17 Epictetus: Discourses



Chapter 1

Of the things which are in our Power, and not in our Power

Of all the faculties, you will find not one which is capable of contemplating

itself; and, consequently, not capable either of approving or disapproving.

How far does the grammatic art possess the contemplating power? As

far as forming a judgement about what is written and spoken. And how

far music? As far as judging about melody. Does either of them then

contemplate itself? By no means. But when you must write something

to your friend, grammar will tell you what words you must write; but

whether you should write or not, grammar will not tell you. And so

it is with music as to musical sounds; but whether you should sing

at the present time and play on the lute, or do neither, music will

not tell you. What faculty then will tell you? That which contemplates

both itself and all other things. And what is this faculty? The rational

faculty; for this is the only faculty that we have received which

examines itself, what it is, and what power it has, and what is the

value of this gift, and examines all other faculties: for what else

is there which tells us that golden things are beautiful, for they

do not say so themselves? Evidently it is the faculty which is capable

of judging of appearances. What else judges of music, grammar, and

other faculties, proves their uses and points out the occasions for

using them? Nothing else.

As then it was fit to be so, that which is best of all and supreme

over all is the only thing which the gods have placed in our power,

the right use of appearances; but all other things they have not placed

in our power. Was it because they did not choose? I indeed think that,

if they had been able, they would have put these other things also

in our power, but they certainly could not. For as we exist on the

earth, and are bound to such a body and to such companions, how was

it possible for us not to be hindered as to these things by externals?

But what says Zeus? “Epictetus, if it were possible, I would have

made both your little body and your little property free and not exposed

to hindrance. But now be not ignorant of this: this body is not yours,

but it is clay finely tempered. And since I was not able to do for

you what I have mentioned, I have given you a small portion of us,

this faculty of pursuing an object and avoiding it, and the faculty

of desire and aversion, and, in a word, the faculty of using the appearances

of things; and if you will take care of this faculty and consider

it your only possession, you will never be hindered, never meet with

impediments; you will not lament, you will not blame, you will not

flatter any person.”

“Well, do these seem to you small matters?” I hope not. “Be content

with them then and pray to the gods.” But now when it is in our power

to look after one thing, and to attach ourselves to it, we prefer

to look after many things, and to be bound to many things, to the

body and to property, and to brother and to friend, and to child and

to slave. Since, then, we are bound to many things, we are depressed

by them and dragged down. For this reason, when the weather is not

fit for sailing, we sit down and torment ourselves, and continually

look out to see what wind is blowing. “It is north.” What is that

to us? “When will the west wind blow?” When it shall choose, my good

man, or when it shall please AEolus; for God has not made you the

manager of the winds, but AEolus. What then? We must make the best

use that we can of the things which are in our power, and use the

rest according to their nature. What is their nature then? As God

may please.

“Must I, then, alone have my head cut off?” What, would you have all

men lose their heads that you may be consoled? Will you not stretch

out your neck as Lateranus did at Rome when Nero ordered him to be

beheaded? For when he had stretched out his neck, and received a feeble

blow, which made him draw it in for a moment, he stretched it out

again. And a little before, when he was visited by Epaphroditus, Nero’s

freedman, who asked him about the cause of offense which he had given,

he said, “If I choose to tell anything, I will tell your master.”

What then should a man have in readiness in such circumstances? What

else than “What is mine, and what is not mine; and permitted to me,

and what is not permitted to me.” I must die. Must I then die lamenting?

I must be put in chains. Must I then also lament? I must go into exile.

Does any man then hinder me from going with smiles and cheerfulness

and contentment? “Tell me the secret which you possess.” I will not,

for this is in my power. “But I will put you in chains.” Man, what

are you talking about? Me in chains? You may fetter my leg, but my

will not even Zeus himself can overpower. “I will throw you into prison.”

My poor body, you mean. “I will cut your head off.” When, then, have

I told you that my head alone cannot be cut off? These are the things

which philosophers should meditate on, which they should write daily,

in which they should exercise themselves.

Thrasea used to say, “I would rather be killed to-day than banished

to-morrow.” What, then, did Rufus say to him? “If you choose death

as the heavier misfortune, how great is the folly of your choice?

But if, as the lighter, who has given you the choice? Will you not

study to be content with that which has been given to you?”

What, then, did Agrippinus say? He said, “I am not a hindrance to

myself.” When it was reported to him that his trial was going on in

the Senate, he said, “I hope it may turn out well; but it is the fifth

hour of the day”- this was the time when he was used to exercise himself

and then take the cold bath- “let us go and take our exercise.” After

he had taken his exercise, one comes and tells him, “You have been

condemned.” “To banishment,” he replies, “or to death?” “To banishment.”

“What about my property?” “It is not taken from you.” “Let us go to

Aricia then,” he said, “and dine.”

This it is to have studied what a man ought to study; to have made

desire, aversion, free from hindrance, and free from all that a man

would avoid. I must die. If now, I am ready to die. If, after a short

time, I now dine because it is the dinner-hour; after this I will

then die. How? Like a man who gives up what belongs to another.

Chapter 2

How a Man on every occasion can maintain his Proper Character

To the rational animal only is the irrational intolerable; but that

which is rational is tolerable. Blows are not naturally intolerable.

“How is that?” See how the Lacedaemonians endure whipping when they

have learned that whipping is consistent with reason. “To hang yourself

is not intolerable.” When, then, you have the opinion that it is rational,

you go and hang yourself. In short, if we observe, we shall find that

the animal man is pained by nothing so much as by that which is irrational;

and, on the contrary, attracted to nothing so much as to that which

is rational.

But the rational and the irrational appear such in a different way

to different persons, just as the good and the bad, the profitable

and the unprofitable. For this reason, particularly, we need discipline,

in order to learn how to adapt the preconception of the rational and

the irrational to the several things conformably to nature. But in

order to determine the rational and the irrational, we use not only

the of external things, but we consider also what is appropriate to

each person. For to one man it is consistent with reason to hold a

chamber pot for another, and to look to this only, that if he does

not hold it, he will receive stripes, and he will not receive his

food: but if he shall hold the pot, he will not suffer anything hard

or disagreeable. But to another man not only does the holding of a

chamber pot appear intolerable for himself, but intolerable also for

him to allow another to do this office for him. If, then, you ask

me whether you should hold the chamber pot or not, I shall say to

you that the receiving of food is worth more than the not receiving

of it, and the being scourged is a greater indignity than not being

scourged; so that if you measure your interests by these things, go

and hold the chamber pot. “But this,” you say, “would not be worthy

of me.” Well, then, it is you who must introduce this consideration

into the inquiry, not I; for it is you who know yourself, how much

you are worth to yourself, and at what price you sell yourself; for

men sell themselves at various prices.

For this reason, when Florus was deliberating whether he should go

down to Nero’s spectacles and also perform in them himself, Agrippinus

said to him, “Go down”: and when Florus asked Agrippinus, “Why do

not you go down?” Agrippinus replied, “Because I do not even deliberate

about the matter.” For he who has once brought himself to deliberate

about such matters, and to calculate the value of external things,

comes very near to those who have forgotten their own character. For

why do you ask me the question, whether death is preferable or life?

I say “life.” “Pain or pleasure?” I say “pleasure.” But if I do not

take a part in the tragic acting, I shall have my head struck off.

Go then and take a part, but I will not. “Why?” Because you consider

yourself to be only one thread of those which are in the tunic. Well

then it was fitting for you to take care how you should be like the

rest of men, just as the thread has no design to be anything superior

to the other threads. But I wish to be purple, that small part which

is bright, and makes all the rest appear graceful and beautiful. Why

then do you tell me to make myself like the many? and if I do, how

shall I still be purple?

Priscus Helvidius also saw this, and acted conformably. For when Vespasian

sent and commanded him not to go into the senate, he replied, “It

is in your power not to allow me to be a member of the senate, but

so long as I am, I must go in.” “Well, go in then,” says the emperor,

“but say nothing.” “Do not ask my opinion, and I will be silent.”

“But I must ask your opinion.” “And I must say what I think right.”

“But if you do, I shall put you to death.” “When then did I tell you

that I am immortal? You will do your part, and I will do mine: it

is your part to kill; it is mine to die, but not in fear: yours to

banish me; mine to depart without sorrow.”

What good then did Priscus do, who was only a single person? And what

good does the purple do for the toga? Why, what else than this, that

it is conspicuous in the toga as purple, and is displayed also as

a fine example to all other things? But in such circumstances another

would have replied to Caesar who forbade him to enter the senate,

“I thank you for sparing me.” But such a man Vespasian would not even

have forbidden to enter the senate, for he knew that he would either

sit there like an earthen vessel, or, if he spoke, he would say what

Caesar wished, and add even more.

In this way an athlete also acted who was in danger of dying unless

his private parts were amputated. His brother came to the athlete,

who was a philosopher, and said, “Come, brother, what are you going

to do? Shall we amputate this member and return to the gymnasium?”

But the athlete persisted in his resolution and died. When some one

asked Epictetus how he did this, as an athlete or a philosopher, “As

a man,” Epictetus replied, “and a man who had been proclaimed among

the athletes at the Olympic games and had contended in them, a man

who had been familiar with such a place, and not merely anointed in

Baton’s school. Another would have allowed even his head to be cut

off, if he could have lived without it. Such is that regard to character

which is so strong in those who have been accustomed to introduce

it of themselves and conjoined with other things into their deliberations.”

“Come, then, Epictetus, shave yourself.” “If I am a philosopher,”

I answer, “I will not shave myself.” “But I will take off your head?”

If that will do you any good, take it off.

Some person asked, “How then shall every man among us perceive what

is suitable to his character?” How, he replied, does the bull alone,

when the lion has attacked, discover his own powers and put himself

forward in defense of the whole herd? It is plain that with the powers

the perception of having them is immediately conjoined; and, therefore,

whoever of us has such powers will not be ignorant of them. Now a

bull is not made suddenly, nor a brave man; but we must discipline

ourselves in the winter for the summer campaign, and not rashly run

upon that which does not concern us.

Only consider at what price you sell your own will; if for no other

reason, at least for this, that you sell it not for a small sum. But

that which is great and superior perhaps belongs to Socrates and such

as are like him. “Why then, if we are naturally such, are not a very

great number of us like him?” Is it true then that all horses become

swift, that all dogs are skilled in tracking footprints? “What, then,

since I am naturally dull, shall I, for this reason, take no pains?”

I hope not. Epictetus is not superior to Socrates; but if he is not

inferior, this is enough for me; for I shall never be a Milo, and

yet I do not neglect my body; nor shall I be a Croesus, and yet I

do not neglect my property; nor, in a word, do we neglect looking

after anything because we despair of reaching the highest degree.

Chapter 3

How a man should proceed from the principle of God being the father

of all men to the rest

If a man should be able to assent to this doctrine as he ought, that

we are all sprung from God in an especial manner, and that God is

the father both of men and of gods, I suppose that he would never

have any ignoble or mean thoughts about himself. But if Caesar should

adopt you, no one could endure your arrogance; and if you know that

you are the son of Zeus, will you not be elated? Yet we do not so;

but since these two things are mingled in the generation of man, body

in common with the animals, and reason and intelligence in common

with the gods, many incline to this kinship, which is miserable and

mortal; and some few to that which is divine and happy. Since then

it is of necessity that every man uses everything according to the

opinion which he has about it, those, the few, who think that they

are formed for fidelity and modesty and a sure use of appearances

have no mean or ignoble thoughts about themselves; but with the many

it is quite the contrary. For they say, “What am I? A poor, miserable

man, with my wretched bit of flesh.” Wretched. Indeed; but you possess

something better than your “bit of flesh.” Why then do you neglect

that which is better, and why do you attach yourself to this?

Through this kinship with the flesh, some of us inclining to it become

like wolves, faithless and treacherous and mischievous: some become

like lions, savage and untamed; but the greater part of us become

foxes and other worse animals. For what else is a slanderer and a

malignant man than a fox, or some other more wretched and meaner animal?

See, then, and take care that you do not become some one of these

miserable things.

Chapter 4

Of progress or improvement

He who is making progress, having learned from philosophers that desire

means the desire of good things, and aversion means aversion from

bad things; having learned too that happiness and tranquillity are

not attainable by man otherwise than by not failing to obtain what

he desires, and not falling into that which he would avoid; such a

man takes from himself desire altogether and defers it, but he employs

his aversion only on things which are dependent on his will. For if

he attempts to avoid anything independent of his will, he knows that

sometimes he will fall in with something which he wishes to avoid,

and he will be unhappy. Now if virtue promises good fortune and tranquillity

and happiness, certainly also the progress toward virtue is progress

toward each of these things. For it is always true that to whatever

point the perfecting of anything leads us, progress is an approach

toward this point.

