The opinion of the philosophers, perhaps, seems to some to be a paradox; but still let us examine as well as we can, if it is true that it is possible to do everything both with caution and with confidence. For caution seems to be in a manner contrary to confidence, and contraries are in no way consistent. That which seems to many to be a paradox in the matter under consideration in my opinion is of this kind: if we asserted that we ought to employ caution and in the same things, men might justly accuse us of bringing together things which cannot be united. But now where is the difficulty in what is said? for if these things are true, which have been often said and often proved, that the nature of good is in the use of appearances, and the nature of evil likewise, and that things independent of our will do not admit either the nature of evil nor of good, what paradox do the philosophers assert if they say that where things are not dependent on the will, there you should employ confidence, but where they are dependent on the will, there you should employ caution? For if the bad consists in a bad exercise of the will, caution ought only to be used where things are dependent on the will. But if things independent of the will and not in our power are nothing to us, with respect to these we must employ confidence; and thus we shall both be cautious and confident, and indeed confident because of our caution. For by employing caution toward things which are really bad, it will result that we shall have confidence with respect to things which are not so.
We are then in the condition of deer; when they flee from the huntsmen’s feathers in fright, whither do they turn and in what do they seek refuge as safe? They turn to the nets, and thus they perish by confounding things which are objects of fear with things that they ought not to fear. Thus we also act: in what cases do we fear? In things which are independent of the will. In what cases, on the contrary, do we behave with confidence, as if there were no danger? In things dependent on the will. To be deceived then, or to act rashly, or shamelessly or with base desire to seek something, does not concern us at all, if we only hit the mark in things which are independent of our will. But where there is death, or exile or pain or infamy, there we attempt or examine to run away, there we are struck with terror. Therefore, as we may expect it to happen with those who err in the greatest matters, we convert natural confidence into audacity, desperation, rashness, shamelessness; and we convert natural caution and modesty into cowardice and meanness, which are full of fear and confusion. For if a man should transfer caution to those things in which the will may be exercised and the acts of the will, he will immediately, by willing to be cautious, have also the power of avoiding what he chooses: but if he transfer it to the things which are not in his power and will, and attempt to avoid the things which are in the power of others, he will of necessity fear, he will be unstable, he will be disturbed. For death or pain is not formidable, but the fear of pain or death. For this reason we commend the poet who said
Not death is evil, but a shameful death.
Confidence then ought to be employed against death, and caution against the fear of death. But now we do the contrary, and employ against death the attempt to escape; and to our opinion about it we employ carelessness, rashness and indifference. These things Socrates properly used to call “tragic masks”; for as to children masks appear terrible and fearful from inexperience, we also are affected in like manner by events for no other reason than children are by masks. For what is a child? Ignorance. What is a child? Want of knowledge. For when a child knows these things, he is in no way inferior to us. What is death? A “tragic mask.” Turn it and examine it. See, it does not bite. The poor body must be separated from the spirit either now or later, as it was separated from it before. Why, then, are you troubled, if it be separated now? for if it is not separated now, it will be separated afterward. Why? That the period of the universe may be completed, for it has need of the present, and of the future, and of the past. What is pain? A mask. Turn it and examine it. The poor flesh is moved roughly, then, on the contrary, smoothly. If this does not satisfy you, the door is open: if it does, bear. For the door ought to be open for all occasions; and so we have no trouble.
What then is the fruit of these opinions? It is that which ought to he the most noble and the most becoming to those who are really educated, release from perturbation, release from fear, freedom. For in these matters we must not believe the many, who say that free persons only ought to be educated, but we should rather believe the philosophers, who say that the educated only are free. “How is this?” In this manner. Is freedom anything else than the power of living as we choose? “Nothing else.” Tell me then, ye men, do you wish to live in error? “We do not.” No one then who lives in error is free. Do you wish to live in fear? Do you wish to live in sorrow? Do you wish to live in perturbation? “By no means.” No one, then, who is in a state of fear or sorrow or perturbation is free; but whoever is delivered from sorrows and fears and perturbations, he is at the same time also delivered from servitude. How then can we continue to believe you, most dear legislators, when you say, “We only allow free persons to be educated?” For philosophers say we allow none to be free except the educated; that is, God does not allow it. “When then a man has turned round before the praetor his own slave, has he done nothing?” He has done something. “What?” He has turned round his own slave before the praetor. “Has he done nothing, more?” Yes: he is also bound to pay for him the tax called the twentieth. “Well then, is not the man who has gone through this ceremony become free?” No more than he is become free from perturbations. Have you who are able to turn round others no master? is not money your master, or a girl or a boy, or some tyrant, or some friend of the tyrant? why do you tremble then when you are going off to any trial of this kind? It is for this reason that I often say: Study and hold in readiness these principles by which you may determine what those things are with reference to which you ought to have confidence, and those things with reference to which you ought to be cautious: courageous in that which does not depend on your will; cautious in that which does depend on it.
“Well have I not read to you, and do you not know what I was doing?” In what? “In my little dissertations.” Show me how you are with respect to desire and aversion; and show if you do not fail in getting what you wish, me and if you do not fall into the things which you would avoid: but as to these long and laboured sentences, you will take them and blot them out.
“What then did not Socrates write?” And who wrote so much? But how? As he could not always have at hand one to argue against his principles or to be argued against in turn, he used to argue with and examine himself, and he was always treating at least some one subject in a practical way. These are the things which a philosopher writes. But little dissertations and that method, which I speak of, he leaves to others, to the stupid, or to those happy men who being free from perturbations have leisure, or to such as are too foolish to reckon consequences.
And will you now, when the opportunity invites, go and display those things which you possess, and recite them, and make an idle show, and say, “See how I make dialogues?” Do not so, my man: but rather say: “See how I am not disappointed of that which I desire. See how I do not fall into that which I would avoid. Set death before me, and you will see. Set before me pain, prison, disgrace and condemnation.” This is the proper display of a young man who is come out of the schools. But leave the rest to others, and let no one ever hear you say a word about these things; and if any man commends you for them, do not allow it; but think that you are nobody and know nothing. Only show that you know this, how never to be disappointed in your desire and how never to fall into that which you would avoid. Let others labour at forensic causes, problems and syllogisms: do you labour at thinking about death, chains, the rack, exile; and do all this with confidence and reliance on him who has called you to these sufferings, who has judged you worthy of the place in which, being stationed, you will show what things the rational governing power can do when it takes its stand against the forces which are not within the power of our will. And thus this paradox will no longer appear either impossible or a paradox, that a man ought to be at the same time cautious and courageous: courageous toward the things which do not depend on the will, and cautious in things which are within the power of the will.
Consider, you who are going into court, what you wish to maintain and what you wish to succeed in. For if you wish to maintain a will conformable to nature, you have every security, every facility, you have no troubles. For if you wish to maintain what is in your own power and is naturally free, and if you are content with these, what else do you care for? For who is the master of such things? Who can take them away? If you choose to be modest and faithful, who shall not allow you to be so? If you choose not to be restrained or compelled, who shall compel you to desire what you think that you ought not to desire? who shall compel you to avoid what you do not think fit to avoid? But what do you say? The judge will determine against you something that appears formidable; but that you should also suffer in trying to avoid it, how can he do that? When then the pursuit of objects and the avoiding of them are in your power, what else do you care for? Let this be your preface, this your narrative, this your confirmation, this your victory, this your peroration, this your applause.
Therefore Socrates said to one who was reminding him to prepare for his trial, “Do you not think then that I have been preparing for it all my life?” By what kind of preparation? “I have maintained that which was in my own power.” How then? “I have never done anything unjust either in my private or in my public life.”
But if you wish to maintain externals also, your poor body, your little property and your little estimation, I advise you to make from this moment all possible preparation, and then consider both the nature of your judge and your adversary. If it is necessary to embrace his knees, embrace his knees; if to weep, weep; if to groan, groan. For when you have subjected to externals what is your own, then be a slave and do not resist, and do not sometimes choose to be a slave, and sometimes not choose, but with all your mind be one or the other, either free or a slave, either instructed or uninstructed, either a well-bred cock or a mean one, either endure to be beaten until you die or yield at once; and let it not happen to you to receive many stripes and then to yield. But if these things are base, determine immediately: “Where is the nature of evil and good? It is where truth is: where truth is and where nature is, there is caution: where truth is, there is courage where nature is.”
For what do you think? do you think that, if Socrates had wished to preserve externals, he would have come forward and said: “Anytus and Meletus can certainly kill me, but to harm me they are not able?” Was he so foolish as not to see that this way leads not to the preservation of life and fortune, but to another end? What is the reason then that he takes no account of his adversaries, and even irritates them? Just in the same way my friend Heraclitus, who had a little suit in Rhodes about a bit of land, and had proved to the judges that his case was just, said, when he had come to the peroration of his speech, “I will neither entreat you nor do I care what wi judgment you will give, and it is you rather than I who are on your trial.” And thus he ended the business. What need was there of this? Only do not entreat; but do not also say, “I. do not entreat”; unless there is a fit occasion to irritate purposely the judges, as was the case with Socrates. And you, if you are preparing such a peroration, why do you wait, why do you obey the order to submit to trial? For if you wish to be crucified, wait and the cross will come: but if you choose to submit and to plead your cause as well as you can, you must do what is consistent with this object, provided you maintain what is your own.
For this reason also it is ridiculous to say, “Suggest something to me.” What should I suggest to you? “Well, form my mind so as to accommodate itself to any event.” Why that is just the same as if a man who is ignorant of letters should say, “Tell me what to write when any name is proposed to me.” For if I should tell him to write Dion, and then another should come and propose to him not the name of Dion but that of Theon, what will be done? what will he write? But if you behave practiced writing, you are also prepared to write anything that is required. If you are not, what. can I now suggest? For if circumstances require something else, what will you say or what will you do? Remember, then, this general precept and you will need no suggestion. But if you gape after externals, you must of necessity ramble up and down in obedience to the will of your master. And who is the master? He who has the power over the things which you seek to gain or try to avoid.
Diogenes said well to one who asked from him letters of recommendation, “That you are a man he said, “he will know as soon as he sees you; and he will know whether you are good or bad, if he is by experience skillful to distinguish the good and the bad; but if he is without experience, he will never know, if I write to him ten thousand times.” For it is just the same as if a drachma asked to be recommended to a person to be tested. If he is skillful in testing silver, he will know what you are, for you will recommend yourself. We ought then in life also to have some skill as in the case of silver coin that a man may be able to say, like the judge of silver, “Bring me any drachma and I will test it.” But in the case of syllogisms I would say, “Bring any man that you please, and I will distinguish for you the man who knows how to resolve syllogisms and the man who does not.” Why? Because I know how to resolve syllogisms. I have the power, which a man must have who is able to discover those who have the power of resolving syllogisms. But in life how do I act? At one time I call a thing good, and at another time bad. What is the reason? The contrary to that which is in the case of syllogisms, ignorance and inexperience.
As Epictetus was saying that man is formed for fidelity, and that he who subverts fidelity subverts the peculiar characteristic of men, there entered one of those who are considered to be men of letters, who had once been detected in adultery in the city. Then Epictetus continued: But if we lay aside this fidelity for which we are formed and make designs against our neighbor’s wife, what are we are we doing? What else but destroying and overthrowing? Whom? The man of fidelity, the man of modesty, the man of sanctity. Is this all? And are we not overthrowing neighbourhood, and friendship, and the community; and in what place are we putting ourselves? How shall I consider you, man? As a neighbour, as a friend? What kind of one? As a citizen? Wherein shall I trust you? So if you were an utensil so worthless that a man could not use you, you would be pitched out on the dung heaps, and no man would pick you up. But if, being a man, you are unable to fill any place which befits a man, what shall we do with you? For suppose that you cannot hold the place of a friend, can you hold the place of a slave? And who will trust you? Are you not then content that you also should be pitched somewhere on a dung heap, as a useless utensil, and a bit of dung? Then will you say, “No man, cares for me, a man of letters”? They do not, because you are bad and useless. It is just as if the wasps complained because no man cares for them, but all fly from them, and if a man can, he strikes them and knocks them down. You have such a sting that you throw into trouble and pain any man that you wound with it. What would you have us do with you? You have no place where you can be put.
“What then, are not women common by nature?” So I say also; for a little pig is common to all the invited guests, but when the portions have been distributed, go, if you think it right, and snatch up the portion of him who reclines next to you, or slyly steal it, or place your hand down by it and lay hold of it, and if you cannot tear away a bit of the meat, grease your fingers and lick them. A fine companion over cups, and Socratic guest indeed! “Well, is not the theatre common to the citizens?” When then they have taken their seats, come, if you think proper, and eject one of them. In this way women also are common by nature. When, then, the legislator, like the master of a feast, has distributed them, will you not also look for your own portion and not filch and handle what belongs to another. “But I am a man of letters and understand Archedemus.” Understand Archedemus then, and be an adulterer, and faithless, and instead of a man, be a wolf or an ape: for what is the difference?
Things themselves are indifferent; but the use of them is not indifferent. How then shall a man preserve firmness and tranquillity, and at the same time be careful and neither rash nor negligent? If he imitates those who play at dice. The counters are indifferent; the dice are indifferent. How do I know what the cast will be? But to use carefully and dexterously the cast of the dice, this is my business. Thus in life also the chief business is this: distinguish and separate things, and say, “Externals are not in my power: will is in my power. Where shall I seek the good and the bad? Within, in the things which are my own.” But in what does not belong to you call nothing either good or bad, or profit or damage or anything of the kind.
“What then? Should we use such things carelessly?” In no way: for this on the other hand is bad for the faculty of the will, and consequently against nature; but we should act carefully because the use is not indifferent and we should also act with firmness and freedom from perturbations because the material is indifferent. For where the material is not indifferent, there no man can hinder me nor compel me. Where I can be hindered and compelled the obtaining of those things is not in my power, nor is it good or bad; but the use is either bad or good, and the use is in my power. But it is difficult to mingle and to bring together these two things, the carefulness of him who is affected by the matter and the firmness of him who has no regard for it; but it is not impossible; and if it is, happiness is impossible. But we should act as we do in the case of a voyage. What can I do? I can choose the master of the ship, the sailors, the day, the opportunity. Then comes a storm. What more have I to care for? for my part is done. The business belongs to another — the master. But the ship is sinking — what then have I to do? I do the only things that I can, not to be drowned full of fear, nor screaming, nor blaming God, but knowing that what has been produced must also perish: for I am not an immortal being, but a man, a part of the whole, as an hour is a part of the day: I must be present like the hour, and past like the hour. What difference, then, does it make to me how I pass away, whether by being suffocated or by a fever, for I must pass through some such means?
