167 AD
                          by Marcus Aurelius Antonius
                           translated by George Long
                            BOOK ONE

  FROM my grandfather Verus I learned good morals and the government
of my temper.
  From the reputation and remembrance of my father, modesty and a
manly character.
  From my mother, piety and beneficence, and abstinence, not only from
evil deeds, but even from evil thoughts; and further, simplicity in my
way of living, far removed from the habits of the rich.
  From my great-grandfather, not to have frequented public schools,
and to have had good teachers at home, and to know that on such things
a man should spend liberally.
  From my governor, to be neither of the green nor of the blue party
at the games in the Circus, nor a partizan either of the Parmularius
or the Scutarius at the gladiators' fights; from him too I learned
endurance of labour, and to want little, and to work with my own
hands, and not to meddle with other people's affairs, and not to be
ready to listen to slander.
  From Diognetus, not to busy myself about trifling things, and not to
give credit to what was said by miracle-workers and jugglers about
incantations and the driving away of daemons and such things; and
not to breed quails for fighting, nor to give myself up passionately
to such things; and to endure freedom of speech; and to have become
intimate with philosophy; and to have been a hearer, first of
Bacchius, then of Tandasis and Marcianus; and to have written
dialogues in my youth; and to have desired a plank bed and skin, and
whatever else of the kind belongs to the Grecian discipline.
  From Rusticus I received the impression that my character required
improvement and discipline; and from him I learned not to be led
astray to sophistic emulation, nor to writing on speculative
matters, nor to delivering little hortatory orations, nor to showing
myself off as a man who practises much discipline, or does
benevolent acts in order to make a display; and to abstain from
rhetoric, and poetry, and fine writing; and not to walk about in the
house in my outdoor dress, nor to do other things of the kind; and
to write my letters with simplicity, like the letter which Rusticus
wrote from Sinuessa to my mother; and with respect to those who have
offended me by words, or done me wrong, to be easily disposed to be
pacified and reconciled, as soon as they have shown a readiness to
be reconciled; and to read carefully, and not to be satisfied with a
superficial understanding of a book; nor hastily to give my assent
to those who talk overmuch; and I am indebted to him for being
acquainted with the discourses of Epictetus, which he communicated
to me out of his own collection.
  From Apollonius I learned freedom of will and undeviating steadiness
of purpose; and to look to nothing else, not even for a moment, except
to reason; and to be always the same, in sharp pains, on the
occasion of the loss of a child, and in long illness; and to see
clearly in a living example that the same man can be both most
resolute and yielding, and not peevish in giving his instruction;
and to have had before my eyes a man who clearly considered his
experience and his skill in expounding philosophical principles as the
smallest of his merits; and from him I learned how to receive from
friends what are esteemed favours, without being either humbled by
them or letting them pass unnoticed.
  From Sextus, a benevolent disposition, and the example of a family
governed in a fatherly manner, and the idea of living conformably to
nature; and gravity without affectation, and to look carefully after
the interests of friends, and to tolerate ignorant persons, and
those who form opinions without consideration: he had the power of
readily accommodating himself to all, so that intercourse with him was
more agreeable than any flattery; and at the same time he was most
highly venerated by those who associated with him: and he had the
faculty both of discovering and ordering, in an intelligent and
methodical way, the principles necessary for life; and he never showed
anger or any other passion, but was entirely free from passion, and
also most affectionate; and he could express approbation without noisy
display, and he possessed much knowledge without ostentation.
  From Alexander the grammarian, to refrain from fault-finding, and
not in a reproachful way to chide those who uttered any barbarous or
solecistic or strange-sounding expression; but dexterously to
introduce the very expression which ought to have been used, and in
the way of answer or giving confirmation, or joining in an inquiry
about the thing itself, not about the word, or by some other fit
  From Fronto I learned to observe what envy, and duplicity, and
hypocrisy are in a tyrant, and that generally those among us who are
called Patricians are rather deficient in paternal affection.
  From Alexander the Platonic, not frequently nor without necessity to
say to any one, or to write in a letter, that I have no leisure; nor
continually to excuse the neglect of duties required by our relation
to those with whom we live, by alleging urgent occupations.
  From Catulus, not to be indifferent when a friend finds fault,
even if he should find fault without reason, but to try to restore him
to his usual disposition; and to be ready to speak well of teachers,
as it is reported of Domitius and Athenodotus; and to love my children
  From my brother Severus, to love my kin, and to love truth, and to
love justice; and through him I learned to know Thrasea, Helvidius,
Cato, Dion, Brutus; and from him I received the idea of a polity in
which there is the same law for all, a polity administered with regard
to equal rights and equal freedom of speech, and the idea of a
kingly government which respects most of all the freedom of the
governed; I learned from him also consistency and undeviating
steadiness in my regard for philosophy; and a disposition to do
good, and to give to others readily, and to cherish good hopes, and to
believe that I am loved by my friends; and in him I observed no
concealment of his opinions with respect to those whom he condemned,
and that his friends had no need to conjecture what he wished or did
not wish, but it was quite plain.
  From Maximus I learned self-government, and not to be led aside by
anything; and cheerfulness in all circumstances, as well as in
illness; and a just admixture in the moral character of sweetness
and dignity, and to do what was set before me without complaining. I
observed that everybody believed that he thought as he spoke, and that
in all that he did he never had any bad intention; and he never showed
amazement and surprise, and was never in a hurry, and never put off
doing a thing, nor was perplexed nor dejected, nor did he ever laugh
to disguise his vexation, nor, on the other hand, was he ever
passionate or suspicious. He was accustomed to do acts of beneficence,
and was ready to forgive, and was free from all falsehood; and he
presented the appearance of a man who could not be diverted from right
rather than of a man who had been improved. I observed, too, that no
man could ever think that he was despised by Maximus, or ever
venture to think himself a better man. He had also the art of being
humorous in an agreeable way.
  In my father I observed mildness of temper, and unchangeable
resolution in the things which he had determined after due
deliberation; and no vainglory in those things which men call honours;
and a love of labour and perseverance; and a readiness to listen to
those who had anything to propose for the common weal; and undeviating
firmness in giving to every man according to his deserts; and a
knowledge derived from experience of the occasions for vigorous action
and for remission. And I observed that he had overcome all passion for
boys; and he considered himself no more than any other citizen; and he
released his friends from all obligation to sup with him or to
attend him of necessity when he went abroad, and those who had
failed to accompany him, by reason of any urgent circumstances, always
found him the same. I observed too his habit of careful inquiry in all
matters of deliberation, and his persistency, and that he never
stopped his investigation through being satisfied with appearances
which first present themselves; and that his disposition was to keep
his friends, and not to be soon tired of them, nor yet to be
extravagant in his affection; and to be satisfied on all occasions,
and cheerful; and to foresee things a long way off, and to provide for
the smallest without display; and to check immediately popular
applause and all flattery; and to be ever watchful over the things
which were necessary for the administration of the empire, and to be a
good manager of the expenditure, and patiently to endure the blame
which he got for such conduct; and he was neither superstitious with
respect to the gods, nor did he court men by gifts or by trying to
please them, or by flattering the populace; but he showed sobriety
in all things and firmness, and never any mean thoughts or action, nor
love of novelty. And the things which conduce in any way to the
commodity of life, and of which fortune gives an abundant supply, he
used without arrogance and without excusing himself; so that when he
had them, he enjoyed them without affectation, and when he had them
not, he did not want them. No one could ever say of him that he was
either a sophist or a home-bred flippant slave or a pedant; but
every one acknowledged him to be a man ripe, perfect, above
flattery, able to manage his own and other men's affairs. Besides
this, he honoured those who were true philosophers, and he did not
reproach those who pretended to be philosophers, nor yet was he easily
led by them. He was also easy in conversation, and he made himself
agreeable without any offensive affectation. He took a reasonable care
of his body's health, not as one who was greatly attached to life, nor
out of regard to personal appearance, nor yet in a careless way, but
so that, through his own attention, he very seldom stood in need of
the physician's art or of medicine or external applications. He was
most ready to give way without envy to those who possessed any
particular faculty, such as that of eloquence or knowledge of the
law or of morals, or of anything else; and he gave them his help, that
each might enjoy reputation according to his deserts; and he always
acted conformably to the institutions of his country, without
showing any affectation of doing so. Further, he was not fond of
change nor unsteady, but he loved to stay in the same places, and to
employ himself about the same things; and after his paroxysms of
headache he came immediately fresh and vigorous to his usual
occupations. His secrets were not but very few and very rare, and
these only about public matters; and he showed prudence and economy in
the exhibition of the public spectacles and the construction of public
buildings, his donations to the people, and in such things, for he was
a man who looked to what ought to be done, not to the reputation which
is got by a man's acts. He did not take the bath at unseasonable
hours; he was not fond of building houses, nor curious about what he
ate, nor about the texture and colour of his clothes, nor about the
beauty of his slaves. His dress came from Lorium, his villa on the
coast, and from Lanuvium generally. We know how he behaved to the
toll-collector at Tusculum who asked his pardon; and such was all
his behaviour. There was in him nothing harsh, nor implacable, nor
violent, nor, as one may say, anything carried to the sweating
point; but he examined all things severally, as if he had abundance of
time, and without confusion, in an orderly way, vigorously and
consistently. And that might be applied to him which is recorded of
Socrates, that he was able both to abstain from, and to enjoy, those
things which many are too weak to abstain from, and cannot enjoy
without excess. But to be strong enough both to bear the one and to be
sober in the other is the mark of a man who has a perfect and
invincible soul, such as he showed in the illness of Maximus.
  To the gods I am indebted for having good grandfathers, good
parents, a good sister, good teachers, good associates, good kinsmen
and friends, nearly everything good. Further, I owe it to the gods
that I was not hurried into any offence against any of them, though
I had a disposition which, if opportunity had offered, might have
led me to do something of this kind; but, through their favour,
there never was such a concurrence of circumstances as put me to the
trial. Further, I am thankful to the gods that I was not longer
brought up with my grandfather's concubine, and that I preserved the
flower of my youth, and that I did not make proof of my virility
before the proper season, but even deferred the time; that I was
subjected to a ruler and a father who was able to take away all
pride from me, and to bring me to the knowledge that it is possible
for a man to live in a palace without wanting either guards or
embroidered dresses, or torches and statues, and such-like show; but
that it is in such a man's power to bring himself very near to the
fashion of a private person, without being for this reason either
meaner in thought, or more remiss in action, with respect to the
things which must be done for the public interest in a manner that
befits a ruler. I thank the gods for giving me such a brother, who was
able by his moral character to rouse me to vigilance over myself,
and who, at the same time, pleased me by his respect and affection;
that my children have not been stupid nor deformed in body; that I did
not make more proficiency in rhetoric, poetry, and the other
studies, in which I should perhaps have been completely engaged, if
I had seen that I was making progress in them; that I made haste to
place those who brought me up in the station of honour, which they
seemed to desire, without putting them off with hope of my doing it
some time after, because they were then still young; that I knew
Apollonius, Rusticus, Maximus; that I received clear and frequent
impressions about living according to nature, and what kind of a
life that is, so that, so far as depended on the gods, and their
gifts, and help, and inspirations, nothing hindered me from
forthwith living according to nature, though I still fall short of
it through my own fault, and through not observing the admonitions
of the gods, and, I may almost say, their direct instructions; that my
body has held out so long in such a kind of life; that I never touched
either Benedicta or Theodotus, and that, after having fallen into
amatory passions, I was cured; and, though I was often out of humour
with Rusticus, I never did anything of which I had occasion to repent;
that, though it was my mother's fate to die young, she spent the
last years of her life with me; that, whenever I wished to help any
man in his need, or on any other occasion, I was never told that I had
not the means of doing it; and that to myself the same necessity never
happened, to receive anything from another; that I have such a wife,
so obedient, and so affectionate, and so simple; that I had
abundance of good masters for my children; and that remedies have been
shown to me by dreams, both others, and against bloodspitting and
giddiness...; and that, when I had an inclination to philosophy, I did
not fall into the hands of any sophist, and that I did not waste my
time on writers of histories, or in the resolution of syllogisms, or
occupy myself about the investigation of appearances in the heavens;
for all these things require the help of the gods and fortune.
  Among the Quadi at the Granua.
                            BOOK TWO