How then do we admit that virtue is such as I have said, and yet seek

progress in other things and make a display of it? What is the product

of virtue? Tranquillity. Who then makes improvement? It is he who

has read many books of Chrysippus? But does virtue consist in having

understood Chrysippus? If this is so, progress is clearly nothing

else than knowing a great deal of Chrysippus. But now we admit that

virtue produces one thing. and we declare that approaching near to

it is another thing, namely, progress or improvement. “Such a person,”

says one, “is already able to read Chrysippus by himself.” Indeed,

sir, you are making great progress. What kind of progress? But why

do you mock the man? Why do you draw him away from the perception

of his own misfortunes? Will you not show him the effect of virtue

that he may learn where to look for improvement? Seek it there, wretch,

where your work lies. And where is your work? In desire and in aversion,

that you may not be disappointed in your desire, and that you may

not fall into that which you would avoid; in your pursuit and avoiding,

that you commit no error; in assent and suspension of assent, that

you be not deceived. The first things, and the most necessary, are

those which I have named. But if with trembling and lamentation you

seek not to fall into that which you avoid, tell me how you are improving.

Do you then show me your improvement in these things? If I were talking

to an athlete, I should say, “Show me your shoulders”; and then he

might say, “Here are my halteres.” You and your halteres look to that.

I should reply, “I wish to see the effect of the halteres.” So, when

you say: “Take the treatise on the active powers, and see how I have

studied it.” I reply, “Slave, I am not inquiring about this, but how

you exercise pursuit and avoidance, desire and aversion, how your

design and purpose and prepare yourself, whether conformably to nature

or not. If conformably, give me evidence of it, and I will say that

you are making progress: but if not conformably, be gone, and not

only expound your books, but write such books yourself; and what will

you gain by it? Do you not know that the whole book costs only five

denarii? Does then the expounder seem to be worth more than five denarii?

Never, then, look for the matter itself in one place, and progress

toward it in another.”

Where then is progress? If any of you, withdrawing himself from externals,

turns to his own will to exercise it and to improve it by labour,

so as to make it conformable to nature, elevated, free, unrestrained,

unimpeded, faithful, modest; and if he has learned that he who desires

or avoids the things which are not in his power can neither be faithful

nor free, but of necessity he must change with them and be tossed

about with them as in a tempest, and of necessity must subject himself

to others who have the power to procure or prevent what he desires

or would avoid; finally, when he rises in the morning, if he observes

and keeps these rules, bathes as a man of fidelity, eats as a modest

man; in like manner, if in every matter that occurs he works out his

chief principles as the runner does with reference to running, and

the trainer of the voice with reference to the voice- this is the

man who truly makes progress, and this is the man who has not traveled

in vain. But if he has strained his efforts to the practice of reading

books, and labours only at this, and has traveled for this, I tell

him to return home immediately, and not to neglect his affairs there;

for this for which he has traveled is nothing. But the other thing

is something, to study how a man can rid his life of lamentation and

groaning, and saying, “Woe to me,” and “wretched that I am,” and to

rid it also of misfortune and disappointment and to learn what death

is, and exile, and prison, and poison, that he may be able to say

when he is in fetters, “Dear Crito, if it is the will of the gods

that it be so, let it be so”; and not to say, “Wretched am I, an old

man; have I kept my gray hairs for this?” Who is it that speaks thus?

Do you think that I shall name some man of no repute and of low condition?

Does not Priam say this? Does not OEdipus say this? Nay, all kings

say it! For what else is tragedy than the perturbations of men who

value externals exhibited in this kind of poetry? But if a man must

learn by fiction that no external things which are independent of

the will concern us, for this? part I should like this fiction, by

the aid of which I should live happily and undisturbed. But you must

consider for yourselves what you wish.

What then does Chrysippus teach us? The reply is, “to know that these

things are not false, from which happiness comes and tranquillity

arises. Take my books, and you will learn how true and conformable

to nature are the things which make me free from perturbations.” O

great good fortune! O the great benefactor who points out the way!

To Triptolemus all men have erected temples and altars, because he

gave us food by cultivation; but to him who discovered truth and brought

it to light and communicated it to all, not the truth which shows

us how to live, but how to live well, who of you for this reason has

built an altar, or a temple, or has dedicated a statue, or who worships

God for this? Because the gods have given the vine, or wheat, we sacrifice

to them: but because they have produced in the human mind that fruit

by which they designed to show us the truth which relates to happiness,

shall we not thank God for this?

Chapter 5

Against the academics

If a man, said Epictetus, opposes evident truths, it is not easy to

find arguments by which we shall make him change his opinion. But

this does not arise either from the man’s strength or the teacher’s

weakness; for when the man, though he has been confuted, is hardened

like a stone, how shall we then be able to deal with him by argument?

Now there are two kinds of hardening, one of the understanding, the

other of the sense of shame, when a man is resolved not to assent

to what is manifest nor to desist from contradictions. Most of us

are afraid of mortification of the body, and would contrive all means

to avoid such a thing, but we care not about the soul’s mortification.

And indeed with regard to the soul, if a man be in such a state as

not to apprehend anything, or understand at all, we think that he

is in a bad condition: but if the sense of shame and modesty are deadened,

this we call even power.

Do you comprehend that you are awake? “I do not,” the man replies,

“for I do not even comprehend when in my sleep I imagine that I am

awake.” Does this appearance then not differ from the other? “Not

at all,” he replies. Shall I still argue with this man? And what fire

or what iron shall I apply to him to make him feel that he is deadened?

He does perceive, but he pretends that he does not. He’s even worse

than a dead man. He does not see the contradiction: he is in a bad

condition. Another does see it, but he is not moved, and makes no

improvement: he is even in a worse condition. His modesty is extirpated,

and his sense of shame; and the rational faculty has not been cut

off from him, but it is brutalized. Shall I name this strength of

mind? Certainly not, unless we also name it such in catamites, through

which they do and say in public whatever comes into their head.

Chapter 6

Of providence

From everything which is or happens in the world, it is easy to praise

Providence, if a man possesses these two qualities, the faculty of

seeing what belongs and happens to all persons and things, and a grateful

disposition. If he does not possess these two qualities, one man will

not see the use of things which are and which happen; another will

not be thankful for them, even if he does know them. If God had made

colours, but had not made the faculty of seeing them, what would have

been their use? None at all. On the other hand, if He had made the

faculty of vision, but had not made objects such as to fall under

the faculty, what in that case also would have been the use of it?

None at all. Well, suppose that He had made both, but had not made

light? In that case, also, they would have been of no use. Who is

it, then, who has fitted this to that and that to this? And who is

it that has fitted the knife to the case and the case to the knife?

Is it no one? And, indeed, from the very structure of things which

have attained their completion, we are accustomed to show that the

work is certainly the act of some artificer, and that it has not been

constructed without a purpose. Does then each of these things demonstrate

the workman, and do not visible things and the faculty of seeing and

light demonstrate Him? And the existence of male and female, and the

desire of each for conjunction, and the power of using the parts which

are constructed, do not even these declare the workman? If they do

not, let us consider the constitution of our understanding according

to which, when we meet with sensible objects, we simply receive impressions

from them, but we also select something from them, and subtract something,

and add, and compound by means of them these things or those, and,

in fact, pass from some to other things which, in a manner, resemble

them: is not even this sufficient to move some men, and to induce

them not to forget the workman? If not so, let them explain to us

what it is that makes each several thing, or how it is possible that

things so wonderful and like the contrivances of art should exist

by chance and from their own proper motion?

What, then, are these things done in us only. Many, indeed, in us

only, of which the rational animal had peculiar need; but you will

find many common to us with irrational animals. Do they them understand

what is done? By no means. For use is one thing, and understanding

is another: God had need of irrational animals to make use of appearances,

but of us to understand the use of appearances. It is therefore enough

for them to eat and to drink, and to sleep and to copulate, and to

do all the other things which they severally do. But for us, to whom

He has given also the faculty, these things are not sufficient; for

unless we act in a proper and orderly manner, and conformably to the

nature and constitution of each thing, we shall never attain our true

end. For where the constitutions of living beings are different, there

also the acts and the ends are different. In those animals, then,

whose constitution is adapted only to use, use alone is enough: but

in an animal which has also the power of understanding the use, unless

there be the due exercise of the understanding, he will never attain

his proper end. Well then God constitutes every animal, one to be

eaten, another to serve for agriculture, another to supply cheese,

and another for some like use; for which purposes what need is there

to understand appearances and to be able to distinguish them? But

God has introduced man to be a spectator of God and of His works;

and not only a spectator of them, but an interpreter. For this reason

it is shameful for man to begin and to end where irrational animals

do, but rather he ought to begin where they begin, and to end where

nature ends in us; and nature ends in contemplation and understanding,

in a way of life conformable to nature. Take care then not to die

without having been spectators of these things.

But you take a journey to Olympia to see the work of Phidias, and

all of you think it a misfortune to die without having seen such things.

But when there is no need to take a journey, and where a man is, there

he has the works (of God) before him, will you not desire to see and

understand them? Will you not perceive either what you are, or what

you were born for, or what this is for which you have received the

faculty of sight? But you may say, “There are some things disagreeable

and troublesome in life.” And are there none in Olympia? Are you not

scorched? Are you not pressed by a crowd? Are you not without comfortable

means of bathing? Are you not wet when it rains? Have you not abundance

of noise, clamour, and other disagreeable things? But I suppose that

setting all these things off against the magnificence of the spectacle,

you bear and endure. Well, then, and have you not received faculties

by which you will be able to bear all that happens? Have you not received

greatness of soul? Have you not received manliness? Have you not received

endurance? And why do I trouble myself about anything that can happen

if I possess greatness of soul? What shall distract my mind or disturb

me, or appear painful? Shall I not use the power for the purposes

for which I received it, and shall I grieve and lament over what happens?

“Yes, but my nose runs.” For what purpose then, slave, have you hands?

Is it not that you may wipe your nose? “Is it, then, consistent with

reason that there should be running of noses in the world?” Nay, how

much better it is to wipe your nose than to find fault. What do you

think that Hercules would have been if there had not been such a lion,

and hydra, and stag, and boar, and certain unjust and bestial men,

whom Hercules used to drive away and clear out? And what would he

have been doing if there had been nothing of the kind? Is it not plain

that he would have wrapped himself up and have slept? In the first

place, then he would not have been a Hercules, when he was dreaming

away all his life in such luxury and case; and even if he had been

one what would have been the use of him? and what the use of his arms,

and of the strength of the other parts of his body, and his endurance

and noble spirit, if such circumstances and occasions had not roused

and exercised him? “Well, then, must a man provide for himself such

means of exercise, and to introduce a lion from some place into his

country, and a boar and a hydra?” This would be folly and madness:

but as they did exist, and were found, they were useful for showing

what Hercules was and for exercising him. Come then do you also having

observed these things look to the faculties which you have, and when

you have looked at them, say: “Bring now, O Zeus, any difficulty that

Thou pleasest, for I have means given to me by Thee and powers for

honoring myself through the things which happen.” You do not so; but

you sit still, trembling for fear that some things will happen, and

weeping, and lamenting and groaning for what does happen: and then

you blame the gods. For what is the consequence of such meanness of

spirit but impiety? And yet God has not only given us these faculties;

by which we shall be able to bear everything that happens without

being depressed or broken by it; but, like a good king and a true

father, He has given us these faculties free from hindrance, subject

to no compulsion unimpeded, and has put them entirely in our own power,

without even having reserved to Himself any power of hindering or

impeding. You, who have received these powers free and as your own,

use them not: you do not even see what you have received, and from

whom; some of you being blinded to the giver, and not even acknowledging

your benefactor, and others, through meanness of spirit, betaking

yourselves to fault finding and making charges against God. Yet I

will show to you that you have powers and means for greatness of soul

and manliness but what powers you have for finding fault and making

accusations, do you show me.

Chapter 7

Of the use of sophistical arguments, and hypothetical, and the like

The handling of sophistical and hypothetical arguments, and of those

which derive their conclusions from questioning, and in a word the

handling of all such arguments, relates to the duties of life, though

the many do not know this truth. For in every matter we inquire how

the wise and good man shall discover the proper path and the proper

method of dealing with the matter. Let, then, people either say that

the grave man will not descend into the contest of question and answer,

or that, if he does descend into the contest, he will take no care

about not conducting himself rashly or carelessly in questioning and

answering. But if they do not allow either the one or the other of

these things, they must admit that some inquiry ought to be made into

those topics on which particularly questioning and answering are employed.

For what is the end proposed in reasoning? To establish true propositions,

to remove the false, to withhold assent from those which are not plain.

Is it enough then to have learned only this? “It is enough,” a man

may reply. Is it, then, also enough for a man, who would not make

a mistake in the use of coined money, to have heard this precept,

that he should receive the genuine drachmae and reject the spurious?

“It is not enough.” What, then, ought to be added to this precept?

What else than the faculty which proves and distinguishes the genuine

and the spurious drachmae? Consequently also in reasoning what has

been said is not enough; but is it necessary that a man should acquire

the faculty of examining and distinguishing the true and the false,

and that which is not plain? “It is necessary.” Besides this, what

is proposed in reasoning? “That you should accept what follows from

that which you have properly granted.” Well, is it then enough in

this case also to know this? It is not enough; but a man must learn

how one thing is a consequence of other things, and when one thing

follows from one thing, and when it follows from several collectively.