This is just what you will see those doing who play at ball skillfully. No one cares about the ball being good or bad, but about throwing and catching it. In this therefore is the skill, this the art, the quickness, the judgement, so that if I spread out my lap I may not be able to catch it, and another, if I throw, may catch the ball. But if with perturbation and fear we receive or throw the ball, what kind of play is it then, and wherein shall a man be steady, and how shall a man see the order in the game? But one will say, “Throw”; or, “Do not throw”; and another will say, “You have thrown once.” This is quarreling, not play.
Socrates, then, knew how to play at ball. How?” By using pleasantry in the court where he was tried. “Tell me,” he says, “Anytus, how do you say that I do not believe in God. The Demons, who are they, think you? Are they not sons of Gods, or compounded of gods and men?” When Anytus admitted this, Socrates said, “Who then, think you, can believe that there are mules, but not asses”; and this he said as if he were playing at ball. And what was the ball in that case? Life, chains, banishment, a draught of poison, separation from wife and leaving children orphans. These were the things with which he was playing; but still he did play and threw the ball skillfully. So we should do: we must employ all the care of the players, but show the same indifference about the ball. For we ought by all means to apply our art to some external material, not as valuing the material, but, whatever it may be, showing our art in it. Thus too the weaver does not make wool, but exercises his art upon such as he receives. Another gives you food and property and is able to take them away and your poor body also. When then you have received the material, work on it. If then you come out without having suffered anything, all who meet you will congratulate you on your escape; but he who knows how to look at such things, if he shall see that you have behaved properly in the matter, will commend you and be pleased with you; and if he shall find that you owe your escape to any want of proper behavior, he will do the contrary. For where rejoicing is reasonable, there also is congratulation reasonable.
How then is it said that some external things are according to nature and others contrary to nature? It is said as it might be said if we were separated from union: for to the foot I shall say that it is according to nature for it to be clean; but if you take it as a foot and as a thing not detached, it will befit it both to step into the mud and tread on thorns, and sometimes to be cut off for the benefit of the whole body; otherwise it is no longer a foot. We should think in some way about ourselves also. What are you? A man. If you consider yourself as detached from other men, it is according to nature to live to old age, to be rich, to be healthy. But if you consider yourself as a man and a part of a certain whole, it is for the sake of that whole that at one time you should be sick, at another time take a voyage and run into danger, and at another time be in want, and, in some cases, die prematurely. Why then are you troubled? Do you not know, that as a foot is no longer a foot if it is detached from the body, so you are no longer a man if you are separated from other men. For what is a man? A part of a state, of that first which consists of Gods and of men; then of that which is called next to it, which is a small image of the universal state. “What then must I be brought to trial; must another have a fever, another sail on the sea, another die, and another be condemned?” Yes, for it is impossible in such a body, in such a universe of things, among so many living together, that such things should not happen, some to one and others to others. It is your duty then, since you are come here, to say what you ought, to arrange these things as it is fit. Then some one says, “I shall charge you with doing me wrong.” Much good may it do you: I have done my part; but whether you also have done yours, you must look to that; for there is some danger of this too, that it may escape your notice.
The hypothetical proposition is indifferent: the judgment about it is not indifferent, but it is either knowledge or opinion or error. Thus life is indifferent: the use is not indifferent. When any man then tells you that these things also are indifferent, do not become negligent; and when a man invites you to be careful, do not become abject and struck with admiration of material things. And it is good for you to know your own preparation and power, that in those matters where you have not been prepared, you may keep quiet, and not be vexed, if others have the advantage over you. For you, too, in syllogisms will claim to have the advantage over them; and if others should be vexed at this, you will console them by saying, “I have learned them, and you have not.” Thus also where there is need of any practice, seek not that which is required from the need, but yield in that matter to those who have had practice, and be yourself content with firmness of mind.
Go and salute a certain person. “How?” Not meanly. “But I have been shut out, for I have not learned to make my way through the window; and when I have found the door shut, I must either come back or enter through the window.” But still speak to him. “In what way?” Not meanly. But suppose that you have not got what you wanted. Was this your business, and not his? Why then do you claim that which belongs to another? Always remember what is your own, and what belongs to another; and you will not be disturbed. Chrysippus therefore said well, “So long as future things are uncertain, I always cling to those which are more adapted to the conservation of that which is according to nature; for God himself has given me the faculty of such choice.” But if I knew that it was fated for me to be sick, I would even move toward it; for the foot also, if it had intelligence, would move to go into the mud. For why are ears of corn produced? Is it not that they may become dry? And do they not become dry that they may be reaped? for they are not separated from communion with other things. If then they had perception, ought they to wish never to be reaped? But this is a curse upon ears of corn, never to be reaped. So we must know that in the case of men too it is a curse not to die, just the same as not to be ripened and not to be reaped. But since we must be reaped, and we also know that we are reaped, we are vexed at it; for we neither know what we are nor have we studied what belongs to man, as those who have studied horses know what belongs to horses. But Chrysantas, when he was going to strike the enemy, checked himself when he heard the trumpet sounding a retreat: so it seemed better to him to obey the general’s command than to follow his own inclination. But not one of us chooses, even when necessity summons, readily to obey it, but weeping and groaning we suffer what we do suffer, and we call them “circumstances.” What kind of circumstances, man? If you give the name of circumstances to the things which are around you, all things are circumstances; but if you call hardships by this name, what hardship is there in the dying of that which has been produced? But that which destroys is either a sword, or a wheel, or the sea, or a tile, or a tyrant. Why do you care about the way of going down to Hades? All ways are equal. But if you will listen to the truth, the way which the tyrant sends you is shorter. A tyrant never killed a man in six months: but a fever is often a year about it. All these things are only sound and the noise of empty names.
“I am in danger of my life from Caesar.” And am not I in danger who dwell in Nicopolis, where there are so many earthquakes: and when you are crossing the Hadriatic, what hazard do you run? Is it not the hazard of your life? “But I am in danger also as to opinion.” Do you mean your own? how? For who can compel you to have any opinion which you do not choose? But is it as to another man’s opinion? and what kind of danger is yours, if others have false opinions? “But I am in danger of being banished.” What is it to be banished? To be somewhere else than at Rome? “Yes: what then if I should be sent to Gyara?” If that suits you, you will go there; but if it does not, you can go to another place instead of Gyara, whither he also will go, who sends you to Gyara, whether he choose or not. Why then do you go up to Rome as if it were something great? It is not worth all this preparation, that an ingenuous youth should say, “It was not worth while to have heard so much and to have written so much and to have sat so long by the side of an old man who is not worth much.” Only remember that division by which your own and not your own are distinguished: never claim anything which belongs to others. A tribunal and a prison are each a place, one high and the other low; but the will can be maintained equal, if you choose to maintain it equal in each. And we shall then be imitators of Socrates, when we are able to write paeans in prison. But in our present disposition, consider if we could endure in prison another person saying to us. “Would you like me to read Paeans to you?” “Why do you trouble me? do you not know the evils which hold me? Can I in such circumstances?” What circumstances? “I am going to die.” And will other men be immortal?
Through an unreasonable regard to divination many of us omit many duties. For what more can the diviner see than death or danger or disease, generally things of that kind? If then I must expose myself to danger for a friend, and if it is my duty even to die for him, what need have I then for divination? Have I not within me a diviner who has told me the nature of good and of evil, and has explained to me the signs of both? What need have I then to consult the viscera of victims or the flight of birds, and why do I submit when he says, “It is for your interest”? For does he know what is for my interest, does he know what is good; and as he has learned the signs of the viscera, has he also learned the signs of good and evil? For if he knows the signs of these, he knows the signs both of the beautiful and of the ugly, and of the just and of the unjust. Do you tell me, man, what is the thing which is signified for me: is it life or death, poverty or wealth? But whether these things are for my interest or whether they are not, I do not intend to ask you. Why don’t you give your opinion on matters of grammar, and why do you give it here about things on which we are all in error and disputing with one another? The woman, therefore, who intended to send by a vessel a month’s provisions to Gratilla in her banishment, made a good answer to him who said that Domitian would seize what she sent. “I would rather,” she replied, “that Domitian should seize all than that I should not send it.”
What then leads us to frequent use of divination? Cowardice, the dread of what will happen. This is the reason why we flatter the diviners. “Pray, master, shall I succeed to the property of my father?” “Let us see: let us sacrifice on the occasion.” “Yes, master, as fortune chooses.” When he has said, “You shall succeed to the inheritance,” we thank him as if we received the inheritance from him. The consequence is that they play upon us.
What then should we do? We ought to come without desire or aversion, as the wayfarer asks of the man whom he meets which of two roads leads (to his journey’s end), without any desire for that which leads to the right rather than to the left, for he has no wish to go by any road except the road which leads (to his end). In the same way ought we to come to God also as a guide; as we use our eyes, not asking them to show us rather such things as we wish, but receiving the appearances of things such as the eyes present them to us. But now we trembling take the augur by the hand, and, while we invoke God, we entreat the augur, and say, “Master have mercy on me; suffer me to come safe out of this difficulty.” Wretch would you have, then, anything other than what is best? Is there then anything better than what pleases God? Why do you, so far as in your power, corrupt your judge and lead astray your adviser?
God is beneficial. But the Good also is beneficial. It is consistent then that where the nature of God is, there also the nature of the good should be. What then is the nature of God? Flesh? Certainly not. An estate in land? By no means. Fame? No. Is it intelligence, knowledge, right reason? Yes. Herein then simply seek the nature of the good; for I suppose that you do not seek it in a plant. No. Do you seek it in an irrational animal? No. If then you seek it in a rational animal, why do you still seek it anywhere except in the superiority of rational over irrational animals? Now plants have not even the power of using appearances, and for this reason you do not apply the term good to them. The good then requires the use of appearances. Does it require this use only? For if you say that it requires this use only, say that the good, and that happiness and unhappiness are in irrational animals also. But you do not say this, and you do right; for if they possess even in the highest degree the use of appearances, yet they have not the faculty of understanding the use of appearances; and there is good reason for this, for they exist for the purpose of serving others, and they exercise no superiority. For the ass, I suppose, does not exist for any superiority over others. No; but because we had need of a back which is able to bear something; and in truth we had need also of his being able to walk, and for this reason he received also the faculty of making use of appearances, for otherwise he would not have been able to walk. And here then the matter stopped. For if he had also received the faculty of comprehending the use of appearances, it is plain that consistently with reason he would not then have been subjected to us, nor would he have done us these services, but he would have been equal to us and like to us.
Will you not then seek the nature of good in the rational animal? for if it is not there, you not choose to say that it exists in any other thing. “What then? are not plants and animals also the works of God?” They are; but they are not superior things, nor yet parts of the Gods. But you are a superior thing; you are a portion separated from the deity; you have in yourself a certain portion of him. Why then are you ignorant of your own noble descent? Why do you not know whence you came? will you not remember when you are eating, who you are who eat and whom you feed? When you are in conjunction with a woman, will you not remember who you are who do this thing? When you are in social intercourse, when you are exercising yourself, when you are engaged in discussion, know you not that you are nourishing a god, that you are exercising a god? Wretch, you are carrying about a god with you, and you know it not. Do you think that I mean some God of silver or of gold, and external? You carry him within yourself, and you perceive not that you are polluting him by impure thoughts and dirty deeds. And if an image of God were present, you would not dare to do any of the things which you are doing: but when God himself is present within and sees all and hears all, you are not ashamed of thinking such things and doing such things, ignorant as you are of your own nature and subject to the anger of God. Then why do we fear when we are sending a young man from the school into active life, lest he should do anything improperly, eat improperly, have improper intercourse with women; and lest the rags in which he is wrapped should debase him, lest fine garments should make him proud? This youth does not know his own God: he knows not with whom he sets out. But can we endure when he says, “I wish I had you with me.” Have you not God with you? and do you seek for any other, when you have him? or will God tell you anything else than this? If you were a statue of Phidias, either Athena or Zeus you would think broth of yourself and of the artist, and if you had any understanding you would try to do nothing unworthy of him who made you or of yourself, and try not to appear in an unbecoming dress to those who look on you. But now because Zeus has made you, for this reason do you care not how you shall appear? And yet is the artist like the artist in the other? or the work in the one case like the other? And what work of an artist, for instance, has in itself the faculties, which the artist shows in making it? Is it not marble or bronze, or gold or ivory? and the Athena of Phidias when she has once extended the hand and received in it the figure of Victory stands in that attitude forever. But the works of God have power of motion, they breathe, they have the faculty of using the appearances of things, and the power of examining them. Being the work of such an artist, do you dishonor him? And what shall I say, not only that he made you, but also intrusted you to yourself and made you a deposit to yourself? Will you not think of this too, but do you also dishonor your guardianship? But if God had intrusted an orphan to you, would you thus neglect him? He has delivered yourself to your care, and says, “I had no one fitter to intrust him to than yourself: keep him for me such as he is by nature, modest, faithful, erect, unterrified, free from passion and perturbation.” And then you do not keep him such.
But some will say, “Whence has this fellow got the arrogance which he displays and these supercilious looks?” I have not yet so much gravity as befits a philosopher; for I do not yet feel confidence in what I have learned and what I have assented to: I still fear my own weakness. Let me get confidence and the, you shall see a countenance such as I ought to have and an attitude such as I ought to have: then I will show to you the statue, when it is perfected, when it is polished. What do you expect? a supercilious countenance? Does the Zeus at Olympia lift up his brow? No, his look is fixed as becomes him who is ready to say
Irrevocable is my word and shall not fail.
Such will I show myself to you, faithful, modest, noble, free from perturbation. “What, and immortal too, exempt from old age, and from sickness?” No, but dying as becomes a god, sickening as becomes a god. This power I possess; this I can do. But the rest I do not possess, nor can I do. I will show the nerves of a philosopher. “What nerves are these?” A desire never disappointed, an aversion which never falls on that which it would avoid, a proper pursuit, a diligent purpose, an assent which is not rash. These you shall see.
