He is free who lives as he wishes to live; who is neither subject to compulsion nor to hindrance, nor to force; whose movements to action are not impeded, whose desires attain their purpose, and who does not fall into that which he would avoid. Who, then, chooses to live in error? No man. Who chooses to live deceived, liable to mistake, unjust, unrestrained, discontented, mean? No man. Not one then of the bad lives as he wishes; nor is he, then, free. And who chooses to live in sorrow, fear, envy, pity, desiring and failing in his desires, attempting to avoid something and falling into it? Not one. Do we then find any of the bad free from sorrow, free from fear, who does not fall into that which he would avoid, and does not obtain that which he wishes? Not one; nor then do we find any bad man free.
If, then, a man who has been twice consul should hear this, if you add, “But you are a wise man; this is nothing to you”: he will pardon you. But if you tell him the truth, and say, “You differ not at all from those who have been thrice sold as to being yourself not a slave,” what else ought you to expect than blows? For he says, “What, I a slave, I whose father was free, whose mother was free, I whom no man can purchase: I am also of senatorial rank, and a friend of Caesar, and I have been a consul, and I own many slaves.” In the first place, most excellent senatorial man, perhaps your father also was a slave in the same kind of servitude, and your mother, and your grandfather and all your ancestors in an ascending series. But even if they were as free as it is possible, what is this to you? What if they were of a noble nature, and you of a mean nature; if they were fearless, and you a coward; if they had the power of self-restraint, and you are not able to exercise it.
“And what,” you may say, “has this to do with being a slave?” Does it seem to you to be nothing to do a thing unwillingly, with compulsion, with groans, has this nothing to do with being a slave? “It is something,” you say: “but who is able to compel me, except the lord of all, Caesar?” Then even you yourself have admitted that you have one master. But that he is the common master of all, as you say, let not this console you at all: but know that you are a slave in a great family. So also the people of Nicopolis are used to exclaim, “By the fortune of Caesar, are free.”
However, if you please, let us not speak of Caesar at present. But tell me this: did you never love any person, a young girl, or slave, or free? What then is this with respect to being a slave or free? Were you never commanded by the person beloved to do something which you did not wish to do? have you never flattered your little slave? have you never kissed her feet? And yet if any man compelled you to kiss Caesar’s feet, you would think it an insult and excessive tyranny. What else, then, is slavery? Did you never go out by night to some place whither you did not wish to go, did you not expend what you did not wish to expend, did you not utter words with sighs and groans, did you not submit to abuse and to be excluded? But if you are ashamed to confess your own acts, see what Thrasonides says and does, who having seen so much military service as perhaps not even you have, first of all went out by night, when Geta does not venture out, but if he were compelled by his master, would have cried out much and would have gone out lamenting his bitter slavery. Next, what does Thrasonides say? “A worthless girl has enslaved me, me whom no enemy, ever did.” Unhappy man, who are the slave even of a girl, and a worthless girl. Why then do you still call yourself free? and why do you talk of your service in the army? Then he calls for a sword and is angry with him who out of kindness refuses it; and he sends presents to her who hates him, and entreats and weeps, and on the other hand, having had a little success, he is elated. But even then how? was he free enough neither to desire nor to fear?
Now consider in the case of animals, how we employ the notion of liberty. Men keep tame lions shut up, and feed them, and some take them about; and who will say that this lion is free? Is it not the fact that the more he lives at his ease, so much the more he is in a slavish condition? and who if he had perception and reason would wish to be one of these lions? Well, these birds when they are caught and are kept shut up, how much do they suffer in their attempts to escape? and some of them die of hunger rather than submit to such a kind of life. And as many of them as live, hardly live and with suffering pine away; and if they ever find any opening, they make their escape. So much do they desire their natural liberty, and to be independent and free from hindrance. And what harm is there to you in this? “What do you say? I am formed by nature to fly where I choose, to live in the open air, to sing when I choose: you deprive me of all this, and say, ‘What harm is it to you?’ For this reason we shall say that those animals only are free which cannot endure capture, but, as soon as they are caught, escape from captivity by death. So Diogenes says that there is one way to freedom, and that is to die content: and he writes to the Persian king, “You cannot enslave the Athenian state any more than you can enslave fishes.” “How is that? cannot I catch them?” “If you catch them,” says Diogenes, “they will immediately leave you, as fishes do; for if you catch a fish, it dies; and if these men that are caught shall die, of what use to you is the preparation for war?” These are the words of a free man who had carefully examined the thing and, as was natural, had discovered it. But if you look for it in a different place from where it is, what wonder if you never find it?
The slave wishes to be set free immediately. Why? Do you think that he wishes to pay money to the collectors of twentieths? No; but because he imagines that hitherto through not having obtained this, he is hindered and unfortunate. “If I shall be set free, immediately it is all happiness, I care for no man, I speak to all as an equal and, like to them, I go where I choose, I come from any place I choose, and go where I choose.” Then he is set free; and forthwith having no place where he can eat, he looks for some man to flatter, some one with whom he shall sup: then he either works with his body and endures the most dreadful things; and if he can obtain a manger, he falls into a slavery much worse than his former slavery; or even if he is become rich, being a man without any knowledge of what is good, he loves some little girl, and in his happiness laments and desires to be a slave again. He says, “what evil did I suffer in my state of slavery? Another clothed me, another supplied me with shoes, another fed me, another looked after me in sickness; and I did only a few services for him. But now a wretched man, what things I suffer, being a slave of many instead of to one. But however,” he says, “if I shall acquire rings, then I shall live most prosperously and happily.” First, in order to acquire these rings, he submits to that which he is worthy of; then, when he has acquired them, it is again all the same. Then he says, “if I shall be engaged in military service, I am free from all evils.” He obtains military service. He suffers as much as a flogged slave, and nevertheless he asks for a second service and a third. After this, when he has put the finishing stroke to his career and is become a senator, then he becomes a slave by entering into the assembly, then he serves the finer and most splendid slavery — not to be a fool, but to learn what Socrates taught, what is the nature of each thing that exists, and that a man should not rashly adapt preconceptions to the several things which are. For this is the cause to men of all their evils, the not being able to adapt the general preconceptions to the several things. But we have different opinions. One man thinks that he is sick: not so however, but the fact is that he does not adapt his preconceptions right. Another thinks that he is poor; another that he has a severe father or mother; and another, again, that Caesar is not favourable to him. But all this is one and only one thing, the not knowing how to adapt the preconceptions. For who has not a preconception of that which is bad, that it is hurtful, that it ought to be avoided, that it ought in every way to be guarded against? One preconception is not repugnant to another, only where it comes to the matter of adaptation. What then is this evil, which is both hurtful, and a thing to be avoided? He answers, “Not to be Caesar’s friend.” He is gone far from the mark, he has missed the adaptation, he is embarrassed, he seeks the things which are not at all pertinent to the matter; for when he has succeeded in being Caesar’s friend, nevertheless he has failed in finding what he sought. For what is that which every man seeks? To live secure, to be happy, to do everything as he wishes, not to be hindered, nor compelled. When then he is become the friend of Caesar, is he free from hindrance? free from compulsion, is he tranquil, is he happy? Of whom shall we inquire? What more trustworthy witness have we than this very man who is, become Caesar’s friend? Come forward and tell us when did you sleep more quietly, now or before you became Caesar’s friend? Immediately you hear the answer, “Stop, I entreat you, and do not mock me: you know not what miseries I suffer, and sleep does not come to me; but one comes and says, ‘Caesar is already awake, he is now going forth’: then come troubles and cares.” Well, when did you sup with more pleasure, now or before? Hear what he says about this also. He says that if he is not invited, he is pained: and if he is invited, he sups like a slave with his master, all the while being anxious that he does not say or do anything foolish. And what do you suppose that he is afraid of; lest he should be lashed like a slave? How can he expect anything so good? No, but as befits so great a man, Caesar’s friend, he is afraid that he may lose his head. And when did you bathe more free from trouble, and take your gymnastic exercise more quietly? In fine, which kind of life did you prefer? your present or your former life? I can swear that no man is so stupid or so ignorant of truth as not to bewail his own misfortunes the nearer he is in friendship to Caesar.
Since, then, neither those who are called kings live as they choose, nor the friends of kings, who finally are those who are free? Seek, and you will find; for you have aids from nature for the discovery of truth. But if you are not able yourself by going along these ways only to discover that which follows, listen to those who have made the inquiry. What do they say? Does freedom seem to you a good thing? “The greatest good.” Is it possible, then, that he who obtains the greatest good can be unhappy or fare badly? “No.” Whomsoever, then, you shall see unhappy, unfortunate, lamenting, confidently declare that they are not free. “I do declare it.” We have now, then, got away from buying and selling and from such arrangements about matters of property; for if you have rightly assented to these matters, if the Great King is unhappy, he cannot be free, nor can a little king, nor a man of consular rank, nor one who has been twice consul. “Be it so.”
Further, then, answer me this question also: Does freedom seem to you to be something great and noble and valuable? “How should it not seem so?” Is it possible, then, when a man obtains anything, so great and valuable and noble to be mean? “It is not possible.” When, then, you see any man subject to another, or flattering him contrary to his own opinion, confidently affirm that this man also is not free; and not only if he do this for a bit of supper, but also if he does it for a government or a consulship: and call these men “little slaves” who for the sake of little matters do these things, and those who do so for the sake of great things call “great slaves,” as they deserve to be. “This is admitted also.” Do you think that freedom is a thing independent and self-governing? “Certainly.” Whomsoever, then, it is in the power of another to hinder and compel, declare that he is not free. And do not look, I entreat you, after his grandfathers and great-grandfathers, or inquire about his being bought or sold; but if you hear him saying from his heart and with feeling, “Master,” even if the twelve fasces precede him, call him a slave. And if you hear him say, “Wretch that I am, how much I suffer,” call him a slave. If, finally, you see him lamenting, complaining, unhappy, call him a slave though he wears a praetexta. If, then, he is doing nothing of this kind, do not yet say that he is free, but learn his opinions, whether they are subject to compulsion, or may produce hindrance, or to bad fortune; and if you find him such, call him a slave who has a holiday in the Saturnalia: say that his master is from home: he will return soon, and you will know what he suffers. “Who will return?” Whoever has in himself the power over anything which is desired by the man, either to give it to him or to take it away? “Thus, then, have we many masters?” We have: for we have circumstances as masters prior to our present masters; and these circumstances are many. Therefore it must of necessity be that those who have the power over any of these circumstances must be our masters. For no man fears Caesar himself, but he fears death, banishment, deprivation of his property, prison, and disgrace. Nor does any man love Caesar, unless Caesar is a person of great merit, but he loves wealth, the office of tribune, praetor or consul. When we love, and hate, and fear these things, it must be that those who have the power over them must be our masters. Therefore we adore them even as gods; for we think that what possesses the power of conferring the greatest advantage on us is divine. Then we wrongly assume that a certain person has the power of conferring the greatest advantages; therefore he is something divine. For if we wrongly assume that a certain person has the power of conferring the greatest advantages, it is a necessary consequence that the conclusion from these premises must be false.
What, then, is that which makes a man free from hindrance and makes him his own master? For wealth does not do it, nor consulship, nor provincial government, nor royal power; but something else must be discovered. What then is that which, when we write, makes us free from hindrance and unimpeded? “The knowledge of the art of writing.” What, then, is it in playing the lute? “The science of playing the lute.” Therefore in life also it is the science of life. You have, then, heard in a general way: but examine the thing also in the several parts. Is it possible that he who desires any of the things which depend on others can be free from hindrance? “No.” Is it possible for him to be unimpeded? “No.” Therefore he cannot be free. Consider then: whether we have nothing which is in our own power only, or whether we have all things, or whether some things are in our own power, and others in the power of others. “What do you mean?” When you wish the body to be entire, is it in your power or not? “It is not in my power.” When you wish it to be healthy? “Neither is this in my power.” When you wish it to be handsome? “Nor is this.” Life or death? “Neither is this in my power.” Your body, then, is another’s, subject to every man who is stronger than yourself? “It is.” But your estate, is it in your power to have it when you please, and as long as you please, and such as you please? “No.” And your slaves? “No.” And your clothes? “No.” And your house? “No.” And your horses? “Not one of these things.” And if you wish by all means your children to live, or your wife, or your brother, or your friends, is it in your power? “This also is not in my power.”
Whether, then, have you nothing which is in your own power, which depends on yourself only and cannot be taken from you, or have you anything of the kind? “I know not.” Look at the thing, then, thus, examine it. Is any man able to make you assent to that which is false? “No man.” In the matter of assent, then, you are free from hindrance and obstruction. “Granted.” Well; and can a man force you to desire to move toward that to which you do not choose? “He can, for when he threatens me with death or bonds, he compels me to desire to move toward it.” If, then, you despise death and bonds, do you still pay any regard to him? “No.” Is, then, the despising of death an act of your own, or is it not yours? “It is my act.” It is your own act, then, also to desire to move toward a thing: or is it not so? “It is my own act.” But to desire to move away from a thing, whose act is that? This also is your act. “What, then, if I have attempted to walk, suppose another should hinder me.” What part of you does he hinder? does he hinder the faculty of assent? “No: but my poor body.” Yes, as he would do with a stone. “Granted; but I no longer walk.” And who told you that walking is your act free from hindrance? for I said that this only was free from hindrance, to desire to move: but where there is need of body and its co-operation, you have heard long ago that nothing is your own. “Granted also.” And who can compel you to desire what you do not wish? “No man.” And to propose, or intend, or in short to make use of the appearances which present themselves, can any man compel you? “He cannot do this: but he will hinder me when I desire from obtaining what I desire.” If you desire anything which is your own, and one of the things which cannot be hindered, how will he hinder you? “He cannot in any way.” Who, then, tells you that he who desires the things that belong to another is free from hindrance?
