A certain young man a rhetorician came to see Epictetus, with his hair dressed more carefully than was usual and his attire in an ornamental style; whereupon Epictetus said: Tell me you do not think that some dogs are beautiful and some horses, and so of all other animals. “I do think so,” the youth replied. Are not then some men also beautiful and others ugly? “Certainly.” Do we, then, for the same reason call each of them in the same kind beautiful, or each beautiful for something peculiar? And you will judge of this matter thus. Since we see a dog naturally formed for one thing, and a horse for another, and for another still, as an example, a nightingale, we may generally and not improperly declare each of them to be beautiful then when it is most excellent according to its nature; but since the nature of each is different, each of them seems to me to be beautiful in a different way. Is it not so? He admitted that it was. That then which makes a dog beautiful, makes a horse ugly; and that which makes a horse beautiful, makes a dog ugly, if it is true that their natures are different. “It seems to be so.” For I think that what makes a pancratiast beautiful, makes a wrestler to be not good, and a runner to be most ridiculous; and he who is beautiful for the Pentathlon, is very ugly for wrestling. “It is so,” said he. What, then, makes a man beautiful? Is that which in its kind makes both a dog and a horse beautiful? “It is,” he said. What then makes a dog beautiful? The possession of the excellence of a dog. And what makes a horse beautiful? The possession of the excellence of a horse. What then makes a man beautiful? Is it not the possession of the excellence of a man? And do you, then, if you wish to be beautiful, young man, labour at this, the acquisition of human excellence. But what is this? Observe whom you yourself praise, when you praise many persons without partiality: do you praise the just or the unjust? “The just.” Whether do you praise the moderate or the immoderate? “The moderate.” And the temperate or the intemperate? “The temperate.” If, then, you make yourself such a person, you will know that you will make yourself beautiful: but so long as you neglect these things, you must be ugly, even though you contrive all you can to appear beautiful.
Further I do not know what to say to you: for if I say to you what I think, I shall offend you, and you will perhaps leave the school and not return to it: and if I do not say what I think, see how I shall be acting, if you come to me to be improved, and I shall not improve you at all, and if you come to me as to a philosopher, and I shall say nothing to you as a philosopher. And how cruel it is to you to leave you uncorrected. If at any time afterward you shall acquire sense, you will with good reason blame me and say, “What did Epictetus observe in me that, when he saw me in such a plight coming to him in such a scandalous condition, he neglected me and never said a word? did he so much despair of me? was I not young? was I not able to listen to reason? and how many other young men at this age commit many like errors? I hear that a certain Polemon from being a most dissolute youth underwent such a great change. Well, suppose that he did not think that I should be a Polemon; yet he might have set my hair right, he might have stripped off my decorations, he might have stopped me from plucking the hair out of my body; but when he saw me dressed like — what shall I say? — he kept silent.” I do not say like what; but you will say, when you come to your senses and shall know what it is and what persons use such a dress.
If you bring this charge against me hereafter, what defense shall I make? Why, shall I say that the man will not be persuaded by me? Was Laius persuaded by Apollo? Did he and get drunk and show no care for the oracle? Well then, for this reason did Apollo refuse to tell him the truth? I indeed do not know, whether you will be persuaded by me or not; but Apollo knew most certainly that Laius would not be persuaded and yet he spoke. But why did he speak? I say in reply: But why is he Apollo, and why does he deliver oracles, and why has he fixed himself in this place as a prophet and source of truth and for the inhabitants of the world to resort to him? and why are the words “Know yourself” written in front of the temple, though no person takes any notice of them?
Did Socrates persuade all his hearers to take care of themselves? Not the thousandth part. But, however, after he had been placed in this position by the deity, as he himself says, he never left it. But what does he say even to his judges? “If you acquit me on these conditions that I no longer do that which I do now, I will not consent and I will not desist; but I will go up both to young and to old, and, to speak plainly, to every man whom I meet, and I will ask the questions which I ask now; and most particularly will I do this to you my fellow-citizens, because you are more nearly related to me.” Are you so curious, Socrates, and such a busybody? and how does it concern you how we act? and what is it that you say? “Being of the same community and of the same kin, you neglect yourself, and show yourself a bad citizen to the state, and a bad kinsman to your kinsmen, and a bad neighbor to your neighbors.” “Who, then are you?” Here it is a great thing to say, “I am he whose duty it is to take care of men; for it is not every little heifer which dares to resist a lion; but if the bull comes up and resists him, say to the bull, if you choose, ‘And who are you, and what business have you here?’” Man, in every kind there is produced something which excels; in oxen, in dogs, in bees, in horses. Do not then say to that which excels, “Who, then, are you?” If you do, it will find a voice in some way and say, “I am such a thing as the purple in a garment: do not expect me to be like the others, or blame my nature that it has made me different from the rest of men.”
What then? am I such a man? Certainly not. And are you such a man as can listen to the truth? I wish you were. But however since in a manner I have been condemned to wear a white beard and a cloak, and you come to me as to a philosopher, I will not treat you in a cruel way nor yet as if I despaired of you, but I will say: Young man, whom do you wish to make beautiful? In the first place, know who you are and then adorn yourself appropriately. You are a human being; and this is a mortal animal which has the power of using appearances rationally. But what is meant by “rationally?” Conformably to nature and completely. What, then, do you possess which is peculiar? Is it the animal part? No. Is it the condition of mortality? No. Is it the power of using appearances? No. You possess the rational faculty as a peculiar thing: adorn and beautify this; but leave your hair to him who made it as he chose. Come, what other appellations have you? Are you man or woman? “Man.” Adorn yourself then as man, not as woman. Woman is naturally smooth and delicate; and if she has much hair (on her body), she is a monster and is exhibited at Rome among monsters. And in a man it is monstrous not to have hair; and if he has no hair, he is a monster; but if he cuts off his hairs and plucks them out, what shall we do with him? where shall we exhibit him? and under what name shall we show him? “I will exhibit to you a man who chooses to be a woman rather than a man.” What a terrible sight! There is no man who will not wonder at such a notice. Indeed I think that the men who pluck out their hairs do what they do without knowing what they do. Man what fault have you to find with your nature? That it made you a man? What then? was it fit that nature should make all human creatures women? and what advantage in that case would you have had in being adorned? for whom would you have adorned yourself, if all human creatures were women? But you are not pleased with the matter: set to work then upon the whole business. Take away — what is its name? — that which is the cause of the hairs: make yourself a woman in all respects, that we may not be mistaken: do not make one half man, and the other half woman. Whom do you wish to please? The women?, Please them as a man. “Well; but they like smooth men.” Will you not hang yourself? and if women took delight in catamites, would you become one? Is this your business? were you born for this purpose, that dissolute women should delight in you? Shall we make such a one as you a citizen of Corinth and perchance a prefect of the city, or chief of the youth, or general or superintendent of the games? Well, and when you have taken a wife, do you intend to have your hairs plucked out? To please whom and for what purpose? And when you have begotten children, will you introduce them also into the state with the habit of plucking their hairs? A beautiful citizen, and senator and rhetorician. We ought to pray that such young men be born among us and brought up.
Do not so, I entreat you by the Gods, young man: but when you have once heard these words, go away and say to yourself, “Epictetus has not said this to me; for how could he? but some propitious good through him: for it would never have come into his thoughts to say this, since he is not accustomed to talk thus with any person. Come then let us obey God, that we may not be subject to his anger.” You say, “No.” But, if a crow by his croaking signifies anything to you, it is not the crow which signifies, but God through the crow; and if he signifies anything through a human voice, will he not cause the man to say this to you, that you may know the power of the divinity, that he signifies to some in this way, and to others in that way, and concerning the greatest things and the chief he signifies through the noblest messenger? What else is it which the poet says:
For we ourselves have warned him, and have sent
Hermes the careful watcher, Argus’ slayer,
The husband not to kill nor wed the wife.
Was Hermes going to descend from heaven to say this to him? And now the Gods say this to you and send the messenger, the slayer of Argus, to warn you not to pervert that which is well arranged, nor to busy yourself about it, but to allow a man to be a man, and a woman to be a woman, a beautiful man to be as a beautiful man, and an ugly man as an ugly man, for you are not flesh and hair, but you are will; and if your will beautiful, then you will be beautiful. But up the present time I dare not tell you that you are ugly, for I think that you are readier to hear anything than this. But see what Socrates says to the most beautiful and blooming of men Alcibiades: “Try, then, to be beautiful.” What does he say to him? “Dress your hair and pluck the hairs from your legs.” Nothing of that kind. But “Adorn your will, take away bad opinions.” “How with the body?” Leave it as it is by nature. Another has looked after these things: intrust them to him. “What then, must a man be uncleaned?” Certainly not; but what you are and are made by nature, cleanse this. A man should be cleanly as a man, a woman as a woman, a child as a child. You say no: but let us also pluck out the lion’s mane, that he may not be uncleaned, and the cock’s comb for he also ought to he cleaned. Granted, but as a cock, and the lion as a lion, and the hunting dog as a hunting dog.
There are three things in which a man ought to exercise himself who would be wise and good. The first concerns the desires and the aversions, that a man may not fail to get what he desires, and that he may not fall into that which he does not desire. The second concerns the movements (toward) and the movements from an object, and generally in doing what a man ought to do, that he may act according to order, to reason, and not carelessly. The third thing concerns freedom from deception and rashness in judgement, and generally it concerns the assents. Of these topics the chief and the most urgent is that which relates to the affects; for an affect is produced in no other way than by a failing to obtain that which a man desires or a falling into that which a man would wish to avoid. This is that which brings in perturbations, disorders, bad fortune, misfortunes, sorrows, lamentations and envy; that which makes men envious and jealous; and by these causes we are unable even to listen to the precepts of reason. The second topic concerns the duties of a man; for I ought not to be free from affects like a statue, but I ought to maintain the relations natural and acquired, as a pious man, as a son, as a father, as a citizen.
The third topic is that which immediately concerns those who are making proficiency, that which concerns the security of the other two, so that not even in sleep any appearance unexamined may surprise us, nor in intoxication, nor in melancholy. “This,” it may be said, “is above our power.” But the present philosophers neglecting the first topic and the second, employ themselves on the third, using sophistical arguments, making conclusions from questioning, employing hypotheses, lying. “For a man must,” as it is said, “when employed on these matters, take care that he is not deceived.” Who must? The wise and good man. This then is all that is wanting to you. Have you successfully worked out the rest? Are you free from deception in the matter of money? If you see a beautiful girl, do you resist the appearance? If your neighbor obtains an estate by will, are you not vexed? Now is there nothing else wanting to you except unchangeable firmness of mind? Wretch, you hear these very things with fear and anxiety that some person may despise you, and with inquiries about what any person may say about you. And if a man come and tell you that in a certain conversation in which the question was, “Who is the best philosopher,” a man who was present said that a certain person was the chief philosopher, your little soul which was only a finger’s length stretches out to two cubits. But if another who is present “You are mistaken; it is not worth while to listen to a certain person, for what does he know? he has only the first principles, and no more?” then you are confounded, you grow pale, you cry out immediately, “I will show him who I am, that I am a great philosopher.” It is seen by these very things: why do you wish to show it by others? Do you not know that Diogenes pointed out one of the sophists in this way by stretching out his middle finger? And then when the man was wild with rage, “This,” he said, “is the certain person: I pointed him out to you.” For a man is not shown by the finger, as a stone or a piece of wood: but when any person shows the man s principles, then he shows him as a man.
Let us look at your principles also. For is it not plain that you value not at all your own will, but you look externally to things which are independent of your will? For instance, what will a certain person say? and what will people think of you? will you be considered a man of learning; have you read Chrysippus or Antipater? for if you have read Archedemus also, you have everything. Why are you still uneasy lest you should not show us who you are? Would you let me tell you what manner of man you have shown us that you are? You have exhibited yourself to us as a mean fellow, querulous, passionate, cowardly, finding fault with everything, blaming everybody, never quiet, vain: this is what you have exhibited to us. Go away now and read Archedemus; then, if a mouse should leap down and make a noise, you are a dead man. For such a death awaits you as it did — what was the man’s name? — Crinis; and he too was proud, because he understood Archedemus.
Wretch, will you not dismiss these things that do not concern you at all? These things are suitable to those who are able to learn them without perturbation, to those who can say: “I am not subject to anger, to grief, to envy: I am not hindered, I am not restrained. What remains for me? I have leisure, I am tranquil: let us see how we must deal with sophistical arguments; let us see how when a man has accepted an hypothesis he shall not be led away to anything absurd.” To them such things belong. To those who are happy it is appropriate to light a fire, to dine; if they choose, both to sing and to dance. But when the vessel is sinking, you come to me and hoist the sails.
The material for the wise and good man is his own ruling faculty: and the body is the material for the physician and the aliptes; the land is the matter for the husbandman. The business of the wise and good man is to use appearances conformably to nature: and as it is the nature of every soul to assent to the truth, to dissent from the false, and to remain in suspense as to that which is uncertain; so it is its nature to be moved toward the desire of the good, and to aversion from the evil; and with respect to that which is neither good nor bad it feels indifferent. For as the money-changer is not allowed to reject Caesar’s coin, nor the seller of herbs, but if you show the coin, whether he chooses or not, he must give up what is sold for the coin; so it is also in the matter of the soul. When the good appears, it immediately attracts to itself; the evil repels from itself. But the soul will never reject the manifest appearance of the good, any more than persons will reject Caesar’s coin. On this principle depends every movement both of man and God.
For this reason the good is preferred to every intimate relationship. There is no intimate relationship between me and my father, but there is between me and the good. “Are you so hard-hearted?” Yes, for such is my nature; and this is the coin which God has given me. For this reason, if the good is something different from the beautiful and the just, both father is gone, and brother and country, and everything. But shall I overlook my own good, in order that you may have it, and shall I give it up to you? Why? “I am your father.” But you are not my good. “I am your brother.” But you are not my good. But if we place the good in a right determination of the will, the very observance of the relations of life is good, and accordingly he who gives up any external things obtains that which is good. Your father takes away your property. But he does not injure you. Your brother will have the greater part of the estate in land. Let him have as much as he chooses. Will he then have a greater share of modesty, of fidelity, of brotherly affection? For who will eject you from this possession? Not even Zeus, for neither has he chosen to do so; but he has made this in my own power, and he has given it to me just as he possessed it himself, free from hindrance, compulsion, and impediment. When then the coin which another uses is a different coin, if a man presents this coin, he receives that which is sold for it. Suppose that there comes into the province a thievish proconsul, what coin does he use? Silver coin. Show it to him, and carry off what you please. Suppose one comes who is an adulterer: what coin does he use? Little girls. “Take,” a man says, “the coin, and sell me the small thing.” “Give,” says the seller, “and buy.” Another is eager to possess boys. Give him the coin, and receive what you wish. Another is fond of hunting: give him a fine nag or a dog. Though he groans and laments, he will sell for it that which you want. For another compels him from within, he who has fixed this coin.
Against this kind of thing chiefly a man should exercise himself. As soon as you go out in the morning, examine every man whom you see, every man whom you hear; answer as to a question, “What have you seen?” A handsome man or woman? Apply the rule: Is this independent of the will, or dependent? Independent. Take it away. What have you seen? A man lamenting over the death of a child. Apply the rule. Death is a thing independent of the will. Take it away. Has the proconsul met you? Apply the rule. What kind of thing is a proconsul’s office? Independent of the will, or dependent on it? Independent. Take this away also: it does not stand examination: cast it away: it is nothing to you.
