most insignificant
           things. If, for example, you are fond of a specific ceramic
           cup, remind yourself that it is only ceramic cups in general
           of which you are fond. Then, if it breaks, you will not be
           disturbed. If you kiss your child, or your wife, say that you
           only kiss things which are human, and thus you will not be
           disturbed if either of them dies.

           4. When you are going about any action, remind yourself what
           nature the action is. If you are going to bathe, picture to
           yourself the things which usually happen in the bath: some
           people splash the water, some push, some use abusive language,
           and others steal. Thus you will more safely go about this
           action if you say to yourself, "I will now go bathe, and keep
           my own mind in a state conformable to nature." And in the same
           manner with regard to every other action. For thus, if any
           hindrance arises in bathing, you will have it ready to say,
           "It was not only to bathe that I desired, but to keep my mind
           in a state conformable to nature; and I will not keep it if I
           am bothered at things that happen.

           5. Men are disturbed, not by things, but by the principles and
           notions which they form concerning things. Death, for
           instance, is not terrible, else it would have appeared so to
           Socrates. But the terror consists in our notion of death that
           it is terrible. When therefore we are hindered, or disturbed,
           or grieved, let us never attribute it to others, but to
           ourselves; that is, to our own principles. An uninstructed
           person will lay the fault of his own bad condition upon
           others. Someone just starting instruction will lay the fault
           on himself. Some who is perfectly instructed will place blame
           neither on others nor on himself.

           6. Don't be prideful with any excellence that is not your own.
           If a horse should be prideful and say, " I am handsome," it
           would be supportable. But when you are prideful, and say, " I
           have a handsome horse," know that you are proud of what is, in
           fact, only the good of the horse. What, then, is your own?
           Only your reaction to the appearances of things. Thus, when
           you behave conformably to nature in reaction to how things
           appear, you will be proud with reason; for you will take pride
           in some good of your own.

           7. Consider when, on a voyage, your ship is anchored; if you
           go on shore to get water you may along the way amuse yourself
           with picking up a shellish, or an onion. However, your
           thoughts and continual attention ought to be bent towards the
           ship, waiting for the captain to call on board; you must then
           immediately leave all these things, otherwise you will be
           thrown into the ship, bound neck and feet like a sheep. So it
           is with life. If, instead of an onion or a shellfish, you are
           given a wife or child, that is fine. But if the captain calls,
           you must run to the ship, leaving them, and regarding none of
           them. But if you are old, never go far from the ship: lest,
           when you are called, you should be unable to come in time.

           8. Don't demand that things happen as you wish, but wish that
           they happen as they do happen, and you will go on well.

           9. Sickness is a hindrance to the body, but not to your
           ability to choose, unless that is your choice. Lameness is a
           hindrance to the leg, but not to your ability to choose. Say
           this to yourself with regard to everything that happens, then
           you will see such obstacles as hindrances to something else,
           but not to yourself.

           10. With every accident, ask yourself what abilities you have
           for making a proper use of it. If you see an attractive
           person, you will find that self-restraint is the ability you
           have against your desire. If you are in pain, you will find
           fortitude. If you hear unpleasant language, you will find
           patience. And thus habituated, the appearances of things will
           not hurry you away along with them.

           11. Never say of anything, "I have lost it"; but, "I have
           returned it." Is your child dead? It is returned. Is your wife
           dead? She is returned. Is your estate taken away? Well, and is
           not that likewise returned? "But he who took it away is a bad
           man." What difference is it to you who the giver assigns to
           take it back? While he gives it to you to possess, take care
           of it; but don't view it as your own, just as travelers view a

           12. If you want to improve, reject such reasonings as these:
           "If I neglect my affairs, I'll have no income; if I don't
           correct my servant, he will be bad." For it is better to die
           with hunger, exempt from grief and fear, than to live in
           affluence with perturbation; and it is better your servant
           should be bad, than you unhappy.

           Begin therefore from little things. Is a little oil spilt? A
           little wine stolen? Say to yourself, "This is the price paid
           for apathy, for tranquillity, and nothing is to be had for
           nothing." When you call your servant, it is possible that he
           may not come; or, if he does, he may not do what you want. But
           he is by no means of such importance that it should be in his
           power to give you any disturbance.