“Must I, then, not desire health?” By no means, nor anything else that belongs to another: for what is not in your power to acquire or to keep when you please, this belongs to another. Keep, then, far from it not only your hands but, more than that, even your desires. If you do not, you have surrendered yourself as a slave; you have subjected your neck, if you admire anything not your own, to everything that is dependent on the power of others and perishable, to which you have conceived a liking. “Is not my hand my own?” It is a part of your own body; but it is by nature earth, subject to hindrance, compulsion, and the slave of everything which is stronger. And why do I say your hand? You ought to possess your whole body as a poor ass loaded, as long as it is possible, as long as you are allowed. But if there be a press, and a soldier should lay hold of it, let it go, do not resist, nor murmur; if you do, you will receive blows, and nevertheless you will also lose the ass. But when you ought to feel thus with respect to the body, consider what remains to be done about all the rest, which is provided for the sake of the body. When the body is an ass, all the other things are bits belonging to the ass, pack-saddles, shoes, barley, fodder. Let these also go: get rid of them quicker and more readily than of the ass.
When you have made this preparation, and have practiced this discipline, to distinguish that which belongs to another from that which is your own, the things which are subject to hindrance from those which are not, to consider the things free from hindrance to concern yourself, and those which are not free not to concern yourself, to keep your desire steadily fixed to the things which do concern yourself, and turned from the things which do not concern yourself; do you still fear any man? “No one.” For about what will you be afraid? about the things which are your own, in which consists the nature of good and evil? and who has power over these things? who can take them away? who can impede them? No man can, no more than he can impede God. But will you be afraid about your body and your possessions, about things which are not yours, about things which in no way concern you? and what else have you been studying from the beginning than to distinguish between your own and not your own, the things which are in your power and not in your power, the things subject to hindrance and not subject? and why have you come to the philosophers? was it that you may nevertheless be unfortunate and unhappy? You will then in this way, as I have supposed you to have done, be without fear and disturbance. And what is grief to you? for fear comes from what you expect, but grief from that which is present. But what further will you desire? For of the things which are within the power of the will, as being good and present, you have a proper and regulated desire: but of the things which are not in the power of the will you do not desire any one, and so you do not allow any place to that which is irrational, and impatient, and above measure hasty.
When, then, you are thus affected toward things, what man can any longer be formidable to you? For what has a man which is formidable to another, either when you see him or speak to him or, finally, are conversant with him? Not more than one horse has with respect to another, or one dog to another, or one bee to another bee. Things, indeed, are formidable to every man; and when any man is able to confer these things on another or to take them away, then he too becomes formidable. How then is an acropolis demolished? Not by the sword, not by fire, but by opinion. For if we abolish the acropolis which is in the city, can we abolish also that of fever, and that of beautiful women? Can we, in a word, abolish the acropolis which is in us and cast out the tyrants within us, whom we have dally over us, sometimes the same tyrants, at other times different tyrants? But with this we must begin, and with this we must demolish the acropolis and eject the tyrants, by giving up the body, the parts of it, the faculties of it, the possessions, the reputation, magisterial offices, honours, children, brothers, friends, by considering all these things as belonging to others. And if tyrants have been ejected from us, why do I still shut in the acropolis by a wall of circumvallation, at least on my account; for if it still stands, what does it do to me? why do I still eject guards? For where do I perceive them? against others they have their fasces, and their spears, and their swords. But I have never been hindered in my will, nor compelled when I did not will. And how is this possible? I have placed my movements toward action in obedience to God. Is it His will that I shall have fever? It is my will also. Is it His will that I should move toward anything? It is my will also. Is it His will that I should obtain anything? It is my wish also. Does He not will? I do not wish. Is it His will that I be put to the rack? It is my will then to die; it is my will then to be put to the rack. Who, then, is still able to hinder me contrary to my own judgement, or to compel me? No more than he can hinder or compel Zeus.
Thus the more cautious of travelers also act. A traveler has heard that the road is infested by robbers; he does not venture to enter on it alone, but he waits for the companionship on the road either of an ambassador, or of a quaestor, or of a proconsul, and when he has attached himself to such persons he goes along the road safely. So in the world the wise man acts. There are many companies of robbers, tyrants, storms, difficulties, losses of that which is dearest. “Where is there any place of refuge? how shall he pass along without being attacked by robbers? what company shall he wait for that he may pass along in safety? to whom shall he attach himself? To what person generally? to the rich man, to the man of consular rank? and what is the use of that to me? Such a man is stripped himself, groans and laments. But what if the fellow-companion himself turns against me and becomes my robber, what shall I do? I will be ‘a friend of Caesar’: when I am Caesar’s companion no man will wrong me. In the first place, that I may become illustrious, what things must I endure and suffer? how often and by how many must I he robbed? Then, if I become Caesar’s friend, he also is mortal. And if Caesar from any circumstance becomes my enemy, where is it best for me to retire? Into a desert? Well, does fever not come there? What shall be done then? Is it not possible to find a safe fellow traveler, a faithful one, strong, secure against all surprises?” Thus he considers and perceives that if he attaches himself to God, he will make his journey in safety.
“How do you understand ‘attaching yourself to God’?” In this sense, that whatever God wills, a man also shall will; and what God does not will, a man shall not will. How, then, shall this he done? In what other way than by examining the movements of God and his administration What has He given to me as my own and in my own power? what has He reserved to Himself? He has given to me the things which are in the power of the will: He has put them in my power free from impediment and hindrance. How was He able to make the earthly body free from hindrance? And accordingly He has subjected to the revolution of the whole, possessions, household things, house, children, wife. Why, then, do I fight against God? why do I will what does not depend on the will? why do I will to have absolutely what is not granted to ma? But how ought I to will to have things? In the way in which they are given and as long as they are given. But He who has given takes away. Why then do I resist? I do not say that I shall be fool if I use force to one who is stronger, but I shall first be unjust. For whence had I things when I came into the world? My father gave them to me. And who gave them to him? and who made the sun? and who made the fruits of the earth? and who the seasons? and who made the connection of men with one another and their fellowship?
Then after receiving everything from another and even yourself, are you angry and do you blame the Giver if he takes anything from you? Who are you, and for what purpose did you come into the world? Did not He introduce you here, did He not show you the light, did he not give you fellow-workers, and perception, and reason? and as whom did He introduce you here? did He not introduce you as a subject to death, and as one to live on the earth with a little flesh, and to observe His administration, and to join with Him in the spectacle and the festival for a short time? Will you not, then, as long as you have been permitted, after seeing the spectacle and the solemnity, when he leads you out, go with adoration of Him and thanks for what you have seen, and heard? “No; but I would, still enjoy the feast.” The initiated, too, would wish to be longer in the initiation: and perhaps also those, at Olympia to see other athletes; but the solemnity is ended: go away like a grateful and modest man; make room for others: others also must be born, as you were, and being born they must have a place, and houses and necessary things. And if the first do not retire, what remains? Why ire you insatiable? Why are you not content? why do you contract the world? “Yes, but I would have my little children with me and my wife.” What, are they yours? do they not belong to the Giver, and to Him who made you? then will you not give up what belongs to others? will you not give way to Him who is superior? “Why, then, did He introduce me into the world on these conditions,” And if the conditions do not suit you depart. He has no need of a spectator who is not satisfied. He wants those who join in the festival, those who take part in the chorus, that they may rather applaud, admire, and celebrate with hymns the solemnity. But those who can bear no trouble, and the cowardly He will not willingly see absent from the great assembly; for they did not when they were present behave as they ought to do at a festival nor fill up their place properly, but they lamented, found fault with the deity, fortune, their companions; not seeing both what they had. and their own powers, which they received for contrary purposes, the powers of magnanimity, of a generous mind, manly spirit, and what we are now inquiring about, freedom. “For what purpose, then, have I received these things? To use them. “How long;” So long as He who his lent them chooses. “What if they are necessary to me?” Do not attach yourself to them and they will not be necessary: do not say to yourself that they are necessary, and then they are not necessary.
This study you ought to practice from morning to evening, beginning, with the smallest things and those most liable to damage, with an earthen pot, with a cup. Then proceed in this way to a tunic to a little dog, to a horse, to a small estate in land: then to yourself, to your body, to the parts of your body, to your brothers. Look all round and throw these things from you. Purge your opinions so that nothing cleave to you of the things which are not your own, that nothing grow to you, that nothing give you pain when it is torn from you; and say, while you are daily exercising yourself as you do there, not that you are philosophizing, for this is an arrogant expression, but that you are presenting an asserter of freedom: for this is really freedom. To this freedom Diogenes was called by Antisthenes, and he said that he could no longer be enslaved by any man. For this reason when he was taken prisoner, how did he behave to the pirates? Did he call any of them master? and I do not speak of the name, for I am not afraid of the word, but of the state of mind by which the word is produced. How did he reprove them for feeding badly their captives? How was he sold? Did he seek a master? no; but a slave, And, when he was sold, how did he behave to his master? Immediately he disputed with him and said to his master that he ought not to be dressed as he was, nor shaved in such a manner; and about the children he told them how he ought to bring them up. And what was strange in this? for if his master had bought an exercise master, would he have employed him in the exercises of the palaestra as a servant or as a master? and so if he had bought a physician or an architect. And so, in every matter, it is absolutely necessary that he who has skill must be the superior of him who has not. Whoever, then, generally possesses the science of life, what else must he be than master? For who is master of a ship? “The man who governs the helm.” Why? Because he who will not obey him suffers for it. “But a master can give me stripes.” Can he do it, then, without suffering for it?’ “So I also used to think.” But because he can not do it without suffering for it, for this reason it is not in his power: and no man can do what is unjust without suffering for it. “And what is the penalty for him who puts his own slave in chains, what do you think that is?” The fact of putting the slave in chains: and you also will admit this, if you choose to maintain the truth, that man is not a wild beast, but a tame animal. For when is a a vine doing badly? When it is in a condition contrary to its nature. When is a cock? Just the same. Therefore a man also is so. What then is a man’s nature? To bite, to kick, and to throw into prison and to behead? No; but to do good, to co-operate with others, to wish them well. At that time, then, he is in a bad condition, whether you choose to admit it or not, when he is acting foolishly.
“Socrates, then, did not fare badly?” No; but his judges aid his accusers did. “Nor did Helvidius at Rome fare badly?” No; but his murderer did. “How do you mean?” The same as you do when you say that a cock has not fared badly when he has gained the victory and been severely wounded; but that the cock has fared badly when he has been defeated and is unhurt: nor do you call a dog fortunate who neither pursues game nor labors, but when you see him sweating, when you see him in pain and panting violently after running. What paradox do we utter if we say that the evil in everything’s that which is contrary to the nature of the thing? Is that a paradox? for do you not say this in the case of all other things? Why then in the case of man only do you think differently, But because we say that the nature of man is tame and social and faithful, you will not say that this is a paradox? “It is not.” What then is it a paradox to say that a man is not hurt when he is whipped, or put in chains, or beheaded? does he not, if he suffers nobly, come off even with increased advantage and profit? But is he not hurt, who suffers in a most pitiful and disgraceful way, who in place of a man becomes a wolf, or viper or wasp?
Well then let us recapitulate the things which have been agreed on. The man who is not under restraint is free, to whom things are exactly in that state in which he wishes them to be; but he who can be restrained or compelled or hindered, or thrown into any circumstances against his will, is a slave. But who is free from restraint? He who desires nothing that belongs to others. And what are the things which belong to others? Those which are not in our power either to have or not to have, or to have of a certain kind or in a certain manner. Therefore the body belongs to another, the parts of the body belong to another, possession belongs to another. If, then, you are attached to any of these things as your own, you will pay the penalty which it is proper for him to pay who desires what belongs to another. This road leads to freedom, that is the only way of escaping from slavery, to be able to say at last with all your soul
Lead me, O Zeus, and thou O destiny,
The way that I am bid by you to go.