If we practiced this and exercised ourselves in it daily from morning to night, something indeed would be done. But now we are forthwith caught half-asleep by every appearance, and it is only, if ever, that in the school we are roused a little. Then when we go out, if we see a man lamenting, we say, “He is undone.” If we see a consul, we say, “He is happy.” If we see an exiled man, we say, “He is miserable.” If we see a poor man, we say, “He is wretched: he has nothing to eat.”
We ought then to eradicate these bad opinions, and to this end we should direct all our efforts. For what is weeping and lamenting? Opinion. What is bad fortune? Opinion. What is civil sedition, what is divided opinion, what is blame, what is accusation, what is impiety, what is trifling? All these things are opinions, and nothing more, and opinions about things independent of the will, as if they were good and bad. Let a man transfer these opinions to things dependent on the will, and I engage for him that he will be firm and constant, whatever may be the state of things around him. Such as is a dish of water, such is the soul. Such as is the ray of light which falls on the water, such are the appearances. When the water is moved, the ray also seems to be moved, yet it is not moved. And when, then, a man is seized with giddiness, it is not the arts and the virtues which are confounded, but the spirit on which they are impressed; but if the spirit be restored to its settled state, those things also are restored.
The governor of Epirus having shown his favor to an actor in an unseemly way and being publicly blamed on this account, and afterward having reported to Epictetus that he was blamed and that he was vexed at those who blamed him, Epictetus said: What harm have they been doing? These men also were acting, as partisans, as you were doing. The governor replied, “Does, then, any person show his partisanship in this way?” When they see you, said Epictetus, who are their governor, a friend of Caesar and his deputy, showing partisanship in this way, was it not to be expected that they also should show their partisanship in the same way? for if it is not right to show partisanship in this way, do not do so yourself; and if it is right, why are you angry if they followed your example? For whom have the many to imitate except you, who are their superiors, to whose example should they look when they go to the theatre except yours? “See how the deputy of Caesar looks on: he has cried out, and I too, then, will cry out. He springs up from his seat, and I will spring up. His slaves sit in various parts of the theatre and call out. I have no slaves, but I will myself cry out as much as I can and as loud as all of them together.” You ought then to know when you enter the theatre that you enter as a rule and example to the rest how they ought to look at the acting. Why then did they blame you? Because every man hates that which is a hindrance to him. They wished one person to be crowned; you wished another. They were a hindrance to you, and you were a hindrance to them. You were found to be the stronger; and they did what they could; they blamed that which hindered them. What, then, would you have? That you should do what you please, and they should not even say what they please? And what is the wonder? Do not the husbandmen abuse Zeus when they are hindered by him? do not the sailors abuse him? do they ever cease abusing Caesar? What then does not Zeus know? is not what is said reported to Caesar? What, then, does he do? he knows that, if he punished all who abuse him, he would have nobody to rule over. What then? when you enter the theatre, you ought to say not, “Let Sophron be crowned”, but you ought to say this, “Come let me maintain my will in this matter so that it shall be conformable to nature: no man is dearer to me than myself. It would be ridiculous, then, for me to be hurt (injured) in order that another who is an actor may be crowned.” Whom then do I wish to gain the prize? Why the actor who does gain the prize; and so he will always gain the prize whom I wish to gain it. “But I wish Sophron to be crowned.” Celebrate as many games as you choose in your own house, Nemean, Pythian, Isthmian, Olympian, and proclaim him victor. But in public do not claim more than your due, nor attempt to appropriate to yourself what belongs to all. If you do not consent to this, bear being abused: for when you do the same as the many, you put yourself on the same level with them.
“I am sick here,” said one of the pupils, “and I wish to return home.” At home, I suppose, you free from sickness. Do you not consider whether you are doing, anything here which may be useful to the exercise of your will, that it may be corrected? For if you are doing nothing toward this end, it was to no purpose that you came. Go away. Look after your affairs at home. For if your ruling power cannot be maintained in a state conformable to nature, it is possible that your land can, that you will he able to increase your money, you will take care of your father in his old age, frequent the public place, hold magisterial office: being bad you will do badly anything else that you have to do. But if you understand yourself, and know that you are casting away certain bad opinions and adopting others in their place, and if you have changed your state of life from things which are not within your will to things which are within your will, and if you ever say, “Alas!” you are not saying what you say on account of your father, or your brother, but on account of yourself, do you still allege your sickness? Do you not know that both disease and death must surprise us while we are doing something? the husbandman while he is tilling the ground, the sailor while he is on his voyage? what would you be doing when death surprises you, for you must be surprised when you are doing something? If you can be doing anything better than this when you are surprised, do it. For I wish to be surprised by disease or death when I am looking after nothing else than my that may be free from perturbation, own will that I may be free from hindrance, free from compulsion, and in a state of liberty. I wish to be found practicing these things that I may be able to say to God, “Have I in any respect transgressed thy commands? have I in any respect wrongly used the powers which Thou gavest me? have I misused my perceptions or my preconceptions? have I ever blamed Thee? have I ever found fault with Thy administration? I have been sick, because it was Thy will, and so have others, but I was content to be sick. I have been poor because it was Thy will, but I was content also. I have not filled a magisterial office, because it was not Thy pleasure that I should: I have never desired it. Hast Thou ever seen me for this reason discontented? have I not always approached Thee with a cheerful countenance, ready to do Thy commands and to obey Thy signals? Is it now Thy will that I should depart from the assemblage of men? I depart. I give Thee all thanks that Thou hast allowed me to join in this Thy assemblage of men and to see Thy works, and to comprehend this Thy administration.” May death surprise me while I am thinking of these things, while I am thus writing and reading.
“But my mother will not hold my head when I am sick.” Go to your mother then; for you are a fit person to have your head held when you are sick. “But at home I used to lie down on a delicious bed.” Go away to your bed: indeed you are fit to lie on such a bed even when you are in health: do not, then, lose what you can do there.
But what does Socrates say? “As one man,” he says, “is pleased with improving his land, another with improving his horse, so I am daily pleased in observing that I am growing better.” “Better in what? in using nice little words?” Man, do not say that. “In little matters of speculation?” What are you saying? “And indeed I do not see what else there is on which philosophers employ their time.” Does it seem nothing to you to have never found fault with any person, neither with God nor man? to have blamed nobody? to carry the same face always in going out and coming in? This is what Socrates knew, and yet he never said that he knew anything or taught anything. But if any man asked for nice little words or little speculations, he would carry him to Protagoras or to Hippias; and if any man came to ask for pot-herbs, he would carry him to the gardener. Who then among you has this purpose? for if indeed you had it, you would both be content in sickness, and in hunger, and in death. If any among you has been in love with a charming girl, he knows that I say what is true.
When some person asked him how it happened that since reason has been more cultivated by the men of the present age, the progress made in former times was greater. In what respect, he answered, has it been more cultivated now, and in what respect was the progress greater then? For in that in which it has now been more cultivated, in that also the progress will now be found. At present it has been cultivated for the purpose of resolving syllogisms, and progress is made. But in former times it was cultivated for the purpose of maintaining the governing faculty in a condition conformable to nature, and progress was made. Do not, then, mix things which are different and do not expect, when you are laboring at one thing, to make progress in another. But see if any man among us when he is intent see I upon this, the keeping himself in a state conformable to nature and living so always, does not make progress. For you will not find such a man.
The good man is invincible, for he does not enter the contest where he is not stronger. If you want to have his land and all that is on it, take the land; take his slaves, take his magisterial office, take his poor body. But you will not make his desire fail in that which it seeks, nor his aversion fall into that which he would avoid. The only contest into which he enters is that about things which are within the power of his will; how then will he not be invincible?
Some person having asked him what is Common sense, Epictetus replied: As that may be called a certain Common hearing which only distinguishes vocal sounds, and that which distinguishes musical sounds is not Common, but artificial; so there are certain things which men, who are not altogether perverted, see by the common notions which all possess. Such a constitution of the mind is named Common sense.
It is not easy to exhort weak young men; for neither is it easy to hold cheese with a hook. But those who have a good natural disposition, even if you try to turn them aside, cling still more to reason. Wherefore Rufus generally attempted to discourage, and he used this method as a test of those who had a good natural disposition and those who had not. “For,” it was his habit to say, “as a stone, if you cast it upward, will be brought down to the earth by its own nature, so the man whose mind is naturally good, the more you repel him, the more he turns toward that to which he is naturally inclined.”
When the administrator came to visit him, and the man was an Epicurean, Epictetus said: It is proper for us who are not philosophers to inquire of you who are philosophers, as those who come to a strange city inquire of the citizens and those who are acquainted with it, what is the best thing in the world, in order that we also, after inquiry, may go in quest of that which is best and look at it, as strangers do with the things in cities. For that there are three things which relate to man, soul, body, and things external, scarcely any man denies. It remains for you philosophers to answer what is the best. What shall we say to men? Is the flesh the best? and was it for this that Maximus sailed as far as Cassiope in winter with his son, and accompanied him that he might be gratified in the flesh? Then the man said that it was not, and added, “Far be that from him.” Is it not fit then, Epictetus said, to be actively employed about the best? “It is certainly of all things the most fit.” What, then, do we possess which is better than the flesh? “The soul,” he replied. And the good things of the best, are they better, or the good things of the worse? “The good things of the best.” And are the good things of the best within the power of the will or not within the power of the will? “They are within the power of the will.” Is, then, the pleasure of the soul a thing within the power of the will? “It is,” he replied. And on what shall this pleasure depend? On itself? But that cannot be conceived: for there must first exist a certain substance or nature of good, by obtaining which we shall have pleasure in the soul. He assented to this also. On what, then, shall we depend for this pleasure of the soul? for if it shall depend on things of the soul, the substance of the good is discovered; for good cannot be one thing, and that at which we are rationally delighted another thing; nor if that which precedes is not good, can that which comes after be good, for in order that the thing which comes after may be good, that which precedes must be good. But you would not affirm this, if you are in your right mind, for you would then say what is inconsistent both with Epicurus and the rest of your doctrines. It remains, then, that the pleasure of the soul is in the pleasure from things of the body: and again that those bodily things must be the things which precede and the substance of the good.
For this reason Maximus acted foolishly if he made the voyage for any other reason than for the sake of the flesh, that is, for the sake of the best. And also a man acts foolishly if he abstains from that which belongs to others, when he is a judge and able to take it. But, if you please, let us consider this only, how this thing may be done secretly, and safely, and so that no man will know it. For not even does Epicurus himself declare stealing to be bad, but he admits that detection is; and because it is impossible to have security against detection, for this reason he says, “Do not steal.” But I say to you that if stealing is done cleverly and cautiously, we shall not be detected: further also we have powerful friends in Rome both men and women, and the Hellenes are weak, and no man will venture to go up to Rome for the purpose. Why do you refrain from your own good? This is senseless, foolish. But even if you tell me that you do refrain, I will not believe you. For as it is impossible to assent to that which appears false, and to turn away from that which is true, so it is impossible to abstain from that which appears good. But wealth is a good thing, and certainly most efficient in producing pleasure. Why will you not acquire wealth? And why should we not corrupt our neighbor’s wife, if we can do it without detection? and if the husband foolishly prates about the matter, why not pitch him out of the house? If you would be a philosopher such as you ought to be, if a perfect philosopher, if consistent with your own doctrines. If you would not, you will not differ at all from us who are called Stoics; for we also say one thing, but we do another: we talk of the things which are beautiful, but we do what is base. But you will be perverse in the contrary way, teaching what is bad, practicing what is good.
In the name of God, are you thinking of a city of Epicureans? “I do not marry.” “Nor I, for a man ought not to marry; nor ought we to beget children, nor engage in public matters.” What then will happen? whence will the citizens come? who will bring them up? who will be governor of the youth, who preside wi over gymnastic exercises? and in what also will the teacher instruct them? will he teach them what the Lacedaemonians were taught, or what the Athenians were taught? Come take a young man, bring him up according to your doctrines. The doctrines are bad, subversive of a state, pernicious to families, and not becoming to women. Dismiss them, man. You live in a chief city: it is your duty to be a magistrate, to judge justly, to abstain from that which belongs to others; no woman ought to seem beautiful to you except your own wife, and no youth, no vessel of silver, no vessel of gold. Seek for doctrines which are consistent with what I say, and, by making them your guide, you will with pleasure abstain from things which have such persuasive power to lead us and overpower us. But if to the persuasive power of these things, we also devise such a philosophy as this which helps to push us on toward them and strengthens us to this end, what will be the consequence? In a piece of toreutic art which is the best part? the silver or the workmanship? The substance of the hand is the flesh; but the work of the hand is the principal part. The duties then are also three; those which are directed toward the existence of a thing; those which are directed toward its existence in a particular kind; and third, the chief or leading things themselves. So also in man we ought not to value the material, the poor flesh, but the principal. What are these? Engaging in public business, marrying, begetting children, venerating God, taking care of parents, and, generally, having desires, aversions, pursuits of things and avoidances, in the way in which we ought to do these things, and according to our nature. And how are we constituted by nature? Free, noble, modest: for what other animal blushes? what other is capable of receiving the appearance of shame? and we are so constituted by nature as to subject pleasure to these things, as a minister, a servant, in order that it may call forth our activity, in order that it may keep us constant in acts which are conformable to nature.
“But I am rich and I want nothing.” Why, then, do you pretend to be a philosopher? Your golden and your silver vessels are enough for you. What need have you of principles? “But I am also a judge of the Greeks.” Do you know how to judge? Who taught you to know? “Caesar wrote to me a codicil.” Let him write and give you a commission to judge of music; and what will be the use of it to you? Still how did you become a judge? whose hand did you kiss? the hand of Symphorus or Numenius? Before whose bedchamber have you slept? To whom have you sent gifts? Then do you not see that to be a judge is just of the same value as Numenius is? “But I can throw into prison any man whom I please.” So you can do with a stone. “But I can beat with sticks whom I please.” So you may an ass. This is not a governing of men. Govern us as rational animals: show us what is profitable to us, and we will follow it: show us what is unprofitable, and we will turn away from it. Make us imitators of yourself, as Socrates made men imitators of himself. For he was like a governor of men, who made them subject to him their desires, their aversion, their movements toward an object and their turning away from it. “Do this: do not do this: if you do not obey, I will throw you into prison.” This is not governing men like rational animals. But I: As Zeus has ordained, so act: if you do not act so, you will feel the penalty, you will be punished. What will be the punishment? Nothing else than not having done your duty: you will lose the character of fidelity, modesty, propriety. Do not look for greater penalties than these.
As we exercise ourselves against sophistical questions, so we ought to exercise ourselves daily against appearances; for these appearances also propose questions to us. “A certain person son is dead.” Answer: the thing is not within the power of the will: it is not an evil. “A father has disinherited a certain son. What do you think of it?” It is a thing beyond the power of the will, not an evil. “Caesar has condemned a person.” It is a thing beyond the power of the will, not an evil. “The man is afflicted at this.” Affliction is a thing which depends on the will: it is an evil. He has borne the condemnation bravely.” That is a thing within the power of the will: it is a good. If we train ourselves in this manner, we shall make progress; for we shall never assent to anything of which there is not an appearance capable of being comprehended. Your son is dead. What has happened? Your son is dead. Nothing more? Nothing. Your ship is lost. What has happened? Your ship is lost. A man has been led to prison. What has happened? He has been led to prison. But that herein he has fared badly, every man adds from his own opinion. “But Zeus,” you say, “does not do right in these matters.” Why? because he has made you capable of endurance? because he has made you magnanimous? because he has taken from that which befalls you the power of being evil? because it is in your power to be happy while you are suffering what you suffer; because he has opened the door to you, when things do not please you? Man, go out and do not complain.
Hear how the Romans feel toward philosophers, if you would like to know. Italicus, who was the most in repute of the philosophers, once when I was present being, vexed with his own friends and as if he was suffering something intolerable said, “I cannot bear it, you are killing me: you will make me such as that man is”; pointing to me.