  BEGIN the morning by saying to thyself, I shall meet with the
busy-body, the ungrateful, arrogant, deceitful, envious, unsocial. All
these things happen to them by reason of their ignorance of what is
good and evil. But I who have seen the nature of the good that it is
beautiful, and of the bad that it is ugly, and the nature of him who
does wrong, that it is akin to me, not only of the same blood or seed,
but that it participates in the same intelligence and the same portion
of the divinity, I can neither be injured by any of them, for no one
can fix on me what is ugly, nor can I be angry with my kinsman, nor
hate him, For we are made for co-operation, like feet, like hands,
like eyelids, like the rows of the upper and lower teeth. To act
against one another then is contrary to nature; and it is acting
against one another to be vexed and to turn away.
  Whatever this is that I am, it is a little flesh and breath, and the
ruling part. Throw away thy books; no longer distract thyself: it is
not allowed; but as if thou wast now dying, despise the flesh; it is
blood and bones and a network, a contexture of nerves, veins, and
arteries. See the breath also, what kind of a thing it is, air, and
not always the same, but every moment sent out and again sucked in.
The third then is the ruling part: consider thus: Thou art an old man;
no longer let this be a slave, no longer be pulled by the strings like
a puppet to unsocial movements, no longer either be dissatisfied
with thy present lot, or shrink from the future.
  All that is from the gods is full of Providence. That which is
from fortune is not separated from nature or without an interweaving
and involution with the things which are ordered by Providence. From
thence all things flow; and there is besides necessity, and that which
is for the advantage of the whole universe, of which thou art a
part. But that is good for every part of nature which the nature of
the whole brings, and what serves to maintain this nature. Now the
universe is preserved, as by the changes of the elements so by the
changes of things compounded of the elements. Let these principles
be enough for thee, let them always be fixed opinions. But cast away
the thirst after books, that thou mayest not die murmuring, but
cheerfully, truly, and from thy heart thankful to the gods.
  Remember how long thou hast been putting off these things, and how
often thou hast received an opportunity from the gods, and yet dost
not use it. Thou must now at last perceive of what universe thou art a
part, and of what administrator of the universe thy existence is an
efflux, and that a limit of time is fixed for thee, which if thou dost
not use for clearing away the clouds from thy mind, it will go and
thou wilt go, and it will never return.
  Every moment think steadily as a Roman and a man to do what thou
hast in hand with perfect and simple dignity, and feeling of
affection, and freedom, and justice; and to give thyself relief from
all other thoughts. And thou wilt give thyself relief, if thou doest
every act of thy life as if it were the last, laying aside all
carelessness and passionate aversion from the commands of reason,
and all hypocrisy, and self-love, and discontent with the portion
which has been given to thee. Thou seest how few the things are, the
which if a man lays hold of, he is able to live a life which flows
in quiet, and is like the existence of the gods; for the gods on their
part will require nothing more from him who observes these things.
  Do wrong to thyself, do wrong to thyself, my soul; but thou wilt
no longer have the opportunity of honouring thyself. Every man's
life is sufficient. But thine is nearly finished, though thy soul
reverences not itself but places thy felicity in the souls of others.
  Do the things external which fall upon thee distract thee? Give
thyself time to learn something new and good, and cease to be
whirled around. But then thou must also avoid being carried about
the other way. For those too are triflers who have wearied
themselves in life by their activity, and yet have no object to
which to direct every movement, and, in a word, all their thoughts.
  Through not observing what is in the mind of another a man has
seldom been seen to be unhappy; but those who do not observe the
movements of their own minds must of necessity be unhappy.
  This thou must always bear in mind, what is the nature of the whole,
and what is my nature, and how this is related to that, and what
kind of a part it is of what kind of a whole; and that there is no one
who hinders thee from always doing and saying the things which are
according to the nature of which thou art a part.
  Theophrastus, in his comparison of bad acts- such a comparison as
one would make in accordance with the common notions of mankind- says,
like a true philosopher, that the offences which are committed through
desire are more blameable than those which are committed through
anger. For he who is excited by anger seems to turn away from reason
with a certain pain and unconscious contraction; but he who offends
through desire, being overpowered by pleasure, seems to be in a manner
more intemperate and more womanish in his offences. Rightly then,
and in a way worthy of philosophy, he said that the offence which is
committed with pleasure is more blameable than that which is committed
with pain; and on the whole the one is more like a person who has been
first wronged and through pain is compelled to be angry; but the other
is moved by his own impulse to do wrong, being carried towards doing
something by desire.
  Since it is possible that thou mayest depart from life this very
moment, regulate every act and thought accordingly. But to go away
from among men, if there are gods, is not a thing to be afraid of, for
the gods will not involve thee in evil; but if indeed they do not
exist, or if they have no concern about human affairs, what is it to
me to live in a universe devoid of gods or devoid of Providence? But
in truth they do exist, and they do care for human things, and they
have put all the means in man's power to enable him not to fall into
real evils. And as to the rest, if there was anything evil, they would
have provided for this also, that it should be altogether in a man's
power not to fall into it. Now that which does not make a man worse,
how can it make a man's life worse? But neither through ignorance, nor
having the knowledge, but not the power to guard against or correct
these things, is it possible that the nature of the universe has
overlooked them; nor is it possible that it has made so great a
mistake, either through want of power or want of skill, that good
and evil should happen indiscriminately to the good and the bad. But
death certainly, and life, honour and dishonour, pain and pleasure,
all these things equally happen to good men and bad, being things
which make us neither better nor worse. Therefore they are neither
good nor evil.
  How quickly all things disappear, in the universe the bodies
themselves, but in time the remembrance of them; what is the nature of
all sensible things, and particularly those which attract with the
bait of pleasure or terrify by pain, or are noised abroad by vapoury
fame; how worthless, and contemptible, and sordid, and perishable, and
dead they are- all this it is the part of the intellectual faculty to
observe. To observe too who these are whose opinions and voices give
reputation; what death is, and the fact that, if a man looks at it
in itself, and by the abstractive power of reflection resolves into
their parts all the things which present themselves to the imagination
in it, he will then consider it to be nothing else than an operation
of nature; and if any one is afraid of an operation of nature, he is a
child. This, however, is not only an operation of nature, but it is
also a thing which conduces to the purposes of nature. To observe
too how man comes near to the deity, and by what part of him, and when
this part of man is so disposed.
  Nothing is more wretched than a man who traverses everything in a
round, and pries into the things beneath the earth, as the poet says,
and seeks by conjecture what is in the minds of his neighbours,
without perceiving that it is sufficient to attend to the daemon
within him, and to reverence it sincerely. And reverence of the daemon
consists in keeping it pure from passion and thoughtlessness, and
dissatisfaction with what comes from gods and men. For the things from
the gods merit veneration for their excellence; and the things from
men should be dear to us by reason of kinship; and sometimes even, in
a manner, they move our pity by reason of men's ignorance of good and
bad; this defect being not less than that which deprives us of the
power of distinguishing things that are white and black.
  Though thou shouldst be going to live three thousand years, and as
many times ten thousand years, still remember that no man loses any
other life than this which he now lives, nor lives any other than this
which he now loses. The longest and shortest are thus brought to the
same. For the present is the same to all, though that which perishes
is not the same; and so that which is lost appears to be a mere
moment. For a man cannot lose either the past or the future: for
what a man has not, how can any one take this from him? These two
things then thou must bear in mind; the one, that all things from
eternity are of like forms and come round in a circle, and that it
makes no difference whether a man shall see the same things during a
hundred years or two hundred, or an infinite time; and the second,
that the longest liver and he who will die soonest lose just the same.
For the present is the only thing of which a man can be deprived, if
it is true that this is the only thing which he has, and that a man
cannot lose a thing if he has it not.
  Remember that all is opinion. For what was said by the Cynic Monimus
is manifest: and manifest too is the use of what was said, if a man
receives what may be got out of it as far as it is true.
  The soul of man does violence to itself, first of all, when it
becomes an abscess and, as it were, a tumour on the universe, so far
as it can. For to be vexed at anything which happens is a separation
of ourselves from nature, in some part of which the natures of all
other things are contained. In the next place, the soul does
violence to itself when it turns away from any man, or even moves
towards him with the intention of injuring, such as are the souls of
those who are angry. In the third place, the soul does violence to
itself when it is overpowered by pleasure or by pain. Fourthly, when
it plays a part, and does or says anything insincerely and untruly.
Fifthly, when it allows any act of its own and any movement to be
without an aim, and does anything thoughtlessly and without
considering what it is, it being right that even the smallest things
be done with reference to an end; and the end of rational animals is
to follow the reason and the law of the most ancient city and polity.
  Of human life the time is a point, and the substance is in a flux,
and the perception dull, and the composition of the whole body subject
to putrefaction, and the soul a whirl, and fortune hard to divine, and
fame a thing devoid of judgement. And, to say all in a word,
everything which belongs to the body is a stream, and what belongs
to the soul is a dream and vapour, and life is a warfare and a
stranger's sojourn, and after-fame is oblivion. What then is that
which is able to conduct a man? One thing and only one, philosophy.
But this consists in keeping the daemon within a man free from
violence and unharmed, superior to pains and pleasures, doing
nothing without purpose, nor yet falsely and with hypocrisy, not
feeling the need of another man's doing or not doing anything; and
besides, accepting all that happens, and all that is allotted, as
coming from thence, wherever it is, from whence he himself came;
and, finally, waiting for death with a cheerful mind, as being nothing
else than a dissolution of the elements of which every living being is
compounded. But if there is no harm to the elements themselves in each
continually changing into another, why should a man have any
apprehension about the change and dissolution of all the elements? For
it is according to nature, and nothing is evil which is according to
  This in Carnuntum.
                          BOOK THREE

  WE OUGHT to consider not only that our life is daily wasting away
and a smaller part of it is left, but another thing also must be taken
into the account, that if a man should live longer, it is quite
uncertain whether the understanding will still continue sufficient for
the comprehension of things, and retain the power of contemplation
which strives to acquire the knowledge of the divine and the human.
For if he shall begin to fall into dotage, perspiration and nutrition
and imagination and appetite, and whatever else there is of the kind,
will not fail; but the power of making use of ourselves, and filling
up the measure of our duty, and clearly separating all appearances,
and considering whether a man should now depart from life, and
whatever else of the kind absolutely requires a disciplined reason,
all this is already extinguished. We must make haste then, not only
because we are daily nearer to death, but also because the conception
of things and the understanding of them cease first.
  We ought to observe also that even the things which follow after the
things which are produced according to nature contain something
pleasing and attractive. For instance, when bread is baked some
parts are split at the surface, and these parts which thus open, and
have a certain fashion contrary to the purpose of the baker's art, are
beautiful in a manner, and in a peculiar way excite a desire for
eating. And again, figs, when they are quite ripe, gape open; and in
the ripe olives the very circumstance of their being near to