Consider, then if it be not necessary that this power should also

be acquired by him who purposes to conduct himself skillfully in reasoning,

the power of demonstrating himself the several things which he has

proposed, and the power of understanding the demonstrations of others,

including of not being deceived by sophists, as if they were demonstrating.

Therefore there has arisen among us the practice and exercise of conclusive

arguments and figures, and it has been shown to be necessary.

But in fact in some cases we have properly granted the premisses or

assumptions, and there results from them something; and though it

is not true, yet none the less it does result. What then ought I to

do? Ought I to admit the falsehood? And how is that possible? Well,

should I say that I did not properly grant that which we agreed upon?

“But you are not allowed to do even this.” Shall I then say that the

consequence does not arise through what has been conceded? “But neither

is it allowed.” What then must be done in this case? Consider if it

is not this: as to have borrowed is not enough to make a man still

a debtor, but to this must be added the fact that he continues to

owe the money and that the debt is not paid, so it is not enough to

compel you to admit the inference that you have granted the premisses,

but you must abide by what you have granted. Indeed, if the premisses

continue to the end such as they were when they were granted, it is

absolutely necessary for us to abide by what we have granted, and

we must accept their consequences: but if the premisses do not remain

such as they were when they were granted, it is absolutely necessary

for us also to withdraw from what we granted, and from accepting what

does not follow from the words in which our concessions were made.

For the inference is now not our inference, nor does it result with

our assent, since we have withdrawn from the premisses which we granted.

We ought then both to examine such kind of premisses, and such change

and variation of them, by which in the course of questioning or answering,

or in making the syllogistic conclusion, or in any other such way,

the premisses undergo variations, and give occasion to the foolish

to be confounded, if they do not see what conclusions are. For what

reason ought we to examine? In order that we may not in this matter

be employed in an improper manner nor in a confused way.

And the same in hypotheses and hypothetical arguments; for it is necessary

sometimes to demand the granting of some hypothesis as a kind of passage

to the argument which follows. Must we then allow every hypothesis

that is proposed, or not allow every one? And if not every one, which

should we allow? And if a man has allowed an hypothesis, must he in

every case abide by allowing it? or must he sometimes withdraw from

it, but admit the consequences and not admit contradictions? Yes;

but suppose that a man says, “If you admit the hypothesis of a possibility,

I will draw you to an impossibility.” With such a person shall a man

of sense refuse to enter into a contest, and avoid discussion and

conversation with him? But what other man than the man of sense can

use argumentation and is skillful in questioning and answering, and

incapable of being cheated and deceived by false reasoning? And shall

he enter into the contest, and yet not take care whether he shall

engage in argument not rashly and not carelessly? And if he does not

take care, how can he be such a man as we conceive him to be? But

without some such exercise and preparation, can he maintain a continuous

and consistent argument? Let them show this; and all these speculations

become superfluous, and are absurd and inconsistent with our notion

of a good and serious man.

Why are we still indolent and negligent and sluggish, and why do we

seek pretences for not labouring and not being watchful in cultivating

our reason? “If then I shall make a mistake in these matters may I

not have killed my father?” Slave, where was there a father in this

matter that you could kill him? What, then, have you done? The only

fault that was possible here is the fault which you have committed.

This is the very remark which I made to Rufus when he blamed me for

not having discovered the one thing omitted in a certain syllogism:

“I suppose,” I said, “that I have burnt the Capitol.” “Slave,” he

replied, “was the thing omitted here the Capitol?” Or are these the

only crimes, to burn the Capitol and to kill your father? But for

a man to use the appearances resented to him rashly and foolishly

and carelessly, not to understand argument, nor demonstration, nor

sophism, nor, in a word, to see in questioning and answering what

is consistent with that which we have granted or is not consistent;

is there no error in this?

Chapter 8

That the faculties are not safe to the uninstructed

In as many ways as we can change things which are equivalent to one

another, in just so many ways we can change the forms of arguments

and enthymemes in argumentation. This is an instance: “If you have

borrowed and not repaid, you owe me the money: you have not borrowed

and you have not repaid; then you do not owe me the money.” To do

this skillfully is suitable to no man more than to the philosopher;

for if the enthymeme is all imperfect syllogism. it is plain that

he who has been exercised in the perfect syllogism must be equally

expert in the imperfect also.

“Why then do we not exercise ourselves and one another in this manner?”

Because, I reply, at present, though we are not exercised in these

things and not distracted from the study of morality, by me at least,

still we make no progress in virtue. What then must we expect if we

should add this occupation? and particularly as this would not only

be an occupation which would withdraw us from more necessary things,

but would also be a cause of self conceit and arrogance, and no small

cause. For great is the power of arguing and the faculty of persuasion,

and particularly if it should be much exercised, and also receive

additional ornament from language: and so universally, every faculty

acquired by the uninstructed and weak brings with it the danger of

these persons being elated and inflated by it. For by what means could

one persuade a young man who excels in these matters that he ought

not to become an appendage to them, but to make them an appendage

to himself? Does he not trample on all such reasons, and strut before

us elated and inflated, not enduring that any man should reprove him

and remind him of what he has neglected and to what he has turned


“What, then, was not Plato a philosopher?” I reply, “And was not Hippocrates

a physician? but you see how Hippocrates speaks.” Does Hippocrates,

then, speak thus in respect of being a physician? Why do you mingle

things which have been accidentally united in the same men? And if

Plato was handsome and strong, ought I also to set to work and endeavor

to become handsome or strong, as if this was necessary for philosophy,

because a certain philosopher was at the same time handsome and a

philosopher? Will you not choose to see and to distinguish in respect

to what men become philosophers, and what things belong to belong

to them in other respects? And if I were a philosopher, ought you

also to be made lame? What then? Do I take away these faculties which

you possess? By no means; for neither do I take away the faculty of

seeing. But if you ask me what is the good of man, I cannot mention

to you anything else than that it is a certain disposition of the

will with respect to appearances.

Chapter 9

How from the fact that we are akin to God a man may proceed to the


If the things are true which are said by the philosophers about the

kinship between God and man, what else remains for men to do then

what Socrates did? Never in reply to the question, to what country

you belong, say that you are an Athenian or a Corinthian, but that

you are a citizen of the world. For why do you say that you are an

Athenian, and why do you not say that you belong to the small nook

only into which your poor body was cast at birth? Is it not plain

that you call yourself an Athenian or Corinthian from the place which

has a greater authority and comprises not only that small nook itself

and all your family, but even the whole country from which the stock

of your progenitors is derived down to you? He then who has observed

with intelligence the administration of the world, and has learned

that the greatest and supreme and the most comprehensive community

is that which is composed of men and God, and that from God have descended

the seeds not only to my father and grandfather, but to all beings

which are generated on the earth and are produced, and particularly

to rational beings- for these only are by their nature formed to have

communion with God, being by means of reason conjoined with Him- why

should not such a man call himself a citizen of the world, why not

a son of God, and why should he be afraid of anything which happens

among men? Is kinship with Caesar or with any other of the powerful

in Rome sufficient to enable us to live in safety, and above contempt

and without any fear at all? and to have God for your maker and father

and guardian, shall not this release us from sorrows and fears?

But a man may say, “Whence shall I get bread to eat when I have nothing?”

And how do slaves, and runaways, on what do they rely when they leave

their masters? Do they rely on their lands or slaves, or their vessels

of silver? They rely on nothing but themselves, and food does not

fail them. And shall it be necessary for one among us who is a philosopher

to travel into foreign parts, and trust to and rely on others, and

not to take care of himself, and shall he be inferior to irrational

animals and more cowardly, each of which, being self-sufficient, neither

fails to get its proper food, nor to find a suitable way of living,

and one conformable to nature?

I indeed think that the old man ought to be sitting here, not to contrive

how you may have no mean thoughts nor mean and ignoble talk about

yourselves, but to take care that there be not among us any young

men of such a mind that, when they have recognized their kinship to

God, and that we are fettered by these bonds, the body, I mean, and

its possessions, and whatever else on account of them is necessary

to us for the economy and commerce of life, they should intend to

throw off these things as if they were burdens painful and intolerable,

and to depart to their kinsmen. But this is the labour that your teacher

and instructor ought to be employed upon, if he really were what he

should be. You should come to him and say, “Epictetus, we can no longer

endure being bound to this poor body, and feeding it and giving it

drink, and rest, and cleaning it, and for the sake of the body complying

with the wishes of these and of those. Are not these things indifferent

and nothing to us, and is not death no evil? And are we not in a manner

kinsmen of God, and did we not come from Him? Allow us to depart to

the place from which we came; allow us to be released at last from

these bonds by which we are bound and weighed down. Here there are

robbers and thieves and courts of justice, and those who are named

tyrants, and think that they have some power over us by means of the

body and its possessions. Permit us to show them that they have no

power over any man.” And I on my part would say, “Friends, wait for

God; when He shall give the signal and release you from this service,

then go to Him; but for the present endure to dwell in this place

where He has put you: short indeed is this time of your dwelling here,

and easy to bear for those who are so disposed: for what tyrant or

what thief, or what courts of justice, are formidable to those who

have thus considered as things of no value the body and the possessions

of the body? Wait then, do not depart without a reason.”

Something like this ought to be said by the teacher to ingenuous youths.

But now what happens? The teacher is a lifeless body, and you are

lifeless bodies. When you have been well filled to-day, you sit down

and lament about the morrow, how you shall get something to eat. Wretch,

if you have it, you will have it; if you have it not, you will depart

from life. The door is open. Why do you grieve? where does there remain

any room for tears? and where is there occasion for flattery? why

shall one man envy another? why should a man admire the rich or the

powerful, even if they be both very strong and of violent temper?

for what will they do to us? We shall not care for that which they

can do; and what we do care for, that they cannot do. How did Socrates

behave with respect to these matters? Why, in what other way than

a man ought to do who was convinced that he was a kinsman of the gods?

“If you say to me now,” said Socrates to his judges, “‘We will acquit

you on the condition that you no longer discourse in the way in which

you have hitherto discoursed, nor trouble either our young or our

old men,’ I shall answer, ‘you make yourselves ridiculous by thinking

that, if one of our commanders has appointed me to a certain post,

it is my duty to keep and maintain it, and to resolve to die a thousand

times rather than desert it; but if God has put us in any place and

way of life, we ought to desert it.'” Socrates speaks like a man who

is really a kinsman of the gods. But we think about ourselves as if

we were only stomachs, and intestines, and shameful parts; we fear,

we desire; we flatter those who are able to help us in these matters,

and we fear them also.

A man asked me to write to Rome about him, a man who, as most people

thought, had been unfortunate, for formerly he was a man of rank and

rich, but had been stripped of all, and was living here. I wrote on

his behalf in a submissive manner; but when he had read the letter,

he gave it back to me and said, “I wished for your help, not your

pity: no evil has happened to me.”

Thus also Musonius Rufus, in order to try me, used to say: “This and

this will befall you from your master”; and I replied that these were

things which happen in the ordinary course of human affairs. “Why,

then,” said he, “should I ask him for anything when I can obtain it

from you?” For, in fact, what a man has from himself, it is superfluous

and foolish to receive from another? Shall I, then, who am able to

receive from myself greatness of soul and a generous spirit, receive

from you land and money or a magisterial office? I hope not: I will

not be so ignorant about my own possessions. But when a man is cowardly

and mean, what else must be done for him than to write letters as

you would about a corpse. “Please to grant us the body of a certain

person and a sextarius of poor blood.” For such a person is, in fact,

a carcass and a sextarius of blood, and nothing more. But if he were

anything more, he would know that one man is not miserable through

the means of another.

Chapter 11

Of natural affection

When he was visited by one of the magistrates, Epictetus inquired

of him about several particulars, and asked if he had children and

a wife. The man replied that he had; and Epictetus inquired further,

how he felt under the circumstances. “Miserable,” the man said. Then

Epictetus asked, “In what respect,” for men do not marry and beget

children in order to be wretched, but rather to be happy. “But I,”

the man replied, “am so wretched about my children that lately, when

my little daughter was sick and was supposed to be in danger, I could

not endure to stay with her, but I left home till a person sent me

news that she had recovered.” Well then, said Epictetus, do you think

that you acted right? “I acted naturally,” the man replied. But convince

me of this that you acted naturally, and I will convince you that

everything which takes place according to nature takes place rightly.

“This is the case,” said the man, “with all or at least most fathers.”

I do not deny that: but the matter about which we are inquiring is

whether such behavior is right; for in respect to this matter we must

say that tumours also come for the good of the body, because they

do come; and generally we must say that to do wrong is natural, because

nearly all or at least most of us do wrong. Do you show me then how

your behavior is natural. “I cannot,” he said; “but do you rather

show me how it is not according to nature and is not rightly done.

Well, said Epictetus, if we were inquiring about white and black,

what criterion should we employ for distinguishing between them? “The

sight,” he said. And if about hot and cold, and hard and soft, what

criterion? “The touch.” Well then, since we are inquiring about things

which are according to nature, and those which are done rightly or

not rightly, what kind of criterion do you think that we should employ?