When a certain person came to him, who was going up to Rome on account of a suit which had regard to his rank, Epictetus inquired the reason of his going to Rome, and the man then asked what he thought about the matter. Epictetus replied: If you ask me what you will do in Rome, whether you will succeed or fall, I have no rule about this. But if you ask me how you will fare, I can tell you: if you have right opinions, you will fare well; if they are false, you will fare ill. For to every man the cause of his acting is opinion. For what is the reason why you desired to be elected governor of the Cnossians? Your opinion. What is the reason that you are now going up to Rome? Your opinion. And going in winter, and with danger and expense. “I must go.” What tells you this? Your opinion. Then if opinions are the causes of all actions, and a man has bad opinions, such as the cause may be, such also is the effect. Have we then all sound opinions, both you and your adversary? And how do you differ? But have you sounder opinions than your adversary? Why? You think so. And so does he think that his opinions are better; and so do madmen. This is a bad criterion. But show to me that you have made some inquiry into your opinions and have taken some pains about them. And as now you are sailing to Rome in order to become governor of the Cnossians, and you are not content to stay at home with the honors which you had, but you desire something greater and more conspicuous, so when did you ever make a voyage for the purpose of examining your own opinions, and casting them out, if you have any that are bad? Whom have you approached for this purpose? What time have you fixed for it? What age? Go over the times of your life by yourself, if you are ashamed of me. When you were a boy, did you examine your own opinions? and did you not then, as you do all things now, do as you did do? and when you were become a youth and attended the rhetoricians, and yourself practiced rhetoric, what did you imagine that you were deficient in? And when you were a young man and engaged in public matters, and pleaded causes yourself, and were gaining reputation, who then seemed your equal? And when would you have submitted to any man examining and show that your opinions are bad? What, then, do you wish me to say to you? “Help me in this matter.” I have no theorem (rule) for this. Nor have you, if you came to me for this purpose, come to me as a philosopher, but as to a seller of vegetables or a shoemaker. “For what purpose then have philosophers theorems?” For this purpose, that whatever may happen, our ruling faculty may be and continue to be conformable to nature. Does this seem to you a small thing? “No; but the greatest.” What then? does it need only a short time? and is it possible to seize it as you pass by? If you can, seize it.
Then you will say, “I met with Epictetus as I should meet with a stone or a statue”: for you saw me, and nothing more. But he meets with a man as a man, who learns his opinions, and in his turn shows his own. Learn my opinions: show me yours; and then say that you have visited me. Let us examine one another: if I have any bad opinion, take it away; if you have any, show it. This is the meaning of meeting with a philosopher. “Not so, but this is only a passing visit, and while we are hiring the vessel, we can also see Epictetus. Let us see what he says.” Then you go away and say: “Epictetus was nothing: he used solecisms and spoke in a barbarous way.” For of what else do you come as judges? “Well, but a man may say to me, “If I attend to such matters, I shall have no land, as you have none; I shall have no silver cups as you have none, nor fine beasts as you have none.” In answer to this it is perhaps sufficient to say: I have no need of such things: but if you possess many things you have need of others: whether you choose or not, you are poorer than I am. “What then have I need of?” Of that which you have not: of firmness, of a mind which is conformable to nature, of being free from perturbation. Whether I have a patron or not, what is that to me? but it is something to you. I am richer than you: I am not anxious what Caesar will think of me: for this reason, I flatter no man. This is what I possess instead of vessels of silver and gold. You have utensils of gold; but your discourse, your opinions, your assents, your movements, your desires are of earthen ware. But when I have these things conformable to nature, why should I not employ my studies also upon reason? for I have leisure: my mind is not distracted. What shall I do, since I have no distraction? What more suitable to a man have I than this? When you have nothing to do, you are disturbed, you go to the theatre or you wander about without a purpose. Why should not the philosopher labour to improve his reason? You employ yourself about crystal vessels: I employ myself about the syllogism named “The Living”: you about myrrhine vessels; I employ myself about the syllogism named “The Denying.” To you everything appears small that you possess: to me all that I have appears great. Your desire is insatiable: mine is satisfied. To (children) who put their hand into a narrow necked earthen vessel and bring out figs and nuts, this happens; if they fill the hand, they cannot take it out, and then they cry. Drop a few of them and you will draw things out. And do you part with your desires: do not desire many things and you will have what you want.
When the need of each opinion comes, we ought to have it in readiness: on the occasion of breakfast, such as relate to breakfast; in the bath, those that concern the bath; in bed, those that concern bed.
Let sleep not come upon thy languid eyes
Before each daily action thou hast scann’d;
What’s done amiss, what done, what left undone;
From first to last examine all, and then
Blame what is wrong in what is right rejoice.
And we ought to retain these verses in such way that we may use them, not that we may utter them aloud, as when we exclaim “Paean Apollo.” Again in fever we should have ready such opinions as concern a fever; and we ought not, as soon as the fever begins, to lose and forget all. (A man who has a fever) may “If I philosophize any longer, may I be hanged: wherever I go, I must take care of the poor body, that a fever may not come.” But what is philosophizing? Is it not a preparation against events which may happen? Do you not understand that you are saying something of this kind? “If I shall still prepare myself to bear with patience what happens, may I be hanged.” But this is just as if a man after receiving blows should give up the Pancratium. In the Pancratium it is in our power to desist and not to receive blows. But in the other matter, we give up philosophy, what shall we gain I gain? What then should a man say on the occasion of each painful thing? “It was for this that I exercised myself, for this I disciplined myself.” God says to you, “Give me a proof that you have duly practiced athletics, that you have eaten what you ought, that you have been exercised, that you have obeyed the aliptes.” Then do you show yourself weak when the time for action comes? Now is the time for the fever. Let it be borne well. Now is the time for thirst, well; now is the time for hunger, bear it well. Is it not in your power? who shall hinder you? The physician will hinder you from drinking; but he cannot prevent you from bearing thirst well: and he will hinder you from eating; but he cannot prevent you from bearing hunger well.
“But I cannot attend to my philosophical studies.” And for what purpose do you follow them? Slave, is it not that you may be happy, that you may be constant, is it not that you may be in a state conformable to nature and live so? What hinders you when you have a fever from having your ruling faculty conformable to nature? Here is the proof of the thing, here is the test of the philosopher. For this also is a part of life, like walking, like sailing, like journeying by land, so also is fever. Do you read when you are walking? No. Nor do you when you have a fever. if you walk about well, you have all that belongs to a man who walks. If you bear fever well, you have all that belongs to a man in a fever. What is it to bear a fever well? Not to blame God or man; not to be afflicted it that which happens, to expect death well and nobly, to do what must be done: when the physician comes in, not to be frightened at what he says; nor if he says, “You are doing well,” to be overjoyed. For what good has he told you? and when you were in health, what good was that to you? And even if he says, “You are in a bad way,” do not despond. For what is it to be ill? is it that you are near the severance of the soul and the body? what harm is there in this? If you are not near now, will you not afterward be near? Is the world going to be turned upside down when you are dead? Why then do you flatter the physician? Why do you say, “If you please, master, I shall be well”? Why do you give him an opportunity of raising his eyebrows? Do you not value a physician, as you do a shoemaker when he is measuring your foot, or a carpenter when he is building your house, and so treat the physician as to the body which is not yours, but by nature dead? He who has a fever has an opportunity of doing this: if he does these things, he has what belongs to him. For it is not the business of a philosopher to look after these externals, neither his wine nor his oil nor his poor body, but his own ruling power. But as to externals how must he act? so far as not to be careless about them. Where then is there reason for fear? where is there, then, still reason for anger, and of fear about what belongs to others, about things which are of no value? For we ought to have these two principles in readiness: that except the will nothing is good nor bad; and that we ought not to lead events, but to follow them. “My brother ought not to have behaved thus to me.” No; but he will see to that: and, however he may behave, I will conduct myself toward him as I ought. For this is my own business: that belongs to another; no man can prevent this, the other thing can be hindered.
There are certain penalties fixed as by law for those who disobey the divine administration. Whoever thinks any other thing to be good except those things which depend on the will, let him envy, let him desire, let him flatter, let him be perturbed: whoever considers anything else to be evil, let him grieve, let him lament, let him weep, let him be unhappy. And yet, though so severely punished, we cannot desist.
Remember what the poet says about the stranger:
Stranger, I must not, e’en if a worse man come.
This, then, may be applied even to a father: “I must not, even if a worse man than you should come, treat a father unworthily-, for all are from paternal Zeus.” And of a brother, “For all are from the Zeus who presides over kindred.” And so in the other relations of life we shall find Zeus to be an inspector.
We ought not to make our exercises consist in means contrary to nature and adapted to cause admiration, for, if we do so, we, who call ourselves philosophers, shall not differ at all from jugglers. For it is difficult even to walk on a rope; and not only difficult, but it is also dangerous. Ought we for this reason to practice walking on a rope, or setting up a palm tree, or embracing statues? By no means. Everything, which is difficult and dangerous is not suitable for practice; but that is suitable which conduces to the working out of that which is proposed to us as a thing to be worked out. To live with desire and aversion, free from restraint. And what is this? Neither to be disappointed in that which you desire, nor to fall into anything which you would avoid. Toward this object, then, exercise ought to tend. For, since it is not possible to have your desire not disappointed and your aversion free from falling into that which you would avoid, great and constant practice you must know that if you allow your desire and aversion to turn to things which are not within the power of the will, you will neither have your desire capable of attaining your object, nor your aversion free from the power of avoiding that which you would avoid. And since strong habit leads, and we are accustomed to employ desire and aversion only to things which are not within the power of our will, we ought to oppose to this habit a contrary habit, and where there is great slipperiness in the appearances, there to oppose the habit of exercise.
I am rather inclined to pleasure: I will incline to the contrary side above measure for the sake of exercise. I am averse to pain: I will rub and exercise against this the appearances which are presented to me for the purpose of withdrawing my aversion from every such thing. For who is a practitioner in exercise? He who practices not using his desire, and applies his aversion only to things which are within the power of his will, and practices most in the things which are difficult to conquer. For this reason one man must practice himself more against one thing and another against another thing. What, then, is it to the purpose to set up a palm tree, or to carry about a tent of skins, or a mortar and a pestle? Practice, man, if you are irritable, to endure if you are abused, not to be vexed if you are treated with dishonour. Then you will make so much progress that, even if a man strikes you, you will say to yourself, “Imagine that you have embraced a statue”: then also exercise yourself to use wine properly so as not to drink much, for in this also there are men who foolishly practice themselves; but first of all you should abstain from it, and abstain from a young girl and dainty cakes. Then at last, if occasion presents itself, for the purpose of trying yourself at a proper time, you will descend into the arena to know if appearances overpower you as they did formerly. But at first fly far from that which is stronger than yourself: the contest is unequal between a charming young girl and a beginner in philosophy. “The earthen pitcher,” as the saying is, “and the rock do not agree.”
After the desire and the aversion comes the second topic of the movements toward action and the withdrawals from it; that you may be obedient to reason, that you do nothing out of season or place, or contrary to any propriety of the kind. The third topic concerns the assents, which is related to the things which are persuasive and attractive. For as Socrates said, “we ought not to live a life without examination,” so we ought not to accept an appearance without examination, but we should say, “Wait, let me see what you are and whence you come”; like the watch at night, “Show me the pass.” “Have you the signal from nature which the appearance that may be accepted ought to have?” And finally whatever means are applied to the body by those who exercise it, if they tend in any way toward desire and it, aversion, they also may be fit means of exercise; but if they are for display, they are the indications of one who has turned himself toward something external, and who is hunting for something else, and who looks for spectators who will say, “Oh the great man.” For this reason, Apollonius said well, “When you intend to exercise yourself for your own advantage, and you are thirsty from heat, take in a mouthful of cold water, and spit it out, and tell nobody.”
Solitude is a certain condition of a helpless man. For because a man is alone, he is not for that reason also solitary; just as though a man is among numbers, he is not therefore not solitary. When then we have lost either a brother, or a son, or a friend on whom we were accustomed to repose, we say that we are left solitary, though we are often in Rome, though such a crowd meet us, though so many live in the same place, and sometimes we have a great number of slaves. For the man who is solitary, as it is conceived, is considered to be a helpless person and exposed to those who wish to harm him. For this reason when we travel, then especially do we say that we are lonely when we fall among robbers, for it is not the sight of a human creature which removes us from solitude, but the sight of one who is faithful and modest and helpful to us. For if being alone is enough to make solitude, you may say that even Zeus is solitary in the conflagration and bewails himself saying, “Unhappy that I am who have neither Hera, nor Athena, nor Apollo, nor brother, nor son, nor descendant nor kinsman.” This is what some say that he does when he is alone at the conflagration. For they do not understand how a man passes his life when he is alone, because they set out from a certain natural principle, from the natural desire of community and mutual love and from the pleasure of conversation among men. But none the less a man ought to be prepared in a manner for this also, to be able to be sufficient for himself and to be his own companion. For as Zeus dwells with himself, and is tranquil by himself, and thinks of his own administration and of its nature, and is employed in thoughts suitable to himself; so ought we also to be able to talk with ourselves, not to feel the want of others also, not to be unprovided with the means of passing our time; to observe the divine administration and the relation of ourselves to everything else; to consider how we formerly were affected toward things that happen and how at present; what are still the things which give us pain; how these also can be cured and how removed; if any things require improvement, to improve them according to reason.
For you see that Caesar appears to furnish us with great peace, that there are no longer enemies nor battles nor great associations of robbers nor of pirates, but we can travel at every hour and sail from east to west. But can Caesar give us security from fever also, can he from shipwreck, from fire, from earthquake or from lightning? well, I will say, can he give us security against love? He cannot. From sorrow? He cannot. From envy? He cannot. In a word then he cannot protect us from any of these things. But the doctrine of philosophers promises to give us security even against these things. And what does it say? “Men, if you will attend to me, wherever you are, whatever you are doing, you will not feel sorrow, nor anger, nor compulsion, nor hindrance, but you will pass your time without perturbations and free from everything.” When a man has this peace, not proclaimed by Caesar (for how should he be able to proclaim it?), but by God through reason, is he not content when he is alone? when he sees and reflects, “Now no evil can happen to me; for me there is no robber, no earthquake, everything is full of peace, full of tranquillity: every way, every city, every meeting, neighbor, companion is harmless. One person whose business it is, supplies me with food; another with raiment; another with perceptions, and preconceptions. And if he does not supply what is necessary, He gives the signal for retreat, opens the door, and says to you, ‘Go.’ Go whither? To nothing terrible, but to the place from which you came, to your friends and kinsmen, to the elements: what there was in you of fire goes to fire; of earth, to earth; of air, to air; of water to water: no Hades, nor Acheron, nor Cocytus, nor Pyriphlegethon, but all is full of Gods and Demons.” When a man has such things to think on, and sees the sun, the moon and stars, and enjoys earth and sea, he is not solitary nor even helpless. “Well then, if some man should come upon me when I am alone and murder me?” Fool, not murder you, but your poor body.
What kind of solitude then remains? what want? why do we make ourselves worse than children? and what do children do when they are left alone? They take up shells and ashes, and they build something, then pull it down, and build something else, and so they never want the means of passing the time. Shall I, then, if you sail away, sit down and weep, because I have been left alone and solitary? Shall I then have no shells, no ashes? But children do what they do through want of thought, and we through knowledge are unhappy.