It is no common thing to do this only, to fulfill the promise of a man’s nature. For what is a man? The answer is: “A rational and mortal being.” Then, by the rational faculty, from whom are we separated? From wild beasts. And from what others? From sheep and like animals. Take care then to do nothing like a wild beast; but if you do, you have lost the character of a man; you have not fulfilled your promise. See that you do nothing like a sheep; but if you do, in this case the man is lost. What then do we do as sheep? When we act gluttonously, when we act lewdly, when we act rashly, filthily, inconsiderately, to what have we declined? To sheep. What have we lost? The rational faculty. When we act contentiously and harmfully and passionately, and violently, to what have we declined? To wild beasts. Consequently some of us are great wild beasts, and others little beasts, of a bad disposition and small, whence we may say, “Let me be eaten by a lion.” But in all these ways the promise of a man acting as a man is destroyed. For when is a conjunctive proposition maintained? When it fulfills what its nature promises; so that the preservation of a complex proposition is when it is a conjunction of truths. When is a disjunctive maintained? When it fulfills what it promises. When are flutes, a lyre, a horse, a dog, preserved? What is the wonder then if man also in like manner is preserved, and in like manner is lost? Each man is improved and preserved by corresponding acts, the carpenter by acts of carpentry, the grammarian by acts of grammar. But if a man accustoms himself to write ungrammatically, of necessity his art will be corrupted and destroyed. Thus modest actions preserve the modest man, and immodest actions destroy him: and actions of fidelity preserve the faithful man, and the contrary actions destroy him. And on the other hand contrary actions strengthen contrary characters: shamelessness strengthens the shameless man, faithlessness the faithless man, abusive words the abusive man, anger the man of an angry temper, and unequal receiving and giving make the avaricious man more avaricious.
For this reason philosophers admonish us not to be satisfied with learning only, but also to add study, and then practice. For we have long been accustomed to do contrary things, and we put in practice opinions which are contrary to true opinions. If then we shall not also put in practice right opinions, we shall be nothing more than the expositors of the opinions of others. For now who among us is not able to discuss according to the rules of art about good and evil things? “That of things some are good, and some are bad, and some are indifferent: the good then are virtues, and the things which participate in virtues; and the are the contrary; and the indifferent are wealth, health, reputation.” Then, if in the midst of our talk there should happen some greater noise than usual, or some of those who are present should laugh at us, we are disturbed. Philosopher, where are the things which you were talking about? Whence did you produce and utter them? From the lips, and thence only. Why then do you corrupt the aids provided by others? Why do you treat the weightiest matters as if you were playing a game of dice? For it is one thing to lay up bread and wine as in a storehouse, and another thing to eat. That which has been eaten, is digested, distributed, and is become sinews, flesh, bones, blood, healthy colour, healthy breath. Whatever is stored up, when you choose you can readily take and show it; but you have no other advantage from it except so far as to appear to possess it. For what is the difference between explaining these doctrines and those of men who have different opinions? Sit down now and explain according to the rules of art the opinions of Epicurus, and perhaps you will explain his opinions in a more useful manner than Epicurus himself. Why then do you call yourself a Stoic? Why do you deceive the many? Why do you deceive the many? Why do you act the part of a Jew, when you are a Greek? Do you not see how each is called a Jew, or a Syrian or an Egyptian? and when we see a man inclining to two sides, we are accustomed to say, “This man is not a Jew, but he acts as one.” But when he has assumed the affects of one who has been imbued with Jewish doctrine and has adopted that sect, then he is in fact and he is named a Jew. Thus we too being falsely imbued, are in name Jews, but in fact we are something else. Our affects are inconsistent with our words; we are far from practicing what we say, and that of which we are proud, as if we knew it. Thus being, unable to fulfill even what the character of a man promises, we even add to it the profession of a philosopher, which is as heavy a burden, as if a man who is unable to bear ten pounds should attempt to raise the stone which Ajax lifted.
Consider who you are. In the first place, you are a man; and this is one who has nothing superior to the faculty of the will, but all other things subjected to it; and the faculty itself he possesses unenslaved and free from subjection. Consider then from what things you have been separated by reason. You have been separated from wild beasts: you have been separated from domestic animals. Further, you are a citizen of the world, and a part of it, not one of the subservient, but one of the principal parts, for you are capable of comprehending the divine administration and of considering the connection of things. What then does the character of a citizen promise? To hold nothing as profitable to himself; to deliberate about nothing as if he were detached from the community, but to act as the hand or foot would do, if they had reason and understood the constitution of nature, for they would never put themselves in motion nor desire anything, otherwise than with reference to the whole. Therefore the philosophers say well, that if the good man had foreknowledge of what would happen, he would cooperate toward his own sickness and death and mutilation, since he knows that these things are assigned to him according to the universal arrangement, and that the whole is superior to the part and the state to the citizen. But now, because we do not know the future, it is our duty to stick to the things which are in their nature more suitable for our choice, for we were made among other things for this.
After this, remember that you are a son. What does this character promise? To consider that everything which is the son’s belongs to the father, to obey him in all things, never to blame him to another, nor to say or do anything which does him injury, to yield to him in all things and give way, cooperating with him as far as you can. After this know that you are a brother also, and that to this character it is due to make concessions; to be easily persuaded, to speak good of your brother, never to claim in opposition to him any of the things which are independent of the will, but readily to give them up, that you may have the larger share in what is dependent on the will. For see what a thing it is, in place of a lettuce, if it should so happen, or a seat, to gain for yourself goodness of disposition. How great is the advantage.
Next to this, if you are senator of any state, remember that you are a senator: if a youth, that you are a youth: if an old man, that you are an old man; for each of such names, if it comes to be examined, marks out the proper duties. But if you go and blame your brother, I say to you, “You have forgotten who you are and what is your name.” In the next place, if you were a smith and made a wrong use of the hammer, you would have forgotten the smith; and if you have forgotten the brother and instead of a brother have become an enemy, would you appear not to have changed one thing for another in that case? And if instead of a man, who is a tame animal and social, you are become a mischievous wild beast, treacherous, and biting, have you lost nothing? But, you must lose a bit of money that you may suffer damage? And does the loss of nothing else do a man damage? If you had lost the art of grammar or music, would you think the loss of it a damage? and if you shall lose modesty, moderation and gentleness, do you think the loss nothing? And yet the things first mentioned are lost by some cause external and independent of the will, and the second by our own fault; and as to the first neither to have them nor to lose them is shameful; but as to the second, not to have them and to lose them is shameful and matter of reproach and a misfortune. What does the pathic lose? He loses the man. What does he lose who makes the pathic what he is? Many other things; and he also loses the man no less than the other. What does he lose who commits adultery? He loses the modest, the temperate, the decent, the citizen, the neighbour. What does he lose who is angry? Something else. What does the coward lose? Something else. No man is bad without suffering some loss and damage. If then you look for the damage in the loss of money only, all these men receive no harm or damage; it may be, they have even profit and gain, when they acquire a bit of money by any of these deeds. But consider that if you refer everything to a small coin, not even he who loses his nose is in your opinion damaged. “Yes,” you say, “for he is mutilated in his body.” Well; but does he who has lost his smell only lose nothing? Is there, then, no energy of the soul which is an advantage to him who possesses it, and a damage to him who has lost it? “Tell me what sort you mean.” Have we not a natural modesty? “We have.” Does he who loses this sustain no damage? is he deprived of nothing, does he part with nothing of the things which belong to him? Have we not naturally fidelity? natural affection, a natural disposition to help others, a natural disposition to forbearance? The man then who allows himself to be damaged in these matters, can he be free from harm and uninjured? “What then? shall I not hurt him, who has hurt me?” In the first place consider what hurt is, and remember what you have heard from the philosophers. For if the good consists in the will, and the evil also in the will, see if what you say is not this: “What then, since that man has hurt himself by doing an unjust act to me, shall I not hurt myself by doing some unjust act to him?” Why do we not imagine to something of this kind? But where there is any detriment to the body or to our possession, there is harm there; and where the same thing happens to the faculty of the will, there is no harm; for he who has been deceived or he who has done an unjust act neither suffers in the head nor in the eye nor in the hip, nor does he lose his estate; and we wish for nothing else than these things. But whether we shall have the will modest and faithful or shameless and faithless, we care not the least, except only in the school so far as a few words are concerned. Therefore our proficiency is limited to these few words; but beyond them it does not exist even in the slightest degree.
The beginning of philosophy to him at least who enters on it in the right way and by the door, is a consciousness of his own weakness and inability about necessary things. For we come into the world with no natural notion of a right-angled triangle, or of a diesis, or of a half tone; but we learn each of these things by a certain transmission according to art; and for this reason those who do not know them, do not think that they know them. But as to good and evil, and beautiful and ugly, and becoming and unbecoming, and happiness and misfortune, and proper and improper, and what we ought to do and what we ought not to do, whoever came into the world without having an innate idea of them? Wherefore we all use these names, and we endeavor to fit the preconceptions to the several cases thus: “He has done well, he has not done well; he has done as he ought, not as he ought; he has been unfortunate, he has been fortunate; he is unjust, he is just”: who does not use these names? who among us defers the use of them till he has learned them, as he defers the use of the words about lines or sounds? And the cause of this is that we come into the world already taught as it were by nature some things on this matter, and proceeding from these we have added to them self-conceit. “For why,” a man says, “do I not know the beautiful and the ugly? Have I not the notion of it?” You have. “Do I not adapt it to particulars?” You do. “Do I not then adapt it properly?” In that lies the whole question; and conceit is added here. For, beginning from these things which are admitted, men proceed to that which is matter of dispute by means of unsuitable adaptation; for if they possessed this power of adaptation in addition to those things, what would hinder them from being perfect? But now since you think that you properly adapt the preconceptions to the particulars, tell me whence you derive this. Because I think so. But it does not seem so to another, and he thinks that he also makes a proper adaptation; or does he not think so? He does think so. Is it possible then that both of you can properly apply the preconceptions to things about which you have contrary opinions? It is not possible. Can you then show us anything better toward adapting the preconceptions beyond your thinking that you do? Does the madman do any other things than the things as in which seem to him right? Is then this criterion for him also? It is not sufficient. Come then to something which is superior to seeming. What is this?
Observe, this is the beginning of philosophy, a perception of the disagreement of men with one another, and an inquiry into the cause of the disagreement, and a condemnation and distrust of that which only “seems,” and a certain investigation of that which “seems” whether it “seems” rightly, and a discovery of some rule, as we have discovered a balance in the determination of weights, and a carpenter’s rule in the case of straight and crooked things. This is the beginning of philosophy. “Must we say that all thins are right which seem so to all?” And how is it possible that contradictions can be right? “Not all then, but all which seem to us to be right.” How more to you than those which seem right to the Syrians? why more than what seem right to the Egyptians? why more than what seems right to me or to any other man? “Not at all more.” What then “seems” to every man is not sufficient for determining what “is”; for neither in the case of weights or measures are we satisfied with the bare appearance, but in each case we have discovered a certain rule. In this matter then is there no rule certain to what “seems?” And how is it possible that the most necessary things among men should have no sign, and be incapable of being discovered? There is then some rule. And why then do we not seek the rule and discover it, and afterward use it without varying from it, not even stretching out the finger without it? For this, I think, is that which when it is discovered cures of their madness those who use mere “seeming” as a measure, and misuse it; so that for the future proceeding from certain things known and made clear we may use in the case of particular things the preconceptions which are distinctly fixed.
What is the matter presented to us about which we are inquiring? “Pleasure.” Subject it to the rule, throw it into the balance. Ought the good to be such a thing that it is fit that we have confidence in it? “Yes.” And in which we ought to confide? “It ought to be.” Is it fit to trust to anything which is insecure? “No.” Is then pleasure anything secure? “No.” Take it then and throw it out of the scale, and drive it far away from the place of good things. But if you are not sharp-sighted, and one balance is not enough for you, bring another. Is it fit to be elated over what is good? “Yes.” Is it proper then to be elated over present pleasure? See that you do not say that it is proper; but if you do, I shall then not think you are worthy even of the balance. Thus things are tested and weighed when the rules are ready. And to philosophize is this, to examine and confirm the rules; and then to use them when they are known is the act of a wise and good man.
What things a man must learn in order to be able to apply the art of disputation, has been accurately shown by our philosophers; but with respect to the proper use of the things, we are entirely without practice. Only give to any of us, whom you please, an illiterate man to discuss with,, and he cannot discover how to deal with the man. But when he has moved the man a little, if he answers beside the purpose, he does not know how to treat him, but he then either abuses or ridicules him, and says, “He is an illiterate man; it is not possible to do anything with him.” Now a guide, when he has found a man out of the road leads him into the right way: he does not ridicule or abuse him and then leave him. Do you also show this illiterate man the truth, and you will see that he follows. But so long as you do not show him the truth, do not ridicule him, but rather feel your own incapacity.
How then did Socrates act? He used to compel his adversary in disputation to bear testimony to him, and he wanted no other witness. Therefore he could say, “I care not for other witnesses, but I am always satisfied with the evidence of my adversary, and I do not ask the opinion of others, but only the opinion of him who is disputing with me.” For he used to make the conclusions drawn from natural notions so plain that every man saw the contradiction and withdrew from it: “Does the envious man rejoice?” “By no means, but he is rather pained.” Well, “Do you think that envy is pain over evils? and what envy is there of evils?” Therefore he made his adversary say that envy is pain over good things. “Well then, would any man envy those who are nothing to him?” “By no means.” Thus having completed the notion and distinctly fixed it he would go away without saying to his adversary, “Define to me envy”; and if the adversary had defined envy, he did not say, “You have defined it badly, for the terms of the definition do not correspond to the thing defined.” These are technical terms, and for this reason disagreeable and hardly intelligible to illiterate men, which terms we cannot lay aside. But that the illiterate man himself, who follows the appearances presented to him, should be able to concede anything or reject it, we can never by the use of these terms move him to do. Accordingly, being conscious of our own inability, we do not attempt the thing; at least such of us as have any caution do not. But the greater part and the rash, when they enter into such disputations, confuse themselves and confuse others; and finally abusing their adversaries and abused by them, they walk away.
Now this was the first and chief peculiarity of Socrates, never to be irritated in argument, never to utter anything abusive, anything insulting, but to bear with abusive persons and to put an end to the quarrel. If you would know what great power he had in this way, read the Symposium of Xenophon, and you will see how many quarrels he put an end to. Hence with good reason in the poets also this power is most highly praised,
Quickly with the skill he settles great disputes.
Well then; the matter is not now very safe, and particularly at Rome; for he who attempts to do it, must not do it in a corner, you may be sure, but must go to a man of consular rank, if it so happen, or to a rich man, and ask him, “Can you tell me, Sir, to whose care you have entrusted your horses?” “I can tell you.” Here you entrusted them to a person indifferently and to one who has no experience of horses? “By no means.” Well then; can you tell me to whom you entrust your gold or silver things or your vestments? “I don’t entrust even these to anyone indifferently.” Well; your own body, have you already considered about entrusting the care of it to any person? “Certainly.” To a man of experience, I suppose, and one acquainted with the aliptic, or with the healing art? “Without a doubt.” Are these the best things that you have, or do you also possess something else which is better than all these? “What kind of thing do you mean?” That I mean which makes use of these things, and tests each of these things and deliberates. “Is it the soul that you mean?” You think right, for it is the soul that I mean. “In truth I do think the soul is a much better thing than all the others which I possess.” Can you then show us in what way you have taken care of the soul? for it is not likely that you, who are so wise a man and have a reputation in the city, inconsiderately and carelessly allow the most valuable thing that you possess to be neglected and to perish? “Certainly not.” But have you taken care of the soul yourself; and have you learned from another to do this, or have you discovered the means yourself? Here comes the danger that in the first place he may say, “What is this to you, my good man, who are you?” Next, if you persist in troubling him, there is a danger that he may raise his hands and give you blows. I was once myself also an admirer of this mode of instruction until I fell into these dangers.