“I do not know,” he said. And yet not to know the criterion of colors

and smells, and also of tastes, is perhaps no great harm; but if a

man do not know the criterion of good and bad, and of things according

to nature and contrary to nature, does this seem to you a small harm?

“The greatest harm.” Come tell me, do all things which seem to some

persons to be good and becoming rightly appear such; and at present

as to Jews and Syrians and Egyptians and Romans, is it possible that

the opinions of all of them in respect to food are right? “How is

it possible?” he said. Well, I suppose it is absolutely necessary

that, if the opinions of the Egyptians are right, the opinions of

the rest must be wrong: if the opinions of the Jews are right, those

of the rest cannot be right. “Certainly.” But where there is ignorance,

there also there is want of learning and training in things which

are necessary. He assented to this. You then, said Epictetus, since

you know this, for the future will employ yourself seriously about

nothing else, and will apply your mind to nothing else than to learn

the criterion of things which are according to nature, and by using

it also to determine each several thing. But in the present matter

I have so much as this to aid you toward what you wish. Does affection

to those of your family appear to you to be according to nature and

to be good? “Certainly.” Well, is such affection natural and good,

and is a thing consistent with reason not good? “By no means.” Is

then that which is consistent with reason in contradiction with affection?

“I think not.” You are right, for if it is otherwise, it is necessary

that one of the contradictions being according to nature, the other

must be contrary to nature. Is it not so? “It is,” he said. Whatever,

then, we shall discover to be at the same time affectionate and also

consistent with reason, this we confidently declare to be right and

good. “Agreed.” Well then to leave your sick child and to go away

is not reasonable, and I suppose that you will not say that it is;

but it remains for us to inquire if it is consistent with affection.

“Yes, let us consider.” Did you, then, since you had an affectionate

disposition to your child, do right when you ran off and left her;

and has the mother no affection for the child? “Certainly, she has.”

Ought, then, the mother also to have left her, or ought she not? “She

ought not.” And the nurse, does she love her? “She does.” Ought, then,

she also to have left her? “By no means.” And the pedagogue, does

he not love her? “He does love her.” Ought, then, he also to have

deserted her? and so should the child have been left alone and without

help on account of the great affection of you, the parents, and of

those about her, or should she have died in the hands of those who

neither loved her nor cared for her? “Certainly not.” Now this is

unfair and unreasonable, not to allow those who have equal affection

with yourself to do what you think to be proper for yourself to do

because you have affection. It is absurd. Come then, if you were sick,

would you wish your relations to be so affectionate, and all the rest,

children and wife, as to leave you alone and deserted? “By no means.”

And would you wish to be so loved by your own that through their excessive

affection you would always be left alone in sickness? or for this

reason would you rather pray, if it were possible, to be loved by

your enemies and deserted by them? But if this is so, it results that

your behavior was not at all an affectionate act.

Well then, was it nothing which moved you and induced you to desert

your child? and how is that possible? But it might be something of

the kind which moved a man at Rome to wrap up his head while a horse

was running which he favoured; and when contrary to expectation the

horse won, he required sponges to recover from his fainting fit. What

then is the thing which moved? The exact discussion of this does not

belong to the present occasion perhaps; but it is enough to be convinced

of this, if what the philosophers say is true, that we must not look

for it anywhere without, but in all cases it is one and the same thing

which is the cause of our doing or not doing something, of saying

or not saying something, of being elated or depressed, of avoiding

anything or pursuing: the very thing which is now the cause to me

and to you, to you of coming to me and sitting and hearing, and to

me of saying what I do say. And what is this? Is it any other than

our will to do so? “No other.” But if we had willed otherwise, what

else should we have been doing than that which we willed to do? This,

then, was the cause of Achilles’ lamentation, not the death of Patroclus;

for another man does not behave thus on the death of his companion;

but it was because he chose to do so. And to you this was the very

cause of your then running away, that you chose to do so; and on the

other side, if you should stay with her, the reason will be the same.

And now you are going to Rome because you choose; and if you should

change your mind, you will not go thither. And in a word, neither

death nor exile nor pain nor anything of the kind is the cause of

our doing anything or not doing; but our own opinions and our wills.

Do I convince you of this or not? “You do convince me.” Such, then,

as the causes are in each case, such also are the effects. When, then,

we are doing anything not rightly, from this day we shall impute it

to nothing else than to the will from which we have done it: and it

is that which we shall endeavour to take away and to extirpate more

than the tumours and abscesses out of the body. And in like manner

we shall give the same account of the cause of the things which we

do right; and we shall no longer allege as causes of any evil to us,

either slave or neighbour, or wife or children, being persuaded that,

if we do not think things to he what we do think them to be, we do

not the acts which follow from such opinions; and as to thinking or

not thinking, that is in our power and not in externals. “It is so,”

he said. From this day then we shall inquire into and examine nothing

else, what its quality is, or its state, neither land nor slaves nor

horses nor dogs, nothing else than opinions. “I hope so.” You see,

then, that you must become a Scholasticus, an animal whom all ridicule,

if you really intend to make an examination of your own opinions:

and that this is not the work of one hour or day, you know yourself.

Chapter 12

Of contentment

With respect to gods, there are some who say that a divine being does

not exist: others say that it exists, but is inactive and careless,

and takes no forethought about anything; a third class say that such

a being exists and exercises forethought, but only about great things

and heavenly things, and about nothing on the earth; a fourth class

say that a divine being exercises forethought both about things on

the earth and heavenly things, but in a general way only, and not

about things severally. There is a fifth class to whom Ulysses and

Socrates belong, who say: “I move not without thy knowledge.”

Before all other things, then, it is necessary to inquire about each

of these opinions, whether it is affirmed truly or not truly. For

if there are no gods, how is it our proper end to follow them? And

if they exist, but take no care of anything, in this case also how

will it be right to follow them? But if indeed they do exist and look

after things, still if there is nothing communicated from them to

men, nor in fact to myself, how even so is it right? The wise and

good man, then, after considering all these things, submits his own

mind to him who administers the whole, as good citizens do to the

law of the state. He who is receiving instruction ought to come to

the instructed with this intention: How shall I follow the gods in

all things, how shall I be contented with the divine administration,

and how can I become free?” For he is free to whom everything happens

according, to his will, and whom no man can hinder. “What then, is

freedom madness?” Certainly not: for madness and freedom do not consist.

“But,” you say, “I would have everything result just as I like, and

in whatever way I like.” You are mad, you are beside yourself. Do

you not know that freedom is a noble and valuable thing? But for me

inconsiderately to wish for things to happen as I inconsiderately

like, this appears to be not only not noble, but even most base. For

how do we proceed in the matter of writing? Do I wish to write the

name of Dion as I choose? No, but I am taught to choose to write it

as it ought to be written. And how with respect to music? In the same

manner. And what universally in every art or science? Just the same.

If it were not so, it would be of no value to know anything, if knowledge

were adapted to every man’s whim. Is it, then, in this alone, in this

which is the greatest and the chief thing, I mean freedom, that I

am permitted to will inconsiderately? By no means; but to be instructed

is this, to learn to wish that everything may happen as it does. And

how do things happen? As the disposer has disposed them? And he has

appointed summer and winter, and abundance and scarcity, and virtue

and vice, and all such opposites for the harmony of the whole; and

to each of us he has given a body, and parts of the body, and possessions,

and companions.

Remembering, then, this disposition of things we ought to go to be

instructed, not that we may change the constitution of things- for

we have not the power to do it, nor is it better that we should have

the power-but in order that, as the things around us are what they

are and by nature exist, we may maintain our minds in harmony with

them things which happen. For can we escape from men? and how is it

possible? And if we associate with them, can we chance them? Who gives

us the power? What then remains, or what method is discovered of holding

commerce with them? Is there such a method by which they shall do

what seems fit to them, and we not the less shall be in a mood which

is conformable to nature? But you are unwilling to endure and are

discontented: and if you are alone, you call it solitude; and of you

are with men, you call them knaves and robbers; and you find fault

with your own parents and children, and brothers and neighbours. But

you ought when you are alone to call this condition by the name of

tranquillity and freedom, and to think yourself like to the gods;

and when you are with many, you ought not to call it crowd, nor trouble,

nor uneasiness, but festival and assembly, and so accept all contentedly.

What, then, is the punishment of those who do not accept? It is to

be what they are. Is any person dissatisfied with being alone, let

him be alone. Is a man dissatisfied with his parents? let him be a

bad son, and lament. Is he dissatisfied with his children? let him

be a bad father. “Cast him into prison.” What prison? Where he is

already, for he is there against his will; and where a man is against

his will, there he is in prison. So Socrates was not in prison, for

he was there willingly. “Must my leg then be lamed?” Wretch, do you

then on account of one poor leg find fault with the world? Will you

not willingly surrender it for the whole? Will you not withdraw from

it? Will you not gladly part with it to him who gave it? And will

you be vexed and discontented with the things established by Zeus,

which he with the Moirae who were present and spinning the thread

of your generation, defined and put in order? Know you not how small

a part you are compared with the whole. I mean with respect to the

body, for as to intelligence you are not inferior to the gods nor

less; for the magnitude of intelligence is not measured by length

nor yet by height, but by thoughts.

Will you not, then, choose to place your good in that in which you

are equal to the gods? “Wretch that I am to have such a father and

mother.” What, then, was it permitted to you to come forth, and to

select, and to say: “Let such a man at this moment unite with such

a woman that I may be produced?” It was not permitted, but it was

a necessity for your parents to exist first, and then for you to be

begotten. Of what kind of parents? Of such as they were. Well then,

since they are such as they are, is there no remedy given to you?

Now if you did not know for what purpose you possess the faculty of

vision, you would be unfortunate and wretched if you closed your eyes

when colors were brought before them; but in that you possess greatness

of soul and nobility of spirit for every event that may happen, and

you know not that you possess them, are you not more unfortunate and

wretched? Things are brought close to you which are proportionate

to the power which you possess, but you turn away this power most

particularly at the very time when you ought to maintain it open and

discerning. Do you not rather thank the gods that they have allowed

you to be above these things which they have not placed in your power;

and have made you accountable only for those which are in your power?

As to your parents, the gods have left you free from responsibility;

and so with respect to your brothers, and your body, and possessions,

and death and life. For what, then, have they made you responsible?

For that which alone is in your power, the proper use of appearances.

Why then do you draw on yourself the things for which you are not

responsible? It is, indeed, a giving of trouble to yourself.

Chapter 13

How everything may he done acceptably to the gods

When some one asked, how may a man eat acceptably to the gods, he

answered: If he can eat justly and contentedly, and with equanimity,

and temperately and orderly, will it not be also acceptably to the

gods? But when you have asked for warm water and the slave has not

heard, or if he did hear has brought only tepid water, or he is not

even found to be in the house, then not to be vexed or to burst with

passion, is not this acceptable to the gods? “How then shall a man

endure such persons as this slave?” Slave yourself, will you not bear

with your own brother, who has Zeus for his progenitor, and is like

a son from the same seeds and of the same descent from above? But

if you have been put in any such higher place, will you immediately

make yourself a tyrant? Will you not remember who you are, and whom

you rule? that they are kinsmen, that they are brethren by nature,

that they are the offspring of Zeus? “But I have purchased them, and

they have not purchased me.” Do you see in what direction you are

looking, that it is toward the earth, toward the pit, that it is toward

these wretched laws of dead men? but toward the laws of the gods you

are not looking.

Chapter 14

That the deity oversees all things

When a person asked him how a man could be convinced that all his

actions are under the inspection of God, he answered, Do you not think

that all things are united in one? “I do,” the person replied. Well,

do you not think that earthly things have a natural agreement and

union with heavenly things “I do.” And how else so regularly as if

by God’s command, when He bids the plants to flower, do they flower?

when He bids them to send forth shoots, do they shoot? when He bids

them to produce fruit, how else do they produce fruit? when He bids

the fruit to ripen, does it ripen? when again He bids them to cast

down the fruits, how else do they cast them down? and when to shed

the leaves, do they shed the leaves? and when He bids them to fold

themselves up and to remain quiet and rest, how else do they remain

quiet and rest? And how else at the growth and the wane of the moon,

and at the approach and recession of the sun, are so great an alteration

and change to the contrary seen in earthly things? But are plants

and our bodies so bound up and united with the whole, and are not

our souls much more? and our souls so bound up and in contact with

God as parts of Him and portions of Him; and does not God perceive

every motion of these parts as being His own motion connate with Himself?

Now are you able to think of the divine administration, and about

all things divine, and at the same time also about human affairs,

and to be moved by ten thousand things at the same time in your senses

and in your understanding, and to assent to some, and to dissent from

others, and again as to some things to suspend your judgment; and

do you retain in your soul so many impressions from so many and various

things, and being moved by them, do you fall upon notions similar

to those first impressed, and do you retain numerous arts and the

memories of ten thousand things; and is not God able to oversee all

things, and to be present with all, and to receive from all a certain

communication? And is the sun able to illuminate so large a part of

the All, and to leave so little not illuminated, that part only which

is occupied by the earth’s shadow; and He who made the sun itself

and makes it go round, being a small part of Himself compared with

the whole, cannot He perceive all things?