Every great power is dangerous to beginners. You must then bear such things as you are able, but conformably to nature: but not . . . Practice sometimes a way of living like a man in health. Abstain from food, drink water, abstain sometimes altogether from desire, in order that you may some time desire consistently with reason; and if consistently with reason, when you have anything good in you, you will desire well. “Not so; but we wish to live like wise men immediately and to be useful to men.” Useful how? what are you doing? have you been useful to yourself? “But, I suppose, you wish to exhort them.” You exhort them! You wish to be useful to them. Show to them in your own example what kind of men philosophy makes, and don’t trifle. When you are eating, do good to those who eat with you; when you are drinking, to those who are drinking with you; by yielding to all, giving way, bearing with them, thus do them good, and do not spit on them your phlegm.
As bad tragic actors cannot sing alone, but in company with many: so some persons cannot walk about alone. Man, if you are anything, both walk alone and talk to yourself, and do not hide yourself in the chorus. Examine a little at last, look around, stir yourself up, that you may know who you are.
When a man drinks water, or does anything for the sake of practice, whenever there is an opportunity he tells it to all: “I drink water.” Is it for this that you drink water, for the purpose of drinking water? Man, if it is good for you to drink, drink; but if not, you are acting ridiculously. But if it is good for you and you do drink, say nothing about it to those who are displeased with water-drinkers. What then, do you wish to please these very men?
Of things that are done some are done with a final purpose, some according to occasion, others with a certain reference to circumstances, others for the purpose of complying with others. and some according to a fixed scheme of life.
You must root out of men these two things, arrogance and distrust. Arrogance, then, is the opinion that you want nothing: but distrust is the opinion that you cannot be happy when so many circumstances surround you. Arrogance is removed by confutation; and Socrates was the first who practiced this. And, that the thing is not impossible, inquire and seek. This search will do you no harm; and in a manner this is philosophizing, to seek how it is possible to employ desire and aversion without impediment.
“I am superior to you, for my father is a man of consular rank.” Another says, “I have been a tribune, but you have not.” If we were horses, would you say, “My father was swifter?” “I have much barley and fodder, or elegant neck ornaments.” If, then, while you were saying this, I said, “Be it so: let us run then.” Well, is there nothing in a man such as running in a horse, by which it will he known which is superior and inferior? Is there not modesty, fidelity, justice? Show yourself superior in these, that you may be superior as a man. If you tell me that you can kick violently, I also will say to you that you are proud of that which is the act of an ass.
In every act consider what precedes and what follows, and then proceed to the act. If you do not consider, you will at first begin with spirit, since you have not thought at all of the things which follow; but afterward, when some consequences have shown themselves, you will basely desist. “I wish to conquer at the Olympic games.” “And I too, by the gods: for it is a fine thing.” But consider here what precedes and what follows; and then, if it is for your good, undertake the thing. You must act according to rules, follow strict diet, abstain from delicacies, exercise yourself by compulsion at fixed times, in heat, in cold; drink no cold water, nor wine, when there is opportunity of drinking it. In a word you must surrender yourself to the trainer as you do to a physician. Next in the contest, you must be covered with sand, sometimes dislocate a hand, sprain an ankle, swallow a quantity of dust, be scourged with the whip; and after undergoing all this, you must sometimes be conquered. After reckoning all these things, if you have still an inclination, go to the athletic practice. If you do not reckon them, observe you behave like children who at one time you wi play as wrestlers, then as gladiators, then blow a trumpet, then act a tragedy, when they have seen and admired such things. So you also do: you are at one time a wrestler, then a gladiator, then a philosopher, then a rhetorician; but with your whole soul you are nothing: like the ape, you imitate all that you see; and always one thing after another pleases you, but that which becomes familiar displeases you. For you have never undertaken anything after consideration, nor after having explored the whole matter and put it to a strict examination; but you have undertaken it at hazard and with a cold desire. Thus some persons having seen a philosopher and having heard one speak like Euphrates — yet who can speak like him? — wish to be philosophers themselves.
Man, consider first what the matter is, then your own nature also, what it is able to bear. If you are a wrestler, look at your shoulders, your thighs, your loins: for different men are naturally formed for different things. Do you think that, if you do, you can be a philosopher? Do you think that you can eat as you do now, drink as you do now, and in the same way be angry and out of humour? You must watch, labour, conquer certain desires, you must depart from your kinsmen, be despised by your slave, laughed at by those who meet you, in everything you must be in an inferior condition, as to magisterial office, in honours, in courts of justice. When you have considered all these things completely, then, if you think proper, approach to philosophy, if you would gain in exchange for these things freedom from perturbations, liberty, tranquillity. If you have not considered these things, do not approach philosophy: do not act like children, at one time a philosopher, then a tax collector, then a rhetorician, then a procurator of Caesar These things are not consistent. You must be one man either good or bad: you must either labour at your own ruling faculty or at external things: you must either labour at things within or at external things: that is, you must either occupy the place of a philosopher or that of one of the vulgar.
A person said to Rufus when Galba was murdered, “Is the world now governed by Providence?” But Rufus replied, “Did I ever incidentally form an argument from Galba that the world is governed by Providence?”
If a man has frequent intercourse with others, either for talk, or drinking together, or generally for social purposes, he must either become like them, or change them to his own fashion. For if a man places a piece of quenched charcoal close to a piece that is burning, either the quenched charcoal will quench the other, or the burning charcoal will light that which is quenched. Since, then, the danger is so great, we must cautiously enter into such intimacies with those of the common sort, and remember that it is impossible that a man can keep company with one who is covered with soot without being partaker of the soot himself. For what will you do if a man speaks about gladiators, about horses, about athletes, or, what is worse, about men? “Such a person is bad,” “Such a person is good”: “This was well done,” “This was done badly.” Further, if he scoff, or ridicule, or show an ill-natured disposition? Is any man among us prepared like a lute-player when he takes a lute, so that as soon as he has touched the strings, he discovers which are discordant, and tunes the instrument? such a power as Socrates had who in all his social intercourse could lead his companions to his own purpose? How should you have this power? It is therefore a necessary consequence that you are carried about by the common kind of people.
Why, then, are they more powerful than you? Because they utter these useless words from their real opinions: but you utter your elegant words only from your lips; for this reason they are without strength and dead, and it is nauseous to listen to your exhortations and your miserable virtue, which is talked of everywhere. In this way the vulgar have the advantage over you: for every opinion is strong and invincible. Until, then, the good sentiments are fixed in you, and you shall have acquired a certain power for your security, I advise you to be careful in your association with like wax in the sun there will be melted away whatever you inscribe on your minds in the school. Withdraw, then, yourselves far from the sun so long as you have these waxen sentiments. For this reason also philosophers advise men to leave their native country, because ancient habits distract them and do not allow a beginning to be made of a different habit; nor can we tolerate those who meet us and say: “See such a one is now a philosopher, who was once so-and-so.” Thus also physicians send those who have lingering diseases to a different country and a different air; and they do right, Do you also introduce other habits than those which you have: fix your opinions and exercise yourselves in them. But you do not so: you go hence to a spectacle, to a show of gladiators, to a place of exercise, to a circus; then you come back hither, and again from this place you go to those places, and still the same persons. And there is no pleasing habit, nor attention, nor care about self and observation of this kind, “How shall I use the appearances presented to me? according to nature, or contrary to nature? how do I answer to them? as I ought, or as I ought not? Do I say to those things which are independent of the will, that they do not concern me?” For if you are not yet in this state, fly from your former habits, fly from the common sort, if you intend ever to begin to be something.
When you make any charge against Providence, consider, and you will learn that the thing has happened according to reason. “Yes, but the unjust man has the advantage.” In what? “In money.” Yes, for he is superior to you in this, that he flatters, is free from shame, and is watchful. What is the wonder? But see if he has the advantage over you in being faithful, in being modest: for you will not find it to be so; but wherein you are superior, there you will find that you have the advantage. And I once said to a man who was vexed because Philostorgus was fortunate: “Would you choose to lie with Sura?” “May it never happen,” he replied, “that this day should come?” “Why then are you vexed, if he receives something in return for that which he sells; or how can you consider him happy who acquires those things by such means as you abominate; or what wrong does Providence, if he gives the better things to the better men? Is it not better to be modest than to be rich?” He admitted this. Why are you vexed then, man, when you possess the better thing? Remember, then, always, and have in readiness, the truth that this is a law of nature, that the superior has an advantage over the inferior in that in which he is superior; and you will never be vexed.
“But my wife treats me badly.” Well, if any man asks you what this is, say, “My wife treats me badly.” “Is there, then, nothing more?” Nothing. “My father gives me nothing.” But to say that this is an evil is something which must be added to it externally, and falsely added. For this reason we must not get rid of poverty, but of the opinion about poverty, and then we shall be happy.
When anything shall be reported to you which is of a nature to disturb, have this principle in readiness, that the news is about nothing which is within the power of your will. Can any man report to you that you have formed a bad opinion, or had a bad desire? By no means. But perhaps he will report that some person is dead. What then is that to you? He may report that some person speaks ill of you. What then is that to you? Or that your father is planning something or other. Against whom? Against your will? How can he? But is it against your poor body, against your little property? You are quite safe: it is not against you. But the judge declares that you have committed an act of impiety. And did not the judges make the same declaration against Socrates? Does it concern you that the judge has made this declaration? No. Why then do you trouble yourself any longer about it? Your father has a certain duty, and if he shall not fulfill it, he loses the character of a father, of a man of natural affection, of gentleness. Do not wish him to lose anything else on this account. For never does a man do wrong, in one thing, and suffer in another. On the other side it is your duty to make your defense firmly, modestly, without anger: but if you do not, you also lose the character of a son, of a man of modest behavior, of generous character. Well then, is the judge free from danger? No; but he also is in equal danger. Why then are you still afraid of his decision? What have you to do with that which is another man’s evil? It is your own evil to make a bad defense: be on your guard against this only. But to be condemned or not to be condemned, as that is the act of another person, so it is the evil of another person. “A certain person threatens you.” Me? No. “He blames you.” Let him see how he manages his own affairs. “He is going to condemn you unjustly.” He is a wretched man.
The first difference between a common person and a philosopher is this: the common person says, “Woe to me for my little child, for my brother, for my father.” The philosopher, if he shall ever be compelled to say, “Woe to me,” stops and says, “but for myself.” For nothing which is independent of the will can hinder or damage the will, and the will can only hinder or damage itself. If, then, we ourselves incline in this direction, so as, when we are unlucky, to blame ourselves and to remember that nothing else is the cause of perturbation or loss of tranquillity except our own opinion, I swear to you by all the gods that we have made progress. But in the present state of affairs we have gone another way from the beginning. For example, while we were still children, the nurse, if we ever stumbled through want of care, did not chide us, but would beat the stone. But what did the stone do? Ought the stone to have moved on account of your child’s folly? Again, if we find nothing to eat on coming out of the bath, the pedagogue never checks our appetite, but he flogs the cook. Man, did we make you the pedagogue of the cook and not of the child? Correct the child, improve him. In this way even when we are grown up we are like children. For he who is unmusical is a child in music; he who is without letters is a child in learning: he who is untaught, is a child in life.
In the case of appearances, which are objects of the vision, nearly all have allowed the good and the evil to be in ourselves, and not in externals. No one gives the name of good to the fact that it is day, nor bad to the fact that it is night, nor the name of the greatest evil to the opinion that three are four. But what do men say? They say that knowledge is good, and that error is bad; so that even in respect to falsehood itself there is a good result, the knowledge that it is falsehood. So it ought to be in life also. “Is health a good thing, and is sickness a bad thing” No, man. “But what is it?” To be healthy, and healthy in a right way, is good: to be healthy in a bad way is bad; so that it is possible to gain advantage even from sickness, I declare. For is it not possible to gain advantage even from death, and is it not possible to gain advantage from mutilation? Do you think that Menoeceus gained little by death? “Could a man who says so, gain so much as Menoeceus gained?” Come, man, did he not maintain the character of being a lover of his country, a man of great mind, faithful, generous? And if he had continued to live, would he not have lost all these things? would he not have gained the opposite? would he not have gained the name of coward, ignoble, a hater of his country, a man who feared death? Well, do you think that he gained little by dying? “I suppose not.” But did the father of Admetus gain much by prolonging his life so ignobly and miserably? Did he not die afterward? Cease, I adjure you by the gods, to admire things. Cease to make yourselves slaves, first of things, then on account of things slaves of those who are able to give them or take them away.
“Can advantage then be derived from these things.” From all; and from him who abuses you. Wherein does the man who exercises before the combat profit the athlete? Very greatly. This man becomes my exerciser before the combat: he exercises me in endurance, in keeping my temper, in mildness. You say no: but he, who lays hold of my neck and disciplines my loins and shoulders, does me good; and the exercise master does right when he says: “Raise him up with both hands, and the heavier he is, so much the more is my advantage.” But if a man exercises me in keeping my, temper, does he not do good? This is not knowing how to gain an advantage from men. “Is my neighbour bad?” Bad to himself, but good to me: he exercises my good disposition, my moderation. “Is my father bad?” Bad to himself, but to me good. This is the rod of Hermes: “Touch with it what you please,” as the saying is. “and it will be of gold.” I say not so: but bring what you please, and I will make it good. Bring disease, bring death, bring poverty, bring abuse, bring trial on capital charges: all these things through the rod of Hermes shall be made profitable. “What will you do with death?” Why, what else than that it shall do you honour, or that it shall show you by act through it, what a man is who follows the will of nature? “What will you do with disease?” I will show its nature, I will be conspicuous in, it, I will be firm, I will be happy, I will not flatter the physician, I will not wish to die. What else do you seek? Whatever you shall give me, I will make it happy, fortunate, honoured, a thing which a man shall seek.
You say No: but take care that you do not fall sick: it is a bad thing.” This is the same as if you should say, “Take care that you never receive the impression that three are four: that is bad.” Man, how is it bad? If I think about it as I ought, how shall it, then, do me any damage? and shall it not even do me good? If, then, I think about poverty as I ought to do, about disease, about not having office, is not that enough for me? will it not be an advantage? How, then, ought I any longer to look to seek evil and good in externals? What happens these doctrines are maintained here, but no man carries them away home; but immediately every one is at war with his slave, with his neighbours, with those who have sneered at him, with those who have ridiculed him. Good luck to Lesbius, who daily proves that I know nothing.
They who have taken up bare theorems immediately wish to vomit them forth, as persons whose stomach is diseased do with food. First digest the thing, then do not vomit it up thus: f you do not digest it, the thing become truly an emetic, a crude food and unfit to eat. But after digestion show us some chance in your ruling faculty, as athletes show in their shoulders by what they have been exercised and what they have eaten; as those who have taken up certain arts show by what they have learned. The carpenter does not come and say, “Hear me talk about the carpenter’s art”; but having undertaken to build a house, he makes it, and proves that he knows the art. You also ought to do something of the kind; eat like a man, drink like a man, dress, marry, beget children, do the office of a citizen, endure abuse, bear unreasonable brother, bear with your father, bear with your son, neighbour, compassion. Show us these things that we may see that you have in truth learned something from the philosophers. You say, “No, but come and hear me read commentaries.” Go away, and seek somebody to vomit them on. “And indeed I will expound to you the writings of Chrysippus as no other man can: I will explain his text most clearly: I will add also, if I can, the vehemence of Antipater and Archedemus.”