rottenness adds a peculiar beauty to the fruit. And the ears of corn
bending down, and the lion's eyebrows, and the foam which flows from
the mouth of wild boars, and many other things- though they are far
from being beautiful, if a man should examine them severally- still,
because they are consequent upon the things which are formed by
nature, help to adorn them, and they please the mind; so that if a man
should have a feeling and deeper insight with respect to the things
which are produced in the universe, there is hardly one of those which
follow by way of consequence which will not seem to him to be in a
manner disposed so as to give pleasure. And so he will see even the
real gaping jaws of wild beasts with no less pleasure than those which
painters and sculptors show by imitation; and in an old woman and an
old man he will be able to see a certain maturity and comeliness;
and the attractive loveliness of young persons he will be able to look
on with chaste eyes; and many such things will present themselves, not
pleasing to every man, but to him only who has become truly familiar
with nature and her works.
  Hippocrates after curing many diseases himself fell sick and died.
The Chaldaei foretold the deaths of many, and then fate caught them
too. Alexander, and Pompeius, and Caius Caesar, after so often
completely destroying whole cities, and in battle cutting to pieces
many ten thousands of cavalry and infantry, themselves too at last
departed from life. Heraclitus, after so many speculations on the
conflagration of the universe, was filled with water internally and
died smeared all over with mud. And lice destroyed Democritus; and
other lice killed Socrates. What means all this? Thou hast embarked,
thou hast made the voyage, thou art come to shore; get out. If
indeed to another life, there is no want of gods, not even there.
But if to a state without sensation, thou wilt cease to be held by
pains and pleasures, and to be a slave to the vessel, which is as much
inferior as that which serves it is superior: for the one is
intelligence and deity; the other is earth and corruption.
  Do not waste the remainder of thy life in thoughts about others,
when thou dost not refer thy thoughts to some object of common
utility. For thou losest the opportunity of doing something else
when thou hast such thoughts as these, What is such a person doing,
and why, and what is he saying, and what is he thinking of, and what
is he contriving, and whatever else of the kind makes us wander away
from the observation of our own ruling power. We ought then to check
in the series of our thoughts everything that is without a purpose and
useless, but most of all the over-curious feeling and the malignant;
and a man should use himself to think of those things only about which
if one should suddenly ask, What hast thou now in thy thoughts? With
perfect openness thou mightest, immediately answer, This or That; so
that from thy words it should be plain that everything in thee is
simple and benevolent, and such as befits a social animal, and one
that cares not for thoughts about pleasure or sensual enjoyments at
all, nor has any rivalry or envy and suspicion, or anything else for
which thou wouldst blush if thou shouldst say that thou hadst it in
thy mind. For the man who is such and no longer delays being among the
number of the best, is like a priest and minister of the gods, using
too the deity which is planted within him, which makes the man
uncontaminated by pleasure, unharmed by any pain, untouched by any
insult, feeling no wrong, a fighter in the noblest fight, one who
cannot be overpowered by any passion, dyed deep with justice,
accepting with all his soul everything which happens and is assigned
to him as his portion; and not often, nor yet without great
necessity and for the general interest, imagining what another says,
or does, or thinks. For it is only what belongs to himself that he
makes the matter for his activity; and he constantly thinks of that
which is allotted to himself out of the sum total of things, and he
makes his own acts fair, and he is persuaded that his own portion is
good. For the lot which is assigned to each man is carried along
with him and carries him along with it. And he remembers also that
every rational animal is his kinsman, and that to care for all men
is according to man's nature; and a man should hold on to the
opinion not of all, but of those only who confessedly live according
to nature. But as to those who live not so, he always bears in mind
what kind of men they are both at home and from home, both by night
and by day, and what they are, and with what men they live an impure
life. Accordingly, he does not value at all the praise which comes
from such men, since they are not even satisfied with themselves.
  Labour not unwillingly, nor without regard to the common interest,
nor without due consideration, nor with distraction; nor let studied
ornament set off thy thoughts, and be not either a man of many
words, or busy about too many things. And further, let the deity which
is in thee be the guardian of a living being, manly and of ripe age,
and engaged in matter political, and a Roman, and a ruler, who has
taken his post like a man waiting for the signal which summons him
from life, and ready to go, having need neither of oath nor of any
man's testimony. Be cheerful also, and seek not external help nor
the tranquility which others give. A man then must stand erect, not be
kept erect by others.
  If thou findest in human life anything better than justice, truth,
temperance, fortitude, and, in a word, anything better than thy own
mind's self-satisfaction in the things which it enables thee to do
according to right reason, and in the condition that is assigned to
thee without thy own choice; if, I say, thou seest anything better
than this, turn to it with all thy soul, and enjoy that which thou
hast found to be the best. But if nothing appears to be better than
the deity which is planted in thee, which has subjected to itself
all thy appetites, and carefully examines all the impressions, and, as
Socrates said, has detached itself from the persuasions of sense,
and has submitted itself to the gods, and cares for mankind; if thou
findest everything else smaller and of less value than this, give
place to nothing else, for if thou dost once diverge and incline to
it, thou wilt no longer without distraction be able to give the
preference to that good thing which is thy proper possession and thy
own; for it is not right that anything of any other kind, such as
praise from the many, or power, or enjoyment of pleasure, should
come into competition with that which is rationally and politically or
practically good. All these things, even though they may seem to adapt
themselves to the better things in a small degree, obtain the
superiority all at once, and carry us away. But do thou, I say, simply
and freely choose the better, and hold to it.- But that which is
useful is the better.- Well then, if it is useful to thee as a
rational being, keep to it; but if it is only useful to thee as an
animal, say so, and maintain thy judgement without arrogance: only
take care that thou makest the inquiry by a sure method.
  Never value anything as profitable to thyself which shall compel
thee to break thy promise, to lose thy self-respect, to hate any
man, to suspect, to curse, to act the hypocrite, to desire anything
which needs walls and curtains: for he who has preferred to everything
intelligence and daemon and the worship of its excellence, acts no
tragic part, does not groan, will not need either solitude or much
company; and, what is chief of all, he will live without either
pursuing or flying from death; but whether for a longer or a shorter
time he shall have the soul inclosed in the body, he cares not at all:
for even if he must depart immediately, he will go as readily as if he
were going to do anything else which can be done with decency and
order; taking care of this only all through life, that his thoughts
turn not away from anything which belongs to an intelligent animal and
a member of a civil community.
  In the mind of one who is chastened and purified thou wilt find no
corrupt matter, nor impurity, nor any sore skinned over. Nor is his
life incomplete when fate overtakes him, as one may say of an actor
who leaves the stage before ending and finishing the play. Besides,
there is in him nothing servile, nor affected, nor too closely bound
to other things, nor yet detached from other things, nothing worthy of
blame, nothing which seeks a hiding-place.
  Reverence the faculty which produces opinion. On this faculty it
entirely depends whether there shall exist in thy ruling part any
opinion inconsistent with nature and the constitution of the
rational animal. And this faculty promises freedom from hasty
judgement, and friendship towards men, and obedience to the gods.
  Throwing away then all things, hold to these only which are few; and
besides bear in mind that every man lives only this present time,
which is an indivisible point, and that all the rest of his life is
either past or it is uncertain. Short then is the time which every man
lives, and small the nook of the earth where he lives; and short too
the longest posthumous fame, and even this only continued by a
succession of poor human beings, who will very soon die, and who
know not even themselves, much less him who died long ago.
  To the aids which have been mentioned let this one still be added:-
Make for thyself a definition or description of the thing which is
presented to thee, so as to see distinctly what kind of a thing
it is in its substance, in its nudity, in its complete entirety, and
tell thyself its proper name, and the names of the things of which
it has been compounded, and into which it will be resolved. For
nothing is so productive of elevation of mind as to be able to examine
methodically and truly every object which is presented to thee in
life, and always to look at things so as to see at the same time
what kind of universe this is, and what kind of use everything
performs in it, and what value everything has with reference to the
whole, and what with reference to man, who is a citizen of the highest
city, of which all other cities are like families; what each thing is,
and of what it is composed, and how long it is the nature of this
thing to endure which now makes an impression on me, and what virtue I
have need of with respect to it, such as gentleness, manliness, truth,
fidelity, simplicity, contentment, and the rest. Wherefore, on every
occasion a man should say: this comes from God; and this is
according to the apportionment and spinning of the thread of
destiny, and such-like coincidence and chance; and this is from one of
the same stock, and a kinsman and partner, one who knows not however
what is according to his nature. But I know; for this reason I
behave towards him according to the natural law of fellowship with
benevolence and justice. At the same time however in things
indifferent I attempt to ascertain the value of each.
  If thou workest at that which is before thee, following right reason
seriously, vigorously, calmly, without allowing anything else to
distract thee, but keeping thy divine part pure, as if thou shouldst
be bound to give it back immediately; if thou holdest to this,
expecting nothing, fearing nothing, but satisfied with thy present
activity according to nature, and with heroic truth in every word
and sound which thou utterest, thou wilt live happy. And there is no
man who is able to prevent this.
  As physicians have always their instruments and knives ready for
cases which suddenly require their skill, so do thou have principles
ready for the understanding of things divine and human, and for
doing everything, even the smallest, with a recollection of the bond
which unites the divine and human to one another. For neither wilt
thou do anything well which pertains to man without at the same time
having a reference to things divine; nor the contrary.
  No longer wander at hazard; for neither wilt thou read thy own
memoirs, nor the acts of the ancient Romans and Hellenes, and the
selections from books which thou wast reserving for thy old age.
Hasten then to the end which thou hast before thee, and throwing
away idle hopes, come to thy own aid, if thou carest at all for
thyself, while it is in thy power.
  They know not how many things are signified by the words stealing,
sowing, buying, keeping quiet, seeing what ought to be done; for
this is not effected by the eyes, but by another kind of vision.
  Body, soul, intelligence: to the body belong sensations, to the soul
appetites, to the intelligence principles. To receive the
impressions of forms by means of appearances belongs even to
animals; to be pulled by the strings of desire belongs both to wild
beasts and to men who have made themselves into women, and to a
Phalaris and a Nero: and to have the intelligence that guides to the
things which appear suitable belongs also to those who do not
believe in the gods, and who betray their country, and do their impure
deeds when they have shut the doors. If then everything else is common
to all that I have mentioned, there remains that which is peculiar
to the good man, to be pleased and content with what happens, and with
the thread which is spun for him; and not to defile the divinity which
is planted in his breast, nor disturb it by a crowd of images, but
to preserve it tranquil, following it obediently as a god, neither
saying anything contrary to the truth, nor doing anything contrary
to justice. And if all men refuse to believe that he lives a simple,
modest, and contented life, he is neither angry with any of them,
nor does he deviate from the way which leads to the end of life, to
which a man ought to come pure, tranquil, ready to depart, and without
any compulsion perfectly reconciled to his lot.
                           BOOK FOUR

