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In what a man ought to be exercised who has made proficiency;1 and that we neglect the chief things.

THERE are three things (topics, τόποι) in which a man ought to exercise himself who would be wise and good.2 The first concerns the desires and the aversions, that a man may not fail to get what he desires, and that he may not fall into that which he does not desire.3 The second concerns the movements (towards an object) and the movements from an object, and generally in doing what a man ought to do, that he may act according to order, to reason, and not carelessly. The third thing concerns freedom from deception and rashness in judgment, and generally it concerns the assents (συγκαταθέσεις). Of these topics the chief and the most urgent is that which relates to the affects (τὰ πάθη, perturbations); for an affect is produced in no other way than by a failing to obtain that which a man desires or falling into that which a man would wish to avoid. This is that which brings in per- turbations, disorders, bad fortune, misfortunes, sorrows, lamentations, and envy; that which makes men envious and jealous; and by these causes we are unable even to listen to the precepts of reason. The second topic con- cerns the duties of a man; for I ought not to be free from affects (ἀπαθῆ) like a statue, but I ought to maintain the relations (σχέσεις) natural and acquired, as a pious man, as a son, as a father, as a citizen.

The third topic is that which immediately concerns those who are making proficiency, that which concerns the security of the other two, so that not even in sleep any appearance unexamined may surprise us, nor in intoxica- tion, nor in melancholy. This, it may be said, is above our power. But the present philosophers neglecting the first topic and the second (the affects and duties), employ themselves on the third, using sophistical arguments (μεταπίπτοντας), making conclusions from questioning, em- ploying hypotheses, lying. For a man must, as it is said, when employed on these matters, take care that he is not deceived. Who must? The wise and good man. This then is all that is wanting to you. Have you successfully worked out the rest? Are you free from deception in the matter of money? If you see a beautiful girl, do you resist the appearance? If your neighbour obtains an estate by will, are you not vexed? Now is there nothing else wanting to you except unchangeable firmness of mind (ἀμεταπτωσία)? Wretch, you hear these very things with fear and anxiety that some person may despise you, and with inquiries about what any person may say about you. And if a man come and tell you that in a certain conversa- tion in which the question was, Who is the best philoso- pher, a man who was present said that a certain person was the chief philosopher, your little soul which was only a finger's length stretches out to two cubits. But if another who is present says, You are mistaken; it is not worth while to listen to a certain person, for what does he know? he has only the first principles, and no more? then you are confounded, you grow pale, you cry out immediately, I will show him who I am, that I am a great philosopher.— It is seen by these very things: why do you wish to show it by others? Do you not know that Diogenes pointed out one of the sophists in this way by stretching out his middle finger?4 And then when the man was wild with rage, This, he said, is the certain person: I have pointed him out to you. For a man is not shown by the finger, as a stone or a piece of wood; but when any person shows the man's principles, then he shows him as a man.

Let us look at your principles also. For is it not plain that you value not at all your own will (προαίρεσις), but you look externally to things which are independent of your will? For instance, what will a certain person say? and what will people think of you? will you be considered a man of learning; have you read Chrysippus or Antipater? for if you have read Archedemus5 also, you have every thing [that you can desire]. Why are you still uneasy lest you should not show us who you are? Would you let me tell you what manner of man you have shown us that you are? You have exhibited yourself to us as a mean fellow, querulous, passionate, cowardly, finding fault with every thing, blaming every body, never quiet, vain: this is what you have exhibited to us. Go away now and read Archedemus; then if a mouse should leap down and make a noise, you are a dead man. For such a death awaits you as it did6—what was the man's name?—Crinis; and he too was proud, because he understood Archedemus.

Wretch, will you not dismiss these things that do not concern you at all? These things are suitable to those who are able to learn them without perturbation, to those who can say: “I am not subject to anger, to grief, to envy: I am not hindered, I am not restrained. What remains for me? I have leisure, I am tranquil: let us see how we must deal with sophistical arguments;7 let us see how when a man has accepted an hypothesis he shall not be led away to any thing absurd.” To them such things belong. To those who are happy it is appropriate to light a fire, to dine; if they choose, both to sing and to dance. But when the vessel is sinking, you come to me and hoist the sails.8


1 In place of προκόψαντα Schweig. suggests that we should read προκόψοντα: and this is probable.

2 καλὸς καὶ ἀγαθός is the usual Greek expression to signify a perfect man. The Stoics, according to Stobaeus, absurdly called 'virtue,' καλόν (beautiful), because it naturally 'calls' (καλεῖ) to itself those who desire it. The Stoics also said that every thing good was beautiful (καλός), and that the good and the beautiful were equivalent. The Roman expression is Vir bonus et sapiens. (Hor. Epp., i. 7, 22 and 16, 20). Perhaps the phrase καλὸς καὶ ἀγαθός arose from the notion of beauty and goodness being the combination of a perfect human being.

3 Antoninus, xi. 37, 'as to sensual desire he should altogether keep away from it; and as to avoidance [aversion] he should not show it with respect to any of the things which are not in our power.'

4 To point out a man with the middle finger was a way of showing the greatest contempt for him.

5 As to Archedemus, see ii. 4, 11. 'Απέχεις ἅπαντα: this expression is compared by Upton with Matthew vi. 2, ἀπέχουσι μισθὸν.

6 Wolf suggests οἷος. Crinis was a Stoic philosopher mentioned by Diogenes Laertius. We may suppose that he was no real philosopher, and that he died of fright.

7 See this chapter above.

8 τοὺς σιφάρους. On this reading the student may consult the note in Schweighaeuser's edition. The word σιφάρους, if it is the right reading, is not clear; nor the meaning of this conclusion. The philosopher is represented as being full of anxiety about things which do not concern him, and which are proper subjects for those only who are free from disturbing passions and are quite happy, which i not the philosopher's condition. He is compared to a sinking ship, and at this very time he is supposed to be employed in the useless labour of hoisting the sails.

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