Is it, then, for this that young men shall leave their country and their parents, that they may come to this place, and hear you explain words? Ought they not to return with a capacity to endure, to be active in association with others, free from passions, free from perturbation, with such a provision for the journey of life with which they shall be able to bear well the things that happen and derive honour from them? And how can you give them any of these things which you do not possess? Have you done from the beginning anything else than employ yourself about the resolution of Syllogisms, of sophistical arguments, and in those which work by questions? “But such a man has a school; why should not I also have a school?” These things are not done, man, in a careless way, nor just as it may happen; but there must be a (fit) age and life and God as a guide. You say, “No.” But no man sails from a port without having sacrificed to the Gods and invoked their help; nor do men sow without having called on Demeter; and shall a man who has undertaken so great a work undertake it safely without the Gods? and shall they who undertake this work come to it with success? What else are you doing, man, than divulging the mysteries? You say, “There is a temple at Eleusis, and one here also. There is an Hierophant at Eleusis, and I also will make an Hierophant: there is a herald, and I will establish a herald; there is a torch-bearer at Eleusis, and I also will establish a torch-bearer; there are torches at Eleusis, and I will have torches here. The words are the same: how do the things done here differ from those done there?” Most impious man, is there no difference? these things are done both in due place and in due time; and when accompanied with sacrifice and prayers, when a man is first purified, and when he is disposed in his mind to the thought that he is going to approach sacred rites and ancient rites. In this way the mysteries are useful, in this way we come to the notion that all these things were established by the ancients for the instruction and correction of life. But you publish and divulge them out of time, out of place, without sacrifices, without purity; you have not the garments which the hierophant ought to have, nor the hair, nor the head-dress, nor the voice, nor the age; nor have you purified yourself as he has: but you have committed to memory the words only, and you say: “Sacred are the words by themselves.”
You ought to approach these matters in another way; the thing is great, it is mystical, not a common thing, nor is it given to every man. But not even wisdom perhaps is enough to enable a man to take care of youths: a man must have also a certain readiness and fitness for this purpose, and a certain quality of body, and above all things he must have God to advise him to occupy this office, as God advised Socrates to occupy the place of one who confutes error, Diogenes the office of royalty and reproof, and the office of teaching precepts. But you open a doctor’s shop, though you have nothing except physic: but where and how they should be applied, you know not nor have you taken any trouble about it. “See,” that man says, “I too have salves for the eyes.” Have you also the power of using them? Do you know both when and how they will do good, and to whom they will do good? Why then do you act at hazard in things of the greatest importance? why are you careless? why do you undertake a thing that is in no way fit for you? Leave it to those who are able to do it, and to do it well. Do not yourself bring disgrace on philosophy through your own acts, and be not one of those who load it with a bad reputation. But if theorems please you, sit still and turn them over by yourself; but never say that you are a philosopher, nor allow another to say it; but say: “He is mistaken, for neither are my desires different from what they were before, nor is my activity directed to other objects, nor do I assent to other things, nor in the use of appearances have I altered at all from my former condition.” This you must think and say about yourself, if you would think as you ought: if not, act at hazard, and do what you are doing; for it becomes you.
When one of his pupils inquired of Epictetus, and he was a person who appeared to be inclined to Cynism, what kind of person a Cynic ought to be and what was the notion of the thing, We will inquire, said Epictetus, at leisure: but I have so much to say to you that he who without God attempts so great a matter, is hateful to God, and has no other purpose than to act indecently in public. For in any well-managed house no man comes forward, and says to himself, “I ought to be manager of the house.” If he does so, the master turns round and, seeing him insolently giving orders, drags him forth and flogs him. So it is also in this great city; for here also there is a master of the house who orders everything. “You are the sun; you can by going round make the year and seasons, and make the fruits grow and nourish them, and stir the winds and make them remit, and warm the bodies of men properly: go, travel round, and so administer things from the greatest to the least.” “You are a calf; when a lion shall appear, do your proper business: if you do not, you will suffer.” “You are a bull: advance and fight, for this is your business, and becomes you, and you can do it.” “You can lead the army against Illium; be Agamemnon.” “You can fight in single combat against Hector: be Achilles.” But if Thersites came forward and claimed the command, he would either not have obtained it; or, if he did obtain it, he would have disgraced himself before many witnesses.
Do you also think about the matter carefully: it is not what it seems to you. “I wear a cloak now and I shall wear it then: I sleep hard now, and I shall sleep hard then: I will take in addition a little bag now and a staff, and I will go about and begin to beg and to abuse those whom I meet; and if I see any man plucking the hair out of his body, I will rebuke him, or if he has dressed his hair, or if he walks about in purple.” If you imagine the thing to be such as this, keep far away from it: do not approach it: it is not at all for you. But if you imagine it to be what it is, and do not think yourself to be unfit for it, consider what a great thing you undertake.
In the first place in the things which relate to yourself, you must not be in any respect like what you do now: you must not blame God or man: you must take away desire altogether, you must transfer avoidance only to the things which are within the power of the will: you must not feel anger nor resentment nor envy nor pity; a girl must not appear handsome to you, nor must you love a little reputation, nor be pleased with a boy or a cake. For you ought to know that the rest of men throw walls around them and houses and darkness when they do any such things, and they have many means of concealment. A man shuts the door, he sets somebody before the chamber: if a person comes, say that he is out, he is not at leisure. But the Cynic instead of all these things must use modesty as his protection: if he does not, he will he indecent in his nakedness and under the open sky. This is his house, his door: this is the slave before his bedchamber: this is his darkness. For he ought not to wish to hide anything that he does: and if he does, he is gone, he has lost the character of a Cynic, of a man who lives under the open sky, of a free man: he has begun to fear some external thing, he has begun to have need of concealment, nor can he get concealment when he chooses. For where shall he hide himself and how? And if by chance this public instructor shall be detected, this pedagogue, what kind of things will he be compelled to suffer? when then a man fears these things, is it possible for him to be bold with his whole soul to superintend men? It cannot be: it is impossible.
In the first place, then, you must make your ruling faculty pure, and this mode of life also. “Now, to me the matter to work on is my understanding, as wood is to the carpenter, as hides to the shoemaker; and my business is the right use of appearances. But the body is nothing to me: the parts of it are nothing to me. Death? Let it come when it chooses, either death of the whole or of a part. Fly, you say. And whither; can any man eject me out of the world? He cannot. But wherever I ever I go, there is the sun, there is the moon, there are the stars, dreams, omens, and the conversation with Gods.”
Then, if he is thus prepared, the true Cynic cannot be satisfied with this; but he must know that he is sent a messenger from Zeus to men about good and bad things, to show them that they have wandered and are seeking the substance of good and evil where it is not, but where it is, they never think; and that he is a spy, as Diogenes was carried off to Philip after the battle of Chaeroneia as a spy. For, in fact, a Cynic is a spy of the things which are good for men and which are evil, and it is his duty to examine carefully and to come and report truly, and not to be struck with terror so as to point out as enemies those who are not enemies, nor in any other way to be perturbed by appearances nor confounded.
It is his duty, then, to he able with a loud voice, if the occasion should arise, and appearing on the tragic stage to say like Socrates: “Men, whither are you hurrying, what are you doing, wretches? like blind people you are wandering up and down: you are going by another road, and have left the true road: you seek for prosperity and happiness where they are not, and if another shows you where they are, you do not believe him.” Why do you seek it without? In the body? It is not there. If you doubt, look at Myro, look at Ophellius. In possessions? It is not there. But if you do not believe me, look at Croesus: look at those who are now rich, with what lamentations their life is filled. In power? It is not there. If it is, those must be happy who have been twice and thrice consuls; but they are not. Whom shall we believe in these matters? you who from without see their affairs and are dazzled by an appearance, or the men themselves? What do they say? Hear them when they groan, when they grieve, when on account of these very consulships and glory and splendour they think that they are more wretched and in greater danger. Is it in royal power? It is not: if it were, Nero would have been happy, and Sardanapalus. But neither was Agamemnon happy, though he was a better man than Sardanapalus and Nero; but while others are snoring what is he doing?
“Much from his head he tore his rooted hair.”
And what does he say himself?
“I am perplexed,” he says, “and
Disturb’d I am,” and “my heart out of my bosom
Wretch, which of your affairs goes badly? Your possessions? No. Your body? No. But you are rich in gold and copper. What then is the matter with you? That part of you, whatever it is, has been neglected by you and is corrupted, the part with which we desire, with which we avoid, with which we move toward and move from things. How neglected? He knows not the nature of good for which he is made by nature and the nature of evil; and what is his own, and what belongs to another; and when anything that belongs to others goes badly, he says, “Woe to me, for the Hellenes are in dancer.” Wretched is his ruling faculty, and alone neglected and uncared for. “The Hellenes are going to die destroyed by the Trojans.” And if the Trojans do not kill them, will they not die? “Yes; but not all at once.” What difference, then, does it make? For if death is an evil, whether men die altogether, or if they die singly, it is equally an evil. Is anything else then going to happen than the separation of the soul and the body? Nothing. And if the Hellenes perish, is the door closed, and is it not in your power to die? “It is.” Why then do you lament “Oh, you who are a king and have the sceptre of Zeus?” An unhappy king does not exist more than an unhappy god. What then art thou? In truth a shepherd: for you weep as shepherds do, when a wolf has carried off one of their sheep: and these who are governed by you are sheep. And why did you come hither? Was your desire in any danger? was your aversion? was your movement? was your avoidance of things? He replies, “No; but the wife of my brother was carried off.” Was it not then a great gain to be deprived of an adulterous wife? “Shall we be despised, then, by the Trojans?” What kind of people are the Trojans, wise or foolish? If they are wise, why do you fight with them? If they are fools, why do you care about them.
In what, then, is the good, since it is not in these things? Tell us, you who are lord, messenger and spy. Where you do not think that it is, nor choose to seek it: for if you chose to seek it, you would have found it to he in yourselves; nor would you be wandering out of the way, nor seeking what belongs to others as if it were your own. Turn your thoughts into yourselves: observe the preconceptions which you have. What kind of a thing do you imagine the good to be? “That which flows easily, that which is happy, that which is not impeded.” Come, and do you not naturally imagine it to be great, do you not imagine it to be valuable? do you not imagine it to be free from harm? In what material then ought you to seek for that which flows easily, for that which is not impeded? in that which serves or in that which is free? “In that which is free.” Do you possess the body, then, free or is it in servile condition? “We do not know.” Do you not know that it is the slave of fever, of gout, ophthalmia, dysentery, of a tyrant, of fire, of iron, of everything which is stronger? Yes, it is a slave.” How, then, is it possible that anything which belongs to the body can be free from hindrance? and how is a thing great or valuable which is naturally dead, or earth, or mud? Well then, do you possess nothing which is free? “Perhaps nothing.” And who is able to compel you to assent to that which appears false? “No man.” And who can compel you not to assent to that which appears true? “No man.” By this, then, you see that there is something in you naturally free. But to desire or to be averse from, or to move toward an object or to move from it, or to prepare yourself, or to propose to do anything, which of you can do this, unless he has received an impression of the appearance of that which is profitable or a duty? “No man.” You have, then, in these thongs also something which is not hindered and is free. Wretched men, work out this, take care of this, seek for good here.
“And how is it possible that a man who has nothing, who is naked, houseless, without a hearth, squalid, without a slave, without a city, can pass a life that flows easily?” See, God has sent you a man to show you that it is possible. “Look at me, who am without a city, without a house, without possessions, without a slave; I sleep on the ground; I have no wife, no children; no praetorium, but only the earth and heavens, and one poor cloak. And what do I want? Am I not without sorrow? am I not without fear? Am I not free? When did any of you see me failing in the object of my desire? or ever falling into that which I would avoid? did I ever blame God or man? did I ever accuse any man? did any of you ever see me with sorrowful countenance? And how do I meet with those whom you are afraid of and admire? Do not I treat them like slaves? Who, when he sees me, does not think that he sees his king and master?”
This is the language of the Cynics, this their character, this is their purpose. You say “No”: but their characteristic is the little wallet, and staff, and great jaws: the devouring of all that you give them, or storing it up, or the abusing unseasonably all whom they meet, or displaying their shoulder as a fine thing. Do you see how you are going, to undertake so great a business? First take a mirror: look at your shoulders; observe your loins, your thighs. You are going, my man, to be enrolled as a combatant in the Olympic games, no frigid and miserable contest. In the Olympic games a man is not permitted to be conquered only and to take his departure; but first he must be disgraced in the sight of all the world, not in the sight of Athenians only, or of Lacedaemonians or of Nicopolitans; next he must be whipped also if he has entered into the contests rashly: and before being whipped, he must suffer thirst and heat, and swallow much dust.
Reflect more carefully, know thyself, consult the divinity, without God attempt nothing; for if he shall advise you, be assured that he intends you to become great or to receive many blows. For this very amusing quality is conjoined to a Cynic: he must be flogged like an ass, and when he is flogged, he must love those who flog him, as if he were the father of all, and the brother of all. You say “No”; but if a man flogs you, stand in the public place and call out, “Caesar, what do I suffer in this state of peace under thy protection? Let us bring the offender before the proconsul.” But what is Caesar to a Cynic, or what is a proconsul, or what is any other except him who sent the Cynic down hither, and whom he serves, namely Zeus? Does he call upon any other than Zeus? Is he not convinced that, whatever he suffers, it is Zeus who is exercising him? Hercules when he was exercised by Eurystheus did not think that he was wretched, but without hesitation he attempted to execute all that he had in hand. And is he who is trained to the contest and exercised by Zeus going to call out and to be vexed, he who is worthy to bear the sceptre of Diogenes? Hear what Diogenes says to the passers-by when he is in a fever, “Miserable wretches, will you not stay? but are you going so long a journey to Olympia to see the destruction or the fight of athletes; and will you not choose to see the combat between a fever and a man?” Would such a man accuse God who sent him down as if God were treating him unworthily, a man who gloried in his circumstances, and claimed to be an example to those who were passing by? For what shall he accuse him of? because he maintains a decency of behavior, because he displays his virtue more conspicuously? Well, and what does he say of poverty, about death, about pain? How did he compare his own happiness with that of the Great King? or rather he thought that there was no comparison between them. For where there are perturbations, and griefs, and fears, and desires not satisfied, and aversions of things which you cannot avoid, and envies and jealousies, how is there a road to happiness there? But where there are corrupt principles, there these things must of necessity be.
When the young man asked, if when a Cynic is sick, and a friend asks him to come to his house and be taken care of in his sickness, shall the Cynic accept the invitation, he replied: And where shall you find, I ask, a Cynic’s friend? For the man who invites ought to be such another as the that he may be worthy of being reckoned the Cynic’s friend. He ought to be a partner in the Cynic’s sceptre and his royalty, and a worthy minister, if he intends to be considered worthy of a Cynic’s friendship, as Diogenes was a friend of Antisthenes, as Crates was a friend of Diogenes. Do you think that, if a man comes to a Cynic and salutes him, he is the Cynic’s friend, and that the Cynic will think him worthy of receiving a Cynic into his house? So that, if you please, reflect on this also: rather look round for some convenient dunghill on which you shall bear your fever and which will shelter you from the north wind that you may not be chilled. But you seem to me to wish to go into some man’s house and to be well fed there for a time. Why then do you think of attempting so great a thing?
