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BOOK III. - Epictetus, The Works of Epictetus. Consisting of His Discourses, in Four Books, The Enchiridion, and Fragments [100 AD]
The Works of Epictetus. Consisting of His Discourses, in Four Books, The Enchiridion, and Fragments. A Translation from the Greek based on that of Elizabeth Carter, by Thomas Wentworth Higginson (Boston: Little, Brown, and Co., 1865).
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OF PERSONAL ADORNMENT.
A CERTAIN young rhetorician coming to him with his hair too elaborately ornamented, and his dress very fine; tell me, said Epictetus, whether you do not think some horses and dogs beautiful; and so of all other animals?
Are some men, then, likewise beautiful, and others deformed?
Do we pronounce all these beautiful the same way then, or each in some way peculiar to itself? You will judge of it by this; since we see a dog naturally formed for one thing, a horse for another, and a nightingale, for instance, for another, therefore in general, it will be correct to pronounce each of them beautiful, so far as it is developed suitably to its own nature; but, since the nature of each is different, I think each of them must be beautiful in a different way. Is it not so?
Then what makes a dog beautiful makes a horse deformed; and what makes a horse beautiful makes a dog deformed; if their natures are different.
“So it seems.”
For, I suppose, what makes a good Pancratiast* makes no good wrestler, and a very ridiculous racer; and the very same person who appears well as a Pentathlete, might make a very ill figure in wrestling.
What, then, makes a man beautiful? Is it on the same principle that a dog or a horse is beautiful?
What is it then, that makes a dog beautiful?
“That excellence which belongs to a dog.”
What a horse?
“The excellence of a horse.”
What a man? Must it not be the excellence belonging to a man? If then you would appear beautiful, young man, strive for human excellence.
“What is that?”
Consider whom you praise, when unbiassed by partiality; is it the honest or dishonest?
The sober, or the dissolute?
The temperate, or the intemperate?
Then, if you make yourself such a character, you know that you will make yourself beautiful; but, while you neglect these things, though you use every contrivance to appear beautiful, you must necessarily be deformed.
I know not how to say anything further to you; for if I speak what I think, you will be vexed, and perhaps go away and return no more. And if I do not speak, consider what I am doing. You come to me to be improved, and I do not improve you; and you come to me as to a philosopher, and I do not speak like a philosopher. Besides, how could it be consistent with my duty towards yourself, to pass you by as incorrigible? If, hereafter, you should come to have sense, you will accuse me with reason: “What did Epictetus observe in me, that, when he saw me come to him in such a shameful condition, he overlooked it, and never said so much as a word about it? Did he so absolutely despair of me? Was I not young? Was I not able to hear reason? How many young men, at that age, are guilty of many such errors? I am told of one Polemo, who, from a most dissolute youth, became totally changed.* Suppose he did not think I should become a Polemo, he might nevertheless have set my locks to rights, he might have stripped off my bracelets and rings, he might have prevented my depilating my person. But when he saw me dressed like a — what shall I say? — he was silent.” I do not say like what; when you come to your senses, you will say it yourself, and will know what it is, and who they are who adopt such a dress.
If you should hereafter lay this to my charge, what excuse could I make? “Ay; but if I do speak, he will not regard me.” Why, did Laius regard Apollo? Did not he go and get intoxicated, and bid farewell to the oracle? What then? Did this hinder Apollo from telling him the truth? Now, I am uncertain, whether you will regard me, or not; but Apollo positively knew, that Laius would not regard him, and yet he spoke.† And why did he speak? You may as well ask, why is he Apollo; why doth he deliver oracles; why hath he placed himself in such a post as a prophet, and the fountain of truth, to whom the inhabitants of the world should resort? Why is know thyself inscribed on the front of his temple, when no one heeds it?
Did Socrates prevail upon all who came to him, to take care of themselves? Not upon the thousandth part; but being, as he himself declares, divinely appointed to such a post, he never deserted it. What said he even to his judges? “If you would acquit me, on condition that I should no longer act as I do now, I would not accept it, nor desist; but I will accost all I meet, whether young or old, and interrogate them in just the same manner; but particularly you, my fellow-citizens, since you are more nearly related to me.” — “Are you so curious and officious, Socrates? What is it to you, how we act?” — “What say you? While you are of the same community and the same kindred with me, will you be careless of yourself, and show yourself a bad citizen to the city, a bad kinsman to your kindred, and a bad neighbor to your neighborhood?” — “Why, who are you?” Here one ought nobly to say, “I am he who ought to take care of mankind.” For it is not every little paltry heifer that dares resist the lion; but if the bull should come up, and resist him, would you say to him, “Who are you? What business is it of yours?” In every species, man, there is some one quality which by nature excels; in oxen, in dogs, in bees, in horses. Do not say to whatever excels, “Who are you?” If you do, it will, somehow or other, find a voice to tell you; “I am like the purple thread in a garment. Do not expect me to be like the rest; nor find fault with my nature, which has distinguished me from others.”
“What then, am I such a one? How should I be?” Indeed, are you such a one as to be able to hear the truth? I wish you were. But however, since I am condemned to wear a gray beard and a cloak, and you come to me as a philosopher, I will not treat you cruelly, nor as if I despaired of you; but will ask you, Who is it, young man, whom you would render beautiful? Know, first, who you are; and then adorn yourself accordingly.
You are a human being; that is, a mortal animal, capable of a rational use of things as they appear. And what is this rational use? A perfect conformity to Nature. What have you, then, particularly excellent? Is it the animal part? No. The mortal? No. That which is capable of the mere use of these things? No. The excellence lies in the rational part. Adorn and beautify this; but leave your hair to Him who formed it as he thought good.
Well; what other appellations have you? Are you a man, or a woman? A man. Then adorn yourself as a man, not as a woman. A woman is naturally smooth and delicate; and, if hairy, is a monster, and shown among the monsters at Rome. It is the same thing in a man, not to be hairy; and, if he is by nature not so, he is a monster. But if he depilates himself, what shall we do with him? Where shall we show him; and how shall we advertise him? “A man to be seen, who would rather be a woman.” What a scandalous show! Who would not wonder at such an advertisement? I believe, indeed, that these very persons themselves would; not apprehending, that it is the very thing of which they are guilty.
Of what have you to accuse your nature, sir, that it has made you a man? Why, were all to be born women then? In that case what would have been the use of your finery? For whom would you have made yourself fine, if all were women? But the whole affair displeases you. Go to work upon the whole then. Remove your manhood itself, and make yourself a woman entirely, that we may be no longer deceived, nor you be half man, half woman. To whom would you be agreeable? To the women? Be agreeable to them as a man.
“Ay; but they are pleased with fops.”
Go hang yourself. Suppose they were pleased with every debauchery, would you consent? Is this your business in life? Were you born to please dissolute women? Shall we make such a one as you, in the Corinthian republic for instance, governor of the city, master of the youth, commander of the army, or director of the public games? Will you pursue the same practices when you are married? For whom, and for what? Will you be the father of children, and introduce them into the state, such as yourself? O what a fine citizen, and senator, and orator! Surely, young man, we ought to pray for a succession of young men disposed and bred like you!
Now, when you have once heard this discourse, go home, and say to yourself, It is not Epictetus who has told me all these things, — for how should he? — but some propitious God through him; for it would never have entered the head of Epictetus, who is not used to dispute with any one. Well; let us obey God then, that we may not incur the Divine displeasure. If a crow has signified anything to you by his croaking, it is not the crow that signifies it, but God, through him. And, if you have anything signified to you through the human voice, doth He not cause that man to tell it to you, that you may know the Divine power which acts thus variously, and signifies the greatest and principal things through the noblest messenger? What else does the poet mean, when he says,
Hermes, descending from heaven, was to warn him; and the Gods now, likewise, send a Hermes the Argicide as messenger to warn you, not to invert the well-appointed order of things, nor be absorbed in fopperies; but suffer a man to be a man, and a woman to be a woman; a beautiful man, to be beautiful, as a man; a deformed man, to be deformed, as a man; for your personality lies not in flesh and hair, but in the Will. If you take care to have this beautiful, you will be beautiful. But all this while, I dare not tell you, that you are deformed; for I fancy you would rather hear anything than this. But consider what Socrates says to the most beautiful and blooming of all men, Alcibiades. “Endeavor to make yourself beautiful.” What does he mean to say to him? “Curl your locks, and depilate your legs?” Heaven forbid! But rather, “Regulate your Will; throw away your wrong principles.”
“What is to be done with the poor body then?”
Leave it to nature. Another hath taken care of such things. Give them up to Him.
“What, then, must one be a sloven?”
By no means; but act in conformity to your nature. A man should care for his body, as a man; a woman, as a woman; a child, as a child. If not, let us pick out the mane of a lion, that he may not be slovenly; and the comb of a cock, for he too should be tidy. Yes, but let it be as a cock; and a lion, as a lion; and a hound, as a hound.
IN WHAT A WELL-TRAINED MAN SHOULD EXERCISE HIMSELF; AND THAT WE NEGLECT THE PRINCIPAL THINGS.
THERE are three topics in philosophy, in which he who would be wise and good must be exercised. That of the desires and aversions, that he may not be disappointed of the one, nor incur the other. That of the pursuits and avoidances, and, in general, the duties of life; that he may act with order and consideration, and not carelessly. The third includes integrity of mind and prudence, and, in general, whatever belongs to the judgment.
Of these points, the principal and most urgent is that which reaches the passions; for passion is produced no otherwise than by a disappointment of one’s desires and an incurring of one’s aversions. It is this which introduces perturbations, tumults, misfortunes, and calamities; this is the spring of sorrow, lamentation, and envy; this renders us envious and emulous, and incapable of hearing reason.
The next topic regards the duties of life. For I am not to be undisturbed by passions, in the same sense as a statue is; but as one who preserves the natural and acquired relations; as a pious person, as a son, as a brother, as a father, as a citizen.
The third topic belongs to those scholars who are now somewhat advanced; and is a security to the other two, that no bewildering semblance may surprise us, either in sleep, or wine, or in depression. This, say you, is beyond us. Yet our present philosophers, leaving the first and second topics, employ themselves wholly about the third; dealing in the logical subtilties. For they say that we must, by engaging in these subjects, take care to guard against deception. Who must? A wise and good man. Is this really, then, the thing you need? Have you mastered the other points? Are you not liable to be deceived by money? When you see a fine girl, do you oppose the seductive influence? If your neighbor inherits an estate, do you feel no vexation? Is it not steadfastness which you chiefly need? You learn even these very things, slave, with trembling, and a solicitous dread of contempt; and are inquisitive to know what is said of you. And if any one comes and tells you that, in a dispute as to which was the best of the philosophers, one of the company named a certain person as the only philosopher, that little soul of yours grows to the size of two cubits instead of an inch. But if another comes and says, “You are mistaken, he is not worth hearing; for what does he know? He has the first rudiments, but nothing more”; you are thunderstruck; you presently turn pale, and cry out, “I will show what I am; that I am a great philosopher.” You exhibit by these very things what you are aiming to show in other ways. Do not you know that Diogenes exhibited some sophist in this manner, by pointing with his middle finger;* and when the man was mad with rage, “This,” said Diogenes, “is the very man; I have exhibited him to you.” For a man is not shown by the finger in the same sense as a stone, or a piece of wood, but whoever points out his principles, shows him as a man.
Let us see your principles too. For is it not evident that you consider your own Will as nothing: but are always aiming at something beyond its reach? As, what such a one will say of you, and what you shall be thought; whether a man of letters; whether to have read Chrysippus, or Antipater; and if Archedemus too, you have everything you wish. Why are you still solicitous, lest you should not show us what you are? Shall I tell you, what you have shown yourself? A mean, discontented, passionate, cowardly person; complaining of everything; accusing everybody; perpetually restless; good for nothing. This you have shown us. Go now and read Archedemus; and then, if you hear but the noise of a mouse, you are a dead man; for you will die some such kind of death as — Who was it? Crinis;† who valued himself extremely too, that he understood Archedemus.
Wretch, why do you not let alone things that do not belong to you? These things belong to such as are able to learn them without perturbation; who can say, “I am not subject to anger, or grief, or envy. I am not restrained; I am not compelled. What remains for me to do? I am at leisure; I am at ease. Let us now see how logical inversions are to be treated; let us consider, when an hypothesis is laid down, how we may avoid a contradiction.” To such persons do these things belong. They who are safe may light a fire, go to dinner, if they please, and sing and dance; but you are for spreading sail just when your ship is going down.
WHAT IS THE CHIEF CONCERN OF A GOOD MAN; AND IN WHAT WE CHIEFLY OUGHT TO TRAIN OURSELVES.
THE chief concern of a wise and good man is his own Reason. The body is the concern of a physician, and of a gymnastic trainer; and the fields, of the husbandman. The business of a wise and good man is, to use the phenomena of existence, conformably to Nature. Now, every soul, as it is naturally formed for an assent to truth, a dissent from falsehood, and a suspense of judgment with regard to things uncertain; so it is moved by a desire of good, an aversion from evil, and an indifference to what is neither good nor evil. For, as a money-changer, or a gardener, is not at liberty to reject Cæsar’s coin; but when once it is shown, is obliged, whether he will or not, to deliver his wares in exchange for it; so is it with the soul. Apparent good at first sight attracts, and evil repels. Nor will the soul any more reject an evident appearance of good, than Cæsar’s coin.
Hence depends every movement, both of God and man; and hence good is preferred to every obligation, however near. My connection is not with my father; but with good. — Are you so hard-hearted? — Such is my nature, and such is the coin which God hath given me. If therefore good is interpreted to be anything but what is fair and just, away go father, and brother, and country, and everything. What! Shall I overlook my own good, and give it up to you? For what? “I am your father.” But not my good. “I am your brother.” But not my good. But, if we place it in a rightly trained Will, good must then consist in an observance of the several relations of life; and then, he who gives up mere externals, acquires good. Your father deprives you of your money; but he does not hurt you. He will possess more land than you, as much more as he pleases; but will he possess more honor? More fidelity? More affection? Who can deprive you of this possession? Not even Zeus; for he did not will it so, since he has put this good into my own power, and given it me, like his own, uncompelled, unrestrained, and unhindered. But when any one deals in coin different from this, then whoever shows it to him, may have whatever is sold for it, in return. A thievish proconsul comes into the province. What coin does he use? Silver. Show it him, and carry off what you please. An adulterer comes. What coin does he use? Women. Take the coin, says one, and give me this trifle. “Give it me, and it is yours.” Another is addicted to other debauchery; give him but his coin, and take what you please. Another is fond of hunting; give him a fine pony or puppy, and he will sell you for it what you will, though it be with sighs and groans. For there is that within which controls him, and assumes this to be current coin.
In this manner ought every one chiefly to train himself. When you go out in the morning, examine whomsoever you see, or hear; and answer as if to a question. What have you seen? A handsome person? Apply the rule. Is this a thing controllable by Will, or uncontrollable? Uncontrollable. Then discard it. What have you seen? One in agony for the death of a child. Apply the rule. Death is inevitable. Banish this despair then. Has a consul met you? Apply the rule. What kind of thing is the consular office? Controllable by Will, or uncontrollable? Uncontrollable. Throw aside this too. It will not pass. Cast it away. It is nothing to you.
If we acted thus, and practised in this manner from morning till night, by Heaven, something would be done. Whereas now, on the contrary, we are allured by every semblance, half asleep; and, if we ever awake, it is only a little in the school; but as soon as we go out, if we meet any one grieving, we say, “He is undone.” If a consul, “How happy is he!” If an exile, “How miserable.” If a poor man, “How wretched; he has nothing to eat!”