“But I cannot,” the man may reply, “comprehend all these things at

once.” But who tells you that you have equal power with Zeus? Nevertheless

he has placed by every man a guardian, every man’s Demon, to whom

he has committed the care of the man, a guardian who never sleeps,

is never deceived. For to what better and more careful guardian could

He have entrusted each of us? When, then, you have shut the doors

and made darkness within, remember never to say that you are alone,

for you are not; but God is within, and your Demon is within, and

what need have they of light to see what you are doing? To this God

you ought to swear an oath just as the soldiers do to Caesar. But

they who are hired for pay swear to regard the safety of Caesar before

all things; and you who have received so many and such great favours,

will you not swear, or when you have sworn, will you not abide by

your oath? And what shall you swear? Never to be disobedient, never

to make any charges, never to find fault with anything that he has

given, and never unwillingly to do or to suffer anything, that is

necessary. Is this oath like the soldier’s oath? The soldiers swear

not to prefer any man to Caesar: in this oath men swear to honour

themselves before all.

Chapter 15

What philosophy promises

When a man was consulting him how he should persuade his brother to

cease being angry with him, Epictetus replied: Philosophy does not

propose to secure for a man any external thing. If it did philosophy

would be allowing something which is not within its province. For

as the carpenter’s material is wood, and that of the statuary is copper,

so the matter of the art of living is each man’s life. “What then

is my brother’s?” That again belongs to his own art; but with respect

to yours, it is one of the external things, like a piece of land,

like health, like reputation. But Philosophy promises none of these.

“In every circumstance I will maintain,” she says, “the governing

part conformable to nature.” Whose governing part? “His in whom I

am,” she says.

“How then shall my brother cease to be angry with me?” Bring him to

me and I will tell him. But I have nothing to say to you about his


When the man, who was consulting him, said, “I seek to know this-

how, even if my brother is not reconciled to me, shall I maintain

myself in a state conformable to nature?” Nothing great, said Epictetus,

is produced suddenly, since not even the grape or the fig is. If you

say to me now that you want a fig, I will answer to you that it requires

time: let it flower first, then put forth fruit, and then ripen. Is,

then, the fruit of a fig-tree not perfected suddenly and in one hour,

and would you possess the fruit of a man’s mind in so short a time

and so easily? Do not expect it, even if I tell you.

Chapter 16

Of providence

Do not wonder if for other animals than man all things are provided

for the body, not only food and drink, but beds also, and they have

no need of shoes nor bed materials, nor clothing; but we require all

these additional things. For, animals not being made for themselves,

but for service, it was not fit for them to he made so as to need

other things. For consider what it would be for us to take care not

only of ourselves, but also about cattle and asses, how they should

be clothed, and how shod, and how they should eat and drink. Now as

soldiers are ready for their commander, shod, clothed and armed: but

it would be a hard thing, for the chiliarch to go round and shoe or

clothe his thousand men; so also nature has formed the animals which

are made for service, all ready, prepared, and requiring no further

care. So one little boy with only a stick drives the cattle.

But now we, instead of being thankful that we need not take the same

care of animals as of ourselves, complain of God on our own account;

and yet, in the name of Zeus and the gods, any one thing of those

which exist would be enough to make a man perceive the providence

of God, at least a man who is modest and grateful. And speak not to

me now of the great thins, but only of this, that milk is produced

from grass, and cheese from milk, and wool from skins. Who made these

things or devised them? “No one,” you say. Oh, amazing shamelessness

and stupidity!

Well, let us omit the works of nature and contemplate her smaller

acts. Is there anything less useful than the hair on the chin? What

then, has not nature used this hair also in the most suitable manner

possible? Has she not by it distinguished the male and the female?

does not the nature of every man forthwith proclaim from a distance,

“I am a man; as such approach me, as such speak to me; look for nothing

else; see the signs”? Again, in the case of women, as she has mingled

something softer in the voice, so she has also deprived them of hair

(on the chin). You say: “Not so; the human animal ought to have been

left without marks of distinction, and each of us should have been

obliged to proclaim, ‘I am a man.’ But how is not the sign beautiful

and becoming, and venerable? how much more beautiful than the cock’s

comb, how much more becoming than the lion’s mane? For this reason

we ought to preserve the signs which God has given, we ought not to

throw them away, nor to confound, as much as we can, the distinctions

of the sexes.

Are these the only works of providence in us? And what words are sufficient

to praise them and set them forth according to their worth? For if

we had understanding, ought we to do anything else both jointly and

severally than to sing hymns and bless the deity, and to tell of his

benefits? Ought we not when we are digging and ploughing and eating

to sing this hymn to God? “Great is God, who has given us such implements

with which we shall cultivate the earth: great is God who has given

us hands, the power of swallowing, a stomach, imperceptible growth,

and the power of breathing while we sleep.” This is what we ought

to sing on every occasion, and to sing the greatest and most divine

hymn for giving us the faculty of comprehending these things and using

a proper way. Well then, since most of you have become blind, ought

there not to be some man to fill this office, and on behalf of all

to sing the hymn to God? For what else can I do, a lame old man, than

sing hymns to God? If then I was a nightingale, I would do the part

of a nightingale: if I were a swan, I would do like a swan. But now

I am a rational creature, and I ought to praise God: this is my work;

I do it, nor will I desert this post, so long as I am allowed to keep

it; and I exhort you to join in this same song.

Chapter 17

That the logical art is necessary

Since reason is the faculty which analyses and perfects the rest,

and it ought itself not to be unanalysed, by what should it be analysed?

for it is plain that this should be done either by itself or by another

thing. Either, then, this other thing also is reason, or something

else superior to reason; which is impossible. But if it is reason,

again who shall analyse that reason? For if that reason does this

for itself, our reason also can do it. But we shall require something

else, the thing, will go on to infinity and have no end. Reason therefore

is analysed by itself. “Yes: but it is more urgent to cure (our opinions)

and the like.” Will you then hear about those things? Hear. But if

you should say, “I know not whether you are arguing truly or falsely,”

and if I should express myself in any way ambiguously, and you should

say to me, ” Distinguish,” I will bear with you no longer, and I shall

say to “It is more urgent.” This is the reason, I suppose, why they

place the logical art first, as in the measuring of corn we place

first the examination of the measure. But if we do not determine first

what is a modius, and what is a balance, how shall we be able to measure

or weigh anything?

In this case, then, if we have not fully learned and accurately examined

the criterion of all other things, by which the other things are learned,

shall we be able to examine accurately and to learn fully anything

else? “Yes; but the modius is only wood, and a thing which produces

no fruit.” But it is a thing which can measure corn. “Logic also produces

no fruit.” As to this indeed we shall see: but then even if a man

should rant this, it is enough that logic has the power of distinguishing

and examining other things, and, as we may say, of measuring and weighing

them. Who says this? Is it only Chrysippus, and Zeno, and Cleanthes?

And does not Antisthenes say so? And who is it that has written that

the examination of names is the beginning of education? And does not

Socrates say so? And of whom does Xenophon write, that he began with

the examination of names, what each name signified? Is this then the

great and wondrous thing to understand or interpret Chrysippus? Who

says this? What then is the wondrous thing? To understand the will

of nature. Well then do you apprehend it yourself by your own power?

and what more have you need of? For if it is true that all men err

involuntarily, and you have learned the truth, of necessity you must

act right. “But in truth I do not apprehend the will of nature.” Who

then tells us what it is? They say that it is Chrysippus. I proceed,

and I inquire what this interpreter of nature says. I begin not to

understand what he says; I seek an interpreter of Chrysippus. “Well,

consider how this is said, just as if it were said in the Roman tongue.”

What then is this superciliousness of the interpreter? There is no

superciliousness which can justly he charged even to Chrysippus, if

he only interprets the will of nature, but does not follow it himself;

and much more is this so with his interpreter. For we have no need

of Chrysippus for his own sake, but in order that we may understand

nature. Nor do we need a diviner on his own account, but because we

think that through him we shall know the future and understand the

signs given by the gods; nor do we need the viscera of animals for

their own sake, but because through them signs are given; nor do we

look with wonder on the crow or raven, but on God, who through them

gives signs?

I go then to the interpreter of these things and the sacrificer, and

I say, “Inspect the viscera for me, and tell me what signs they give.”

The man takes the viscera, opens them, and interprets them: “Man,”

he says, “you have a will free by nature from hindrance and compulsion;

this is written here in the viscera. I will show you this first in

the matter of assent. Can any man hinder you from assenting to the

truth? No man can. Can any man compel you to receive what is false?

No man can. You see that in this matter you have the faculty of the

will free from hindrance, free from compulsion, unimpeded.” Well,

then, in the matter of desire and pursuit of an object, is it otherwise?

And what can overcome pursuit except another pursuit? And what can

overcome desire and aversion except another desire and aversion? But,

you object: “If you place before me the fear of death, you do compel

me.” No, it is not what is placed before you that compels, but your

opinion that it is better to do so-and-so than to die. In this matter,

then, it is your opinion that compelled you: that is, will compelled

will. For if God had made that part of Himself, which He took from

Himself and gave to us, of such a nature as to be hindered or compelled

either by Himself or by another, He would not then be God nor would

He be taking care of us as He ought. “This,” says the diviner, “I

find in the victims: these are the things which are signified to you.

If you choose, you are free; if you choose, you will blame no one:

you will charge no one. All will be at the same time according to

your mind and the mind of God.” For the sake of this divination I

go to this diviner and to the philosopher, not admiring him for this

interpretation, but admiring the things which he interprets.

Chapter 18

That we ought not to he angry with the errors of others

If what philosophers say is true, that all men have one principle,

as in the case of assent the persuasion that a thing is so, and in

the case of dissent the persuasion that a thing is not so, and in

the case of a suspense of judgment the persuasion that a thing is

uncertain, so also in the case of a movement toward anything the persuasion

that a thing is for a man’s advantage, and it is impossible to think

that one thing is advantageous and to desire another, and to judge

one thing to be proper and to move toward another, why then are we

angry with the many? “They are thieves and robbers,” you may say.

What do you mean by thieves and robbers? “They are mistaken about

good and evil.” Ought we then to be angry with them, or to pity them?

But show them their error, and you will see how they desist from their

errors. If they do not see their errors, they have nothing superior

to their present opinion.

“Ought not then this robber and this adulterer to be destroyed?” By

no means say so, but speak rather in this way: “This man who has been

mistaken and deceived about the most important things, and blinded,

not in the faculty of vision which distinguishes white and black,

but in the faculty which distinguishes good and bad, should we not

destroy him?” If you speak thus, you will see how inhuman this is

which you say, and that it is just as if you would say, “Ought we

not to destroy this blind and deaf man?” But if the greatest harm

is the privation of the greatest things, and the greatest thing in

every man is the will or choice such as it ought to be, and a man

is deprived of this will, why are you also angry with him? Man, you

ought not to be affected contrary to nature by the bad things of another.

Pity him rather: drop this readiness to be offended and to hate, and

these words which the many utter: “These accursed and odious fellows.”

How have you been made so wise at once? and how are you so peevish?

Why then are we angry? Is it because we value so much the things of

which these men rob us? Do not admire your clothes, and then you will

not be angry with the thief. Do not admire the beauty of your wife,

and you will not be angry with the adulterer. Learn that a thief and

an adulterer have no place in the things which are yours, but in those

which belong to others and which are not in your power. If you dismiss

these things and consider them as nothing, with whom are you still

angry? But so long as you value these things, be angry with yourself

rather than with the thief and the adulterer. Consider the matter

thus: you have fine clothes; your neighbor has not: you have a window;

you wish to air the clothes. The thief does not know wherein man’s

good consists, but he thinks that it consists in having fine clothes,

the very thing which you also think. Must he not then come and take

them away? When you show a cake to greedy persons, and swallow it

all yourself, do you expect them not to snatch it from you? Do not

provoke them: do not have a window: do not air your clothes. I also

lately had an iron lamp placed by the side of my household gods: hearing

a noise at the door, I ran down, and found that the lamp had been

carried off. I reflected that he who had taken the lamp had done nothing

strange. What then? To-morrow, I said, you will find an earthen lamp:

for a man only loses that which he has. “I have lost my garment.”

The reason is that you had a garment. “I have pain in my head.” Have

you any pain in your horns? Why then are you troubled? for we only

lose those things, we have only pains about those things which we


“But the tyrant will chain.” What? the leg. “He will take away.” What?

the neck. What then will he not chain and not take away? the will.

This is why the ancients taught the maxim, “Know thyself.” Therefore

we ought to exercise ourselves in small things and, beginning with

them, to proceed to the greater. “I have pain in the head.” Do not

say, “Alas!” “I have pain in the ear.” Do not say, “Alas!” And I do

not say that you are not allowed to groan, but do not groan inwardly;

and if your slave is slow in bringing a bandage, do not cry out and

torment yourself, and say, “Everybody hates me”: for who would not

hate such a man? For the future, relying on these opinions, walk about

upright, free; not trusting to the size of your body, as an athlete,

for a man ought not to be invincible in the way that an ass is.