           13. If you want to improve, be content to be thought foolish
           and stupid with regard to external things. Don't wish to be
           thought to know anything; and even if you appear to be
           somebody important to others, distrust yourself. For, it is
           difficult to both keep your faculty of choice in a state
           conformable to nature, and at the same time acquire external
           things. But while you are careful about the one, you must of
           necessity neglect the other.

           14. If you wish your children, and your wife, and your friends
           to live for ever, you are stupid; for you wish to be in
           control of things which you cannot, you wish for things that
           belong to others to be your own. So likewise, if you wish your
           servant to be without fault, you are a fool; for you wish vice
           not to be vice," but something else. But, if you wish to have
           your desires undisappointed, this is in your own control.
           Exercise, therefore, what is in your control. He is the master
           of every other person who is able to confer or remove whatever
           that person wishes either 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.

           15. Remember that you must behave in life as at a dinner
           party. Is anything brought around to you? Put out your hand
           and take your share with moderation. Does it pass by you?
           Don't stop it. Is it not yet come? Don't stretch your desire
           towards it, but wait till it reaches you. Do this with regard
           to children, to a wife, to public posts, to riches, and you
           will eventually be a worthy partner of the feasts of the gods.
           And if you don't even take the things which are set before
           you, but are able even to reject them, then you will not only
           be a partner at the feasts of the gods, but also of their
           empire. For, by doing this, Diogenes, Heraclitus and others
           like them, deservedly became, and were called, divine.

           16. When you see anyone weeping in grief because his son has
           gone abroad, or is dead, or because he has suffered in his
           affairs, be careful that the appearance may not misdirect you.
           Instead, distinguish within your own mind, and be prepared to
           say, "It's not the accident that distresses this person.,
           because it doesn't distress another person; it is the judgment
           which he makes about it." As far as words go, however, don't
           reduce yourself to his level, and certainly do not moan with
           him. Do not moan inwardly either.

           17. 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 is 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.

           18. When a raven happens to croak unluckily, don't allow the
           appearance hurry you away with it, but immediately make the
           distinction to yourself, and say, "None of these things are
           foretold to me; but either to my paltry body, or property, or
           reputation, or children, or wife. But to me all omens are
           lucky, if I will. For whichever of these things happens, it is
           in my control to derive advantage from it."

           19. You may be unconquerable, if you enter into no combat in
           which it is not in your own control to conquer. When,
           therefore, you see anyone eminent in honors, or power, or in
           high esteem on any other account, take heed not to be hurried
           away with the appearance, and to pronounce him happy; for, if
           the essence of good consists in things in our own control,
           there will be no room for envy or emulation. But, for your
           part, don't wish to be a general, or a senator, or a consul,
           but to be free; and the only way to this is a contempt of
           things not in our own control.

           20. Remember, that not he who gives ill language or a blow
           insults, but the principle which represents these things as
           insulting. When, therefore, anyone provokes you, be assured
           that it is your own opinion which provokes you. Try,
           therefore, in the first place, not to be hurried away with the
           appearance. For if you once gain time and respite, you will
           more easily command yourself.

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

           22. If you have an earnest desire of attaining to philosophy,
           prepare yourself from the very first to be laughed at, to be
           sneered by the multitude, to hear them say,." He is returned
           to us a philosopher all at once," and " Whence this
           supercilious look?" Now, for your part, don't have a
           supercilious look indeed; but keep steadily to those things
           which appear best to you as one appointed by God to this
           station. For remember that, if you adhere to the same point,
           those very persons who at first ridiculed will afterwards
           admire you. But if you are conquered by them, you will incur a
           double ridicule.