These miserable prejudices then are to be lopped off; and here is our whole strength to be applied. For what is weeping and groaning? Prejudice. What is misfortune? Prejudice. What is sedition, discord, complaint, accusation, impiety, levity? All these are prejudices, and nothing more; and prejudices concerning things uncontrollable by Will, as if they could be either good or evil. Let any one transfer these convictions to things controllable by Will, and I will engage that he will preserve his constancy, whatever be the state of things about him.
The soul is like a vase filled with water; while the semblances of things fall like rays upon its surface. If the water is moved, the ray will seem to be moved likewise, though it is in reality without motion. When, therefore, any one is seized with a giddiness in his head, it is not the arts and virtues that are bewildered, but the mind in which they lie; when this recovers its composure, so will they likewise.
CONCERNING ONE WHO MADE HIMSELF IMPROPERLY CONSPICUOUS IN THE THEATRE.
WHEN the Governor of Epirus had exerted himself with improper eagerness in favor of a comedian, and was upon that account publicly railed at; and, when he came to hear it, was highly displeased with those who railed at him; Why, what harm, said Epictetus, have these people done? They have shown favoritism; which is just what you did.
“Is this a proper manner then, of expressing their favor?”
Seeing you, their governor, and the friend and vicegerent of Cæsar, express it thus, was it not to be expected that they would express it thus too? For, if this zealous favoritism is not right, do not show it yourself; and if it is, why are you angry at them for imitating you? For whom have the many to imitate, but you, their superiors? From whom are they to take example, when they come into the theatre, but from you? “Do but look how Cæsar’s vicegerent sees the play? Has he cried out? I will cry out too. Has he leaped up from his seat? I too will leap up from mine. Do his slaves sit in different parts of the house, making an uproar? I indeed have no slaves; but I will make as much uproar as I can unaided.”
You ought to consider, then, that when you appear in the theatre, you appear as a rule and example to others, how they ought to see the play. Why is it that they have railed at you? Because every man hates what hinders him. They would have one actor crowned; you, another. They hindered you; and you them. You proved the stronger. They have done what they could; they have railed at the person who hindered them. What would you have, then? Would you do as you please, and not have them even talk as they please? Where is the wonder of all this? Does not the husbandman rail at Zeus when he is hindered by him? Does not the sailor? Do men ever cease railing at Cæsar? What then, is Zeus ignorant of this? Are not the things that are said reported to Cæsar? How then does he act? He knows that, if he were to punish all railers, he would have nobody left to command.
When you enter the theatre, then, ought you to say, “Come, let Sophron be crowned?” No. But rather, “Come, let me at this time regulate my Will in a manner conformable to Nature. No one is dearer to me than myself. It is ridiculous, then, that because another man gains the victory as a player, I should be hurt. Whom do I wish to gain the victory? Him who does gain it; and thus he will always be victorious whom I wish to be so.” — “But I would have Sophron crowned.” — Why, celebrate as many games as you will at your own house, Nemean, Pythian, Isthmian, Olympic, and proclaim him victor in all; but in public do not arrogate more than your due, nor seek to monopolize what belongs to all; or if otherwise, bear to be railed at, for if you act like the mob, you reduce yourself to an equality with them.
CONCERNING THOSE WHO PLEAD SICKNESS.
“I AM sick here,” said one of the scholars. “I will return home.”
Were you never sick at home then? Consider whether you are doing anything here conducive to the regulation of your Will; for if you make no improvement, it was to no purpose that you came. Go home then, and take care of your domestic affairs. For if your Reason cannot be brought into conformity to nature, your land may. You may increase your money, support the old age of your father, mix in the public assemblies, and rule as badly as you have lived, and do other such things. But if you are conscious to yourself that you are casting off some of your wrong principles, and taking up different ones in their room, and that you have transferred your scheme of life from things not controllable by will to those controllable; and that if you do sometimes cry alas, it is not for what concerns your father, or your brother, but yourself; why do you any longer plead sickness? Do not you know that both sickness and death must overtake us? At what employment? The husbandman at his plough; the sailor on his voyage. At what employment would you be taken? For, indeed, at what employment ought you to be taken? If there is any better employment at which you can be taken, follow that. For my own part, I would be found engaged in nothing but in the regulation of my own Will; how to render it undisturbed, unrestrained, uncompelled, free. I would be found studying this, that I may be able to say to God, “Have I transgressed Thy commands? Have I perverted the powers, the senses, the instincts, which Thou hast given me? Have I ever accused Thee, or censured Thy dispensations? I have been sick, because it was Thy pleasure, like others; but I willingly. I have been poor, it being Thy will; but with joy. I have not been in power, because it was not Thy will; and power I have never desired. Hast Thou ever seen me saddened because of this? Have I not always approached Thee with a cheerful countenance; prepared to execute Thy commands and the indications of Thy will? Is it Thy pleasure that I should depart from this assembly? I depart. I give Thee all thanks that Thou hast thought me worthy to have a share in it with Thee; to behold Thy works, and to join with Thee in comprehending Thy administration.” Let death overtake me while I am thinking, while I am writing, while I am reading such things as these.
“But I shall not have my mother to hold my head when I am sick.”
Get home then to your mother; for you are most fit to have your head held when you are sick.
“But I used at home to lie on a fine couch.”
Get to this couch of yours; for you are fit to lie upon such a one, even in health; so do not miss doing that for which you are qualified. But what says Socrates? “As one man rejoices in the improvement of his estate, another of his horse, so do I daily rejoice in perceiving myself to grow better.”*
“In what? In pretty speeches?”
Use courteous words, man.
“In trifling theorems? What do they signify? Yet, indeed, I do not see that the philosophers are employed in anything else.”
Do you think it nothing, to accuse and censure no one, God nor man? Always to carry abroad and bring home the same countenance? These were the things which Socrates knew; and yet he never professed to know, or to teach anything; but if any one wanted pretty speeches, or little theorems, he brought him to Protagoras, to Hippias; just as, if any one had come for potherbs, he would have taken him to a gardener. Which of you, then, earnestly sets his heart on this? If you had, you would bear sickness and hunger and death with cheerfulness. If any one of you has truly loved, he knows that I speak truth.
WHEN he was asked, how it came to pass, that though the art of reasoning might be now more studied, yet the improvements made were formerly greater? In what instance, answered he, is it now more studied; and in what were the improvements greater? For in what now is most studied, in that will be found likewise the improvements. The present study is the solution of syllogisms, and in this improvements are made. But formerly the study was to harmonize the Reason with Nature; and improvement was made in that. Therefore do not confound things, nor, when you study one thing, expect improvement in another; but see whether any one of us, who applies himself to think and act conformably to Nature, ever fails of improvement. Depend upon it, you will not find one.
A good man is invincible; for he does not contend where he is not superior. If you would have his land, take it; take his servants, take his office, take his body. But you will never frustrate his desire, nor make him incur his aversion. He engages in no combat but what concerns objects within his own control. How then can he fail to be invincible?
Being asked, what common sense was, he answered: As that may be called a common ear which distinguishes only sounds, but that which distinguishes notes, an artistic one; so there are some things which men, not totally perverted, discern by their common natural powers; and such a disposition is called common sense.
It is not easy to gain the attention of effeminate young men, — for you cannot take up custard by a hook, — but the ingenuous, even if you discourage them, are the more eager for learning. Hence Rufus, for the most part, did discourage them; and made use of that as a criterion of the ingenuous and disingenuous. For, he used to say, as a stone, even if you throw it up, will, by its own propensity be carried downward, so an ingenuous mind, the more it is forced from its natural bent, will incline towards it the more strongly.
CONCERNING A CERTAIN GOVERNOR WHO WAS AN EPICUREAN.
WHEN the Governor, who was an Epicurean, came to him; “It is fit,” said he, “that we ignorant people should inquire of you philosophers what is the most valuable thing in the world; as those who come into a strange city do of the citizens, and such as are acquainted with it; that, after this inquiry, we may go and take a view of it, as they do in cities. Now, almost every one admits that there are three things belonging to man, — soul, body, and externals. It belongs to such as you to answer which is the best. What shall we tell mankind? Is it the flesh?”
And was it for this that Maximus took a voyage in winter as far as Cassiope to accompany his son? Was it to gratify the flesh?
Is it not fit, then, to study what is best?
“Yes, beyond all other things.”
What have we, then, better than flesh?
Are we to prefer the good of the better, or of the worse?
“Of the better.”
Does the good of the soul consist in things controllable by Will, or uncontrollable?
“In things controllable.”
Does the pleasure of the soul then depend on the Will?
And whence does this pleasure arise? From itself? This is unintelligible. For there must exist some principal essence of good, in the attainment of which, we shall enjoy this pleasure of the soul.
“This too is granted.”
In what then consists this pleasure of the soul? If it be in mental objects, the essence of good is found. For it is impossible that good should lie in one thing, and rational enjoyment in another; or that, if the cause is not good, the effect should be good. For, to make the effect reasonable, the cause must be good. But this you cannot reasonably allow; for it would be to contradict both Epicurus and the rest of your principles. It remains then, that the pleasures of the soul must consist in bodily objects; and that there must be the cause and the essence of good. Maximus, therefore, did foolishly, if he took a voyage for the sake of anything but his body; that is, for the sake of what is best. A man does foolishly, too, if he refrains from what is another’s, when he is a judge and able to take it. We should consider only this, if you please, how it may be done secretly and safely, and so that no one may know it. For Epicurus himself does not pronounce stealing to be evil, only the being found out in it; and prohibits it for no other reason, but because it is impossible to insure ourselves against discovery. But I say to you that, if it be done dexterously and cautiously, we shall not be discovered. Besides we have powerful friends of both sexes at Rome; and the Greeks are weak; and nobody will dare to go up to Rome on such an affair. Why do you refrain from your own proper good? It is madness; it is folly. But if you were to tell me that you do refrain, I would not believe you. For, as it is impossible to assent to an apparent falsehood, or to deny an apparent truth, so it is impossible to abstain from an apparent good. Now, riches are a good; and, indeed, the chief instrument of pleasures. Why do not you acquire them? And why do not we corrupt the wife of our neighbor, if it can be done secretly? And if the husband should happen to be impertinent, why not cut his throat too, if you have a mind to be such a philosopher as you ought to be, a complete one, — to be consistent with your own principles. Otherwise you will not differ from us who are called Stoics. For we, too, say one thing and do another; we talk well and act ill; but you will be perverse in a contrary way, teaching bad principles, and acting well.
For Heaven’s sake represent to yourself a city of Epicureans. “I do not marry.” “Nor I. For we are not to marry nor have children; nor to engage in public affairs.” What will be the consequence of this? Whence are the citizens to come? Who will educate them? Who will be the governor of the youth? Who the master of their exercises? What then will he teach them? Will it be what used to be taught at Athens, or Lacedemon? Take a young man; bring him up according to your principles. These principles are wicked, subversive of a state, pernicious to families, nor becoming even to women. Give them up, sir. You live in a capital city. You are to govern and judge uprightly, and to refrain from what belongs to others. No one’s wife or child, or silver or gold plate, is to have any charms for you, except your own. Provide yourself with principles consonant to these truths; and, setting out thence, you will with pleasure refrain from things so persuasive to mislead and conquer. But, if to their own persuasive force, we can add such a philosophy as hurries us upon them, and confirms us in them, what will be the consequence?
In a sculptured vase, which is the best; the silver, or the workmanship? In the hand the substance is flesh; but its operations are the principal thing. Accordingly, its functions are threefold; relating to its existence, to the manner of its existence, and to its principal operations. Thus, likewise, do not set a value on the mere materials of man, the flesh; but on the principal operations which belong to him.
“What are these?”
Engaging in public business, marrying, the production of children, the worship of God, the care of parents, and, in general, the regulation of our desires and aversions, our pursuits and avoidances, in accordance with our nature.
“What is our nature?”
To be free, noble spirited, modest. For what other animal blushes? What other has the idea of shame? But pleasure must be subjected to these, as an attendant and handmaid, to call forth our activity, and to keep us constant in natural operations.
“But I am rich and want nothing.”
Then why do you pretend to philosophize? Your gold and silver plate is enough for you. What need have you of principles?
“Besides, I am Judge of the Greeks.”
Do you know how to judge? Who has imparted this knowledge to you?
“Cæsar has given me a commission.”
Let him give you a commission to judge of music; what good will it do you? But how were you made a Judge? Whose hand have you kissed? That of Symphorus, or Numenius? Before whose door have you slept? To whom have you sent presents? After all, do you not perceive that the office of Judge puts you in the same rank with Numenius?
“But I can throw whom I please into a prison.”
So you may a stone.
“But I can beat whom I will too.”
So you may an ass. This is not a government over men. Govern us like reasonable creatures. Show us what is best for us, and we will pursue it; show us what is otherwise, and we will avoid it. Like Socrates, make us imitators of yourself. He was properly a governor of men, who controlled their desires and aversions, their pursuits, their avoidances. “Do this; do not that, or I will throw you into prison.” This is not a government for reasonable creatures. But “Do as Zeus hath commanded, or you will be punished, and be a loser.”
“What shall I lose?”
Simply your own right action, your fidelity, honor, decency. You can find no losses greater than these.
HOW WE ARE TO EXERCISE OURSELVES AGAINST THE SEMBLANCES OF THINGS.
IN the same manner as we exercise ourselves against sophistical questions, we should exercise ourselves likewise in relation to such semblances as every day occur; for these, too, offer questions to us. Such a one’s son is dead. What think you of it? Answer; it is a thing inevitable, and therefore not an evil. Such a one is disinherited by his father. What think you of it? It is inevitable, and so not an evil. Cæsar has condemned him. This is inevitable, and so not an evil. He has been afflicted by it. This is controllable by Will; it is an evil. He has supported it bravely. This is within the control of Will; it is a good.
If we train ourselves in this manner we shall make improvement; for we shall never assent to anything but what the semblance itself includes. A son is dead. What then? A son is dead. Nothing more? Nothing. A ship is lost. What then? A ship is lost. He is carried to prison. What then? He is carried to prison. That he is unhappy is an addition that every one must make for himself. “But Zeus does not order these things rightly.” Why so. Because he has made you to be patient? Because he has made you to be brave? Because he has made them to be no evils? Because it is permitted you, while you suffer them, to be happy? Because he has opened you the door whenever they do not suit you? Go out, man, and do not complain!
If you would know how the Romans treat philosophers, hear. Italicus, esteemed one of the greatest philosophers among them, being in a passion with his own people, when I was by, said, as if he had suffered some intolerable evil, “I cannot bear it; you are the ruin of me; you will make me just like him”; pointing to me.
CONCERNING A CERTAIN ORATOR, WHO WAS GOING TO ROME ON A LAWSUIT.
A PERSON came to him who was going to Rome on a lawsuit in which his dignity was concerned; and, after telling him the occasion of his journey, asked him what he thought of the affair? If you ask me, says Epictetus, what will happen to you at Rome, and whether you shall gain or lose your cause, I have no suggestion as to that. But if you ask me, how you shall fare; I can answer, If you have right principles, well; if wrong ones, ill. For every action turns upon its principle. What was the reason that you so earnestly desired to be chosen Governor of the Gnossians? Principle. What is the reason that you are now going to Rome? Principle. And in winter too; and with danger, and expense? Why, because it is necessary. What tells you so? Your principle. If, then, principles are the source of all our actions, wherever any one has bad principles the effect will correspond to the cause. Well then; are all our principles sound? Are both yours and your antagonist’s? How then do you differ? Or are yours better than his? Why? You think so; and so thinks he of his; and so do madmen. This is a bad criterion. But show me that you have given some attention and care to your principles. As you now take a voyage to Rome for the government of the Gnossians, and are not contented to stay at home with the honors you before enjoyed, but desire something greater and more illustrious; did you ever take such a voyage in order to examine your own principles, and to throw away the bad ones, if you happened to have any? Did you ever apply to any one upon this account? What time did you ever appoint to yourself for it? What age? Run over your years. If you are ashamed of me, do it for yourself. Did you examine your principles when you were a child? Did not you act then as now? When you were a youth, and frequented the schools of the orators, and yourself made declamations, did you ever imagine that you were deficient in anything? And when you became a man, and entered upon public business, pleaded causes, and acquired credit, whom did you then recognize as your equal? How would you have borne that any one should examine whether your principles were bad? What, then, would you have me say to you?