Who then is the invincible? It is he whom none of the things disturb

which are independent of the will. Then examining one circumstance

after another I observe, as in the case of an athlete; he has come

off victorious in the first contest: well then, as to the second?

and what if there should be great heat? and what, if it should be

at Olympia? And the same I say in this case: if you should throw money

in his way, he will despise it. Well, suppose you put a young girl

in his way, what then? and what, if it is in the dark? what if it

should be a little reputation, or abuse; and what, if it should be

praise; and what if it should be death? He is able to overcome all.

What then if it be in heat, and what if it is in the rain, and what

if he be in a melancholy mood, and what if he be asleep? He will still

conquer. This is my invincible athlete.

Chapter 19

How we should behave to tyrants

If a man possesses any superiority, or thinks that he does, when he

does not, such a man, if he is uninstructed, will of necessity be

puffed up through it. For instance, the tyrant says, “I am master

of all.” And what can you do for me? Can you give me desire which

shall have no hindrance? How can you? Have you the infallible power

of avoiding what you would avoid? Have you the power of moving toward

an object without error? And how do you possess this power? Come,

when you are in a ship, do you trust to yourself or to the helmsman?

And when you are in a chariot, to whom do you trust but to the driver?

And how is it in all other arts? Just the same. In what then lies

your power? “All men pay respect to me.” Well, I also pay respect

to my platter, and I wash it and wipe it; and for the sake of my oil

flask, I drive a peg into the wall. Well then, are these things superior

to me? No, but they supply some of my wants, and for this reason I

take care of them. Well, do I not attend to my ass? Do I not wash

his feet? Do I not clean him? Do you not know that every man has regard

to himself, and to you just the same as he has regard to his ass?

For who has regard to you as a man? Show me. Who wishes to become

like you? Who imitates you, as he imitates Socrates? “But I can cut

off your head.” You say right. I had forgotten that I must have regard

to you, as I would to a fever and the bile, and raise an altar to

you, as there is at Rome an altar to fever.

What is it then that disturbs and terrifies the multitude? is it the

tyrant and his guards? I hope that it is not so. It is not possible

that what is by nature free can be disturbed by anything else, or

hindered by any other thing than by itself. But it is a man’s own

opinions which disturb him: for when the tyrant says to a man, “I

will chain your leg,” he who values his leg says, “Do not; have pity”:

but he who values his own will says, “If it appears more advantageous

to you, chain it.” “Do you not care?” I do not care. “I will show

you that I am master.” You cannot do that. Zeus has set me free: do

you think that he intended to allow his own son to be enslaved? But

you are master of my carcass: take it. “So when you approach me, you

have no regard to me?” No, but I have regard to myself; and if you

wish me to say that I have regard to you also, I tell you that I have

the same regard to you that I have to my pipkin.

This is not a perverse self-regard, for the animal is constituted

so as to do all things for itself. For even the sun does all things

for itself; nay, even Zeus himself. But when he chooses to be the

Giver of rain and the Giver of fruits, and the Father of gods and

men, you see that he cannot obtain these functions and these names,

if he is not useful to man; and, universally, he has made the nature

of the rational animal such that it cannot obtain any one of its own

proper interests, if it does not contribute something to the common

interest. In this manner and sense it is not unsociable for a man

to do everything, for the sake of himself. For what do you expect?

that a man should neglect himself and his own interest? And how in

that case can there be one and the same principle in all animals,

the principle of attachment to themselves?

What then? when absurd notions about things independent of our will,

as if they were good and bad, lie at the bottom of our opinions, we

must of necessity pay regard to tyrants; for I wish that men would

pay regard to tyrants only, and not also to the bedchamber men. How

is it that the man becomes all at once wise, when Caesar has made

him superintendent of the close stool? How is it that we say immediately,

“Felicion spoke sensibly to me.” I wish he were ejected from the bedchamber,

that he might again appear to you to be a fool.

Epaphroditus had a shoemaker whom he sold because he was good for

nothing. This fellow by some good luck was bought by one of Caesar’s

men, and became Caesar’s shoemaker. You should have seen what respect

Epaphroditus paid to him: “How does the good Felicion do, I pray?”

Then if any of us asked, “What is master doing?” the answer “He is

consulting about something with Felicion.” Had he not sold the man

as good for nothing? Who then made him wise all at once? This is an

instance of valuing something else than the things which depend on

the will.

Has a man been exalted to the tribuneship? All who meet him offer

their congratulations; one kisses his eyes, another the neck, and

the slaves kiss his hands. He goes to his house, he finds torches

lighted. He ascends the Capitol: he offers a sacrifice of the occasion.

Now who ever sacrificed for having had good desires? for having acted

conformably to nature? For in fact we thank the gods for those things

in which we place our good.

A person was talking to me to-day about the priesthood of Augustus.

I say to him: “Man, let the thing alone: you will spend much for no

purpose.” But he replies, “Those who draw up agreements will write

any name.” Do you then stand by those who read them, and say to such

persons, “It is I whose name is written there;” And if you can now

be present on all such occasions, what will you do when you are dead?

“My name will remain.” Write it on a stone, and it will remain. But

come, what remembrance of you will there be beyond Nicopolis? “But

I shall wear a crown of gold.” If you desire a crown at all, take

a crown of roses and put it on, for it will be more elegant in appearance.

Chapter 20

About reason, how it contemplates itself

Every art and faculty contemplates certain things especially. When

then it is itself of the same kind with the objects which it contemplates,

it must of necessity contemplate itself also: but when it is of an

unlike kind, it cannot contemplate itself. For instance, the shoemaker’s

art is employed on skins, but itself is entirely distinct from the

material of skins: for this reason it does not contemplate itself.

Again, the grammarian’s art is employed about articulate speech; is

then the art also articulate speech? By no means. For this reason

it is not able to contemplate itself. Now reason, for what purpose

has it been given by nature? For the right use of appearances. What

is it then itself? A system of certain appearances. So by its nature

it has the faculty of contemplating itself so. Again, sound sense,

for the contemplation of what things does it belong to us? Good and

evil, and things which are neither. What is it then itself? Good.

And want of sense, what is it? Evil. Do you see then that good sense

necessarily contemplates both itself and the opposite? For this reason

it is the chief and the first work of a philosopher to examine appearances,

and to distinguish them, and to admit none without examination. You

see even in the matter of coin, in which our interest appears to be

somewhat concerned, how we have invented an art, and how many means

the assayer uses to try the value of coin, the sight, the touch, the

smell, and lastly the hearing. He throws the coin down, and observes

the sound, and he is not content with its sounding once, but through

his great attention he becomes a musician. In like manner, where we

think that to be mistaken and not to be mistaken make a great difference,

there we apply great attention to discovering the things which can

deceive. But in the matter of our miserable ruling faculty, yawning

and sleeping, we carelessly admit every appearance, for the harm is

not noticed.

When then you would know how careless you are with respect to good

and evil, and how active with respect to things which are indifferent,

observe how you feel with respect to being deprived of the sight of

eyes, and how with respect of being deceived, and you will discover

you are far from feeling as you ought to in relation to good and evil.

“But this is a matter which requires much preparation, and much labor

and study.” Well then do you expect to acquire the greatest of arts

with small labor? And yet the chief doctrine of philosophers is brief.

If you would know, read Zeno’s writings and you will see. For how

few words it requires to say man’s end is to follow the god’s, and

that the nature of good is a proper use of appearances. But if you

say “What is ‘God,’ what is ‘appearance,’ and what is ‘particular’

and what is ‘universal nature’? then indeed many words are necessary.

If then Epicures should come and say that the good must be in the

body; in this case also many words become necessary, and we must be

taught what is the leading principle in us, and the fundamental and

the substantial; and as it is not probable that the good of a snail

is in the shell, is it probable that the good of a man is in the body?

But you yourself, Epicurus, possess something better than this. What

is that in you which deliberates, what is that which examines everything,

what is that which forms a judgement about the body itself, that it

is the principle part? and why do you light your lamp and labor for

us, and write so many books? is it that we may not be ignorant of

the truth, who we are, and what we are with respect to you? Thus the

discussion requires many words.

Chapter 21

Against those who wish to be admired

When a man holds his proper station in life, he does not gape after

things beyond it. Man, what do you wish to happen to you? “I am satisfied

if I desire and avoid conformably to nature, if I employ movements

toward and from an object as I am by nature formed to do, and purpose

and design and assent.” Why then do you strut before us as if you

had swallowed a spit? “My wish has always been that those who meet

me should admire me, and those who follow me should exclaim, ‘Oh,

the great philosopher.'” Who are they by whom you wish to be admired?

Are they not those of whom you are used to say that they are mad?

Well then do you wish to be admired by madmen?

Chapter 22

On precognitions

Precognitions are common to all men, and precognition is not contradictory

to precognition. For who of us does not assume that Good is useful

and eligible, and in all circumstances that we ought to follow and

pursue it? And who of us does not assume that justice is beautiful

and becoming? When, then, does the contradiction arise? It arises

in the adaptation of the precognitions to the particular cases. When

one man says, “He has done well: he is a brave man,” and another says,

“Not so; but he has acted foolishly”; then the disputes arise among

men. This is the dispute among the Jews and the Syrians and the Egyptians

and the Romans; not whether holiness should be preferred to all things

and in all cases should be pursued, but whether it is holy to eat

pig’s flesh or not holy. You will find this dispute also between Agamemnon

and Achilles; for call them forth. What do you say, Agamemnon ought

not that to be done which is proper and right? “Certainly.” Well,

what do you say, Achilles? do you not admit that what is good ought

to be done? “I do most certainly.” Adapt your precognitions then to

the present matter. Here the dispute begins. Agamemnon says, “I ought

not to give up Chryseis to her father.” Achilles says, “You ought.”

It is certain that one of the two makes a wrong adaptation of the

precognition of ought” or “duty.” Further, Agamemnon says, “Then if

I ought to restore Chryseis, it is fit that I take his prize from

some of you.” Achilles replies, “Would you then take her whom I love?”

“Yes, her whom you love.” “Must I then be the only man who goes without

a prize? and must I be the only man who has no prize?” Thus the dispute


What then is education? Education is the learning how to adapt the

natural precognitions to the particular things conformably to nature;

and then to distinguish that of things some are in our power, but

others are not; in our power are will and all acts which depend on

the will; things not in our power are the body, the parts of the body,

possessions, parents, brothers, children, country, and, generally,

all with whom we live in society. In what, then, should we place the

good? To what kind of things shall we adapt it? “To the things which

are in our power?” Is not health then a good thing, and soundness

of limb, and life? and are not children and parents and country? Who

will tolerate you if you deny this?

Let us then transfer the notion of good to these things. is it possible,

then, when a man sustains damage and does not obtain good things,

that he can be happy? “It is not possible.” And can he maintain toward

society a proper behavior? He cannot. For I am naturally formed to

look after my own interest. If it is my interest to have an estate

in land, it is my interest also to take it from my neighbor. If it

is my interest to have a garment, it is my interest also to steal

it from the bath. This is the origin of wars, civil commotions, tyrannies,

conspiracies. And how shall I be still able to maintain my duty toward

Zeus? for if I sustain damage and am unlucky, he takes no care of

me; and what is he to me if he allows me to be in the condition in

which I am? I now begin to hate him. Why, then, do we build temples,

why set up statues to Zeus, as well as to evil demons, such as to

Fever; and how is Zeus the Saviour, and how the Giver of rain, and

the Giver of fruits? And in truth if we place the nature of Good in

any such things, all this follows.

What should we do then? This is the inquiry of the true philosopher

who is in labour. “Now I do not see what the Good is nor the Bad.

Am I not mad? Yes.” But suppose that I place the good somewhere among

the things which depend on the will: all will laugh at me. There will

come some grey-head wearing many gold rings on his fingers and he

will shake his head and say, “Hear, my child. It is right that you

should philosophize; but you ought to have some brains also: all this

that you are doing is silly. You learn the syllogism from philosophers;

but you know how to act better than philosophers do.” Man, why then

do you blame me, if I know? What shall I say to this slave? If I am

silent, he will burst. I must speak in this way: “Excuse me, as you

would excuse lovers: I am not my own master: I am mad.”

Chapter 23

Against Epicurus

Even Epicurus perceives that we are by nature social, but having once

placed our good in the husk he is no longer able to say anything else. For on

the other hand he strongly maintains this, that we ought not to admire nor to

accept anything which is detached from the nature of good; and he is right in

maintaining this. How then are we [suspicious], if we have no natural affection

to our children? Why do you advise the wise man not to bring up children? Why

are you afraid that he may thus fall into trouble? For does he fall into

trouble on account of the mouse which is nurtured in the house? What does he

care if a little mouse in the house makes lamentation to him? But Epicurus

knows that if once a child is born, it is no longer in our power not to love it

nor care about it. For this reason, Epicurus says that a man who has any sense

also does not engage in political matters; for he knows what a man must do who

is engaged in such things; for, indeed, if you intend to behave among men as

you do among a swarm of flies, what hinders you? But Epicurus, who knows this,

ventures to say that we should not bring up children. But a sheep does not

desert its own offspring, nor yet a wolf; and shall a man desert his child?

