Of the things which are, and the things which are not in our own power.Of human faculties in general, you will find that each is unable to contemplate itself, and therefore to approve or disapprove itself. How far does the proper sphere of grammar extend? As far as the judging of language. Of music? As far as the judging of melody. Does either of them contemplate itself, then? By no means. Thus, for instance, when you are to write to your friend, grammar will tell you what to write; but whether you are to write to your friend at all, or no, grammar will not tell you. Thus music, with regard to tunes; but whether it be proper or improper, at any particular time, to sing or play, music will not tell you. [p. 1004] What will tell, then? That faculty which contemplates both itself and all other things. And what is that? The Reasoning Faculty; for that alone is found able to place an estimate upon itself, - what it is, what are its powers, what its value and likewise all the rest. For what is it else that says, gold is beautiful? since the gold itself does not speak. Evidently, that faculty which judges of the appearances of things.1 What else distinguishes music, grammar, the other faculties, proves their uses, and shows their proper occasions? Nothing but this. As it was fit, then, this most excellent and superior faculty alone, a right use of the appearances of things, the gods have placed in our own power; but all other matters they have not placed in our power. What, was it because they would not? I rather think that, if they could, they had granted us these too; but they [p. 1005] certainly could not. For, placed upon earth, and confined to such a body and to such companions, how was it possible that, in these respects, we should not be hindered by things outside of us? But what says Zeus? " O Epictetus, if it had been possible, I had made this little body and property of thine free, and not liable to hindrance. But now do not mistake; it is not thy own, but only a finer mixture of clay. Since, then, I could not give thee this, I have given thee a certain portion of myself; this faculty of exerting the powers of pursuit and avoidance, of desire and aversion, and, in a word, the use of the appearances of things. Taking care of this point, and making what is thy own to consist in this, thou wilt never be restrained, never be hindered; thou wilt not groan, wilt not complain, wilt not flatter any one. How, then? Do all these advantages seem small to thee? Heaven forbid! Let them suffice thee, then, and thank the gods." But now, when it is in our power to take care of one thing, and to apply ourselves to one, we choose rather to take care of many, and to encumber ourselves with many, - body, property, brother, friend, child, and slave, - and, by this multiplicity of encumbrances, we are burdened and weighed down. Thus, when the weather does not happen to be fair for sailing, we sit in distress and gaze out perpetually. Which way is the wind? North. What good will that do us? When will the west blow? When it pleases [p. 1006] friend, or when Aeolus pleases; for Zeus has not made you dispenser of the winds, but Aeolus. What, then, is to be done? To make the best of what is in our power, and take the rest as it occurs. And how does it occur? As it pleases God. What, then, must I be the only one to lose my head? Why, would you have all the world, then, lose their heads for your consolation? Why are not you willing to stretch out your neck, like Lateranus,2 when he was commanded by Nero to be beheaded? For, shrinking a little -after receiving a weak blow, he stretched it out again. And before this, when Epaphroditus,3 the freedman of Nero, interrogated him about the conspiracy, " If I have a mind to say anything," replied he, " I will tell it to your master." What resource have we, then, upon such occasions? Why, what else but to distinguish between what is [p. 1007] ours, and what not ours, - what is right, and what is wrong? I must die, and must I die groaning too? I must be fettered; must I be lamenting too? I must be exiled; and what hinders me, then, but that I may go smiling, and cheerful, and serene? "Betray a secret." I will not betray it, for this is in my own power. "Then I will fetter you." What do you say, man? Fetter me? You will fetter my leg, but not Zeus himself can get the better of my free will. " I will throw you into prison; I will behead that paltry body of yours." Did I ever tell you that I alone had a head not liable to be cut off? These things ought philosophers to study; these ought they daily to write, and in these to exercise themselves. Thraseas4 used to say, " I had rather be killed today than banished to-morrow." But how did Rufus5 answer him? " If you prefer it as a heavier misfortune, how foolish a preference ! If as a lighter, who has put it in your power? Why do you not study to be contented with what is allotted you?" [p. 1008] Well, and what said Agrippinus 6 upon this account? "I will not be a hindrance to myself." Word was brought him, " Your cause is pending in the senate." "Good luck attend it; but it is eleven o'clock " (the hour when he used to exercise before bathing),- " let us go to our exercise." This being over, a messenger tells him, " You are condemned." " To banishment," says he, " or to death? " " To banishment." "What of my estate? " " It is not taken away." Well, then, let us go as far as Aricia,7 and dine there." This it is to have studied what ought to be studied; to have placed our desires and aversions above tyranny and above chance. I must die, -if instantly, I will die instantly; if in a short time, I will dine first, and when the hour comes, then will I die. How? As becomes one who restores what is not his own. [p. 1009]
In what manner, upon every occasion, to preserve our character.To a reasonable creature, that alone is insupportable which is unreasonable, but everything reasonable may be supported. Stripes are not in themselves insupportable. " How so? " See how the Spartans8 bear whipping, after they have learned that it is a reasonable thing. Hanging is not insupportable; for, as soon as a man has taken it into his head that it is reasonable, he goes and hangs himself. In short, we shall find by observation that no creature is oppressed so much by anything as by what is unreasonable; nor on the other hand, attracted to anything so strongly, as to what is reasonable. But it happens that different things are reasonable and unreasonable, as well as good and bad, advantageous and disadvantageous, to different persons. On this account, chiefly, we stand in need of a liberal education, to teach us to adapt the preconceptions of reasonable and unreasonable to particular cases, con- [p. 1010] formably to nature. But to judge of reasonable and unreasonable, we make use not only of a due estimation of things without us, but of what relates to each person's particular character. Thus, it is reasonable for one man to submit to a menial office, who considers this only, that if he does not submit to it he shall be whipt and lose his dinner, but that if he does, he has nothing hard or disagreeable to suffer; whereas to another it appears insupportable, not only to submit to such an office himself, but to respect any one else who does. If you ask me, then, whether you shall do this menial office or not, I will tell you it is a pleasanter thing to get a dinner than not, and a greater disgrace to be whipt than not to be whipt; so that, if you measure yourself by these things, go and do your office. " Ay, but this is not suitable to my character." It is you who are to consider that, not I; for it is you who know yourself, what value you set upon yourself, and at what rate you sell yourself; for different people sell themselves at different prices. Hence Agrippinus,9 when Florus was deliberating whether he should go to Nero's shows, and perform some part in them himself, bid him go. "But why do not you go, then? " says Florus. " Because," re- [p. 1011] plied Agrippinus, " I do not deliberate about it." For he who once sets himself about such considerations, and goes to calculating the worth of external things, approaches very near to those who forget their own character. Why, then, do you ask me whether death or life be the more eligible? I answer, life. Pain or pleasure? I answer, pleasure. " But if I do not act a part, I shall lose my head." Go and act it, then, but I will not. "Why?" Because you esteem yourself only as one thread of many that make up the piece. "What then?" You have nothing to care for, but how to be like the rest of mankind, as one thread desires not to be distinguished from the others. But I would be the purple,10 that small and brilliant part, which gives a lustre and beauty to the rest. Why, then, do you bid me resemble the multitude? At that rate, how shall I be the purple? This Priscus Helvidius,11 too, saw, and acted accordingly; for when Vespasian had sent to forbid his going to the Senate, he answered, " It is in your power to prevent my continuing a senator; but while I am one I must go." - "Well, then, at least be silent [p. 1012] there." "Do not ask my opinion and I will be silent." -" But I must ask it." " And I must speak what appears to me to be right." - "But if you do, I will put you to death." "When did I ever tell you that I was immortal? You will do your part, and I mine; it is yours to kill, and mine to die intrepid; fours to banish, mine to depart untroubled." What good, then, did Priscus do, who was but a single person?, Why, what good does the purple do to the garment? What, but to be beautiful in itself, and to set a good example to the rest? Another, perhaps, if in such circumstances Caesar had forbidden his going to the Senate, would have answered, " I am obliged to you for excusing me." But such a one he would not have forbidden to go, - well knowing that he would either sit like a statue, or, if he spoke, would say what he knew to be agreeable to Caesar, and would overdo it by adding still more. Thus acted even a wrestler, who was in danger of death, unless he consented to an ignominious amputation. His brother, who was a philosopher, coming to him, and saying " Well, brother, what do you design to do? Let us cut away this part, and return again to the field." He refused, and courageously died. When it was asked whether he acted thus as a wrestler, or a philosopher, I answer, as a man, said Epictetus; but as a man who had been proclaimed a champion at the Olympic games; who had been used to such places, and not exercised merely in the school [p. 1013] of Bato.12 Another would have had his very head cut off, if he could have lived without it. This is that regard to character, so powerful with those who are accustomed to introduce it, from their own breasts, into their deliberations. "Come now, Epictetus, take off your beard."13 If I am a philosopher, I answer, I will not take it off. - "Then I will take off your head." If that will do you any good, take it. It was asked, How shall each of us perceive what belongs to his character? Whence, replied Epictetus, does a bull, when the lion approaches, alone recognize his own qualifications, and expose himself alone for the whole herd? It is evident that with the qualifications occurs, at the same time, the consciousness of being indued with them. And in the same manner, whoever of us hath such qualifications will not be ignorant of them. But neither is a bull nor a gallant-spirited man formed all at once. We are to exercise, and qualify ourselves, and not to run rashly upon what doth not concern us. Only consider at what price you sell your own free will, O man ! - if only that you may not sell it for a trifle. The highest greatness and excellence perhaps seem to belong to others, to such as Socrates. Why, [p. 1014] then, as we are born with a like nature, do not all, or the greater number, become such as he? Why, are all horses swift? Are all dogs sagacious? What, then, because my gifts are humble shall I neglect all care of myself? Heaven forbid ! Epictetus may not surpass Socrates, - granted; but could I overtake him it might be enough for me. I shall never be Milo, and yet I do not neglect my body; nor Croesus, and yet I do not neglect my property; nor should we omit any effort from a despair of arriving at the highest.
How, from the doctrine that god is the father of mankind, we may proceed to its consequences.If a person could be persuaded of this principle as he ought, that we are all originally descended from God, and that he is the father of men and gods, I conceive he never would think of himself meanly or ignobly. Suppose Caesar were to adopt you, there would be no bearing your haughty looks; and will you not feel ennobled on knowing yourself to be the son of God? Yet, in fact, we are not ennobled. But having two things united in our composition, a body in common with the brutes, and reason in common with the gods, many incline to this unhappy and mortal kindred, and only some few to that which is happy [p. 1015] and divine. And, as of necessity every one must treat each particular thing according to the notions he forms about it, so those few who suppose that they are made for faith and honor and a wise use of things will never think meanly or ignobly concerning themselves. But with the multitude the case is contrary. "For what am I? A poor contemptible man, with this miserable flesh of mine?" Miserable indeed; but you have likewise something better than this poor flesh. Why, then, overlooking that, do you pine away in attention to this? By means of this [animal] kindred some of us, deviating towards it, become like wolves, faithless, and crafty, and mischievous; others, like lions, wild and savage and untamed; but most of us foxes, and disgraceful even among brutes. For what else is a slanderous and ill-natured man but a fox, or something yet more wretched and mean? Watch and take heed, then, that you do not sink thus low.