When I see a man anxious, I say, “What does this man want? If he did not want something which is not in his power, how could he be anxious?” For this reason a lute player when he is singing by himself has no anxiety, but when he enters the theatre, he is anxious even if he has a good voice and plays well on the lute; for he not only wishes to sing well, but also to obtain applause: but this is not in his power. Accordingly, where he has skill, there he has confidence. Bring any single person who knows nothing of music, and the musician does not care for him. But in the matter where a man knows nothing and has not been practiced, there he is anxious. What matter is this? He knows not what a crowd is or what the praise of a crowd is. However he has learned to strike the lowest chord and the highest; but what the praise of the many is, and what power it has in life he neither knows nor has he thought about it. Hence he must of necessity tremble and grow pale. I cannot then say that a man is not a lute player when I see him afraid, but I can say something else, and not one thing, but many. And first of all I call him a stranger and say, “This man does not know in what part of the world he is, but though he has been here so long, he is ignorant of the laws of the State and the customs, and what is permitted and what is not; and he has never employed any lawyer to tell him and to explain the laws.” But a man does not write a will, if he does not does not know how it ought to be written, or he employs a person who does know; nor does he rashly seal a bond or write a security. But he uses his desire without a lawyer’s advice, and aversion, and pursuit, and attempt and purpose. “How do you mean without a lawyer?” He does not know that he wills what is not allowed, and does not will that which is of necessity; and he does not know either what is his own or what is or what is another man’s; but if he did know, he could never be impeded, he would never be hindered, he would not be anxious. “How so?” Is any man then afraid about things which are not evil? “No.” Is he afraid about things which are evils, but still so far within his power that they may not happen? “Certainly he is not.” If, then, the things which are independent of the will are neither good nor bad, and all things which do depend on the will are within our power, and no man can either take them from us or give them to us, if we do not choose, where is room left for anxiety? But we are anxious about our poor body, our little property, about the will of Caesar; but not anxious about things internal. Are we anxious about not forming a false opinion? No, for this is in my power. About not exerting our movements contrary to nature? No, not even about this. When then you see a man pale, as the physician says, judging from the complexion, this man’s spleen is disordered, that man’s liver; so also say, this man’s desire and aversion are disordered, he is not in the right way, he is in a fever. For nothing else changes the color, or causes trembling or chattering of the teeth, or causes a man to
Sink in his knees and shift from foot to foot.
For this reason when Zeno was going to meet Antigonus, he was not anxious, for Antigonus had no power over any of the things which Zeno admired; and Zeno did not care for those things over which Antigonus had power. But Antigonus was anxious when he was going to meet Zeno, for he wished to please Zeno; but this was a thing external. But Zeno did not want to please Antigonus; for no man who is skilled in any art wishes to please one who has no such skill.
Should I try to please you? Why? I suppose, you know the measure by which one man is estimated by another. Have you taken pains to learn what is a good man and what is a bad man, and how a man becomes one or the other? Why, then, are you not good yourself? “How,” he replies, “am I not good?” Because no good man laments or roans or weeps, no good man is pale and trembles, or says, “How will he receive me, how will he listen to me?” Slave, just as it pleases him. Why do you care about what belongs to others? Is it now his fault if he receives badly what proceeds from you? “Certainly.” And is it possible that a fault should be one man’s, and the evil in another? “No.” Why then are you anxious about that which belongs to others? “Your question is reasonable; but I am anxious how I shall speak to him.” Cannot you then speak to him as you choose? “But I fear that I may be disconcerted?” If you are going to write the name of Dion, are you afraid that you would be disconcerted? “By no means.” Why? is it not because you have practiced writing the name? “Certainly.” Well, if you were going to read the name, would you not feel the same? and why? Because every art has a certain strength and confidence in the things which belong to it. Have you then not practiced speaking? and what else did you learn in the school? Syllogisms and sophistical propositions? For what purpose? was it not for the purpose of discoursing skillfully? and is not discoursing skillfully the same as discoursing seasonably and cautiously and with intelligence, and also without making mistakes and without hindrance, and besides all this with confidence? “Yes.” When, then, you are mounted on a horse and go into a plain, are you anxious at being matched against a man who is on foot, and anxious in a matter in which you are practiced, and he is not? “Yes, but that person has power to kill me.” Speak the truth then, unhappy man, and do not brag, nor claim to be a philosopher, nor refuse to acknowledge your masters, but so long as you present this handle in your body, follow every man who is stronger than yourself. Socrates used to practice speaking, he who talked as he did to the tyrants, to the dicasts, he who talked in his prison. Diogenes had practiced speaking, he who spoke as he did to Alexander, to the pirates, to the person who bought him. These men were confident in the things which they practiced. But do you walk off to your own affairs and never leave them: go and sit in a corner, and weave syllogisms, and propose them to another. There is not in you the man who can rule a state.
When a certain Roman entered with his son and listened to one reading, Epictetus said, “This is the method of instruction”; and he stopped. When the Roman asked him to go on, Epictetus said: Every art, when it is taught, causes labour to him who is unacquainted with it and is unskilled in it, and indeed the things which proceed from the arts immediately show their use in the purpose for which they were made; and most of them contain something attractive and pleasing. For indeed to be present and to observe how a shoemaker learns is not a pleasant thing; but the shoe is useful and also not disagreeable to look at. And the discipline of a smith when he is learning is very disagreeable to one who chances to be present and is a stranger to the art: but the work shows the use of the art. But you will see this much more in music; for if you are present while a person is learning, the discipline will appear most disagreeable; and yet the results of music are pleasing and delightful to those who know nothing of music. And here we conceive the work of a philosopher to be something of this kind: he must adapt his wish to what is going on, so that neither any of the things which are taking place shall take place contrary to our wish, nor any of the things which do not take place shall not take place when we wish that they should. From this the result is to those who have so arranged the work of philosophy, not to fall in the desire, nor to fall in with that which they would avoid; without uneasiness, without fear, without perturbation to pass through life themselves, together with their associates maintaining the relations both natural and acquired, as the relation of son, of father, of brother, of citizen, of man, of wife, of neighbour, of fellow-traveler, of ruler, of ruled. The work of a philosopher we conceive to be something like this. It remains next to inquire how this must be accomplished.
We see then that the carpenter when he has learned certain things becomes a carpenter; the pilot by learning certain things becomes a pilot. May it not, then, in philosophy also not be sufficient to wish to be wise and good, and that there is also a necessity to learn certain things? We inquire then what these things are. The philosophers say that we ought first to learn that there is a God and that he provides for all things; also that it is not possible to conceal from him our acts, or even our intentions and thoughts. The next thing, is to learn what is the nature of the Gods; for such as they are discovered to be, he, who would please and obey them, must try with all his power to be like them. If the divine is faithful, man also must be faithful; if it is free, man also must be free; if beneficent, man also must be beneficent; if magnanimous, man also must be magnanimous; as being, then an imitator of God, he must do and say everything consistently with this fact.
“With what then must we begin?” If you will enter on the discussion, I will tell you that you must first understand names. “So, then, you say that I do not now understand names?” You do not understand them. “How, then, do I use them?” Just as the illiterate use written language, as cattle use appearances: for use is one thing, understanding is another. But if you think that you understand them, produce whatever word you please, and let us try whether we understand it. But it is a disagreeable thing for a man to be confuted who is now old and, it may be, has now served his three campaigns. I too know this: for now you are come to me as if you were in want of nothing: and what could you even imagine to be wanting to you? You are rich, you have children, and a wife, perhaps and many slaves: Caesar knows you, in Rome you have many friends, you render their dues to all, you know how to requite him who does you a favour, and to repay in the same kind him who does a wrong. What do you lack? If, then, I shall show you that you lack the things most necessary and the chief things for happiness, and that hitherto you have looked after everything rather than what you ought, and, to crown all, that you neither know what God is nor what man is, nor what is good nor what is bad; and as to what I have said about your ignorance of other matters, that may perhaps be endured, but if I say that you know nothing about yourself, how is it possible that you should endure me and bear the proof and stay here? It is not possible; but you immediately go off in bad humour. And yet what harm have I done you? unless the mirror also injures the ugly man because it shows him to himself such as he is; unless the physician also is supposed to insult the sick man, when he says to him, “Man, do you think that you ail nothing? But you have a fever: go without food to-day; drink water.” And no one says, “What an insult!” But if you say to a man, “Your desires are inflamed, your aversions are low, your intentions are inconsistent, your pursuits are not comfortable to nature, your opinions are rash and false,” the man immediately goes away and says, “he has insulted me.”
Our way of dealing is like that of a crowded assembly. Beasts are brought to be sold and oxen; and the greater part of the men come to buy and sell, and there are some few who come to look at the market and to inquire how it is carried on, and why, and who fixes the meeting and for what purpose. So it is here also in this assembly: some like cattle trouble themselves about nothing except their fodder. For to all of you who are busy about possessions and lands and slaves and magisterial offices, these are nothing except fodder. But there are a few who attend the assembly, men who love to look on and consider what is the world, who governs it. Has it no governor? And how is it possible that a city or a family cannot continue to exist, not even the shortest time without an administrator and guardian, and that so great and beautiful a system should be administered with such order and yet without a purpose and by chance? There is then an administrator. What kind of administrator and how does he govern? And who are we, who were produced by him, and for what purpose? Have we some connection with him and some relation toward him, or none? This is the way in which these few are affected, and then they apply themselves only to this one thing, to examine the meeting and then to go away. What then? They are ridiculed by the many, as the spectators at the fair are by the traders; and if the beasts had any understanding, they would ridicule those who admired anything else than fodder.
When some persons have heard these words, that a man ought to be constant, and that the will is naturally free and not subject to compulsion, but that all other things are subject to hindrance, to slavery, and are in the power of others, they suppose that they ought without deviation to abide by everything which they have determined. But in the first place that which has been determined ought to be sound. I require tone in the body, but such as exists in a healthy body, in an athletic body; but if it is plain to me that you have the tone of a frenzied man and you boast of it, I shall say to you, “Man, seek the physician”: this is not tone, but atony. In a different way something of the same kind is felt by those who listen to these discourses in a wrong manner; which was the case with one of my companions who for no reason resolved to starve himself to death. I heard of it when it was the third day of his abstinence from food and I went to inquire what had happened. “I have resolved,” he said. But still tell me what it was which induced you to resolve; for if you have resolved rightly, we shall sit with you and assist you to depart; but if you have made an unreasonable resolution, change your mind. “We ought to keep to our determinations.” What are you doing, man? We ought to keep not to all our determinations, but to those which are right; for if you are now persuaded that it is right, do not change your mind, if you think fit, but persist and say, “We ought to abide by our determinations.” Will you not make the beginning and lay the foundation in an inquiry whether the determination is sound or not sound, and so then build on it firmness and security? But if you lay a rotten and ruinous foundation, will not your miserable little building fall down the sooner, the more and the stronger are the materials which you shall lay on it? Without any reason would you withdraw from us out of life a man who is a friend, and a companion, a citizen of the same city, both the great and the small city? Then, while you are committing murder and destroying a man who has done no wrong, do you say that you ought to abide by your determinations? And if it ever in any way came into your head to kill me, ought you to abide by your determinations?
Now this man was with difficulty persuaded to change his mind. But it is impossible to convince some persons at present; so that I seem now to know, what I did not know, before, the meaning of the common saying, “That you can neither persuade nor break a fool.” May it never be my lot to have a wise fool for my friend: nothing is more untractable. “I am determined,” the man says. Madmen are also; but the more firmly they form a judgment on things which do not exist, the more ellebore they require. Will you not act like a sick man and call in the physician? “I am sick, master, help me; consider what I must do: it is my duty to obey you.” So it is here also: “I know not what I ought to do, but I am come to learn.” Not so; but, “Speak to me about other things: upon this I have determined.” What other things? for what is greater and more useful than for you to be persuaded that it is not sufficient to have made your determination and not to change it. This is the tone of madness, not of health. “I will die, if you compel me to this.” Why, man? What has happened? “I have determined.” I have had a lucky escape that you have not determined to kill me. “I take no money.” Why? “I have determined.” Be assured that with the very tone which you now use in refusing to take, there is nothing to hinder you at some time from inclining without reason to take money and then saying, “I have determined.” As in a distempered body, subject to defluxions, the humor inclines sometimes to these parts and then to those, so too a sickly soul knows not which way to incline: but if to this inclination and movement there is added a tone, then the evil becomes past help and cure.
Where is the good? In the will. Where is the evil? In the will. Where is neither of them? In those things which are independent of the will. Well then? Does any one among us think of these lessons out of the schools? Does any one meditate by himself to give an answer to things as in the case of questions? Is it day? “Yes.” Is it night? “No.” Well, is the number of stars even? “I cannot say.” When money is shown to you, have you studied to make the proper answer, that money is not a good thing? Have you practiced yourself in these answers, or only against sophisms? Why do you wonder then if in the cases which you have studied, in those you have improved; but in those which you have not studied, in those you remain the same? When the rhetorician knows that he has written well, that he has committed to memory what he has written, and brings an agreeable voice, why is he still anxious? Because he is not satisfied with having studied. What then does he want? To be praised by the audience? For the purpose, then, of being able to practice declamation, he has been disciplined: but with respect to praise and blame he has not been disciplined. For when did he hear from any one what praise is, what blame is, what the nature of each is, what kind of praise should be sought, or what kind of blame should be shunned? And when did he practice this discipline which follows these words? Why then do you still wonder if, in the matters which a man has learned, there he surpasses others, and in those in which he has not been disciplined, there he is the same with the many. So the lute player knows how to play, sings well, and has a fine dress, and yet he trembles when he enters on the stage; for these matters he understands, but he does not know what a crowd is, nor the shouts of a crowd, nor what ridicule is. Neither does he know what anxiety is, whether it is our work or the work of another, whether it is possible to stop it or not. For this reason, if he has been praised, he leaves the theatre puffed up, but if he has been ridiculed, the swollen bladder has been punctured and subsides.