What do you mean? that we should be as silly as sheep? but not even do they

desert their offspring: or as savage as wolves, but not even do wolves desert

their young. Well, who would follow your advice, if he saw his child weeping

after falling on the ground? For my part I think that, even if your mother and

your father had been told by an oracle that you would say what you have said,

they would not have cast you away.

Chapter 24

How we should struggle with circumstances

It is circumstances which show what men are. Therefore when a difficulty

falls upon you, remember that God, like a trainer of wrestlers, has matched you

with a rough young man. “For what purpose?” you may say, Why, that you may

become an Olympic conqueror; but it is not accomplished without sweat. In my

opinion no man has had a more profitable difficulty than you have had, if you

choose to make use of it as an athlete would deal with a young antagonist. We

are now sending a scout to Rome; but no man sends a cowardly scout, who, if he

only hears a noise and sees a shadow anywhere, comes running back in terror and

reports that the enemy is close at hand. So now if you should come and tell us,

“Fearful is the state of affairs at Rome, terrible is death, terrible is exile;

terrible is calumny; terrible is poverty; fly, my friends; the enemy is near”;

we shall answer, “Begone, prophesy for yourself; we have committed only one

fault, that we sent such a scout.”

Diogenes, who was sent as a scout before you, made a different report to

us. He says that death is no evil, for neither is it base: he says that fame is

the noise of madmen. And what has this spy said about pain, about pleasure, and

about poverty? He says that to be naked is better than any purple robe, and to

sleep on the bare ground is the softest bed; and he gives as a proof of each

thing that he affirms his own courage, his tranquillity his freedom, and the

healthy appearance and compactness of his body. “There is no enemy he says;

“all is peace.” How so, Diogenes? “See,” he replies, “if I am struck, if I have

been wounded, if I have fled from any man.” This is what a scout ought to be.

But you come to us and tell us one thing after another. Will you not go back,

and you will see clearer when you have laid aside fear?

What then shall I do? What do you do when you leave a ship? Do you take

away the helm or the oars? What then do you take away? You take what is your

own, your bottle and your wallet; and now if you think of what is your own, you

will never claim what belongs to others. The emperor says, “Lay aside your

laticlave.” See, I put on the angusticlave. “Lay aside this also.” See, I have

only my toga. “Lay aside your toga.” See, I am naked. “But you still raise my

envy.” Take then all my poor body; when, at a man’s command, I can throw away

my poor body, do I still fear him?

“But a certain person will not leave to me the succession to his estate.”

What then? had I forgotten that not one of these things was mine. How then do

we call them mine? just as we call the bed in the inn. If, then, the innkeeper

at his death leaves you the beds, all well; but if he leaves them to another,

he will have them, and you will seek another bed. If then you shall not find

one, you will sleep on the ground: only sleep with a good will and snore, and

remember that tragedies have their place among the rich and kings and tyrants,

but no poor man fills a part in the tragedy, except as one of the chorus. Kings

indeed commence with prosperity: “ornament the palaces with garlands,” then

about the third or fourth act they call out, “O Cithaeron, why didst thou

receive me?” Slave, where are the crowns, where the diadem? The guards help

thee not at all. When then you approach any of these persons, remember this

that you are approaching a tragedian, not the actor but OEdipus himself. But

you say, “Such a man is happy; for he walks about with many,” and I also place

myself with the many and walk about with many. In sum remember this: the door

is open; be not more timid than little children, but as they say, when the

thing does not please them, “I will play no loner,” so do you, when things seem

to you of such a kind, say I will no longer play, and begone: but if you stay,

do not complain.

Chapter 25

On the same

If these things are true, and if we are not silly, and are not acting

hypocritically when we say that the good of man is in the will, and the evil

too, and that everything else does not concern us, why are we still disturbed,

why are we still afraid? The things about which we have been busied are in no

man’s power: and the things which are in the power of others, we care not for.

What kind of trouble have we still?

“But give me directions.” Why should I give you directions? has not Zeus

given you directions? Has he not given to you what is your own free from

hindrance and free from impediment, and what is not your own subject to

hindrance and impediment? What directions then, what kind of orders did you

bring when you came from him? Keep by every means what is your own; do not

desire what belongs to others. Fidelity is your own, virtuous shame is your

own; who then can take these things from you? who else than yourself will

hinder you from using them? But how do you act? when you seek what is not your

own, you lose that which is your own. Having such promptings and commands from

Zeus, what kind do you still ask from me? Am I more powerful than he, am I more

worthy of confidence? But if you observe these, do you want any others besides?

“Well, but he has not given these orders” you will say. Produce your

precognitions, produce the proofs of philosophers, produce what you have often

heard, and produce what you have said yourself, produce what you have read,

produce what you have meditated on (and you will then see that all these things

are from God). How long, then, is it fit to observe these precepts from God,

and not to break up the play? As long as the play is continued with propriety.

In the Saturnalia a king is chosen by lot, for it has been the custom to play

at this game. The king commands: “Do you drink,” “Do you mix the wine,” “Do you

sing,” “Do you go,” “Do you come.” I obey that the game may be broken up

through me. But if he says, “Think that you are in evil plight”: I answer, “I

do not think so”; and who compel me to think so? Further, we agreed to play

Agamemnon and Achilles. He who is appointed to play Agamemnon says to me, “Go

to Achilles and tear from him Briseis.” I go. He says, “Come,” and I come.

For as we behave in the matter of hypothetical arguments, so ought we to do

in life. “Suppose it to be night.” I suppose that it is night. “Well then; is

it day?” No, for I admitted the hypothesis that it was night. “Suppose that you

think that it is night?” Suppose that I do. “But also think that it is night.”

That is not consistent with the hypothesis. So in this case also: “Suppose that

you are unfortunate.” Well, suppose so. “Are you then unhappy?” Yes. “Well,

then, are you troubled with an unfavourable demon?” Yes. “But think also that

you are in misery.” This is not consistent with the hypothesis; and Another

forbids me to think so.

How long then must we obey such orders? As long as it is profitable; and

this means as long as I maintain that which is becoming and consistent.

Further, some men are sour and of bad temper, and they say, “I cannot sup with

this man to be obliged to hear him telling daily how he fought in Mysia: ‘I

told you, brother, how I ascended the hill: then I began to be besieged

again.'” But another says, “I prefer to get my supper and to hear him talk as

much as he likes.” And do you compare these estimates: only do nothing in a

depressed mood, nor as one afflicted, nor as thinking that you are in misery,

for no man compels you to that. Has it smoked in the chamber? If the smoke is

moderate, I will stay; if it is excessive, I go out: for you must always

remember this and hold it fast, that the door is open. Well, but you say to me,

“Do not live in Nicopolis.” I will not live there. “Nor in Athens.” I will not

live in Athens. “Nor in Rome.” I will not live in Rome. “Live in Gyarus.” I

will live in Gyarus, but it seems like a great smoke to live in Gyarus; and I

depart to the place where no man will hinder me from living, for that

dwelling-place is open to all; and as to the last garment, that is the poor

body, no one has any power over me beyond this. This was the reason why

Demetrius said to Nero, “You threaten me with death, but nature threatens you.”

If I set my admiration on the poor body, I have given myself up to be a slave:

if on my little possessions, I also make myself a slave: for I immediately make

it plain with what I may be caught; as if the snake draws in his head, I tell

you to strike that part of him which he guards; and do you he assured that

whatever part you choose to guard, that part your master will attack.

Remembering this, whom will you still flatter or fear?

“But I should like to sit where the Senators sit.” Do you see that you are

putting yourself in straits, you are squeezing yourself. “How then shall I see

well in any other way in the amphitheatre?” Man, do not be a spectator at all;

and you will not be squeezed. Why do you give yourself trouble? Or wait a

little, and when the spectacle is over, seat yourself in the place reserved for

the Senators and sun yourself. For remember this general truth, that it is we

who squeeze ourselves, who put ourselves in straits; that is, our opinions

squeeze us and put us in straits. For what is it to be reviled? Stand by a

stone and revile it; and what will you gain? If, then, a man listens like a

stone, what profit is there to the reviler? But if the reviler has as a

stepping-stone the weakness of him who is reviled, then he accomplishes

something. “Strip him.” What do you mean by “him”? Lay hold of his garment,

strip it off. “I have insulted you.” Much good may it do you.

This was the practice of Socrates: this was the reason why he always had

one face. But we choose to practice and study anything rather than the means by

which we shall be unimpeded and free. You say, “Philosophers talk paradoxes.”

But are there no paradoxes in the other arts? and what is more paradoxical than

to puncture a man’s eye in order that he may see? If any one said this to a man

ignorant of the surgical art, would he not ridicule the speaker? Where is the

wonder then if in philosophy also many things which are true appear paradoxical

to the inexperienced?

Chapter 28

That we ought not to he angry with men; and what are the small and the great

things among men

What is the cause of assenting to anything? The fact that it appears to be

true. It is not possible then to assent to that which appears not to be true.

Why? Because this is the nature of the understanding, to incline to the true,

to be dissatisfied with the false, and in matters uncertain to withhold assent.

What is the proof of this? “Imagine, if you can, that it is now night.” It is

not possible. “Take away your persuasion that it is day.” It is not possible.

“Persuade yourself or take away your persuasion that the stars are even in

number.” It is impossible. When, then, any man assents to that which is false,

be assured that he did not intend to assent to it as false, for every soul is

unwillingly deprived of the truth, as Plato says; but the falsity seemed to him

to be true. Well, in acts what have we of the like kind as we have here truth

or falsehood? We have the fit and the not fit, the profitable and the

unprofitable, that which is suitable to a person and that which is not, and

whatever is like these. Can, then, a man think that a thing is useful to him

and not choose it? He cannot. How says Medea?

“‘Tis true I know what evil I shall do,

But passion overpowers the better council.'”

She thought that to indulge her passion and take vengeance on her husband was

more profitable than to spare her children. “It was so; but she was deceived.”

Show her plainly that she is deceived, and she will not do it; but so long as

you do not show it, what can she follow except that which appears to herself?

Nothing else. Why, then, are you angry with the unhappy woman that she has been

bewildered about the most important things, and is become a viper instead of a

human creature? And why not, if it is possible, rather pity, as we pity the

blind and the lame, those who are blinded and maimed in the faculties which are


Whoever, then, clearly remembers this, that to man the measure of every act

is the appearance- whether the thing appears good or bad: if good, he is free

from blame; if bad, himself suffers the penalty, for it is impossible that he

who is deceived can be one person, and he who suffers another person- whoever

remembers this will not be angry with any man, will not be vexed at any man,

will not revile or blame any man, nor hate nor quarrel with any man.

“So then all these great and dreadful deeds have this origin, in the

appearance?” Yes, this origin and no other. The Iliad is nothing else than

appearance and the use of appearances. It appeared to Paris to carry off the

wife of Menelaus: it appeared to Helen to follow him. If then it had appeared

to Menelaus to feel that it was a gain to be deprived of such a wife, what

would have happened? Not only a wi would the Iliad have been lost, but the

Odyssey also. “On so small a matter then did such great things depend?” But

what do you mean by such great things? Wars and civil commotions, and the

destruction of many men and cities. And what great matter is this? “Is it

nothing?” But what great matter is the death of many oxen, and many sheep, and

many nests of swallows or storks being burnt or destroyed? “Are these things,

then, like those?” Very like. Bodies of men are destroyed, and the bodies of

oxen and sheep; the dwellings of men are burnt, and the nests of storks. What

is there in this great or dreadful? Or show me what is the difference between a

man’s house and a stork’s nest, as far as each is a dwelling; except that man

builds his little houses of beams and tiles and bricks, and the stork builds

them of sticks and mud. “Are a stork and a man, then, like things?” What say

you? In body they are very much alike.

“Does a man then differ in no respect from a stork?” Don’t suppose that I

say so; but there is no difference in these matters. “In what, then, is the

difference?” Seek and you will find that there is a difference in another

matter. See whether it is not in a man the understanding of what he does, see

if it is not in social community, in fidelity, in modesty, in steadfastness, in

intelligence. Where then is the great good and evil in men? It is where the

difference is. If the difference is preserved and remains fenced round, and

neither modesty is destroyed, nor fidelity, nor intelligence, then the man also

is preserved; but if any of these things is destroyed and stormed like a city,

then the man too perishes; and in this consist the great things. Paris, you

say, sustained great damage, then, when the Hellenes invaded and when they

ravaged Troy, and when his brothers perished. By no means; for no man is

damaged by an action which is not his own; but what happened at that time was

only the destruction of storks’ nests: now the ruin of Paris was when he lost

the character of modesty, fidelity, regard to hospitality, and to decency. When

was Achilles ruined? Was it when Patroclus died? Not so. But it happened when

he began to be angry, when he wept for a girl, when he forgot that he was at

Troy not to get mistresses, but to fight. These things are the ruin of men,

this is being besieged, this is the destruction of cities, when right opinions

are destroyed, when they are corrupted.