But what do you say, philosopher? The tyrant summons you to say something which does not become you. Do you say it or do you not? Answer me. “Let me consider.” Will you consider now? But when you were in the school, what was it which you used to consider? Did you not study what are the things that are good and what are bad, and what things are neither one nor the other? “I did.” What then was our opinion? “That just and honourable acts were good; and that unjust and disgraceful acts were bad.” Is life a good thing? “No.” Is death a bad thing? “No.” Is prison? “No.” But what did we think about mean and faithless words and betrayal of a friend and flattery of a tyrant? “That they are bad.” Well then, you are not considering, nor have you considered nor deliberated. For what is the matter for consideration: is it whether it is becoming for me, when I have it in my power, to secure for myself the greatest of good things, and not to secure for myself the greatest evils? A fine inquiry indeed, and necessary, and one that demands much deliberation. Man, why do you mock us? Such an inquiry is never made. If you really imagined that base things were bad and honourable things were good, and that all other things were neither good nor bad, you would not even have approached this inquiry, nor have come near it; but immediately you would have been able to distinguish them by the understanding as you would do by the vision. For when do you inquire if black things are white, if heavy things are light, and do not comprehend the manifest evidence of the senses? How, then, do you now say that you are considering whether things which are neither good nor bad ought to be avoided more than things which are bad? But you do not possess these opinions; and neither do these things seem to you to he neither good nor bad, but you think that they are the greatest evils; nor do you think those other things to be evils, but matters which do not concern us at all. For thus from the beginning you have accustomed yourself. “Where am I? In the schools: and are any listening to me? I am discoursing among philosophers. But I have gone out of the school. Away with this talk of scholars and fools.” Thus a friend is overpowered by the testimony of a philosopher: thus a philosopher becomes a parasite; thus he lets himself for hire for money: thus in the senate a man does not say what he thinks; in private he proclaims his opinions. You are a cold and miserable little opinion, suspended from idle words as from a hair. But keep yourself strong and fit for the uses of life and initiated by being exercised in action. How do you hear? I do not say that your child is dead — for how could you bear that? — but that your oil is spilled, your wine drunk up. Do you act in such a way that one standing by you while you are making a great noise, may say this only, “Philosopher, you say something different in the school. Why do you deceive us? Why, when you are only a worm, do you say that you are a man?” I should like to be present when one of the philosophers is lying with a woman, that I might see how he is exerting himself, and what words he is uttering, and whether he remembers his title of philosopher, and the words which he hears or says or reads.
“And what is this to liberty?” Nothing else than this, whether you who are rich choose or not. “And who is your evidence for this?” who else than yourselves? who have a powerful master, and who live in obedience to his nod and motion, and who faint if he only looks at you with a scowling countenance; you who court old women and old men, and say, “I cannot do this: it is not in my power.” Why is it not in your power? Did you not lately contend with me and say that you are free “But Aprulla has hindered me.” Tell the truth, then, slave, and do not run away from your masters, nor deny, nor venture to produce any one to assert your freedom, when you have so many evidences of your slavery. And indeed when a man is compelled by love to do something contrary to his opinion, and at the same time sees the better but has not the strength to follow it, one might consider him still more worthy of excuse as being held by a certain violent and, in a manner, a divine power. But who could endure you who are in love with old women and old men, and wipe the old women’s noses, and wash them and give them presents, and also wait on them like a slave when they are sick, and at the same time wish them dead, and question the physicians whether they are sick unto death? And again, when in order to obtain these great and much admired magistracies and honours, you kiss the hands of these slaves of others, and so you are not the slave even of free men. Then you walk about before me in stately fashion, praetor or a consul. Do I not know how you became a praetor, by what means you got your consulship, who gave it to you? I would not even choose to live, if I must live by help of Felicion and endure his arrogance and servile insolence: for I know what a slave is, who is fortunate, as he thinks, and puffed up by pride.
“You then,” a man may say, “are you free?” I wish, by the Gods, and pray to be free; but I am not yet able to face my masters, I still value my poor body, I value greatly the preservation of it entire, though I do not possess it entire. But I can point out to you a free man, that you may no longer seek an example. Diogenes was free. How was he free? — not because he was born of free parents, but because he was himself free, because he had cast off all the handles of slavery, and it was not possible for any man to approach him, nor had any man the means of laying hold of him to enslave him. He had everything easily loosed, everything only hanging to him. If you laid hold of his property, he would rather have let it go and be yours than he would have followed you for it: if you had laid hold of his leg, he would have let go his leg; if of all his body, all his poor body; his intimates, friends, country, just the same. For he knew from whence he had them, and from whom, and on what conditions. His true parents indeed, the Gods, and his real country he would never have deserted, nor would he have yielded to any man in obedience to them or to their orders, nor would any man have died for his country more readily. For he was not used to inquire when he should be considered to have done anything on behalf of the whole of things, but he remembered that everything which is done comes from thence and is done on behalf of that country and is commanded by him who administers it. Therefore see what Diogenes himself says and writes: “For this reason,” he says, “Diogenes, it is in your power to speak both with the King of the Persians and with Archidamus the king of the Lacedaemonians, as you please.” Was it because he was born of free parents? I suppose all the Athenians and all the Lacedaemonians, because they were born of slaves, could not talk with them as they wished, but feared and paid court to them. Why then does he say that it is in his power? “Because I do not consider the poor body to be my own, because I want nothing, because law is everything to me, and nothing else is.” These were the things which permitted him to be free.
And that you may not think that I show you the example of a man who is a solitary person, who has neither wife nor children, nor country, nor friends nor kinsmen, by whom he could be bent and drawn in various directions, take Socrates and observe that he had a wife and children, but he did not consider them as his own; that he had a country, so long as it was fit to have one, and in such a manner as was fit; friends and kinsmen also, but he held all in subjection to law and to the obedience due to it. For this reason he was the first to go out as a soldier, when it was necessary; and in war he exposed himself to danger most unsparingly, and when he was sent by the tyrants to seize Leon, he did not even deliberate about the matter, because he thought that it was a base action, and he knew that he must die, if it so happened. And what difference did that make to him? for he intended to preserve something else, not his poor flesh, but his fidelity, his honourable character. These are things which could not be assailed nor brought into subjection. Then, when he was obliged to speak in defense of his life, did he behave like a man who had children, who had a wife? No, but he behaved like a man who has neither. And what did he do when he was to drink the poison, and when he had the power of escaping from prison, and when Crito said to him, “Escape for the sake of your children,” what did Socrates say? Did he consider the power of escape as an unexpected gain? By no means: he considered what was fit and proper; but the rest he did not even look at or take into the reckoning. For he did not choose, he said, to save his poor body, but to save that which is increased and saved by doing what is just, and is impaired and destroyed by doing what is unjust. Socrates will not save his life by a base act; he who would not put the Athenians to the vote when they clamoured that he should do so, he who refused to obey the tyrants, he who discoursed in such a manner about virtue and right behavior. It is not possible to save such a man’s life by base acts, but he is saved by dying, not by running away. For the good actor also preserves his character by stopping when he ought to stop, better than when he goes on acting beyond the proper time. What then shall the children of Socrates do? “If,” said Socrates, “I had gone off to Thessaly, would you have taken care of them; and if I depart to the world below, will there be no man to take care of them?” See how he gives to death a gentle name and mocks it. But if you and I had been in his place, we should have immediately answered as philosophers that those who act unjustly must be repaid in the same way, and we should have added, “I shall be useful to many, if my life is saved, and if I die, I shall be useful to no man.” For, if it had been necessary, we should have made our escape by slipping through a small hole. And how in that case should we have been useful to any man? for where would they have been then staying? or if we were useful to men while we were alive, should we not have been much more useful to them by dying when we ought to die, and as we ought? And now, Socrates being dead, no less useful to men, and even more useful, is the remembrance of that which he did or said when he was alive.
Think of these things, these opinions, these words: look to these examples, if you would be free, if you desire the thing according to its worth. And what is the wonder if you buy so great a thing at the price of things so many and so great? For the sake of this which is called “liberty,” some hang themselves, others throw themselves down precipices, and sometimes even whole cities have perished: and will you not for the sake of the true and unassailable and secure liberty give back to God when He demands them the things which He has given? Will you not, as Plato says, study not to die only, but also to endure torture, and exile, and scourging, and, in a word, to give up all which is not your own? If you will not, you will be a slave among slaves, even you be ten thousand times a consul; and if you make your way up to the Palace, you will no less be a slave; and you will feel, that perhaps philosophers utter words which are contrary to common opinion, as Cleanthes also said, but not words contrary to reason. For you will know by experience that the words are true, and that there is no profit from the things which are valued and eagerly sought to those who have obtained them; and to those who have not yet obtained them there is an imagination that when these things are come, all that is good will come with them; then, when they are come, the feverish feeling is the same, the tossing to and fro is the same, the satiety, the desire of things which are not present; for freedom is acquired not by the full possession of the things which are desired, but by removing the desire. And that you may know that this is true, as you have laboured for those things, so transfer your labour to these; be vigilant for the purpose of acquiring an opinion which will make you free; pay court to a philosopher instead of to a rich old man: be seen about a philosopher’s doors: you will not disgrace yourself by being seen; you will not go away empty nor without profit, if you go to the philosopher as you ought, and if not, try at least: the trial is not disgraceful.
To This matter before all you must attend: that you be never so closely connected with any of your former intimates or friends as to come down to the same acts as he does. If you do not observe this rule, you will ruin yourself. But if the thought arises in your mind. “I shall seem disobliging to him, and he will not have the same feeling toward me,” remember that nothing is done without cost, nor is it possible for a man if he does not do the same to be the same man that he was. Choose, then, which of the two you will have, to be equally loved by those by whom you were formerly loved, being the same with your former self; or, being superior, not to obtain from your friends the same that you did before. For if this is better, turn away to it, and let not other considerations draw you in a different direction. For no man is able to make progress, when he is wavering between opposite things, but if you have preferred this to all things, if you choose to attend to this only, to work out this only, give up everything else. But if you will not do this, your wavering will produce both these results: you will neither improve as you ought, nor will you obtain what you formerly obtained. For before, by plainly desiring the things which were worth nothing, you pleased your associates. But you cannot excel in both kinds, and it is necessary that so far as you share in the one, you must fall short in the other. You cannot, when you do not drink with those with whom you used to drink, he agreeable to them as you were before. Choose, then, whether you will be a hard drinker and pleasant to your former associates or a sober man and disagreeable to them. You cannot, when you do not sing with those with whom you used to sing, be equally loved by them. Choose, then, in this matter also which of the two you will have. For if it is better to be modest and orderly than for a man to say, “He is a jolly fellow,” give up the rest, renounce it, turn away from it, have nothing to do with such men. But if this behavior shall not please you, turn altogether to the opposite: become a catamite, an adulterer, and act accordingly, and you will get what you wish. And jump up in the theatre and bawl out in praise of the dancer. But characters so different cannot be mingled: you cannot act both Thersites and Agamemnon. If you intend to be Thersites, you must be humpbacked and bald: if Agamemnon, you must be tall and handsome, and love those who are placed in obedience to you.
Keep this thought in readiness, when you lose anything external, what you acquire in place of it; and if it be worth more, never say, “I have had a loss”; neither if you have got a horse in place of an ass, or an ox in place of a sheep, nor a good action in place of a bit of money, nor in place of idle talk such tranquillity as befits a man, nor in place of lewd talk if you have acquired modesty. If you remember this, you will always maintain your character such as it ought to be. But if you do not, consider that the times of opportunity are perishing, and that whatever pains you take about yourself, you are going to waste them all and overturn them. And it needs only a few things for the loss and overturning of all, namely a small deviation from reason. For the steerer of a ship to upset it, he has no need of the same means as he has need of for saving it: but if he turns it a little to the wind, it is lost; and if he does not do this purposely, but has been neglecting his duty a little, the ship is lost. Something of the kind happens in this case also: if you only fall to nodding a little, all that you have up to this time collected is gone. Attend therefore to the appearances of things, and watch over them; for that which you have to preserve is no small matter, but it is modesty and fidelity and constancy, freedom from the affects, a state of mind undisturbed, freedom from fear, tranquillity, in a word, “liberty.” For what will you sell these things? See what is the value of the things which you will obtain in exchange for these. “But shall I not obtain any such thing for it?” See, and if you do in return get that, see what you receive in place of it. “I possess decency, he possesses a tribuneship: be possesses a praetorship, I possess modesty. But I do not make acclamations where it is not becoming: I will not stand up where I ought not; for I am free, and a friend of God, and so I obey Him willingly. But I must not claim anything else, neither body nor possession, nor magistracy, nor good report, nor in fact anything. For He does not allow me to claim them: for if He had chosen, He would have made them good for me; but He has not done so, and for this reason I cannot transgress his commands.” Preserve that which is your own good in everything; and as to every other thing, as it is permitted, and so far as to behave consistently with reason in respect to them, content with this only. If you do not, you will be unfortunate, you will fall in all things, you will be hindered, you will be impeded. These are the laws which have been sent from thence; these are the orders. Of these laws a man ought to be an expositor, to these he ought to submit, not to those of Masurius and Cassius.