  THAT which rules within, when it is according to nature, is so
affected with respect to the events which happen, that it always
easily adapts itself to that which is and is presented to it. For it
requires no definite material, but it moves towards its purpose, under
certain conditions however; and it makes a material for itself out of
that which opposes it, as fire lays hold of what falls into it, by
which a small light would have been extinguished: but when the fire is
strong, it soon appropriates to itself the matter which is heaped on
it, and consumes it, and rises higher by means of this very material.
  Let no act be done without a purpose, nor otherwise than according
to the perfect principles of art.
  Men seek retreats for themselves, houses in the country, sea-shores,
and mountains; and thou too art wont to desire such things very
much. But this is altogether a mark of the most common sort of men,
for it is in thy power whenever thou shalt choose to retire into
thyself. For nowhere either with more quiet or more freedom from
trouble does a man retire than into his own soul, particularly when he
has within him such thoughts that by looking into them he is
immediately in perfect tranquility; and I affirm that tranquility is
nothing else than the good ordering of the mind. Constantly then
give to thyself this retreat, and renew thyself; and let thy
principles be brief and fundamental, which, as soon as thou shalt
recur to them, will be sufficient to cleanse the soul completely,
and to send thee back free from all discontent with the things to
which thou returnest. For with what art thou discontented? With the
badness of men? Recall to thy mind this conclusion, that rational
animals exist for one another, and that to endure is a part of
justice, and that men do wrong involuntarily; and consider how many
already, after mutual enmity, suspicion, hatred, and fighting, have
been stretched dead, reduced to ashes; and be quiet at last.- But
perhaps thou art dissatisfied with that which is assigned to thee
out of the universe.- Recall to thy recollection this alternative;
either there is providence or atoms, fortuitous concurrence of things;
or remember the arguments by which it has been proved that the world
is a kind of political community, and be quiet at last.- But perhaps
corporeal things will still fasten upon thee.- Consider then further
that the mind mingles not with the breath, whether moving gently or
violently, when it has once drawn itself apart and discovered its
own power, and think also of all that thou hast heard and assented
to about pain and pleasure, and be quiet at last.- But perhaps the
desire of the thing called fame will torment thee.- See how soon
everything is forgotten, and look at the chaos of infinite time on
each side of the present, and the emptiness of applause, and the
changeableness and want of judgement in those who pretend to give
praise, and the narrowness of the space within which it is
circumscribed, and be quiet at last. For the whole earth is a point,
and how small a nook in it is this thy dwelling, and how few are there
in it, and what kind of people are they who will praise thee.
  This then remains: Remember to retire into this little territory
of thy own, and above all do not distract or strain thyself, but be
free, and look at things as a man, as a human being, as a citizen,
as a mortal. But among the things readiest to thy hand to which thou
shalt turn, let there be these, which are two. One is that things do
not touch the soul, for they are external and remain immovable; but
our perturbations come only from the opinion which is within. The
other is that all these things, which thou seest, change immediately
and will no longer be; and constantly bear in mind how many of these
changes thou hast already witnessed. The universe is transformation:
life is opinion.
  If our intellectual part is common, the reason also, in respect of
which we are rational beings, is common: if this is so, common also is
the reason which commands us what to do, and what not to do; if this
is so, there is a common law also; if this is so, we are
fellow-citizens; if this is so, we are members of some political
community; if this is so, the world is in a manner a state. For of
what other common political community will any one say that the
whole human race are members? And from thence, from this common
political community comes also our very intellectual faculty and
reasoning faculty and our capacity for law; or whence do they come?
For as my earthly part is a portion given to me from certain earth,
and that which is watery from another element, and that which is hot
and fiery from some peculiar source (for nothing comes out of that
which is nothing, as nothing also returns to non-existence), so also
the intellectual part comes from some source.
  Death is such as generation is, a mystery of nature; a composition
out of the same elements, and a decomposition into the same; and
altogether not a thing of which any man should be ashamed, for it is
not contrary to the nature of a reasonable animal, and not contrary to
the reason of our constitution.
  It is natural that these things should be done by such persons, it
is a matter of necessity; and if a man will not have it so, he will
not allow the fig-tree to have juice. But by all means bear this in
mind, that within a very short time both thou and he will be dead; and
soon not even your names will be left behind.
  Take away thy opinion, and then there is taken away the complaint,
"I have been harmed." Take away the complaint, "I have been harmed,"
and the harm is taken away.
  That which does not make a man worse than he was, also does not make
his life worse, nor does it harm him either from without or from
  The nature of that which is universally useful has been compelled to
do this.
  Consider that everything which happens, happens justly, and if
thou observest carefully, thou wilt find it to be so. I do not say
only with respect to the continuity of the series of things, but
with respect to what is just, and as if it were done by one who
assigns to each thing its value. Observe then as thou hast begun;
and whatever thou doest, do it in conjunction with this, the being
good, and in the sense in which a man is properly understood to be
good. Keep to this in every action.
  Do not have such an opinion of things as he has who does thee wrong,
or such as he wishes thee to have, but look at them as they are in
  A man should always have these two rules in readiness; the one, to
do only whatever the reason of the ruling and legislating faculty
may suggest for the use of men; the other, to change thy opinion, if
there is any one at hand who sets thee right and moves thee from any
opinion. But this change of opinion must proceed only from a certain
persuasion, as of what is just or of common advantage, and the like,
not because it appears pleasant or brings reputation.
  Hast thou reason? I have.- Why then dost not thou use it? For if
this does its own work, what else dost thou wish?
  Thou hast existed as a part. Thou shalt disappear in that which
produced thee; but rather thou shalt be received back into its seminal
principle by transmutation.
  Many grains of frankincense on the same altar: one falls before,
another falls after; but it makes no difference.
  Within ten days thou wilt seem a god to those to whom thou art now a
beast and an ape, if thou wilt return to thy principles and the
worship of reason.
  Do not act as if thou wert going to live ten thousand years. Death
hangs over thee. While thou livest, while it is in thy power, be good.
  How much trouble he avoids who does not look to see what his
neighbour says or does or thinks, but only to what he does himself,
that it may be just and pure; or as Agathon says, look not round at
the depraved morals of others, but run straight along the line without
deviating from it.
  He who has a vehement desire for posthumous fame does not consider
that every one of those who remember him will himself also die very
soon; then again also they who have succeeded them, until the whole
remembrance shall have been extinguished as it is transmitted
through men who foolishly admire and perish. But suppose that those
who will remember are even immortal, and that the remembrance will
be immortal, what then is this to thee? And I say not what is it to
the dead, but what is it to the living? What is praise except indeed
so far as it has a certain utility? For thou now rejectest
unseasonably the gift of nature, clinging to something else...
  Everything which is in any way beautiful is beautiful in itself, and
terminates in itself, not having praise as part of itself. Neither
worse then nor better is a thing made by being praised. I affirm
this also of the things which are called beautiful by the vulgar,
for example, material things and works of art. That which is really
beautiful has no need of anything; not more than law, not more than
truth, not more than benevolence or modesty. Which of these things
is beautiful because it is praised, or spoiled by being blamed? Is
such a thing as an emerald made worse than it was, if it is not
praised? Or gold, ivory, purple, a lyre, a little knife, a flower, a
  If souls continue to exist, how does the air contain them from
eternity?- But how does the earth contain the bodies of those who
have been buried from time so remote? For as here the mutation of
these bodies after a certain continuance, whatever it may be, and
their dissolution make room for other dead bodies; so the souls
which are removed into the air after subsisting for some time are
transmuted and diffused, and assume a fiery nature by being received
into the seminal intelligence of the universe, and in this way make
room for the fresh souls which come to dwell there. And this is the
answer which a man might give on the hypothesis of souls continuing to
exist. But we must not only think of the number of bodies which are
thus buried, but also of the number of animals which are daily eaten
by us and the other animals. For what a number is consumed, and thus
in a manner buried in the bodies of those who feed on them! And
nevertheless this earth receives them by reason of the changes of
these bodies into blood, and the transformations into the aerial or
the fiery element.
  What is the investigation into the truth in this matter? The
division into that which is material and that which is the cause of
form, the formal.
  Do not be whirled about, but in every movement have respect to
justice, and on the occasion of every impression maintain the
faculty of comprehension or understanding.
  Everything harmonizes with me, which is harmonious to thee, O
Universe. Nothing for me is too early nor too late, which is in due
time for thee. Everything is fruit to me which thy seasons bring, O
Nature: from thee are all things, in thee are all things, to thee
all things return. The poet says, Dear city of Cecrops; and wilt not
thou say, Dear city of Zeus?
  Occupy thyself with few things, says the philosopher, if thou
wouldst be tranquil.- But consider if it would not be better to say,
Do what is necessary, and whatever the reason of the animal which is
naturally social requires, and as it requires. For this brings not
only the tranquility which comes from doing well, but also that
which comes from doing few things. For the greatest part of what we
say and do being unnecessary, if a man takes this away, he will have
more leisure and less uneasiness. Accordingly on every occasion a
man should ask himself, Is this one of the unnecessary things? Now a
man should take away not only unnecessary acts, but also,
unnecessary thoughts, for thus superfluous acts will not follow after.
  Try how the life of the good man suits thee, the life of him who
is satisfied with his portion out of the whole, and satisfied with his
own just acts and benevolent disposition.
  Hast thou seen those things? Look also at these. Do not disturb
thyself. Make thyself all simplicity. Does any one do wrong? It is
to himself that he does the wrong. Has anything happened to thee?
Well; out of the universe from the beginning everything which
happens has been apportioned and spun out to thee. In a word, thy life
is short. Thou must turn to profit the present by the aid of reason
and justice. Be sober in thy relaxation.
  Either it is a well-arranged universe or a chaos huddled together,
but still a universe. But can a certain order subsist in thee, and
disorder in the All? And this too when all things are so separated and
diffused and sympathetic.
  A black character, a womanish character, a stubborn character,
bestial, childish, animal, stupid, counterfeit, scurrilous,
fraudulent, tyrannical.
  If he is a stranger to the universe who does not know what is in it,
no less is he a stranger who does not know what is going on in it.
He is a runaway, who flies from social reason; he is blind, who
shuts the eyes of the understanding; he is poor, who has need of
another, and has not from himself all things which are useful for
life. He is an abscess on the universe who withdraws and separates
himself from the reason of our common nature through being
displeased with the things which happen, for the same nature
produces this, and has produced thee too: he is a piece rent asunder
from the state, who tears his own soul from that of reasonable
animals, which is one.
  The one is a philosopher without a tunic, and the other without a
book: here is another half naked: Bread I have not, he says, and I
abide by reason.- And I do not get the means of living out of my
learning, and I abide by my reason.
  Love the art, poor as it may be, which thou hast learned, and be
content with it; and pass through the rest of life like one who has
intrusted to the gods with his whole soul all that he has, making
thyself neither the tyrant nor the slave of any man.
  Consider, for example, the times of Vespasian. Thou wilt see all
these things, people marrying, bringing up children, sick, dying,
warring, feasting, trafficking, cultivating the ground, flattering,
obstinately arrogant, suspecting, plotting, wishing for some to die,
grumbling about the present, loving, heaping up treasure, desiring
counsulship, kingly power. Well then, that life of these people no
longer exists at all. Again, remove to the times of Trajan. Again, all
is the same. Their life too is gone. In like manner view also the
other epochs of time and of whole nations, and see how many after
great efforts soon fell and were resolved into the elements. But
chiefly thou shouldst think of those whom thou hast thyself known
distracting themselves about idle things, neglecting to do what was in
accordance with their proper constitution, and to hold firmly to
this and to be content with it. And herein it is necessary to remember
that the attention given to everything has its proper value and
proportion. For thus thou wilt not be dissatisfied, if thou appliest
thyself to smaller matters no further than is fit.
  The words which were formerly familiar are now antiquated: so also
the names of those who were famed of old, are now in a manner
antiquated, Camillus, Caeso, Volesus, Leonnatus, and a little after
also Scipio and Cato, then Augustus, then also Hadrian and
Antoninus. For all things soon pass away and become a mere tale, and
complete oblivion soon buries them. And I say this of those who have
shone in a wondrous way. For the rest, as soon as they have breathed
out their breath, they are gone, and no man speaks of them. And, to
conclude the matter, what is even an eternal remembrance? A mere
nothing. What then is that about which we ought to employ our
serious pains? This one thing, thoughts just, and acts social, and
words which never lie, and a disposition which gladly accepts all that
happens, as necessary, as usual, as flowing from a principle and
source of the same kind.
  Willingly give thyself up to Clotho, one of the Fates, allowing
her to spin thy thread into whatever things she pleases.
  Everything is only for a day, both that which remembers and that
which is remembered.
  Observe constantly that all things take place by change, and
accustom thyself to consider that the nature of the Universe loves
nothing so much as to change the things which are and to make new
things like them. For everything that exists is in a manner the seed
of that which will be. But thou art thinking only of seeds which are
cast into the earth or into a womb: but this is a very vulgar notion.
  Thou wilt soon die, and thou art not yet simple, not free from
perturbations, nor without suspicion of being hurt by external things,
nor kindly disposed towards all; nor dost thou yet place wisdom only
in acting justly.
  Examine men's ruling principles, even those of the wise, what kind
of things they avoid, and what kind they pursue.
  What is evil to thee does not subsist in the ruling principle of
another; nor yet in any turning and mutation of thy corporeal
covering. Where is it then? It is in that part of thee in which
subsists the power of forming opinions about evils. Let this power
then not form such opinions, and all is well. And if that which is
nearest to it, the poor body, is burnt, filled with matter and
rottenness, nevertheless let the part which forms opinions about these
things be quiet, that is, let it judge that nothing is either bad or
good which can happen equally to the bad man and the good. For that
which happens equally to him who lives contrary to nature and to him
who lives according to nature, is neither according to nature nor
contrary to nature.
  Constantly regard the universe as one living being, having one
substance and one soul; and observe how all things have reference to
one perception, the perception of this one living being; and how all
things act with one movement; and how all things are the cooperating
causes of all things which exist; observe too the continuous
spinning of the thread and the contexture of the web.
  Thou art a little soul bearing about a corpse, as Epictetus used
to say.
  It is no evil for things to undergo change, and no good for things
to subsist in consequence of change.
  Time is like a river made up of the events which happen, and a
violent stream; for as soon as a thing has been seen, it is carried
away, and another comes in its place, and this will be carried away
  Everything which happens is as familiar and well known as the rose
in spring and the fruit in summer; for such is disease, and death, and
calumny, and treachery, and whatever else delights fools or vexes
  In the series of things those which follow are always aptly fitted
to those which have gone before; for this series is not like a mere
enumeration of disjointed things, which has only a necessary sequence,
but it is a rational connection: and as all existing things are
arranged together harmoniously, so the things which come into
existence exhibit no mere succession, but a certain wonderful
  Always remember the saying of Heraclitus, that the death of earth is
to become water, and the death of water is to become air, and the
death of air is to become fire, and reversely. And think too of him
who forgets whither the way leads, and that men quarrel with that with
which they are most constantly in communion, the reason which
governs the universe; and the things which daily meet with seem to
them strange: and consider that we ought not to act and speak as if we
were asleep, for even in sleep we seem to act and speak; and that we
ought not, like children who learn from their parents, simply to act
and speak as we have been taught.
  If any god told thee that thou shalt die to-morrow, or certainly
on the day after to-morrow, thou wouldst not care much whether it was
on the third day or on the morrow, unless thou wast in the highest
degree mean-spirited- for how small is the difference?- So think it
no great thing to die after as many years as thou canst name rather
than to-morrow.
  Think continually how many physicians are dead after often
contracting their eyebrows over the sick; and how many astrologers
after predicting with great pretensions the deaths of others; and
how many philosophers after endless discourses on death or
immortality; how many heroes after killing thousands; and how many
tyrants who have used their power over men's lives with terrible
insolence as if they were immortal; and how many cities are entirely
dead, so to speak, Helice and Pompeii and Herculaneum, and others
innumerable. Add to the reckoning all whom thou hast known, one
after another. One man after burying another has been laid out dead,
and another buries him: and all this in a short time. To conclude,
always observe how ephemeral and worthless human things are, and
what was yesterday a little mucus to-morrow will be a mummy or
ashes. Pass then through this little space of time conformably to
nature, and end thy journey in content, just as an olive falls off
when it is ripe, blessing nature who produced it, and thanking the
tree on which it grew.
  Be like the promontory against which the waves continually break,
but it stands firm and tames the fury of the water around it.
  Unhappy am I because this has happened to me.- Not so, but happy am
I, though this has happened to me, because I continue free from
pain, neither crushed by the present nor fearing the future. For
such a thing as this might have happened to every man; but every man
would not have continued free from pain on such an occasion. Why
then is that rather a misfortune than this a good fortune? And dost
thou in all cases call that a man's misfortune, which is not a
deviation from man's nature? And does a thing seem to thee to be a
deviation from man's nature, when it is not contrary to the will of
man's nature? Well, thou knowest the will of nature. Will then this
which has happened prevent thee from being just, magnanimous,
temperate, prudent, secure against inconsiderate opinions and
falsehood; will it prevent thee from having modesty, freedom, and
everything else, by the presence of which man's nature obtains all
that is its own? Remember too on every occasion which leads thee to
vexation to apply this principle: not that this is a misfortune, but
that to bear it nobly is good fortune.
  It is a vulgar, but still a useful help towards contempt of death,
to pass in review those who have tenaciously stuck to life. What
more then have they gained than those who have died early? Certainly
they lie in their tombs somewhere at last, Cadicianus, Fabius,
Julianus, Lepidus, or any one else like them, who have carried out
many to be buried, and then were carried out themselves. Altogether
the interval is small between birth and death; and consider with how
much trouble, and in company with what sort of people and in what a
feeble body this interval is laboriously passed. Do not then
consider life a thing of any value. For look to the immensity of
time behind thee, and to the time which is before thee, another
boundless space. In this infinity then what is the difference
between him who lives three days and him who lives three generations?
  Always run to the short way; and the short way is the natural:
accordingly say and do everything in conformity with the soundest
reason. For such a purpose frees a man from trouble, and warfare,
and all artifice and ostentatious display.
                           BOOK FIVE