“But,” said the young man, “shall marriage and the procreation of children as a chief duty be undertaken by the Cynic?” If you grant me a community of wise men, Epictetus replies, perhaps no man will readily apply himself to the Cynic practice. For on whose account should he undertake this manner of life? However if we suppose that he does, nothing will prevent him from marrying and begetting children; for his wife will be another like himself, and his father-in-law another like himself, and his children will be brought up like himself. But in the present state of things which is like that of an army placed in battle order, is it not fit that the Cynic should without any distraction be employed only on the administration of God, able to go about among men, not tied down to the common duties of mankind, nor entangled in the ordinary relations of life, which if he neglects, he will not maintain the character of an honourable and good man? and if he observes them he will lose the character of the messenger, and spy and herald of God. For consider that it is his duty to do something toward his father-in-law, something to the other kinsfolk of his wife, something to his wife also. He is also excluded by being a Cynic from looking after the sickness of his own family, and from providing for their support. And, to say nothing of the rest, he must have a vessel for heating water for the child that he may wash it in the bath; wool for his wife when she is delivered of a child, oil, a bed, a cup: so the furniture of the house is increased. I say nothing of his other occupations and of his distraction. Where, then, now is that king, he who devotes himself to the public interests,
The people’s guardian and so full of cares.
whose duty it is to look after others, the married and those who have children; to see who uses his wife well, who uses her badly; who quarrels; what family is well administered, what is not; going about as a physician does and feels pulses? He says to one, “You have a fever,” to another, “You have a headache, or the gout”: he says to one, “Abstain from food”; to another he says, “Eat”; or “Do not use the bath”; to another, “You require the knife, or the cautery.” How can he have time for this who is tied to the duties of common life? is it not his duty to supply clothing to his children, and to send them to the schoolmaster with writing tablets, and styles. Besides, must he not supply them with beds? for they cannot be genuine Cynics as soon as they are born. If he does not do this, it would be better to expose the children as soon as they are born than to kill them in this way. Consider what we are bringing the Cynic down to, how we are taking his royalty from him. “Yes, but Crates took a wife.” You are speaking of a circumstance which arose from love and of a woman who was another Crates. But we are inquiring about ordinary marriages and those which are free from distractions, and making this inquiry we do not find the affair of marriage in this state of the world a thing which is especially suited to the Cynic.
“How, then, shall a man maintain the existence of society?” In the name of God, are those men greater benefactors to society who introduce into the world to occupy their own places two or three grunting children, or those who superintend as far as they can all mankind, and see what they do, how they live, what they attend to, what they neglect contrary to their duty? Did they who left little children to the Thebans do them more good than Epaminondas who died childless? And did Priamus, who begat fifty worthless sons, or Danaus or AEolus contribute more to the community than Homer? then shall the duty of a general or the business of a writer exclude a man from marriage or the begetting of children, and such a man shall not be judged to have accepted the condition of childlessness for nothing; and shall not the royalty of a Cynic be considered an equivalent for the want of children? Do we not perceive his grandeur and do we not justly contemplate the character of Diogenes; and do we, instead of this, turn our eyes to the present Cynics, who are dogs that wait at tables and in no respect imitate the Cynics of old except perchance in breaking wind, but in nothing else? For such matters would not have moved us at all nor should we have wondered if a Cynic should not marry or beget children. Man, the Cynic is the father of all men; the men are his sons, the women are his daughters: he so carefully visits all, so well does he care for all. Do you think that it is from idle impertinence that he rebukes those whom he meets? He does it as a father, as a brother, and as the minister of the father of all, the minister of Zeus.
If you please, ask me also if a Cynic shall engage in the administration of the state. Fool, do you seek a greater form of administration than that in which he is engaged? Do you ask if he shall appear among the Athenians and say something about the revenues and the supplies, he who must talk with all men, alike with Athenians, alike with Corinthians, alike with Romans, not about supplies, nor yet about revenues, nor about peace or war, but about happiness and unhappiness, about good fortune and bad fortune, about slavery and freedom? When a man has undertaken the administration of such a state, do you ask me if he shall engage in the administration of a state? ask me also if he shall govern: again I will say to you: Fool, what greater government shall he exercise than that which he exercises now?
It is necessary also for such a man to have a certain habit of body: for if he appears to be consumptive, thin and pale, his testimony has not then the same weight. For he must not only by showing the qualities of the soul prove to the vulgar that it is in his power independent of the things which they admire to be a good man, but he must also show by his body that his simple and frugal way of living in the open air does not injure even the body. “See,” he says, “I am a proof of this, and my own body also is.” So Diogenes used to do, for he used to go about fresh-looking, and he attracted the notice of the many by his personal appearance. But if a Cynic is an object of compassion, he seems to a beggar: all persons turn away from him, all are offended with him; for neither ought he to appear dirty so that he shall not also in this respect drive away men; but his very roughness ought to be clean and attractive.
There ought also to belong to the Cynic much natural grace and sharpness; and if this is not so, he is a stupid fellow, and nothing else; and he must have these qualities that he may be able readily and fitly to be a match for all circumstances that may happen. So Diogenes replied to one who said, “Are you the Diogenes who does not believe that there are gods?” “And, how,” replied Diogenes, “can this be when I think that you are odious to the gods?” On another occasion in reply to Alexander, who stood by him when he was sleeping, and quoted Homer’s line,
A man a councilor should not sleep all night,
he answered, when he was half-asleep,
The people’s guardian and so full of cares.
But before all the Cynic’s ruling faculty must be purer than the sun; and, if it is not, he must be a cunning knave and a fellow of no principle, since while he himself is entangled in some vice he will reprove others. For see how the matter stands: to these kings and tyrants their guards and arms give the power of reproving some persons, and of being able even to punish those who do wrong though they are themselves bad; but to a Cynic instead of arms and guards it is conscience which gives this power. When he knows that be has watched and labored for mankind, and has slept pure, and sleep has left him still purer, and that he thought whatever he has thought as a friend of the gods, as a minister, as a participator of the power of Zeus, and that on all occasions he is ready to say
Lead me, O Zeus, and thou O Destiny;
and also, “If so it pleases the gods, so let it be”; why should he not have confidence to speak freely to his own brothers, to his children, in a word to his kinsmen? For this reason he is neither overcurious nor a busybody when he is in this state of mind: for he is not a meddler with the affairs of others when he is superintending human affairs, but he is looking after his own affairs. If that is not so, you may also say that the general is a busybody, when he inspects his soldiers, and examines them, and watches them, and punishes the disorderly. But if, while you have a cake under your arm, you rebuke others, I will say to you: “Will you not rather go away into a corner and eat that which you have stolen”; what have you to do with the affairs of others? For who are you? are you the bull of the herd, or the queen of the bees? Show me the tokens of your supremacy, such as they have from nature. But if you are a drone claiming the sovereignty over the bees, do you not suppose that your fellow citizens will put you down as the bees do the drones?
The Cynic also ought to have such power of endurance as to seem insensible to the common sort and a stone: no man reviles him, no man strikes him, no man insults him, but he gives his body that any man who chooses may do with it what he likes. For he bears in mind that the inferior must be overpowered by the superior in that in which it is inferior; and the body is inferior to the many, the weaker to the stronger. He never then descends into such a contest in which he can be overpowered; but he immediately withdraws from things which belong to others, he claims not the things which are servile. where there is will and the use of appearances, there you will see how many eyes he has so that you may say, “Argus was blind compared with him.” Is his assent ever hasty, his movement rash, does his desire ever fall in its object, does that which he would avoid befall him, is his purpose unaccomplished, does he ever find fault, is he ever humiliated, is he ever envious? To these he directs all his attention and energy; but as to everything else he snores supine. All is peace; there is no robber who takes away his will, no tyrant. But what say you as to his body? I say there is. And as to magistracies and honours? What does he care for them? When then any person would frighten him through them, he says to him, “Begone, look for children: masks are formidable to them; but I know that they are made of shell, and they have nothing inside.”
About such a matter as this you are deliberating. Therefore, if you please, I urge you in God’s name, defer the matter, and first consider your preparation for it. For see what Hector says to Andromache, “Retire rather,” he says, “into the house and weave:
War is the work of men
Of all indeed, but specially ‘tis mine.
So he was conscious of his own qualification, and knew her weakness.
First say to yourself, who you wish to be: then do accordingly what you are doing; for in nearly all other things we see this to be so. Those who follow athletic exercises first determine what they wish to be, then do accordingly what follows. If a man is a runner in the long course, there is a certain kind of diet, of walking, rubbing and exercise: if a man is a runner in the stadium, all these things are different; if he is a Pentathlete, they are still more different. So you will find it also in the arts. If you are a carpenter, you will have such and such things: if a worker in metal, such things. For everything that we do, if we refer it to no end, we shall do it to no purpose; and if we refer it to the wrong end, we shall miss the mark. Further, there is a general end or purpose, and a particular purpose. First of all, we must act as a man. What is comprehended in this? We must not be like a sheep, though gentle, nor mischievous, like a wild beast. But the particular cud has reference to each person’s mode of life and his will. The lute-player acts as a lute-player, the carpenter as a carpenter, the philosopher as a philosopher, the rhetorician as a rhetorician. When then you say, “Come and hear me read to you”: take care first of all that you are not doing this without a purpose; then, if you have discovered that you are doing this with reference to a purpose, consider if it is the right purpose. Do you wish to do good or to be praised? Immediately you hear him saying, “To me what is the value of praise from the many?” and he says well, for it is of no value to a musician, so far as he is a musician, nor to a geometrician. Do you then wish to be useful? in what? tell us that we may run to your audience-room. Now can a man do anything useful to others, who has not received something useful himself? No, for neither can a man do anything useful in the carpenter’s art, unless he is a carpenter; nor in the shoemaker’s art, unless he is a shoemaker.
Do you wish to know then if you have received any advantage? Produce your opinions, philosopher. What is the thing which desire promises? Not to fall in the object. What does aversion promise? Not to fall into that which you would avoid. Well; do we fulfill their promise? Tell me the truth; but if you lie, I will tell you. Lately when your hearers came together rather coldly, and did not give you applause, you went away humbled. Lately again when you had been praised, you went about and said to all, “What did you think of me?” “Wonderful, master, I swear by all that is dear to me.” “But how did I treat of that particular matter?” “Which?” “The passage in which I described Pan and the nymphs?” “Excellently.” Then do you tell me that in desire and in aversion you are acting according to nature? Begone; try to persuade somebody else. Did you not praise a certain person contrary to your opinion? and did you not flatter a certain person who was the son of a senator? Would you wish your own children to be such persons? “I hope not.” Why then did you praise and flatter him? “He is an ingenuous youth and listens well to discourses.” How is this? “He admires me.” You have stated your proof. Then what do you think? do not these very people secretly despise you? When, then, a man who is conscious that he has neither done any good nor ever thinks of it, finds a philosopher who says, “You have a great natural talent, and you have a candid and good disposition,” what else do you think that he says except this, “This man has some need of me?” Or tell me what act that indicates a, great mind has he shown? Observe; he has been in your company a long time; he has listened to your discourses, he has heard you reading; has he become more modest? has he been turned to reflect on himself? has he perceived in what a bad state he is? has he cast away self-conceit? does he look for a person to teach him? “He does.” A man who will teach him to live? No, fool, but how to talk; for it is for this that he admires you also. Listen and hear what he says: “This man writes with perfect art, much better than Dion.” This is altogether another thing. Does he say, “This man is modest, faithful, free from perturbations?” and even if he did say it, I should say to him, “Since this man is faithful, tell me what this faithful man is.” And if he could not tell me, I should add this, “First understand what you say, then speak.”
You, then, who are in a wretched plight and gaping after applause and counting your auditors, do you intend to be useful to others? “To-day many more attended my discourse.” “Yes, many; we suppose five hundred.” “That is nothing; suppose that there were a thousand.” “Dion never had so many hearers.” “How could he?” “And they understand what is said beautifully.” “What is fine, master, can move even a stone.” See, these are the words of a philosopher. This is the disposition of a man who will do good to others; here is a man who has listened to discourses, who has read what is written about Socrates as Socratic, not as the compositions of Lysias and Isocrates. “I have often wondered by what arguments.” Not so, but “by what argument”: this is more exact than that. What, have you read the words at all in a different way from that in which you read little odes? For if you read them as you ought, you would not have been attending to such matters, but you would rather have been looking to these words: “Anytus and Meletus are able to kill me, but they cannot harm me”: and “I am always of such a disposition as to pay regard to nothing of my own except to the reason which on inquiry seems to me the best.” Hence who ever heard Socrates say, “I know something and I teach”; but he used to send different people to different teachers. Therefore they used to come to him and ask to be introduced to philosophy by him; and he would take them and recommend them. Not so; but as he accompanied them he would say, “Hear me to-day discoursing in the house of Quadratus.” Why should I hear you? Do you wish to show me that you put words together cleverly? You put them together, man; and what good will it do you? “But only praise me.” What do you mean by praising? “Say to me, “Admirable, wonderful.” Well, I say so. But if that is praise whatever it is which philosophers mean by the name of good, what have I to praise in you? If it is good to speak well, teach me, and will praise you. “What then? ought a man to listen to such things without pleasure?” I hope not. For my part I do not listen even to a lute-player without pleasure. Must I then for this reason stand and play the lute? Hear what Socrates says, “Nor would it be seemly for a man of my age, like a young man composing addresses, to appear before you.” “Like a young man,” he says. For in truth this small art is an elegant thing, to select words, and to put them together, and to come forward and gracefully to read them or to speak, and while he is reading to say, “There are not many who can do these things, I swear by all that you value.”
Does a philosopher invite people to hear him? As the sun himself draws men to him, or as food does, does not the philosopher also draw to him those who will receive benefit? What physician invites a man to be treated by him? Indeed I now hear that even the physicians in Rome do invite patients, but when I lived there, the physicians were invited. “I invite you to come and hear that things are in a bad way for you, and that you are taking care of everything except that of which you ought to take care, and that you are ignorant of the good and the bad and are unfortunate and unhappy.” A fine kind of invitation: and yet if the words of the philosopher do not produce this effect on you, he is dead, and so is the speaker. Rufus was used to say: “If you have leisure to praise me, I am speaking to no purpose.” Accordingly he used to speak in such a way that every one of us who were sitting there supposed that some one had accused him before Rufus: he so touched on what was doing, he so placed before the eyes every man’s faults.
The philosopher’s school, ye men, is a surgery: you ought not to go out of it with pleasure, but with pain. For you are not in sound health when you enter: one has dislocated his shoulder, another has an abscess, a third a fistula, and a fourth a headache. Then do I sit and utter to you little thoughts and exclamations that you may praise me and go away, one with his shoulder in the same condition in which he entered, another with his head still aching, and a third with his fistula or his abscess just as they were? Is it for this then that young men shall quit home, and leave their parents and their friends and kinsmen and property, that they may say to you, “Wonderful!” when you are uttering your exclamations. Did Socrates do this, or Zeno, or Cleanthes?
What then? is there not the hortatory style? Who denies it? as there is the style of refutation, and the didactic style. Who, then, ever reckoned a fourth style with these, the style of display? What is the hortatory style? To be able to show both to one person and to many the struggle in which they are engaged, and that they think more about anything than about what they really wish. For they wish the things which lead to happiness, but they look for them in the wrong place. In order that this may be done, a thousand seats must be placed and men must be invited to listen, and you must ascend the pulpit in a fine robe or cloak and describe the death of Achilles. Cease, I entreat you by the gods, to spoil good words and good acts as much as you can. Nothing can have more power in exhortation than when the speaker shows to the hearers that he has need of them. But tell me who when he hears you reading or discoursing is anxious about himself or turns to reflect on himself? or when he has gone out says, “The philosopher hit me well: I must no longer do these things.” But does he not, even if you have a great reputation, say to some person, “He spoke finely about Xerxes”; and another says, “No, but about the battle of Thermopylae”? Is this listening to a philosopher?