Of progress.He who is entering on a state of progress, having learned from the philosophers that good should be sought and evil shunned, and having learned, too, that prosperity and peace are no otherwise at- [p. 1016] tainable by man than in not missing what he seeks, nor incurring what he shuns, - such a one totally extirpates and banishes all wayward desire, and shuns only those things over which he can have control. For if he should attempt to shun those things over which he has no control, he knows that he must sometimes incur that which he shuns, and be unhappy. Now if virtue promises happiness, prosperity, and peace, then progress in virtue is certainly progress in each of these. For to whatever point the perfection of anything absolutely brings us, progress is always an approach towards it. How happens it, then, that when we confess virtue to be such, yet we seek, and make an ostentatious show of progress in other things ! What is the business of virtue? A life truly prosperous. Who is in a state of progress, then? He who has best studied Chrysippus?14 Why, does virtue consist in having read Chrysippus through? If so, progress is confessedly nothing else than understanding a great deal of Chrysippus; otherwise we confess virtue to consist in one thing, and declare progress, which is an approach to it, to be quite another thing. This person, they say, is already able to understand Chrysippus, by himself. "Certainly, sir, you have [p. 1017] made a vast improvement!" What improvement? Why do you delude him? Why do you withdraw him from a sense of his real needs? Why do not you show him the real function of virtue, that he may know where to seek progress? Seek it there, O unfortunate, where your work lies. And where does your work lie? In learning what to seek and what to shun, that you may neither be disappointed of the one nor incur the other; in practising how to pursue and how to avoid, that you may not be liable to fail; in practising intellectual assent and doubt, that you may not be liable to be deceived. These are the first and most necessary things. But if you merely seek, in trembling and lamentation, to keep away all possible ills, what real progress have you made? Show me then your progress in this point. As if I should say to a wrestler, Show me your muscle; and he should answer me, " See my dumb-bells." Your dumb-bells are your own affair; I desire to see the effect of them. "Take the treatise on the active powers, and see how thoroughly I have perused it." I do not inquire into this, O slavish man, but how you exert those powers, how you manage your desires and aversions, your intentions and purposes, how you meet events, -whether in accordance with nature's laws or contrary to them. If in accordance, give me evidence of that, and I will say you improve; if the contrary, you may go your way, and not only [p. 1018] comment on these treatises, but write such yourself; and yet what service will it do you? Do not you know that the whole volume is sold for five denarii? Does he who comments upon it, then, value himself at more than that sum? Never make your life to lie in one thing and yet seek progress in another. Where is progress, then? If any of you, withdrawing himself from externals, turns to his own will, to train, and perfect, and render it conformable to nature, - noble, free, unrestrained, unhindered, faithful, humble ; - if he has learned, too, that whoever desires or shuns things beyond his own power can neither be faithful nor free, but must necessarily take his chance with them, must necessarily too be subject to others, to such as can procure or prevent what he desires or shuns; if, rising in the morning, he observes and keeps to these rules; bathes regularly, eats frugally, and to every subject of action applies the same fixed principles,-if a racer to racing, if an orator to oratory,-this is he who truly makes progress; this is he who has not labored in vain. But if he is wholly intent on reading books, and has labored that point only, and travelled for that, I bid him go home immediately and do his daily duties; since that which he sought is nothing. The only real thing is to study how to rid life of lamentation, and complaint, and Alas ! and I am undone, and misfortune, and failure; and to learn what death, what exile, what a prison, what poison is; that [p. 1019] he may be able to say in a prison, like Socrates, "My dear Crito, if it thus pleases the gods, thus let it be; " and not, "Wretched old man, have I kept my gray hairs for this!" [Do you ask] who speaks thus? Do you think I quote some mean and despicable person? Is it not Priam who says it? Is it not Oedipus? Nay, how many kings say it? For what else is tragedy but the dramatized sufferings of men, bewildered by an admiration of externals? If one were to be taught by fictions that things beyond our will are nothing to us, I should rejoice in such a fiction, by which I might live prosperous and serene. But what your own aims are, it is your business to consider. Of what service, then, is Chrysippus to us? To teach you that those things are not false on which true prosperity and peace depend. "Take my books, and you will see how true and conformable to nature those things are which give me peace." How great a happiness ! And how great the benefactor who shows the way! To Triptolemus15 all men have raised temples and altars, because he gave us a milder kind of food ; but to him who has discovered and brought to light and communicated the truth to all, - the means, not merely of living, but of living well, - who among you ever raised an altar or a temple, or dedicated a statue; or who worships God in his name? [p. 1020] We offer sacrifices in memory of those who have given us corn and the vine; and shall we not give thanks to God for those who have nurtured such fruit in the human breast, - even the truth which makes us blessed?
Concerning the academics.16It is said that there are those who will oppose very evident truths, and yet it is not easy to find a reason which may persuade such an one to alter his opinion. This may arise neither from his own strength nor from the weakness of his teacher; but when a man becomes obstinate in error, reason cannot always reach him. Now there are two sorts of obstinacy: the one, of the intellect; the other, of the will. A man may obstinately set himself not to assent to evident truths, nor to quit the defence of contradictions. We all dread a bodily paralysis, and would make use of every contrivance to avoid it; but none of us is troubled about a paralysis of the soul. And yet, indeed, even with regard to the soul, when a person is so affected as not to apprehend or understand anything, we think him in a sad condition; but where the emo- [p. 1021] tions of shame and modesty are under an absolute paralysis, we go so far as even to call this strength of mind! Are you certain that you are awake? "I am not," replies such a person, " for neither am I certain when in dreaming I appear to myself to be awake." Is there no difference, then, between these appearances? "None." Shall I argue with this man any longer? For what steel or what caustic can I apply, to make him sensible of his paralysis? If he is sensible of it, and pretends not to be so, he is even worse than dead. He sees not his inconsistency, or, seeing it, holds to the wrong. He moves not, makes no progress; he rather falls back. His sense of shame is gone; his reasoning faculty is not gone, but brutalized. Shall I call this strength of mind? By no means, - unless we allow it to be such in the vilest debauchees publicly to speak and act out their worse impulses.
Of providence.For every event that happens in the world it is easy to give thanks to Providence, if a person has but these two qualities in himself: a habit of closely considering what happens to each individual, [p. 1022] and a grateful temper. Without the first, he will not perceive the usefulness of things which happen; and without the other, he will not be thankful for them. If God had made colors, and had not made the faculty of seeing them, what would have been their use? None. On the other hand, if he had made the faculty of observation, without objects to observe, what would have been the use of that? None. Again, if he had formed both the faculty and the objects, but had not made the light of day? Neither in that case would they have been of any use. Who is it, then, that has fitted each of these to the other? Who is it that has fitted the sword to the scabbard, and the scabbard to the sword? Is there no such Being? From the very construction of a complete work, we are used to declare positively that it must be the operation of some artificer, and not the effect of mere chance. Does every such work, then, demonstrate an artificer, and do not visible objects, and the sense of seeing, and light, demonstrate one? Do not the difference of the sexes, and their inclination to each other, and the use of their several powers, - do not these things demonstrate an artificer? Most certainly they do. But further; this constitution of understanding, by which we are not simply impressed by sensible objects, but take and subtract and add and combine, and pass from point to point by inference, - is not all this sufficient to prevail on some men, and make them [p. 1023] ashamed of leaving an artificer out of their scheme? If not, let them explain to us what the power is that effects each of these, and how it is possible that chance should produce things so wonderful, and which carry such marks of design. What, then, do these things belong to us alone? Many, indeed, - such as are peculiarly necessary for a reasonable creature; but you will find many which are common to us with mere animals. Then, do they too understand what happens? Not at all; for use is one affair, and understanding another. But God had need of animals to make use of things, and of us to understand that use. It is sufficient, therefore, for them to eat, and drink, and sleep, and continue their species, and perform other such offices as belong to each of them; but to us, to whom He has given likewise a faculty of understanding, these offices are not sufficient. For if we do not proceed in a wise and systematic manner, and suitably to the nature and constitution of each thing, we shall never attain our end. For where the constitution of beings is different, their offices and ends are different likewise. Thus where the constitution is adapted only to use, there use is alone sufficient; but where understanding is added to use, unless that too be duly exercised the end of such a being will never be attained. Well, then, each of the animals is constituted either for food, or husbandry, to produce milk, or for some other like use; and for these purposes what [p. 1024] need is there of understanding things, and being able to discriminate concerning them? But God has introduced man, as a spectator of Himself and of his works; and not only as a spectator, but an interpreter of them. It is therefore shameful that man should begin and end where irrational creatures do. He is indeed to begin there, but to end where nature itself has fixed our end; and that is, in contemplation and understanding, and in a scheme of life conformable to nature. Take care, then, not to die without the contemplation of these things. You take a journey to Olympia to behold the work of Phidias, and each of you thinks it a misfortune to die without a knowledge of such things; and will you have no inclination to see and understand those works for which there is no need to take a journey, but which are ready and at hand even to those who bestow no pains! Will you never perceive what you are, or for what you were born, or for what purpose you are admitted to behold this spectacle? "But there are in life some things unpleasant and difficult." And are there none at Olympia? Are you not heated? Are you not crowded? Are you not without good conveniences for bathing? Are you not wet through when it happens to rain? Do you not have uproar, and noise, and other disagreeable circumstances? But, I suppose, by comparing all these with [p. 1025] the merit of the spectacle, you support and endure them. Well, and have you not received faculties by which you may support every event [of life]? Have you not received greatness of soul? Have you not received a manly spirit? Have you not received patience? What signifies to me anything that happens, while my soul is above it? What shall disconcert or trouble or appear grievous to me? Shall I neglect to use my powers to that purpose for which I received them; and shall I lament and groan at every casualty? "True, no doubt; but I have such a disagreeable catarrh !" Attend to your diseases, then, as best you can. Do you say it is unreasonable that there should be such a discomfort in the world? And how much better is it that you should have a catarrh than complain? Pray, what figure do you think Hercules would have made if there had not been a lion, and a hydra, and a stag, and unjust and brutal men, whom he expelled and cleared away? And what would he have done if none of these had existed? Is it not plain that he must have wrapped himself up and slept? In the first place, then, he would never have become a Hercules by slumbering away his whole life in such delicacy and ease; or if he had, what good would it have done? What would have been the use of his arm and his strength, of his patience and greatness of mind, if such circumstances and subjects of action had not roused and exercised him? [p. 1026] What, then, must we provide these things for ourselves; and introduce a boar and a lion and a hydra into our country? This would be madness and folly. But as they were in being, and to be met with, they were proper subjects to call out and exercise Hercules. Do you therefore likewise, being sensible of this, consider the faculties you have, and after taking a view of them say, "Bring on me now, O Zeus, what difficulty thou wilt, for I have faculties granted me by thee, and powers by which I may win honor from every event "? No; but you sit trembling, for fear this or that should happen, and lamenting and mourning and groaning at what doth happen; and then you accuse the gods! In what does such baseness end but in impiety? And yet God has not only granted these faculties by which we may bear every event without being depressed or broken by it, but, like a good prince and a true father, has placed their exercise above restraint, compulsion, or hindrance, and wholly within our own control; nor has he reserved a power, even to himself, of hindering or restraining them. Having these things free, and your own, will you not use them, nor consider what you have received, nor from whom? But you sit groaning and lamenting, some of you, blind to him who gave them, and not acknowledging your benefactor; while others basely turn themselves to complaints and accusations against God ! I undertake to show you that you have means [p. 1027] and faculties to exhibit greatness of soul, and a manly spirit; but what occasion you have to find fault and complain, do you show me if you can.