“Assist me in this affair.”
I have no suggestion to offer for that. Neither are you come to me, if it be upon that account you came, as to a philosopher; but as you would come to an herb-seller or a shoemaker.
“For what purposes, then, can the philosophers give suggestions?”
For preserving and conducting the Reason conformably to Nature, whatever happens. Do you think this a small thing?
“No; but the greatest.”
Well; and does it require but a short time? and may it be taken as you pass by? If you can, take it then; and so you will say, “I have visited Epictetus.” Ay; just as you would visit a stone or a statue. For you have seen me, and nothing more. But he visits a man, as a man, who learns his principles; and, in return, shows his own. Learn my principles. Show me yours. Then say you have visited me. Let us confute each other. If I have any bad principle, take it away. If you have any, bring it forth. This is visiting a philosopher. No; but “It lies in our way; and, while we are about hiring a ship, we may call on Epictetus. Let us see what he says.” And then when you are gone, you say “Epictetus is nothing. His language was inaccurate, was barbarous.” For what else did you come to criticise? “Well; but if I employ myself in these things, I shall be without an estate, like you; without plate, without equipage, like you.” Nothing, perhaps, is necessary to be said to this, but that I do not want them. But, if you possess many things, you still want others; so that whether you will or not, you are poorer than I.
“What then do I need?”
What you have not; constancy; a mind conformable to Nature; and a freedom from perturbation. Patron, or no patron, what care I? But you do. I am richer than you. I am not anxious what Cæsar will think of me. I flatter no one on that account. This I have, instead of silver and gold plate. You have your vessels of gold; but your discourse, your principles, your opinions, your pursuits, your desires, are of mere earthen ware. When I have all these conformable to Nature, why should not I bestow some study upon my reasoning too? I am at leisure. My mind is under no distraction. In this freedom from distraction, what shall I do? Have I anything more becoming a man than this? You, when you have nothing to do, are restless; you go to the theatre, or perhaps to bathe. Why should not the philosopher polish his reasoning? You have fine crystal and myrrhine vases;* I have acute forms of arguing. To you, all you have appears little; to me all I have seems great. Your appetite is insatiable; mine is satisfied. When children thrust their hand into a narrow jar of nuts and figs, if they fill it, they cannot get it out again; then they begin crying. Drop a few of them, and you will get out the rest. And do you too drop your desire; do not demand much, and you will attain.
IN WHAT MANNER WE OUGHT TO BEAR SICKNESS.
WE should have all our principles ready for use on every occasion. At dinner, such as relate to dinner; in the bath, such as relate to the bath; in the bed, such as relate to the bed.
We should retain these verses so as to apply them to our use; not merely to say them by rote, as we do with verses in honor of Apollo.
Again; in a fever, we should have such principles ready as relate to a fever; and not, as soon as we are taken ill, forget all. Provided I do but act like a philosopher, let what will happen. Some way or other depart I must from this frail body, whether a fever comes or not. What is it to be a philosopher? Is it not to be prepared against events? Do you not comprehend that you then say, in effect, “If I am but prepared to bear all events with calmness, let what will happen”; otherwise, you are like an athlete, who, after receiving a blow, should quit the combat. In that case, indeed, you might leave off without a penalty. But what shall we get by leaving off philosophy?
What, then, ought each of us to say upon every difficult occasion? “It was for this that I exercised; it was for this that I trained myself.” God says to you, give me a proof if you have gone through the preparatory combats according to rule; if you have followed a proper diet and proper exercise; if you have obeyed your master; — and, after this, do you faint at the very time of action?
Now is your time for a fever. Bear it well. For thirst; bear it well. For hunger; bear it well. Is it not in your power? Who shall restrain you? A physician may restrain you from drinking; but he cannot restrain you from bearing your thirst well. He may restrain you from eating; but he cannot restrain you from bearing hunger well. “But I cannot follow my studies.” And for what end do you follow them, slave? Is it not that you may be prosperous? That you may be constant? that you may think and act conformably to Nature? What restrains you, but that, in a fever, you may keep your Reason in harmony with Nature? Here is the test of the matter. Here is the trial of the philosopher; for a fever is a part of life, as is a walk, a voyage, or a journey. Do you read when you are walking? No; nor in a fever. But when you walk well, you attend to what belongs to a walker; so, if you bear a fever well, you have everything belonging to one in a fever. What is it to bear a fever well? Not to blame either God or man; not to be afflicted at what happens; to await death in a right and becoming manner; and to do what is to be done. When the physician enters, not to dread what he may say; nor, if he should tell you that you are doing well, to be too much rejoiced; for what good has he told you? When you were in health, what good did it do you? Not to be dejected when he tells you that you are very ill; for what is it to be very ill? To be near the separation of soul and body. What harm is there in this, then? If you are not near it now, will you not be near it hereafter? What, will the world be quite overturned when you die? Why, then, do you flatter your physician? Why do you say, “If you please, sir, I shall do well”? Why do you furnish an occasion to his pride? Why do not you treat a physician, with regard to an insignificant body, — which is not yours, but by nature mortal, — as you do a shoemaker about your foot, or a carpenter about a house? It is the season for these things, to one in a fever. If he fulfils these, he has what belongs to him. For it is not the business of a philosopher to take care of these mere externals, of his wine, his oil, or his body; but of his Reason. And how with regard to externals? Not to behave inconsiderately about them.
What occasion is there, then, for fear? What occasion for anger, for desire, about things that belong to others, or are of no value? For two rules we should always have ready, — that there is nothing good or evil save in the Will; and that we are not to lead events, but to follow them. “My brother ought not to have treated me so.” Very true; but he must see to that. However he treats me, I am to act rightly with regard to him; for the one is my own concern, the other is not; the one cannot be restrained, the other may.
THERE are some punishments appointed, as by a law, for such as disobey the Divine administration. Whoever shall esteem anything good, except what depends on the Will, let him envy, let him covet, let him flatter, let him be full of perturbation. Whoever esteems anything else to be evil, let him grieve, let him mourn, let him lament, let him be wretched. And yet, though thus severely punished, we cannot desist.
Remember what the poet says, of a guest.
This, too, you should be prepared to say with regard to a father, It is not lawful for me to affront you, father, even if a worse than you had come; for all are from paternal Zeus. And so of a brother; for all are from kindred Zeus. And thus we shall find Zeus to be the superintendent of all the other relations.
WE are not to carry our training beyond Nature and Reason; for thus we, who call ourselves philosophers, shall not differ from jugglers. For it is no doubt difficult to walk upon a rope; and not only difficult, but dangerous. Ought we too, for that reason, to make it our study to walk upon a rope, or balance a pole,† or grasp a statue?‡ By no means. It is not everything difficult or dangerous that is a proper training; but such things as are conducive to what lies before us to do.
“And what is it that lies before us to do?”
To have our desires and aversions free from restraint.
“How is that?”
Not to be disappointed of our desire, nor incur our aversion. To this ought our training to be directed. For, without vigorous and steady training, it is not possible to preserve our desire undisappointed and our aversion unincurred; and, therefore, if we suffer it to be externally employed on things uncontrollable by Will, be assured that your desire will neither gain its object, nor your aversion avoid it.
And because habit has a powerful influence, and we are habituated to apply our desire and aversion to externals only, we must oppose one habit to another; and where the semblances are most treacherous, there oppose the force of training. I am inclined to pleasure. I will bend myself, even unduly, to the other side, as a matter of training. I am averse to pain. I will strive and wrestle with these semblances, that I may cease to shrink from any such object. For who is truly in training? He who endeavors totally to control desire, and to apply aversion only to things controllable by Will, and strives for it most in the most difficult cases. Hence different persons are to be trained in different ways. What signifies it, to this purpose, to balance a pole, or to go about with tent and implements [of exhibition]? If you are hasty, man, let it be your training to bear ill language patiently; and, when you are affronted, not to be angry. Thus, at length, you may arrive at such a proficiency as, when any one strikes you, to say to yourself, “Let me suppose this to be like grasping a statue.” Next, train yourself to make but a moderate use of wine, — not to drink a great deal, to which some are so foolish as to train themselves, — but to abstain from this first; and then to abstain from women and from gluttony. Afterwards you will venture into the lists at some proper season, by way of trial, if at all, to see whether these semblances get the better of you, as much as they used to do. But, at first, fly from what is stronger than you. The contest between a fascinating woman and a young man just initiated into philosophy is unequal. The brass pot and the earthen pitcher, as the fable says, are an unfair match.
Next to the desires and aversions, is the second class, of the pursuits and avoidances; that they may be obedient to reason; that nothing may be done improperly, in point of time and place, or in any other respect.
The third class relates to the faculty of assent and to what is plausible and persuasive. As Socrates said, that we are not to lead a life, which is not tested, so neither are we to admit an untested semblance; but to say, “Stop; let me see what you are, and whence you come,” just as the police say, “Show me your pass.” “Have you that indorsement from Nature which is necessary to the acceptance of every semblance?”
In short, whatever things are applied to the body by those who train it, so may these be used in our training if they any way affect desire or aversion. But if this be done for mere ostentation, it belongs to one who looks and seeks for something external, and strives for spectators to exclaim, “What a great man!” Hence Apollonius said well, “If you have a mind to train yourself for your own benefit, when you are choking with heat, take a little cold water in your mouth, and spit it out again, and hold your tongue.”
WHAT SOLITUDE IS; AND WHAT A SOLITARY PERSON.
IT is solitude to be in the condition of a helpless person. For he who is alone is not therefore solitary, any more than one in a crowd is the contrary. When, therefore, we lose a son, or a brother, or a friend, on whom we have been used to repose, we often say we are left solitary, even in the midst of Rome, where such a crowd is continually meeting us; where we live among so many, and where we have, perhaps, a numerous train of servants. For he is understood to be solitary who is helpless, and exposed to such as would injure him. Hence, in a journey especially, we call ourselves solitary when we fall among thieves; for it is not the sight of a man that removes our solitude, but of an honest man, a man of honor, and a helpful companion. If merely being alone is sufficient for solitude, Zeus may be said to be solitary at the great conflagration,* and bewail himself that he hath neither Here, nor Athene, nor Apollo, nor brother, nor son, nor descendant, nor relation. This, some indeed say, he doth when he is alone at the conflagration. Such as these, moved by some natural principle, some natural desire of society, and mutual love, and by the pleasure of conversation, do not rightly consider the state of a person who is alone. But none the less should we be prepared for this also, to suffice unto ourselves, and to bear our own company. For as Zeus converses with himself, acquiesces in himself, and contemplates his own administration, and is employed in thoughts worthy of himself; so should we too be able to talk with ourselves, and not to need the conversation of others, nor suffer ennui; to attend to the divine administration; to consider our relation to other beings; how we have formerly been affected by events, how we are affected now; what are the things that still press upon us; how these too may be cured, how removed; if anything wants completing, to complete it according to reason. You perceive that Cæsar has procured us a profound peace; there are neither wars nor battles, nor great robberies nor piracies; but we may travel at all hours, and sail from east to west. But can Cæsar procure us peace from a fever too? From a shipwreck? From a fire? From an earthquake? From a thunder storm? Nay, even from love? He cannot. From grief? From envy? No; not from any one of these. But the doctrine of philosophers promises to procure us peace from these too. And what doth it say? “If you will attend to me, O mortals! wherever you are, and whatever you are doing, you shall neither grieve, nor be angry, nor be compelled, nor restrained; but you shall live serene, and free from all.” Shall not he who enjoys this peace proclaimed, not by Cæsar (for how should he have it to proclaim?) but by God, through Reason, — be contented when he is alone, reflecting and considering: “To me there can now no ill happen; there is no thief, no earthquake. All is full of peace, all full of tranquillity; every road, every city, every assembly, neighbor, companion, is powerless to hurt me.” Another whose care it is, provides you with food, with clothes, with senses, with ideas. Whenever He doth not provide what is necessary, He sounds a retreat; He opens the door, and says to you, “Come.” Whither? To nothing dreadful; but to that whence you were made; to what is friendly and congenial, to the elements. What in you was fire goes away to fire; what was earth, to earth; what air, to air; what water, to water. There is no Hades, nor Aclieron, nor Cocytus, nor Pyriphlegethon; but all is full of gods and divine beings. He who can have such thoughts, and can look upon the sun, moon, and stars, and enjoy the earth and sea, is no more solitary than he is helpless. “Well; but suppose any one should come and murder me when I am alone.” Foolish man; not you; but that insignificant body of yours.
What solitude is there then left? What destitution? Why do we make ourselves worse than children? What do they do when they are left alone? They take up shells and dust; they build houses, then pull them down; then build something else; and thus never want amusement. Suppose you were all to sail away; am I to sit and cry because I am left alone and solitary? Am I so unprovided with shells and dust? But children do this from folly; and shall we be wretched through wisdom?
Every great gift is dangerous to a beginner. Study first how to live like a person in sickness; that in time you may know how to live like one in health. Abstain from food. Drink water. Totally repress your desire, for some time, that you may at length use it according to reason; and, if so, when you are stronger in virtue, you will use it well. No; but we would live immediately as men already wise; and be of service to mankind. Of what service? What are you doing? Why; have you been of so much service to yourself that you would exhort them? You exhort! Would you be of service to them, show them by your own example what kind of men philosophy makes; and do not trifle. When you eat, be of service to those who eat with you; when you drink, to those who drink with you. Be of service to them by giving way to all, yielding to them, bearing with them; and not by venting upon them your own ill humor.
AS bad performers cannot sing alone, but in a chorus; so some persons cannot walk alone. If you are anything, walk alone; talk by yourself; and do not skulk in the chorus. Think a little at last; look about you; sift yourself that you may know what you are.
If a person drinks water, or does anything else for the sake of training, upon every occasion he tells all he meets, “I drink water.” Why, do you drink water merely for the sake of drinking it? If it does you any good to drink it, do so; if not, you act ridiculously. But, if it is for your advantage that you drink it, say nothing about it before those who would criticise. Yet can it be possible that these are the very people you wish to please?
Of actions, some are performed on their own account; others from circumstances, others from complaisance, others upon system.
Two things must be rooted out of men, conceit and diffidence. Conceit lies in thinking that you want nothing; and diffidence in supposing it impossible that under such adverse circumstances, you should ever succeed. Now conceit is removed by confutation; and of this Socrates set the example. And consider and ascertain that the undertaking is not impracticable. The inquiry itself will do you no harm; and it is almost being a philosopher to inquire how it is possible to employ our desire and aversion without hindrance.
“I am better than you; for my father has been consul.” — “I have been a tribune,” says another, “and you not.” If we were horses, would you say, “My father was swifter than yours? I have abundance of oats and hay and fine trappings?” What now, if, while you were saying this, I should answer: “Be it so. Let us run a race then.” Is there nothing in man analogous to a race in horses, by which it may be decided which is better or worse? Is there not honor, fidelity, justice? Show yourself the better in these, that you may be the better as a man. But if you only tell me that you can kick violently, I will tell you again that you value yourself on what is the property of an ass.