Let not that which in another is contrary to nature be an evil to you: for you are not formed by nature to be depressed with others nor to be unhappy with others, but to be happy with them. If a man is unhappy, remember that his unhappiness is his own fault: for God has made all men to be happy, to be free from perturbations. For this purpose he has given means to them, some things to each person as his own, and other things not as his own: some things subject to hindrance and compulsion and deprivation; and these things are not a man’s own: but the things which are not subject to hindrances are his own; and the nature of good and evil, as it was fit to be done by him who takes care of us and protects us like a father, he has made our own. “But,” you say, “I have parted from a certain person, and he is grieved.” Why did he consider as his own that which belongs to another? why, when he looked on you and was rejoiced, did he not also reckon that you are mortal, that it is natural for you to part from him for a foreign country? Therefore he suffers the consequences of his own folly. But why do you or for what purpose bewail yourself? Is it that you also have not thought of these things? but like poor women who are good for nothing, you have enjoyed all things in which you took pleasure, as if you would always enjoy them, both places and men and conversation; and now you sit and weep because you do not see the same persons and do not live in the same places. Indeed you deserve this, to be more wretched than crows and ravens who have the power of flying where they please and changing their nests for others, and crossing the seas without lamenting or regretting their former condition. “Yes, but this happens to them because they are irrational creatures.” Was reason, then, given to us by the gods for the purpose of unhappiness and misery, that we may pass our lives in wretchedness and lamentation? Must all persons be immortal and must no man go abroad, and must we ourselves not go abroad, but remain rooted like plants; and, if any of our familiar friends go abroad, must we sit and weep; and, on the contrary, when he returns, must we dance and clap our hands like children?
Shall we not now wean ourselves and remember what we have heard from the philosophers? if we did not listen to them as if they were jugglers: they tell us that this world is one city, and the substance out of which it has been formed is one, and that there must be a certain period, and that some things must give way to others, that some must be dissolved, and others come in their place; some to remain in the same place, and others to be moved; and that all things are full of friendship, first of the gods, and then of men who by nature are made to be of one family; and some must be with one another, and others must be separated, rejoicing in those who are with them, and not grieving for those who are removed from them; and man in addition to being by nature of a noble temper and having a contempt of all things which are not in the power of his will, also possesses this property, not to be rooted nor to be naturally fixed to the earth, but to go at different times to different places, sometimes from the urgency of certain occasions, and at others merely for the sake of seeing. So it was with Ulysses, who saw
Of many men the states, and learned their ways.
And still earlier it was the fortune of Hercules to visit all the inhabited world
Seeing men’s lawless deeds and their good rules of law:
casting out and clearing away their lawlessness and introducing in their place good rules of law. And yet how many friends do you think that he had in Thebes, how many in Argos, how many in Athens? and how many do you think that he gained by going about? And he married also, when it seemed to him a proper occasion, and begot children, and left them without lamenting or regretting or leaving them as orphans; for he knew that no man is an orphan; but it is the father who takes care of all men always and continuously. For it was not as mere report that he had heard that Zeus is the father of for he thought that Zeus was his own father, and he called him so, and to him he looked when he was doing what he did. Therefore he was enabled to live happily in all places. And it is never possible for happiness and desire of what is not present to come together. that which is happy must have all that desires, must resemble a person who is filled with food, and must have neither thirst nor hunger. “But Ulysses felt a desire for his wife and wept as he sat on a rock.” Do you attend to Homer and his stories in everything? Or if Ulysses really wept, what was he else than an unhappy man? and what good man is unhappy? In truth, the whole is badly administered, if Zeus does not take care of his own citizens that they may be happy like himself. But these things are not lawful nor right to think of: and if Ulysses did weep and lament, he was not a good man. For who is good if he knows not who he is? and who knows what he is, if he forgets that things which have been made are perishable, and that it is not possible for one human being to be with another always? To desire, then, things which are impossible is to have a slavish character and is foolish: it is the part of a stranger, of a man who fights against God in the only way that he can, by his opinions.
“But my mother laments when she does not see me.” Why has she not learned these principles? and I do not say this, that we should not take care that she may not lament, but I say that we ought not to desire in every way what is not our own. And the sorrow of another is another’s sorrow: but my sorrow is my own. I, then, will stop my own sorrow by every means, for it is in my power: and the sorrow of another I will endeavor to stop as far as I can; but I will not attempt to do it by every means; for if I do, I shall be fighting against God, I shall be opposing and shall be placing myself against him in the administration of the universe; and the reward of this fighting against God and of this disobedience not only will the children of my children pay, but I also shall myself, both by day and by night, startled by dreams, perturbed, trembling at every piece of news, and having my tranquillity depending on the letters of others. Some person has arrived from Rome. “I only hope that there is no harm.” But what harm can happen to you, where you are not? From Hellas some one is come: “I hope that there is no harm.” In this way every place may be the cause of misfortune to you. Is it not enough for you to be unfortunate there where you are, and must you be so even beyond sea, and by the report of letters? Is this the way in which your affairs are in a state of security? “Well, then, suppose that my friends have died in the places which are far from me.” What else have they suffered than that which is the condition of mortals? Or how are you desirous at the same time to live to old age, and at the same time not to see the death of any person whom you love? Know you not that in the course of a long time many and various kinds of things must happen; that a fever shall overpower one, a robber another, and a third a tyrant? Such is the condition of things around us, such are those who live with us in the world: cold and heat, and unsuitable ways of living, and journeys by land, and voyages by sea, and winds, and various circumstances which surround us, destroy one man, and banish another, and throw one upon an embassy and another into an army. Sit down, then, in a flutter at all these things, lamenting, unhappy, unfortunate, dependent on another, and dependent not on one or two, but on ten thousands upon ten thousands.
Did you hear this when you were with the philosophers? did you learn this? do you not know that human life is a warfare? that one man must keep watch, another must go out as a spy, and a third must fight? and it is not possible that all should be in one place, nor is it better that it be so. But you, neglecting neglecting to do the commands of the general, complain when anything more hard than usual is imposed on you, and you do not observe what you make the army become as far as it is in your power; that if all imitate you, no man will dig a trench, no man will put a rampart round, nor keep watch, nor expose himself to danger, but will appear to be useless for the purposes of an army. Again, in a vessel if you go as a sailor, keep to one place and stick to it. And if you are ordered to climb the mast, refuse; if to run to the head of the ship, refuse; and what master, of a ship will endure you? and will he not pitch you overboard as a useless thing, an impediment only and bad example to the other sailors? And so it is here also: every man’s life is a kind of warfare, and it is long and diversified. You must observe the duty of a soldier and do everything at the nod of the general; if it is possible, divining what his wishes are: for there is no resemblance between that general and this, neither in strength nor in superiority of character. You are placed in a great office of command and not in any mean place; but you are always a senator. Do you not know that such a man must give little time to the affairs of his household, but be often away from home, either as a governor or one who is governed, or discharging some office, or serving in war or acting as a judge? Then do you tell me that you wish, as a plant, to be fixed to the same places and to be rooted? “Yes, for it is pleasant.” Who says that it is not? but a soup is pleasant, and a handsome woman is pleasant. What else do those say who make pleasure their end? Do you not see of what men yon have uttered the language? that it is the language of Epicureans and catamites? Next while you are doing what they do and holding their opinions, do you speak to us the words of Zeno and of Socrates? Will you not throw away as far as you can the things belonging to others with which you decorate yourself, though they do not fit you at all? For what else do they desire than to sleep without hindrance and free from compulsion, and when they have risen to yawn at their leisure, and to wash the face, then write and read what they choose, and then talk about some trifling matter being praised by their friends whatever they may say, then to go forth for a walk, and having walked about a little to bathe, and then eat and sleep, such sleep as is the fashion of such men? why need we say how? for one can easily conjecture. Come, do you also tell your own way of passing the time which you desire, you who are an admirer of truth and of Socrates and Diogenes. What do you wish to do in Athens? the same, or something else? Why then do you call yourself a Stoic? Well, but they who falsely call themselves Roman citizens, are severely punished; and should those, who falsely claim so great and reverend a thing and name, get off unpunished? or is this not possible, but the law divine and strong and inevitable is this, which exacts the severest punishments from those who commit the greatest crimes? For what does this law say? “Let him who pretends to things which do not belong to him be a boaster, a vainglorious man: let him who disobeys the divine administration be base, and a slave; let him suffer grief, let him be envious, let him pity; and in a word let him be unhappy and lament.”
“Well then; do you wish me to pay court to a certain person? to go to his doors?” If reason requires this to be done for the sake of country, for the sake of kinsmen, for the sake of mankind, why should you not go? You are not ashamed to go to the doors of a shoemaker, when you are in want of shoes, nor to the door of a gardener, when you want lettuces; and are you ashamed to go to the doors of the rich when you want anything? “Yes, for I have no awe of a shoemaker.” Don’t feel any awe of the rich. “Nor will I flatter the gardener.” And do not flatter the rich. “How, then, shall I get what I want?” Do I say to you, “Go as if you were certain to get what you want”? And do not I only tell you that you may do what is becoming to yourself? “Why, then, should I still go?” That you may have gone, that you may have discharged the duty of a citizen, of a brother, of a friend. And further remember that you have gone to the shoemaker, to the seller of vegetables, who have no power in anything great or noble, though he may sell dear. You go to buy lettuces: they cost an obolus, but not a talent. So it is here also. The matter is worth going for to the rich man’s door. Well, I will go. It is worth talking about. Let it be so; I will talk with him. But you must also kiss his hand and flatter him with praise. Away with that, it is a talent’s worth: it is not profitable to me, nor to the state nor to my friends, to have done that which spoils a good citizen and a friend. “But you seem not to have been eager about the matter, if you do not succeed.” Have you again forgotten why you went? Know you not that a good man does nothing for the sake of appearance, but for the sake of doing right? “What advantage is it, then, to him to have done right?” And what advantage is it to a man who writes the name of Dion to write it as he ought? The advantage is to have written it. “Is there no reward then?” Do you seek a reward for a good man greater than doing what is good and just? At Olympia you wish for nothing more, but it seems to you enough to be crowned at the games. Does it seem to you so small and worthless a thing to be good and happy? For these purposes being introduced by the gods into this city, and it being now your duty to undertake the work of a man, do you still want nurses also and a mamma, and do foolish women by their weeping move you and make you effeminate? Will you thus never cease to be a foolish child? know you not that he who does the acts of a child, the older he is, the more ridiculous he is?
In Athens did you see no one by going to his house? “I visited any man that I pleased.” Here also be ready to see, and you will see whom you please: only let it be without meanness, neither with desire nor with aversion, and your affairs will be well managed. But this result does not depend on going nor on standing at the doors, but it depends on what is within, on your opinions. When you have learned not to value things which are external, and not dependent on the will, and to consider that not one of them is your own, but that these things only are your own, to exercise the judgment well, to form opinions, to move toward an object, to desire, to turn from a thing, where is there any longer room for flattery, where for meanness? why do you still long for the quiet there, and for the places to which you are accustomed? Wait a little and you will again find these places familiar: then, if you are of so ignoble a nature, again if you leave these also, weep and lament.
“How then shall I become of an affectionate temper?” By being of a noble disposition, and happy. For it is not reasonable to be means-spirited nor to lament yourself, nor to depend on another, nor even to blame God or man. I entreat you, become an affectionate person in this way, by observing these rules. But if through this affection, as you name it, you are going to be a slave and wretched, there is no profit in being affectionate. And what prevents you from loving another as a person subject to mortality, as one who may go away from you. Did not Socrates love his own children? He did; but it was as a free man, as one who remembered that he must first be a friend to the gods. For this reason he violated nothing which was becoming to a good man, neither in making his defense nor by fixing a penalty on himself, nor even in the former part of his life when he was a senator or when be was a soldier. But we are fully supplied with every pretext for being of ignoble temper, some for the sake of a child, some for a mother, and others for brethren’s sake. But it is not fit for us to be unhappy on account of any person, but to be happy on account of all, but chiefly on account of God who has made us for this end. Well, did Diogenes love nobody, who was so kind and so much a lover of all that for mankind in general he willingly undertook so much labour and bodily sufferings? He did love mankind, but how? As became a minister of God, at the same time caring for men, and being also subject to God. For this reason all the earth was his country, and no particular place; and when he was taken prisoner he did not regret Athens nor his associates and friends there, but even he became familiar with the pirates and tried to improve them; and being sold afterward he lived in Corinth as before at Athens; and he would have behaved the same, if he had gone to the country of the Perrhaebi. Thus is freedom acquired. For this reason he used to say, “Ever since Antisthenes made me free, I have not been a slave.” How did Antisthenes make him free? Hear what he says: “Antisthenes taught me what is my own, and what is not my own; possessions are not my own, nor kinsmen, domestics, friends, nor reputation, nor places familiar, nor mode of life; all these belong to others.” What then is your own? “The use of appearances. This be showed to me, that I possess it free from hindrance, and from compulsion, no person can put an obstacle in my way, no person can force me to use appearances otherwise than I wish.” Who then has any power over me? Philip or Alexander, or Perdiccas or the Great King? How have they this power? For if a man is going to be overpowered by a man, he must long before be overpowered by things. If, then, pleasure is not able to subdue a man, nor pain, nor fame, nor wealth, but he is able, when he chooses, to spit out all his poor body in a man’s face and depart from life, whose slave can he still be? But if he dwelt with pleasure in Athens, and was overpowered by this manner of life, his affairs would have been at every man’s command; the stronger would have had the power of grieving him. How do you think that Diogenes would have flattered the pirates that they might sell him to some Athenian, that some time he might see that beautiful Piraeus, and the Long Walls and the Acropolis? In what condition would you see them? As a captive, a slave and mean: and what would be the use of it for you? “Not so: but I should see them as a free man.” Show me, how you would be free. Observe, some person has caught you, who leads you away from your accustomed place of abode and says, “You are my slave, for it is in my power to hinder you from living as you please, it is in my power to treat you gently, and to humble you: when I choose, on the contrary you are cheerful and go elated to Athens.” What do you say to him who treats you as a slave? What means have you of finding one who will rescue you from slavery? Or cannot you even look him in the face, but without saying more do you entreat to be set free? Man, you ought to go gladly to prison, hastening, going before those who lead you there. Then, I ask you, are you unwilling to live in Rome and desire to live in Hellas? And when you must die, will you then also fill us with your lamentations, because you will not see Athens nor walk about in the Lyceion? Have you gone abroad for this? was it for this reason you have sought to find some person from whom you might receive benefit? What benefit? That you may solve syllogisms more readily, or handle hypothetical arguments? and for this reason did you leave brother, country, friends, your family, that you might return when you had learned these things? So you did not go abroad to obtain constancy of mind, nor freedom from perturbation, nor in order that, being secure from harm, you may never complain of any person, accuse no person, and no man may wrong you, and thus you may maintain your relative position without impediment? This is a fine traffic that you have gone abroad for in syllogisms and sophistical arguments and hypothetical: if you like, take your place in the agora and proclaim them for sale like dealers in physic. Will you not deny even all that you have learned that you may not bring a bad name on your theorems as useless? What harm has philosophy done you? Wherein has Chrysippus injured you that you should prove by your acts that his labours are useless? Were the evils that you had there not enough, those which were the cause of your pain and lamentation, even if you had not gone abroad? Have you added more to the list? And if you again have other acquaintances and friends, you will have more causes for lamentation; and the same also if you take an affection for another country. Why, then, do you live to surround yourself with other sorrows upon sorrows through which you are unhappy? Then, I ask you, do you call this affection? What affection, man! If it is a good thing, it is the cause of no evil: if it is bad, I have nothing to do with it. I am formed by nature for my own good: I am not formed for my own evil.