This is the case also with ourselves. What do we admire? Externals. About what things are we busy? Externals. And have we any doubt then why we fear or why we are anxious? What, then, happens when we think the things which are coming on us to be evils? It is not in our power not to be afraid, it is not in our power not to be anxious. Then we say, “Lord God, how shall I not be anxious?” Fool, have you not hands, did not God make them for you, Sit down now and pray that your nose may not run. Wipe yourself rather and do not blame him. Well then, has he given to you nothing in the present case? Has he not given to you endurance? has he not given to you magnanimity? has he not given to you manliness? When you have such hands, do you look for one who shall wipe your you st nose? But we neither study these things nor care for them. Give me a man who cares how he shall do anything, not for the obtaining of a thing but who cares about his own energy. What man, when he is walking about, cares for his own energy? who, when he is deliberating, cares about his own deliberation, and not about obtaining that about which he deliberates? And if he succeeds, he is elated and says, “How well we have deliberated; did I not tell you, brother, that it is impossible, when we have thought about anything, that it should not turn out thus?” But if the thing should turn out otherwise, the wretched man is humbled; he knows not even what to say about what has taken place. Who among us for the sake of this matter has consulted a seer? Who among us as to his actions has not slept in indifference? Who? Give to me one that I may see the man whom I have long been looking for, who is truly noble and ingenuous, whether young or old; name him.
Why then are we still surprised, if we are well practiced in thinking about matters, but in our acts are low, without decency, worthless, cowardly, impatient of labour, altogether bad? For we do not care about things, nor do we study them. But if we had feared not death or banishment, but fear itself, we should have studied not to fall into those things which appear to us evils. Now in the school we are irritable and wordy; and if any little question arises about any of these things, we are able to examine them fully. But drag us to practice, and you will find us miserably shipwrecked. Let some disturbing appearance come on us, and you will know what we have been studying and in what we have been exercising ourselves. Consequently, through want of discipline, we are always adding something to the appearance and representing things to be greater than what they are. For instance as to myself, when I am on a voyage and look down on the deep sea, or look round on it and see no land, I am out of my mind and imagine that I must drink up all this water if I am wrecked, and it does not occur to me that three pints are enough. What then disturbs me? The sea? No, but my opinion. Again, when an earthquake shall happen, I imagine that the city is going to fall on me; is not one little stone enough to knock my brains out?
What then are the things which are heavy on us and disturb us? What else than opinions? What else than opinions lies heavy upon him who goes away and leaves his companions and friends and places and habits of life? Now little children, for instance, when they cry on the nurse leaving them for a short time, forget their sorrow if they receive a small cake. Do you choose then that we should compare you to little children? No, by Zeus, for I do not wish to be pacified by a small cake, but by right opinions. And what are these? Such as a man ought to study all day, and not to be affected by anything that is not his own, neither by companion nor place nor gymnasia, and not even by his own body, but to remember the law and to have it before his eyes. And what is the divine law? To keep a man’s own, not to claim that which belongs to others, but to use what is given, and when it is not given, not to desire it; and when a thing is taken away, to give it up readily and immediately, and to be thankful for the time that a man has had the use of it, if you would not cry for your nurse and mamma. For what matter does it make by what thing a man is subdued, and on what he depends? In what respect are you better than he who cries for a girl, if you grieve for a little gymnasium, and little porticoes and young men and such places of amusement? Another comes and laments that he shall no longer drink the water of Dirce. Is the Marcian water worse than that of Dirce? “But I was used to the water of Dirce?” And you in turn will be used to the other. Then if you become attached to this also, cry for this too, and try to make a verse like the verse of Euripides,
The hot baths of Nero and the Marcian water.
See how tragedy is made when common things happen to silly men.
“When then shall I see Athens again and the Acropolis?” Wretch, are you not content with what you see daily? have you anything better or greater to see than the sun, the moon, the stars, the whole earth, the sea? But if indeed you comprehend him who administers the Whole, and carry him about in yourself, do you still desire small stones, and a beautiful rock? When, then, you are going to leave the sun itself and the moon, what will you do? will you sit and weep like children? Well, what have you been doing in the school? what did you hear, what did you learn? why did you write yourself a philosopher, when you might have written the truth; as, “I made certain introductions, and I read Chrysippus, but I did not even approach the door of a philosopher.” For how should I possess anything of the kind which Socrates possessed, who died as he did, who lived as he did, or anything such as Diogenes possessed? Do you think that any one of such men wept or grieved, because he was not going to see a certain man, or a certain woman, nor to be in Athens or in Corinth, but, if it should so happen, in Susa or in Ecbatana? For if a man can quit the banquet when he chooses, and no longer amuse himself, does he still stay and complain, and does he not stay, as at any amusement, only so long as he is pleased? Such a man, I suppose, would endure perpetual exile or to be condemned to death. Will you not be weaned now, like children, and take more solid food, and not cry after mammas and nurses, which are the lamentations of old women? “But if I go away, I shall cause them sorrow.” You cause them sorrow? By no means; but that will cause them sorrow which also causes you sorrow, opinion. What have you to do then? Take away your own opinion, and if these women are wise, they will take away their own: if they do not, they will lament through their own fault.
My man, as the proverb says, make a desperate effort on behalf of tranquillity of mind, freedom and magnanimity. Lift up your head at last as released from slavery. Dare to look up to God and say, “Deal with me for the future as thou wilt; I am of the same mind as thou art; I am thine: I refuse nothing that pleases thee: lead me where thou wilt: clothe me in any dress thou choosest: is it thy will that I should hold the office of a magistrate, that I should be in the condition of a private man, stay there or be an exile, be poor, be rich? I will make thy defense to men in behalf of all these conditions. I will show the nature of each thing what it is.” You will not do so; but sit in an ox’s belly, and wait for your mamma till she shall feed you. Who would Hercules have been, if he had sat at home? He would have been Eurystheus and not Hercules. Well, and in his travels through the world how many intimates and how many friends had he? But nothing more dear to him than God. For this reason it was believed that he was the son of God, and he was. In obedience to God, then, he went about purging away injustice and lawlessness. But you are not Hercules and you are not able to purge away the wickedness of others; nor yet are you Theseus, able to pure away the evil things of Attica. Clear away your own. From yourself, from your thoughts cast away, instead of Procrustes and Sciron, sadness, fear, desire, envy, malevolence, avarice, effeminacy, intemperance. But it is not possible to eject these things otherwise than by looking to God only, by fixing your affections on him only, by being consecrated to his commands. But if you choose anything else, you will with sighs and groans be compelled to follow what is stronger than yourself, always seeking tranquillity and never able to find it; for you seek tranquillity there where it is not, and you neglect to seek it where it is.
What is the first business of him who philosophizes? To throw away self-conceit. For it is impossible for a man to begin to learn that which he thinks that he knows. As to things then which ought to be done and ought not to be done, and good and bad, and beautiful and ugly, all of us talking of them at random go to the philosophers; and on these matters we praise, we censure, we accuse, we blame, we judge and determine about principles honourable and dishonourable. But why do we go to the philosophers? Because we wish to learn what we do not think we know. And what is this? Theorems. For we wish to learn what philosophers say as being something elegant and acute; and some wish to learn that they may get profit what they learn. It is ridiculous then to think that a person wishes to learn one thing, and will learn another; or further, that a man will make proficiency in that which he does not learn. But the many are deceived by this which deceived also the rhetorician Theopompus, when he blames even Plato for wishing everything to be defined. For what does he say? “Did none of us before you use the words ‘good’ or ‘just,’ or do we utter the sounds in an unmeaning and empty way without understanding what they severally signify?” Now who tells you, Theopompus, that we had not natural notions of each of these things and preconceptions? But it is not possible to adapt preconceptions to their correspondent objects if we have not distinguished them, and inquired what object must be subjected to each preconception. You may make the same charge against physicians also. For who among us did not use the words “healthy” and “unhealthy” before Hippocrates lived, or did we utter these words as empty sounds? For we have also a certain preconception of health, but we are not able to adapt it. For this reason one says, “Abstain from food”; another says, “Give food”; another says, “Bleed”; and another says, “Use cupping.” What is the reason? is it any other than that a man cannot properly adapt the preconception of health to particulars?
So it is in this matter also, in the things which concern life. Who among us does not speak of good and bad, of useful and not useful; for who among us has not a preconception of each of these things? Is it then a distinct and perfect preconception? Show this. How shall I show this? Adapt the preconception properly to the particular things. Plato, for instance, subjects definitions to the preconception of the useful, but you to the preconception of the useless. Is it possible then that both of you are right? How is it possible? Does not one man adapt the preconception of good to the matter of wealth, and another not to wealth, but to the matter of pleasure and to that of health? For, generally, if all of us who use those words know sufficiently each of them, and need no diligence in resolving, the notions of the preconceptions, why do we differ, why do we quarrel, why do we blame one another?
And why do I now allege this contention with one another and speak of it? If you yourself properly adapt your preconceptions, why are you unhappy, why are you hindered? Let us omit at present the second topic about the pursuits and the study of the duties which relate to them. Let us omit also the third topic, which relates to the assents: I give up to you these two topics. Let us insist upon the first, which presents an almost obvious demonstration that we do not properly adapt the preconceptions. Do you now desire that which is possible and that which is possible to you? Why then are you hindered? why are you unhappy? Do you not now try to avoid the unavoidable? Why then do you fall in with anything which you would avoid? Why are you unfortunate? Why, when you desire a thing, does it not happen, and, when you do not desire it, does it happen? For this is the greatest proof of unhappiness and misery: “I wish for something, and it does not happen.” And what is more wretched than I?
It was because she could not endure this that Medea came to murder her children: an act of a noble spirit in this view at least, for she had a just opinion what it is for a thing not to succeed which a person wishes. Then she says, “Thus I shall be avenged on him who has wronged and insulted me; and what shall I gain if he is punished thus? how then shall it be done? I shall kill my children, but I shall punish myself also: and what do I care?” This is the aberration of soul which possesses great energy. For she did not know wherein lies the doing of that which we wish; that you cannot get this from without, nor yet by the alteration and new adaptation of things. Do not desire the man, and nothing which you desire will fall to happen: do not obstinately desire that he shall live with you: do not desire to remain in Corinth; and, in a word, desire nothing than that which God wills. And who shall hinder you? who shall compel you? No man shall compel you any more than he shall compel Zeus.
When you have such a guide, and your wishes and desires are the same as his, why do you fear disappointment? Give up your desire to wealth and your aversion to poverty, and you will be disappointed in the one, you will fall into the other. Well, give them up to health, and you will be unfortunate: give them up to magistracies, honours, country, friends, children, in a word to any of the things which are not in man’s power. But give them up to Zeus and to the rest of the gods; surrender them to the gods, let the gods govern, let your desire and aversion be ranged on the side of the gods, and wherein will you be any longer unhappy? But if, lazy wretch, you envy, and complain, and are jealous, and fear, and never cease for a single day complaining both of yourself and of the gods, why do you still speak of being educated? What kind of an education, man? Do you mean that you have been employed about sophistical syllogisms? Will you not, if it is possible, unlearn all these things and begin from the beginning, and see at the same time that hitherto you have not even touched the matter; and then, commencing from this foundation, will you not build up all that comes after, so that nothing, may happen which you do not choose, and nothing shall fail to happen which you do choose?
Give me one young man who has come to the school with this intention, who is become a champion for this matter and says, “I give up everything else, and it is enough for me if “t shall ever be in my power to pass my life free from hindrance and free from trouble, and to stretch out my neck to all things like a free man, and to look up to heaven as a friend of God, and fear nothing that can happen.” Let any of you point out such a man that I may “Come, young man, into the possession of that which is your own, it is your destiny to adorn philosophy: yours are these possessions, yours these books, yours these discourses.” Then when he shall have laboured sufficiently and exercised himself in this of the matter, let him come to me again and say, “I desire to be free from passion and free from perturbation; and I wish as a pious man and a philosopher and a diligent person to know what is my duty to the gods, what to my parents, what to my brothers, what to my country, what to strangers.” Come also to the second matter: this also is yours. “But I have now sufficiently studied the second part also, and I would gladly be secure and unshaken, and not only when I am awake, but also when I am asleep, and when I am filled with wine, and when I am melancholy.” Man, you are a god, you have great designs.
“No: but I wish to understand what Chrysippus says in his treatise of the Pseudomenos.” Will you not hang yourself, wretch, with such your intention? And what good will it do you? You will read the whole with sorrow, and you will speak to others trembling, Thus you also do. “Do you wish me, brother, to read to you, and you to me?” “You write excellently, my man; and you also excellently in the style of Xenophon, and you in the style of Plato, and you in the style of Antisthenes.” Then, having told your dreams to one another, you return to the same things: your desires are the same, your aversions the same, your pursuits are the same, and your designs and purposes, you wish for the same things and work for the same. In the next place you do not even seek for one to give you advice, but you are vexed if you hear such things. Then you say, “An ill-natured old fellow: when I was going away, he did not weep nor did he say, ‘Into what danger you are going: if you come off safe, my child, I will burn lights.’ This is what a good-natured man would do.” It will be a great thing for you if you do return safe, and it will be worth while to burn lights for such a person: for you ought to be immortal and exempt from disease.
Casting away then, as I say, this conceit of thinking that we know something useful, we I I must come to philosophy as we apply to geometry, and to music: but if we do not, we shall not even approach to proficiency, though we read all the collections and commentaries of Chrysippus and those of Antipater and Archedemus.
Every habit and faculty is maintained and increased by the corresponding actions: the habit of walking by walking, the habit of running by running. If you would be a good reader, read; if a writer, write. But when you shall not have read thirty days in succession, but have done something else, you will know the consequence. In the same way, if you shall have lain down ten days, get up and attempt to make a long walk, and you will see how your legs are weakened. Generally, then, if you would make anything a habit, do it; if you would not make it a habit, do not do it, but accustom yourself to do something else in place of it.
So it is with respect to the affections of the soul: when you have been angry, you must know that not only has this evil befallen you, but that you have also increased the habit, and in a manner thrown fuel upon fire. When you have been overcome in sexual intercourse with a person, do not reckon this single defeat only, but reckon that you have also nurtured, increased your incontinence. For it is impossible for habits and faculties, some of them not to be produced, when they did not exist before, and others not be increased and strengthened by corresponding acts.