“When, then, women are carried off, when children are made captives, and

when the men are killed, are these not evils?” How is it then that you add to

the facts these opinions? Explain this to me also. “I shall not do that; but

how is it that you say that these are not evils?” Let us come to the rules:

produce the precognitions: for it is because this is neglected that we cannot

sufficiently wonder at what men do. When we intend to judge of weights, we do

not judge by guess: where we intend to judge of straight and crooked, we do not

judge by guess. In all cases where it is our interest to know what is true in

any matter, never will any man among us do anything by guess. But in things

which depend on the first and on the only cause of doing right or wrong, of

happiness or unhappiness, of being unfortunate or fortunate, there only we are

inconsiderate and rash. There is then nothing like scales, nothing like a rule:

but some appearance is presented, and straightway I act according to it. Must I

then suppose that I am superior to Achilles or Agamemnon, so that they by

following appearances do and suffer so many evils: and shall not the appearance

be sufficient for me? And what tragedy has any other beginning? The Atreus of

Euripides, what is it? An appearance. The OEdipus of Sophocles, what is it? An

appearance. The Phoenix? An appearance. The Hippolytus? An appearance. What

kind of a man then do you suppose him to be who pays no regard to this matter?

And what is the name of those who follow every appearance? “They are called

madmen.” Do we then act at all differently?

Chapter 29

On constancy

The being of the Good is a certain Will; the being of the Bad is a certain

kind of Will. What then are externals? Materials for the Will, about which the

will being conversant shall obtain its own good or evil. How shall it obtain

the good? If it does not admire the materials; for the opinions about the

materials, if the opinions are right, make the will good: but perverse and

distorted opinions make the will bad. God has fixed this law, and says, “If you

would have anything good, receive it from yourself.” You say, “No, but I have

it from another.” Do not so: but receive it from yourself. Therefore when the

tyrant threatens and calls me, I say, “Whom do you threaten If he says, “I will

put you in chains,” I say, “You threaten my hands and my feet.” If he says, “I

will cut off your head,” I reply, “You threaten my head.” If he says, “I will

throw you into prison,” I say, “You threaten the whole of this poor body.” If

he threatens me with banishment, I say the same. “Does he, then, not threaten

you at all?” If I feel that all these things do not concern me, he does not

threaten me at all; but if I fear any of them, it is I whom he threatens. Whom

then do I fear? the master of what? The master of things which are in my own

power? There is no such master. Do I fear the master of things which are not in

my power? And what are these things to me?

“Do you philosophers then teach us to despise kings?” I hope not. Who among

us teaches to claim against them the power over things which they possess? Take

my poor body, take my property, take my reputation, take those who are about

me. If I advise any persons to claim these things, they may truly accuse me.

“Yes, but I intend to command your opinions also.” And who has given you this

power? How can you conquer the opinion of another man? “By applying terror to

it,” he replies, “I will conquer it.” Do you not know that opinion conquers

itself, and is not conquered by another? But nothing else can conquer Will

except the Will itself. For this reason, too, the law of God is most powerful

and most just, which is this: “Let the stronger always be superior to the

weaker.” “Ten are stronger than one.” For what? For putting in chains, for

killing, for dragging whither they choose, for taking away what a man has. The

ten therefore conquer the one in this in which they are stronger. “In what then

are the ten weaker,” If the one possess right opinions and the others do not.

“Well then, can the ten conquer in this matter?” How is it possible? If we were

placed in the scales, must not the heavier draw down the scale in which it is?

“How strange, then, that Socrates should have been so treated by the

Athenians.” Slave, why do you say Socrates? Speak of the thing as it is: how

strange that the poor body of Socrates should have been carried off and dragged

to prison by stronger men, and that any one should have given hemlock to the

poor body of Socrates, and that it should breathe out the life. Do these things

seem strange. do they seem unjust, do you on account of these things blame God?

Had Socrates then no equivalent for these things, Where, then, for him was the

nature of good? Whom shall we listen to, you or him? And what does Socrates

say? “Anytus and Meletus can kill me, but they cannot hurt me”: and further, he

says, “If it so pleases God, so let it be.”

But show me that he who has the inferior principles overpowers him who is

superior in principles. You will never show this, nor come near showing it; for

this is the law of nature and of God that the superior shall always overpower

the inferior. In what? In that in which it is superior. One body is stronger

than another: many are stronger than one: the thief is stronger than he who is

not a thief. This is the reason why I also lost my lamp, because in wakefulness

the thief was superior to me. But the man bought the lamp at this price: for a

lamp he became a thief, a faithless fellow, and like a wild beast. This seemed

to him a good bargain. Be it so. But a man has seized me by the cloak, and is

drawing me to the public place: then others bawl out, “Philosopher, what has

been the use of your opinions? see you are dragged to prison, you are going to

be beheaded.” And what system of philosophy could f have made so that, if a

stronger man should have laid hold of my cloak, I should not be dragged off;

that if ten men should have laid hold of me and cast me into prison, I should

not be cast in? Have I learned nothing else then? I have learned to see that

everything which happens, if it be independent of my will, is nothing to me. I

may ask if you have not gained by this. Why then do you seek advantage in

anything else than in that in which you have learned that advantage is?

Then sitting in prison I say: “The man who cries out in this way neither

hears what words mean, nor understands what is said, nor does he care at all to

know what philosophers say or what they do. Let him alone.”

But now he says to the prisoner, “Come out from your prison.” If you have

no further need of me in prison, I come out: if you should have need of me

again, I will enter the prison. “How long will you act thus?” So long as reason

requires me to be with the body: but when reason does not require this, take

away the body, and fare you well. Only we must not do it inconsiderately, nor

weakly, nor for any slight reason; for, on the other hand, God does not wish it

to be done, and he has need of such a world and such inhabitants in it. But if

he sounds the signal for retreat, as he did to Socrates, we must obey him who

gives the signal, as if he were a general.

“Well, then, ought we to say such things to the many?” Why should we? Is it

not enough for a man to be persuaded himself? When children come clapping their

hands and crying out, “To-day is the good Saturnalia,” do we say, “The

Saturnalia are not good?” By no means, but we clap our hands also. Do you also

then, when you are not able to make a man change his mind, be assured that he

is a child, and clap your hands with him, and if you do not choose to do this,

keep silent.

A man must keep this in mind; and when he is called to any such difficulty,

he should know that the time is come for showing if he has been instructed. For

he who is come into a difficulty is like a young man from a school who has

practiced the resolution of syllogisms; and if any person proposes to him an

easy syllogism, he says, “Rather propose to me a syllogism which is skillfully

complicated that I may exercise myself on it.” Even athletes are dissatisfied

with slight young men, and say “He cannot lift me.” “This is a youth of noble

disposition.” But when the time of trial is come, one of you must weep and say,

“I wish that I had learned more.” A little more of what? If you did not learn

these things in order to show them in practice, why did you learn them? I think

that there is some one among you who are sitting here, who is suffering like a

woman in labour, and saying, “Oh, that such a difficulty does not present

itself to me as that which has come to this man; oh, that I should be wasting

my life in a corner, when I might be crowned at Olympia. When will any one

announce to me such a contest?” Such ought to be the disposition of all of you.

Even among the gladiators of Caesar there are some who complain grievously that

they are not brought forward and matched, and they offer up prayers to God and

address themselves to their superintendents entreating that they might fight.

And will no one among you show himself such? I would willingly take a voyage

for this purpose and see what my athlete is doing, how he is studying his

subject. “I do not choose such a subject,” he says. Why, is it in your power to

take what subject you choose? There has been given to you such a body as you

have, such parents, such brethren, such a country, such a place in your

country: then you come to me and say, “Change my subject.” Have you not

abilities which enable you to manage the subject which has been given to you?

“It is your business to propose; it is mine to exercise myself well.” However,

you do not say so, but you say, “Do not propose to me such a tropic, but such:

do not urge against me such an objection, but such.” There will be a time,

perhaps, when tragic actors will suppose that they are masks and buskins and

the long cloak. I say, these things, man, are your material and subject. Utter

something that we may know whether you are a tragic actor or a buffoon; for

both of you have all the rest in common. If any one then should take away the

tragic actor’s buskins and his mask, and introduce him on the stage as a

phantom, is the tragic actor lost, or does he still remain? If he has voice, he

still remains.

An example of another kind. “Assume the governorship of a province.” I

assume it, and when I have assumed it, I show how an instructed man behaves.

“Lay aside the laticlave and, clothing yourself in rags, come forward in this

character.” What then have I not the power of displaying a good voice? How,

then, do you now appear? As a witness summoned by God. “Come forward, you, and

bear testimony for me, for you are worthy to be brought forward as a witness by

me: is anything external to the will good or bad? do I hurt any man? have I

made every man’s interest dependent on any man except himself?” What testimony

do you give for God? “I am in a wretched condition, Master, and I am

unfortunate; no man cares for me, no man gives me anything; all blame me, all

speak ill of me.” Is this the evidence that you are going to give, and disgrace

his summons, who has conferred so much honour on you, and thought you worthy of

being called to bear such testimony?

But suppose that he who has the power has declared, “I judge you to be

impious and profane.” What has happened to you? “I have been judged to be

impious and profane?” Nothing else? “Nothing else.” But if the same person had

passed judgment on an hypothetical syllogism, and had made a declaration, “the

conclusion that, if it is day, it is light, I declare to be false,” what has

happened to the hypothetical syllogism? who is judged in this case? who has

been condemned? the hypothetical syllogism, or the man who has been deceived by

it? Does he, then, who has the power of making any declaration about you know

what is pious or impious? Has he studied it, and has he learned it? Where? From

whom? Then is it the fact that a musician pays no regard to him who declares

that the lowest chord in the lyre is the highest; nor yet a geometrician, if he

declares that the lines from the centre of a circle to the circumference are

not equal; and shall he who is really instructed pay any regard to the

uninstructed man when he pronounces judgment on what is pious and what is

impious, on what is just and unjust? Oh, the signal wrong done by the

instructed. Did they learn this here?

Will you not leave the small arguments about these matters to others, to

lazy fellows, that they may sit in a corner and receive their sorry pay, or

grumble that no one gives them anything; and will you not come forward and make

use of what you have learned? For it is not these small arguments that are

wanted now: the writings of the Stoics are full of them. What then is the thing

which is wanted? A man who shall apply them, one who by his acts shall bear

testimony to his words. Assume, I, entreat you, this character, that we may no

longer use in the schools the examples of the ancients but may have some

example of our own.

To whom then does the contemplation of these matters belong? To him who has

leisure, for man is an animal that loves contemplation. But it is shameful to

contemplate these things as runaway slaves do; we should sit, as in a theatre,

free from distraction, and listen at one time to the tragic actor, at another

time to the lute-player; and not do as slaves do. As soon as the slave has

taken his station he praises the actor and at the same time looks round: then

if any one calls out his master’s name, the slave is immediately frightened and

disturbed. It is shameful for philosophers thus to contemplate the works of

nature. For what is a master? Man is not the master of man; but death is, and

life and pleasure and pain; for if he comes without these things, bring Caesar

to me and you will see how firm I am. But when he shall come with these things,

thundering and lightning, and when I am afraid of them, what do I do then

except to recognize my master like the runaway slave? But so long as I have any

respite from these terrors, as a runaway slave stands in the theatre, so do I:

I bathe, I drink, I sing; but all this I do with terror and uneasiness. But if

I shall release myself from my masters, that is from those things by means of

which masters are formidable, what further trouble have I, what master have I


“What then, ought we to publish these things to all men?” No, but we ought

to accommodate ourselves to the ignorant and to say: “This man recommends to me

that which he thinks good for himself: I excuse him.” For Socrates also excused

the gaoler, who had the charge of him in prison and was weeping when Socrates

was going to drink the poison, and said, “How generously he laments over us.”

Does he then say to the gaoler that for this reason we have sent away the

women? No, but he says it to his friends who were able to hear it; and he

treats the gaoler as a child.

Chapter 30

What we ought to have ready in difficult circumstances

When you are going into any great personage, remember that Another also

from above sees what is going on, and that you ought to please Him rather than

the other. He, then, who sees from above asks you: “In the schools what used

you to say about exile and bonds and death and disgrace?” I used to say that

they are things indifferent. “What then do you say of them now? Are they

changed at all?” No. “Are you changed then?” No. “Tell me then what things are

indifferent?” The things which are independent of the will. “Tell me, also,

what follows from this.” The things which are independent of the will are

nothing to me. “Tell me also about the Good, what was your opinion?” A will

such as we ought to have and also such a use of appearances. “And the end, what

is it?” To follow Thee. “Do you say this now also?” I say the same now also.

Then go into the great personage boldly and remember these things; and you

will see what a youth is who has studied these things when he is among men who

have not studied them. I indeed imagine that you will have such thoughts as

these: “Why do we make so great and so many preparations for nothing? Is this

the thing which men name power? Is this the antechamber? this the men of the

bedchamber? this the armed guards? Is it for this that I listened to so many

discourses? All this is nothing: but I have been preparing myself for something







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