Remember that not only the desire of power and of riches makes us mean and subject to others, but even the desire of tranquillity, and of leisure. and of traveling abroad, and of learning. For, to speak plainly, whatever the external thing may be, the value which we set upon it places us in subjection to others. What, then, is the difference between desiring, to be a senator or not desiring to be one; what is the difference between desiring power or being content with a private station; what is the difference between saying, “I am unhappy, I have nothing, to do, but I am bound to my books as a corpse”; or saying, “I am unhappy, I have no leisure for reading”? For as salutations and power are things external and independent of the will, so is a book. For what purpose do you choose to read? Tell me. For if you only direct your purpose to being amused or learning something, you are a silly fellow and incapable of enduring labour. But if you refer reading to the proper end, what else is this than a tranquil and happy life? But if reading does not secure for you a happy and tranquil life, what is the use of it? But it does secure this,” the man replies, “and for this reason I am vexed that I am deprived of it.” And what is this tranquil and happy life, which any man can impede; I do not say Caesar or Caesar’s friend, but a crow, a piper, a fever, and thirty thousand other things? But a tranquil and happy life contains nothing so sure is continuity and freedom from obstacle. Now I am called to do something: I will go, then, with the purpose of observing the measures which I must keep, of acting with modesty, steadiness, without desire and aversion to things external; and then that I may attend to men, what they say, how they are moved; and this not with any bad disposition, or that I may have something to blame or to ridicule; but I turn to myself, and ask if I also commit the same faults. “How then shall I cease to commit them?” Formerly I also acted wrong, but now I do not: thanks to God.
Come, when you have done these things and have attended to them, have you done a worse act than when you have read a thousand verses or written as many? For when you eat, are you grieved because you are not reading? are you not satisfied with eating according to what you have learned by reading, and so with bathing and with exercise? Why, then, do you not act consistently in all things, both when you approach Caesar and when you approach any person? If you maintain yourself free from perturbation, free from alarm, and steady; if you look rather at the things which are done and happen than are looked at yourself; if you do not envy those who are preferred before you; if surrounding circumstances do not strike you with fear or admiration, what do you want? Books? How or for what purpose? for is not this a preparation for life? and is not life itself made up of certain other things than this? This is just as if an athlete should weep when he enters the stadium, because he is not being exercised outside of it. It was for this purpose that you used to practice exercise; for this purpose were used the halteres, the dust, the young men as antagonists; and do you seek for those things now when it is the time of action? This is just as if in the topic of assent when appearances present themselves, some of which can he comprehended, and some cannot be comprehended, we should not choose to distinguish them but should choose to read what has been written about comprehension.
What then is the reason of this? The reason is that we have never read for this purpose, we have never written for this purpose, so that we may in our actions use in a way conformable to nature the appearances presented to us; but we terminate in this, in learning what is said, and in being able to expound it to another, in resolving a syllogism, and in handling the hypothetical syllogism. For this reason where our study is, there alone is the impediment. Would you have by all means the things which are not in your power? Be prevented then, be hindered, fail in your purpose. But if we read what is written about action, not that we may see what is said about action, but that we may act well: if we read what is said about desire and aversion, in order that we may neither fall in our desires, nor fall into that which we try to avoid: if we read what is said about duty, in order that, remembering the relations, we may do nothing irrationally nor contrary to these relations; we should not be vexed in being hindered as to our readings, but we should be satisfied with doing, the acts which are conformable, and we should be reckoning not what so far we have been accustomed to reckon; “To-day I have read so many verses, I have written so many”; but, “To-day I have employed my action as it is taught by the philosophers; I have not employed any desire; I have used avoidance only with respect to things which are within the power of my will; I have not been afraid of such a person, I have not been prevailed upon by the entreaties of another; I have exercised my patience, my abstinence my co-operation with others”; and so we should thank God for what we ought to thank Him.
But now we do not know that we also in another way are like the many. Another man is afraid that he shall not have power: you are afraid that you will. Do not do so, my man; but as you ridicule him who is afraid that he, shall not have power, so ridicule yourself also. For it makes no difference whether you are thirsty like a man who has a fever, or have a dread of water like a man who is mad. Or how will you still be able to say as Socrates did, “If so it pleases God, so let it be”? Do you think that Socrates, if he had been eager to pass his leisure in the Lyceum or in the Academy and to discourse dally with the young men, would have readily served in military expeditions so often as he did; and would he not have lamented and groaned, “Wretch that I am; I must now be miserable here, when I might be sunning myself in the Lyceum”? Why, was this your business, to sun yourself? And is it not your business to be happy, to be free from hindrance, free from impediment? And could he still have been Socrates, if he had lamented in this way: how would he still have been able to write Paeans in his prison?
In short, remember this, that what you shall prize which is beyond your will, so far you have destroyed your will. But these things are out of the power of the will, not only power, but also a private condition: not only occupation, but also leisure. “Now, then, must I live in this tumult?” Why do you say “tumult”? “I mean among many men.” Well what is the hardship? Suppose that you are at Olympia: imagine it to be a panegyris, where one is calling out one thing, another is doing another thing, and a third is pushing another person: in the baths there is a crowd: and who of us is not pleased with this assembly and leaves it unwillingly, Be not difficult to please nor fastidious about what happens. “Vinegar is disagreeable, for it is sharp; honey is disagreeable, for it disturbs my habit of body. I do not like vegetables.” So also, “I do not like leisure; it is a desert: I do not like a crowd; it is confusion.” But if circumstances make it necessary for you to live alone or with a few, call it quiet and use the thing as you ought: talk with yourself, exercise the appearances, work up your preconceptions. If you fall into a crowd, call it a celebration of games, a panegyris, a festival: try to enjoy the festival with other men. For what is a more pleasant sight to him who loves mankind than a number of men? We see with pleasure herds of horses or oxen: we are delighted when we see many ships: who is pained when he sees many men? “But they deafen me with their cries.” Then your hearing is impeded. What, then, is this to you? Is, then, the power of making use of appearances hindered? And who prevents you from using, according to nature, inclination to a thing and aversion from it; and movement toward a thing and movement from it? What tumult is able to do this?
Do you only bear in mind the general rules: “What is mine, what is not mine; what is given to me; what does God will that I should do now? what does He not will?” A little before he willed you to be at leisure, to talk with yourself, to write about these things, to read, to hear, to prepare yourself. You had sufficient time for this. Now He says to you: “Come now to the contest; show us what you have learned, how you have practiced the athletic art. How long will you be exercised alone? Now is the opportunity for you to learn whether you are an athlete worthy of victory, or one of those who go about the world and are defeated.” Why, then, are; you vexed? No contest is without confusion. There be many who exercise themselves for the contests, many who call out to those who exercise themselves, many masters, many spectators. “But my wish is to live quietly.” Lament, then, and groan as you deserve to do. For what other is a greater punishment than this to the untaught man and to him who disobeys the divine commands: to be grieved, to lament, to envy, in a word, to be disappointed and to he unhappy? Would you not release yourself from these things? “And how shall I release myself?” Have you not often heard that you ought to remove entirely desire, apply aversion to those things only which are within your power, that you ought to give up everything, body, property, fame, books, tumult, power, private station? for whatever way you turn, you are a slave, you are subjected, you are hindered, you are compelled, you are entirely in the power of others. But keep the words of Cleanthes in readiness,
Lead me, O Zeus, and thou necessity.
Is it your will that I should go to Rome? I will go to Rome. To Gyara? I will go to Gyara. I will go to Athens? I will go to Athens. To prison? I will go to prison. If you should once say, “When shall a man go to Athens?” you are undone. It is a necessary consequence that this desire, if it is not accomplished, must make you unhappy; and if it is accomplished, it must make you vain, since you are elated at things at which you ought not to be elated; and on the other hand, if you are impeded, it must make you wretched because you fall into that which you would not fall into. Give up then all these things. “Athens is a good place.” But happiness is much better; and to be free from passions, free from disturbance, for your affairs not to depend on any man. “There is tumult at Rome and visits of salutation.” But happiness is an equivalent for all troublesome things. If, then, the time comes for these things, why do you not take away the wish to avoid them? what necessity is there to carry to avoid a burden like an ass, and to be beaten with a stick? But if you do not so, consider that you must always be a slave to him who has it in his power to effect your release, and also to impede you, and you must serve him as an evil genius.
There is only one way to happiness, and let this rule be ready both in the morning and during the day and by night; the rule is not to look toward things which are out of the power of our will, to think that nothing is our own, to give up all things to the Divinity, to Fortune; to make them the superintendents of these things, whom Zeus also has made so; for a man to observe that only which is his own, that which cannot be hindered; and when we read, to refer our reading to this only, and our writing and our listening. For this reason, I cannot call the man industrious, if I hear this only, that he reads and writes; and even if a man adds that he reads all night, I cannot say so, if he knows not to what he should refer his reading. For neither do you say that a man is industrious if he keeps awake for a girl; nor do I. But if he does it for reputation, I say that he is a lover of reputation. And if he does it for money, I say that he is a lover of money, not a lover of labour; and if he does it through love of learning, I say that he is a lover of learning. But if he refers his labour to his own ruling power, that he may keep it in a state conformable to nature and pass his life in that state, then only do I say that he is industrious. For never commend a man on account of these things which are common to all, but on account of his opinions; for these are the things which belong to each man, which make his actions bad or good. Remembering these rules, rejoice in that which is present, and be content with the things which come in season. If you see anything which you have learned and inquired about occurring, to you in your course of life, be delighted at it. If you have laid aside or have lessened bad disposition and a habit of reviling; if you have done so with rash temper, obscene words, hastiness, sluggishness; if you are not moved by what you formerly were, and not in the same way as you once were, you can celebrate a festival daily, to-day because you have behaved well in one act, and to-morrow because you have behaved well in another. How much greater is this a reason for making sacrifices than a consulship or the government of a province? These things come to you from yourself and from the gods. Remember this, Who gives these things and to whom, and for what purpose. If you cherish yourself in these thoughts, do you still think that it makes any difference where yon shall be happy, where you shall please God? Are not the gods equally distant from all places? Do they not see from all places alike that which is going on?
The wise and good man neither himself fights with any person, nor does he allow another, so far as he can prevent it. And an example of this as well as of all other things is proposed to us in the life of Socrates, who not only himself on all occasions avoided fights, but would not allow even others to quarrel. See in Xenophon’s Symposium how many quarrels he settled; how further he endured Thrasymachus and Polus and Callicles; how he tolerated his wife, and how he tolerated his son who attempted to confute him aid to cavil with him. For he remembered well that no man has in his power another man’s ruling principle. He wished, therefore nothing else than that which was his own. And what is this? Not that this or that man may act according to nature; for that is a thing which belongs to another; but that while others are doing their own acts, as they choose, he may never the less be in a condition conformable to nature and live in it, only doing what is his own to the end that others also may be in a state conformable to nature. For this is the object always set before him by the wise and good man. Is it to be commander of an army? No: but if it is permitted him, his object is in this matter to maintain his own ruling principle. Is it to marry? No; but if marriage is allowed to him, in this matter his object is to maintain himself in a condition conformable to nature. But if he would have his son not to do wrong, or his wife, he would have what belongs to another not to belong to another; and to he instructed is this: to learn what things are a man’s own and what belongs to another.
How, then, is there left any place for fighting, to a man who has this opinion? Is he surprised at anything which happens, and does it appear new to him? Does he not expect that which comes from the bad to be worse and more grievous than what actually befalls him? And does he not reckon as pure gain whatever they may do which falls short of extreme wickedness? “Such a person has reviled you.” Great thanks to him for not having, struck you. “But he has struck me also.” Great thanks that he did not wound you “But he wounded me also.” Great thanks that he did not kill you. For when did he learn or in what school that man is a tame animal, that men love one another, that an act of injustice is a great harm to him who does it. Since then he has not to him who does it. Since then he has not learned this and is not convinced of it, why shall he not follow that which seems to be for his own “Your neighbour has thrown stones.” Have you then done anything wrong? “But the things in the house have been broken.” Are you then a utensil? No; but a free power of will. What, then, is given to you in answer to this? If you are like a wolf, you must bite in return, and throw more stones. But if you consider what is proper for a man, examine your store-house, see with at faculties you came into the world. Have you the disposition of a wild beast, Have you the disposition of revenge for an injury? When is a horse wretched? When he is deprived of his natural faculties; not when he cannot crow like a cock, but when he cannot run. When is a dog wretched? Not when he cannot fly, but when he cannot track his game. Is, then, a man also unhappy in this way, not because he cannot strangle lions or embrace statues, for he did not come into the world in the possession of certain powers from nature for this purpose, but because he has lost his probity and his fidelity? People ought to meet and lament such a man for the misfortunes into which he has fallen; not indeed to lament because a man his been born or has died, but because it has happened to him in his lifetime to have lost the things which are his own, not that which he received from his father, not his land and house, and his inn, and his slaves; for not one of these things is a man’s own, but all belong to others, are servile and subject to account, at different times given to different persons by those who have them in their power: but I mean the things which belong to him as a man, the marks in his mind with which he came into the world, such as we seek also on coins, and if we find them, we approve of the coins, and if we do not find the marks, we reject them. What is the stamp on this Sestertius? “The stamp of Trajan.” Present it. “It is the stamp of Nero.” Throw it away: it cannot be accepted, it is counterfeit. So also in this case. What is the stamp of his opinions? “It is gentleness, a sociable disposition, a tolerant temper, a disposition to mutual affection.” Produce these qualities. I accept them: I consider this man a citizen, I accept him as a neighbour, a companion in my voyages. Only see that he has not Nero’s stamp. Is he passionate, is he full of resentment, is he faultfinding? If the whim seizes him, does he break the heads of those who come in his way? Why, then did you say that he is a man? Is everything judged by the bare form? If that is so, say that the form in wax is all apple and has the smell and the taste of an apple. But the external figure is not enough: neither then is the nose enough and the eyes to make the man, but he must have the opinions of a man. Here is a man who does not listen to reason, who does not know when he is refuted: he is an ass: in another man the sense of shame is become dead: he is good for nothing, he is anything rather than a man. This man seeks whom he may meet and kick or bite, so that he is not even a sheep or an ass, but a kind of wild beast.