  IN THE morning when thou risest unwillingly, let this thought be
present- I am rising to the work of a human being. Why then am I
dissatisfied if I am going to do the things for which I exist and for
which I was brought into the world? Or have I been made for this, to
lie in the bed-clothes and keep myself warm?- But this is more
pleasant.- Dost thou exist then to take thy pleasure, and not at all
for action or exertion? Dost thou not see the little plants, the
little birds, the ants, the spiders, the bees working together to put
in order their several parts of the universe? And art thou unwilling
to do the work of a human being, and dost thou not make haste to do
that which is according to thy nature?- But it is necessary to take
rest also.- It is necessary: however nature has fixed bounds to this
too: she has fixed bounds both to eating and drinking, and yet thou
goest beyond these bounds, beyond what is sufficient; yet in thy acts
it is not so, but thou stoppest short of what thou canst do. So thou
lovest not thyself, for if thou didst, thou wouldst love thy nature
and her will. But those who love their several arts exhaust themselves
in working at them unwashed and without food; but thou valuest thy own
own nature less than the turner values the turning art, or the dancer
the dancing art, or the lover of money values his money, or the
vainglorious man his little glory. And such men, when they have a
violent affection to a thing, choose neither to eat nor to sleep
rather than to perfect the things which they care for. But are the
acts which concern society more vile in thy eyes and less worthy of
thy labour?
  How easy it is to repel and to wipe away every impression which is
troublesome or unsuitable, and immediately to be in all tranquility.
  Judge every word and deed which are according to nature to be fit
for thee; and be not diverted by the blame which follows from any
people nor by their words, but if a thing is good to be done or
said, do not consider it unworthy of thee. For those persons have
their peculiar leading principle and follow their peculiar movement;
which things do not thou regard, but go straight on, following thy own
nature and the common nature; and the way of both is one.
  I go through the things which happen according to nature until I
shall fall and rest, breathing out my breath into that element out
of which I daily draw it in, and falling upon that earth out of
which my father collected the seed, and my mother the blood, and my
nurse the milk; out of which during so many years I have been supplied
with food and drink; which bears me when I tread on it and abuse it
for so many purposes.
  Thou sayest, Men cannot admire the sharpness of thy wits.- Be it
so: but there are many other things of which thou canst not say, I
am not formed for them by nature. Show those qualities then which
are altogether in thy power, sincerity, gravity, endurance of
labour, aversion to pleasure, contentment with thy portion and with
few things, benevolence, frankness, no love of superfluity, freedom
from trifling magnanimity. Dost thou not see how many qualities thou
art immediately able to exhibit, in which there is no excuse of
natural incapacity and unfitness, and yet thou still remainest
voluntarily below the mark? Or art thou compelled through being
defectively furnished by nature to murmur, and to be stingy, and to
flatter, and to find fault with thy poor body, and to try to please
men, and to make great display, and to be so restless in thy mind? No,
by the gods: but thou mightest have been delivered from these things
long ago. Only if in truth thou canst be charged with being rather
slow and dull of comprehension, thou must exert thyself about this
also, not neglecting it nor yet taking pleasure in thy dulness.
  One man, when he has done a service to another, is ready to set it
down to his account as a favour conferred. Another is not ready to
do this, but still in his own mind he thinks of the man as his debtor,
and he knows what he has done. A third in a manner does not even
know what he has done, but he is like a vine which has produced
grapes, and seeks for nothing more after it has once produced its
proper fruit. As a horse when he has run, a dog when he has tracked
the game, a bee when it has made the honey, so a man when he has done
a good act, does not call out for others to come and see, but he goes
on to another act, as a vine goes on to produce again the grapes in
season.- Must a man then be one of these, who in a manner act thus
without observing it?- Yes.- But this very thing is necessary,
the observation of what a man is doing: for, it may be said, it is
characteristic of the social animal to perceive that he is working
in a social manner, and indeed to wish that his social partner also
should perceive it.- It is true what thou sayest, but thou dost not
rightly understand what is now said: and for this reason thou wilt
become one of those of whom I spoke before, for even they are misled
by a certain show of reason. But if thou wilt choose to understand the
meaning of what is said, do not fear that for this reason thou wilt
omit any social act.
  A prayer of the Athenians: Rain, rain, O dear Zeus, down on the
ploughed fields of the Athenians and on the plains.- In truth we
ought not to pray at all, or we ought to pray in this simple and noble
  Just as we must understand when it is said, That Aesculapius
prescribed to this man horse-exercise, or bathing in cold water or
going without shoes; so we must understand it when it is said, That
the nature of the universe prescribed to this man disease or
mutilation or loss or anything else of the kind. For in the first case
Prescribed means something like this: he prescribed this for this
man as a thing adapted to procure health; and in the second case it
means: That which happens to (or, suits) every man is fixed in a
manner for him suitably to his destiny. For this is what we mean
when we say that things are suitable to us, as the workmen say of
squared stones in walls or the pyramids, that they are suitable,
when they fit them to one another in some kind of connexion. For there
is altogether one fitness, harmony. And as the universe is made up out
of all bodies to be such a body as it is, so out of all existing
causes necessity (destiny) is made up to be such a cause as it is. And
even those who are completely ignorant understand what I mean, for
they say, It (necessity, destiny) brought this to such a
person.- This then was brought and this was precribed to him. Let us
then receive these things, as well as those which Aesculapius
prescribes. Many as a matter of course even among his prescriptions
are disagreeable, but we accept them in the hope of health. Let the
perfecting and accomplishment of the things, which the common nature
judges to be good, be judged by thee to be of the same kind as thy
health. And so accept everything which happens, even if it seem
disagreeable, because it leads to this, to the health of the
universe and to the prosperity and felicity of Zeus (the universe).
For he would not have brought on any man what he has brought, if it
were not useful for the whole. Neither does the nature of anything,
whatever it may be, cause anything which is not suitable to that which
is directed by it. For two reasons then it is right to be content with
that which happens to thee; the one, because it was done for thee
and prescribed for thee, and in a manner had reference to thee,
originally from the most ancient causes spun with thy destiny; and the
other, because even that which comes severally to every man is to
the power which administers the universe a cause of felicity and
perfection, nay even of its very continuance. For the integrity of the
whole is mutilated, if thou cuttest off anything whatever from the
conjunction and the continuity either of the parts or of the causes.
And thou dost cut off, as far as it is in thy power, when thou art
dissatisfied, and in a manner triest to put anything out of the way.
  Be not disgusted, nor discouraged, nor dissatisfied, if thou dost
not succeed in doing everything according to right principles; but
when thou bast failed, return back again, and be content if the
greater part of what thou doest is consistent with man's nature, and
love this to which thou returnest; and do not return to philosophy
as if she were a master, but act like those who have sore eyes and
apply a bit of sponge and egg, or as another applies a plaster, or
drenching with water. For thus thou wilt not fail to obey reason,
and thou wilt repose in it. And remember that philosophy requires only
the things which thy nature requires; but thou wouldst have
something else which is not according to nature.- It may be objected,
Why what is more agreeable than this which I am doing?- But is not
this the very reason why pleasure deceives us? And consider if
magnanimity, freedom, simplicity, equanimity, piety, are not more
agreeable. For what is more agreeable than wisdom itself, when thou
thinkest of the security and the happy course of all things which
depend on the faculty of understanding and knowledge?
  Things are in such a kind of envelopment that they have seemed to
philosophers, not a few nor those common philosophers, altogether
unintelligible; nay even to the Stoics themselves they seem difficult
to understand. And all our assent is changeable; for where is the man
who never changes? Carry thy thoughts then to the objects themselves,
and consider how short-lived they are and worthless, and that they
may be in the possession of a filthy wretch or a whore or a robber.
Then turn to the morals of those who live with thee, and it is hardly
possible to endure even the most agreeable of them, to say nothing of
a man being hardly able to endure himself. In such darkness then and
dirt and in so constant a flux both of substance and of time, and of
motion and of things moved, what there is worth being highly prized
or even an object of serious pursuit, I cannot imagine. But on the
contrary it is a man's duty to comfort himself, and to wait for the
   natural dissolution and not to be vexed at the delay, but to rest in
these principles only: the one, that nothing will happen to me which
is not conformable to the nature of the universe; and the other, that
it is in my power never to act contrary to my god and daemon: for
there is no man who will compel me to this.
  About what am I now employing my own soul? On every occasion I
must ask myself this question, and inquire, what have I now in this
part of me which they call the ruling principle? And whose soul have I
now? That of a child, or of a young man, or of a feeble woman, or of a
tyrant, or of a domestic animal, or of a wild beast?
  What kind of things those are which appear good to the many, we
may learn even from this. For if any man should conceive certain
things as being really good, such as prudence, temperance, justice,
fortitude, he would not after having first conceived these endure to
listen to anything which should not be in harmony with what is
really good. But if a man has first conceived as good the things which
appear to the many to be good, he will listen and readily receive as
very applicable that which was said by the comic writer. Thus even the
many perceive the difference. For were it not so, this saying would
not offend and would not be rejected in the first case, while we
receive it when it is said of wealth, and of the means which further
luxury and fame, as said fitly and wittily. Go on then and ask if we
should value and think those things to be good, to which after their
first conception in the mind the words of the comic writer might be
aptly applied- that he who has them, through pure abundance has not a
place to ease himself in.
  I am composed of the formal and the material; and neither of them
will perish into non-existence, as neither of them came into existence
out of non-existence. Every part of me then will be reduced by
change into some part of the universe, and that again will change into
another part of the universe, and so on for ever. And by consequence
of such a change I too exist, and those who begot me, and so on for
ever in the other direction. For nothing hinders us from saying so,
even if the universe is administered according to definite periods
of revolution.
  Reason and the reasoning art (philosophy) are powers which are
sufficient for themselves and for their own works. They move then from
a first principle which is their own, and they make their way to the
end which is proposed to them; and this is the reason why such acts
are named catorthoseis or right acts, which word signifies that they
proceed by the right road.
  None of these things ought to be called a man's, which do not belong
to a man, as man. They are not required of a man, nor does man's
nature promise them, nor are they the means of man's nature
attaining its end. Neither then does the end of man lie in these
things, nor yet that which aids to the accomplishment of this end, and
that which aids towards this end is that which is good. Besides, if
any of these things did belong to man, it would not be right for a man
to despise them and to set himself against them; nor would a man be
worthy of praise who showed that he did not want these things, nor
would he who stinted himself in any of them be good, if indeed these
things were good. But now the more of these things a man deprives
himself of, or of other things like them, or even when he is
deprived of any of them, the more patiently he endures the loss,
just in the same degree he is a better man.
  Such as are thy habitual thoughts, such also will be the character
of thy mind; for the soul is dyed by the thoughts. Dye it then with
a continuous series of such thoughts as these: for instance, that
where a man can live, there he can also live well. But he must live in
a palace;- well then, he can also live well in a palace. And again,
consider that for whatever purpose each thing has been constituted,
for this it has been constituted, and towards this it is carried;
and its end is in that towards which it is carried; and where the
end is, there also is the advantage and the good of each thing. Now
the good for the reasonable animal is society; for that we are made
for society has been shown above. Is it not plain that the inferior
exist for the sake of the superior? But the things which have life are
superior to those which have not life, and of those which have life
the superior are those which have reason.
  To seek what is impossible is madness: and it is impossible that the
bad should not do something of this kind.
  Nothing happens to any man which he is not formed by nature to bear.
The same things happen to another, and either because he does not
see that they have happened or because he would show a great spirit he
is firm and remains unharmed. It is a shame then that ignorance and
conceit should be stronger than wisdom.
  Things themselves touch not the soul, not in the least degree; nor
have they admission to the soul, nor can they turn or move the soul:
but the soul turns and moves itself alone, and whatever judgements
it may think proper to make, such it makes for itself the things which
present themselves to it.
  In one respect man is the nearest thing to me, so far as I must do
good to men and endure them. But so far as some men make themselves
obstacles to my proper acts, man becomes to me one of the things which
are indifferent, no less than the sun or wind or a wild beast. Now
it is true that these may impede my action, but they are no
impediments to my affects and disposition, which have the power of
acting conditionally and changing: for the mind converts and changes
every hindrance to its activity into an aid; and so that which is a
hindrance is made a furtherance to an act; and that which is an
obstacle on the road helps us on this road.
  Reverence that which is best in the universe; and this is that which
makes use of all things and directs all things. And in like manner
also reverence that which is best in thyself; and this is of the
same kind as that. For in thyself also, that which makes use of
everything else, is this, and thy life is directed by this.
  That which does no harm to the state, does no harm to the citizen.
In the case of every appearance of harm apply this rule: if the
state is not harmed by this, neither am I harmed. But if the state
is harmed, thou must not be angry with him who does harm to the state.
Show him where his error is.
  Often think of the rapidity with which things pass by and disappear,
both the things which are and the things which are produced. For
substance is like a river in a continual flow, and the activities of
things are in constant change, and the causes work in infinite
varieties; and there is hardly anything which stands still. And
consider this which is near to thee, this boundless abyss of the
past and of the future in which all things disappear. How then is he
not a fool who is puffed up with such things or plagued about them and
makes himself miserable? for they vex him only for a time, and a short
  Think of the universal substance, of which thou hast a very small
portion; and of universal time, of which a short and indivisible
interval has been assigned to thee; and of that which is fixed by
destiny, and how small a part of it thou art.
  Does another do me wrong? Let him look to it. He has his own
disposition, his own activity. I now have what the universal nature
wills me to have; and I do what my nature now wills me to do.
  Let the part of thy soul which leads and governs be undisturbed by
the movements in the flesh, whether of pleasure or of pain; and let it
not unite with them, but let it circumscribe itself and limit those
affects to their parts. But when these affects rise up to the mind
by virtue of that other sympathy that naturally exists in a body which
is all one, then thou must not strive to resist the sensation, for
it is natural: but let not the ruling part of itself add to the
sensation the opinion that it is either good or bad.
  Live with the gods. And he does live with the gods who constantly
shows to them, his own soul is satisfied with that which is assigned
to him, and that it does all that the daemon wishes, which Zeus hath
given to every man for his guardian and guide, a portion of himself.
And this is every man's understanding and reason.
  Art thou angry with him whose armpits stink? Art thou angry with him
whose mouth smells foul? What good will this danger do thee? He has
such a mouth, he has such arm-pits: it is necessary that such an
emanation must come from such things- but the man has reason, it will
be said, and he is able, if he takes pain, to discover wherein he
offends- I wish thee well of thy discovery. Well then, and thou hast
reason: by thy rational faculty stir up his rational faculty; show him
his error, admonish him. For if he listens, thou wilt cure him, and
there is no need of anger. Neither tragic actor nor whore...
  As thou intendest to live when thou art gone out,...so it is in
thy power to live here. But if men do not permit thee, then get away
out of life, yet so as if thou wert suffering no harm. The house is
smoky, and I quit it. Why dost thou think that this is any trouble?
But so long as nothing of the kind drives me out, I remain, am free,
and no man shall hinder me from doing what I choose; and I choose to
do what is according to the nature of the rational and social animal.
  The intelligence of the universe is social. Accordingly it has
made the inferior things for the sake of the superior, and it has
fitted the superior to one another. Thou seest how it has
subordinated, co-ordinated and assigned to everything its proper
portion, and has brought together into concord with one another the
things which are the best.
  How hast thou behaved hitherto to the gods, thy parents, brethren,
children, teachers, to those who looked after thy infancy, to thy
friends, kinsfolk, to thy slaves? Consider if thou hast hitherto
behaved to all in such a way that this may be said of thee:

    Never has wronged a man in deed or word.

And call to recollection both how many things thou hast passed
through, and how many things thou hast been able to endure: and that
the history of thy life is now complete and thy service is ended:
and how many beautiful things thou hast seen: and how many pleasures
and pains thou hast despised; and how many things called honourable
thou hast spurned; and to how many ill-minded folks thou hast shown
a kind disposition.
  Why do unskilled and ignorant souls disturb him who has skill and
knowledge? What soul then has skill and knowledge? That which knows
beginning and end, and knows the reason which pervades all substance
and through all time by fixed periods (revolutions) administers the
  Soon, very soon, thou wilt be ashes, or a skeleton, and either a
name or not even a name; but name is sound and echo. And the things
which are much valued in life are empty and rotten and trifling, and
like little dogs biting one another, and little children
quarrelling, laughing, and then straightway weeping. But fidelity
and modesty and justice and truth are fled

    Up to Olympus from the wide-spread earth.

What then is there which still detains thee here? If the objects of
sense are easily changed and never stand still, and the organs of
perception are dull and easily receive false impressions; and the poor
soul itself is an exhalation from blood. But to have good repute
amidst such a world as this is an empty thing. Why then dost thou
not wait in tranquility for thy end, whether it is extinction or
removal to another state? And until that time comes, what is
sufficient? Why, what else than to venerate the gods and bless them,
and to do good to men, and to practise tolerance and self-restraint;
but as to everything which is beyond the limits of the poor flesh
and breath, to remember that this is neither thine nor in thy power.
  Thou canst pass thy life in an equable flow of happiness, if thou
canst go by the right way, and think and act in the right way. These
two things are common both to the soul of God and to the soul of
man, and to the soul of every rational being, not to be hindered by
another; and to hold good to consist in the disposition to justice and
the practice of it, and in this to let thy desire find its
  If this is neither my own badness, nor an effect of my own
badness, and the common weal is not injured, why am I troubled about
it? And what is the harm to the common weal?
  Do not be carried along inconsiderately by the appearance of things,
but give help to all according to thy ability and their fitness; and
if they should have sustained loss in matters which are indifferent,
do not imagine this to be a damage. For it is a bad habit. But as
the old man, when he went away, asked back his foster-child's top,
remembering that it was a top, so do thou in this case also.
  When thou art calling out on the Rostra, hast thou forgotten, man,
what these things are?- Yes; but they are objects of great concern to
these people- wilt thou too then be made a fool for these things?- I
was once a fortunate man, but I lost it, I know not how.- But
fortunate means that a man has assigned to himself a good fortune:
and a good fortune is good disposition of the soul, good emotions,
good actions.
                            BOOK SIX

  THE substance of the universe is obedient and compliant; and the
reason which governs it has in itself no cause for doing evil, for
it has no malice, nor does it do evil to anything, nor is anything
harmed by it. But all things are made and perfected according to
this reason.
  Let it make no difference to thee whether thou art cold or warm,
if thou art doing thy duty; and whether thou art drowsy or satisfied
with sleep; and whether ill-spoken of or praised; and whether dying or
doing something else. For it is one of the acts of life, this act by
which we die: it is sufficient then in this act also to do well what
we have in hand.
  Look within. Let neither the peculiar quality of anything nor its
value escape thee.
  All existing things soon change, and they will either be reduced
to vapour, if indeed all substance is one, or they will be dispersed.
  The reason which governs knows what its own disposition is, and what
it does, and on what material it works.
  The best way of avenging thyself is not to become like the wrong
  Take pleasure in one thing and rest in it, in passing from one
social act to another social act, thinking of God.
  The ruling principle is that which rouses and turns itself, and
while it makes itself such as it is and such as it wills to be, it
also makes everything which happens appear to itself to be such as
it wills.
  In conformity to the nature of the universe every single thing is
accomplished, for certainly it is not in conformity to any other
nature that each thing is accomplished, either a nature which
externally comprehends this, or a nature which is comprehended
within this nature, or a nature external and independent of this.
  The universe is either a confusion, and a mutual involution of
things, and a dispersion; or it is unity and order and providence.
If then it is the former, why do I desire to tarry in a fortuitous
combination of things and such a disorder? And why do I care about
anything else than how I shall at last become earth? And why am I
disturbed, for the dispersion of my elements will happen whatever I
do. But if the other supposition is true, I venerate, and I am firm,
and I trust in him who governs.
  When thou hast been compelled by circumstances to be disturbed in
a manner, quickly return to thyself and do not continue out of tune
longer than the compulsion lasts; for thou wilt have more mastery over
the harmony by continually recurring to it.
  If thou hadst a step-mother and a mother at the same time, thou
wouldst be dutiful to thy step-mother, but still thou wouldst
constantly return to thy mother. Let the court and philosophy now be
to thee step-mother and mother: return to philosophy frequently and
repose in her, through whom what thou meetest with in the court
appears to thee tolerable, and thou appearest tolerable in the court.
  When we have meat before us and such eatables we receive the
impression, that this is the dead body of a fish, and this is the dead
body of a bird or of a pig; and again, that this Falernian is only a
little grape juice, and this purple robe some sheep's wool dyed with
the blood of a shell-fish: such then are these impressions, and they
reach the things themselves and penetrate them, and so we see what
kind of things they are. Just in the same way ought we to act all
through life, and where there are things which appear most worthy of
our approbation, we ought to lay them bare and look at their
worthlessness and strip them of all the words by which they are
exalted. For outward show is a wonderful perverter of the reason,
and when thou art most sure that thou art employed about things
worth thy pains, it is then that it cheats thee most. Consider then
what Crates says of Xenocrates himself.
  Most of the things which the multitude admire are referred to
objects of the most general kind, those which are held together by
cohesion or natural organization, such as stones, wood, fig-trees,
vines, olives. But those which are admired by men who are a little
more reasonable are referred to the things which are held together
by a living principle, as flocks, herds. Those which are admired by
men who are still more instructed are the things which are held
together by a rational soul, not however a universal soul, but
rational so far as it is a soul skilled in some art, or expert in some
other way, or simply rational so far as it possesses a number of
slaves. But he who values rational soul, a soul universal and fitted
for political life, regards nothing else except this; and above all
things he keeps his soul in a condition and in an activity conformable
to reason and social life, and he co-operates to this end with those
who are of the same kind as himself.
  Some things are hurrying into existence, and others are hurrying out
of it; and of that which is coming into existence part is already
extinguished. Motions and changes are continually renewing the
world, just as the uninterrupted course of time is always renewing the
infinite duration of ages. In this flowing stream then, on which there
is no abiding, what is there of the things which hurry by on which a
man would set a high price? It would be just as if a man should fall
in love with one of the sparrows which fly by, but it has already
passed out of sight. Something of this kind is the very life of
every man, like the exhalation of the blood and the respiration of the
air. For such as it is to have once drawn in the air and to have given
it back, which we do every moment, just the same is it with the
whole respiratory power, which thou didst receive at thy birth
yesterday and the day before, to give it back to the element from
which thou didst first draw it.
  Neither is transpiration, as in plants, a thing to be valued, nor
respiration, as in domesticated animals and wild beasts, nor the
receiving of impressions by the appearances of things, nor being moved
by desires as puppets by strings, nor assembling in herds, nor being
nourished by food; for this is just like the act of separating and
parting with the useless part of our food. What then is worth being
valued? To be received with clapping of hands? No. Neither must we
value the clapping of tongues, for the praise which comes from the
many is a clapping of tongues. Suppose then that thou hast given up
this worthless thing called fame, what remains that is worth
valuing? This in my opinion, to move thyself and to restrain thyself
in conformity to thy proper constitution, to which end both all
employments and arts lead. For every art aims at this, that the
thing which has been made should be adapted to the work for which it
has been made; and both the vine-planter who looks after the vine, and
the horse-breaker, and he who trains the dog, seek this end. But the
education and the teaching of youth aim at something. In this then
is the value of the education and the teaching. And if this is well,
thou wilt not seek anything else. Wilt thou not cease to value many
other things too? Then thou wilt be neither free, nor sufficient for
thy own happiness, nor without passion. For of necessity thou must
be envious, jealous, and suspicious of those who can take away those
things, and plot against those who have that which is valued by
thee. Of necessity a man must be altogether in a state of perturbation
who wants any of these things; and besides, he must often find fault
with the gods. But to reverence and honour thy own mind will make thee
content with thyself, and in harmony with society, and in agreement
with the gods, that is, praising all that they give and have ordered.
  Above, below, all around are the movements of the elements. But
the motion of virtue is in none of these: it is something more divine,
and advancing by a way hardly observed it goes happily on its road.
  How strangely men act. They will not praise those who are living
at the same time and living with themselves; but to be themselves
praised by posterity, by those whom they have never seen or ever
will see, this they set much value on. But this is very much the
same as if thou shouldst be grieved because those who have lived
before thee did not praise thee.
  If a thing is difficult to be accomplished by thyself, do not
think that it is impossible for man: but if anything is possible for
man and conformable to his nature, think that this can be attained
by thyself too.
  In the gymnastic exercises suppose that a man has torn thee with his
nails, and by dashing against thy head has inflicted a wound. Well, we
neither show any signs of vexation, nor are we offended, nor do we
suspect him afterwards as a treacherous fellow; and yet we are on
our guard against him, not however as an enemy, nor yet with
suspicion, but we quietly get out of his way. Something like this
let thy behaviour be in all the other parts of life; let us overlook
many things in those who are like antagonists in the gymnasium. For it
is in our power, as I said, to get out of the way, and to have no
suspicion nor hatred.
  If any man is able to convince me and show me that I do not think or
act right, I will gladly change; for I seek the truth by which no
man was ever injured. But he is injured who abides in his error and
  I do my duty: other things trouble me not; for they are either
things without life, or things without reason, or things that have
rambled and know not the way.
  As to the animals which have no reason and generally all things
and objects, do thou, since thou hast reason and they have none,
make use of them with a generous and liberal spirit. But towards human
beings, as they have reason, behave in a social spirit. And on all
occasions call on the gods, and do not perplex thyself about the
length of time in which thou shalt do this; for even three hours so
spent are sufficient.
  Alexander the Macedonian and his groom by death were brought to
the same state; for either they were received among the same seminal
principles of the universe, or they were alike dispersed among the
  Consider how many things in the same indivisible time take place
in each of us, things which concern the body and things which
concern the soul: and so thou wilt not wonder if many more things,
or rather all things which come into existence in that which is the
one and all, which we call Cosmos, exist in it at the same time.
  If any man should propose to thee the question, how the name
Antoninus is written, wouldst thou with a straining of the voice utter
each letter? What then if they grow angry, wilt thou be angry too?
Wilt thou not go on with composure and number every letter? just so
then in this life also remember that every duty is made up of
certain parts. These it is thy duty to observe and without being
disturbed or showing anger towards those who are angry with thee to go
on thy way and finish that which is set before thee.
  How cruel it is not to allow men to strive after the things which
appear to them to be suitable to their nature and profitable! And
yet in a manner thou dost not allow them to do this, when thou art
vexed because they do wrong. For they are certainly moved towards
things because they suppose them to be suitable to their nature and
profitable to them.- But it is not so.- Teach them then, and show
them without being angry.
  Death is a cessation of the impressions through the senses, and of
the pulling of the strings which move the appetites, and of the
discursive movements of the thoughts, and of the service to the flesh.
  It is a shame for the soul to be first to give way in this life,
when thy body does not give way.
  Take care that thou art not made into a Caesar, that thou art not
dyed with this dye; for such things happen. Keep thyself then
simple, good, pure, serious, free from affectation, a friend of
justice, a worshipper of the gods, kind, affectionate, strenuous in
all proper acts. Strive to continue to be such as philosophy wished to
make thee. Reverence the gods, and help men. Short is life. There is
only one fruit of this terrene life, a pious disposition and social
acts. Do everything as a disciple of Antoninus. Remember his constancy
in every act which was conformable to reason, and his evenness in
all things, and his piety, and the serenity of his countenance, and
his sweetness, and his disregard of empty fame, and his efforts to
understand things; and how he would never let anything pass without
having first most carefully examined it and clearly understood it; and
how he bore with those who blamed him unjustly without blaming them in
return; how he did nothing in a hurry; and how he listened not to
calumnies, and how exact an examiner of manners and actions he was;
and not given to reproach people, nor timid, nor suspicious, nor a
sophist; and with how little he was satisfied, such as lodging, bed,
dress, food, servants; and how laborious and patient; and how he was
able on account of his sparing diet to hold out to the evening, not
even requiring to relieve himself by any evacuations except at the
usual hour; and his firmness and uniformity in his friendships; and
how he tolerated freedom of speech in those who opposed his
opinions; and the pleasure that he had when any man showed him
anything better; and how religious he was without superstition.
Imitate all this that thou mayest have as good a conscience, when
thy last hour comes, as he had.
  Return to thy sober senses and call thyself back; and when thou hast
roused thyself from sleep and hast perceived that they were only
dreams which troubled thee, now in thy waking hours look at these (the
things about thee) as thou didst look at those (the dreams).
  I consist of a little body and a soul. Now to this little body all
things are indifferent, for it is not able to perceive differences.
But to the understanding those things only are indifferent, which
are not the works of its own activity. But whatever things are the
works of its own activity, all these are in its power. And of these
however only those which are done with reference to the present; for
as to the future and the past activities of the mind, even these are
for the present indifferent.
  Neither the labour which the hand does nor that of the foot is
contrary to nature, so long as the foot does the foot's work and the
hand the hand's. So then neither to a man as a man is his labour
contrary to nature, so long as it does the things of a man. But if the
labour is not contrary to his nature, neither is it an evil to him.
  How many pleasures have been enjoyed by robbers, patricides,
  Dost thou not see how the handicraftsmen accommodate themselves up
to a certain point to those who are not skilled in their
craft- nevertheless they cling to the reason (the principles) of
their art and do not endure to depart from it? Is it not strange if
the architect and the physician shall have more respect to the
reason (the principles) of their own arts than man to his own
reason, which is common to him and the gods?
  Asia, Europe are corners of the universe: all the sea a drop in
the universe; Athos a little clod of the universe: all the present
time is a point in eternity. All things are little, changeable,
perishable. All things come from thence, from that universal ruling
power either directly proceeding or by way of sequence. And
accordingly the lion's gaping jaws, and that which is poisonous, and
every harmful thing, as a thorn, as mud, are after-products of the
grand and beautiful. Do not then imagine that they are of another kind
from that which thou dost venerate, but form a just opinion of the
source of all.
  He who has seen present things has seen all, both everything which
has taken place from all eternity and everything which will be for
time without end; for all things are of one kin and of one form.
  Frequently consider the connexion of all things in the universe
and their relation to one another. For in a manner all things are
implicated with one another, and all in this way are friendly to one
another; for one thing comes in order after another, and this is by
virtue of the active movement and mutual conspiration and the unity of
the substance.
  Adapt thyself to the things with which thy lot has been cast: and
the men among whom thou hast received thy portion, love them, but do
it truly, sincerely.
  Every instrument, tool, vessel, if it does that for which it has
been made, is well, and yet he who made it is not there. But in the
things which are held together by nature there is within and there
abides in them the power which made them; wherefore the more is it fit
to reverence this power, and to think, that, if thou dost live and act
according to its will, everything in thee is in conformity to
intelligence. And thus also in the universe the things which belong to
it are in conformity to intelligence.
  Whatever of the things which are not within thy power thou shalt
suppose to be good for thee or evil, it must of necessity be that,
if such a bad thing befall thee or the loss of such a good thing, thou
wilt blame the gods, and hate men too, those who are the cause of
the misfortune or the loss, or those who are suspected of being likely
to be the cause; and indeed we do much injustice, because we make a
difference between these things. But if we judge only those things
which are in our power to be good or bad, there remains no reason
either for finding fault with God or standing in a hostile attitude to
  We are all working together to one end, some with knowledge and
design, and others without knowing what they do; as men also when they
are asleep, of whom it is Heraclitus, I think, who says that they
are labourers and co-operators in the things which take place in the
universe. But men co-operate after different fashions: and even
those co-operate abundantly, who find fault with what happens and
those who try to oppose it and to hinder it; for the universe had need
even of such men as these. It remains then for thee to understand
among what kind of workmen thou placest thyself; for he who rules
all things will certainly make a right use of thee, and he will
receive thee among some part of the co-operators and of those whose
labours conduce to one end. But be not thou such a part as the mean
and ridiculous verse in the play, which Chrysippus speaks of.
  Does the sun undertake to do the work of the rain, or Aesculapius
the work of the Fruit-bearer (the earth)? And how is it with respect
to each of the stars, are they not different and yet they work
together to the same end?
  If the gods have determined about me and about the things which must
happen to me, they have determined well, for it is not easy even to
imagine a deity without forethought; and as to doing me harm, why
should they have any desire towards that? For what advantage would
result to them from this or to the whole, which is the special
object of their providence? But if they have not determined about me
individually, they have certainly determined about the whole at least,
and the things which happen by way of sequence in this general
arrangement I ought to accept with pleasure and to be content with
them. But if they determine about nothing- which it is wicked to
believe, or if we do believe it, let us neither sacrifice nor pray nor
swear by them nor do anything else which we do as if the gods were
present and lived with us- but if however the gods determine about
none of the things which concern us, I am able to determine about
myself, and I can inquire about that which is useful; and that is
useful to every man which is conformable to his own constitution and
nature. But my nature is rational and social; and my city and country,
so far as I am Antoninus, is Rome, but so far as I am a man, it is
the world. The things then which are useful to these cities are alone
useful to me. Whatever happens to every man, this is for the interest
of the universal: this might be sufficient. But further thou wilt
observe this also as a general truth, if thou dost observe, that
whatever is profitable to any man is profitable also to other men. But
let the word profitable be taken here in the common sense as said of
things of the middle kind, neither good nor bad.
  As it happens to thee in the amphitheatre and such places, that
the continual sight of the same things and the uniformity make the
spectacle wearisome, so it is in the whole of life; for all things
above, below, are the same and from the same. How long then?
  Think continually that all kinds of men and of all kinds of pursuits
and of all nations are dead, so that thy thoughts come down even to
Philistion and Phoebus and Origanion. Now turn thy thoughts to the
other kinds of men. To that place then we must remove, where there are
so many great orators, and so many noble philosophers, Heraclitus,
Pythagoras, Socrates; so many heroes of former days, and so many
generals after them, and tyrants; besides these, Eudoxus,
Hipparchus, Archimedes, and other men of acute natural talents,
great minds, lovers of labour, versatile, confident, mockers even of
the perishable and ephemeral life of man, as Menippus and such as
are like him. As to all these consider that they have long been in the
dust. What harm then is this to them; and what to those whose names
are altogether unknown? One thing here is worth a great deal, to
pass thy life in truth and justice, with a benevolent disposition even
to liars and unjust men.
  When thou wishest to delight thyself, think of the virtues of
those who live with thee; for instance, the activity of one, and the
modesty of another, and the liberality of a third, and some other good
quality of a fourth. For nothing delights so much as the examples of
the virtues, when they are exhibited in the morals of those who live
with us and present themselves in abundance, as far as is possible.
Wherefore we must keep them before us.
  Thou art not dissatisfied, I suppose, because thou weighest only
so many litrae and not three hundred. Be not dissatisfied then that
thou must live only so many years and not more; for as thou art
satisfied with the amount of substance which has been assigned to
thee, so be content with the time.
  Let us try to persuade them (men). But act even against their
will, when the principles of justice lead that way. If however any man
by using force stands in thy way, betake thyself to contentment and
tranquility, and at the same time employ the hindrance towards the
exercise of some other virtue; and remember that thy attempt was
with a reservation, that thou didst not desire to do
impossibilities. What then didst thou desire?- Some such effort as
this.- But thou attainest thy object, if the things to which thou
wast moved are accomplished.
  He who loves fame considers another man's activity to be his own
good; and he who loves pleasure, his own sensations; but he who has
understanding, considers his own acts to be his own good.
  It is in our power to have no opinion about a thing, and not to be
disturbed in our soul; for things themselves have no natural power
to form our judgements.
  Accustom thyself to attend carefully to what is said by another, and
as much as it is possible, be in the speaker's mind.
  That which is not good for the swarm, neither is it good for the
  If sailors abused the helmsman or the sick the doctor, would they
listen to anybody else; or how could the helmsman secure the safety of
those in the ship or the doctor the health of those whom he attends?
  How many together with whom I came into the world are already gone
out of it.
  To the jaundiced honey tastes bitter, and to those bitten by mad
dogs water causes fear; and to little children the ball is a fine
thing. Why then am I angry? Dost thou think that a false opinion has
less power than the bile in the jaundiced or the poison in him who
is bitten by a mad dog?
  No man will hinder thee from living according to the reason of thy
own nature: nothing will happen to thee contrary to the reason of
the universal nature.
  What kind of people are those whom men wish to please, and for
what objects, and by what kind of acts? How soon will time cover all
things, and how many it has covered already.
                          BOOK SEVEN