           23. If you ever happen to turn your attention to externals, so
           as to wish to please anyone, be assured that you have ruined
           your scheme of life. Be contented, then, in everything with
           being a philosopher; and, if you wish to be thought so
           likewise by anyone, appear so to yourself, and it will suffice

           24. Don't allow such considerations as these distress you. "I
           will live in dishonor, and be nobody anywhere." For, if
           dishonor is an evil, you can no more be involved in any evil
           by the means of another, than be engaged in anything base. Is
           it any business of yours, then, to get power, or to be
           admitted to an entertainment? By no means. How, then, after
           all, is this a dishonor? And how is it true that you will be
           nobody anywhere, when you ought to be somebody in those things
           only which are in your own control, in which you may be of the
           greatest consequence? "But my friends will be unassisted." --
           What do you mean by unassisted? They will not have money from
           you, nor will you make them Roman citizens. Who told you,
           then, that these are among the things in our own control, and
           not the affair of others? And who can give to another the
           things which he has not himself? "Well, but get them, then,
           that we too may have a share." If I can get them with the
           preservation of my own honor and fidelity and greatness of
           mind, show me the way and I will get them; but if you require
           me to lose my own proper good that you may gain what is not
           good, consider how inequitable and foolish you are. Besides,
           which would you rather have, a sum of money, or a friend of
           fidelity and honor? Rather assist me, then, to gain this
           character than require me to do those things by which I may
           lose it. Well, but my country, say you, as far as depends on
           me, will be unassisted. Here again, what assistance is this
           you mean? "It will not have porticoes nor baths of your
           providing." And what signifies that? Why, neither does a smith
           provide it with shoes, or a shoemaker with arms. It is enough
           if everyone fully performs his own proper business. And were
           you to supply it with another citizen of honor and fidelity,
           would not he be of use to it? Yes. Therefore neither are you
           yourself useless to it. "What place, then, say you, will I
           hold in the state?" Whatever you can hold with the
           preservation of your fidelity and honor. But if, by desiring
           to be useful to that, you lose these, of what use can you be
           to your country when you are become faithless and void of

           25. 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 be glad that he has gotten them;
           and if they are evil, don't be grieved that you have not
           gotten them. And remember that you cannot, without using the
           same means [which others do] to acquire things not in our own
           control, expect to be thought worthy of an equal share of
           them. For how can he who does not frequent the door of any
           [great] man, does not attend him, does not praise him, have an
           equal share with him who does? 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. For
           how much is lettuce sold? Fifty cents, for instance. If
           another, then, paying fifty cents, takes the lettuce, and you,
           not paying it, go without them, don't imagine that he has
           gained any advantage over you. For as he has the lettuce, so
           you have the fifty cents 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 is 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 don't like to
           praise; the not bearing with his behavior at coming in.

           26. The will of nature may be learned from those things in
           which we don't distinguish from each other. For example, when
           our neighbor's boy breaks a cup, or the like, we are presently
           ready to say, "These things will happen." Be assured, then,
           that when your own cup likewise is broken, you ought to be
           affected just as when another's cup was broken. Apply this in
           like manner to greater things. Is the child or wife of another
           dead? There is no one who would not say, "This is a human
           accident." but if anyone's own child happens to die, it is
           presently, "Alas I how wretched am I!" But it should be
           remembered how we are affected in hearing the same thing
           concerning others.

           27. As a mark is not set up for the sake of missing the aim,
           so neither does the nature of evil exist in the world.

           28. If a person gave your body to any stranger he met on his
           way, you would certainly be angry. And do you feel no shame in
           handing over your own mind to be confused and mystified by
           anyone who happens to verbally attack you?