THAT EVERYTHING IS TO BE UNDERTAKEN WITH CIRCUMSPECTION.
IN every affair consider what precedes and follows, and then undertake it. Otherwise you will begin with spirit indeed, careless of the consequences, and when these are developed, you will shamefully desist. “I would conquer at the Olympic Games.” But consider what precedes and follows, and, then, if it be for your advantage, engage in the affair. You must conform to rules, submit to a diet, refrain from dainties; exercise your body, whether you choose it or not, at a stated hour, in heat and cold; you must drink no cold water, and sometimes no wine. In a word, you must give yourself up to your trainer as to a physician. Then, in the combat, you may be thrown into a ditch, dislocate your arm, turn your ankle, swallow abundance of dust, receive stripes [for negligence]; and after all, lose the victory. When you have reckoned up all this, if your inclination still holds, set about the combat. Otherwise, take notice, you will behave like children who sometimes play wrestlers, sometimes gladiators; sometimes blow a trumpet, and sometimes act a tragedy, when they happen to have seen and admired these shows. Thus you too will be at one time a wrestler, at another a gladiator; now a philosopher, now an orator; but nothing in earnest. Like an ape you mimic all you see, and one thing after another is sure to please you; but is out of favor as soon as it becomes familiar. For you have never entered upon anything considerately, nor after having surveyed and tested the whole matter; but carelessly, and with a half-way zeal. Thus some, when they have seen a philosopher, and heard a man speaking like Euphrates,* — though indeed who can speak like him? — have a mind to be philosophers too. Consider first, man, what the matter is, and what your own nature is able to bear. If you would be a wrestler, consider your shoulders, your back, your thighs; for different persons are made for different things. Do you think that you can act as you do and be a philosopher? That you can eat, drink, be angry, be discontented, as you are now? You must watch, you must labor, you must get the better of certain appetites; must quit your acquaintances, be despised by your servant, be laughed at by those you meet; come off worse than others in everything, in offices, in honors, before tribunals. When you have fully considered all these things, approach, if you please; if, by parting with them, you have a mind to purchase serenity, freedom, and tranquillity. If not, do not come hither; do not, like children, be now a philosopher, then a publican, then an orator, and then one of Cæsar’s officers. These things are not consistent. You must be one man either good or bad. You must cultivate either your own Reason or else externals; apply yourself either to things within or without you; that is, be either a philosopher, or one of the mob.
THAT CAUTION SHOULD BE USED, AS TO PERSONAL FAMILIARITY.
HE who frequently mingles with others, either in conversation or at entertainments, or in any familiar way of living, must necessarily either become like his companions, or bring them over to his own way. For, if a dead coal be applied to a live one, either the first will quench the last, or the last kindle the first. Since, then, the danger is so great, caution must be used in entering into these familiarities with the crowd; remembering that it is impossible to touch a chimney-sweeper without being partaker of his soot. For what will you do, if you have to discuss gladiators, horses, wrestlers, and, what is worse, men? “Such a one is good, another bad; this was well, that ill done.” Besides, what if any one should sneer, or ridicule, or be ill-natured? Are any of you prepared, like a harper, who, when he takes his harp, and tries the strings, finds out which notes are discordant, and knows how to put the instrument in tune? Have any of you such a faculty as Socrates had; who in every conversation, could bring his companions to his own purpose? Whence should you have it? You must therefore be carried along by the crowd. And why are they more powerful than you? Because they utter their corrupt discourses from sincere opinion, and you your good ones only from your lips. Hence they are without strength or life; and it is disgusting to hear your exhortations and your poor miserable virtue proclaimed up hill and down. Thus it is that the crowd gets the better of you; for sincere opinion is always strong, always invincible. Therefore before wise sentiments are fixed in you, and you have acquired some power of self-defence, I advise you to be cautious in popular intercourse, otherwise, if you have any impressions made on you in the schools, they will melt away daily like wax before the sun. Get away then, far from the sun, while you have these waxen opinions.
It is for this reason that the philosophers advise us to leave our country; because habitual practices draw the mind aside, and prevent the formation of new habits. We cannot bear that those who meet us should say, “Hey-day! such a one is turned philosopher, who was formerly thus and so.” Thus physicians send patients with lingering distempers to another place and another air; and they do right. Do you too import other manners instead of those you carry out. Fix your opinions, and exercise yourself in them. No; but you go hence to the theatre, to the gladiators, to the walks, to the circus; then hither again, then back again; — just the same persons all the while! No good habit, no criticism, no animadversion upon ourselves. No observation what use we make of the appearances presented to our minds; whether it be conformable, or contrary to Nature; whether we interpret them rightly or wrongly. Can I say to the inevitable that it is nothing to me? If this be not yet your case, fly from your former habits: fly from the crowd if you would ever begin to be anything.
WHENEVER you lay anything to the charge of Providence, do but reflect, and you will find that it has happened agreeably to Reason.
“Well; but a dishonest man has the advantage.”
Here he ought to surpass you; because he flatters, he is shameless, he keeps awake. Where is the wonder? But look whether he has the advantage of you in fidelity or in honor. You will find he has not; but that wherever it is best for you to have the advantage of him, there you have it. I once said to one who was full of indignation at the good fortune of Philostrogus, “Why, would you be willing to sleep with Sura?”* Heaven forbid, said he, that day should ever come! Why then are you angry that he is paid for what he sells; or how can you call him happy in possessions acquired by means which you detest? Or what harm does Providence do in giving the best things to the best men? Is it not better to have a sense of honor than to be rich? “Granted.” Why then are you angry, man, if you have what is best? Always remember, then, and have it in mind that a better man has the advantage of a worse in that direction in which he is better; and you will never have any indignation.
“But my wife treats me ill.”
Well; if you are asked what is the matter, answer, “My wife treats me ill.”
“My father gives me nothing.” But to denominate this an evil, some external and false addition must be made. We are not therefore to get rid of poverty, but of our impressions concerning it; and we shall do well.
When Galba was killed, somebody said to Rufus, “Now, indeed, the world is governed by Providence.” I had never thought, answered Rufus, of extracting through Galba the slightest proof that the world was governed by Providence.
THAT WE OUGHT NOT TO BE ALARMED, BY ANY NEWS THAT IS BROUGHT US.
WHEN any alarming news is brought you, always have it ready in mind that no news can be brought you concerning what is within the power of your own Will. Can any one bring you news that your opinions or desires are ill conducted? By no means; only that such a person is dead. What is that to you then? — That somebody speaks ill of you. And what is that to you then? — That your father is perhaps forming some contrivance or other. Against what? Against your Will? How can he? No; but against your body, against your estate? You are very safe; this is not against you. — But the Judge has pronounced you guilty of impiety. And did not the Judges pronounce the same of Socrates? Is his pronouncing a sentence any business of yours? No. Then why do you any longer trouble yourself about it? There is a duty incumbent on your father, which unless he performs, he loses the character of a father, of natural affection, of tenderness. Do not desire him to lose anything else, by this; for every man suffers precisely where he errs. Your duty, on the other hand, is to meet the case with firmness, modesty, and mildness; otherwise you forfeit piety, modesty, and nobleness. Well; and is your Judge free from danger? No. He runs an equal hazard. Why, then, are you still afraid of his decision? What have you to do with the ills of another? Meeting the case wrongly would be your own ill. Let it be your only care to avoid that; but whether sentence is passed on you, or not, as it is the business of another, so the ill belongs to him. “Such a one threatens you.” Me? No. “He censures you.” Let him look to it, how he does his own duty. “He will give an unjust sentence against you.” Poor wretch!
WHAT IS THE COMPARATIVE CONDITION OF THE PHILOSOPHER, AND OF THE CROWD.
THE first difference between one of the crowd and a philosopher is this; the one says, “I am undone on the account of my child, my brother, my father”; but the other, if ever he be obliged to say, “I am undone!” reflects, and adds, “on account of myself.” For the Will cannot be restrained or hurt by anything to which the Will does not extend, but only by itself. If, therefore, we always would incline this way, and, whenever we are unsuccessful, would lay the fault on ourselves, and remember that there is no cause of perturbation and inconstancy, but wrong principles, I pledge myself to you that we should make some proficiency. But we set out in a very different way from the very beginning. In infancy, for example, if we happen to stumble, our nurse does not chide us, but beats the stone. Why; what harm has the stone done? Was it to move out of its place for the folly of your child? Again; if we do not find something to eat when we come out of the bath, our tutor does not try to moderate our appetite, but beats the cook. Why; did we appoint you tutor of the cook, man? No; but of our child. It is he whom you are to correct and improve. By these means, even when we are grown up, we appear children. For an unmusical person is a child in music; an illiterate person, a child in learning; and an untaught one, a child in life.
THAT SOME ADVANTAGE MAY BE GAINED FROM EVERY OUTWARD CIRCUMSTANCE.
IN considering sensible phenomena, almost all persons admit good and evil to lie in ourselves and not in externals. No one says it is good to be day; evil to be night; and the greatest evil that three should be four; but what? That knowledge is good and error evil. Even in connection with falsehood itself there may be one good thing; the knowledge that it is falsehood. Thus, then, should it be in life also. “Health is a good; sickness an evil.” No, sir. But what? A right use of health is a good; a wrong one, an evil. So that, in truth, it is possible to be a gainer even by sickness. And is it not possible by death too? By mutilation? Do you think Menæceus* an inconsiderable gainer by death? “May whoever talks thus be such a gainer as he was!” Why, pray, sir, did not he preserve his patriotism, his magnanimity, his fidelity, his gallant spirit? And, if he had lived on, would he not have lost all these? Would not cowardice, baseness, and hatred of his country, and a wretched love of life, have been his portion? Well now; do not you think him a considerable gainer by dying? No; but I warrant you the father of Admetus was a great gainer by living on in so mean-spirited and wretched a way as he did! For did not he die at last? For Heaven’s sake cease to be thus deluded by externals. Cease to make yourselves slaves; first, of things, and, then, upon their account, of the men who have the power either to bestow, or to take them away. Is there any advantage, then, to be gained from these men? From all; even from a reviler. What advantage does a wrestler gain from him with whom he exercises himself before the combat? The greatest. And just in the same manner I exercise myself with this man. He exercises me in patience, in gentleness, in meekness. I am to suppose, then, that I gain an advantage from him who exercises my neck, and puts my back and shoulders in order; so that the trainer may well bid me grapple him, with both hands, and the heavier he is the better for me; and yet it is no advantage to me when I am exercised in gentleness of temper! This is not to know how to gain an advantage from men. Is my neighbor a bad one? He is so to himself; but a good one to me. He exercises my good-temper, my moderation. Is my father bad? To himself; but not to me. “This is the rod of Hermes. Touch with it whatever you please, and it will become gold.” No; but bring whatever you please, and I will turn it into good. Bring sickness, death, want, reproach, trial for life. All these, by the rod of Hermes, shall turn to advantage. “What will you make of death?” Why, what but an ornament to you? what but a means of your showing, by action, what that man is who knows and follows the will of Nature. “What will you make of sickness?” I will show its nature. I will make a good figure in it; I will be composed and happy; I will not beseech my physician, nor yet will I pray to die. What need you ask further? Whatever you give me, I will make it happy, fortunate, respectable, and eligible.
No, but, “take care not to be sick; — it is an evil.” Just as if one should say, “Take care that the semblance of three being four does not present itself to you. It is an evil.” How an evil, man? If I think as I ought about it, what hurt will it any longer do me? Will it not rather be even an advantage to me? If then I think as I ought of poverty, of sickness, of political disorder, is not that enough for me? Why then must I any longer seek good or evil in externals?
But how is it? These truths are admitted here; but nobody carries them home, for immediately every one is in a state of war with his servant, his neighbors, with those who sneer and ridicule him. Many thanks to Lespius for proving every day that I know nothing.
CONCERNING THOSE WHO READILY SET UP FOR SOPHISTS.
THEY who have merely received bare maxims are presently inclined to throw them up, as a sick stomach does its food. Digest it, and then you will not throw it up; otherwise it will be crude and impure, and unfit for nourishment. But show us, from what you have digested, some change in your ruling faculty; as wrestlers do in their shoulders, from their exercise and their diet; as artificers, in their skill, from what they have learnt. A carpenter does not come and say, “Hear me discourse on the art of building”; but he hires a building, and fits it up, and shows himself master of his trade. Let it be your business likewise to do something like this; be manly in your ways of eating, drinking, dressing; marry, have children, perform the duty of a citizen; bear reproach; bear with an unreasonable brother; bear with a father; bear with a son, a neighbor, a companion, as becomes a man. Show us these things, that we may see that you have really learned something from the philosophers. No; but “come and hear me repeat commentaries.” Get you gone, and seek somebody else upon whom to bestow them. “Nay, but I will explain the doctrines of Chrysippus to you as no other person can; I will elucidate his style in the clearest manner.” And is it for this, then, that young men leave their country, and their own parents, that they may come and hear you explain words? Ought they not to return patient, active, free from passion, free from perturbation; furnished with such a provision for life, that, setting out with it, they will be able to bear all events well, and derive ornament from them? But how should you impart what you have not? For have you yourself done anything else, from the beginning, but spend your time in solving syllogisms and convertible propositions and interrogatory arguments. “But such a one has a school, and why should not I have one?” Foolish man, these things are not brought about carelessly and at haphazard. But there must be a fit age, and a method of life, and a guiding God. Is it not so? No one quits the port, or sets sail, till he hath sacrified to the gods, and implored their assistance; nor do men sow without first invoking Ceres. And shall any one who has undertaken so great a work attempt it safely without the gods? And shall they who apply to such a one, apply to him with success? What are you doing else, man, but divulging the mysteries? As if you said, “There is a temple at Eleusis, and here is one too. There is a priest, and I will make a priest here; there is a herald, and I will appoint a herald too; there is a torch-bearer, and I will have a torch-bearer; there are torches, and so shall there be here. The words said, the things done, are the same. Where is the difference betwixt one and the other?” Most impious man! is there no difference? Are these things of use, out of place, and out of time? A man should come with sacrifices and prayers, previously purified, and his mind affected by the knowledge that he is approaching sacred and ancient rites. Thus the mysteries become useful; thus we come to have an idea that all these things were appointed by the ancients for the instruction and correction of life. But you divulge and publish them without regard to time and place, without sacrifices, without purity; you have not the garment that is necessary for a priest, nor the fitting hair nor girdle; nor the voice, nor the age, nor have you purified yourself like him. But, when you have got the words by heart, you say, “The mere words are sacred of themselves.” These things are to be approached in another manner. It is a great, it is a mystical affair; not given by chance, or to every one indifferently. Nay, mere wisdom, perhaps, is not a sufficient qualification for the care of youth. There ought to be likewise a certain readiness and aptitude for this, and indeed a particular physical temperament: and, above all, a counsel from God to undertake this office, as he counselled Socrates to undertake the office of confutation; Diogenes, that of authoritative reproof; Zeno, that of dogmatical instruction. But you set up for a physician, provided with nothing but medicines, and without knowing, or having studied, where or how they are to be applied. “Why, such a one had medicines for the eyes, and I have the same.” Have you also, then, a faculty of making use of them? Do you at all know when, and how, and to whom, they will be of service? Why then do you act at hazard? Why are you careless in things of the greatest importance? Why do you attempt a matter unsuitable to you? Leave it to those who can perform it and do it honor. Do not you too bring a scandal upon philosophy by your means; nor be one of those who cause the thing itself to be calumniated. But if mere theorems delight you, sit quietly and turn them over by yourself; but never call yourself a philosopher, nor suffer another to call you so; but say: he is mistaken; for my desires are not different from what they were; nor my pursuits directed to other objects; nor my assents otherwise given; nor have I at all made any change from my former condition in the use of things as they appear. Think and speak thus of yourself, if you would think as you ought; if not, act at random, and do as you do; for it is appropriate to you.