“What then would you have me to be despised?” By whom? by those who know you? and how and how shall those who know you despise a man who is gentle and modest? Perhaps you mean by those who do not know you? What is that to you? For no other artisan cares for the opinion of those who know not his art. “But they will be more hostile to me for this reason.” Why do you say “me”? Can any man injure your will, or prevent you from using in a natural way the appearances which are presented to you, “In no way can he.” Why, then, are still disturbed and why do you choose to show yourself afraid? And why do you not come forth and proclaim that you are at peace with all men whatever they may do, and laugh at those chiefly who think that they can harm you? “These slaves,” you can say, “know not either who I am nor where lies my good or my evil, because they have no access to the things which are mine.”
In this way, also, those who occupy a strong city mock the besiegers; “What trouble these men are now taking for nothing: our wall is secure, we have food for a very long time, and all other resources.” These are the things which make a city strong and impregnable: but nothing else than his opinions makes a man’s soul impregnable. For what wall is so strong, or what body is so hard, or what possession is so safe, or what honour so free from assault? All things everywhere are perishable, easily taken by assault, and, if any man in any way is attached to them, he must be disturbed, expect what is bad, he must fear, lament, find his desires disappointed, and fall into things which he would avoid. Then do we not choose to make secure the only means of safety which are offered to us, and do we not choose to withdraw ourselves from that which is perishable and servile and to labour at the things, which are imperishable and by nature free; and do we not remember that no man either hurts another or does good to another, but that a man’s opinion about each thing is that which hurts him, is that which overturns him; this is fighting, this is civil discord, this is war? That which made Eteocles and Polynices enemies was nothing else than this opinion which they had about royal power, their opinion about exile, that the one is the extreme of evils, the other the greatest good. Now this is the nature of every man to seek the good, to avoid the bad; to consider him who deprives us of the one and involves us in the other an enemy and treacherous, even if he be a brother, or a son or a father. For nothing is more akin to us than the good: therefore if these things are good and evil, neither is a father a friend to sons, nor a brother to a brother, but all the world is everywhere full of enemies, treacherous men, and sycophants. But if the will, being what it ought to be, is the only good; and if the will, being such as it ought not to be, is the only evil, where is there any strife, where is there reviling? about what? about the things which do not concern us? and strife with whom? with the ignorant, the unhappy, with those who are deceived about the chief things?
Remembering this Socrates managed his own house and endured a very ill-tempered wife and a foolish son. For in what did she show her bad temper? In pouring water on his head as much as she liked, and in trampling on the cake. And what is this to me, if I think that these things are nothing to me? But this is my business; and neither tyrant shall check my will nor a master; nor shall the many check me who am only one, nor shall the stronger check me who am the weaker; for this power of being free from check is given by God to every man. For these opinions make love in a house, concord in a state, among nations peace, and gratitude to God; they make a man in all things cheerful in externals as about things which belong to others, as about things which are of no value. We indeed are able to write and to read these things, and to praise them when they are read, but we do not even come near to being convinced of them. Therefore what is said of the Lacedaemonians, “Lions at home, but in Ephesus foxes,” will fit in our case also, “Lions in the school, but out of it foxes.”
“I am grieved,” a man says, “at being pitied.” Whether, then, is the fact of your being pitied a thing which concerns you or those who pity you? Well, is it in your power to stop this pity? “It is in my power, if I show them that I do not require pity.” And whether, then, are you in the condition of not deserving pity, or are you not in that condition? “I think I am not: but these persons do not pity me for the things for which, if they ought to pity me, it would be proper, I mean, for my faults; but they pity me for my poverty, for not possessing honourable offices, for diseases and deaths and other such things.” Whether, then, are you prepared to convince the many that not one of these things is an evil, but that it is possible for a man who is poor and has no office and enjoys no honour to be happy; or to show yourself to them as rich and in power? For the second of these things belong, to a man who is boastful, silly and good for nothing. And consider by what means the pretense must be supported. It will be necessary for you to hire slaves and to possess a few silver vessels, and to exhibit them in public, if it is possible, though they are often the same, and to attempt to conceal the fact that they are the same, and to have splendid garments, and all other things for display, and to show that you are a man honoured by the great, and to try to sup at their houses, or to be supposed to sup there, and as to your person to employ some mean arts, that you may appear to be more handsome and nobler than you are. These things you must contrive, if you choose to go by the second path in order not to be pitied. But the first way is both impracticable and long, to attempt the very thing which Zeus has not been able to do, to convince all men what things are good and bad. Is this power given to you? This only is given to you, to convince yourself; and you have not convinced yourself. Then I ask you, do you attempt to persuade other men? and who has lived so long with you as you with yourself? and who has so much power of convincing you as you have of convincing yourself; and who is better disposed and nearer to you than you are to yourself? How, then, have you not convinced yourself in order to learn? At present are not things upside down? Is this what you have been earnest about doing, to learn to be free from grief and free from disturbance, and not to be humbled, and to be free? Have you not heard, then, that there is only one way which leads to this end, to give up the things which do not depend on the will, to withdraw from them, and to admit that they belong to others? For another man, then, to have an opinion about you, of what kind is it? “It is a thing independent of the will.” Then is it nothing to you? “It is nothing.” When, then, you are still vexed at this and disturbed, do you think that you are convinced about good and evil?
Will you not, then, letting others alone, be to yourself both scholar and teacher? “The rest of mankind will look after this, whether it is to their interest to be and to pass their lives in a state contrary to nature: but to me no man is nearer than myself. What, then, is the meaning of this, that I have listened to the words of the philosophers and I assent to them, but in fact I am no way made easier? Am I so stupid? And yet, in all other things such as I have chosen, I have not been found very stupid; but I learned letters quickly, and to wrestle, and geometry, and to resolve syllogisms. Has not, then, reason convinced me? and indeed no other things have I from the beginning so approved and chosen: and now I read about these things, hear about them, write about them; I have so far discovered no reason stronger than this. In what, then, am I deficient? Have the contrary opinions not been eradicated from me? Have the notions themselves not been exercised nor used to be applied to action, but as armour are laid aside and rusted and cannot fit me? And yet neither in the exercises of the palaestra, nor in writing or reading am I satisfied with learning, but I turn up and down the syllogisms which are proposed, and I make others, and sophistical syllogisms also. But the necessary theorems, by proceeding from which a man can become free from grief, fear, passions, hindrance, and a free man, these I do not exercise myself in nor do I practice in these the proper practice. Then I care about what others will say of me, whether I shall appear to them worth notice, whether I shall appear happy.”
Wretched man, will you not see what you. are saying about yourself? What do you appear to yourself to be? in your opinions, in your desires, in your aversions from things, in your movements, in your preparation, in your designs, and in other acts suitable to a man? But do you trouble yourself about this, whether others pity you? “Yes, but I am pitied not as I ought to be.” Are you then pained at this? and is he who is pained, an object of pity? “Yes.” How, then, are you pitied not as you ought to be? For by the very act that you feel about being pitied, you make yourself deserving of pity. What then says Antisthenes? Have you not heard? “It is a royal thing, O Cyrus, to do right and to be ill-spoken of.” My head is sound, and all think that I have the headache. What do I care for that? I am free from fever, and people sympathize with me as if I had a fever: “Poor man, for so long a time you have not ceased to have fever.” I also say with a sorrowful countenance: “In truth it is now a long time that I have been ill.” “What will happen then?” “As God may please”: and at the same time I secretly laugh at those who are pitying me. What, then, hinders the same being done in this case also? I am poor, but I have a right opinion about poverty. Why, then, do I care if they pity me for my poverty? I am not in power; but others are: and I have the opinion which I ought to have about having and not having power. Let them look to it who pity me; but I am neither hungry nor thirsty nor do I suffer cold; but because they are hungry or thirsty they think that I too am. What, then, shall I do for them? Shall I go about and proclaim and say: “Be not mistaken, men, I am very well, I do not trouble myself about poverty, nor want of power, nor in a word about anything else than right opinions. These I have free from restraint, I care for nothing at all.” What foolish talk is this? How do I possess right opinions when I am not content with being what I am, but am uneasy about what I am supposed to be?
“But,” you say, “others will get more and be preferred to me.” What, then, is more reasonable than for those who have laboured about anything to have more in that thing in which they have laboured? They have laboured for power, you have laboured about opinions; and they have laboured for wealth, you for the proper use of appearances. See if they have more than you in this about which you have laboured, and which they neglect; if they assent better than you with respect to the natural rules of things; if they are less disappointed than you in their desires; if they fall less into things which they would avoid than you do; if in their intentions, if in the things which they propose to themselves, if in their purposes, if in their motions toward an object they take a better aim; if they better observe a proper behavior, as men, as sons, as parents, and so on as to the other names by which we express the relations of life. But if they exercise power, and you do not, will you not choose to tell yourself the truth, that you do nothing for the sake of this, and they do all? But it is most unreasonable that he who looks after anything should obtain less than he who does not look after it.
“Not so: but since I care about right opinions, it more reasonable for me to have power.” Yes in the matter about which you do care, in opinions. But in a matter in which they have cared more than you, give way to them. The case is just the same as if, because you have right opinions, you thought that in using the bow you should hit the mark better than an archer, and in working in metal you should succeed better than a smith. Give up, then, your earnestness about opinions and employ yourself about the things which you wish to acquire; and then lament, if you do not succeed; for you deserve to lament. But now you say that you are occupied with other things, that you are looking after other things; but the many say this truly, that one act has no community with another. He who has risen in the morning seeks whom he shall salute, to whom he shall say something agreeable, to whom he shall send a present, how he shall please the dancing man, how by bad behavior to one he may please another. When he prays, he prays about these things; when he sacrifices, he sacrifices for these things: the saying of Pythagoras
Let sleep not come upon thy languid eyes
he transfers to these things. “Where have I failed in the matters pertaining to flattery?” “What have I done?” Anything like a free man, anything like a noble-minded man? And if he finds anything of the kind, he blames and accuses himself: “Why did you say this? Was it not in your power to lie? Even the philosophers say that nothing hinders us from telling a lie.” But do you, if indeed you have cared about nothing else except the proper use of appearances, as soon as you have risen in the morning reflect, “What do I want in order to be free from passion, and free from perturbation? What am I? Am I a poor body, a piece of property, a thing of which something is said? I am none of these. But what am I? I am a rational animal. What then is required of me?” Reflect on your acts. “Where have I omitted the things which conduce to happiness? What have I done which is either unfriendly or unsocial? what have I not done as to these things which I ought to have done?”
So great, then, being, the difference in desires, actions, wishes, would you still have the same share with others in those things about which you have not laboured, and they have laboured? Then are you surprised if they pity you, and are you vexed? But they are not vexed if you pity them. Why? Because they are convinced that they have that which is good, and you are not convinced. For this reason you are not satisfied with your own, but you desire that which they have: but they are satisfied with their own, and do not desire what you have: since, if you were really convinced that with respect to what is good, it is you who are the possessor of it and that they have missed it, you would not even have thought of what they say about you.
What makes the tyrant formidable? “The guards,” you say, “and their swords, and the men of the bedchamber and those who exclude them who would enter.” Why, then, if you bring a boy to the tyrant when he is with his guards, is he not afraid; or is it because the child does not understand these things? If, then, any man does understand what guards are and that they have swords, and comes to the tyrant for this very purpose because he wishes to die on account of some circumstance and seeks to die easily by the hand of another, is he afraid of the guards? “No, for he wishes for the thing which makes the guards formidable.” If, then, neither any man wishing to die nor to live by all means, but only as it may be permitted, approaches the tyrant, what hinders him from approaching the tyrant without fear? “Nothing.” If, then, a man has the same opinion about his property as the man whom I have instanced has about his body; and also about his children and his wife, and in a word is so affected by some madness or despair that he cares not whether he possesses them or not, but like children who are playing, with shells care about the play, but do not trouble themselves about the shells, so he too has set no value on the materials, but values the pleasure that he has with them and the occupation, what tyrant is then formidable to him or what guards or what swords?
Then through madness is it possible for a man to be so disposed toward these things, and the Galilaens through habit, and is it possible that no man can learn from reason and from demonstration that God has made all the things in the universe and the universe itself completely free from hindrance and perfect, and the parts of it for the use of the whole? All other animals indeed are incapable of comprehending the administration of it; but the rational animal, man, has faculties for the consideration of all these and for understanding that it is a part, and what kind of a part it is, and that it is right for the parts to be subordinate to the whole. And besides this being naturally noble, magnanimous and free, man sees that of the things which surround him some are free from hindrance and in his power, and the other things are subject to hindrance and in the power of others; that the things which are free from hindrance are in the power of the will; and those which are subject to hinderance are the things which are not in the power of the will. And, for this reason, if he thinks that his good and his interest be in these things only which are free from hindrance and in his own power, he will be free, prosperous, happy, free from harm, magnanimous pious, thankful to God for all things; in no matter finding fault with any of the things which have not been put in his power, nor blaming any of them. But if he thinks that his good and his interest are in externals and in things which are not in the power of his will, he must of necessity be hindered, be impeded, be a slave to those who have the power over things which he admires and fears; and he must of necessity be impious because he thinks that he is harmed by God, and he must be unjust because he always claims more than belongs to him; and he must of necessity be abject and mean.