           29. In every affair consider what precedes and follows, and
           then undertake it. Otherwise you will begin with spirit; but
           not having thought of the consequences, when some of them
           appear you will shamefully desist. "I would conquer at the
           Olympic games." But consider what precedes and follows, and
           then, if it is for your advantage, engage in the affair. You
           must conform to rules, submit to a diet, refrain from
           dainties; exercise your body, whether you choose it or not, at
           a stated hour, in heat and cold; you must drink no cold water,
           nor sometimes even wine. In a word, you must give yourself up
           to your master, as to a physician. Then, in the combat, you
           may be thrown into a ditch, dislocate your arm, turn your
           ankle, swallow dust, be whipped, and, after all, lose the
           victory. When you have evaluated all this, if your inclination
           still holds, then go to war. Otherwise, take notice, you will
           behave like children who sometimes play like wrestlers,
           sometimes gladiators, sometimes blow a trumpet, and sometimes
           act a tragedy when they have seen and admired these shows.
           Thus you too will be at one time a wrestler, at another a
           gladiator, now a philosopher, then an orator; but with your
           whole soul, nothing at all. Like an ape, you mimic all you
           see, and one thing after another is sure to please you, but is
           out of favor as soon as it becomes familiar. For you have
           never entered upon anything considerately, nor after having
           viewed the whole matter on all sides, or made any scrutiny
           into it, but rashly, and with a cold inclination. Thus some,
           when they have seen a philosopher and heard a man speaking
           like Euphrates (though, indeed, who can speak like him?), have
           a mind to be philosophers too. Consider first, man, what the
           matter is, and what your own nature is able to bear. If you
           would be a wrestler, consider your shoulders, your back, your
           thighs; for different persons are made for different things.
           Do you think that you can act as you do, and be a philosopher?
           That you can eat and drink, and be angry and discontented as
           you are now? You must watch, you must labor, you must get the
           better of certain appetites, must quit your acquaintance, be
           despised by your servant, be laughed at by those you meet;
           come off worse than others in everything, in magistracies, in
           honors, in courts of judicature. When you have considered all
           these things round, approach, if you please; if, by parting
           with them, you have a mind to purchase apathy, freedom, and
           tranquillity. If not, don't come here; don't, like children,
           be one while a philosopher, then a publican, then an orator,
           and then one of Caesar's officers. These things are not
           consistent. You must be one man, either good or bad. You must
           cultivate either your own ruling faculty or externals, and
           apply yourself either to things within or without you; that
           is, be either a philosopher, or one of the vulgar.

           30. Duties are universally measured by relations. Is anyone a
           father? If so, it is implied that the children should take
           care of him, submit to him in everything, patiently listen to
           his reproaches, his correction. But he is a bad father. Is you
           naturally entitled, then, to a good father? No, only to a
           father. Is a brother unjust? Well, keep your own situation
           towards him. Consider not what he does, but what you are to do
           to keep your own faculty of choice in a state conformable to
           nature. For another will not hurt you unless you please. You
           will then be hurt when you think you are hurt. In this manner,
           therefore, you will find, from the idea of a neighbor, a
           citizen, a general, the corresponding duties if you accustom
           yourself to contemplate the several relations.

           31. Be assured that the essential property of piety towards
           the gods is to form right opinions concerning them, as
           existing "I and as governing the universe with goodness and
           justice. And fix yourself in this resolution, to obey them,
           and yield to them, and willingly follow them in all events, as
           produced by the most perfect understanding. For thus you will
           never find fault with the gods, nor accuse them as neglecting
           you. And it is not possible for this to be effected any other
           way than by withdrawing yourself from things not in our own
           control, and placing good or evil in those only which are. For
           if you suppose any of the things not in our own control to be
           either good or evil, when you are disappointed of what you
           wish, or incur what you would avoid, you must necessarily find
           fault with and blame the authors. For every animal is
           naturally formed to fly and abhor things that appear hurtful,
           and the causes of them; and to pursue and admire those which
           appear beneficial, and the causes of them. It is impractical,
           then, that one who supposes himself to be hurt should be happy
           about the person who, he thinks, hurts him, just as it is
           impossible to be happy about the hurt itself. Hence, also, a
           father is reviled by a son, when he does not impart to him the
           things which he takes to be good; and the supposing empire to
           be a good made Polynices and Eteocles mutually enemies. On
           this account the husbandman, the sailor, the merchant, on this
           account those who lose wives and children, revile the gods.
           For where interest is, there too is piety placed. So that,
           whoever is careful to regulate his desires and aversions as he
           ought, is, by the very same means, careful of piety likewise.
           But it is also incumbent on everyone to offer libations and
           sacrifices and first fruits, conformably to the customs of his
           country, with purity, and not in a slovenly manner, nor
           negligently, nor sparingly, nor beyond his ability.