OF THE CYNIC PHILOSOPHY.
WHEN one of his scholars, who seemed inclined to the Cynic philosophy, asked him what a Cynic must be, and what was the general plan of that sect? Let us examine it, he said, at our leisure. But thus much I can tell you now, that he who attempts so great an affair without divine guidance is an object of divine wrath, and would only bring public dishonor upon himself. For in a well-regulated house no one comes and says to himself, “I ought to be the manager here.” If he does, and the master returns and sees him insolently giving orders, he drags him out, and has him punished. Such is the case likewise in this great city. For here, too, is a master of the family who orders everything. “You are the sun; you can, by making a circuit, form the year and the seasons, and increase and nourish the fruits; you can raise and calm the winds, and give an equable warmth to the bodies of men. Go; make your circuit, and thus move everything from the greatest to the least. You are a calf; when the lion appears act accordingly, or you will suffer for it. You are a bull; come and fight; for that is incumbent on you, and becomes you, and you can do it. You can lead an army to Troy; be you Agamemnon. You can engage in single combat with Hector; be you Achilles.” But if Thersites had come and claimed the command, either he would not have obtained it; or, if he had, he would have disgraced himself before so many more witnesses.
Do you, too, carefully deliberate upon this underdertaking; it is not what you think it. “I wear an old cloak now, and I shall have one then. I sleep upon the hard ground now, and I shall sleep so then. I will moreover take a wallet and a staff, and go about, and beg of those I meet, and begin by rebuking them; and, if I see any one using effeminate practices, or arranging his curls, or walking in purple, I will rebuke him.” If you imagine this to be the whole thing, avaunt; come not near it: it belongs not to you. But, if you imagine it to be what it really is, and do not think yourself unworthy of it, consider how great a thing you undertake.
First, with regard to yourself; you must no longer, in any instance, appear as now. You must accuse neither God nor man. You must altogether control desire; and must transfer aversion to such things only as are controllable by Will. You must have neither anger, nor resentment, nor envy, nor pity. Neither boy, nor girl, nor fame, nor dainties, must have charms for you. For you must know that other men indeed fence themselves with walls, and houses, and darkness, when they indulge in anything of this kind, and have many concealments; a man shuts the door, places somebody before the apartment: “Say that he is out; say that he is engaged.” But the Cynic, instead of all this, must fence himself with virtuous shame; otherwise he will be improperly exposed in the open air. This is his house, this his door, this his porter, this his darkness. He must not wish to conceal anything relating to himself; for, if he does, he is gone; he has lost the Cynic character, the openness, the freedom; he has begun to fear something external; he has begun to need concealment; nor can he get it when he will. For where shall he conceal himself, or how? For if this tutor, this pedagogue of the public, should happen to slip, what must he suffer? Can he then, who dreads these things, be thoroughly bold within, and prescribe to other men? Impracticable, impossible.
In the first place, then, you must purify your own ruling faculty, to match this method of life. Now the material for me to work upon is my own mind; as wood is for a carpenter, or leather for a shoemaker; and my business is, a right use of things as they appear. But body is nothing to me: its parts nothing to me. Let death come when it will; either of the whole body or of part. “Go into exile.” And whither? Can any one turn me out of the universe? He cannot. But wherever I go, there is the sun, the moon, the stars, dreams, auguries, communication with God. And even this preparation is by no means sufficient for a true Cynic. But it must further be known that he is a messenger sent from Zeus to men, concerning good and evil; to show them that they are mistaken, and seek the essence of good and evil where it is not, but do not observe it where it is; that he is a spy, like Diogenes, when he was brought to Philip, after the battle of Chæronea. For, in effect, a Cynic is a spy to discover what things are friendly, what hostile, to man; and he must, after making an accurate observation, come and tell them the truth; not be struck with terror, so as to point out to them enemies where there are none; nor, in any other instance, be disconcerted or confounded by appearances.
He must, then, if it should so happen, be able to lift up his voice, to come upon the stage, and say, like Socrates: “O mortals, whither are you hurrying? What are you about? Why do you tumble up and down, O miserable wretches! like blind men? You are going the wrong way, and have forsaken the right. You seek prosperity and happiness in a wrong place, where they are not; nor do you give credit to another, who shows you where they are. Why do you seek this possession without? It lies not in the body; if you do not believe me, look at Myro, look at Ofellius. It is not in wealth; if you do not believe me, look upon Crœsus; look upon the rich of the present age, how full of lamentation their life is. It is not in power; for otherwise, they who have been twice and thrice consuls must be happy; but they are not. To whom shall we give heed in these things? To you who look only upon the externals of their condition, and are dazzled by appearances, — or to themselves? What do they say? Hear them when they groan, when they sigh, when they pronounce themselves the more wretched and in more danger from these very consulships, this glory and splendor. It is not in empire; otherwise Nero and Sardanapalus had been happy. But not even Agamemnon was happy, though a better man than Sardanapalus or Nero. But, when others sleep soundly what is he doing?
“Forth by the roots he rends his hairs.”*
And what does he himself say?
“I wander bewildered; my heart leaps forth from my bosom.”
Why; which of your affairs goes ill, poor wretch? Your possessions? No. Your body? No. But you have gold and brass in abundance. What then goes ill? That part of you is neglected and corrupted, whatever it be called, by which we desire, and shrink; by which we pursue, and avoid. How neglected? It is ignorant of that for which it was naturally formed, of the essence of good, and of the essence of evil. It is ignorant what is its own, and what another’s. And, when anything belonging to others goes ill, it says, “I am undone; the Greeks are in danger!” (Poor ruling faculty! which alone is neglected, and has no care taken of it.) “They will die by the sword of the Trojans!” And, if the Trojans should not kill them, will they not die? “Yes, but not all at once.” Why, where is the difference? For if it be an evil to die, then whether it be all at once or singly, it is equally an evil. Will anything more happen than the separation of soul and body? “Nothing.” And, when the Greeks perish, is the door shut against you? Is it not in your power to die? “It is.” Why then do you lament, while you are a king and hold the sceptre of Zeus? A king is no more to be made unfortunate than a god. What are you, then? You are a mere shepherd, truly so called; for you weep, just as shepherds do when the wolf seizes any of their sheep; and they who are governed by you are mere sheep. But why do you come hither? Was your desire in any danger? Your aversion? Your pursuits? Your avoidances? “No,” he says, “but my brother’s wife has been stolen.” Is it not great good luck, then, to be rid of an adulterous wife? “But must we be held in contempt by the Trojans?” What are they? Wise men, or fools? If wise, why do you go to war with them? If fools, why do you heed them?
Where, then, does our good lie, since it does not lie in these things? Tell us, sir, you who are our messenger and spy. Where you do not think, nor are willing to seek it. For, if you were willing, you would find it in yourselves; nor would you wander abroad, nor seek what belongs to others, as your own. Turn your thoughts upon yourselves. Consider the impressions which you have. What do you imagine good to be? What is prosperous, happy, unhindered. Well; and do you not naturally imagine it great? Do you not imagine it valuable? Do you not imagine it incapable of being hurt? Where then, must you seek prosperity and exemption from hindrance? In that which is enslaved, or free? “In the free.” Is your body, then, enslaved, or free? We do not know. Do you not know that it is the slave of fever, gout, defluxion, dysentery; of a tyrant; of fire, steel; of everything stronger than itself? “Yes, it is a slave.” How, then, can anything belonging to the body be unhindered? And how can that be great or valuable, which is by nature lifeless, earth, clay? What, then, have you nothing free? “Possibly nothing.” Why, who can compel you to assent to what appears false? No one. Or who, not to assent to what appears true? No one. Here, then, you see that there is something in you naturally free. But which of you can desire or shun, or use his active powers of pursuit or avoidance, or prepare or plan anything, unless he has been impressed by an appearance of its being for his advantage or his duty? No one. You have then, in these too, something unrestrained and free. Cultivate this, unfortunates; take care of this; seek for good here. “But how is it possible that a man destitute, naked, without house or home, squalid, unattended, an outcast, can lead a prosperous life?” See; God hath sent us one, to show in practice that it is possible. “Take notice of me that I am without a country, without a house, without an estate, without a servant; I lie on the ground; have no wife, no children, no coat; but have only earth and heaven and one poor cloak. And what need I? Am not I without sorrow, without fear? Am not I free? Did any of you ever see me disappointed of my desire, or incurring my aversion? Did I ever blame God or man? Did I ever accuse any one? Have any of you seen me look discontented? How do I treat those whom you fear and of whom you are struck with awe? Is it not like poor slaves? Who that sees me does not think that he sees his own king and master?” This is the language, this the character, this the undertaking, of a Cynic. No, [but you think only of] the wallet and the staff and a large capacity of swallowing and appropriating whatever is given you; abusing unseasonably those you meet, or showing your bare arm. Do you consider how you shall attempt so important an undertaking? First take a mirror. View your shoulders, examine your back, your loins. It is the Olympic Games, man, for which you are to be entered; not a poor slight contest. In the Olympic Games a champion is not allowed merely to be conquered and depart; but must first be disgraced in the view of the whole world, not of the Athenians alone, or Spartans, or Nicopolitans; and, then, he who has prematurely departed must be whipped too; and, before that, must have suffered thirst, and heat, and have swallowed an abundance of dust.
Consider carefully, know yourself, consult the Divinity; attempt nothing without God; for, if he counsels you, be assured that it is his will, whether that you should become eminent, or that you should suffer many a blow. For there is this fine circumstance connected with the character of a Cynic, that he must be beaten like an ass, and yet, when beaten, must love those who beat him as the father, as the brother of all.
“No, to be sure; but, if anybody beats you, stand publicly and roar out ‘O! Cæsar, am I to suffer such things in breach of your peace? Let us go before the Proconsul.’ ”
But what is Cæsar to a Cynic, or what is the Proconsul, or any one else, but Zeus, who hath deputed him, and whom he serves. Does he invoke any other but him? And is he not persuaded that, whatever he suffers of this sort, it is Zeus who doth it to exercise him? Now Hercules, when he was exercised by Eurystheus, did not think himself miserable; but executed with alacrity all that was to be done. And shall he who is appointed to the combat, and exercised by Zeus, cry out and take offence at things? A worthy person, truly, to bear the sceptre of Diogenes! Hear what he in a fever, said to those who were passing by.* “Foolish men, why do you not stay? Do you take such a journey to Olympia to see the destruction or combat of the champions; and have you no inclination to see the combat between a man and a fever?” Such a one, who took a pride in difficult circumstances, and thought himself worthy to be a spectacle to those who passed by, was a likely person indeed to accuse God, who had deputed him, as treating him unworthily! For what subject of accusation shall he find? That he preserves a decency of behavior? With what does he find fault? That he sets his own virtue in a clearer light? Well; and what does he say of poverty? Of death? Of pain? How did he compare his happiness with that of the Persian king; or rather, thought it beyond comparison! For amidst perturbations, and griefs, and fears, and disappointed desires, and incurred aversions, how can there be any entrance for happiness? And where there are corrupt principles, there must all these things necessarily be.
— The same young man inquiring, whether, if a friend should desire to come to him and take care of him when he was sick, he should comply? And where, says Epictetus, will you find me the friend of a Cynic? For to be worthy of being numbered among his friends, a person ought to be such another as himself; he ought to be a partner of the sceptre and the kingdom, and a worthy minister, if he would be honored with his friendship; as Diogenes was the friend of Antisthenes; as Crates, of Diogenes. Do you think that he who only comes to him, and salutes him, is his friend; and that he will think him worthy of being entertained as such? If such a thought comes into your head, rather look round you for some desirable dunghill to shelter you in your fever from the north wind, that you may not perish by taking cold. But you seem to me to prefer to get into somebody’s house, and to be well fed there awhile. What business have you then, even to attempt so important an undertaking as this?
“But,” said the young man, “will marriage and parentage be recognized as important duties by a Cynic?”
Grant me a community of sages, and no one there, perhaps, will readily apply himself to the Cynic philosophy. For on whose account should he there embrace that method of life? However, supposing he does, there will be nothing to restrain him from marrying and having children. For his wife will be such another as himself; his father-in-law such another as himself; and his children will be brought up in the same manner. But as the state of things now is, like that of an army prepared for battle, is it not necessary that a Cynic should be without distraction;* entirely attentive to the service of God; at liberty to walk among mankind, not tied down to common duties, nor entangled in relations, which if he transgresses, he will no longer keep the character of a wise and good man; and which if he observes, there is an end of him, as the messenger, and spy, and herald of the gods? For consider, there are some offices due to his father-in-law; some to the other relations of his wife; some to his wife herself: besides, after this, he is confined to the care of his family when sick, and to providing for their support. At the very least, he must have a vessel to warm water in, to bathe his child; there must be wool, oil, a bed, a cup, for his wife, after her delivery; and thus the furniture increases; more business, more distraction. Where, for the future, is this king whose time is devoted to the public good?
“To whom the people are trusted, and many a care.”*
Who ought to superintend others, married men, fathers of children; — whether one treats his wife well or ill; who quarrels; which family is well regulated; which not; — like a physician who goes about and feels the pulse of his patients: “You have a fever; you the headache; you the gout. Do you abstain from food; do you eat; do you omit bathing; you must have an incision made: you be cauterized.” Where shall he have leisure for this who is tied down to common duties? Must he not provide clothes for his children; and send them with pens, and ink, and paper, to a schoolmaster? Must he not provide a bed for them, — for they cannot be Cynics from their very birth? — Otherwise, it would have been better to expose them, as soon as they were born, than to kill them thus. Do you see to what we bring down our Cynic? How we deprive him of his kingdom? “Well, but Crates* was married.” The case of which you speak was a particular one, arising from love; and the woman was another Crates. But we are inquiring about ordinary and common marriages; and in this inquiry we do not find the affair much suited to the condition of a Cynic.
“How then shall he keep up society?”
For Heaven’s sake, do they confer a greater benefit upon the world, who leave two or three brats in their stead, than those who, so far as possible, oversee all mankind; what they do, how they live; what they attend to, what they neglect, in spite of their duty. Did all those who left children to the Thebans do them more good than Epaminondas, who died childless? And did Priam who was the father of fifty profligates, or Danaus, or Æolus, conduce more to the advantage of society than Homer? Shall a military command, or any other post, then, exempt a man from marrying and becoming a father, so that he shall be thought to have made sufficient amends for the want of children; and shall not the kingdom of a Cynic be a proper compensation for it? Perhaps we do not understand his grandeur, nor duly represent to ourselves the character of Diogenes; but we think of Cynics as they are now, who stand like dogs watching at tables, and who have only the lowest things in common with the others; else things like these would not move us, nor should we be astonished that a Cynic will not marry nor have children. Consider, sir, that he is the father of mankind; that all men are his sons, and all women his daughters. Thus he attends to all; thus takes care of all. What! do you think it is from impertinence that he rebukes those he meets? He does it as a father, as a brother, as a minister of the common parent, Zeus.
Ask me, if you please, too, whether a Cynic will engage in the administration of the commonwealth. What commonwealth do you inquire after, foolish man, greater than what he administers? Why should he harangue among the Athenians about revenues and taxes, whose business it is to debate with all mankind; with the Athenians, Corinthians, and Romans, equally; not about taxes and revenues, or peace and war, but about happiness and misery, prosperity and adversity, slavery and freedom. Do you ask me whether a man engages in the administration of the commonwealth who administers such a commonwealth as this? Ask me, too, whether he will accept any command? I will answer you again, What command, foolish one, is greater than that which he now exercises?