In this manner certainly, as philosophers say, also diseases of the mind grow up. For when you have once desired money, if reason be applied to lead to a perception of the evil, the desire is stopped, and the ruling faculty of our mind is restored to the original authority. But if you apply no means of cure, it no longer returns to the same state, but, being again excited by the corresponding appearance, it is inflamed to desire quicker than before: and when this takes place continually, it is henceforth hardened, and the disease of the mind confirms the love of money. For he who has had a fever, and has been relieved from it, is not in the same state that he was before, unless he has been completely cured. Something of the kind happens also in diseases of the soul. Certain traces and blisters are left in it, and unless a man shall completely efface them, when he is again lashed on the same places, the lash will produce not blisters but sores. If then you wish not to be of an angry temper, do not feed the habit; throw nothing on it which will increase it: at first keep quiet, and count the days on which you have not been angry. I used to be in passion every day; now every second day; then every third, then every fourth. But if you have intermitted thirty days, make a sacrifice to God. For the habit at first begins to be weakened, and then is completely destroyed. “I have not been vexed to-day, nor the day after, nor yet on any succeeding day during two or three months; but I took care when some exciting things happened.” Be assured that you are in a good way. To-day when I saw a handsome person, I did not say to myself, “I wish I could lie with her,” and “Happy is her husband”; for he who says this says, “Happy is her adulterer also.” Nor do I picture the rest to my mind; the woman present, and stripping herself and lying down by my side. I stroke my head and say, “Well done, Epictetus, you have solved a fine little sophism, much finer than that which is called the master sophism.” And if even the woman is willing, and gives signs, and sends messages, and if she also fondle me and come close to me, and I should abstain and be victorious, that would be a sophism beyond that which is named “The Liar,” and “The Quiescent.” Over such a victory as this a man may justly be proud; not for proposing, the master sophism.
How then shall this be done? Be willing at length to be approved by yourself, be willing to appear beautiful to God, desire to he in purity with your own pure self and with God. Then when any such appearance visits you, Plato says, “Have recourse to expiations, go a suppliant to the temples of the averting deities.” It is even sufficient if “you resort to the society of noble and just men,” and compare yourself with them, whether you find one who is living or dead. Go to Socrates and see him lying down with Alcibiades, and mocking his beauty: consider what a victory he at last found that he had gained over himself; what an Olympian victory; in what number he stood from Hercules; so that, by the Gods, one may justly salute him, “Hail, wondrous man, you who have conquered not less these sorry boxers and pancratiasts nor yet those who are like them, the gladiators.” By placing these objects on the other side you will conquer the appearance: you will not be drawn away by it. But, in the first place, be not hurried away by the rapidity of the appearance, but say, “Appearances, wait for me a little: let me see who you are, and what you are about: let me put you to the test.” And then do not allow the appearance to lead you on and draw lively pictures of the things which will follow; for if you do, it will carry you off wherever it pleases. But rather bring in to oppose it some other beautiful and noble appearance and cast out this base appearance. And if you are accustomed to be exercised in this way, you will see what shoulders, what sinews, what strength you have. But now it is only trifling words, and nothing more.
This is the true athlete, the man who exercises himself against such appearances. Stay, wretch, do not be carried away. Great is the combat, divine is the work; it is for kingship, for freedom, for happiness, for freedom from perturbation. Remember God: call on him as a helper and protector, as men at sea call on the Dioscuri in a storm. For what is a greater storm than that which comes from appearances which are violent and drive away the reason? For the storm itself, what else is it but an appearance? For take away the fear of death, and suppose as many thunders and lightnings as you please, and you will know what calm and serenity there is in the ruling faculty. But if you have once been defeated and say that you will conquer hereafter, then say the same again, be assured that you at last be in so wretched a condition and so weak that you will not even know afterward that you are doing wrong, but you will even begin to make apologies for your wrongdoing, and then you will confirm the saying of Hesiod to be true,
With constant ills the dilatory strives.
The argument called the “ruling argument” appears to have been proposed from such principles as these: there is in fact a common contradiction between one another in these three positions, each two being in contradiction to the third. The propositions are, that everything past must of necessity be true; that an impossibility does not follow a possibility; and that thing is possible which neither is nor t at a t will be true. Diodorus observing this contradiction employed the probative force of the first two for the demonstration of this proposition, “That nothing is possible which is not true and never will be.” Now another will hold these two: “That something is possible, which is neither true nor ever will be”: and “That an impossibility does not follow a possibility,” But he will not allow that everything which is past is necessarily true, as the followers of Cleanthes seem to think, and Antipater copiously defended them. But others maintain the other two propositions, “That a thing is possible which is neither true nor will he true”: and “That everything which is past is necessarily true”; but then they will maintain that an impossibility can follow a possibility. But it is impossible to maintain these three propositions, because of their common contradiction.
If then any man should ask me which of these propositions do I maintain? I will answer him that I do not know; but I have received this story, that Diodorus maintained one opinion, the followers of Panthoides, I think, and Cleanthes maintained another opinion, and those of Chrysippus a third. “What then is your opinion?” I was not made for this purpose, to examine the appearances that occur to me and to compare what others say and to form an opinion of my own on the thing. Therefore I differ not at all from the grammarian. “Who was Hector’s father?” Priam. “Who were his brothers?” Alexander and Deiphobus. “Who was their mother?” Hecuba. I have heard this story. “From whom?” From Homer. And Hellanicus also, I think, writes about the same things, and perhaps others like him. And what further have I about the ruling argument? Nothing. But, if I am a vain man, especially at a banquet, I surprise the guests by enumerating those who have written on these matters. Both Chrysippus has written wonderfully in his first book about “Possibilities,” and Cleanthes has written specially on the subject, and Archedemus. Antipater also has written not only in his work about “Possibilities,” but also separately in his work on the ruling argument. Have you not read the work? “I have not read it.” Read. And what profit will a man have from it? he will be more trifling and impertinent than he is now; for what else have you rained by reading it? What opinion have you formed on this subject? none; but you will tell us of Helen and Priam, and the island of Calypso which never was and never will be. And in this matter indeed it is of no great importance if you retain the story, but have formed no opinion of your own. But in matters of morality this happens to us much more than in these things of which we are speaking.
“Speak to me about good and evil.” Listen:
The wind from Ilium to Ciconian shores
“Of things some are good, some are bad, and others are indifferent. The good then are the virtues and the things which partake of the virtues; the bad are the vices, and the things which partake of them; and the indifferent are the things which lie between the virtues and the vices, wealth, health, life, death, pleasure, pain.” Whence do you know this? “Hellanicus says it in his Egyptian history”; for what difference does it make to say this, or to say that “Diogenes has it in his Ethic,” or Chrysippus or Cleanthes? Have you then examined any of these things and formed an opinion of your own? Show how you are used to behave in a storm on shipboard? Do you remember this division, when the sail rattles and a man, who knows nothing of times and seasons, stands by you when you are screaming and says, “Tell me, I ask you by the Gods, what you were saying just now. Is it a vice to suffer shipwreck: does it participate in vice?” Will you not take up a stick and lay it on his head? What have we to do with you, man? we are perishing and you come to mock us? But if Caesar sent for you to answer a charge, do you remember the distinction? If, when you are going in, pale and trembling, a person should come up to you and say, “Why do you tremble, man? what is the matter about which you are engaged? Does Caesar who sits within give virtue and vice to those who go in to him?” You reply, “Why do you also mock me and add to my present sorrows?” Still tell me, philosopher, tell me why you tremble? Is it not death of which you run the risk, or a prison, or pain of the body, or banishment, or disgrace? What else is there? Is there any vice or anything which partakes of vice? What then did you use to say of these things? “What have you to do with me, man? my own evils are enough for me.” And you say right. Your own evils are enough for you, your baseness, your cowardice, your boasting which you showed when you sat in the school. Why did you decorate yourself with what belonged to others? Why did you call yourself a Stoic?
Observe yourselves thus in your actions, and you will find to what sect you belong. You will find that most of you are Epicureans, a few Peripatetics, and those feeble. For wherein will you show that you really consider virtue equal to everything else or even superior? But show me a Stoic, if you can. Where or how? But you can show me an endless number who utter small arguments of the Stoics. For do the same persons repeat the Epicurean opinions any worse? And the Peripatetic, do they not handle them also with equal accuracy? who then is a Stoic? As we call a statue Phidiac which is fashioned according to the art of Phidias; so show me a man who is fashioned according to the doctrines which he utters. Show me a man who is sick and happy, in danger and happy, dying and happy, in exile and happy, in disgrace and happy. Show him: I desire, by the gods, to see a Stoic. You cannot show me one fashioned so; but show me at least one who is forming, who has shown a tendency to be a Stoic. Do me this favor: do not grudge an old man seeing a sight which I have not seen yet. Do you think that you must show me the Zeus of Phidias or the Athena, a work of ivory and gold? Let any of you show me a human soul ready to think as God does, and not to blame either God or man, ready not to be disappointed about anything, not to consider himself damaged by anything, not to be angry, not to be envious, not to be jealous; and why should I not say it direct? desirous from a man to become a god, and in this poor mortal body thinking of his fellowship with Zeus. Show me the man. But you cannot. Why then do you delude yourselves and cheat others? and why do you put on a guise which does not belong to you, and walk about being thieves and pilferers of these names and things which do not belong to you?
And now I am your teacher, and you are instructed in my school. And I have this purpose, to make you free from restraint, compulsion, hindrance, to make you free, prosperous, happy, looking to God in everything small and great. And you are here to learn and practice these things. Why, then, do you not finish the work, if you also have such a purpose as you ought to have, and if I, in addition to the purpose, also have such qualification as I ought to have? What is that which is wanting? When I see an artificer and material by him, I expect the work. Here, then, is the artificer, here the material; what is it that we want? Is not the thing, one that can be taught? It is. Is it not then in our power? The only thing of all that is in our power. Neither wealth is in our power, nor health, nor reputation, nor in a word anything else except the right use of appearances. This is by nature free from restraint, this alone is free from impediment. Why then do you not finish the work? Tell me the reason. For it is either through my fault that you do not finish it, or through your own fault, or through the nature of the thing. The thing itself is possible, and the only thing in our power. It remains then that the fault is either in me or in you, or, what is nearer the truth, in both. Well then, are you willing that we begin at last to bring such a purpose into this school, and to take no notice of the past? Let us only make a beginning. Trust to me, and you will see.
The propositions which are true and evident are of necessity used even by those who contradict them: and a man might perhaps consider it to be the greatest proof of a thing being evident that it is found to be necessary even for him who denies it to make use of it at the same time. For instance, if a man should deny that there is anything universally true, it is plain that he must make the contradictory negation, that nothing is universally true. What, wretch, do you not admit even this? For what else is this than to affirm that whatever is universally affirmed is false? Again, if a man should come forward and say: “Know that there is nothing that can be known, but all things are incapable of sure evidence”; or if another say, “Believe me and you will be the better for it, that a man ought not to believe anything”; or again, if another should say, “Learn from me, man, that it is not possible to learn anything; I tell you this and will teach you, if you choose.” Now in what respect do these differ from those? Whom shall I name? Those who call themselves Academics? “Men, agree that no man agrees: believe us that no man believes anybody.”
Thus Epicurus also, when he designs to destroy the natural fellowship of mankind, at the same time makes use of that which he destroys. For what does he say? “Be not deceived men, nor be led astray, nor be mistaken: there is no natural fellowship among rational animals; believe me. But those who say otherwise, deceive you and seduce you by false reasons.” What is this to you? Permit us to be deceived. Will you fare worse, if all the rest of us are persuaded that there is a natural fellowship among us, and that it ought by all means to be preserved? Nay, it will be much better and safer for you. Man, why do you trouble yourself about us? Why do you keep awake for us? Why do you light your lamp? Why do you rise early? Why do you write so many books, that no one of us may be deceived about the gods and believe that they take care of men; or that no one may suppose the nature of good to be other than pleasure? For if this is so, lie down and sleep, and lead the life of a worm, of which you judged yourself worthy: eat and drink, and enjoy women, and ease yourself, and snore. And what is it to you, how the rest shall think about these things, whether right or wrong? For what have we to do with you? You take care of sheep because they supply us with wool, and milk, and, last of all, with their flesh. Would it not be a desirable thing if men could be lulled and enchanted by the Stoics, and sleep and present themselves to you and to those like you to be shorn and milked? For this you ought to say to your brother Epicureans: but ought you not to conceal it from others, and particularly before everything to persuade them that we are by nature adapted for fellowship, that temperance is a good thing; in order that all things may be secured for you? Or ought we to maintain this fellowship with some and not with others? With whom, then, ought we to maintain it? With such as on their part also maintain it, or with such as violate this fellowship? And who violate it more than you who establish such doctrines?
What then was it that waked Epicurus from his sleepiness, and compelled him to write what he did write? What else was it than that which is the strongest thing in men, nature, which draws a man to her own will though he be unwilling and complaining? “For since,” she says, “you think that there is no community among mankind, write this opinion and leave it for others, and break your sleep to do this, and by your own practice condemn your own opinions.” Shall we then say that Orestes was agitated by the Erinyes and roused from his deep sleep, and did not more savage Erinyes and Pains rouse Epicurus from his sleep and not allow him to rest, but compelled him to make known his own evils, as madness and wine did the Galli? So strong and invincible is man’s nature. For how can a vine be moved not in the mariner of a vine, but in the manner of an olive tree? or on the other hand how can an olive tree be moved not in the manner of an olive tree, but in the manner of a vine? It is impossible: it cannot be conceived. Neither then is it possible for a man completely to lose the movements of a man; and even those who are deprived of their genital members are not able to deprive themselves of man’s desires. Thus Epicurus also mutilated all the offices of a man, and of a father of a family, and of a citizen and of a friend, but he did not mutilate human desires, for he could not; not more than the lazy Academics can cast away or blind their own senses, though they have tried with all their might to do it. What a shame is this? when a man has received from nature measures and rules for the knowing of truth, and does not strive to add to these measures and rules and to improve them, but, just the contrary, endeavors to take away and destroy whatever enables us to discern the truth?
What say you philosopher? piety and sanctity, what do you think that they are? “If you like, I will demonstrate that they are good things.” Well, demonstrate it, that our citizens may be turned and honor the deity and may no longer be negligent about things of the highest value. “Have you then the demonstrations?” I have, and I am thankful. “Since then you are well pleased with them, hear the contrary: ‘That there are no Gods, and, if there are, they take no care of men, nor is there any fellowship between us and them; and that this piety and sanctity which is talked of among most men is the lying of boasters and sophists, or certainly of legislators for the purpose of terrifying and checking wrong-doers.’” Well done, philosopher, you have done something for our citizens, you have brought back all the young men to contempt of things divine. “What then, does not this satisfy you? Learn now, that justice is nothing, that modesty is folly, that a father is nothing, a son nothing.” Well done, philosopher, persist, persuade the young men, that we may have more with the same opinions as you who say the same as you. From such you an principles as those have grown our well-constituted states; by these was Sparta founded: Lycurgus fixed these opinions in the Spartans by his laws and education, that neither is the servile condition more base than honourable, nor the condition of free men more honorable than base, and that those who died at Thermopylae died from these opinions; and through what other opinions did the Athenians leave their city? Then those who talk thus, marry and beget children, and employ themselves in public affairs and make themselves priests and interpreters. Of whom? of gods who do not exist: and they consult the Pythian priestess that they may hear lies, and they repeat the oracles to others. Monstrous impudence and imposture.