What then is the discipline for this purpose? First of all the highest and the principal, and that which stands as it were at the entrance, is this; when you are delighted with anything, be delighted as with a thing which is not one of those which cannot be taken away, but as with something of such a kind, as an earthen pot is, or a glass cup, that, when it has been broken, you may remember what it was and may not be troubled. So in this matter also: if you kiss your own child, or your brother or friend, never give full license to the appearance, and allow not your pleasure to go as far as it chooses; but check it, and curb it as those who stand behind men in their triumphs and remind them that they are mortal. Do you also remind yourself in like manner, that he whom you love is mortal, and that what you love is nothing of your own: it has been given to you for the present, not that it should not be taken from you, nor has it been given to you for all time, but as a fig is given to you or a bunch of grapes at the appointed season of the year. But if you wish for these things in winter, you are a fool. So if you wish for your son or friend when it is not allowed to you, you must know that you are wishing for a fig in winter. For such as winter is to a fig, such is every event which happens from the universe to the things which are taken away according to its nature. And further, at the times when you are delighted with a thing, place before yourself the contrary appearances. What harm is it while you are kissing your child to say with a lisping voice, “To-morrow you will die”; and to a friend also, “To-morrow you will go away or I shall, and never shall we see one another again”? “But these are words of bad omen.” And some incantations also are of bad omen; but because they are useful, I don’t care for this; only let them be useful. “But do you call things to be of bad omen except those which are significant of some evil?” Cowardice is a word of bad omen, and meanness of spirit, and sorrow, and grief and shamelessness. These words are of bad omen: and yet we ought not to hesitate to utter them in order to protect ourselves against the things. Do you tell me that a name which is significant of any natural thing is of evil omen? say that even for the ears of corn to be reaped is of bad omen, for it signifies the destruction of the ears, but not of the world. Say that the falling of the leaves also is of bad omen, and for the dried fig to take the place of the green fig, and for raisins to be made from the grapes. For all these things are changes from a former state into other states; not a destruction, but a certain fixed economy and administration. Such is going away from home and a small change: such is death, a greater change, not from the state which now is to that which is not, but to that which is not now. “Shall I then no longer exist?” You will not exist, but you be something else, of which the world now has need: for you also came into existence not when you chose, but when the world had need of you.
Wherefore the wise and good man, remembering who he is and whence he came, and by whom he was produced, is attentive only to this, how he may fill his place with due regularity and obediently to God. “Dost Thou still wish me to exist? I will continue to exist as free, as noble in nature, as Thou hast wished me to exist: for Thou hast made me free from hindrance in that which is my own. But hast Thou no further need of me? I thank Thee; and so far I have remained for Thy sake, and for the sake of no other person, and now in obedience to Thee I depart.” “How dost thou depart?” Again, I say, as Thou hast pleased, as free, as Thy servant, as one who has known Thy commands and Thy prohibitions. And so long as I shall stay in Thy service, whom dost Thou will me to be? A prince or a private man, a senator or a common person, a soldier or a general, a teacher or a master of a family? whatever place and position Thou mayest assign to me, as Socrates says, “I will die ten thousand times rather than desert them.” And where dost Thou will me to be? in Rome or Athens, or Thebes or Gyara. Only remember me there where I am. If Thou sendest me to a place where there are no means for men living according to nature, I shall not depart in disobedience to Thee, but as if Thou wast giving me the signal to retreat: I do not leave Thee, let this be to from my intention, but perceive that Thou hast no need of me. If means of living according to nature be allowed me, I will seek no other place than that in which I am, or other men than those among whom I am.
Let these thoughts be ready to hand by night and by day: these you should write, these you should read: about these you should talk to yourself, and to others. Ask a man, “Can you help me at all for this purpose?” and further, go to another and to another. Then if anything that is said he contrary to your wish, this reflection first will immediately relieve you, that it is not unexpected. For it is a great thing in all cases to say, “I knew that I begot a son who is mortal.” For so you also will say, “I knew that I am mortal, I knew that I may leave my home, I knew that I may be ejected from it, I knew that I may be led to prison.” Then if you turn round, and look to yourself, and seek the place from which comes that which has happened, you will forthwith recollect that it comes from the place of things which are out of the power of the will, and of things which are not my own. “What then is it to me?” Then, you will ask, and this is the chief thing: “And who is it that sent it?” The leader, or the general, the state, the law of the state. Give it me then, for I must always obey the law in everything. Then, when the appearance pains you, for it is not in your power to prevent this, contend against it by the aid of reason, conquer it: do not allow it to gain strength nor to lead you to the consequences by raising images such as it pleases and as it pleases. If you be in Gyara, do not imagine the mode of living at Rome, and how many pleasures there were for him who lived there and how many there would be for him who returned to Rome: but fix your mind on this matter, how a man who lives in Gyara ought to live in Gyara like a man of courage. And if you be in Rome, do not imagine what the life in Athens is, but think only of the life in Rome.
Then in the place of all other delights substitute this, that of being conscious that you are obeying God, that, not in word but in deed, you are performing the acts of a wise and good man. For what a thing it is for a man to be able to say to himself, “Now, whatever the rest may say in solemn manner in the schools and may be judged to be saying in a way contrary to common opinion, this I am doing; and they are sitting and are discoursing of my virtues and inquiring about me and praising me; and of this Zeus has willed that I shall receive from myself a demonstration, and shall myself know if He has a soldier such as He ought to have, a citizen such as He ought to have, and if He has chosen to produce me to the rest of mankind as a witness of the things which are independent of the will: ‘See that you fear without reason, that you foolishly desire what you do desire: seek not the good in things external; seek it in yourselves: if you do not, you will not find it.’ For this purpose He leads me at one time hither, at another time sends me thither, shows me to men as poor, without authority, and sick; sends me to Gyara, leads me into prison, not because He hates me, far from him be such a meaning, for who hates the best of his servants? nor yet because He cares not for me, for He does not neglect any even of the smallest things;’ but He does this for the purpose of exercising me and making use of me as a witness to others. Being appointed to such a service, do I still care about the place in which I am, or with whom I am, or what men say about me? and do I not entirely direct my thoughts to God and to His instructions and commands?”
Having these things always in hand, and exercising them by yourself, and keeping them in readiness, you will never be in want of one to comfort you and strengthen you. For it is not shameful to be without something to eat, but not to have reason sufficient for keeping away fear and sorrow. But if once you have gained exemption from sorrow and fear, will there any longer be a tyrant for you, or a tyrant’s guard, or attendants on Caesar? Or shall any appointment to offices at court cause you pain, or shall those who sacrifice in the Capitol, on the occasion of being named to certain functions, cause pain to you who have received so great authority from Zeus? Only do not make a proud display of it, nor boast of it; but show it by your acts; and if no man perceives it, be satisfied that you are yourself in a healthy state and happy.
Consider as to the things which you proposed to yourself at first, which you have secured and which you have not; and how you are pleased when you recall to memory the one and are pained about the other; and if it is possible, recover the things wherein you failed. For we must not shrink when we are engaged in the greatest combat, but we must even take blows. For the combat before us is not in wrestling and the Pancration, in which both the successful and the unsuccessful may have the greatest merit, or may have little, and in truth may be very fortunate or very unfortunate; but the combat is for good fortune and happiness themselves. Well then, even if we have renounced the contest in this matter, no man hinders us from renewing the combat again, and we are not compelled to wait for another four years that the games at Olympia may come again; but as soon as you have recovered and restored yourself, and employ the same zeal, you may renew the combat again; and if again you renounce it, you may again renew it; and if you once gain the victory, you are like him who has never renounced the combat. Only do not, through a habit of doing the same thing, begin to do it with pleasure, and then like a bad athlete go about after being conquered in all the circuit of the games like quails who have run away.
“The sight of a beautiful young girl overpowers me. Well, have I not been overpowered before? An inclination arises in me to find fault with a person; for have I not found fault with him before?” You speak to us as if you had come off free from harm, just as if a man should say to his physician who forbids him to bathe, “Have I not bathed before?” If, then, the physician can say to him, “Well, and what, then, happened to you after the bath? Had you not a fever, had you not a headache?” And when you found fault with a person lately, did you not do the act of a malignant person, of a trifling babbler; did you not cherish this habit in you by adding to it the corresponding acts? And when you were overpowered by the young girl, did you come off unharmed? Why, then, do you talk of what you did before? You ought, I think, remembering what you did, as slaves remember the blows which they have received, to abstain from the same faults. But the one case is not like the other; for in the case of slaves the pain causes the remembrance: but in the case of your faults, what is the pain, what is the punishment; for when have you been accustomed to fly from evil acts? Sufferings, then, of the trying character are useful to us, whether we choose or not.
Are you not ashamed at more cowardly and more mean than fugitive slaves? How do they when they run away leave their masters? on what estates do they depend, and what domestics do they rely on? Do they not, after stealing a little which is enough for the first days, then afterward move on through land or through sea, contriving one method after another for maintaining their lives? And what fugitive slave ever died of hunger? But you are afraid lest necessary things should fall you, and are sleepless by night. Wretch, are you so blind, and don’t you see the road to which the want of necessaries leads? “Well, where does it lead?” To the same place to which a fever leads, or a stone that falls on you, to death. Have you not often said this yourself to your companions? have you not read much of this kind, and written much? and how often have you boasted that you were easy as to death?
“Yes: but my wife and children also suffer hunger.” Well then, does their hunger lead to any other place? Is there not the same descent to some place for them also? Is not there the same state below for them? Do you not choose, then, to look to that place full of boldness against every want and deficiency, to that place to which both the richest and those who have held the highest offices, and kings themselves and tyrants must descend? or to which you will descend hungry, if it should so happen, but they burst by indigestion and drunkenness. What beggar did you hardly ever see who was not an old man, and even of extreme old age? But chilled with cold day and night, and lying on the ground, and eating only what is absolutely necessary they approach near to the impossibility of dying. Cannot you write? Cannot you teach children? Cannot you be a watchman at another person’s door? “But it is shameful to come to such necessity.” Learn, then, first what are the things which are shameful, and then tell us that you are a philosopher: but at present do not, even if any other man call you so, allow it.
Is that shameful to you which is not your own act, that of which you are not the cause, that which has come to you by accident, as a headache, as a fever? If your parents were poor, and left their property to others, and if while they live, they do not help you at all, is this shameful to you? Is this what you learned with the philosophers? Did you never hear that the thing which is shameful ought to be blamed, and that which is blamable is worthy of blame? Whom do you blame for an act which is not his own, which he did not do himself? Did you, then, make your father such as he is, or is it in your power to improve him? Is this power given to you? Well then, ought you to wish the things which are not given to you, or to be ashamed if you do not obtain them? And have you also been accustomed while you were studying philosophy to look to others and to hope for nothing from yourself? Lament then and groan and eat with fear that you may not have food to-morrow. Tremble about your poor slaves lest they steal, lest they run away, lest they die. So live, and continue to live, you who in name only have approached philosophy and have disgraced its theorems as far as you can by showing them to be useless and unprofitable to those who take them up; you who have never sought constancy, freedom from perturbation, and from passions: you who have not sought any person for the sake of this object, but many for the sake of syllogisms; you who have never thoroughly examined any of these appearances by yourself, “Am I able to bear, or am I not able to bear? What remains for me to do?” But as if all your affairs were well and secure, you have been resting on the third topic, that of things being unchanged, in order that you may possess unchanged — what? cowardice, mean spirit, the admiration of the rich, desire without attaining any end, and avoidance which fails in the attempt? About security in these things you have been anxious.
Ought you not to have gained something in addition from reason and, then, to have protected this with security? And whom did you ever see building a battlement all round and not encircling it with a wall? And what doorkeeper is placed with no door to watch? But you practice in order to be able to prove — what? You practice that you may not be tossed as on the sea through sophisms, and tossed about from what? Show me first what you hold, what you measure, or what you weigh; and show me the scales or the medimnus; or how long will you go on measuring the dust? Ought you not to demonstrate those things which make men happy, which make things go on for them in the way as they wish, and why we ought to blame no man, accuse no man, and acquiesce in the administration of the universe? Show me these. “See, I show them: I will resolve syllogisms for you.” This is the measure, slave; but it is not the thing measured. Therefore you are now paying the penalty for what you neglected, philosophy: you tremble, you lie awake, you advise with all persons; and if your deliberations are not likely to please all, you think that you have deliberated ill. Then you fear hunger, as you suppose: but it is not hunger that you fear, but you are afraid that you will not have a cook, that you will not have another to purchase provisions for the table, a third to take off your shoes, a fourth to dress you, others to rub you, and to follow you, in order that in the bath, when you have taken off your clothes and stretched yourself out like those who are crucified you may be rubied on this side and on that, and then the aliptes may say, “Change his position, present the side, take hold of his head, show the shoulder”; and then when you have left the bath and gone home, you may call out, “Does no one bring something to eat?” And then, “Take away the tables, sponge them”: you are afraid of this, that you may not be able to lead the life of a sick man. But learn the life of those who are in health, how slaves live, how labourers, how those live who are genuine philosophers; how Socrates lived, who had a wife and children; how Diogenes lived, and how Cleanthes, who attended to the school and drew water. If you choose to have these things, you will have them everywhere, and you will live in full confidence. Confiding in what? In that alone in which a man can confide, in that which is secure, in that which is not subject to hindrance, in that which cannot be taken away, that is, in your own will. And why have you made yourself so useless and good for nothing that no man will choose to receive you into his house, no man to take care of you? but if a utensil entire and useful were cast abroad, every man who found it would take it up and think it a gain; but no man will take you up, and every man will consider you a loss. So cannot you discharge the office of a dog, or of a cock? Why then do you choose to live any longer, when you are what you are?
Does any good man fear that he shall fall to have food? To the blind it does not fall, to the lame it does not: shall it fall to a good man? And to a good soldier there does not fail to one who gives him pay, nor to a labourer, nor to a shoemaker: and to the good man shall there be wanting such a person? Does God thus neglect the things that He has established, His ministers, His witnesses, whom alone He employs as examples to the uninstructed, both that He exists, and administers well the whole, and does not neglect human affairs, and that to a good man there is no evil either when he is living or when he is dead? What, then, when He does not supply him with food? What else does He do than like a good general He has given me the signal to retreat? I obey, I follow, assenting to the words of the Commander, praising, His acts: for I came when it pleased Him, and I will also go away when it pleases Him; and while I lived, it was my duty to praise God both by myself, and to each person severally and to many. He does not supply me with many things, nor with abundance, He does not will me to live luxuriously; for neither did He supply Hercules who was his own son; but another was king of Argos and Mycenae, and Hercules obeyed orders, and laboured, and was exercised. And Eurystheus was what he was, neither kin, of Argos nor of Mycenae, for he was not even king of himself; but Hercules was ruler and leader of the whole earth and sea, who purged away lawlessness, and introduced justice and holiness; and he did these things both naked and alone. And when Ulysses was cast out shipwrecked, did want humiliate him, did it break his spirit? but how did he go off to the virgins to ask for necessaries, to beg which is considered most shameful?
As a lion bred in the mountains trusting in his strength.
Relying on what? Not on reputation nor on wealth nor on the power of a magistrate, but on his own strength, that is, on his opinions about the things which are in our power and those which, are not. For these are the only things which make men free, which make them escape from hindrance, which raise the head of those who are depressed, which make them look with steady eyes on the rich and on tyrants. And this was the gift given to the philosopher. But you will not come forth bold, but trembling about your trifling garments and silver vessels. Unhappy man, have you thus wasted your time till now?
“What, then, if I shall be sick?” You will be sick in such a way as you ought to be. “Who will take care of me?” God; your friends. “I shall lie down on a hard bed.” But you will lie down like a man. “I shall not have a convenient chamber.” You will be sick in an inconvenient chamber. “Who will provide for me the necessary food?” Those who provide for others also. You will be sick like Manes. “And what, also, will be the end of the sickness? Any other than death?” Do you then consider that this the chief of all evils to man and the chief mark of mean spirit and of cowardice is not death, but rather the fear of death? Against this fear then I advise you to exercise yourself: to this let all your reasoning tend, your exercises, and reading; and you will know that thus only are men made free.
Last updated Monday, December 22, 2014 at 10:50