Of the use of the forms of right reasoning.It is not understood by most persons that the proper use of inferences and hypotheses and interrogations, and logical forms generally, has any relation to the duties of life. In every matter of action the question is, how a wise and good man may come honestly and consistently out of it. We must admit, therefore, either that the wise man will not engage in difficult problems or that, if he does, he will not think it worth his care to deal with them thoroughly; or if we allow neither of these alternatives, it is necessary to confess that some examination ought to be made of those points on which the solution of these problems chiefly depends. For what is reasoning? To lay down true positions, to reject false ones, and to suspend the judgment in doubtful ones. Is it enough, then, to have learned merely this? It is enough, say you. Is it enough, then, for him who would not commit any mistake in the use of money, merely to have heard that we are to receive the good pieces, and to reject the bad? This is not enough. What must be [p. 1028] added besides? That skill which tries and distinguishes what pieces are good, what bad. Therefore, in reasoning too, the definition just given is not enough; but it is necessary that we should be able to prove and distinguish between the true and the false and the doubtful. This is clear. And what further is attempted in reasoning? To admit the logical consequence of whatever you have properly granted. Well, and is it enough merely to know this necessity? It is not; but we must learn how it happens that such a thing is the consequence of such another, and when one thing follows from one premise, and when from many premises. Is it not moreover necessary that he who would acquit himself skilfully in reasoning should both himself demonstrate whatever he asserts and be able to comprehend the demonstrations of others, and not be deceived by such as use sophistry as if they were reasoning fairly? Hence arises the use and practice of logical forms; and it appears to be indispensable. But it may possibly happen that from the premises which we have honestly granted there arises some consequence which, though false in itself, is nevertheless a fair inference. What then ought I to do? To admit a falsehood? Impossible. To take back my concessions? But this will not be allowed. Or assert that the consequence does not fairly follow from the premises? Nor is even this practicable. What then, is to be done in the case? Is it not this? As [p. 1029] the having once borrowed money is not enough to make a person a debtor, unless he still continues to owe money and has not paid it, so the having granted the premises is not enough to make it necessary to grant the inference, unless we continue our concessions. If the premises continue to the end such as they were when the concessions were made, it is absolutely necessary to continue the concessions, and to admit what follows from them. But if the premises do not continue such as they were when the concession was made, it is absolutely necessary to revoke the concession, and refuse to accept the inference. For this inference is no consequence of ours, nor belongs to us, when we have revoked the concession of the premises. We ought then thoroughly to consider our premises and their different aspects, on which any one, by laying hold, - either on the question itself or on the answer, or on the inference, or elsewhere, -may embarrass the unthinking who did not foresee the result. So that in this way we may not be led into any unbecoming or confused position. The same thing is to be observed in hypotheses and hypothetical arguments. For it is sometimes necessary to require some hypothesis to be granted, as a kind of step to the rest of the argument. Is every given hypothesis, then, to be granted, or not every one? and if not every one, which? And is he who has granted an hypothesis forever to abide by it ! Or is he sometimes to revoke it, and admit only conse- [p. 1030] quences, but not to admit contradictions? Ay, but a person may say, on your admitting a possible hypothesis, "I will drive you upon an impossibility." With such a one as this, shall the wise man never engage, but avoid all argument and conversation with him? And yet who beside the wise man is capable of treating an argument, or who beside is sagacious in reasoning, and incapable of being deceived and imposed on by sophistry? Or will he indeed engage, but without regarding whether he behaves rashly and heedlessly in the argument? Yet how, then, can he be wise, as we are supposing him? and without some such exercise and preparation, how can he hold his own? If this could be shown, then indeed all these forms of reasoning would be superfluous and absurd, and unconnected with our idea of the virtuous man. Why, then, are we still indolent, and slothful, and sluggish, seeking pretences of avoiding labor? Shall we not be watchful to render reason itself accurate? "But suppose, after all, I should make a mistake in these points, - it is not as if I had killed my father." O slavish man, in this case you had no father to kill. but the only fault that you could commit in this instance, you have committed. This very thing I myself said to Rufus when he reproved me for not finding the weak point in some syllogism. "Why," said I, "have I burnt the capitol then?" "Slave !" answered he, "was the thing here involved the capitol? Or are there no other faults but burning the capitol, or [p. 1031] killing a father?" And is it no fault to treat rashly, and vainly, and heedlessly, the things which pass before our eyes, - not to comprehend a reason, nor a demonstration, nor a sophism; nor, in short, to see what is strong in reasoning and what is weak? Is there nothing wrong in this?
That logical subtleties are not safe to the uninstructed.In as many ways as equivalent syllogisms may be varied, in so many may the technical forms be varied likewise. As, for instance: "If you had borrowed and not paid, you owe me money; but you have not borrowed and not paid; therefore you do not owe me money." To perform these processes skilfully, is held to be the peculiar mark of a philosopher. For if an enthymema be an imperfect syllogism, he who is versed in the perfect syllogism must be equally ready to detect an imperfect one. "Why, then, do not we exercise ourselves and others after this manner?" Because, even now, though we are not wholly absorbed in these things, nor diverted, by me at least, from the study of morality, yet we make no eminent advances in virtue. What is to be expected, then, if [p. 1032] we should add this avocation too? Especially as it would not only withdraw us from more necessary studies, but likewise afford a capital occasion of conceit and insolence. For the faculty of arguing and of persuasive reasoning is great; and particularly, if it is constantly practised, and receives an additional ornament from rhetoric. In general, every such faculty is dangerous to weak and uninstructed persons, as being apt to render them arrogant and elated. For by what method can one persuade a young man who excels in these kinds of study that he ought not to be an appendage to these accomplishments, but they to him? Will he not trample upon all such advice, and walk about elated and puffed up, not bearing that any one should touch him, to put him in mind where he is wanting, and in what he goes wrong? "What, then, was not Plato a philosopher?" Well, and was not Hippocrates a physician? Yet you see how he expresses himself. But what has his style to do with his professional qualities? Why do you confound things accidentally united in the same men? If Plato was handsome and well made, must I too set myself to becoming handsome and well made, - as if this was necessary to philosophy, because a certain person happened to be at once handsome and a philosopher? Why will you not perceive and distinguish what are the things that make men philosophers, and what belong to them on other accounts? Pray, [p. 1033] if I were a philosopher, would it be necessary that you should be lame too [like me]? What then? Do I reject these special faculties? By no means; neither do I reject the faculty of seeing. But if you ask me what is the good of man, I know not where it lies save in dealing wisely with the phenomena of existence.
How from the doctrine of our relationship to god we are to deduce its consequences.If what philosophers say of the kinship between God and men be true, what has any one to do but, like Socrates, when he is Asked what countryman he is, never to say that he is a citizen of Athens, or of Corinth, but of the universe? For why, if you limit yourself to Athens, do you not farther limit yourself to that mere corner of Athens where your body was brought forth? Is it not, evidently, from some larger local tie, which comprehends, not only that comer and your whole house, but the whole country of your fathers, that you call yourself an Athenian, or a Corinthian? He, then, who understands the administration of the universe, and has learned that the principal and greatest and most comprehensive of all things is this vast system, extending from men to God: and that [p. 1034] from Him the seeds of being are descended not only to one's father or grandfather, but to all things that are produced and born on earth; and especially to rational natures, since they alone are qualified to partake of a communication with the Deity, being connected with him by reason, - why may not such a one call himself a citizen of the universe ! Why not a son of God? And why shall he fear any thing that happens among men? Shall kinship to Caesar, or any other of the great at Rome, enable a man to live secure, above contempt, and void of all fear whatever; and shall not the having God for our maker, and father, and guardian, free us from griefs and alarms? "But wherewithal shall I be fed? For I have nothing." To what do fugitive slaves trust when they run away from their masters? Is it to their estates, - their servants,- their plate? To nothing but themselves. Yet they do not fail to obtain the necessaries of life. And must a philosopher, think you, leave his own abode to rest and rely upon others, and not take care of himself? Must he be more helpless and anxious than the brute beasts? -each of which is self-sufficient, and wants neither proper food nor any suitable and natural provision. One would think that you would need an instructor, not to guard you from thinking too meanly or ignobly of yourselves, but that his business would be to rear up young men of such a spirit that, knowing their affinity to the gods, [p. 1035] and that we are as it were fettered by the body and its possessions, and by so many other things as are thus made needful for the daily pursuits of life, they should resolve to throw them all off, as both troublesome and useless, and depart to their divine kindred. This is the work, if any, that ought to employ your master and preceptor if you had one, that you should come to him and say: " Epictetus, we can no longer bear being tied down to this poor body, - feeding, and resting, and cleaning it, and vexed with so many low cares on its account. Are not these things indifferent, and nothing to us, and death no evil? Are we not of kindred to God; and did we not come from him? Suffer us to go back thither from whence we came. Suffer us at length to be delivered from these fetters that bind and weigh us down. Here thieves and robbers, courts and tyrants, claim power over us, through the body and its possessions. Suffer us to show them that they have no power." And in this case it would be my part to answer: "My friends, wait for God, till he shall give the signal and dismiss you from this service; then return to him. For the present, be content to remain at this post where he has placed you. The time of your abode here is short and easy to such as are disposed like you; for what tyrant, what robber, what thief, or what court can be formidable to those who thus count for nothing the body and its possessions. Stay, nor foolishly depart." [p. 1036] Thus ought the case to stand between a preceptor and ingenuous young men. But how stands it now? The preceptor has no life in him, and you have none. When you have had enough to-day, you sit weeping about to-morrow, in regard to how you shall get food. Why, if you have it, slave, you will have it; if not, you will go out of life. The door is open, why do you lament; what room remains for tears; what occasion for flattery? Why should any one person envy another? Why should he be impressed with awe by those who have great possessions, or are placed in high rank, - especially, if they are powerful and passionate? For what can they do to us? The things which they can do, we do not regard; the things about which we are concerned, they cannot reach. Who, then, after all, shall hold sway over a person thus disposed? How behaved Socrates in regard to these things? As it became one conscious of kinship with the gods. He said to his judges:-- If you should tell me, ' We will acquit you upon condition that you shall no longer discourse in the manner you have hitherto done, nor make any disturbance among either our young or our old people,' I would answer: ' You are ridiculous in thinking that if your general had placed me in any post I ought to maintain and defend it, and choose to die a thousand times, rather than desert it, but that if God has assigned me any station or method of life, I ought to desert that for you.' [p. 1037] This it is for a man to truly recognize his relationship with God, But we habitually think of ourselves as [made up of] mere stomach and intestines and bodily parts. Because we fear, because we desire, we flatter those who can help us in these matters; we dread them too. A person desired me once to write for him to Rome. He was one vulgarly esteemed unfortunate, as he had been formerly illustrious and rich, and was afterwards stripped of all his possessions, and reduced to live here. I wrote for him in a submissive style; but after reading my letter he returned it to me and said: "I wanted your assistance, not your pity; for no evil has befallen me." Thus Rufus, to try me, used to say, " This or that you will have from your master." When I answered him, "These are mere human affairs," "Why, then," says he, " should I intercede with him,17 when you can receive from yourself things more important?" For what one has of his own, it is superfluous and vain to receive from another. Shall I, then, who can receive nobleness and a manly spirit from myself, receive an estate, or a sum of money, or a place, from you? Heaven forbid! I will not be so insensible of my own possessions. But if a person is fearful and abject, what else is necessary but to apply for permission to bury him as if he were dead? " Please forward to us [p. 1038] the corpse of such a one." For, in fact, such a one is that, and nothing more. If he were anything more, he would be sensible that man is not to be made miserable at the will of his fellow-man.