Man what are you doing? are you refuting yourself every day; and will you not give up these frigid attempts? When you eat, where do you carry your hand to? to your mouth or to your eye? when you wash yourself, what do you go into? do you ever call a pot a dish, or a ladle a spit? If I were a slave of any of these men, even if I must be flayed by him dally, I would rack him. If he said, “Boy, throw some olive-oil into the bath,” I would take pickle sauce and pour it down on his head. “What is this?” he would say. An appearance was presented to me, I swear by your genius, which could not be distinguished from oil and was exactly like it. “Here give me the barley drink,” he says. I would fill and carry him a dish of sharp sauce. “Did I not ask for the barley drink?” Yes, master; this is the barley drink. “Take it and smell; take it and taste.” How do you know then if our senses deceive us? If I had three or four fellow-slaves of the same opinion, I should force him to hang himself through passion or to change his mind. But now they mock us by using all the things which nature gives, and in words destroying them.
Grateful indeed are men and modest, who, if they do nothing else, are daily eating bread and yet are shameless enough to say, we do not know if there is a Demeter or her daughter Persephone or a Pluto; not to mention that they are enjoying the night and the day, the seasons of the year, and the stars, and the sea, and the land, and the co-operation of mankind, and yet they are not moved in any degree by these things to turn their attention to them; but they only seek to belch out their little problem, and when they have exercised their stomach to go off to the bath. But what they shall say, and about what things or to what persons, and what their hearers shall learn from this talk, they care not even in the least degree, nor do they care if any generous youth after hearing such talk should suffer any harm from it, nor after he has suffered harm should lose all the seeds of his generous nature: nor if we should give an adulterer help toward being shameless in his acts; nor if a public peculator should lay hold of some cunning excuse from these doctrines; nor if another who neglects his parents should be confirmed in his audacity by this teaching. What then in your opinion is good or bad? This or that? Why then should a man say any more in reply to such persons as these, or give them any reason or listen to any reasons from them, or try to convince them? By Zeus one might much sooner expect to make certainties change their mind than those who are become so deaf and blind to their own evils.
Some things men readily confess, and other things they do not. No one then will confess that he is a fool or without understanding; but, quite the contrary, you will hear all men saying, “I wish that I had fortune equal to my understanding.” But readily confess that they are timid, and they say: “I am rather timid, I confess; but to other respects you will not find me to foolish.” A man will not readily confess that he is intemperate; and that he is unjust he will not confess at all. He will by no means confess that be is envious or a busybody. Most men will confess that they are compassionate. What then is the reason? The chief thing is inconsistency and confusion in the things which relate to good and evil. But different men have different reasons; and generally what they imagine to be base, they do not confess at all. But they suppose timidity to be a characteristic of a good disposition, and compassion also; but silliness to be the absolute characteristic of a slave. And they do not at all admit the things which are offenses against society. But in the case of most errors, for this reason chiefly, they are induced to confess them, because they that there is something involuntary in them as in timidity and compassion; and if a man confess that he is in any respect intemperate, he alleges love as an excuse for what is involuntary. But men do not imagine injustice to be at all There is also in jealousy, as they suppose, something involuntary; and for this reason they confess to jealousy also.
Living among such men, who are so confused so ignorant of what they say, and of evils which they have or have not, and why they have them, or how they shall be relieved of them, I think it is worth the trouble for a man to watch constantly “Whether I also am one of them, what imagination I have about myself, how I conduct myself, whether I conduct myself as a prudent man, whether I conduct myself as a temperate man, whether I ever say this, that I have been taught to be prepared for everything that may happen. Have I the consciousness, which a man who knows nothing ought to have, that I know nothing? Do I go to my teacher as men go to oracles, prepared to obey? or do I like a sniveling boy go to my school to learn history and understand the books which I did not understand before, and, if it should happen so, to explain them also to others?” Man, you have had a fight in the house with a poor slave, you have turned the family upside down, you have frightened the neighbours, and you come to me as if you were a wise man, and you take your seat and judge how I have explained some word, and how I have babbled whatever came into my head. You come full of envy, and humbled, because you bring nothing from home; and you sit during, the discussion thinking of nothing else than how your father is disposed toward you and your brother. “What are they saying about me there? now they think that I am improving, and are saying, ‘He will return with all knowledge.’ I wish I could learn everything before I return: but much labour is necessary, and no one sends me anything, and the baths at Nicopolis are dirty; everything is bad at home, and bad here.”
Then they say, “No one gains any profit from the school.” Why, who comes to the school, who comes for the purpose of being improved? who comes to present his opinions to he purified? who comes to learn what he is in want of? Why do you wonder then if you carry back from the school the very things which you bring into it? For you come not to lay aside or to correct them or to receive other principles in place of them. By no means, nor anything like it. You rather look to this, whether you possess already that for which you come. You wish to prattle about theorems? What then? Do you not become greater triflers? Do not your little theorems give you some opportunity of display? You solve sophistical syllogisms. Do you not examine the assumptions of the syllogism named “The Liar”? Do you not examine hypothetical syllogisms? Why, then, are you still vexed if you receive the things for which you come to the school? “Yes; but if my child die or my brother, or if I must die or be racked, what good will these things do me?” Well, did you come for this? for this do you sit by my side? did you ever for this light your lamp or keep awake? or, when you went out to the walking-place, did you ever propose any appearance that had been presented to you instead of a syllogism, and did you and your friends discuss it together? Where and when? Then you say, “Theorems are useless.” To whom? To such as make a bad use of them. For eyesalves are not useless to those who use them as they ought and when they ought. Fomentations are not useless. Dumb-bells are not useless; but they are useless to some, useful to others. If you ask me now if syllogisms are useful, I will tell you that they are useful, and if you choose, I will prove it. “How then will they in any way be useful to me?” Man, did you ask if they are useful to you, or did you ask generally? Let him who is suffering from dysentery ask me if vinegar is useful: I will say that it is useful. “Will it then be useful to me?” I will say, “No.” Seek first for the discharge to be stopped and the ulcers to be closed. And do you, O men, first cure the ulcers and stop the discharge; be tranquil in your mind, bring it free from distraction into the school, and you will know what power reason has.
What a man applies himself to earnestly, that he naturally loves. Do men then apply themselves earnestly to the things which are bad? By no means. Well, do they apply themselves to things which in no way concern themselves? Not to these either. It remains, then, that they employ themselves earnestly only about things which are good; and if they are earnestly employed about things, they love such things also. Whoever, then, understands what is good, can also know how to love; but he who cannot distinguish good from bad, and things which are neither good nor bad from both, can he possess the power of loving? To love, then, is only in the power of the wise.
“How is this?” a man may say; am foolish, and yet love my child.” I am surprised indeed that you have begun by making the admission that you are foolish. For what are you deficient in? Can you not make use of your senses? do you not distinguish appearances? do you not use food which is suitable for your body, and clothing and habitation? Why then do you admit that you are foolish? It is in truth because you are often disturbed by appearances and perplexed, and their power of persuasion often conquers you; and sometimes you think these things to be good, and then the same things to be bad, and lastly neither good nor bad; and in short you grieve, fear, envy, are disturbed, you are changed. This is the reason why you confess that you are foolish. And are you not changeable in love? But wealth, and pleasure and, in a word, things themselves, do you sometimes think them to he good and sometimes bad? and do you not think the same men at one time to be good, at another time bad? and have you not at one time a friendly feeling toward them and at another time the feeling of an enemy? and do you not at one time praise them and at another time blame them? “Yes; I have these feelings also.” Well then, do you think that he who has been deceived about a man is his friend? “Certainly not.” And he who has selected a man as his friend and is of a changeable disposition, has he good-will toward him? “He has not.” And he who now abuses a man, and afterward admires him? “This man also has no good-will to the other.” Well then, did you never see little dogs caressing and playing with one another, so that you might say there is nothing more friendly? but, that you may know what friendship is, throw a bit of flesh among them, and you will learn. Throw between yourself and your son a little estate, and you will know how soon he will wish to bury you and how soon you wish your son to die. Then you will change your tone and say, “What a son I have brought up! He has long been wishing to bury me.” Throw a smart girl between you; and do you, the old man, love her, and the young one will love her too, If a little fame intervene, or dangers, it will be just the same. You will utter the words of the father of Admetus!
Life gives you pleasure: and why not your father.
Do you think that Admetus did not love his own child when he was little? that he was not in agony when the child had a fever? that he did not often say, “I wish I had the fever instead of the child?” then when the test (the thing) came and was near, see what words they utter. Were not Eteocles and Polynices from the same mother and from the same father? Were they not brought up together, had they not lived together, drunk together, slept together, and often kissed one another? So that, if any man, I think, had seen them, he would have ridiculed the philosophers for the paradoxes which they utter about friendship. But when a quarrel rose between them about the royal power, as between dogs about a bit of meat, see what they say,
Polynices: Where will you take your station before the towers?
Eteocles: Why do you ask me this?
Pol. I place myself opposite and try to kill you.
Et. I also wish to do the same.
Such are the wishes that they utter.
For universally, be not deceived, every animal is attached to nothing so much as to its own interest. Whatever then appears to it an impediment to this interest, whether this be a brother, or a father, or a child, or beloved, or lover, it hates, spurns, curses: for its nature is to love nothing so much as its own interest; this is father, and brother and kinsman, and country, and God. When, then, the gods appear to us to be an impediment to this, we abuse them and throw down their statues and burn their temples, as Alexander ordered the temples of AEsculapius to be burned when his dear friend died.
For this reason if a man put in the same place his interest, sanctity, goodness, and country, and parents, and friends, all these are secured: but if he puts in one place his interest, in another his friends, and his country and his kinsmen and justice itself, all these give way being borne down by the weight of interest. For where the “I” and the “Mine” are placed, to that place of necessity the animal inclines: if in the flesh, there is the ruling power: if in the will, it is there: and if it is in externals, it is there. If then I am there where my will is, then only shall I be a friend such as I ought to be, and son, and father; for this will he my interest, to maintain the character of fidelity, of modesty, of patience, of abstinence, of active cooperation, of observing my relations. But if I put myself in one place, and honesty in another, then the doctrine of Epicurus becomes strong, which asserts either that there is no honesty or it is that which opinion holds to be honest.
It was through this ignorance that the Athenians and the Lacedaemonians quarreled, and the Thebans with both; and the great king quarreled with Hellas, and the Macedonians with both; and the Romans with the Getae. And still earlier the Trojan war happened for these reasons. Alexander was the guest of Menelaus; and if any man had seen their friendly disposition, he would not have believed any one who said that they were not friends. But there was cast between them a bit of meat, a handsome woman, and about her war arose. And now when you see brothers to be friends appearing to have one mind, do not conclude from this anything about their friendship, not even if they say it and swear that it is impossible for them to be separated from one another. For the ruling principle of a bad man cannot be trusted, it is insecure, has no certain rule by which it is directed, and is overpowered at different times by different appearances. But examine, not what other men examine, if they are born of the same parents and brought up together, and under the same pedagogue; but examine this only, wherein they place their interest, whether in externals or in the will. If in externals, do not name them friends, no more than name them trustworthy or constant, or brave or free: do not name them even men, if you have any judgment. For that is not a principle of human nature which makes them bite one another, and abuse one another, and occupy deserted places or public places, as if they were mountains, and in the courts of justice display the acts of robbers; nor yet that which makes them intemperate and adulterers and corrupters, nor that which makes them do whatever else men do against one another through this one opinion only, that of placing themselves and their interests in the things which are not within the power of their will. But if you hear that in truth these men think the good to be only there, where will is, and where there is a right use of appearances, no longer trouble yourself whether they are father or son, or brothers, or have associated a long time and are companions, but when you have ascertained this only, confidently declare that they are friends, as you declare that they are faithful, that they are just. For where else is friendship than where there is fidelity, and modesty, where there is a communion of honest things and of nothing else?
“But,” you may say, “such a one treated me with regard so long; and did he not love me?” How do you know, slave, if he did not regard you in the same way as he wipes his shoes with a sponge, or as he takes care of his beast? How do you know, when you have ceased to be useful as a vessel, he will not throw you away like a broken platter? “But this woman is my wife, and we have lived together so long.” And how long did Eriphyle live with Amphiaraus, and was the mother of children and of many? But a necklace came between them. “And what is a necklace?” It is the opinion about such things. That was the bestial principle, that was the thing which broke asunder the friendship between husband and wife, that which did not allow the woman to be a wife nor the mother to be a mother. And let every man among you who has seriously resolved either to be a friend himself or to have another for his friend, cut out these opinions, hate them, drive them from his soul. And thus, first of all, he will not reproach himself, he will not be at variance with himself, will not change his mind, he will not torture himself. In the next place, to another also, who is like himself, he will be altogether and completely a friend. But he will bear with the man who is unlike himself, he will be kind to him, gentle, ready to pardon on account of his ignorance, on account of his being mistaken in things of the greatest importance; but he will be harsh to no man, being well convinced of Plato’s doctrine that every mind is deprived of truth unwillingly. If you cannot do this, yet you can do in all other respects as friends do, drink together, and lodge together, and sail together, and you may be born of the same parents; for snakes also are: but neither will they be friends nor you, so long as you retain these bestial and cursed opinions.
Every man will read a book with more pleasure or even with more case, if it is written in fairer characters. Therefore every man will also listen more readily to what is spoken, if it is signified by appropriate and becoming words. We must not say, then, that there is no faculty of expression: for this affirmation is the characteristic of an impious and also of a timid man. Of an impious man, because he undervalues the gifts which come from God, just as if he would take away the commodity of the power of vision, or of hearing, or of seeing. Has, then, God given you eyes to no purpose? and to no purpose has he infused into them a spirit so strong and of such skillful contrivance as to reach a long way and to fashion the forms of things which are seen? What messenger is so swift and vigilant? And to no purpose has he made the interjacent atmosphere so efficacious and elastic that the vision penetrates through the atmosphere which is in a manner moved? And to no purpose has he made light, without the presence of which there would be no use in any other thing?