What hinders a man, who has clearly separated these things, from living with a light heart and bearing easily the reins, quietly expecting everything which can happen, and enduring that which has already happened? “Would you have me to bear poverty?” Come and you will know what poverty is when it has found one who can act well the part of a poor man. “Would you have me to possess power?” Let me have power, and also the trouble of it. “Well, banishment?” Wherever I shall go, there it will be well with me; for here also where I am, it was not because of the place that it was well with me, but because of my opinions which I shall carry off with me: for neither can any man deprive me of them; but my opinions alone are mine and they cannot he taken from me, and I am satisfied while I have them, wherever I may be and whatever I am doing. “But now it is time to die.” Why do you say “to die”? Make no tragedy show of the thing, but speak of it as it is: it is now time for the matter to be resolved into the things out of which it was composed. And what is the formidable thing here? what is going to perish of the things which are in the universe? what new thing or wondrous is going to happen? Is it for this reason that a tyrant is formidable? Is it for this reason that the guards appear to have swords which are large and sharp? Say this to others; but I have considered about all these thins; no man has power over me. I have been made free; I know His commands, no man can now lead me as a slave. I have a proper person to assert my freedom; I have proper judges. Are you not the master of my body? What, then, is that to me? Are you not the master of my property? What, then, is that to me? Are you not the master of my exile or of my chains? Well, from all these things and all the poor body itself I depart at your bidding, when you please. Make trial of your power, and you will know how far it reaches.
Whom then can I still fear? Those who are over the bedchamber? Lest they should do, what? Shut me out? If they find that I wish to enter, let them shut me out. “Why, then, do you go to the doors?” Because I think it befits me, while the play lasts, to join in it. “How, then, are you not shut out?” Because, unless some one allows me to go in, I do not choose to,o in, but am always content with that I which happens; for I think that what God chooses is better than what I choose. I will attach myself as a minister and follower to Him; I have the same movements as He has, I have the same desires; in a word, I have the same will. There is no shutting out for me, but for those who would force their in. Why, then, do not I force my way in? Because I know that nothing good is distributed within to those who enter. But when I hear any man called fortunate because he is honoured by Caesar, I say, “What does he happen to get?” A province. Does he also obtain an opinion such as he ought? The office of a Prefect. Does he also obtain the power of using his office well? Why do I still strive to enter? A man scatters dried figs and nuts: the children seize them and fight with one another; men do not, for they think them to be a small matter. But if a man should throw about shells, even the children do not seize them. Provinces are distributed: let children look to that. Money is distributed: let children look to that. Praetorships, consulships are distributed: let children scramble for them, let them be shut out, beaten, kiss the hands of the giver, of the slaves: but to me these are only dried figs and nuts. What then? If you fail to get them, while Caesar is scattering them about, do not be troubled: if a dried fig come into your lap, take it and eat it; for so far you may value even a fig. But if I shall stoop down and turn another over, or be turned over by another, and shall flatter those who have got into chamber, neither is a dried fig worth the trouble, nor anything else of the things which are not good, which the philosophers have persuaded me not to think good.
Show me the swords of the guards. “See how big they are, and how sharp.” What, then, do these big and sharp swords do? “They kill.” And what does a fever do? “Nothing else.” And what else a tile? “Nothing else.” Would you then have me to wonder at these things and worship them, and go about as the slave of all of them? I hope that this will not happen: but when I have once learned that everything which has come into existence must also go out of it, that the universe may not stand still nor be impeded, I no longer consider it any difference whether a fever shall do it, or a tile, or a soldier. But if a man must make a comparison between these things, I know that the soldier will do it with less trouble, and quicker. When, then, I neither fear anything which a tyrant can do to me, nor desire anything which he can give, why do I still look on with wonder? Why am I still confounded? Why do I fear the guards? Why am I pleased if he speaks to me in a friendly way, and receives me, and why do I tell others how he spoke to me? Is he a Socrates, is he a Diogenes that his praise should be a proof of what I am? Have I been eager to imitate his morals? But I keep up the play and go to him, and serve him so long as he does not bid me to do anything foolish or unreasonable. But if he says to me, “Go and bring Leon of Salamis,” I say to him, “Seek another, for I am no longer playing.” “Lead him away.” I follow; that is part of the play. “But your head will be taken off.” Does the tyrant’s head always remain where it is, and the heads of you who obey him? “But you will be cast out unburied.” If the corpse is I, I shall be cast out; but if I am different from the corpse, speak more properly according as the fact is, and do not think of frightening me. These things are formidable to children and fools. But if any man has once entered a philosopher’s school and knows not what he is, he deserves to be full of fear and to flatter those whom afterward he used to flatter; if he has not yet learned that he is not flesh nor bones nor sinews, but he is that which makes use of these parts of the body and governs them and follows the appearances of things.
“Yes, but this talk makes us despise the laws.” And what kind of talk makes men more obedient to the laws who employ such talk? And the things which are in the power of a fool are not law. And yet see how this talk makes us disposed as we ought to be even to these men; since it teaches us to claim in opposition to them none of the things in which they are able to surpass us. This talk teaches us, as to the body, to give it up, as to property, to give that up also, as to children, parents, brothers, to retire from these, to give up all; It only makes an exception of the opinions, which even Zeus has willed to be the select property of every man. What transgression of the laws is there here, what folly? Where you are superior and stronger, there I give way to you: on the other hand, where I am superior, do you yield to me; for I have studied this, and you have not. It is your study to live in houses with floors formed of various stones, how your slaves and dependents shall serve you, how you shall wear fine clothing, have many hunting men, lute players, and tragic actors. Do I claim any of these? have you made any study of opinions and of your own rational faculty? Do you know of what parts it is composed, how they are brought together, how they are connected, what powers it has, and of what kind? Why then are you vexed, if another, who has made it his study, has the advantage over you in these things? “But these things are the greatest.” And who hinders you from being employed about these things and looking after them? And who has a better stock of books, of leisure, of persons to aid you? Only turn your mind at last to these things, attend, if it be only a short time, to your own ruling faculty: consider what this is that you possess, and whence it came, this which uses all others, and tries them, and selects and rejects. But so long as you employ yourself about externals you will possess them as no man else does; but you will have this such as you choose to have it, sordid and neglected.
Never praise nor blame a man because of the things which are common, and do not ascribe to him any skill or want of skill; and thus you will be free from rashness and from malevolence. “This man bathes very quickly.” Does he then do wrong? Certainly not. But what does he do? He bathes very quickly. Are all things then done well? By no means: but the acts which proceed from right opinions are done well; and those which proceed from bad opinions are done ill. But do you, until you know the opinion from which a man does each thing, neither praise nor blame the act. But the opinion is not easily discovered from the external things. “This man is a carpenter.” Why? “Because he uses an ax.” What, then, is this to the matter? “This man is a musician because he sings.” And what does that signify? “This man is a philosopher. Because he wears a cloak and long hair.” And what does a juggler wear? For this reason if a man sees any philosopher acting indecently, immediately he says, “See what the philosopher is doing”; but he ought because of the man’s indecent behavior rather to say that he is not a philosopher. For if this is the preconceived notion of a philosopher and what he professes, to wear a cloak and long hair, men would say well; but if what he professes is this rather, to keep himself free from faults, why do we not rather, because he does not make good his professions, take from him the name of philosopher? For so we do in the case of all other arts. When a man sees another handling an ax badly, he does not say, “What is the use of the carpenter’s art? See how badly carpenters do their work”; but he says just the contrary, “This man is not a carpenter, for he uses an ax badly.” In the same way if a man hears another singing badly, he does not say, “See how musicians sing”; but rather, “This man is not a musician.” But it is in the matter of philosophy only that people do this. When they see a man acting contrary to the profession of a philosopher, they do not take away his title, but they assume him to be a philosopher, and from his acts deriving the fact that he is behaving indecently they conclude that there is no use in philosophy.
What, then, is the reason of this? Because we attach value to the notion of a carpenter, and to that of a musician, and to the notion of other artisans in like manner, but not to that of a philosopher, and we judge from externals only that it is a thing confused and ill defined. And what other kind of art has a name from the dress and the hair; and has not theorems and a material and an end? What, then, is the material of the philosopher? Is it a cloak? No, but reason. What is his end? is it to wear a cloak? No, but to possess the reason in a right state. Of what kind are his theorems? Are they those about the way in which the beard becomes great or the hair long? No, but rather what Zeno says, to know the elements of reason, what kind of a thing each of them is, and how they are fitted to one another, and what things are consequent upon them. Will you not, then, see first if he does what he professes when he acts in an unbecoming manner, and then blame his study? But now when you yourself are acting in a sober way, you say in consequence of what he seems to you to be doing wrong, “Look at the philosopher,” as if it were proper to call by the name of philosopher one who does these things; and further, “This is the conduct of a philosopher.” But you do not say, “Look at the carpenter,” when you know that a carpenter is an adulterer or you see him to be a glutton; nor do you say, “See the musician.” Thus to a certain degree even you perceive the profession of a philosopher, but you fall away from the notion, and you are confused through want of care.
But even the philosophers themselves as they are called pursue the thing by beginning with things which are common to them and others: as soon as they have assumed a cloak and grown a beard, they say, “I am a philosopher.” But no man will say, “I am a musician,” if he has bought a plectrum and a lute: nor will he say, “I am a smith,” if he has put on a cap and apron. But the dress is fitted to the art; and they take their name from the art, and not from the dress. For this reason Euphrates used to say well, “A long time I strove to be a philosopher without people knowing it; and this,” he said, “was useful to me: for first I knew that when I did anything well, I did not do it for the sake of the spectators, but for the sake of myself: I ate well for the sake of myself; I had my countenance well composed and my walk: all for myself and for God. Then, as I struggled alone, so I alone also was in danger: in no respect through me, if I did anything base or unbecoming, was philosophy endangered; nor did I injure the many by doing anything wrong as a philosopher. For this reason those who did not know my purpose used to wonder how it was that, while I conversed and lived altogether with all philosophers, I was not a philosopher myself. And what was the harm for me to be known to be a philosopher by my acts and not by outward marks?” See how I eat, how I drink, how I sleep, how I bear and forbear, how I co-operate, how I employ desire, how I employ aversion, how I maintain the relations, those which are natural or those which are acquired, how free from confusion, how free from hindrance. Judge of me from this, if you can. But if you are so deaf and blind that you cannot conceive even Hephaestus to be a good smith, unless you see the cap on his head, what is the harm in not being recognized by so foolish a judge?
So Socrates was not known to be a philosopher by most persons; and they used to come to him and ask to be introduced to philosophers. Was he vexed then as we are, and did he say, “And do you not think that I am a philosopher?” No, but he would take them and introduce them, being satisfied with one thing, with being a philosopher; and being pleased also with not being thought to be a philosopher, he was not annoyed: for he thought of his own occupation. What is the work of an honourable and good man? To have many pupils? By no means. They will look to this matter who are earnest about it. But was it his business to examine carefully difficult theorems? Others will look after these matters also. In what, then, was he, and who was he and whom did he wish to be? He was in that wherein there was hurt and advantage. “If any man can damage me,” he says, “I am doing nothing: if I am waiting for another man to do me good, I am nothing. If I anguish for anything, and it does not happen, I am unfortunate.” To such a contest he invited every man, and I do not think that he would have declined the contest with any one. What do you suppose? was it by proclaiming and saying, “I am such a man?” Far from it, but by being such a man. For further, this is the character of a fool and a boaster to say, “I am free from passions and disturbance: do not be ignorant, my friends, that while you are uneasy and disturbed about things of no value, I alone am free from all perturbation.” So is it not enough for you to feel no pain, unless you make this proclamation: “Come together all who are suffering gout, pains in the head, fever, ye who are lame, blind, and observe that I am sound from every ailment.” This is empty and disagreeable to hear, unless like Aesculapius you are able to show immediately by what kind of treatment they also shall be immediately free from disease, and unless you show your own health as an example.
For such is the Cynic who is honoured with the sceptre and the diadem of Zeus, and says, “That you may see, O men, that you seek happiness and tranquillity not where it is, but where it is not, behold I am sent to you by God as an example. I who have neither property nor house, nor wife nor children, nor even a bed, nor coat nor household utensil; and see how healthy I am: try me, and if you see that I am free from perturbations, hear the remedies and how I have been cured.” This is both philanthropic and noble. But see whose work it is, the work of Zeus, or of him whom He may judge worthy of this service, that he may never exhibit anything to the many, by which he shall make of no effect his own testimony, whereby he gives testimony to virtue, and bears evidence against external things:
His beauteous face pales his cheeks
He wipes a tear.
And not this only, but he neither desires nor seeks anything, nor man nor place nor amusement, as children seek the vintage or holidays; always fortified by modesty as others are fortified by walls and doors and doorkeepers.