Concerning those who seek preferment at Rome.If we all applied ourselves as heartily to our proper business as the old politicians at Rome to their schemes, perhaps we too might accomplish something. I know a man older than I am, who is now a commissary at Rome. When he passed through this place, on his return from exile, what an account did he give me of his former life; and how did he promise that for the future, when he had returned he would apply himself to nothing but how to spend the remainder of his days in repose and tranquillity. "For how few have I now remaining! " he said. "You will not do it," said I. "When you are once within reach of Rome you will forget all this; and if you can but once gain admittance to court, you will be rejoiced and thank God." "It you ever find me, Epictetus," said he, "putting one foot into the court, think of me whatever you please." Yet, after all, how did he act? Before he entered the city he was met by a letter from Caesar. On receiving it he forgot all his former [p. 1039] resolutions; and has ever since been accumulating affairs upon himself. I should be glad now to have an opportunity of putting him in mind of his discourse upon the road, and of pointing out by how much I was the truer prophet. What, then, do I say? that man is made for an inactive life? No, surely. But why is not this life of ours fill of action? For my own part, I wake at dawn with my head full of my lessons for the coming day, and then say to myself, quickly, What is it to me how such a one recites? My present business is to sleep. What comparison can be made between their kind of activity and ours? If you consider what it is they do, you will see; for about what are they employed the whole day but in calculating, contriving, consulting, - about provisions, about an estate, or other interests like these? Is there any likeness, then, between reading a petition, " I entreat you to give me a permission to export corn," and this, " I entreat you to learn from Chrysippus what the administration of the universe is, and what place a reasonable creature holds in it; learn, too, what you yourself are, and wherein your good and evil consist"? Are these things at all alike? Do they require an equal degree of application? And is it no more shameful to neglect the one than the other? Well, then, are we older men the only idle dreamers? No, but you young men are so in a greater degree. [p. 1040] And as we old folks, when we see young ones trifling, are tempted to trifle with them; so, much more, if I were to see you earnest and ardent, I should be excited to labor with you.
Of natural affection.When an important personage once came to visit him, Epictetus, having inquired into the particulars of his affairs, asked him whether he had a wife and children. The other replying that he had, Epictetus likewise inquired, In what manner do you live with them? "Very miserably," says he. How so? For men do not marry, and have children, in order to be miserable, but rather to make themselves happy. "But I am so very miserable about my children that the other day, when my daughter was sick and appeared to be in danger, I could not bear even to be with her, but ran away, till it was told me that she was recovered." And pray do you think this was acting right? " It was acting naturally," said he. Well, do but convince me that it was acting naturally, and I can as well convince you that everything natural is right. "All, or most of us fathers, are affected in the same way." I do not deny the fact; but the question between us is, whether it is right. [p. 1041] For by this way of reasoning it must be said that diseases happen for the good of the body, because they do happen; and even that vices are natural, because all, or most of us, are guilty of them. Do you show me, then, how such a behavior as yours appears to be natural. " I cannot undertake that; but do you rather show me that it is neither natural nor right." If we were disputing about black and white, what criterion must we call in, to distinguish them? "The sight." If about hot and cold, or hard and soft, what? "The touch." Well, then, when we are debating about natural and unnatural and right and wrong what criterion are we to take? "I cannot tell." And yet to be ignorant of a criterion of colors, or of smells, or tastes, might perhaps be no very great loss; but do you think that he suffers only a small loss who is ignorant of what is good and evil, and natural and unnatural to man? " No, - the very greatest." Well, tell me; are all things which are judged good and proper by some rightly judged to be so? Thus, is it possible that the several opinions of Jews, and Syrians, and Egyptians, and Romans, concerning food should all be right? " How can it be possible? " [p. 1042] I suppose, then, it is absolutely necessary that, if the opinions of the Egyptians be right, the others must be wrong; if those of the Jews be good, all the rest must be bad. " How can it be otherwise? " And where ignorance is, there likewise is want of wisdom and instruction in the most necessary points. "It is granted." Then, as you are sensible of this, you will for the future apply yourself to nothing, and think of nothing else, but how to learn the criterion of what is agreeable to nature; and to use that in judging of each particular case. At present the assistance I have to give you towards what you desire is this: Does affection seem to you to be a right and a natural thing? " How should it be otherwise? " Well, and is affection natural and right, and reason not so? "By no means." Is there any opposition, then, between reason and affection? "I think not." Suppose there were; if one of two opposites be natural, the other must necessarily be unnatural, must it not? " It must." What we find, then, to accord at once with love and reason, that we may safely pronounce to be right and good. [p. 1043] " Agreed." Well, then; you will not dispute this, that to run away, and leave a sick child, is contrary to reason. It remains for us to consider whether it be consistent with affection. " Let us consider it." Did you, then, from an affection to your child, do right in running away and leaving her? Has her mother no affection for the child? "Yes, surely she has." Would it have been right, then, that her mother too should leave her, or would it not? "It would not." And does not her nurse love her? " She does." Then ought she likewise to leave her? "By no means." And does not her preceptor love her? "He does." Then ought he also to have run away and left her - -the child being thus left alone and unassisted, from the great affection of her parents and her friends, or left to die among people who neither loved her nor took care of her? "Heaven forbid !" But is it not unreasonable and unjust that what you think right in yourself, on account of your affection, should not be allowed to others, who have the very same affection with you [p. 1044] " It is absurd." Pray, if you were ill yourself should you be willing to have your family, and even your wife and children, so very affectionate as to leave you helpless and alone? " By no means." Or would you wish to be so loved by your friends as from their excessive affection always to be left alone when you were ill? Or would you not rejoice, if it were possible, to have such a kind of affection from your enemies, as to make them thus let you alone? If so, it remains, that your behavior was by no means affectionate. But now, was there no other motive that induced you to desert your child? "How is that possible? " I mean some such motive as induced a person at Rome to hide his face while a horse was running to which he earnestly wished success; and when, beyond his expectation, it won the race he was obliged himself to be sponged, to recover from his faintness. " And what was this motive? " At present, perhaps, it cannot be made clear to you. It is sufficient to be convinced, if what philosophers say be true, that we are not to seek any motive merely from without; but that there is the same [unseen] motive in all cases, which moves us to do or forbear any action; to speak or not to speak; to be elated or depressed; to avoid or pursue, - that very impulse which hath now moved us two; you, to come, and sit and hear me; and me, to speak as I do. [p. 1045] "And what is that? " Is it anything else than that it seemed right to us to do so? "Nothing else." And if it had seemed otherwise to us. what else should we have done than what we thought right? This, and not the death of Patroclus, was the real source of the lamentation of Achilles, -for every man is not thus affected by the death of a friend, - that it seemed right to him. This too was the cause of your running away from your child, that it then seemed right; and if hereafter you should stay with her, it will be because that seems right. You are now returning to Rome because it seems right to you; but if you should alter your opinion you will not return. In a word, neither death, nor exile, nor pain, nor anything of this kind, is the real cause of our doing or not doing any action, but our inward opinions and principles. Do I convince you of this, or not? " You do." Well, then, such as the cause is, such will be the effect. From this day forward, then, whenever we do anything wrong, we will impute it to the wrong principle from which we act; and we will endeavor to remove and extirpate that, with greater care than we would remove wens and tumors from the body. In like manner, we will ascribe what we do right to the same cause; and we will accuse neither servant, nor neighbor, nor wife, nor children, as the cause of any [p. 1046] evil to us, - persuaded that if we had not accepted certain principles, we should not carry them to such consequences. The control of these principles lies in us, and not in any outward things. Of these principles we ourselves, and not things outward, are the masters. " Agreed." From this day, then, we will not so closely inquire as to any external conditions,- estate or slaves, or horses, or dogs,- but only make sure of our own principles. "Such is my desire," said the visitor. You see, then, that it is necessary for you to become a student, that being whom every one laughs at, if you really desire to make an examination of your own principles; but this, as you should know, is not the work of an hour or a day.
Of contentment.Concerning the gods, some affirm that there is no deity; others, that he indeed exists, but is slothful, negligent, and without providential care; a third class admits both his being and his providence, but only in respect to great and heavenly objects, not earthly; a fourth recognizes him both in heaven and [p. 1047] earth, but only in general, not individual matters; a fifth, like Odysseus and Socrates, says, " I cannot be hid from thee in any of my motions."18 It is, before all things, necessary to examine each of these opinions; which is, and which is not rightly spoken. Now, if there are no gods, wherefore serve them? If there are, but they take no care of anything, how is the case bettered? Or, if they both are, and take care; yet, if there is nothing communicated from them to men, and therefore certainly nothing to me, how much better is it? A wise and good man, after examining these things, submits his mind to Him who administers the whole, as good citizens do to the laws of the commonwealth. He, then, who comes to be instructed, ought to come with this aim: " How may I in everything follow the gods? How may I acquiesce in the divine administration? And how may I be free? " For he is free to whom all happens agreeably to his desire, and whom no one can unduly restrain. "What, then, is freedom mere license?" By no means; for madness and freedom are incompatible. "But I would have that happen which appears to me desirable, however it comes to appear so." You are mad; you have lost your senses. Do not you know that freedom is a very beautiful and valuable thing? But for me to choose at random, and [p. 1048] for things to happen agreeably to such a choice, may be so far from a beautiful thing, as to be of all things the most undesirable. For how do we proceed in writing? Do I choose to write the name of Dion (for instance) as I will? No, but I am taught to be willing to write it as it ought to be written. And what is the case in music? The same. And what in every other art or science? Otherwise, it would be of no purpose to learn anything if it were to be adapted to each one's particular humor. Is it, then, only in the greatest and principal matter, that of freedom, permitted me to desire at random? By no means; but true instruction is this, - learning to desire that things should happen as they do. And how do they happen? As the appointer of them hath appointed. He hath appointed that there should be summer and winter, plenty and dearth, virtue and vice, and all such contrarieties, for the harmony of the whole. To each of us he has given a body and its parts, and our several possessions and companions. Mindful of this appointment, we should enter upon a course of education and instruction, not in order to change the constitution of things,- a gift neither practicable nor desirable,-but that, things being as they are with regard to us, we may have our minds accommodated to the facts. Can we, for instance, flee from mankind? How is that possible? Can we, by conversing with them, transform them? Who has given us such a power? What, then, remains, or what method is there [p. 1049] to be found, for such a commerce with them that, while they act according to the appearances in their own minds, we may nevertheless be affected conformably to nature? But you are wretched and discontented. If you are alone, you term it a desert; and if with men, you call them cheats and robbers. You find fault too with your parents, and children, and brothers, and neighbors. Whereas you ought, if you live alone, to call that repose and freedom, and to esteem yourself as resembling the gods; and when you are in company, not to call it a crowd, and a tumult, and a trouble, but an assembly, and a festival, - and thus to take all things contentedly. What, then, is the punishment of those who do not so accept them? To be as they are. Is any one discontented with being alone? Let him remain in his desert. Discontented with his parents? Let him be a bad son; and let him mourn, Discontented with his children? Let him be a bad father. Shall we throw him into prison? What prison? Where he already is; for he is in a situation against his will, and wherever any one is against his will, that is to him a prison, -just as Socrates was not truly in prison, for he was willingly there. "What, then, must my leg be lame? " And is it for one paltry leg, wretch, that you accuse the universe? Can you not forego that, in consider tion of the whole? Can you not give up something? Can you not gladly yield it to him who gave it? And [p. 1050] will you be angry and discontented with the decrees of Zeus, - which he, with the Fates, who spun in his presence the thread of your birth, ordained and appointed? Do not you know how very small a part you are of the whole? - that is, as to body; for, as to reason, you are neither worse nor less than divine. For reason is not measured by size or height, but by principles. Will you not, therefore, place your good there where you share with the gods? "But how wretched am I, in such a father and mother !" What, then, was it granted you to come beforehand, and make your own terms, and say, "I et such and such persons, at this hour, be the authors of my birth"? It was not granted; for it was necessary that your parents should exist before you, and so you be born afterwards. Of whom? Of just such as they were. What, then, since they are such, is there no remedy afforded you? Surely, you would be wretched and miserable if you knew not the use of sight, and shut your eyes in presence of colors; and are not you more wretched and miserable in being ignorant that you have within you the needful nobleness and manhood wherewith to meet these accidents? Events proportioned to your reason are brought before you; but you turn your mind away, at the very time when you ought to have it the most open and discerning. Why do not you rather thank the gods that they have made you superior to those events which they have not placed [p. 1051] within your own control, and have rendered you accountable for that only which is within your own control? They discharge you from all responsibility for your parents, for your brothers, for your body, possessions, death, life. For what, then, have they made you responsible? For that which is alone in your own power,- a right use of things as they appear. Why, then, should you draw those cares upon yourself for which you are not accountable? This is giving one's self vexation without need.