           32. When you have recourse to divination, remember that you
           know not what the event will be, and you come to learn it of
           the diviner; but of what nature it is you know before you
           come, at least if you are a philosopher. For if it is among
           the things not in our own control, it can by no means be
           either good or evil. Don't, therefore, bring either desire or
           aversion with you to the diviner (else you will approach him
           trembling), but first acquire a distinct knowledge that every
           event is indifferent and nothing to you., of whatever sort it
           may be, for it will be in your power to make a right use of
           it, and this no one can hinder; then come with confidence to
           the gods, as your counselors, and afterwards, when any counsel
           is given you, remember what counselors you have assumed, and
           whose advice you will neglect if you disobey. Come to
           divination, as Socrates prescribed, in cases of which the
           whole consideration relates to the event, and in which no
           opportunities are afforded by reason, or any other art, to
           discover the thing proposed to be learned. When, therefore, it
           is our duty to share the danger of a friend or of our country,
           we ought not to consult the oracle whether we will share it
           with them or not. For, though the diviner should forewarn you
           that the victims are unfavorable, this means no more than that
           either death or mutilation or exile is portended. But we have
           reason within us, and it directs, even with these hazards, to
           the greater diviner, the Pythian god, who cast out of the
           temple the person who gave no assistance to his friend while
           another was murdering him.

           33. Immediately prescribe some character and form of conduce
           to yourself, which you may keep both alone and in company.

           Be for the most part silent, or speak merely what is
           necessary, and in few words. We may, however, enter, though
           sparingly, into discourse sometimes when occasion calls for
           it, but not on any of the common subjects, of gladiators, or
           horse races, or athletic champions, or feasts, the vulgar
           topics of conversation; but principally not of men, so as
           either to blame, or praise, or make comparisons. If you are
           able, then, by your own conversation bring over that of your
           company to proper subjects; but, if you happen to be taken
           among strangers, be silent.

           Don't allow your laughter be much, nor on many occasions, nor

           Avoid swearing, if possible, altogether; if not, as far as you
           are able.

           Avoid public and vulgar entertainments; but, if ever an
           occasion calls you to them, keep your attention upon the
           stretch, that you may not imperceptibly slide into vulgar
           manners. For be assured that if a person be ever so sound
           himself, yet, if his companion be infected, he who converses
           with him will be infected likewise.

           Provide things relating to the body no further than mere use;
           as meat, drink, clothing, house, family. But strike off and
           reject everything relating to show and delicacy.

           As far as possible, before marriage, keep yourself pure from
           familiarities with women, and, if you indulge them, let it be
           lawfully." But don't therefore be troublesome and full of
           reproofs to those who use these liberties, nor frequently
           boast that you yourself don't.

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

           It is not necessary for you to appear often at public
           spectacles; but if ever there is a proper occasion for you to
           be there, don't appear more solicitous for anyone than for
           yourself; that is, wish things to be only just as they are,
           and him only to conquer who is the conqueror, for thus you
           will meet with no hindrance. But abstain entirely from
           declamations and derision and violent emotions. And when you
           come away, don't discourse a great deal on what has passed,
           and what does not contribute to your own amendment. For it
           would appear by such discourse that you were immoderately
           struck with the show.

           Go not [of your own accord] to the rehearsals of any
           [authors], nor appear [at them] readily. But, if you do
           appear, keep your gravity and sedateness, and at the same time
           avoid being morose.

           When you are going to confer with anyone, and particularly of
           those in a superior station, represent to yourself how
           Socrates or Zeno would behave in such a case, and you will not
           be at a loss to make a proper use of whatever may occur.

           When you are going to any of the people in power, represent to
           yourself that you will not find him at home; that you will not
           be admitted; that the doors will not be opened to you; that he
           will take no notice of you. If, with all this, it is your duty
           to go, bear what happens, and never say [to yourself], " It
           was not worth so much." For this is vulgar, and like a man
           dazed by external things.

           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 endeavor 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

           34. If you are struck by the appearance of any promised
           pleasure, guard yourself against being hurried away by it; but
           let the affair wait your leisure, and procure yourself some
           delay. Then bring to your mind both points of time: that in
           which you will enjoy the pleasure, and that in which you will
           repent and reproach yourself after you have enjoyed it; and
           set before you, in opposition to these, how you will be glad
           and applaud yourself if you abstain. And even though it should
           appear to you a seasonable gratification, take heed that its
           enticing, and agreeable and attractive force may not subdue
           you; but set in opposition to this how much better it is to be
           conscious of having gained so great a victory.