Man, be neither ungrateful for these gifts nor yet forget the things which are superior to them. But indeed for the power of seeing and hearing, and indeed for life itself, and for the things which contribute to support it, for the fruits which are dry, and for wine and oil give thanks to God: but remember that he has given you something else better than all these, I mean the power of using them, proving them and estimating the value of each. For what is that which gives information about each of these powers, what each of them is worth? Is it each faculty itself? Did you ever hear the faculty of vision saying anything about itself? or the faculty of hearing? or wheat, or barley, or a horse or a dog? No; but they are appointed as ministers and slaves to serve the faculty which has the power of making use of the appearances of things. And if you inquire what is the value of each thing, of whom do you inquire? who answers you? How then can any other faculty be more powerful than this, which uses the rest as ministers and itself proves each and pronounces about them? for which of them knows what itself is, and what is its own value? which of them knows when it ought to employ itself and when not? what faculty is it which opens and closes the eyes, and turns them away from objects to which it ought not to apply them and does apply them to other objects? Is it the faculty of vision? No; but it is the faculty of the will. What is that faculty which closes and opens the ears? what is that by which they are curious and inquisitive, or, on the contrary, unmoved by what is said? is it the faculty of hearing? It is no other than the faculty of the will. Will this faculty then, seeing that it is amid all the other faculties which are blind and dumb and unable to see anything else except the very acts for which they are appointed in order to minister to this and serve it, but this faculty alone sees sharp and sees what is the value of each of the rest; will this faculty declare to us that anything else is the best, or that itself is? And what else does the do when it is opened than see? But whether we ought to look on the wife of a certain person, and in what manner, who tells us? The faculty of the will. And whether we ought to believe what is said or not to believe it, and if we do believe, whether we ought to be moved by it or not, who tells us? Is it not the faculty of the will? But this faculty of speaking and of ornamenting words, if there is indeed any such peculiar faculty, what else does it do, when there happens to be discourse about a thing, than to ornament the words and arrange them as hairdressers do the hair? But whether it is better to speak or to be silent, and better to speak in this way or that way, and whether this is becoming or not becoming and the season for each and the and the use, what else tells us than the faculty of the will? Would you have it then to come forward and condemn itself?
“What then,” it says, “if the fact is so, can that which ministers be superior to that to which it ministers, can the horse be superior to the rider, or the do, to the huntsman, or the instrument to the musician, or the servants to the king?” What is that which makes use of the rest? The will. What takes care of all? The will. What destroys the whole man, at one time by hunger, at another time by hanging, and at another time by a precipice? The will. Then is anything stronger in men than this? and how is it possible that the things which are subject to restraint are stronger than that which is not What things are naturally formed to hinder the faculty of vision? Both will and things which do not depend on the faculty of the will. It is the same with the faculty of hearing, with the faculty of speaking in like manner. But what has a natural power of hindering the will? Nothing which is independent of the will; but only the will itself, when it is perverted. Therefore this is alone vice or alone virtue.
Then being so great a faculty and set over all the rest, let it come forward and tell us that the most excellent of all things is the flesh. Not even if the flesh itself declared that it is the most excellent, would any person bear that it should say this. But what is it, Epicurus, which pronounces this, which wrote about “The End of our Being,” which wrote on “The Nature of Things,” which wrote about the Canon, which led you to wear a beard, which wrote when it was dying that it was spending the last and a happy day? Was this the flesh or the will? Then do you admit that you possess anything superior to this? and are you not mad? are you in fact so blind and deaf?
What then? Does any man despise the other faculties I hope not. Does any man say that there is no use or excellence in the speaking faculty? I hope not. That would be foolish, impious, ungrateful toward God. But a man renders to each thing its due value. For there is some use even in an ass, but not so much as in an ox: there is also use in a dog, but not so much as in a slave: there is also some use in a slave, but not so much as in citizens: there is also some use in citizens, but riot so much as in magistrates. Not, indeed, because some things are superior, must we undervalue the use which other things have. There is a certain value in the power of speaking, but it is not so great as the power of the will. When, then, I speak thus, let no man think that I ask you to neglect the power of speaking, for neither do I ask you to neglect the eyes, nor the ears nor the hands nor the feet nor clothing nor shoes. But if you ask me, “What, then, is the most excellent of all things?” what must I say? I cannot say the power of speaking, but the power of the will, when it is right. For it is this which uses the other, and all the other faculties both small and great. For when this faculty of the will is set right, a man who is not good becomes good: but when it falls, a man becomes bad. It is through this that we are unfortunate, that we are fortunate, that we blame one another, are pleased with one another. In a word, it is this which if neglect it makes unhappiness, and if we carefully look after it makes happiness.
But to take away the faculty of speaking, and to say that there is no such faculty in reality, is the act not only of an ungrateful man toward those who gave it, but also of a cowardly man: for such a person seems to me to fear if there is any faculty of this kind, that we shall not be able to despise it. Such also are those who say that there is no difference between beauty and ugliness. Then it would happen that a man would be affected in the same way if he saw Thersites and if he saw Achilles; in the same way, if he saw Helen and any other woman. But these are foolish and clownish notions, and the notions of men who know not the nature of each thing, but are afraid, if a man shall see the difference, that he shall immediately be seized and carried off vanquished. But this is the great matter; to leave to each thing the power which it has, and leaving to it this power to see what is the worth of the power, and to learn what is the most excellent of all things, and to pursue this always, to be diligent about this, considering t all other things of secondary value compared with this, but yet, as far as we can, not neglecting all those other things. For we must take care of the eyes also, not as if they were the most excellent thing, but we must take care of them on account of the most excellent thing, because it will not be in its true natural condition, if it does not rightly use the other faculties, and prefer some things to others.
What then is usually done? Men generally act as a traveler would do on his way to his own country, when he enters a good inn, and being pleased with it should remain there. Man, you have forgotten your purpose: you were not traveling to this inn, but you were pass through it. “But this is a pleasant inn.” And how many other inns are pleasant? and how many meadows are pleasant? yet only passing through. But your purpose is this, return to your country, to relieve your kinsmen of anxiety, to discharge the duties of a citizen, to marry, to beget children, to fill the usual magistracies. For you are not come to select more pleasant places, but to live in these where you were born and of which you were made a citizen. Something of the kind takes place in the matter which we are considering. Since, by the aid of speech and such communication as you receive here, you must advance to perfection, and purge your will, and correct the faculty which makes use of the appearances of things; and since it is necessary also for the teaching of theorems to be effected by a certain mode of expression and with a certain variety and sharpness, some persons captivated by these very things abide in them, one captivated by the expression, another by syllogisms, another again by sophisms, and still another by some other inn of the kind; and there they stay and waste away as if they were among Sirens.
Man, your purpose was to make yourself capable of using conformably to nature the appearances presented to you, in your desires not to be frustrated, in your aversion from things not to fall into that which you would avoid, never to have no luck, nor ever to have bad luck, to be free, not hindered, not compelled, conforming yourself to the administration of Zeus, obeying it, well satisfied with this, blaming no one, charging no one with fault, able from your whole soul to utter these verses:
“Lead me, O Zeus, and thou, too, Destiny.”
Then having this purpose before you, if some little form of expression pleases you, if some theorems please you, do you abide among them and choose t dwell o well there, forgetting the things at home, and do you say, “These things are fine”? Who says that they are not fine? but only as being a way home, as inns are. For what hinders you from being an unfortunate man, even if you speak like Demosthenes? and what prevents you, if you can resolve syllogisms like Chrysippus, from being wretched, from sorrowing, from envying, in a word, from being disturbed, from being unhappy? Nothing. You see then that these were inns, worth nothing; and that the purpose before you was something else. When I speak thus to some persons, they think that I am rejecting care about speaking, or care about theorems. I am not rejecting this care, but I am rejecting the abiding about these things incessantly and putting our hopes in them. If a man by this teaching does harm to those who listen to him, reckon me too among those who do this harm: for I am not able, when I see one thing which is most excellent and supreme, to say that another is so, in order to please you.
A certain person said to him: “Frequently I desired to hear you and came to you, and you never gave me any answer: and now, if it is possible, I entreat you to say something to me.” Do you think, said Epictetus, that as there is an art in anything else, so there is also an art in speaking, and that he who has the art, will speak skillfully, and he who has not, will speak unskillfully? “I do think so.” He, then, who by speaking receives benefit himself and is able to benefit others, will speak skillfully: but he who is rather damaged by speaking and does damage to others, will he be unskilled in this art of speaking? And you may find that some are damaged and others benefited by speaking. And are all who hear benefited by what they hear? Or will you find that among them also some are benefited and some damaged? “There are both among these also,” he said. In this case also, then, those who hear skillfully are benefited, and those who hear unskillfully are damaged? He admitted this. Is there then a skill in hearing also, as there is in speaking? “It seems so.” If you choose, consider the matter in this way also. The practice of music, to whom does it belong? “To a musician.” And the proper making of a statue, to whom do you think that it belongs? “To a statuary.” And the looking at a statue skillfully, does this appear to you to require the aid of no art? “This also requires the aid of art.” Then if speaking properly is the business of the skillful man, do you see that to hear also with benefit is the business of the skillful man? Now as to speaking and hearing perfectly, and usefully, let us for the present, if you please, say no more, for both of us are a long way from everything of the kind. But I think that every man will allow this, that he who is going to hear philosophers requires some amount of practice in hearing. Is it not so?
Tell me then about what I should talk to you: about what matter are you able to listen? “About good and evil.” Good and evil in what? In a horse? “No.” Well, in an ox? “No.” What then? In a man? “Yes.” Do know then what a man is, what the notion is that we have of him, or have we our ears in any degree practiced about this matter? But do you understand what nature is? or can you even in any degree understand me when I say, “I shall use demonstration to you?” How? Do you understand this very thing, what demonstration is, or how anything is demonstrated, or by what means; or what things are like demonstration, but are not demonstration? Do you know what is true or what is false? What is consequent on a thing, what is repugnant to a thing, or not consistent, or inconsistent? But must I excite you to philosophy, and how? Shall I show to you the repugnance in the opinions of most men, through which they differ about things good and evil, and about things which are profitable and unprofitable, when you know not this very thing, what repugnance is? Show me then what I shall accomplish by discoursing with you; excite my inclination to do this. As the grass which is suitable, when it is presented to a sheep, moves its inclination to eat, but if you present to it a stone or bread, it will not be moved to eat; so there are in us certain natural inclinations also to speak, when the hearer shall appear to be somebody, when he himself shall excite us: but when he shall sit by us like a stone or like grass, how can he excite a man’s desire? Does the vine say to the husbandman, “Take care of me?” No, but the vine by showing in itself that it will be profitable to the husbandman, if he does take care of it, invites him to exercise care. When children are attractive and lively, whom do they not invite to play with them, and crawl with them, and lisp with them? But who is eager to play with an ass or to bray with it? for though it is small, it is still a little ass.
“Why then do you say nothing to me?” I can only say this to you, that he who knows not who he is, and for what purpose he exists, and what is this world, and with whom he is associated, and what things are the good and the bad, and the beautiful and the ugly, and who neither understands discourse nor demonstration, nor what is true nor what is false, and who is not able to distinguish them, will neither desire according to nature, nor turn away, nor move upward, nor intend, nor assent, nor dissent, nor suspend his judgment: to say all in a few words, he will go about dumb and blind, thinking that he is somebody, but being nobody. Is this so now for the first time? Is it not the fact that, ever since the human race existed, all errors and misfortunes have arisen through this ignorance? Why did Agamemnon and Achilles quarrel with one another? Was it not through not knowing what things are profitable and not profitable? Does not the one say it is profitable to restore Chryseis to her father, and does not the other say that it is not profitable? does not the one say that he ought to take the prize of another, and does not the other say that he ought not? Did they not for these reasons forget both who they were and for what purpose they had come there? Oh, man, for what purpose did you come? to gain mistresses or to fight? “To fight.” With whom? the Trojans or the Hellenes? “With the Trojans.” Do you then leave Hector alone and draw your sword against your own king? And do you, most excellent Sir, neglect the duties of the king, you who are the people’s guardian and have such cares; and are you quarreling about a little girl with the most warlike of your allies, whom you ought by every means to take care of and protect? and do you become worse than a well-behaved priest who treats you these fine gladiators with all respect? Do you see what kind of things ignorance of what is profitable does?
“But I also am rich.” Are you then richer than Agamemnon? “But I am also handsome.” Are you then more handsome than Achilles? “But I have also beautiful hair.” But had not Achilles more beautiful hair and gold-colored? and he did not comb it elegantly nor dress it. “But I am also strong.” Can you then lift so great a stone as Hector or Ajax? “But I am also of noble birth.” Are you the son of a goddess mother? are you the son of a father sprung from Zeus? What good then do these things do to him, when he sits and weeps for a girl? “But I am an orator.” And was he not? Do you not see how he handled the most skillful of the Hellenes in oratory, Odysseus and Phoenix? how he stopped their mouths?
This is all that I have to say to you; and I say even this not willingly. “Why?” Because you have not roused me. For what must I look to in order to be roused, as men who are expert in are roused by generous horses? Must I look to your body? You treat it disgracefully. To your dress? That is luxurious. To your behavior to your look? That is the same as nothing. When you would listen to a philosopher, do not say to him, “You tell me nothing”; but only show yourself worthy of hearing or fit for hearing; and you will see how you will move the speaker.
When one of those who were present said, “Persuade me that logic is necessary,” he replied: Do you wish me to prove this to you? The answer was, “Yes.” Then I must use a demonstrative form of speech. This was granted. How then will you know if I am cheating you by argument? The man was silent. Do you see, said Epictetus, that you yourself are admitting that logic is necessary, if without it you cannot know so much as this, whether logic is necessary or not necessary
Every error comprehends contradiction: for since he who errs does not wish to err, but to he right, it is plain that he does not do what he wishes. For what does the thief wish to do? That which is for his own interest. If, then, the theft is not for his interest, he does not do that which he wishes. But every rational: soul is by nature offended at contradiction, and so long as it does not understand this contradiction, it is not hindered from doing contradictory things: but when it does understand the contradiction, it must of necessity avoid the contradiction and avoid it as much as a man must dissent from the false when he sees that a thing is false; but so long as this falsehood does not appear to him, he assents to it as to truth.
He, then, is strong in argument and has the faculty of exhorting and confuting, who is able to show to each man the contradiction through which he errs and clearly to prove how he does not do that which he wishes and does that which he does not wish. For if any one shall show this, a man will himself withdraw from that which he does; but so long as you do not show this, do not be surprised if a man persists in his practice; for having the appearance of doing right, he does what he does. For this reason Socrates, also trusting to this power, used to say, “I am used to call no other witness of what I say, but I am always satisfied with him with whom I am discussing, and I ask him to give his opinion and call him as a witness, and through he is only one, he is sufficient in the place of all.” For Socrates knew by what the rational soul is moved, just like a pair of scales, and that it must incline, whether it chooses or not. Show the rational governing faculty a contradiction, and it will withdraw from it; but if you do not show it, rather blame yourself than him who is not persuaded.
Last updated Monday, December 22, 2014 at 10:50