But he has need of a constitution duly qualified; for, if he should appear consumptive, thin, and pale, his testimony has no longer the same authority. For he must not only give a proof to the vulgar, by the constancy of his mind, that it is possible to be a man of weight and merit without those things that strike them with admiration; but he must show, too, by his body, that a simple and frugal diet, under the open air, does no injury to the constitution. “See, I and my body bear witness to this.” As Diogenes did; for he went about in hale condition, and gained the attention of the many by his mere physical aspect. But a Cynic in poor condition seems a mere beggar; all avoid him, all are offended at him; for he ought not to appear slovenly, so as to drive people from him; but even his indigence should be clean and attractive.
Much natural tact and acuteness are likewise necessary in a Cynic (otherwise he is almost worthless); that he may be able to give an answer, readily and pertinently, upon every occasion. So Diogenes, to one who asked him, “are you that Diogenes who does not believe there are any gods?” — How so, replied he, when I think you odious to them? Again; when Alexander surprised him sleeping, and repeated,
“To sleep all the night becomes not a man who gives counsel”;*
before he was quite awake, he responded,
“To whom the people are trusted, and many a care.”
But, above all, the reason of the man must be clearer than the sun; otherwise he must necessarily be a common cheat and a rascal, if, while himself guilty of some vice, he reproves others. For consider how the case stands. Arms and guards give a power to common kings and tyrants of reproving and of punishing delinquents, though they be wicked themselves; but to a Cynic, instead of arms and guards, conscience gives this power; when he knows that he has watched and labored for mankind; that he has slept pure, and waked still purer; and that he hath regulated all his thoughts as the friend, as the minister of the gods, as a partner of the empire of Zeus; that he is ready to say, upon all occasions,
“Conduct me, Zeus, and thou, O Destiny.”*
And, “if it thus pleases the gods, thus let it be.” Why should he not dare to speak boldly to his own brethren, to his children; in a word, to his kindred? Hence he, who is thus qualified, is neither impertinent nor a busybody: for he is not busied about the affairs of others, but his own, when he oversees the transactions of men. Otherwise call a general a busybody, when he oversees, inspects, and watches his soldiers and punishes the disorderly. But, if you reprove others, at the very time that you have booty under your own arm, I will ask you, if you had not better go into a corner, and eat up what you have stolen? But what have you to do with the concerns of others? For what are you? Are you the bull in the herd, or the queen of the bees? Show me such ensigns of empire, as she has from nature. But, if you are a drone, and arrogate to yourself the kingdom of the bees, do you not think that your fellow-citizens will drive you out, just as the bees do the drones?
A Cynic must, besides, have so much patience as to seem insensible and like a stone to the vulgar. No one reviles, no one beats, no one affronts him; but he has surrendered his body to be treated at pleasure by any one who will. For he remembers that the inferior, in whatever respect it is the inferior, must be conquered by the superior; and the body is inferior to the multitude, the weaker to the stronger. He never, therefore, enters into a combat where he can be conquered; but immediately gives up what belongs to others; he does not claim what is slavish and dependent; but in what concerns Will and the use of things as they appear, you will see that he has so many eyes, you would say Argus was blind to him. Is his assent ever precipitate? His pursuits ever rash? His desire ever disappointed? His aversion ever incurred? His aim ever fruitless? Is he ever querulous, ever dejected, ever envious? Here lies all his attention and application. With regard to other things, he enjoys profound quiet. All is peace. There is no robber, no tyrant for the Will. But there is for the body? Yes. The estate? Yes. Magistracies and honors? Yes. And what cares he for these? When any one, therefore, would frighten him with them, he says; “Go look for children; masks are frightful to them; but I know they are only shells, and have nothing within.”
Such is the affair about which you are deliberating; therefore, if you please, for Heaven’s sake, defer it, and first consider how you are prepared for it. Observe what Hector says to Andromache:
“War is the sphere for all men, and for me.”*
Thus conscious was he of his own qualifications and of her weakness.
CONCERNING SUCH AS READ AND DISPUTE OSTENTATIOUSLY.
FIRST, say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do. For in almost everything we see this to be the practice. Olympic champions first determine what they would be, and then act accordingly. To a racer, in a longer course, there must be one kind of diet, walking, anointing, and training; to one in a shorter, all these must be different; and to a Pentathlete, still more different. You will find the case the same in the manual arts. If a carpenter, you must have such and such things; if a smith, such other. For if we do not refer each of our actions to some end, we shall act at random; if to an improper one, we shall miss our aim. Further; there is a general and a particular end. The first is, to act as a man. What is comprehended in this? To be gentle, yet not sheepish; not to be mischievous, like a wild beast. But the particular end relates to the study and choice of each individual. A harper is to act as a harper; a carpenter, as a carpenter; a philosopher, as a philosopher; an orator, as an orator. When, therefore, you say, “Come, and hear me read,” observe, first, not to do this at random; and, in the next place, after you have found to what end you refer it, consider whether it be a proper one. Would you be useful, — or be praised? You presently hear him say, “What do I value the praise of the multitude?” And he says well; for this is nothing to a musician, or a geometrician, as such. You would be useful then. In what? Tell us, that we too may run to make part of your audience. Now, is it possible for any one to benefit others, who has received no benefit himself? No; for neither can he who is not a carpenter, or a shoemaker, benefit any one in respect to those arts. Would you know, then, whether you have received benefit? Produce your principles, philosopher. What is the aim and promise of desire? Not to be disappointed. What of aversion? Not to be incurred. Come, do we fulfil this promise? Tell me the truth; but, if you falsify, I will tell it to you. The other day, when your audience came but coldly together, and did not receive what you said with acclamations of applause, you went away dejected. Again; the other day when you were praised, you went about asking everybody, “What did you think of me?” — “Upon my life, sir, it was prodigious.” — “But how did I express myself upon that subject?” — “Which?” — “Where I gave a description of Pan and the Nymphs.”* — “Most excellently.” And do you tell me, after this, that you regulate your desires and aversions conformably to Nature? Get you gone! Persuade somebody else.
Did not you, the other day, praise a man contrary to your own opinion? Did not you flatter a certain senator? Yet would you wish your own children to be like him? “Heaven forbid!” Why then did you praise and cajole him? “He is an ingenuous young man, and attentive to discourses.” How so? “He admires me.” Now indeed you have produced your proof.
After all, what do you think? Do not these very people secretly despise you? When a man conscious of no good action or intention finds some philosopher saying, “You are a great genius, and of a frank and candid disposition”; what do you think he says, but, “This man has some need of me.” Pray tell me what mark of a great genius he has shown. You see he has long conversed with you, has heard your discourses, has attended your lectures. Has he turned his attention to himself? Has he perceived his own faults? Has he thrown off his conceit? Does he seek an instructor? “Yes, he does.” An instructor how to live? No, fool, but how to talk; for it is upon this account that he admires you. Hear what he says: “This man writes with very great art, and much more finely than Dion.” That is quite another thing. Does he say, This is a modest, faithful, calm person? But if he said this too, I would ask him, if he is faithful, what it is to be faithful? And if he could not tell, I would add, “First learn the meaning of what you say, and then speak.”
While you are in this bad disposition, then, and gaping after applauders, and counting your hearers, can you be of benefit to others? “To-day I had many more hearers.” — “Yes, many; we think there were five hundred.” — “You say nothing; estimate them at a thousand.” — “Dion never had so great an audience.” — “How should he?” — “And they have a fine taste for discourses.” — “What is excellent, sir, will move even a stone.” — Here is the language of a philosopher! Here is the disposition of one who is to be beneficial to mankind! Here is the man, attentive to discourses! Who has read the works of the Socratic philosophers, as such; not as if they were the writings of orators, like Lysias and Isocrates. “I have often wondered by what arguments — ”* No; “By what argument”; that is the more perfectly accurate expression. Is this to have read them any otherwise than as you read little pieces of poetry? If you read them as you ought, you would not dwell on such trifles, but would rather consider such a passage as this: “Anytus and Melitus may kill, but they cannot hurt me.” And “I am always so disposed as to defer to none of my friends, but to that reason which, after examination, appears to me to be the best.”† Hence, who ever heard Socrates say, “I know, or teach anything”? But he sent different people to different instructors; they came to him, desiring to be introduced to the philosophers; and he took them and introduced them. No; but [you think] as he accompanied them he used to give them such advice as this: “Hear me discourse to-day at the house of Quadratus.” Why should I hear you? Have you a mind to show me how finely you put words together, sir? And what good does that do you? “But praise me.” What do you mean by praising you? “Say, Incomparable! prodigious!” Well; I do say it. But if praise be that which the philosophers call by the appellation of good, what have I to praise you for? If it be good to speak well, teach me, and I will praise you. “What, then, ought these things to be heard without pleasure?” By no means. I do not hear even a harper without pleasure; but am I therefore to devote myself to playing upon the harp? Hear what Socrates says to his judges. “It would not be decent for me to appear before you, at this age, composing speeches like a boy.”* Like a boy, he says. For it is, without doubt, a pretty accomplishment to select words and place them together, and then to read or speak them gracefully in public; and in the midst of the discourse to observe that “he vows by all that is good, there are but few capable of these things.” But does a philosopher apply to people to hear him? Does he not attract those who are fitted to receive benefit from him, in the same manner as the sun or their necessary food does? What physician applies to anybody to be cured by him? (Though now indeed I hear that the physicians at Rome apply for patients; but in my time they were applied to.) “I apply to you to come and hear that you are in a bad way, and that you take care of everything but what you ought; that you knew not what is good or evil, and are unfortunate and unhappy.” A fine application! And yet, unless the discourse of a philosopher has this effect, both that and the speaker are lifeless.
Rufus used to say, “If you are at leisure to praise me, I speak to no purpose.” And indeed he used to speak in such a manner, that each of us who heard him supposed that some person had accused us to him; he so precisely hit upon what was done by us, and placed the faults of every one before his eyes.
The school of a philosopher is a surgery. You are not to go out of it with pleasure, but with pain; for you do not come there in health; but one of you has a dislocated shoulder; another, an abscess; a third, a fistula; a fourth, the headache. And am I, then, to sit uttering pretty, trifling thoughts and little exclamations, that, when you have praised me, you may each of you go away with the same dislocated shoulder, the same aching head, the same fistula, and the same abscess that you brought? And is it for this that young men are to travel? And do they leave their parents, their friends, their relations, and their estates, that they may praise you while you are uttering little exclamations? Was this the practice of Socrates? Of Zeno? Of Cleanthes?
What then! is there not in speaking a style and manner of exhortation? Who denies it? Just as there is a manner of confutation and of instruction. But who ever, therefore, added that of ostentation for a fourth? For in what doth the hortatory manner consist? In being able to show, to one and all, the contradictions in which they are involved; and that they care for everything rather than what they mean to care for: for they mean the things conducive to happiness, but they seek them where they are not to be found. To effect this, must a thousand seats be placed, and an audience invited; and you, in a fine robe or cloak, ascend the rostrum, and describe the death of Achilles? Forbear, for Heaven’s sake, to bring, so far as you are able, good works and practices into disgrace. Nothing, to be sure, gives more force to exhortation, than when the speaker shows that he has need of the hearers; but tell me who, when he hears you reading or speaking, is solicitous about himself? Or turns his attention upon himself? Or says, when he is gone away, “The philosopher hit me well.” Instead of this, even though you are in high vogue, one hearer merely remarks to another, “He spoke finely about Xerxes!” — “No,” says the other; “but on the battle of Thermopylæ!” Is this the audience for a philosopher?
THAT WE OUGHT NOT TO BE AFFECTED BY THINGS NOT IN OUR OWN POWER.
LET not another’s disobedience to Nature become an ill to you; for you were not born to be depressed and unhappy with others, but to be happy with them. And if any is unhappy, remember that he is so for himself; for God made all men to enjoy felicity and peace. He hath furnished all with means for this purpose; having given them some things for their own; others, not for their own. Whatever is subject to restraint, compulsion, or deprivation is not their own; whatever is not subject to restraint is their own. And the essence of good and evil He has placed in things which are our own; as it became Him who provides for, and protects us, with paternal care.
“But I have parted with such a one, and he is therefore in grief.”
And why did he esteem what belonged to another his own? Why did he not consider, while he was happy in seeing you, that you are mortal, that you are liable to change your abode? Therefore he bears the punishment of his own folly. But to what purpose, or for what cause, do you too suffer depression of spirits? Have you not studied these things? Like trifling, silly women, have you regarded the things you took delight in, the places, the persons, the conversations, as if they were to last for ever; and do you now sit crying, because you do not see the same people, nor live in the same place? Indeed, you deserve to be so overcome, and thus to become more wretched than ravens or crows, which, without groaning or longing for their former state, can fly where they will, build their nests in another place, and cross the seas.
“Ay, but this happens from their want of reason.”
Was reason then given to us by the gods, for the purpose of unhappiness and misery, to make us live wretched and lamenting? O, by all means, let every one be deathless! Let nobody go from home! Let us never go from home ourselves, but remain rooted to a spot, like plants! And if any of our acquaintance should quit his abode, let us sit and cry; and when he comes back, let us dance and clap our hands like children. Shall we never wean ourselves, and remember what we have heard from the philosophers, — unless we have heard them only as juggling enchanters; — that the universe is one great city, and the substance one of which it is formed; that there must necessarily be a certain rotation of things; that some must give way to others, some be dissolved, and others rise in their stead; some remain in the same situation, and others be moved; but that all is full of beloved ones, first of the gods, and then of men, by nature endeared to each other; that some must be separated, others live together, rejoicing in the present, and not grieving for the absent: and that man, besides a natural greatness of mind and contempt of things independent on his own will, is likewise formed not to be rooted to the earth, but to go at different times to different places; sometimes on urgent occasions, and sometimes merely for the sake of observation. Such was the case of Ulysses, who
“Saw the cities and watched the habits of various men.”*
And, even before him, of Hercules, to travel over the habitable world,
“Observing manners, good or ill, of men.”
To expel and clear away the one, and, in its stead, to introduce the other. Yet how many friends do you not think he must have at Thebes? How many at Argos? How many at Athens? And how many did he acquire in his travels? He married, too, when he thought it a proper time, and became a father, and then quitted his children; not lamenting and longing for them, nor as if he had left them orphans; for he knew that no human creature is an orphan, but that there is a father, who always, and without intermission, takes care of all. For he had not merely heard it as matter of talk, that Zeus was the Father of Mankind; but he esteemed and called him his own Father, and performed all that he did with a view to Him. Hence he was, in every place, able to live happy. But it is never possible to make happiness consistent with a longing after what is not present. For true happiness implies the possession of all which is desired, as in case of satiety with food; there must be no thirst, no hunger.
“But Ulysses longed for his wife, and sat weeping on a rock.”
Why do you regard Homer and his fables in everything? Or, if Ulysses really did weep, what was he but a wretched man? But what wise and good man is wretched? The universe is surely but ill governed, if Zeus does not take care that his subjects may be happy like himself. But these are unlawful and profane thoughts; and Ulysses, if he did indeed cry and bewail himself, was not a good man. For who can be a good man who does not know what he is? And who knows this, and yet forgets that all things made are perishable; and that it is not possible for man and man always to live together? What then? To desire impossibilities is base and foolish: it is the behavior of a stranger [to the world]; of one who fights against God in the only way he can, by holding false principles.
“But my mother grieves when she does not see me.”
