In what manner we ought to bear sickness.WHEN the need of each opinion comes, we ought to have it in readiness:1 on the occasion of breakfast, such opinions as relate to breakfast; in the bath, those that concern the bath; in bed, those that concern bed. Let sleep not come upon thy languid eyes
Before each daily action thou hast scann'd;
What's done amiss, what done, what left undone;
From first to last examine all, and then
Blame what is wrong, in what is right rejoice.
2 And we ought to retain these verses in such way that we may use them, not that we may utter them aloud, as when we exclaim 'Paean Apollo.'3 Again in fever we should have ready such opinions as concern a fever; and we ought not, as soon as the fever begins, to lose and forget all. (A man who has a fever) may say: If I philosophize any longer, may I be hanged: wherever I go, I must take care of the poor body, that a fever may not come.4 But what is philosophizing? Is it not a preparation against events which may happen? Do you not understand that you are saying something of this kind? “If I shall still prepare myself to bear with patience what happens, may I be hanged.” But this is just as if a man after receiving blows should give up the Pancratium. In the Pancratium it is in our power to desist and not to receive blows. But in the other matter if we give up philosophy, what shall we gain? What then should a man say on the occasion of each painful thing? It was for' this that I exercised myself, for this I disciplined myself. God says to you, Give me a proof that you have duly practised athletics,5 that you have eaten what you ought, that you have been exercised, that you have obeyed the aliptes (the oiler and rubber). Then do you show yourself weak when the time for action comes? Now is the time for the fever. Let it be borne well. Now is the time for thirst, bear it well; now is the time for hunger, bear it well. Is it not in your power? who shall hinder you? The physician will hinder you from drinking; but he cannot prevent you from bearing thirst well: and he will hinder you from eating; but he cannot prevent you from bearing hunger well. But I cannot attend to my philosophical studies.6 And for what purpose do you follow them? Slave, is it not that you may be happy, that you may be constant, is it not that you may be in a state conformable to nature and live so? What hinders you when you have a fever from having your ruling faculty conformable to nature? Here is the proof of the thing, here is the test of the philosopher. For this also is a part of life, like walking, like sailing, like journeying by land, so also is fever. Do you read when you are walking? No. Nor do you when you have a fever. But if you walk about well, you have all that belongs to a man who walks. If you bear a fever well, you have all that belongs to a man in a fever. What is it to bear a fever well? Not to blame God or man; not to be afflicted at that which happens, to expect death well and nobly, to do what must be done: when the physician comes in, not to be frightened at what he says; nor if he says, 'you are doing well,'7 to be overjoyed. For what good has he told you? and when you were in health, what good was that to you? And even if he says, 'you are in a bad way,' do not despond. For what is it to be ill? is it that you are near the severance of the soul and the body? what harm is there in this? If you are not near now, will you not afterwards be near? Is the world going to be turned upside down when you are dead? Why then do you flatter the physician?8 Why do you say if you please, master, I shall be well?9 Why do you give him an opportunity of raising his eyebrows (being proud; or showing his importance)?10 Do you not value a physician, as you do a shoemaker when he is measuring your foot, or a carpenter when he is building your house, and so treat the physician as to the body which is not yours, but by nature dead? He who has a fever has an opportunity of doing this: if he does these things, he has what belongs to him. For it is not the business of a philosopher to look after these externals, neither his wine nor his oil nor his poor body, but his own ruling power. But as to externals how must he act? so far as not to be careless about them. Where then is there reason for fear? where is there then still reason for anger, and of fear about what belongs to others, about things which are of no value? For we ought to have these two principles in readiness, that except the will nothing is good nor bad; and that we ought not to lead events, but to follow them.11—My brother12 ought not to have behaved thus to me.—No; but he will see to that: and, however he may behave, I will conduct myself towards him as I ought. For this is my own business: that belongs to another; no man can pre- vent this, the other thing can be hindered.