           35. When you do anything from a clear judgment that it ought
           to be done, never shun the being seen to do it, even though
           the world should make a wrong supposition about it; for, if
           you don't act right, shun the action itself; but, if you do,
           why are you afraid of those who censure you wrongly?

           36. As the proposition, "Either it is day or it is night," is
           extremely proper for a disjunctive argument, but quite
           improper in a conjunctive one, so, 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 behavior which ought to be
           observed towards the person who gives the entertainment.

           37. If you have assumed any character above your strength, you
           have both made an ill figure in that and quitted one which you
           might have supported.

           38. When walking, you are careful not to step on a nail or
           turn your foot; so likewise be careful not to hurt the ruling
           faculty of your mind. And, if we were to guard against this in
           every action, we should undertake the action with the greater

           39. The body is to everyone the measure of the possessions
           proper for it, just as the foot is of the shoe. If, therefore,
           you stop at this, you will keep the measure; but if you move
           beyond it, you must necessarily be carried forward, as down a
           cliff; as in the case of a shoe, if you go beyond its fitness
           to the foot, it comes first to be gilded, then purple, and
           then studded with jewels. For to that which once exceeds a due
           measure, there is no bound.

           40. Women from fourteen years old are flattered with the title
           of "mistresses" by the men. Therefore, perceiving that they
           are regarded only as qualified to give the men pleasure, they
           begin to adorn themselves, and in that to place ill their
           hopes. We should, therefore, fix our attention on making them
           sensible that they are valued for the appearance of decent,
           modest and discreet behavior.

           41. It is a mark of want of genius to spend much time in
           things relating to the body, as to be long in our exercises,
           in eating and drinking, and in the discharge of other animal
           functions. These should be done incidentally and slightly, and
           our whole attention be engaged in the care of the

           42. When any person harms you, or speaks badly 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.
           Setting out, then, from these principles, you will meekly bear
           a person who reviles you, for you will say upon every
           occasion, "It seemed so to him."

           43. Everything has two handles, the one by which it may be
           carried, the other by which it cannot. If your brother acts
           unjustly, don't lay hold on the action by the handle of his
           injustice, for by that it cannot be carried; but by the
           opposite, that he is your brother, that he was brought up with
           you; and thus you will lay hold on it, as it is to be carried.

           44. These reasonings are unconnected: "I am richer than you,
           therefore I am better"; "I am more eloquent than you,
           therefore I am better." The connection is rather this: "I am
           richer than you, therefore my property is greater than yours;"
           "I am more eloquent than you, therefore my style is better
           than yours." But you, after all, are neither property nor

           45. Does anyone bathe in a mighty little time? Don't say that
           he does it ill, but in a mighty little time. Does anyone drink
           a great quantity of wine? Don't say that he does ill, but that
           he drinks a great quantity. For, unless you perfectly
           understand the principle from which anyone acts, how should
           you know if he acts ill? Thus you will not run the hazard of
           assenting to any appearances but such as you fully comprehend.

           46. Never call yourself a philosopher, nor talk a great deal
           among the unlearned about theorems, but act conformably to
           them. Thus, at an entertainment, don't talk how persons ought
           to eat, but eat as you ought. For remember that in this manner
           Socrates also universally avoided all ostentation. And when
           persons came to him and desired to be recommended by him to
           philosophers, he took and- recommended them, so well did he
           bear being overlooked. So that if ever any talk should happen
           among the unlearned concerning philosophic theorems, be you,
           for the most part, silent. For there is great danger in
           immediately throwing out what you have not digested. And, if
           anyone tells you that you know nothing, and you are not
           nettled at it, then you may be sure that you have begun your
           business. For sheep don't throw up the grass to show the
           shepherds how much they have eaten; but, inwardly digesting
           their food, they outwardly produce wool and milk. Thus,
           therefore, do you likewise not show theorems to the unlearned,
           but the actions produced by them after they have been

           47. When you have brought yourself to supply the necessities
           of your body at a small price, don't pique yourself upon it;
           nor, if you drink water, be saying upon every occasion, "I
           drink water." But first consider how much more sparing and
           patient of hardship the poor are than we. But if at any time
           you would inure yourself by exercise to labor, and bearing
           hard trials, do it for your own sake, and not for the world;
           don't grasp statues, but, when you are violently thirsty, take
           a little cold water in your mouth, and spurt it out and tell

           48. 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 defense. But he goes about with the caution of sick
           or injured people, dreading to move anything that is set
           right, before it is perfectly fixed. He suppresses all desire
           in himself; he transfers his aversion to those things only
           which thwart the proper use of our own faculty of choice; the
           exertion of his active powers towards anything is very gentle;
           if he appears stupid or ignorant, he does not care, and, in a
           word, he watches himself as an enemy, and one in ambush.