How everything may be performed to the divine acceptance.When a person inquired how any one might eat to the divine acceptance, If he eats with justice, said Epictetus, and with gratitude, and fairly, and temperately, and decently, must he not also eat to the divine acceptance? And if you call for hot water, and your servant does not hear you, or, if he does, brings it only warm, or perhaps is not to be found at home, then to abstain from anger or petulance, is not this to the divine acceptance? " But how is it possible to bear such things? " O slavish man ! will you not bear with your own brother, who has God for his Father, as being a son [p. 1052] from the same stock, and of the same high descent? But if you chance to be placed in some superior station, will you presently set yourself up for a tyrant? Will you not remember what you are, and over whom you bear rule, -that they are by nature your relations, your brothers; that they are the offspring of God? "But I have them by right of purchase, and not they me." Do you see what it is you regard? Your regards look downward towards the earth, and what is lower than earth, and towards the unjust laws of men long dead; but up towards the divine laws you never turn your eyes.
That all things are under the divine supervision.When a person asked him, how any one might be convinced that his every act is under the supervision of God? Do not you think, said Epictetus, that all things are mutually connected and united? "I do." Well; and do not you think that things on earth feel the influence of the heavenly powers? "Yes." [p. 1053] Else how is it that in their season, as if by express command, God bids the plants to blossom and they blossom, to bud and they bud, to bear fruit and they bear it, to ripen it and they ripen; and when again he bids them drop their leaves, and withdrawing into themselves to rest and wait, they rest and wait? Whence again are there seen, on the increase and decrease of the moon, and the approach and departure of the sun, so great changes and transformations in earthly things? Have, then, the very leaves, and our own bodies, this connection and sympathy with the whole, and have not our souls much more? But our souls are thus connected and intimately joined to God, as being indeed members and distinct portions of his essence; and must he not be sensible of every movement of them, as belonging and connatural to himself? Can even you think of the divine administration, and every other divine subject, and together with these of human affairs also; can you at once receive impressions on your senses and your understanding from a thousand objects; at once assent to some things, deny or suspend your judgment concerning others, and preserve in your mind impressions from so many and various objects, by whose aid you can revert to ideas similar to those which first impressed you? Can you retain a variety of arts and the memorials of ten thousand things? And is not God capable of surveying all things, and being present with all, and in communication with all? Is the sun capable [p. 1054] of illuminating so great a portion of the universe, and of leaving only that small part of it unilluminated, which is covered by the shadow of the earth, and cannot He who made and moves the sun, a small part of himself, if compared with the whole, - cannot he perceive all things? "But I cannot," say you, "attend to all things at once." Who asserts that you have equal power with Zeus? Nevertheless, he has assigned to each man a director, his own good genius, and committed him to that guardianship, - a director sleepless and not to be deceived. To what better and more careful guardian could he have committed each one of us? So that when you have shut your doors, and darkened your room, remember never to say that you are alone; for you are not alone, but God is within, and your genius is within; and what need have they of light to see what you are doing? To this God you likewise ought to swear such an oath as the soldiers do to Caesar. For they, in order to receive their pay, swear to prefer before all things the safety of Caesar; and will you not swear, who have received so many and so great favors; or, if you have sworn, will you not fulfil the oath? And what must you swear? Never to distrust, nor accuse, nor murmur at any of the things appointed by him; nor to shrink from doing or enduring that which is inevitable. Is this oath like the former In the first oath persons swear never to dishonor Caesar: by the last. never to dishonor themselves. [p. 1055]
What philosophy promises.When one consulted him, how he might persuade his brother to forbear treating him ill, Philosophy, answered Epictetus, does not promise to procure any outward good for man; otherwise it would include something beyond its proper theme. For as the material of a carpenter is wood; of a statuary, brass; so of the art of living, the material is each man's own life. "What, then, is my brother's life? " That, again, is matter for his own art, but is external to you; like property, health, or reputation. Philosophy undertakes none of these. In every circumstance I will keep my will in harmony with nature. To whom belongs that will? To Him in whom I exist. "But how, then, is my brother's unkindness to be cured?" Bring him to me, and I will tell him; but I have nothing to say to you about his unkindness. But the inquirer still further asking for a rule for self-government, if he should not be reconciled, Epictetus answered thus, - No great thing is created suddenly, any more than [p. 1056] a bunch of grapes or a fig. If you tell me that you desire a fig, I answer you, that there must be time. Let it first blossom, then bear fruit, then ripen. Since, then, the fruit of a fig-tree is not brought to perfection suddenly, or in one hour, do you think to possess instantaneously and easily the fruit of the human mind? I warn you, expect it not.
Of providence.Be not surprised if other animals have all things necessary to the body ready provided for them, not only meat and drink, but lodging; if they want neither shoes nor bedding nor clothes, while we stand in need of all these. For they not being made for themselves, but for service, it was not fit that they should be so formed as to be waited on by others. For consider what it would be for us to take care, not only for ourselves, but for sheep and asses too,- how they should be clothed, how shod, and how they should eat and drink. But as soldiers are furnished ready for their commander, shod, clothed, and armed, - for it would be a grievous thing for a colonel to be obliged to go through his regiment to put on their clothes, - so nature has furnished these useful animals, ready provided, and standing in need of no fur- [p. 1057] ther care; so that one little boy, with only a crook, drives a flock. But we, instead of being thankful for this, complain of God that there is not the same kind of care taken of us likewise; and yet, good Heaven! any one thing in the creation is sufficient to demonstrate a Providence, to a humble and grateful mind. Not to instance great things, the mere possibility of producing milk from grass, cheese from milk, and wool from skins,- who formed and planned this? No one, say you. O surprising irreverence and dulness! But come, let us omit the primary works of nature; let us contemplate her merely incidental traits. What is more useless than the hairs upon one's chin? And yet has she not made use even of these, in the most becoming manner possible? Has she not by these distinguished the sexes? Does not nature in each of us call out, even at a distance, I am a man; approach and address me as such; inquire no further; see the characteristic? On the other hand, with regard to women, as she has mixed something softer in their voice, so she has deprived them of a beard. But no; [some think] this living being should have been left undistinguished, and each of us should be obliged to proclaim, " I am a man ! " But why is not this characteristic beautiful and becoming and venerable? How much more beautiful than the comb of cocks; how much more noble than the mane of lions! Therefore we ought to preserve the characteristics made by the [p. 1058] Creator; we ought not to reject them, nor confound, as much as in us lies, the distinct sexes. Are these the only works of Providence with regard to us? And what speech can fitly celebrate their praise? For, if we had any understanding, ought we not, both in public and in private, incessantly to sing and praise the Deity, and rehearse his benefits? Ought we not, whether we dig or plough or eat, to sing this hymn to God, - Great is God, who has supplied us with these instruments to till the ground; great is God, who has given us hands and organs of digestion; who has given us to grow insensibly, to breathe in sleep? These things we ought forever to celebrate; and to make it the theme of the greatest and divinest hymn, that he has given us the power to appreciate these gifts, and to use them well. But because the most of you are blind and insensible, there must be some one to fill this station, and lead, in behalf of all men, the hymn to God; for what else can I do, a lame old man, but sing hymns to God? Were I a nightingale, I would act the part of a nightingale were I a swan, the part of a swan; but since I am a reasonable creature, it is my duty to praise God. This is my business; I do it; nor will I ever desert this post, so long as it is permitted me; and I call on you to join in the same song. [p. 1059]
That the art of reasoning is necessary.Since it is Reason which shapes and regulates all other things, it ought not itself to be left in disorder; but by what shall it be regulated? Evidently, either by itself, or by something else. Well, either that too is Reason, or something else superior to Reason, which is impossible; and if it be Reason, what again shall regulate that? For if this Reason can regulate itself, so can the former; and if we still require any further agent, the series will be infinite and without end. " But," say you, " the essential thing is to prescribe for qualities of character." Would you hear about these, therefore? Well, hear. But then, if you say to me that you cannot tell whether my arguments are true or false, and if I happen to express myself ambiguously, and you bid me make it clearer, I will then at once show you that this is the first essential. Therefore, I suppose, they first establish the art of reasoning, - just as before the measuring of corn, we settle the measure; for, unless we first determine the measure and the weight, how shall we be able to measure or weigh? Thus, in the present case, unless we have first learned and fixed [p. 1060] that which is the criterion of other things, and by which other things are learned, how shall we be able accurately to learn anything else? How is it possible? Well, a bushel-measure is only wood, a thing of no value, but it measures corn; and logic is of no value in itself. That we will consider hereafter, but grant it now; it is enough that it distinguishes and examines, and, as one may say, measures and weighs all other things. Who says this? Is it only Chrysippus, and Zeno, and Cleanthes? Does not Antisthenes say it? And who is it, then, who has written that the beginning of a right education is the examination of words? Does not Socrates say it? Of whom, then, does Xenophon write, that he began by the examination of words, what each signified? Is this, then, the great and admirable thing, to understand or interpret Chrysippus? Who says that it is? But what, then, is the admirable thing? To understand the will of nature. Well, then; do you conform to it yourself? In that case, what need have you for any one else? For if it be true that men err but unwillingly, and if you have learnt the truth, you must needs act rightly. But, indeed, I do not conform to the will of nature. Who, then, shall interpret that? They say, Chrysippus. I go and inquire what this interpreter of nature says. Soon I cannot understand [p. 1061] his meaning; I seek one to interpret that. I call on him to explain everything as clearly as if it were in Latin. Yet what right has this last interpreter to boast? Nor has Chrysippus himself, so long as he only interprets the will of nature, and does not follow it; and much less has his interpreter. For we have no need of Chrysippus on his own account; but that, by his means, we may apprehend the will of nature; just as no one values a diviner on his own account, but that, by his assistance, men hope to understand future events and heavenly indications; nor the auguries, on their own account, but on account of what is signified by them; neither is it the raven, or the crow, that is admired, but the divine purposes displayed through their means. Thus I come to the diviner and interpreter of these higher things, and say, "Inspect the auguries for me: what is signified for me?" Having taken, and inspected them, he thus interprets them: You have a free will, O man ! incapable of being restrained or compelled. This is written here in the auguries. I will show you this, first, in the faculty of assent. Can any one restrain you from assenting to truth? No one. Can any one compel you to admit a falsehood? No one. You see, then, that you have here a free will, incapable of being restrained, or compelled, or hindered. Well, is it otherwise with regard to pursuit and desire? What can displace one pursuit. Another pursuit. What [can displace] desire and aversion? Another desire and another aversion. [p. 1062] "If you offer death as an alternative," say you, you compel me. No, not the alternative does it, but your conviction that it is better to do such a thing than to die. Here, again, you see that it is your own conviction which compels you, - that is, choice compels choice; for if God had constituted that portion which he has separated from his own essence, and given to us, capable of being restrained or compelled, either by himself, or by any other, he would not have been God, nor have fitly cared for us. These things, says the diviner, I find in the auguries. These things are announced to you. If you please, you are free. If you please, you will have no one to complain of, no one to accuse. All will be equally according to your own mind, and to the mind of God. For the sake of this oracle, I go to this diviner and philosopher; admiring not alone him for his interpretation, but also the things which he interprets.