But now, being only moved to philosophy, as those who have a bad stomach are moved to some kinds of food which they soon loathe, straightway toward the sceptre and to the royal power. They let the hair grow, they assume the cloak, they show the shoulder bare, they quarrel with those whom they meet; and if they see a man in a thick winter coat, they quarrel with him. Man, first exercise yourself in winter weather: see your movements that they are not those of a man with a bad stomach or those of a longing woman. First strive that it be not known what you are: be a philosopher to yourself a short time. Fruit grows thus: the seed must be buried for some time, hid, grow slowly in order that it may come to perfection. But if it produces the ear before the jointed stem, it is imperfect, a produce of the garden of Adonis. Such a poor plant are you also: you have blossomed too soon; the cold weather will scorch you up. See what the husbandmen say about seeds when there is warm weather too early. They are afraid lest the seeds should be too luxuriant, and then a single frost should lay hold of them and show that they are too forward. Do you also consider, my man: you have shot out too soon, you have hurried toward a little fame before the proper season: you think that you are something, a fool among fools: you will be caught by the frost, and rather you have been frost-bitten in the root below, but your upper parts still blossom a little, and for this reason you think that you are still alive and flourishing. Allow us to ripen in the natural way: why do you bare us? why do you force us? we are not yet able to bear the air. Let the root grow, then acquire the first joint, then the second, and then the third: in this way, then, the fruit will naturally force itself out, even if I do not choose. For who that is pregnant and I filled with such great principles does not also perceive his own powers and move toward the corresponding acts? A bull is not ignorant of his own nature and his powers, when a wild beast shows itself, nor does he wait for one to urge him on; nor a dog when he sees a wild animal. But if I have the powers of a good man, shall I wait for you to prepare me for my own acts? At present I have them not, believe me. Why then do you wish me to be withered up before the time, as you have been withered up?
When you see another man in the possession of power, set against this the fact that you have not the want of power; when you see another rich, see what you possess in place of riches: for if you possess nothing in place of them, you are miserable; but if you have not the want of riches, know that you possess more than this man possesses and what is worth much more. Another man possesses a handsome woman: you have the satisfaction of not desiring a handsome wife. Do these things appear to you to he small? And how much would these persons give, these very men who are rich and in possession of power, and live with handsome women, to be able to despise riches and power and these very women whom they love and enjoy? Do you not know, then, what is the thirst of a man who has a fever? He possesses that which is in no degree like the thirst of a man who is in health: for the man who is in health ceases to be thirsty after he has drunk; but the sick man, being pleased for a short time, has a nausea; he converts the drink into bile, vomits, is griped, and more thirsty. It is such a thing to have desire of riches and to possess riches, desire of power and to possess power, desire of a beautiful woman and to sleep with her: to this is added jealousy, fear of being deprived of the thing which you love, indecent words, indecent thoughts, unseemly acts.
“And what do I lose?” you will say. My man, you were modest, and you are so no longer. Have you lost nothing? In place of Chrysippus and Zeno you read Aristides and Evenus; have you lost nothing? In place of Socrates and Diogenes, you admire him who is able to corrupt and seduce most women. You wish to appear handsome and try to make yourself so, though you are not. You like to display splendid clothes that you may attract women; and if you find any fine oil, yon imagine that you are happy. But formerly you did not think of any such thing, but only where there should be decent talk, a worthy man, and a generous conception. Therefore you slept like a man, walked forth like a man, wore a manly dress, and used to talk in a way becoming a good man; then do you say to me, “I have lost nothing?” So do men lose nothing more than coin? Is not modesty lost? Is not decent behavior lost? is it that he who has lost these things has sustained no loss? Perhaps you think that not one of these things is a loss. But there was a time when you reckoned this the only loss and damage, and you were anxious that no man should disturb you from these words and actions.
Observe, you are disturbed from these good words and actions by nobody but by yourself. Fight with yourself, restore yourself to decency, to modesty, to liberty. If any man ever told you this about me, that a person forces me to be an adulterer, to wear such a dress as yours, to perfume myself with oils, would you not have gone and with your own hand have killed the man who thus calumniated me? Now will you not help yourself? and how much easier is this help? There is no need to kill any man, nor to put him in chains, nor to treat him with contumely, nor to enter the Forum, but it is only necessary for you to speak to yourself who will be the most easily persuaded, with whom no man has more power of persuasion than yourself. First of all, condemn what you are doing, and then, when you have condemned it, do not despair of yourself, and be not in the condition of those men of mean spirit, who, when they have once given in, surrender themselves completely and are carried away as if by a torrent. But see what the trainers of boys do. Has the boy fallen? “Rise,” they say, “wrestle again till you are made strong.” Do you also do something of the same kind: for be well assured that nothing is more tractable than the human soul. You must exercise the will, and the thing is done, it is set right: as on the other hand, only fall a-nodding, and the thing is lost: for from within comes ruin and from within comes help. “Then what good do I gain?” And what greater good do you seek than this? From a shameless man you will become a modest man, from a disorderly you will become an orderly man, from a faithless you will become a faithful man, from a man of unbridled habits a sober man. If you seek anything more than this, go on doing what you are doing: not even a God can now help you.
The difficulties of all men are about external things, their helplessness is about externals. “What shall I do, how will it be, how will it turn out, will this happen, will that?” All these are the words of those who are turning themselves to things which are not within the power of the will. For who says, “How shall I not assent to that which is false? how shall I not turn away from the truth?” If a man be of such a good disposition as to be anxious about these things, I will remind him of this: “Why are you anxious? The thing is in your own power: be assured: do not be precipitate in assenting before you apply the natural rule.” On the other side, if a man is anxious about desire, lest it fail in its purpose and miss its end, and with respect to the avoidance of things, lest he should fall into that which he would avoid, I will first kiss him, because he throws away the things about which others are in a flutter, and their fears, and employs his thoughts about his own affairs and his own condition. Then I shall say to him: “If you do not choose to desire that which you will fall to obtain nor to attempt to avoid that into which you will fall, desire nothing which belongs to others, nor try to avoid any of the things which are not in your power. If you do not observe this rule, you must of necessity fall in your desires and fall into that which you would avoid. What is the difficulty here? where is there room for the words, ‘How will it be?’ and ‘How will it turn out?’ and, ‘Will this happen or that?’
Now is not that which will happen independent of the will? “Yes.” And the nature of good and of evil, is it not in the things which are within the power of the will? “Yes.” Is it in your power, then, to treat according to nature everything which happens? Can any person hinder you? “No man.” No longer then say to me, “How will it be?” For however it may be, you will dispose of it well, and the result to you will be a fortunate one. What would Hercules have been if he had said, “How shall a great lion not appear to me, or a great boar, or savage men?” And what do you care for that? If a great boar appear, you will fight a greater fight: if bad men appear, you relieve the earth of the bad. “Suppose, then, that I may lose my life in this way.” You will die a good man, doing a noble act. For since we must certainly die, of necessity a man must be found doing something, either following the employment of a husbandman, or digging, or trading, or serving in a consulship or suffering from indigestion or from diarrhea. What then do you wish to be doing, when you are found by death? I for my part would wish to be found doing something which belongs to a man, beneficent, suitable to the general interest, noble. But if I cannot be found doing things so great, I would be found doing at least that which I cannot be hindered from doing, that which is permitted me to do, correcting, myself, cultivating the faculty which makes use of appearances, labouring at freedom from the affects, rendering to the relations of life their due; if I succeed so far, also touching on the third topic, safety in the forming judgements about things. If death surprises me when I am busy about these things, it is enough for me if I can stretch out my hands to God and say:
“The means which I have received from Thee for seeing Thy administration and following it, I have not neglected: I have not dishonoured Thee by my acts: see how I have used my perceptions, see how I have used my preconceptions: have I ever blamed Thee? have I been discontented with anything that happens, or wished it to be otherwise? have I wished to transgress the relations? That Thou hast given me life, I thank Thee for what Thou has given me: so long as I have used the things which are Thine, I am content; take them back and place them wherever Thou mayest choose; for Thine were all things, Thou gavest them to me.” Is it not enough to depart in this state of mind, and what life is better and more becoming than that of a man who is in this state of mind? and what end is more happy?
But that this may be done, a man must receive no small things, nor are the things small which he must lose. You cannot both wish to be a consul and to have these things, and to be eager to have lands and these things also; and to be solicitous about slaves and about yourself. But if you wish for anything which belongs to another, that which is your own is lost. This is the nature of the thing: nothing is given or had for nothing. And where is the wonder? If you wish to be a consul, you must keep awake, run about, kiss hands, waste yourself with exhaustion at other men’s doors, say and do many things unworthy of a free man, send gifts to many, daily presents to some. And what is the thing that is got? Twelve bundles of rods, to sit three or four times on the tribunal, to exhibit the games in the Circus and to give suppers in small baskets. Or, if you do not agree about this, let some one show me what there is besides these things. In order, then, to secure freedom from passions, tranquillity, to sleep well when you do sleep, to be really awake when you are awake, to fear nothing, to be anxious about nothing, will you spend nothing and give no labour? But if anything belonging to you be lost while you are thus busied, or be wasted badly, or another obtains what you ought to have obtained, will you immediately be vexed at what has happened? Will you not take into the account on the other side what you receive and for what, how much for how much? Do you expect to have for nothing things so great? And how can you? One work has no community with another. You cannot have both external things after bestowing care on them and your own ruling faculty: but if you would have those, give up this. If you do not, you will have neither this nor that, while you are drawn in different ways to both. The oil will be spilled, the household vessels will perish: but I shall be free from passions. There will be a fire when I am not present, and the books will be destroyed: but I shall treat appearances according to nature. “Well; but I shall have nothing to eat.” If I am so unlucky, death is a harbour; and death is the harbour for all; this is the place of refuge; and for this reason not one of the things in life is difficult: as soon as you choose, you are out of the house, and are smoked no more. Why, then, are you anxious, why do you lose your sleep, why do you not straightway, after considering wherein your good is and your evil, say, “Both of them are in my power? Neither can any man deprive me of the good, nor involve me in the bad against my will. Why do I not throw myself down and snore? for all that I have is safe. As to the things which belong to others, he will look to them who gets them, as they may be given by Him who has the power. Who am I who wish to have them in this way or in that? is a power ofselecting them given to me? has any person made me the dispenser of them? Those things are enough for me over which I have power: I ought to manage them as well as I can: and all the rest, as the Master of them may choose.”
When a man has these things before his eyes, does he keep awake and turn hither and thither? What would he have, or what does he regret, Patroclus or Antilochus or Menelaus? For when did he suppose that any of his friends was immortal, and when had he not before his eyes that on the morrow or the day after he or his friend must die? “Yes,” he says, “but I thought that he would survive me and bring up my son.” You were a fool for that reason, and you were thinking of what was uncertain. Why, then, do you not blame yourself, and sit crying like girls? “But he used to set my food before me.” Because he was alive, you fool, but now he cannot: but Automedon will set it before you, and if Automedon also dies, you will find another. But if the pot, in which your meat was cooked, should be broken, must you die of hunger, because you have not the pot which you are accustomed to? Do you not send and buy a new pot? He says:
“No greater ill could fall on me.”
Why is this your ill? Do you, then, instead of removing it, blame your mother for not foretelling it to you that you might continue grieving from that time? What do you think? do you not suppose that Homer wrote this that we may learn that those of noblest birth, the strongest and the richest, the most handsome, when they have not the opinions which they ought to have, are not prevented from being most wretched and unfortunate?
Some persons raise a question whether the social feeling is contained in the nature of man; and yet I think that these same persons would have no doubt that love of purity is certainly contained in it, and that, if man is distinguished from other animals by anything, he is distinguished by this. When, then, we see any other animal cleaning itself, we are accustomed to speak of the act with surprise, and to add that the animal is acting like a man: and, on the other hand, if a man blames an animal for being dirty, straightway as if we were making an excuse for it, we say that of course the animal is not a human creature. So we suppose that there is something superior in man, and that we first receive it from the Gods. For since the Gods by their nature are pure and free from corruption, so far as men approach them by reason, so far do they cling to purity and to a love of purity. But since it is impossible that man’s nature can be altogether pure being mixed of such materials, reason is applied, as far as it is possible, and reason endeavours to make human nature love
The first, then, and highest purity is that which is in the soul; and we say the same of impurity. Now you could not discover the impurity of the soul as you could discover that of the body: but as to the soul, what else could you find in it than that which makes it filthy in respect to the acts which are her own? Now the acts of the soul are movement toward an object or movement from it, desire, aversion, preparation, design, assent. What, then, is it which in these acts makes the soul filthy and impure? Nothing else than her own bad judgements. Consequently, the impurity of the soul is the soul’s bad opinions; and the purification of the soul is the planting in it of proper opinions; and the soul is pure which has proper opinions, for the soul alone in her own acts is free from perturbation and pollution.