  WHAT is badness? It is that which thou hast often seen. And on the
occasion of everything which happens keep this in mind, that it is
that which thou hast often seen. Everywhere up and down thou wilt find
the same things, with which the old histories are filled, those of the
middle ages and those of our own day; with which cities and houses are
filled now. There is nothing new: all things are both familiar and
  How can our principles become dead, unless the impressions
(thoughts) which correspond to them are extinguished? But it is in thy
power continuously to fan these thoughts into a flame. I can have that
opinion about anything, which I ought to have. If I can, why am I
disturbed? The things which are external to my mind have no relation
at all to my mind.- Let this be the state of thy affects, and thou
standest erect. To recover thy life is in thy power. Look at things
again as thou didst use to look at them; for in this consists the
recovery of thy life.
  The idle business of show, plays on the stage, flocks of sheep,
herds, exercises with spears, a bone cast to little dogs, a bit of
bread into fish-ponds, labourings of ants and burden-carrying,
runnings about of frightened little mice, puppets pulled by strings-
all alike. It is thy duty then in the midst of such things to show
good humour and not a proud air; to understand however that every man
is worth just so much as the things are worth about which he busies
  In discourse thou must attend to what is said, and in every movement
thou must observe what is doing. And in the one thou shouldst see
immediately to what end it refers, but in the other watch carefully
what is the thing signified.
  Is my understanding sufficient for this or not? If it is sufficient,
I use it for the work as an instrument given by the universal
nature. But if it is not sufficient, then either I retire from the
work and give way to him who is able to do it better, unless there
be some reason why I ought not to do so; or I do it as well as I
can, taking to help me the man who with the aid of my ruling principle
can do what is now fit and useful for the general good. For whatsoever
either by myself or with another I can do, ought to be directed to
this only, to that which is useful and well suited to society.
  How many after being celebrated by fame have been given up to
oblivion; and how many who have celebrated the fame of others have
long been dead.
  Be not ashamed to be helped; for it is thy business to do thy duty
like a soldier in the assault on a town. How then, if being lame
thou canst not mount up on the battlements alone, but with the help of
another it is possible?
  Let not future things disturb thee, for thou wilt come to them, if
it shall be necessary, having with thee the same reason which now thou
usest for present things.
  All things are implicated with one another, and the bond is holy;
and there is hardly anything unconnected with any other thing. For
things have been co-ordinated, and they combine to form the same
universe (order). For there is one universe made up of all things, and
one God who pervades all things, and one substance, and one law, one
common reason in all intelligent animals, and one truth; if indeed
there is also one perfection for all animals which are of the same
stock and participate in the same reason.
  Everything material soon disappears in the substance of the whole;
and everything formal (causal) is very soon taken back into the
universal reason; and the memory of everything is very soon
overwhelmed in time.
  To the rational animal the same act is according to nature and
according to reason.
  Be thou erect, or be made erect.
  Just as it is with the members in those bodies which are united in
one, so it is with rational beings which exist separate, for they have
been constituted for one co-operation. And the perception of this will
be more apparent to thee, if thou often sayest to thyself that I am
a member (melos) of the system of rational beings. But if (using the
letter r) thou sayest that thou art a part (meros) thou dost not yet
love men from thy heart; beneficence does not yet delight thee for its
own sake; thou still doest it barely as a thing of propriety, and
not yet as doing good to thyself.
  Let there fall externally what will on the parts which can feel
the effects of this fall. For those parts which have felt will
complain, if they choose. But I, unless I think that what has happened
is an evil, am not injured. And it is in my power not to think so.
  Whatever any one does or says, I must be good, just as if the
gold, or the emerald, or the purple were always saying this,
Whatever any one does or says, I must be emerald and keep my colour.
  The ruling faculty does not disturb itself; I mean, does not
frighten itself or cause itself pain. But if any one else can frighten
or pain it, let him do so. For the faculty itself will not by its
own opinion turn itself into such ways. Let the body itself take care,
if it can, that is suffer nothing, and let it speak, if it suffers.
But the soul itself, that which is subject to fear, to pain, which has
completely the power of forming an opinion about these things, will
suffer nothing, for it will never deviate into such a judgement. The
leading principle in itself wants nothing, unless it makes a want
for itself; and therefore it is both free from perturbation and
unimpeded, if it does not disturb and impede itself.
  Eudaemonia (happiness) is a good daemon, or a good thing. What
then art thou doing here, O imagination? Go away, I entreat thee by
the gods, as thou didst come, for I want thee not. But thou art come
according to thy old fashion. I am not angry with thee: only go away.
  Is any man afraid of change? Why what can take place without change?
What then is more pleasing or more suitable to the universal nature?
And canst thou take a bath unless the wood undergoes a change? And
canst thou be nourished, unless the food undergoes a change? And can
anything else that is useful be accomplished without change? Dost thou
not see then that for thyself also to change is just the same, and
equally necessary for the universal nature?
  Through the universal substance as through a furious torrent all
bodies are carried, being by their nature united with and
cooperating with the whole, as the parts of our body with one another.
How many a Chrysippus, how many a Socrates, how many an Epictetus
has time already swallowed up? And let the same thought occur to
thee with reference to every man and thing.
  One thing only troubles me, lest I should do something which the
constitution of man does not allow, or in the way which it does not
allow, or what it does not allow now.
  Near is thy forgetfulness of all things; and near the
forgetfulness of thee by all.
  It is peculiar to man to love even those who do wrong. And this
happens, if when they do wrong it occurs to thee that they are
kinsmen, and that they do wrong through ignorance and unintentionally,
and that soon both of you will die; and above all, that the wrong-doer
has done thee no harm, for he has not made thy ruling faculty worse
than it was before.
  The universal nature out of the universal substance, as if it were
wax, now moulds a horse, and when it has broken this up, it uses the
material for a tree, then for a man, then for something else; and each
of these things subsists for a very short time. But it is no
hardship for the vessel to be broken up, just as there was none in its
being fastened together.
  A scowling look is altogether unnatural; when it is often assumed,
the result is that all comeliness dies away, and at last is so
completely extinguished that it cannot be again lighted up at all. Try
to conclude from this very fact that it is contrary to reason. For
if even the perception of doing wrong shall depart, what reason is
there for living any longer?
  Nature which governs the whole will soon change all things which
thou seest, and out of their substance will make other things, and
again other things from the substance of them, in order that the world
may be ever new.
  When a man has done thee any wrong, immediately consider with what
opinion about good or evil he has done wrong. For when thou hast
seen this, thou wilt pity him, and wilt neither wonder nor be angry.
For either thou thyself thinkest the same thing to be good that he
does or another thing of the same kind. It is thy duty then to
pardon him. But if thou dost not think such things to be good or evil,
thou wilt more readily be well disposed to him who is in error.
  Think not so much of what thou hast not as of what thou hast: but of
the things which thou hast select the best, and then reflect how
eagerly they would have been sought, if thou hadst them not. At the
same time however take care that thou dost not through being so
pleased with them accustom thyself to overvalue them, so as to be
disturbed if ever thou shouldst not have them.
  Retire into thyself. The rational principle which rules has this
nature, that it is content with itself when it does what is just,
and so secures tranquility.
  Wipe out the imagination. Stop the pulling of the strings. Confine
thyself to the present. Understand well what happens either to thee or
to another. Divide and distribute every object into the causal
(formal) and the material. Think of thy last hour. Let the wrong which
is done by a man stay there where the wrong was done.
  Direct thy attention to what is said. Let thy understanding enter
into the things that are doing and the things which do them.
  Adorn thyself with simplicity and modesty and with indifference
towards the things which lie between virtue and vice. Love mankind.
Follow God. The poet says that Law rules all.- And it is enough to
remember that Law rules all.
  About death: Whether it is a dispersion, or a resolution into atoms,
or annihilation, it is either extinction or change.
  About pain: The pain which is intolerable carries us off; but that
which lasts a long time is tolerable; and the mind maintains its own
tranquility by retiring into itself, and the ruling faculty is not
made worse. But the parts which are harmed by pain, let them, if
they can, give their opinion about it.
  About fame: Look at the minds of those who seek fame, observe what
they are, and what kind of things they avoid, and what kind of
things they pursue. And consider that as the heaps of sand piled on
one another hide the former sands, so in life the events which go
before are soon covered by those which come after.
  From Plato: The man who has an elevated mind and takes a view of all
time and of all substance, dost thou suppose it possible for him to
think that human life is anything great? it is not possible, he said.-
Such a man then will think that death also is no evil.- Certainly not.
  From Antisthenes: It is royal to do good and to be abused.
  It is a base thing for the countenance to be obedient and to
regulate and compose itself as the mind commands, and for the mind not
to be regulated and composed by itself.

  It is not right to vex ourselves at things,
  For they care nought about it.

  To the immortal gods and us give joy.

  Life must be reaped like the ripe ears of corn:
  One man is born; another dies.

  If gods care not for me and for my children,
  There is a reason for it.

  For the good is with me, and the just.

  No joining others in their wailing, no violent emotion.

  From Plato: But I would make this man a sufficient answer, which
is this: Thou sayest not well, if thou thinkest that a man who is good
for anything at all ought to compute the hazard of life or death,
and should not rather look to this only in all that he does, whether
he is doing what is just or unjust, and the works of a good or a bad
  For thus it is, men of Athens, in truth: wherever a man has placed
himself thinking it the best place for him, or has been placed by a
commander, there in my opinion he ought to stay and to abide the
hazard, taking nothing into the reckoning, either death or anything
else, before the baseness of deserting his post.
  But, my good friend, reflect whether that which is noble and good is
not something different from saving and being saved; for as to a man
living such or such a time, at least one who is really a man, consider
if this is not a thing to be dismissed from the thoughts: and there
must be no love of life: but as to these matters a man must intrust
them to the deity and believe what the women say, that no man can
escape his destiny, the next inquiry being how he may best live the
time that he has to live.
  Look round at the courses of the stars, as if thou wert going
along with them; and constantly consider the changes of the elements
into one another; for such thoughts purge away the filth of the
terrene life.
  This is a fine saying of Plato: That he who is discoursing about men
should look also at earthly things as if he viewed them from some
higher place; should look at them in their assemblies, armies,
agricultural labours, marriages, treaties, births, deaths, noise of
the courts of justice, desert places, various nations of barbarians,
feasts, lamentations, markets, a mixture of all things and an
orderly combination of contraries.
  Consider the past; such great changes of political supremacies. Thou
mayest foresee also the things which will be. For they will
certainly be of like form, and it is not possible that they should
deviate from the order of the things which take place now: accordingly
to have contemplated human life for forty years is the same as to have
contemplated it for ten thousand years. For what more wilt thou see?