And why has not she learned these doctrines? I do not say that care ought not to be taken that she may not lament; but that we are not to insist absolutely upon what is not in our own power. Now the grief of another is not in my power; but my own grief is. I will therefore absolutely suppress my own, for that is in my power; and I will endeavor to suppress another’s grief so far as I am able; but I will not insist upon it absolutely, otherwise I shall fight against God; I shall resist Zeus, and oppose him in the administration of the universe. And not only my children’s children will bear the punishment of this disobedience and fighting against God, but I myself too; starting, and full of perturbation, both in the day-time and in my nightly dreams; trembling at every message, and having my peace dependent on intelligence from others. “Somebody is come from Rome.” “I trust no harm has happened.” Why, what harm can happen to you where you are not? “From Greece.” — “No harm, I hope.” Why, at this rate, every place may be the cause of misfortune to you. Is it not enough for you to be unfortunate where you are, but it must happen beyond sea, too, and by letters? Such is the security of your condition!
“But what if my friends there should be dead?”
What, indeed, but that those are dead who were born to die? Do you at once wish to grow old, and yet not to see the death of any one you love? Do you not know that, in a long course of time, many and various events must necessarily happen? That a fever must get the better of one; a highwayman, of another; a tyrant, of a third? For such is the world we live in; such they who live in it with us. Heats and colds, improper diet, journeys, voyages, winds, and various accidents destroy some, banish others; destine one to an embassy, another to a camp. And now, pray, will you sit in consternation about all these things; lamenting, disappointed, wretched, dependent on another; and not on one or two only, but ten thousand times ten thousand!
Is this what you have heard from the philosophers? This what you have learned? Do you not know what sort of a thing warfare is? One must keep guard, another go out for a spy, another even to battle. It is neither possible, nor indeed desirable, that all should be in the same place; but you, neglecting to perform the orders of your General, complain whenever anything a little hard is commanded; and do not consider what influence you have on the army, so far as lies in your power. For, if all should imitate you, nobody will dig a trench, or throw up a rampart, or stand guard, or expose himself to danger, but every one will appear useless to the expedition. Again; if you were a sailor in a voyage, suppose you were to fix upon one place, and there remain? If it should be necessary to climb the mast, refuse to do it; if to run to the bow of the ship, refuse to do it! And what captain would tolerate you? Would he not throw you overboard as a useless piece of goods and mere luggage, and a bad example to the other sailors? Thus, also, in the present case; every one’s life is a warfare, and that long and various. You must observe the duty of a soldier, and perform everything at the nod of your General, and even, if possible, divine what he would have done. For there is no comparison between the above-mentioned General and this whom you now obey, either in power or excellence of character. You are placed in an extensive command, and not in a mean post; your life is a perpetual magistracy? Do you not know that such a one must spend but little time on his affairs at home; but be much abroad, either commanding or obeying; attending on the duties either of a magistrate, a soldier, or a judge? And now, pray, would you be fixed and rooted on the same spot, like a plant?
“Why; it is pleasant.”
Who denies it? And so is a ragout pleasant, and a fine woman is pleasant. Is not this just what they say who make pleasure their end? Do you not perceive whose language you have spoken? That of Epicureans and debauchees. And while you follow their practices and hold their principles, do you talk to us of the doctrines of Zeno and Socrates? Why do you not throw away as far as possible those assumed traits which belong to others, and with which you have nothing to do? What else do the Epicureans desire than to sleep without hindrance, and rise without compulsion; and when they have risen, to yawn at their leisure and wash their faces; then write and read what they please; then prate about some trifle or other, and be applauded by their friends, whatever they say; then go out for a walk, and, after they have taken a turn, bathe, and then eat, and then to bed; in what manner they spend their time there, why should one say? For it is easily guessed. Come now; do you also tell me what course of life you desire to lead, who are a zealot for truth, and Diogenes, and Socrates? What would you do at Athens? These very same things? Why then do you call yourself a Stoic? They who falsely pretend to the Roman citizenship are punished severely; and must those be dismissed with impunity who falsely claim so great a thing, and so venerable a title, as you? Or is not this impossible; and is there not a divine, and powerful, and inevitable law, which exacts the greatest punishments from those who are guilty of the greatest offences? For what says this law? — Let him who claims what belongs not to him be arrogant, be vainglorious, be base, be a slave; let him grieve, let him envy, let him pity; and in a word, let him lament and be miserable.
“What then! would you have me pay my court to such a one? Would you have me frequent his door?”
If reason requires it for your country, for your relations, for mankind, why should you not go? You are not ashamed to go to the door of a shoemaker when you want shoes; nor of a gardener when you want lettuce. Why then in regard to the rich, when you have some similar want?
“Ay; but I need not be awed before a shoemaker.”
Nor before a rich man.
“I need not flatter a gardener.”
Nor a rich man.
“How, then, shall I get what I want?”
Why, do I bid you go in expectation of getting it? No; only that you may do your duty.
“Why, then, after all, should I go?”
That you may have gone; that you may have discharged the duties of a citizen, of a brother, of a friend. And, after all, remember, that you are going as if to a shoemaker, to a gardener, who has no monopoly of anything great or respectable, though he should sell it ever so dear. You are going as if to buy lettuces, worth an obolus, but by no means worth a talent. So here too, if the matter is worth going to his door about, I will go; if it is worth talking with him about, I will talk with him. But if one must kiss his hand, too, and cajole him with praise; that is paying too dear. It is not expedient for myself, nor my country, nor my fellow-citizens, nor my friends, to destroy what constitutes the good citizen and the friend.
“But one will appear not to have set heartily about the business, if one thus fails.”
What, have you again forgotten why you went? Do you not know that a wise and good man does nothing for appearance; but everything for the sake of having acted well?
“What advantage is it, then, to him, to have acted well?”
What advantage is it to one who writes down the name of Dion without a blunder? The having written it.
“Is there no reward, then?”
Why; do you seek any greater reward for a good man than the doing what is fair and just? And yet, at Olympia, you desire nothing else; but think it enough to be crowned victor. Does it appear to you so small and worthless a thing to be just, good, and happy? Besides; being introduced by God into this Great City [the world] and bound to discharge at this time the duties of a man, do you still want nurses and a mamma; and are you conquered and effeminated by the tears of poor weak women? Are you thus determined never to cease being an infant? Do not you know that, if one acts like a child, the older he is, so much the more he is ridiculous?
Did you never visit any one at Athens at his own house?
“Yes; whomsoever I pleased.”
Why; now you are here, be willing to visit this person, and you will still see whom you please; only let it be without meanness, without undue desire or aversion, and your affairs will go well; but their going well, or not, does not consist in going to the house and standing at the door, or the contrary; but lies within, in your own principles; when you have acquired a contempt for things uncontrollable by Will, and esteem none of them your own, but hold that what belongs to you is only to judge and think, to exert rightly your aims, your desires, and aversions. What further room is there after this for flattery, for meanness? Why do you still long for the quiet you elsewhere enjoyed; for places familiar to you? Stay a little, and these will become familiar to you in their turn; and, then, if you are so meanspirited, you may weep and lament again on leaving these.
“How, then, am I to preserve an affectionate disposition?”
As becomes a noble-spirited and happy person. For reason will never tell you to be dejected and broken-hearted; or to depend on another; or to reproach either God or man. Be affectionate in such a manner as to observe all this. But if, from affection, as you call it, you are to be a slave and miserable, it is not worth your while to be affectionate. And what restrains you from loving any one as a mortal, — as a person who may be obliged to quit you? Pray did not Socrates love his own children? But it was as became one who was free, and mindful that his first duty was, to gain the love of the gods. Hence he violated no part of the character of a good man, either in his defence or in fixing a penalty on himself.* Nor yet before, when he was a senator, or a soldier. But we make use of every pretence to be mean-spirited; some, on account of a child; some, of a mother; and some, of a brother. But it is not fit to be unhappy on account of any one; but happy on account of all; and chiefly of God, who has constituted us for this purpose. What! did Diogenes love nobody; who was so gentle and benevolent as cheerfully to undergo so many pains and miseries of body for the common good of mankind? Yes, he did love them; but how? As became a minister of Zeus; at once caring for men, and obedient to God. Hence the whole earth, not any particular place, was his country. And when he was taken captive he did not long for Athens and his friends and acquaintance there; but made himself acquainted with the pirates, and endeavored to reform them; and when he was at last sold into captivity, he lived at Corinth just as before at Athens; and, if he had gone to the Perrhœbeans,* he would have been exactly the same. Thus is freedom acquired. Hence he used to say, “Ever since Antisthenes made me free† I have ceased to be a slave.” How did he make him free? Hear what he says. “He taught me what was my own and what not. An estate is not my own. Kindred, domestics, friends, reputation, familiar places, manner of life, all belong to another.” — “What is your own then?” — “The right use of the phenomena of existence. He showed me that I have this, not subject to restraint or compulsion; no one can hinder or force me in this, any otherwise than as I please. Who, then, after this, has any power over me? Philip, or Alexander, or Perdiccas, or the Persian king? Whence should they have it? For he that is to be subdued by man must first be subdued by things. He, therefore, of whom neither pleasure, nor pain, nor fame, nor riches, can get the better; and he who is able, whenever he thinks fit, to abandon his whole body with contempt and depart, whose slave can he ever be? To whom is he subject?” But if Diogenes had taken pleasure in living at Athens, and had been subdued by that manner of life, his affairs would have been at every one’s disposal; and whoever was stronger would have had the power of grieving him. How would he have flattered the pirates, think you, to make them sell him to some Athenian, that he might see again the fine Piræus, the Long Walls, and the Citadel? How would you see them? As a slave and a miserable wretch? And what good would that do you? “No; but as free.” How free? See, somebody lays hold on you, takes you away from your usual manner of life, and says: “You are my slave; for it is in my power to restrain you from living as you like. It is in my power to afflict and humble you. Whenever I please you may be cheerful once more; and set out elated for Athens.” What do you say to him who thus enslaves you? What rescuer can you find? Or dare you not so much as look up at him; but, without making many words, do you supplicate to be dismissed? Why, you ought even to go to prison, man, with alacrity, with speed, outstripping your conductors. Instead of this do you regret living at Rome and long for Greece? And, when you must die, will you then, too, come crying to us, that you shall no more see Athens, nor walk in the Lyceum? Is it for this that you have travelled? Is it for this that you have been seeking for somebody to do you good? What good? That you may the more easily solve syllogisms and manage hypothetical arguments? And is it for this reason you left your brother, your country, your friends, your family, that you might carry back such acquirements as these? So that you did not travel to learn constancy nor tranquillity; nor that, secured from harm, you might complain of no one, accuse no one; that no one might injure you; and that thus you might preserve your human relations, without impediment. You have made a fine traffic of it, to carry home hypothetical arguments and convertible propositions! If you please, too, sit in the market, and cry them for sale, as mountebanks do their medicines. Why will you not rather deny that you know even what you have learned; for fear of bringing a scandal upon such theorems as useless? What harm has philosophy done you, — in what has Chrysippus injured you, — that you should demonstrate by your actions that such studies are of no value? Had you not evils enough at home? How many causes for grief and lamentation had you there, even if you had not travelled? But you have added more; and, if you ever get any new acquaintance and friends, you will find fresh causes for groaning; and, in like manner, if you attach yourself to any other country. To what purpose, therefore, do you live? To heap sorrow upon sorrow, to make you wretched? And then you tell me this is affection. What affection, man? If it be good, it cannot be the cause of any ill; if ill, I will have nothing to do with it. I was born for my own good, not ill.
“What, then, is the proper training for these cases?”
First, the highest and principal means, and as obvious as if at your very door, is this, — that when you attach yourself to anything, it may not be as to a secure possession.
As to something brittle as glass or earthenware; that, when it happens to be broken, you may not lose your self-command. So here, too; when you embrace your child, or your brother, or your friend, never yield yourself wholly to the fair semblance, nor let the passion pass into excess; but curb it, restrain it, — like those who stand behind triumphant victors, and remind them that they are men. Do you likewise remind yourself that you love what is mortal; that you love what is not your own. It is allowed you for the present, not irrevocably, nor forever; but as a fig, or a bunch of grapes, in the appointed season. If you long for these in winter you are foolish. So, if you long for your son, or your friend, when you cannot have him, remember that you are wishing for figs in winter. For as winter is to a fig, so is every accident in the universe to those things with which it interferes. In the next place, whatever objects give you pleasure, call before yourself the opposite images. What harm is there, while you kiss your child, in saying softly, “To-morrow you may die”; and so to your friend, “To-morrow either you or I may go away, and we may see each other no more.”
“But these sayings are ominous.”
And so are some incantations; but, because they are useful, I do not mind it; only let them be useful. But do you call anything ominous except what implies some ill? Cowardice is ominous; baseness is ominous; lamentation, grief, shamelessness. These are words of bad omen; and yet we ought not to shrink from using them, as a guard against the things they mean. But do you tell me that a word is ominous which is significant of anything natural? Say, too, that it is ominous for ears of corn to be reaped; for this signifies the destruction of the corn; but not of the world. Say, too, that the fall of the leaf is ominous; and that confectionery should be produced from figs, and raisins from grapes. For all these are changes from a former state into another; not a destruction, but a certain appointed economy and administration. Such is absence, a slight change; such is death, a greater change; not from what now is nothing, but to what now is not.
“What, then, shall I be no more?”
True; but you will be something else, of which at present the world has no need; for even you were not produced when you pleased, but when the world had need of you. Hence a wise and good man, mindful who he is and whence he came, and by whom he was produced, is attentive only how he may fill his post regularly and dutifully before God. “Dost Thou wish me still to live? Let me live free and noble, as Thou desirest; for Thou hast made me incapable of restraint in what is my own. But hast Thou no farther use for me? Farewell! I have staid thus long through Thee alone, and no other; and now I depart in obedience to Thee.” — “How do you depart?” — “Still as Thou wilt; as one free, as thy servant, as one sensible of thy commands and thy prohibitions. But, while I am employed in thy service, what wouldst Thou have me to be? A prince, or a private man; a senator, or a plebeian; a soldier, or a general; a preceptor, or a master of a family? Whatever post or rank Thou shalt assign me, — like Socrates, I will die a thousand times rather than desert it. Where wouldst thou have me to be? At Rome, or at Athens; at Thebes, or at Gyaros? Only remember me there. If Thou shalt send me where men cannot live conformably to nature, I will not depart unbidden, but upon a recall as it were sounded by Thee. Even then I do not desert Thee; Heaven forbid! but I perceive that Thou hast no use for me. If a life conformable to nature be granted, I will seek no other place but that in which I am; nor any other company but those with whom I dwell.”
Let these things be ready at hand, night and day. These things write; these things read; of these things talk both to yourself and others. [Ask them,] “Have you any assistance to give me for this purpose?” And, again, go and ask another and another. Then, if any of those things should happen that are called disagreeable, this will surely be a relief to you; in the first place, that it was not unexpected. For it is much to be able always to say, “I knew that I begot one born to die.”* Thus do you say too, “I knew that I was liable to die, to travel, to be exiled, to be imprisoned.” If afterwards you turn to yourself, and seek from what quarter the event proceeds, you will presently recollect: “It is from things uncontrollable by will, not from what is my own. What then is it to me?” Then, farther, which is the chief point: “Who sent this? The commander, the general, the city, the public law? Give it to me, then, for I must always obey the law in all things.”
Farther yet; when any delusive appearance molests you (for this may not depend on you,) strive against it, and conquer it through reason. Do not suffer it to gain strength, nor to lead you indefinitely on, beguiling you at its own will. If you are at Gyaros, do not represent to yourself the manner of living at Rome; how many pleasures you used to find there, and how many would attend your return; but dwell rather on this point; how he, who must live at Gyaros, may live there nobly. And if you are at Rome, do not represent to yourself the manner of living at Athens; but consider only how you ought to live where you are.