That we ought not to be angry with the erring.If what the philosophers say be true, that all men's actions proceed from one source; that as they assent from a persuasion that a thing is so, and dissent from a persuasion that it is not, and suspend [p. 1063] their judgment from a persuasion that it is uncertain; so, likewise, they seek a thing from a persuasion that it is for their advantage, - and it is impossible to esteem one thing advantageous, and yet desire another; to esteem one thing a duty, and yet pursue another, why, after all, should we be angry at the multitude? "They are thieves and robbers." What do you mean by thieves and robbers? They are in an error concerning good and evil. Ought you, then, to be angry, or rather to pity them? Do but show them their error, and you will see that they will amend their faults; but if they do not see the error, they will rise no higher than their convictions. "What, then; ought not this thief and this adulterer to be destroyed? " Nay, call him rather one who errs and is deceived in things of the greatest importance; blinded, not in the vision, that distinguishes white from black, but in the reason, that discerns good from evil. By stating your question thus, you would see how inhuman it is, and just as if you should say, "Ought not this blind or that deaf man to be destroyed?" For, if the greatest hurt be a deprivation of the most valuable things, and the most valuable thing to every one be rectitude of will; when any one is deprived of this, why, after all, are you angry? You ought not to be affected, O man ! contrary to nature, by the evil deeds of another. Pity him rather. Yield not to hatred and anger; nor say, as many do, " What! shall these [p. 1064] execrable and odious wretches dare to act thus?" Whence have you so suddenly learnt wisdom? Why are we thus enraged? Because we make idols of those things which such people take from us. Make not an idol of your clothes, and you will not be enraged with the thief. Make not an idol of a woman's beauty, and you will not be enraged with an adulterer. Know, that thief and adulterer cannot reach the things that are properly your own; but those only which belong to others, and are not within your power. If you can give up these things, and look upon them as not essential, with whom will you any longer be enraged? But while you idolize them, be angry with yourself, rather than with others. Consider the case: you have a fine suit of clothes, your neighbor has not. You have a casement; you want to air them. He knows not in what the good of man consists, but imagines it is in a fine suit of clothes, just as you imagine. Shall he not come and take them away? When you show a cake to greedy people, and are devouring it all yourself, would you not have them snatch it from you? Do not tempt them. Do not have a casement. Do not expose your clothes. I, too, the other day, had an iron lamp burning before my household deities. Hearing a noise at the window, I ran. I found my lamp was stolen. I considered that he who took it away did nothing unaccountable. What then? I said, to-morrow you shall find an earthen one, for a man loses only what he has. "I have lost [p. 1065] my coat." Ay, because you had a coat. "I have a pain in my head." You certainly can have none in your horns. Why, then, are you out of humor? For loss and pain can be only of such things as are possessed. But the tyrant will chain - what? A leg. He will take away-what? A head. What is there, then, chat he .can neither chain nor take away? The free will. Hence the advice of the ancients, - Know thyself. "What, then, ought we to do? " Practise yourself, for Heaven's sake, in little things, and thence proceed to greater. "I have a pain in my head." Do not lament. "I have a pain in my ear." Do not lament. I do not say you may never groan, but do not groan in spirit; or if your servant be a long while in bringing you something to bind your head, do not croak and go into hysterics, and say, "( Everybody hates me." For who would not hate such a one? Relying for the future on these principles, walk erect and free, not trusting to bulk of body, like a wrestler; for one should not be unconquerable in the sense that an ass is. Who, then, is unconquerable? He whom the inevitable cannot overcome. For such a person I imagine every trial, and watch him as an athlete in each. He has been victorious in the first encounter. What will he do in the second? What, if he should be ex- [p. 1066] hausted by the heat? What, if the field be Olympia? And so in other trials. If you throw money in his way, he will despise it. Is he proof against the seductions of women? What if he be tested by fame. by calumny, by praise, by death? He is able to overcome them all. If he can bear sunshine and storm, discouragement and fatigue, I pronounce him an athlete unconquered indeed.
Of the right treatment of tyrants.When a person is possessed of some personal advantage, either real or imaginary, he will necessarily be puffed up with it, unless he has been well instructed. A tyrant openly says, " I am supreme over all." And what can you bestow on me? Can you exempt my desires from disappointment? How should you? For do you never incur what you shun? Are your own aims infallible? Whence came you by that privilege? Pray, on shipboard, do you trust to yourself, or to the pilot In a chariot, to whom but the driver? And to whom in all other arts? Just the same. In what, then, does your power consist? "All men pay regard to me." So do I to my desk. I wash it and wipe it, and drive a nail for my oil-flask. [p. 1067] "What, then; are these things to be valued beyond me?" No; but they are of some use to me, and therefore I pay regard to them. Why, do I not pay regard to an ass? Do I not wash his feet? Do I not clean him? Do not you know that every one pays such regard even to himself; and that he does it to you, just as he does to an ass? For who pays regard to you as a man? Show that. Who would wish to be like you? Who would desire to imitate you, as he would Socrates? " But I can take off your head." You say rightly. I had forgot that one is to pay regard to you as to a fever, or the cholera; and that there should be an altar erected to you, as there is to the goddess Fever at Rome. What is it, then, that disturbs and terrifies the multitude,--the tyrant and his guards? By no means. What is by nature free cannot be disturbed or restrained by anything but itself; but its own convictions disturb it. Thus, when the tyrant says to any one, " I will chain your leg," he who chiefly values his leg cries out for pity; while he who chiefly values his own free will says, "If you imagine it for your interest, chain it." "What! do you not care? " No, I do not care. "I will show you that I am master." You? How should you? Zeus has set me free. [p. 1068] What! do you think he would suffer his own son to be enslaved? You are master of my carcass; take it. "So that, when you come into my presence, you pay no regard to me? " No, but to myself; or, if you will have me recognize you also, I will do it as if you were a piece o; furniture. This is not selfish vanity; for every animal is so constituted as to do everything for itself. Even the sun does all for himself, and for that matter so does even Zeus himself; but when he would be styled the dispenser of rain and plenty, and the father of gods and men, you see that he cannot attain these offices and titles unless he contributes to the common good. And he has universally so constituted the nature of every reasonable creature, that no one can attain its own good without contributing something for the good of all. And thus it becomes not selfish to do everything for one's self; for do you expect that a man should desert himself and his own concerns, when all beings have one and the same original instinct, self-preservation? What follows then? That where we recognize those absurd convictions, which treat things outward as if they were the true good or evil of life, there must necessarily be a regard paid to tyrants; and I wish it were to tyrants only, and not to the very officers of their bed-chamber too. For how wise a man grows on a sudden, when Caesar has made him his flunkey? How immediately we say, " Felicio talked very sensibly to me ! " I wish he were [p. 1069] turned out of office, that he might once more appear to you the fool he is. Epaphroditus owned a shoemaker, whom, because he was good for nothing, he sold. This very fellow being, by some strange luck, bought by a courtier, became shoemaker to Caesar. Then, you might have seen how Epaphroditus honored him. " How is good Felicio, pray? " And, if any one of us asked what the great man himself was about, it was answered, " He is consulting about affairs with Felicio." Did he not sell him previously as good for nothing? Who, then, has all on a sudden made a wise man of him? This it is to reverence externals. Is any one exalted to the office of tribune? All who meet him congratulate him. One kisses his eyes, another his neck, and the slaves his hands. He goes to his house; finds it illuminated. He ascends the capitol; offers a sacrifice. Now, who ever offered a sacrifice for having good desires; for conforming his aims to nature? Yet we thank the gods for that wherein we place our good. A person was talking with me to-day about applying for the priesthood in the temple of Augustus. I said to him, Let the thing alone, friend; you will be at great expense for nothing. "But my name," said he, "will be written in the annals." Will you stand by, then, and tell those who read them, "I am the person whose name is written there"? And even if you could tell every one so now, what will you do [p. 1070] when you are dead? " My name will remain." Write it upon a stone, and it will remain just as well. And, pray, what remembrance will there be of you out of Nicopolis? "But I shall wear a crown of gold." If your heart is quite set upon a crown, make and put on one of roses; for it will make the prettier appearance.
In what manner reason contemplates itself.Every art, and every faculty, contemplates certain things as its principal objects. Whenever, therefore, it is of the same nature with the objects of its contemplation, it necessarily contemplates itself too; but where it is of a different nature, it cannot contemplate itself. The art of shoemaking, for instance, is exercised upon leather, but is itself entirely distinct from the materials it works upon; therefore it does not contemplate itself. Again, grammar is exercised on articulate speech. Is the art of grammar itself, then, articulate speech? By no means. Therefore, it cannot contemplate itself. To what purpose, then, is reason appointed by nature? To a proper use of the phenomena of existence. And what is reason? The art of systematizing these phenomena. Thus, by its nature, it becomes contemplative of itself too. [p. 1071] Again, what subjects of contemplation belong to prudence? Good and evil, and that which is indifferent. What, then, is prudence itself? Good. What imprudence? Evil. You see, then, that it necessarily contemplates both itself and its contrary. Therefore, the first and greatest work of a philosopher is to try to distinguish the phenomena of existence, and to admit none untried. Even in money, where our interest seems to be concerned, you see what an art we have invented, and how many ways an assayer uses to try its value, - by the sight, the touch, the smell, and, lastly, the hearing. He throws the piece down, and attends to the jingle; and is not contented with its jingling only once, but, by frequent attention to it, trains his ear for sound. So, when we think it of consequence whether we are deceived or not, we use the utmost attention to discern those things which may deceive us. But, yawning and slumbering over our poor neglected reason, we are imposed upon by every appearance, nor know the mischief done. Would you know, then, how very languidly you are affected by good and evil, and how vehemently by things indifferent, consider how you feel with regard to bodily blindness, and how with regard to being deceived; and you will find that you are far from being moved, as you ought, in relation to good and evil. " But trained powers and much labor and learning are here needed." [p. 1072] What then? Do you expect the greatest of arts to be acquired by slight endeavors? And yet the principal doctrine of the philosophers is in itself short. If you have a mind to know it, read Zeno, and you will see. It is not a long story to say, "Our end is to serve the gods," and " The essence of good consists in the proper use of the phenomena of existence." If you say, what then is God; what are phenomena; what is particular, what universal nature, - here the long story comes in. And so, if Epicurus should come and say that good lies in the body, here, too, it will be a long story; and it will be necessary to hear what is the principal, and substantial, and essential part in us. It is unlikely that the good of a snail should be placed in the shell; and is it likely that the good of a man should? You yourself, Epicurus, have in you something superior to this. What is that in you which deliberates, which examines, which recognizes the body as the principal part? Why light your lamp, and labor for us, and write so many books? That we may not be ignorant of the truth? But what are we? What are we to you? Thus the doctrine becomes a long story. [p. 1073]
Of the desire of admiration.When one maintains his proper attitude in life, he does not long after externals. What would you have, O man? " I am contented, if my desires and aversions are conformable to nature; if I seek and shun that which I ought, and thus regulate my purposes, my efforts, and my opinions." Why, then, do you walk as if you had swallowed a spit? "Because I could wish moreover to have all who meet me admire me, and all who follow me cry out, What a great philosopher! " Who are those by whom you would be admired? Are they not the very people who you used to say were mad? What, then, would you be admired by madmen?