           49. When anyone shows himself overly confident in ability to
           understand and interpret the works of Chrysippus, say to
           yourself, " Unless Chrysippus had written obscurely, this
           person would have had no subject for his vanity. But what do I
           desire? To understand nature and follow her. I ask, then, who
           interprets her, and, finding Chrysippus does, I have recourse
           to him. I don't understand his writings. I seek, therefore,
           one to interpret them." So far there is nothing to value
           myself upon. And when I find an interpreter, what remains is
           to make use of his instructions. This alone is the valuable
           thing. But, if I admire nothing but merely the interpretation,
           what do I become more than a grammarian instead of a
           philosopher? Except, indeed, that instead of Homer I interpret
           Chrysippus. When anyone, therefore, desires me to read
           Chrysippus to him, I rather blush when I cannot show my
           actions agreeable and consonant to his discourse.

           50. Whatever moral rules you have deliberately proposed to
           yourself. abide by them as they were laws, and as if you would
           be guilty of impiety by violating any of them. Don't regard
           what anyone says of you, for this, after all, is no concern of
           yours. How long, then, will you put off thinking yourself
           worthy of the highest improvements and follow the distinctions
           of reason? You have received the philosophical theorems, with
           which you ought to be familiar, and you have been familiar
           with them. What other master, then, do you wait for, to throw
           upon that the delay of reforming yourself? You are no longer a
           boy, but a grown man. If, therefore, you will be negligent and
           slothful, and always add procrastination to procrastination,
           purpose to purpose, and fix day after day in which you will
           attend to yourself, you will insensibly continue without
           proficiency, and, living and dying, persevere in being one of
           the vulgar. This instant, then, think yourself worthy of
           living as a man grown up, and a proficient. Let whatever
           appears to be the best be to you an inviolable law. And if any
           instance of pain or pleasure, or glory or disgrace, is set
           before you, remember that now is the combat, now the Olympiad
           comes on, nor can it be put off. By once being defeated and
           giving way, proficiency is lost, or by the contrary preserved.
           Thus Socrates became perfect, improving himself by everything.
           attending to nothing but reason. And though you are not yet a
           Socrates, you ought, however, to live as one desirous of
           becoming a Socrates.

           51. The first and most necessary topic in philosophy is that
           of the use of moral theorems, such as, "We ought not to lie;"
           the second is that of demonstrations, such as, "What is the
           origin of our obligation not to lie;" the third gives strength
           and articulation to the other two, such as, "What is the
           origin of this is a demonstration." For what is demonstration?
           What is consequence? What contradiction? What truth? What
           falsehood? The third topic, then, is necessary on the account
           of the second, and the second on the account of the first. But
           the most necessary, and that whereon we ought to rest, is the
           first. But we act just on the contrary. For we spend all our
           time on the third topic, and employ all our diligence about
           that, and entirely neglect the first. Therefore, at the same
           time that we lie, we are immediately prepared to show how it
           is demonstrated that lying is not right.

           52. Upon all occasions we ought to have these maxims ready at

             "Conduct me, Jove, and you, 0 Destiny,
             Wherever your decrees have fixed my station." [Cleanthes]
             "I follow cheerfully; and, did I not,
             Wicked and wretched, I must follow still

   Whoever yields properly to Fate, is deemed
   Wise among men, and knows the laws of heaven." [Euripides, Frag. 965]
   And this third:

     "0 Crito, if it thus pleases the gods, thus let it be. Anytus and
     Melitus may kill me indeed, but hurt me they cannot." [Plato's
     Crito and Apology]



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   © 1996


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