Lastly, for all other pleasures substitute the conciousness that you are obeying God, and performing not in word, but in deed, the duty of a wise and good man. How great a thing is it to be able to say to yourself: “What others are now solemnly arguing in the schools, and can state in paradoxes, this I put in practice. Those qualities which are there discoursed, disputed, celebrated, I have made mine own. Zeus hath been pleased to let me recognize this within myself, and himself to discern whether he hath in me one fit for a soldier and a citizen, and to employ me as a witness to other men, concerning things uncontrollable by will. See that your fears were vain, your appetites vain. Seek not good from without: seek it within yourselves, or you will never find it. For this reason he now brings me hither, now sends me thither; sets me before mankind, poor, powerless, sick; banishes me to Gyaros; leads me to prison; not that he hates me, — Heaven forbid! For who hates the most faithful of his servants? Nor that he neglects me, for he neglects not one of the smallest things; but to exercise me, and make use of me as a witness to others. Appointed to such a service, do I still care where I am, or with whom, or what is said of me, — instead of being wholly attentive to God and to his orders and commands?”
Having these principles always at hand, and practising them by yourself, and making them ready for use, you will never want any one to comfort and strengthen you. For shame does not consist in having nothing to eat, but in not having wisdom enough to exempt you from fear and sorrow. But if you once acquire that exemption, will a tyrant, or his guards, or courtiers, be anything to you? Will offices or office-seekers disturb you, who have received so great a command from Zeus? Only do not make a parade over it, nor grow insolent upon it. But show it by your actions; and though no one else should notice it, be content that you are well and blessed.
CONCERNING THOSE WHO WAVER IN THEIR PURPOSE.
CONSIDER which of your undertakings you have fulfilled, which not, and wherefore; which give you pleasure, which pain, in the reflection; and, if possible, recover yourself where you have failed. For the champions in this greatest of combats must not grow weary; but should even contentedly bear chastisement. For this is no combat of wrestling or boxing, where both he who succeeds and he who fails may possibly be of very great worth or of little; indeed may be very fortunate or very miserable; but this combat is for good fortune and happiness itself. What is the case, then? Here even if we have renounced the contest, no one restrains us from renewing it; nor need we wait for another four years for the return of another Olympiad; but recollecting and recovering yourself, and returning with the same zeal, you may renew it immediately; and even if you should again yield, you may again begin; and if you once get the victory, you become like one who has never yielded. Only do not begin, by forming the habit of this, to do it with pleasure, and then, like quails that have fled the fighting-pit, go about as if you were a brave champion, although you have been conquered throughout all the games. “I am conquered in presence of a girl. But what of it? I have been thus conquered before.” — “I am excited to wrath against some one. But I have been in anger before.” You talk to us just as if you had come off unhurt. As if one should say to his physician, who had forbidden him to bathe, “Why, did not I bathe before?” Suppose the physician should answer him, “Well, and what was the consequence of your bathing? Were you not feverish? Had you not the headache?” So, when you before railed at somebody, did you not act like an ill-natured person; like an impertinent one? Have not you fed this habit of yours by corresponding actions? When you were conquered by a pretty girl, did you come off with impunity? Why, then, do you talk of what you have done before? You ought to remember it, I think, as slaves do whipping, so as to refrain from the same faults. “But the case is unlike; for there it is pain that causes the remembrance: but what is the pain, what the punishment, of my committing these faults? For when was I ever thus trained to the avoidance of bad actions?” Yet the pains of experience, whether we will or not, have their beneficial influence.
CONCERNING THOSE WHO ARE IN DREAD OF WANT.
ARE not you ashamed to be more fearful and mean-spirited than fugitive slaves? To what estates, to what servants, do they trust, when they run away and leave their masters? Do they not, after carrying off a little with them for the first days, travel over land and sea, contriving first one, then another method of getting food? And what fugitive ever died of hunger? But you tremble, and lie awake at night, for fear you should want necessaries. Foolish man! are you so blind? Do not you see the way whither the want of necessaries leads?
“Why, whither does it lead?”
Whither a fever, or a falling stone may lead, — to death. Have you not, then, often said this to your companions? Have you not read, have you not written, many things on this point? And how often have you arrogantly boasted that you are undisturbed by fears of death.
“Ay; but my family, too, will perish with hunger.”
What then? Does their hunger lead any other way than yours? Is there not the same descent? The same state below? Will you not then, in every want and necessity, look with confidence there, where even the most rich and powerful, and kings and tyrants themselves, must descend? You indeed may descend hungry, perhaps; and they, full of indigestion and drunkenness. For have you often seen a beggar who did not live to old age, nay, to extreme old age? Chilled by day and night, lying on the ground, and eating only what is barely necessary, they yet seem almost to become incapable of dying. But cannot you write? Cannot you keep a school? Cannot you be a watchman at somebody’s door?
“But it is shameful to come to this necessity.”
First, therefore, learn what things are shameful, and then claim to be a philosopher; but at present do not suffer even another to call you so. Is that shameful to you which is not your own act? Of which you are not the cause? Which has happened to you by accident, like a fever or the head-ache? If your parents were poor, or left others their heirs, or though living, do not assist you, are these things shameful for you? Is this what you have learned from the philosophers? Have you never heard that what is shameful is blamable; and what is blamable must be something which deserves to be blamed? Whom do you blame for an action not his own, which he has not himself performed? Did you, then, make your father such as he is? Or is it in your power to mend him? Is that permitted you? What, then, must you desire what is not permitted; and when you fail of it be ashamed? Are you thus accustomed, even when you are studying philosophy, to depend on others, and to hope nothing from yourself? Sigh, then, and groan and eat in fear that you shall have no food to-morrow. Tremble, lest your servants should rob you, or run away from you, or die. Thus live on forever, whoever you are, who have applied yourself to philosophy in name only, and as much as in you lies have disgraced its principles, by showing that they are unprofitable and useless to those who profess them. You have never made constancy, tranquillity, and serenity the object of your desires; have sought no teacher for this knowledge, but many for mere syllogisms. You have never, by yourself, confronted some delusive semblance with — “Can I bear this, or can I not bear it? What remains for me to do?” But, as if all your affairs went safe and well, you have aimed only to secure yourself in your present possessions. What are they? Cowardice, baseness, worldliness, desires unaccomplished, unavailing aversions. These are the things which you have been laboring to secure. Ought you not first to have acquired something by the use of reason, and then to have provided security for that? Whom did you ever see building a series of battlements without placing them upon a wall? And what porter is ever set, where there is no door? But you study! Can you show me what you study?
“Not to be shaken by sophistry.”
Shaken from what? Show me first, what you have in your custody; what you measure, or what you weigh; and then accordingly show me your weights and measures; and to what purpose you measure that which is but dust. Ought you not to show what makes men truly happy, what makes their affairs proceed as they wish? How we may blame no one, accuse no one; how acquiesce in the administration of the universe? Show me these things. “See, I do show them,” say you; “I will solve syllogisms to you.” This is but the measure, O unfortunate! and not the thing measured. Hence you now pay the penalty due for neglecting philosophy. You tremble, you lie awake; you advise with everybody, and if the result of the advice does not please everybody, you think that you have been ill-advised. Then you dread hunger, as you fancy; yet it is not hunger that you dread; but you are afraid that you will not have some one to cook for you; some one else for a butler; another to pull off your shoes; a fourth to dress you; others to rub you; others to follow you: that when you have undressed yourself in the bathing-room, and stretched yourself out, like a man crucified, you may be rubbed here and there; and the attendant may stand by, and say, “Come this way; give your side; take hold of his head; turn your shoulder”; and that when you are returned home from the bath you may cry out, “Does nobody bring anything to eat?” And then, “Take away; wipe the table.” This is your dread, that you will not be able to lead the life of a sick man. But learn the life of those in health; how slaves live, how laborers, how those who are genuine philosophers; how Socrates lived, even with a wife and children; how Diogenes; how Cleanthes, at once studying and drawing water [for his livelihood]. If these are the things you would have, you can possess them everywhere, and with a fearless confidence.
In the only thing that can be confided in; in what is sure, incapable of being restrained or taken away; your own will.
But why have you contrived to make yourself so useless and good for nothing, that nobody will receive you into his house; nobody take care of you: but although, if any sound useful vessel be thrown out of doors, whoever finds it will take it up and prize it as something gained; yet nobody will take you up, but everybody esteem you a loss. What, cannot you so much as perform the office of a dog or a cock? Why, then, do you wish to live any longer if you are so worthless? Does any good man fear that food should fail him? It does not fail the blind; it does not fail the lame. Shall it fail a good man? A paymaster is always to be found for a soldier, or a laborer, or a shoemaker, and shall one be wanting to a good man? Is God so negligent of his own institutions, of his servants, of his witnesses, whom alone he uses for examples to the uninstructed, to show that He exists, and that he administers the universe rightly, and doth not neglect human affairs; and that no evil can happen to a good man, either living or dead? What, then, is the case, when he doth not bestow food? What else than that, like a good general, he hath made me a signal of retreat? I obey, I follow; speaking well of my leader, praising his works. For I came when it seemed good to him, and, again, when it seems good to him, I depart; and in life it was my business to praise God within myself and to every auditor, and to the world. Doth he grant me but few things? Doth he refuse me affluence? It is not his pleasure that I should live luxuriously; for he did not grant that even to Hercules, his own son; but another reigned over Argos and Mycene, while he obeyed, labored, and strove. And Eurystheus was just what he was; neither truly king of Argos, nor of Mycene; not being indeed king over himself. But Hercules was ruler and governor of the whole earth and seas; the expeller of lawlessness and injustice; the introducer of justice and sanctity. And this he effected naked and alone. Again; when Ulysses was shipwrecked and cast away, did his helpless condition at all deject him? Did it break his spirit? No: but how did he go to Nausicaa and her attendants, to ask those necessaries which it seems most shameful to beg from another?
“As some lion, bred in the mountains, confiding in strength.”*
Confiding in what? Not in glory, or in riches, or in dominion, but in his own strength; that is, in his knowledge of what is within him and without him. For this alone is what can render us free and incapable of restraint; can raise the heads of the humble, and make them look, with unaverted eyes, full in the face of the rich and of the tyrants; and this is what philosophy bestows. But you will not even set forth with confidence; but all trembling about such trifles as clothes and plate. Foolish man! have you thus wasted your time till now?
“But what if I should be sick?”
It will then be for the best that you should be sick.
“Who will take care of me?”
God and your friends.
“I shall lie in a hard bed.”
But like a man.
“I shall not have a convenient room.”
Then you will be sick in an inconvenient one.
“Who will provide food for me?”
They who provide for others, too; you will be sick like Manes.†
“But what will be the conclusion of my sickness? Any other than death?”
Why, do you not know, then, that the origin of all human evils, and of baseness, and cowardice, is not death; but rather the fear of death? Fortify yourself, therefore, against this. Hither let all your discourses, readings, exercises, tend. And then you will know that thus alone are men made free.
[* ]These are the names of combatants in the Olympic games. A Pancratiast was one who united the exercises of wrestling and boxing. A Pentathlete, one who contended on all the five games of leaping, running, throwing the discus, darting, and wrestling. — C.
[* ]By accidentally visiting the school of Xenocrates. — H.
[† ]Laius, king of Thebes, petitioned Apollo for a son. The oracle answered him, that if Laius became a father, he should perish by the hand of his son. The prediction was fulfilled by Œdipus. — C.
[* ]Homer, Odyssey, I. 37.
[* ]Extending the middle finger, with the ancients, was a mark of the greatest contempt. — C.
[† ]Crinis was a Stoic philosopher. The circumstances of his death are not now known. — C.
[* ]Xenophon, Mem. I. 6. — H.
Myrrhine cups were probably a kind of agate described by Pliny, which, when burnt, had the smell of myrrh. See Teatro Critico, Tom. 6, disc. 4, § 6. — C.
[* ]Pythagoras, Golden Verses, 40-44. This is Rowe’s translation, as quoted by Mrs. Carter, but not precisely as given in Dacier’s Pythagoras (London, 1707), p. 165. — H.
[* ]Homer, Odyssey, XIV. 54. — H.
[† ]A phrase occurs here, which has greatly puzzled the commentators, but which evidently refers to the gymnastic exercise known as the “perche-pole,” where a pole is balanced by one performer and ascended by another. — H.
[‡ ]Diogenes used, in winter, to grasp statues, when they were covered with snow, as an exercise, to inure himself to hardship. Diogenes Laertius — C.
[* ]The Stoics held to successive conflagrations at destined periods; in which all beings were reabsorbed into the Deity. — C.
[* ]This fifteenth chapter makes the twenty-ninth of the Enchiridion; but with some varieties of reading. — C
[* ]Euphrates was a philosopher of Syria, whose character is described, with the highest encomiums, by Pliny. See L. I. Ep. x. — C.
[* ]This person is not known. One of his name is mentioned in the Acts of Ignatius, as being consul at the time when he suffered martyrdom. — C.
[* ]The son of Creon, — who killed himself, after he had been informed by an oracle that his death would procure a victory to the Thebans. — C.
[* ]Homer, Iliad, X. 15; 91 – 5. — H.
[* ]St. Jerome, cited by Mr. Upton, gives the following, somewhat different account of this matter. Diogenes, as he was going to the Olympic Games, was taken with a fever, and laid himself down in the road; his friends would have put him into some vehicle; but he refused it, and bid them go on to the show. “This night,” said he, “I will either conquer, or be conquered. If I conquer the fever, I will come to the games; if it conquers me, I will descend to Hades.’ — C.
[* ]It is remarkable, that Epictetus here uses the same word (ἀπερισπάστως) with St. Paul, 1 Cor. vii. 35, and urges the same consideration, of applying wholly to the service of God, to dissuade from marriage. — C.
[* ]Homer, Iliad, II. 25. — H.
[* ]Crates, a rich Theban, gave away a large fortune, and assumed the wallet and staff of a Cynic philosopher. Hipparchia, a Thracian lady, forsook wealth and friends to share his poverty, in spite of his advice to the contrary. Diogenes Laertius: Crates. — H.
[* ]Homer, Iliad, II. 24, 25. — H.
[* ]Cleanthes, in Diogenes Laertius. — H.
[* ]Homer, Iliad, VI. 492, 493. — H.
[* ]Mr. Upton observes that these florid descriptions were the principal study of the Sophists. — C.
[* ]These words are the beginning of Xenophon’s Memoirs of Socrates; and it was a debate among the minute critics, whether argument or arguments was the proper reading. — C.
[† ]Plato, Apology, § 18; Crito, § 6. — H.
[* ]Plato, Apology, § 1. — H.
[* ]Homer, Odyssey, I. 3. Afterwards, XV. 487. — H.
[* ]It was the custom at Athens, in cases where no fixed punishment was appointed by the law, before the judges gave sentence, to ask the criminal himself what penalty he thought he deserved. Socrates refused either to comply with this form himself, or suffer any of his friends to do it for him; alleging that the naming a penalty was a confession of guilt. When the judges therefore asked him what penalty he thought he deserved, he answered, “The highest honors and rewards, and to be maintained in the Prytaneum at the public expense.” An answer which so extremely irritated his judges, that they immediately condemned him to death. — C.
[* ]A people towards the extremity of Greece. — C.
[† ]Diogenes was the disciple of Antisthenes. — C.
[* ]This was said by Xenophon, when news was brought him that his son Gryllus was killed in a battle. — C.
[* ]Homer, Odyssey, VI. 130. — H.
[† ]The name of a slave, particularly of a slave who once belonged to Diogenes; and perhaps this expression alludes to some story about him, which is now unknown. — C.