Of general principles.The same general principles are common to all men, nor does one such principle contradict another; for which of us does not admit that good is [p. 1074] advantageous and eligible, and in all cases to be pursued and followed? Who does not admit that justice is fair and becoming? Where, then, arises the dispute? In adapting these principles to particular cases; as when one cries, "Such a person has acted well, - he is a gallant man;" and another, " No, he has acted like a fool." Hence arise disputes among men. This is the dispute between Jews and Syrians and Egyptians and Romans, - not whether the right be preferable to all things, and in every instance to be sought; but whether the eating swine's flesh be consistent with right, or not. This, too, you will find to have been the dispute between Achilles and Agamemnon; for call them forth. What say you, Agamemnon, -ought not that to be done which is fit and right? "Yes, surely." Achilles, what say you, -is it not agreeable to you, that what is right should be done? "Yes; I desire it beyond everything." Apply your principles then. Here begins the dispute. One says, "It is not fit that I should restore Chryseis to her father." The other says, "Yes; but it is." One or the other of them, certainly, makes a wrong conception of the principle of fitness. Again, the one says, " If it be fit that I should give up Chryseis, it is fit, too, that I should take some of your prizes." The other answers, "What, that you should take my mistress?" "Ay; yours." "What, mine only? Must I only, then, lose my prize?" What, then, is it to be properly educated? To [p. 1075] learn how to apply the principles of natural right to particular cases, and, for the rest, to distinguish that some things are in our power, while others are not. In our own power are the will, and all voluntary actions; out of our power, the body and its parts, property, parents, brothers, children, country, and, in short, all our fellow-beings. Where, then, shall we place good? In what shall we define it to consist? In things within our own power. "But are not health and strength and life good? And are not children, parents, country? You talk unreasonably." Let us, then, try another point of view. Can he who suffers evil, and is disappointed of good, be happy? He cannot. And can he preserve a right behavior with regard to society? How is it possible that he should? I am naturally led to seek my own highest good. If, therefore, it is my highest good to have an estate, it is for my good likewise to take it away from my neighbor. If it is my highest good to have a suit of clothes, it is for my good likewise to steal it wherever I find it. Hence wars, seditions, tyranny, unjust invasions. How shall I, if this be the case, be able any longer to do my duty towards Zeus? If I suffer evil, and am disappointed, he takes no care of me. And what is he to me if he cannot help me; or. again, what is he to me if he chooses I should be in the condition that I am? Then I begin to hate him. What, then, do we build temples, do we raise statues, to Zeus. as to evil [p. 1076] demons, as to the goddess Fever? How, then, is he the preserver, and how the dispenser of rain and plenty? If we place the essence of good on any such ground, all this will follow. What, then, shall we do? This is the inquiry which interests him who philosophizes in earnest, and to some result. Do I not now see what is good, and what is evil, or am I mad? Suppose I place good only in things dependent on my own will? Why, every one will laugh at me. Some gray-headed old fellow will come, with his fingers covered with gold rings, and will shake his head, and say, "Hark ye, child, it is fit you should learn philosophy; but it is fit, too, you should have common-sense. All this is nonsense. You learn syllogisms from philosophers; but how you are to act, you know better than they." Then what displeases you if I do know? What can I say to this unfortunate? If I make no answer, he will burst; so I must answer thus: "Bear with me, as with lovers. Granted; I am not myself. I have lost my senses."
Against Epicurus.Even Epicurus is sensible that we are by nature sociable beings; but having once placed our good in the mere outward shell, he can say nothing [p. 1077] afterwards inconsistent with that; for again, he strenuously maintains that we ought not to admire or accept anything separated from the nature of good, and he is in the right to maintain it. But how, then, arise any affectionate anxieties, unless there be such a thing as natural affection towards our offspring? Then why do you, Epicurus, dissuade a wise man from bringing up children? Why are you afraid that upon their account he may fall into anxieties? Does he fall into any for a mouse, that feeds within his house? What is it to him, if a little mouse bewails itself there? But Epicurus knew that, if once a child is born, it is no longer in our power not to love and be solicitous for it. On the same grounds he says that a wise man will not engage himself in public business, knowing very well what must follow. If men are only so many flies, why should he not engage in it? And does he, who knows all this, dare to forbid us to bring up children? Not even a sheep, or a wolf, deserts its offspring; and shall man? What would you have, that we should be as silly as sheep? Yet even these do not desert their offspring. Or as savage as wolves? Neither do these desert them. Pray, who would mind you, if he saw his child fallen upon the ground and crying? For my part, I am of opinion that your father and another, even if they could have foreseen that you would have been the author of such doctrines, would not have thrown you away. [p. 1078]
How we ought to struggle with difficulties.Difficulties are things that show what men are. For the future, in case of any difficulty, remember that God, like a gymnastic trainer, has pitted you against a rough antagonist. For what end? That you may be an Olympic conqueror; and this cannot be without toil. No man, in my opinion, has a more profitable difficulty on his hands than you have, provided you will but use it, as an athletic champion uses his antagonist. Suppose we were to send you as a scout to Rome. But no one ever sends a timorous scout, who, when he only hears a noise, or sees a shadow, runs back frightened, and says, "The enemy is at hand." So now, if you should come and tell us, "Things are in a fearful way at Rome; death is terrible, banishment terrible, calumny terrible, poverty terrible; run, good people, the enemy is at hand;" we will answer, Get you gone, and prophesy for yourself; our only fault is that we have sent such a scout. Diogenes was sent as a scout before you, but he told us other tidings. He says that death is no evil, for it is nothing base; that calumny is only the noise of madmen. And what account did this spy give us of pain, of pleasure, [p. 1079] of poverty? He says that to be naked is better than a purple robe; to sleep upon the bare ground, the softest bed; and gives a proof of all he says by his own courage, tranquillity, and freedom, and, moreover, by a healthy and robust body. "There is no enemy near," he says; " all is profound peace." How so, Diogenes? "Look upon me," he says. "Am I hurt? Am I wounded? Have I run away from any one? " This is a scout worth having. But you come, and tell us one tale after another. Go back and look more carefully, and without fear. "What shall I do, then?" What do you do when you land from a ship? Do you take away with you the rudder, or the oars? What do you take, then? Your own, your bundle and your flask. So, in the present case, if you will but remember what is your own, you will not covet what belongs to others. If some tyrant bids you put off your consular robe, -" Well, I am in my equestrian robe." Put off that too. " I have only my coat." Put off that too. "Well, I am naked." I am not yet satisfied. " Then e'en take my whole body. If I can throw off a paltry body, am I any longer afraid of a tyrant? " "But such a one will not leave me his heir." What, then, have I forgotten, that such possessions are never really mine? How, then, do we call them ours? It is as with a bed in an inn. If the landlord, when he dies. leaves you the bed. well and good; but [p. 1080] if to another, it will be his, and you will seek one elsewhere; and consequently, if you do not find one, you will sleep upon the ground; only sleep fearlessly and profoundly, and remember that tragedies find their theme among the rich and kings and tyrants. No poor man fills any other place in one than as part of the chorus; whereas, kings begin indeed with prosperity: " Crown the palace;" but continue about the third and fourth act: "Alas, Citheron! why didst thou receive me ! "19 Where are thy crowns, wretch; where is thy diadem? Cannot thy guards help thee? Whenever you are brought into any such society, think then that you meet a tragic actor, or, rather, not an actor, but Oedipus himself. "But such a one is happy; he walks with a numerous train." Well, I too walk with a numerous train. But remember the principal thing, -that the door is open. Do not be more fearful than children; but as they, when the play dues not please them, say, " I will play no longer," so do you, in the same case, say, "I will play no longer," and go; but, if you stay, do not complain. [p. 1081]
On the same subject.If these things are true; and if we are not stupid or insincere when we say that the good or ill of man lies within his own will, and that all beside is nothing to us, why are we still troubled? Why do we still fear? What truly concerns us is in no one's power; what is in the power of others concerns not us. What embarrassment have we left? " But you must direct me." Why should I direct you? Has not Zeus directed you? Has he not given you what is your own. incapable of restraint or hindrance; and what is not your own, liable to both? What directions, then, what orders, have you brought from him? " By all means guard what is your own; what belongs to others do not covet. Honesty is your own; a sense of virtuous shame is your own. Who, then, can deprive you of these? Who can restrain you from making use of them, but yourself? And how do you do it? When you make that your concern which is not truly your own, you lose that which is." Having such precepts and directions from Zeus, what sort do you still want from me? Am I better than He, or more worthy of credit? If you observe these precepts, what others [p. 1082] do you need? Are not these His? Apply the. recognized principles; apply the demonstrations of philosophers; apply what you have often heard, and what you have said yourself; what you have read, and what you have carefully studied. How long is it right to devote one's self to these things and not break up the game? As long as it goes on well. A king is chosen at the Saturnalian Festival, supposing it to be agreed to play at that game; he orders: "Do you drink; you mix the wine; you sing: you go; you come." I obey, that the game may not be broken up by my fault. [Then he orders] "I bid you think yourself to be unhappy." I do not think so; and who shall compel me to think so? Again, suppose we agree to play Agamemnon and Achilles. He who is appointed for Agamemnon says to me, " Go to Achilles, and force away Briseis." I go. "Come." I come. We should deal with life as with these imaginary orders. "Suppose it to be night." Well, suppose it. "Is it day then?" No; for I admitted the hypothesis, that it was night. "Suppose that you think it to be night." Well, suppose it. "But you must really think that it is night." That by no means follows from the hypothesis. Thus it is in the case illustrated. Suppose you have ill luck? Suppose it. "Are you then unlucky?" Yes. "Are you thoroughly unfor- [p. 1083] tunate?" Yes. "Well; but you must really regard yourself as miserable." But this is no part of the assumption, and there is a power who forbids me [to admit that]. How far, then, are we to carry such analogies? As far as is useful; that is, till we go farther than is reasonable and fit. Moreover, some are peevish and fastidious, and say, I cannot dine with such a fellow, to be obliged to hear him all day recounting how he fought in Mysia. "I told you, my friend, how I gained the eminence." There I begin to suffer another siege. But another says, " I had rather get a dinner, and hear him prate as much as he pleases." Do you decide between these opinions; but do not let it be with depression and anxiety, and the assumption that you are miserable, for no one compels you to that. Is there smoke in my house? If it be moderate, I will stay; if very great, I will go out. For you must always remember, and hold to this, that the door is open. "You are forbidden to live at Nicopolis." Then I will not live there. " Nor at Athens." Well, nor at Athens. " Nor at Rome." Nor at Rome. "But you shall live at Gyaros."20 I will live there. But suppose that living at Gyaros seems to me like living in a great smoke. I can then retire where no one can forbid me to live, for it is an abode open to [p. 1084] all, and put off my last garment, this poor body of mine; beyond this, no one has any power over me. Thus Demetrius said to Nero: "You sentence me to death; and Nature you." If I prize my body first, I have surrendered myself as a slave; if my estate, the same; for I at once betray where I am vulnerable. Just as when a reptile pulls in his head, I bid you strike that part of him which he guards; and be you assured, that wherever you show a desire to guard yourself. there your master will attack you. Remember but this, and whom will you any longer flatter or fear? "But I want to sit where the senators do." Do not you see, that by this you incommode and torment yourself? "Why, how else shall I see the show in the Amphitheatre advantageously? " Do not insist on seeing it, O man ! and you will not be incommoded. Why do you vex yourself? Or wait a little while; and when the show is over, go sit in the senators' places and sun yourself. For remember, that this holds universally, - we incommode and torment ourselves; that is, our own preconceived notions do it for us. What is it to be reviled, for instance? Stand by a stone and revile it, and what will you get by it? If you, therefore, would listen only as a stone, what would your reviler gain? But if the reviler has the weakness of the reviled for a vantage-ground, then he carries his point. [p. 1085] "Strip him" [bids the tyrant]. What mean you by him? Take my clothes, strip them, at your pleasure. "I meant only to insult you." Much good may it do you. These things were the study of Socrates; and by these means he always preserved the same countenance. Yet we had rather exercise and study anything, than how to become unrestrained and free. " But the philosophers talk paradoxes." And are there not paradoxes in other arts? What is more paradoxical than to prick any one's eye, that he may see? Should one tell this to one ignorant of surgery, would not he laugh at him? What wonder then, if in philosophy also many truths appear paradoxes to the ignorant?