Now we ought to work at something like this in the body also, as far as we can. It was impossible for the defluxions of the nose not to run when man has such a mixture in his body. For this reason, nature has made hands and the nostrils themselves as channels for carrying off the humours. If, then, a man sucks up the defluxions, I say that he is not doing the act of a man. It was impossible for a man’s feet not to be made muddy and not be soiled at all when he passes through dirty places. For this reason, nature has made water and hands. It was impossible that some impurity should not remain in the teeth from eating: for this reason, she says, wash the teeth. Why? In order that you may be a man and not a wild beast or a hog. It was impossible that from the sweat and the pressing of the clothes there should not remain some impurity about the body which requires to be cleaned away. For this reason water, oil, hands, towels, scrapers, nitre, sometimes all other kinds of means are necessary for cleaning the body. You do not act so: but the smith will take off the rust from the iron, and be will have tools prepared for this purpose, and you yourself wash the platter when you are going to eat, if you are not completely impure and dirty: but will you not wash the body nor make it clean? “Why?” he replies. I will tell you again; in the first place, that you may do the acts of a man; then, that you may not be disagreeable to those with whom you associate. You do something of this kind even in this matter, and you do not perceive it: you think that you deserve to stink. Let it be so: deserve to stink. Do you think that also those who sit by you, those who recline at table with you, that those who kiss you deserve the same? Either go into a desert, where you deserve to go, or live by yourself, and smell yourself. For it is just that you alone should enjoy your own impurity. But when you are in a city, to behave so inconsiderately and foolishly, to what character do you think that it belongs? If nature had entrusted to you a horse, would you have overlooked and neglected him? And now think that you have been intrusted with your own body as with a horse; wash it, wipe it, take care that no man turns away from it, that no one gets out of the way for it. But who does not get out of the way of a dirty man, of a stinking man, of a man whose skin is foul, more than he does out of the way of a man who is daubed with muck? That smell is from without, it is put upon him; but the other smell is from want of care, from within, and in a manner from a body in putrefaction.
“But Socrates washed himself seldom.” Yes, but his body was clean and fair: and it was so agreeable and sweet that tile most beautiful and the most noble loved him, and desired to sit by him rather than by the side of those who had the handsomest forms. It was in his power neither to use the bath nor to wash himself, if he chose; and yet the rare use of water had an effect. If you do not choose to wash with warm water, wash with cold. But Aristophanes says:
Those who are pale, unshod, ‘tis those I mean.
For Aristophanes says of Socrates that he also walked the air and stole clothes from the palaestra. But all who have written about Socrates bear exactly the contrary evidence in his favour; they say that he was pleasant not only to hear, but also to see. On the other hand they write the same about Diogenes. For we ought not even by the appearance of the body to deter the multitude from philosophy; but as in other things, a philosopher should show himself cheerful and tranquil, so also he should in the things that relate to the body: “See, ye men, that I have nothing, that I want nothing: see how I am without a house, and without a city, and an exile, if it happens to be so, and without a hearth I live more free from trouble and more happily than all of noble birth and than the rich. But look at my poor body also and observe that it is not injured by my hard way of living.” But if a man says this to me, who has the appearance and face of a condemned man, what God shall persuade me to approach philosophy, if it makes men such persons? Far from it; I would not choose to do so, even if I were going to become a wise man. I indeed would rather that a young man, who is making his first movements toward philosophy, should come to me with his hair carefully trimmed than with it dirty and rough, for there is seen in him a certain notion of beauty and a desire of that which is becoming; and where he supposes it to be, there also he strives that it shall be. It is only necessary to show him, and to say: “Young man, you seek beauty, and you do well: you must know then that it grows in that part of you where you have the rational faculty: seek it there where you have the movements toward and the movements from things, where you have the desire toward, ind the aversion from things: for this is what you have in yourself of a superior kind; but the poor body is naturally only earth: why do you labour about it to no purpose? if you shall learn nothing else, you will learn from time that the body is nothing.” But if a man comes to me daubed with filth, dirty, with a mustache down to his knees, what can I say to him, by what kind of resemblance can I lead him on? For about what has he busied himself which resembles beauty, that I may be able to change him and “Beauty is not in this, but in that?” Would you have me to tell him, that beauty consists not in being daubed with muck, but that it lies in the rational part? Has he any desire of beauty? has he any form of it in his mind? Go and talk to a hog, and tell him not to roll in the mud.
For this reason the words of Xenocrates touched Polemon also; since he was a lover of beauty, for he entered, having in him certain incitements to love of beauty, but he looked for it in the wrong place. For nature has not made even the animals dirty which live with man. Does a horse ever wallow in the mud or a well-bred dog? But the hog, and the dirty geese, and worms and spiders do, which are banished furthest from human intercourse. Do you, then, being a man, choose to be not as one of the animals which live with man, but rather a worm, or a spider? Will you not wash yourself somewhere some time in such manner as you choose? Will you not wash off the dirt from your body? Will you not come clean that those with whom you keep company may have pleasure in being with you? But do you go with us even into the temples in such a state, where it is not permitted to spit or blow the nose, being a heap of spittle and of snot?
When then? does any man require you to ornament yourself? Far from it; except to ornament that which we really are by nature, the rational faculty, the opinions, the actions; but as to the body only so far as purity, only so far as not to give offense. But if you are told that you ought not to wear garments dyed with purple, go and daub your cloak with muck or tear it. “But how shall I have a neat cloak?” Man, you have water; wash it. Here is a youth worthy of being loved, here is an old man worthy of loving and being loved in return, a fit person for a man to intrust to him a son’s instruction, to whom daughters and young men shall come, if opportunity shall so happen, that the teacher shall deliver his lessons to them on a dunghill. Let this not be so: every deviation comes from something which is in man’s nature; but this is near being something not in man’s nature.
When you have remitted your attention for a short time, do not imagine this, that you will recover it when you choose; but let but let this thought be present to you, that in consequence of the fault committed to-day your affairs must be in a worse condition for all that follows. For first, and what causes most trouble, a habit of not attending is formed in you; then a habit of deferring your attention. And continually from time to time you drive away, by deferring it, the happiness of life, proper behavior, the being and living conformably to nature. If, then, the procrastination of attention is profitable, the complete omission of attention is more profitable; but if it is not profitable, why do you not maintain your attention constant? “To-day I choose to play.” Well then, ought you not to play with attention? “I choose to sing.” What, then, hinders you from doing so with attention? Is there any part of life excepted, to which attention does not extend? For will you do it worse by using attention, and better by not attending at all? And what else of things in life is done better by those who do not use attention? Does he who works in wood work better by not attending to it? Does the captain of a ship manage it better by not attending? and is any of the smaller acts done better by inattention? Do you not see that, when you have let your mind loose, it is no longer in your power to recall it, either to propriety, or to modesty, or to moderation: but you do everything that comes into your mind in obedience to your inclinations?
To what things then ought I to attend? First to those general (principles) and to have them in readiness, and without them not to sleep, not to rise, not to drink, not to eat, not to converse with men; that no man is master of another man’s will, but that in the will alone is the good and the bad. No man, then, has the power either to procure for me any good or to involve me in any evil, but I alone myself over myself have power in these things. When, then, these things are secured to me, why need I be disturbed about external things? What tyrant is formidable, what disease, what poverty, what offense? “Well, I have not pleased a certain person.” Is he then my work, my judgement? “No.” Why then should I trouble myself about him? “But he is supposed to be some one.” He will look to that himself; and those who think so will also. But I have One Whom I ought to please, to Whom I ought to subject myself, Whom I ought to obey, God and those who are next to Him. He has placed me with myself, and has put my will in obedience to myself alone, and has given me rules for the right use of it; and when I follow these rules in syllogisms, I do not care for any man who says anything else: in sophistical argument, I care for no man. Why then in greater matters do those annoy me who blame me? What is the cause of this perturbation? Nothing else than because in this matter I am not disciplined. For all knowledge despises ignorance and the ignorant; and not only the sciences, but even the arts. Produce any shoemaker that you please, and he ridicules the many in respect to his own work. Produce any carpenter.
First, then, we ought to have these in readiness, and to do nothing without them, and we ought to keep the soul directed to this mark, to pursue nothing external, and nothing which belongs to others, but to do as He has appointed Who has the power; we ought to pursue altogether the things which are in the power of the will, and all other things as it is permitted. Next to this we ought to remember who we are, and what is our name, and to endeavour to direct our duties toward the character of our several relations in this manner: what is the season for singing, what is the season for play, and in whose presence; what will be the consequence of the act; whether our associates will despise us, whether we shall despise them; when to jeer, and whom to ridicule; and on what occasion to comply and with whom; and finally, in complying how to maintain our own character. But wherever you have deviated from any of these rules, there is damage immediately, not from anything external, but from the action itself.
What then? is it possible to be free from faults? It is not possible; but tills is possible, to direct your efforts incessantly to being faultless. For we must be content if by never remitting this attention we shall escape at least a few errors. But now when you have said, “To-morrow I will begin to attend,” you must be told that you are saying this, “To-day I will be shameless, disregardful of time and place, mean; it will be in the power of others to give me pain; to-day I will be passionate and envious.” See how many evil things you are permitting yourself to do. If it is good to use attention to-morrow, how much better is it to do so to-day? if to-morrow it is in your interest to attend, much more is it to-day, that you may be able to do so to-morrow also, and may not defer it again to the third day.
When a man has seemed to us to have talked with simplicity about his own affairs, how is it that at last we are ourselves also induced to discover to him our own secrets and we think this to be candid behavior? In the first place, because it seems unfair for a man to have listened to the affairs of his neighbour, and not to communicate to him also in turn our own affairs: next, because we think that we shall not present to them the appearance of candid men when we are silent about our own affairs. Indeed men are often accustomed to say, “I have told you all my affairs, will you tell me nothing of your own? where is this done?” Besides, we have also this opinion that we can safely trust him who has already told us his own affairs; for the notion rises in our mind that this man could never divulge our affairs because he would be cautious that we also should not divulge his. In this way also the incautious are caught by the soldiers at Rome. A soldier sits by you in a common dress and begins to speak ill of Caesar; then you, as if you had received a pledge of his fidelity by his having begun the abuse, utter yourself also what you think, and then you are carried off in chains.
Something of this kind happens to us generally. Now as this man has confidently intrusted his affairs to me, shall I also do so to any man whom I meet? For when I have heard, I keep silence, if I am of such a disposition; but he goes forth and tells all men what he has heard. Then if I hear what has been done, if I be a man like him, I resolve to be revenged, I divulge what he has told me; I both disturb others and am disturbed myself. But if I remember that one man does not injure another, and that every man’s acts injure and profit him, I secure this, that I do not anything like him, but still I suffer what I do suffer through my own silly talk.
“True: but it is unfair when you have heard the secrets of your neighbour for you in turn to communicate nothing to him.” Did I ask you for your secrets, my man? did you communicate your affairs on certain terms, that you should in return hear mine also? If you are a babbler and think that all who meet you are friends, do you wish me also to be like you? But why, if you did well in entrusting your affairs to me, and it is not well for me to intrust mine to you, do you wish me to be so rash? It is just the same as if I had a cask which is water-tight, and you one with a hole in it, and you should come and deposit with me your wine that I might put it into my cask, and then should complain that I also did not intrust my wine to you, for you have a cask with a hole in it. How then is there any equality here? You intrusted your affairs to a man who is faithful and modest, to a man who thinks that his own actions alone are injurious and useful, and that nothing external is. Would you have me intrust mine to you, a man who has dishonoured his own faculty of will, and who wishes to gain some small bit of money or some office or promotion in the court, even if you should be going to murder your own children, like Medea? Where is this equality? But show yourself to me to be faithful, modest, and steady: show me that you have friendly opinions; show that your cask has no hole in it; and you will see how I shall not wait for you to trust me with your affairs, but I myself shall come to you and ask you to hear mine. For who does not choose to make use of a good vessel? Who does not value a benevolent and faithful adviser? who will not willingly receive a man who is ready to bear a share, as we may say, of the difficulty of his circumstances, and by this very act to ease the burden, by taking a part of it.
“True: but I trust you; you do not trust me.” In the first place, not even do you trust me, but you are a babbler, and for this reason you cannot hold anything; for indeed, if it is true that you trust me, trust your affairs to me only; but now, whenever you see a man at leisure, you seat yourself by him and say: “Brother, I have no friend more benevolent than you nor dearer; I request you to listen to my affairs.” And you do this even to those who are not known to you at all. But if you really trust me, it is plain that you trust me because I am faithful and modest, not because I have told my affairs to you. Allow me, then, to have the same opinion about you. Show me that, if one man tells his affairs to another, he who tells them is faithful and modest. For if this were so, I would go about and tell my affairs to every man, if that would make me faithful and modest. But the thing is not so, and it requires no common opinions. If, then, you see a man who is busy about things not dependent on his will and subjecting his will to them, you must know that this man has ten thousand persons to compel and hinder him. He has no need of pitch or the wheel to compel him to declare what he knows: but a little girl’s nod, if it should so happen, will move him, the blandishment of one who belongs to Caesar’s court, desire of a magistracy or of an inheritance, and things without end of that sort. You must remember, then, among general principles that secret discourses require fidelity and corresponding opinions. But where can we now find these easily? Or if you cannot answer that question, let some one point out to me a man who can say: “I care only about the things which are my own, the things which are not subject to hindrance, the things which are by nature free.” This I hold to be the nature of the good: but let all other things be as they are allowed; I do not concern myself.
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Last updated Monday, December 22, 2014 at 10:50