What the rule of life is.S some one was reading hypothetical propositions, Epictetus remarked that it was a rule in these to admit whatever was in accordance with the hypothesis, but much more a rule in life to do what was in accordance with nature. For, if we desire in every matter and on every occasion to conform to nature, we must on every occasion evidently make it our aim, neither to omit anything thus conformabley [p. 1086] nor to admit anything inconsistent. Philosophers, therefore, first exercise us in theory, which is the more easy task, and then lead us to the more difficult; for in theory there is nothing to hinder our following what we are taught, but in life there are many things to draw us aside. It is ridiculous, then, to say we must begin with these applications, for it is not easy to begin with the most difficult; and this excuse children should make to those parents who dislike that they should study philosophy. " Am I to blame then, sir, and ignorant of my duty, and of what is incumbent on me? If this is neither to be learned, nor taught, why do you find fault with me? If it is to be taught, pray teach me yourself; or, if you cannot, let me learn it from those who profess to understand it. For what think you; that I voluntarily fall into evil, and miss good? Heaven forbid ! What, then, is the cause of my faults? Ignorance. Are you not willing, then, that I should get rid of my ignorance? Who was ever taught the art of music, or navigation, by anger? Do you expect, then, that your anger should teach me the art of living? " This, however, can properly be said only by one who is really in earnest. But he who reads these things, and applies to the philosophers, merely for the sake of showing, at some entertainment, that he understands hypothetical reasonings, what aim has he but to be admired by some senator, who happens [p. 1087] to sit near him? 21 Great possessions may be won by such aims as that, but what we hold as wealth passes there for folly. It is hard, therefore, to overcome by appearances, where vain things thus pass for great. I once saw a person weeping and embracing the Knees of Epaphroditus, and deploring his hard fortune, that he had not more than 150,000 drachmae left. What said Epaphroditus then? Did he laugh at him, as we should do? No; but cried out with astonishment: " Poor man! How could you be silent under it? How could you bear it? " The first step, therefore, towards becoming a philosopher is to be sensible in what state the ruling faculty of the mind is; for on knowing it to be weak, no person will immediately employ it in great attempts. But, for want of this, some who can scarce digest a crumb will yet buy and swallow whole treatises; and so they throw them up again, or cannot digest them; and then come colics, fluxes, and fevers. Such persons ought to consider what they can bear. Indeed, it is easy to convince an ignorant person, so far as concerns theory; but in matters relating to life, no one offers himself to conviction, and we hate those who have convinced us. Socrates used to say, that we ought not to live a life unexamined.22 [p. 1088]
Of the varied appearances of things to the mind, and what means are at hand by which to regulate them.Appearances to the mind are of four kinds. Things either are what they appear to be; or they neither are, nor appear to be; or they are, and do not appear to be; or they are not, and yet appear to be. Rightly to aim, in all these cases, is the wise man's task. Whatever unduly constrains us, to that a remedy must be applied. If the sophistries of Pyrrhonism, or the Academy, constrain us, the remedy must be applied there; if specious appearances, by which things seem to be good which are not so, let us seek for a remedy there. If it be custom which constrains us, we must endeavor to find a remedy against that. "What remedy is to be found against custom? " Establish a contrary custom. You hear the vulgar say, "Such a one, poor soul! is dead." Well, his father died; his mother died. " Ay, but he was cut off in the flower of his age, and in a foreign land." Observe these contrary ways of speaking; and abandon such expressions. Oppose to one custom a contrary [p. 1089] custom; to sophistry the art of reasoning, and the frequent use and exercise of it. Against specious appearances we must set clear convictions, bright and ready for use. When death appears as an evil, we ought immediately to remember that evils are things to be avoided, but death is inevitable. For what can I do, or where can I fly from it? Let me suppose myself to be Sarpedon, the son of Jove, that I may speak as nobly. " I go either to excel, or to give another the occasion to excel."23 If I can achieve nothing myself, I will not grudge another his achievement. But suppose this to be a strain too high for us; do not these following thoughts befit us? Whither shall I fly from death? Show me the place, show me the people, to whom I may have recourse, whom death does not overtake. Show me the charm to avoid it. If there be none, what would you have me do? I cannot escape death; but cannot I escape the dread of it? Must I die trembling and lamenting? For the very origin of the disease lies in wishing for something that is not obtained. Under the influence of this, if I can make outward things conform to my own inclination, I do it; if not, I feel inclined to tear out the eyes of whoever hinders me. For it is the nature of man not to endure the being deprived of good; not to endure the falling into evil. And so, at last, when I can neither control events, nor tear out the eyes of him who hinders me, I sit down, and [p. 1090] groan, and revile him whom I can, - Zeus, and the rest of the gods; for what are they to me, if they take no care of me? "Oh ! but then you will be impious." What then? Can I be in a worse condition than I am now? In general, remember this, that unless we make our religion and our treasure to consist in the same thing, religion will always be sacrificed. Have these things no weight? Let a Pyrrhonist, or an Academic, come and oppose them. For my part, I have neither leisure nor ability to stand up as an advocate for common-sense. Even if the business were concerning an estate, I should call in another advocate. To what advocate, then, shall I now appeal? I will leave it to any one who may be upon the spot. Thus, I may not be able to explain how sensation takes place, whether it be diffused universally, or reside in a particular part; for I find perplexities in either case; but that you and I are not the same person, I very exactly know. "How so? " Why, I never, when I have a mind to swallow anything, carry it to your mouth, but my own. I never, when I wanted bread, seized a broom instead, but went directly to the bread as I needed it. You who deny all evidence of the senses, do you act otherwise? Which of you, when he wished to go into a bath, ever went into a mill? "Why, then, must not we, to the utmost, defend [p. 1091] these points; stand by common-sense; be fortified against everything that opposes it? " Who denies that? But it must be done by him who has ability and leisure to spare; but he who is full of trembling and perturbation and inward disorders of heart must first employ his time about something else.
That we ought not to be angry with mankind. What things are little, what great, among men.What is the basis of assent to anything? Its appearing to be true. It is not possible, therefore, to assent to what appears to be not true. Why? Because it is the very nature of the understanding to agree to truth, to be dissatisfied with falsehood, and to suspend its belief in doubtful cases. "What is the proof of this? " Persuade yourself, if you can, that it is now night. Impossible. Dissuade yourself from the belief that it 1 This seems to be said by one of the hearers, who wanted to have the absurdities of the sceptics confuted and guarded against by regular argument. Epictetus allows this to be right, for such as have abilities and leisure; but recommends in others the more necessary task of curing their own moral disorders, and insinuates that the mere common occurences of life are sufficient to overthrow the notions of the Pyrrhonists. - C. [p. 1092] is day. Impossible. Persuade yourself that the number of the stars is even or odd. Impossible. When any one, then, assents to what is false, be assured that he does not wilfully assent to it as false, - for, as Plato affirms, the soul is unwillingly deprived of truth,24 - but what is false appears to him to be true. Well, then; have we, in actions, anything correspondent to this distinction between true and false? There are right and wrong; advantageous and disadvantageous; desirable and undesirable, and the like. "A person, then, cannot think a thing truly advantageous to him, and not choose it?" He cannot. But how says Medea?--
Was it that she thought the very indulgence of her rage, and the punishing her husband, more advantageous than the preservation of her children? Yes; but she is deceived. Show clearly to her that she is deceived, and she will forbear; but, till you have shown it, what has she to follow but what appears to herself? Nothing. Why, then, are you angry with her, that the unhappy woman is deceived in the most important [p. 1093] points, and instead of a human creature, becomes a viper? Why do you not rather, as we pity the blind and lame, so likewise pity those who are blinded .and lamed in their superior faculties? Whoever, therefore, duly remembers, that the appearance of things to the mind is the standard of every action to man, -that this is either right or wrong, and if right, he is without fault; if wrong, he himself suffers punishment; for that one man cannot be the person deceived, and another the only sufferer, - such a person will not be outrageous and angry at any one; will not revile, or reproach, or hate, or quarrel with any one. "So, then, have all the great and dreadful deeds that have been done in the world no other origin than semblances?" Absolutely no other. The Iliad consists of nothing but such semblances and their results. It seemed to Paris that he should carry off the wife of Menelaus. It seemed to Helen that she should follow him. If, then, it had seemed to Menelaus that it was an advantage to be robbed of such a wife, what could have happened? Not only the Iliad had been lost, but the Odyssey too. "Do such great events, then, depend on so small a cause? " What events, then, call you great? "Wars and seditions, the destruction of numbers of men, and the overthrow of cities." [p. 1094] And what in all this is great? Nothing. What is great in the death of numbers of oxen, numbers of sheep, or in the burning or pulling down numbers of nests of storks or swallows? "Are these things then similar?" They are. The bodies of men are destroyed, and the bodies of sheep and oxen. The houses of men are burnt, and the nests of storks. What is there so great or fearful in all this? Pray, show me what difference there is between the house of a man and the nest of a stork, considered as a habitation, except that houses are built with beams and tiles and bricks, and nests with sticks and clay? "What, then; are a stork and a man similar? What do you mean?" Similar in body. "Is there no difference, then, between a man and a stork?" Yes, surely; but not in these things. "In what, then? " Inquire; and you will find, that the difference lies in something else. See whether it be not in rationality of action, in social instincts, fidelity, honor, providence, judgment. " Where, then, is the real good or evil of man? " Just where this difference lies. If this distinguishing trait is preserved, and remains well fortified, and neither honor, fidelity, nor judgment is destroyed, then he himself is likewise saved; but when any one [p. 1095] of these is lost or demolished, he himself is lost also. In this do all great events consist. Paris, they say, was undone, because the Greeks invaded Troy, and laid it waste, and his family were slain in battle. By no means; for no one is undone by an action not his own. All that was only like laying waste the nests of storks. But his true undoing was when he lost modesty, faith, honor, virtue. When was Achilles undone, - when Patroclus died? By no means. But when he gave himself up to rage; when he wept over a girl; when he forgot that he came there, not to win mistresses, but to fight. This is human undoing; this is the siege, this the overthrow, when right principles are ruined and destroyed. "But when wives and children are led away captives, and the men themselves killed, are not these evils?" Whence do you conclude them such? Pray inform me, in my turn. " Nay; but whence do you affirm that they are not evils? " Recur to the rules. Apply your principles. One cannot sufficiently wonder at what happens among men. When we would judge of light and heavy, we do not judge by guess, nor when we judge of straight and crooked; and, in general, when it concerns us to know the truth on any special point, no one of us will do anything by guess. But where the first and principal source of right or wrong action is con- [p. 1096] cerned, of being prosperous or unprosperous, happy or unhappy,-there only do we act rashly, and by guess. Nowhere anything like a balance; nowhere anything like a rule; but something seems thus or so to me, and I at once act accordingly. For am I better than Agamemnon or Achilles; that they, by following what seemed best to them, should do and suffer so many things, and yet that seeming should not suffice me? And what tragedy hath any other origin? The Atreus of Euripides, what is it? Seeming. The Oedipus of Sophocles? Seeming. The Phoenix? The Hippolytus? All seeming. Who then, think you, can escape this influence? What are they called who follow every seeming? Madmen. Yet do we, then, behave otherwise?
“I know what evils wait upon my purpose;
But wrath is stronger than this will of mine.