  That which has grown from the earth to the earth,
  But that which has sprung from heavenly seed,
  Back to the heavenly realms returns.

This is either a dissolution of the mutual involution of the atoms, or
a similar dispersion of the unsentient elements.

  With food and drinks and cunning magic arts
  Turning the channel's course to 'scape from death.
    The breeze which heaven has sent
  We must endure, and toil without complaining.

  Another may be more expert in casting his opponent; but he is not
more social, nor more modest, nor better disciplined to meet all
that happens, nor more considerate with respect to the faults of his
  Where any work can be done conformably to the reason which is common
to gods and men, there we have nothing to fear: for where we are
able to get profit by means of the activity which is successful and
proceeds according to our constitution, there no harm is to be
  Everywhere and at all times it is in thy power piously to
acquiesce in thy present condition, and to behave justly to those
who are about thee, and to exert thy skill upon thy present
thoughts, that nothing shall steal into them without being well
  Do not look around thee to discover other men's ruling principles,
but look straight to this, to what nature leads thee, both the
universal nature through the things which happen to thee, and thy
own nature through the acts which must be done by thee. But every
being ought to do that which is according to its constitution; and all
other things have been constituted for the sake of rational beings,
just as among irrational things the inferior for the sake of the
superior, but the rational for the sake of one another.
  The prime principle then in man's constitution is the social. And
the second is not to yield to the persuasions of the body, for it is
the peculiar office of the rational and intelligent motion to
circumscribe itself, and never to be overpowered either by the
motion of the senses or of the appetites, for both are animal; but the
intelligent motion claims superiority and does not permit itself to be
overpowered by the others. And with good reason, for it is formed by
nature to use all of them. The third thing in the rational
constitution is freedom from error and from deception. Let then the
ruling principle holding fast to these things go straight on, and it
has what is its own.
  Consider thyself to be dead, and to have completed thy life up to
the present time; and live according to nature the remainder which
is allowed thee.
  Love that only which happens to thee and is spun with the thread
of thy destiny. For what is more suitable?
  In everything which happens keep before thy eyes those to whom the
same things happened, and how they were vexed, and treated them as
strange things, and found fault with them: and now where are they?
Nowhere. Why then dost thou too choose to act in the same way? And why
dost thou not leave these agitations which are foreign to nature, to
those who cause them and those who are moved by them? And why art thou
not altogether intent upon the right way of making use of the things
which happen to thee? For then thou wilt use them well, and they
will be a material for thee to work on. Only attend to thyself, and
resolve to be a good man in every act which thou doest: and
  Look within. Within is the fountain of good, and it will ever bubble
up, if thou wilt ever dig.
  The body ought to be compact, and to show no irregularity either
in motion or attitude. For what the mind shows in the face by
maintaining in it the expression of intelligence and propriety, that
ought to be required also in the whole body. But all of these things
should be observed without affectation.
  The art of life is more like the wrestler's art than the dancer's,
in respect of this, that it should stand ready and firm to meet onsets
which are sudden and unexpected.
  Constantly observe who those are whose approbation thou wishest to
have, and what ruling principles they possess. For then thou wilt
neither blame those who offend involuntarily, nor wilt thou want their
approbation, if thou lookest to the sources of their opinions and
  Every soul, the philosopher says, is involuntarily deprived of
truth; consequently in the same way it is deprived of justice and
temperance and benevolence and everything of the kind. It is most
necessary to bear this constantly in mind, for thus thou wilt be
more gentle towards all.
  In every pain let this thought be present, that there is no
dishonour in it, nor does it make the governing intelligence worse,
for it does not damage the intelligence either so far as the
intelligence is rational or so far as it is social. Indeed in the case
of most pains let this remark of Epicurus aid thee, that pain is
neither intolerable nor everlasting, if thou bearest in mind that it
has its limits, and if thou addest nothing to it in imagination: and
remember this too, that we do not perceive that many things which
are disagreeable to us are the same as pain, such as excessive
drowsiness, and the being scorched by heat, and the having no
appetite. When then thou art discontented about any of these things,
say to thyself, that thou art yielding to pain.
  Take care not to feel towards the inhuman, as they feel towards men.
  How do we know if Telauges was not superior in character to
Socrates? For it is not enough that Socrates died a more noble
death, and disputed more skilfully with the sophists, and passed the
night in the cold with more endurance, and that when he was bid to
arrest Leon of Salamis, he considered it more noble to refuse, and
that he walked in a swaggering way in the streets- though as to this
fact one may have great doubts if it was true. But we ought to
inquire, what kind of a soul it was that Socrates possessed, and if he
was able to be content with being just towards men and pious towards
the gods, neither idly vexed on account of men's villainy, nor yet
making himself a slave to any man's ignorance, nor receiving as
strange anything that fell to his share out of the universal, nor
enduring it as intolerable, nor allowing his understanding to
sympathize with the affects of the miserable flesh.
  Nature has not so mingled the intelligence with the composition of
the body, as not to have allowed thee the power of circumscribing
thyself and of bringing under subjection to thyself all that is thy
own; for it is very possible to be a divine man and to be recognised
as such by no one. Always bear this in mind; and another thing too,
that very little indeed is necessary for living a happy life. And
because thou hast despaired of becoming a dialectician and skilled
in the knowledge of nature, do not for this reason renounce the hope
of being both free and modest and social and obedient to God.
  It is in thy power to live free from all compulsion in the
greatest tranquility of mind, even if all the world cry out against
thee as much as they choose, and even if wild beasts tear in pieces
the members of this kneaded matter which has grown around thee. For
what hinders the mind in the midst of all this from maintaining itself
in tranquility and in a just judgement of all surrounding things and
in a ready use of the objects which are presented to it, so that the
judgement may say to the thing which falls under its observation: This
thou art in substance (reality), though in men's opinion thou mayest
appear to be of a different kind; and the use shall say to that
which falls under the hand: Thou art the thing that I was seeking; for
to me that which presents itself is always a material for virtue
both rational and political, and in a word, for the exercise of art,
which belongs to man or God. For everything which happens has a
relationship either to God or man, and is neither new nor difficult to
handle, but usual and apt matter to work on.
  The perfection of moral character consists in this, in passing every
day as the last, and in being neither violently excited nor torpid nor
playing the hypocrite.
  The gods who are immortal are not vexed because during so long a
time they must tolerate continually men such as they are and so many
of them bad; and besides this, they also take care of them in all
ways. But thou, who art destined to end so soon, art thou wearied of
enduring the bad, and this too when thou art one of them?
  It is a ridiculous thing for a man not to fly from his own
badness, which is indeed possible, but to fly from other men's
badness, which is impossible.
  Whatever the rational and political (social) faculty finds to be
neither intelligent nor social, it properly judges to be inferior to
  When thou hast done a good act and another has received it, why dost
thou look for a third thing besides these, as fools do, either to have
the reputation of having done a good act or to obtain a return?
  No man is tired of receiving what is useful. But it is useful to act
according to nature. Do not then be tired of receiving what is
useful by doing it to others.
  The nature of the An moved to make the universe. But now either
everything that takes place comes by way of consequence or continuity;
or even the chief things towards which the ruling power of the
universe directs its own movement are governed by no rational
principle. If this is remembered it will make thee more tranquil in
many things.
                          BOOK EIGHT

  THIS reflection also tends to the removal of the desire of empty
fame, that it is no longer in thy power to have lived the whole of thy
life, or at least thy life from thy youth upwards, like a philosopher;
but both to many others and to thyself it is plain that thou art far
from philosophy. Thou hast fallen into disorder then, so that it is no
longer easy for thee to get the reputation of a philosopher; and thy
plan of life also opposes it. If then thou hast truly seen where the
matter lies, throw away the thought, How thou shalt seem to others,
and be content if thou shalt live the rest of thy life in such wise as
thy nature wills. Observe then what it wills, and let nothing else
distract thee; for thou hast had experience of many wanderings without
having found happiness anywhere, not in syllogisms, nor in wealth, nor
in reputation, nor in enjoyment, nor anywhere. Where is it then? In
doing what man's nature requires. How then shall a man do this? If
he has principles from which come his affects and his acts. What
principles? Those which relate to good and bad: the belief that
there is nothing good for man, which does not make him just,
temperate, manly, free; and that there is nothing bad, which does
not do the contrary to what has been mentioned.
  On the occasion of every act ask thyself, How is this with respect
to me? Shall I repent of it? A little time and I am dead, and all is
gone. What more do I seek, if what I am now doing is work of an
intelligent living being, and a social being, and one who is under the
same law with God?
  Alexander and Gaius and Pompeius, what are they in comparison with
Diogenes and Heraclitus and Socrates? For they were acquainted with
things, and their causes (forms), and their matter, and the ruling
principles of these men were the same. But as to the others, how many
things had they to care for, and to how many things were they slaves?
  Consider that men will do the same things nevertheless, even
though thou shouldst burst.
  This is the chief thing: Be not perturbed, for all things are
according to the nature of the universal; and in a little time thou
wilt be nobody and nowhere, like Hadrian and Augustus. In the next
place having fixed thy eyes steadily on thy business look at it, and
at the same time remembering that it is thy duty to be a good man, and
what man's nature demands, do that without turning aside; and speak as
it seems to thee most just, only let it be with a good disposition and
with modesty and without hypocrisy.
  The nature of the universal has this work to do, to remove to that
place the things which are in this, to change them, to take them
away hence, and to carry them there. All things are change, yet we
need not fear anything new. All things are familiar to us; but the
distribution of them still remains the same.
  Every nature is contented with itself when it goes on its way
well; and a rational nature goes on its way well, when in its thoughts
it assents to nothing false or uncertain, and when it directs its
movements to social acts only, and when it confines its desires and
aversions to the things which are in its power, and when it is
satisfied with everything that is assigned to it by the common nature.
For of this common nature every particular nature is a part, as the
nature of the leaf is a part of the nature of the plant; except that
in the plant the nature of the leaf is part of a nature which has
not perception or reason, and is subject to be impeded; but the nature
of man is part of a nature which is not subject to impediments, and is
intelligent and just, since it gives to everything in equal portions
and according to its worth, times, substance, cause (form),
activity, and incident. But examine, not to discover that any one
thing compared with any other single thing is equal in all respects,
but by taking all the parts together of one thing and comparing them
with all the parts together of another.
  Thou hast not leisure or ability to read. But thou hast leisure or
ability to check arrogance: thou hast leisure to be superior to
pleasure and pain: thou hast leisure to be superior to love of fame,
and not to be vexed at stupid and ungrateful people, nay even to
care for them.
  Let no man any longer hear thee finding fault with the court life or
with thy own.
  Repentance is a kind of self-reproof for having neglected
something useful; but that which is good must be something useful, and
the perfect good man should look after it. But no such man would
ever repent of having refused any sensual pleasure. Pleasure then is
neither good nor useful.
  This thing, what is it in itself, in its own constitution? What is
its substance and material? And what its causal nature (or form)?
And what is it doing in the world? And how long does it subsist?
  When thou risest from sleep with reluctance, remember that it is
according to thy constitution and according to human nature to perform
social acts, but sleeping is common also to irrational animals. But
that which is according to each individual's nature is also more
peculiarly its own, and more suitable to its nature, and indeed also
more agreeable.
  Constantly and, if it be possible, on the occasion of every
impression on the soul, apply to it the principles of Physic, of
Ethic, and of Dialectic.
  Whatever man thou meetest with, immediately say to thyself: What
opinions has this man about good and bad? For if with respect to
pleasure and pain and the causes of each, and with respect to fame and
ignominy, death and life, he has such and such opinions, it will
seem nothing wonderful or strange to me, if he does such and such
things; and I shall bear in mind that he is compelled to do so.
  Remember that as it is a shame to be surprised if the fig-tree
produces figs, so it is to be surprised if the world produces such and
such things of which it is productive; and for the physician and the
helmsman it is a shame to be surprised, if a man has a fever, or if
the wind is unfavourable.
  Remember that to change thy opinion and to follow him who corrects
thy error is as consistent with freedom as it is to persist in thy
error. For it is thy own, the activity which is exerted according to
thy own movement and judgement, and indeed according to thy own
understanding too.
  If a thing is in thy own power, why dost thou do it? But if it is in
the power of another, whom dost thou blame? The atoms (chance) or
the gods? Both are foolish. Thou must blame nobody. For if thou canst,
correct that which is the cause; but if thou canst not do this,
correct at least the thing itself; but if thou canst not do even this,
of what use is it to thee to find fault? For nothing should be done
without a purpose.
  That which has died falls not out of the universe. If it stays here,
it also changes here, and is dissolved into its proper parts, which
are elements of the universe and of thyself. And these too change, and
they murmur not.
  Everything exists for some end, a horse, a vine. Why dost thou
wonder? Even the sun will say, I am for some purpose, and the rest
of the gods will say the same. For what purpose then art thou? to
enjoy pleasure? See if common sense allows this.
  Nature has had regard in everything no less to the end than to the
beginning and the continuance, just like the man who throws up a ball.
What good is it then for the ball to be thrown up, or harm for it to
come down, or even to have fallen? And what good is it to the bubble
while it holds together, or what harm when it is burst? The same may
be said of a light also.
  Turn it (the body) inside out, and see what kind of thing it is; and
when it has grown old, what kind of thing it becomes, and when it is
  Short-lived are both the praiser and the praised, and the rememberer
and the remembered: and all this in a nook of this part of the
world; and not even here do all agree, no, not any one with himself:
and the whole earth too is a point.
  Attend to the matter which is before thee, whether it is an
opinion or an act or a word.
  Thou sufferest this justly: for thou choosest rather to become
good to-morrow than to be good to-day.
  Am I doing anything? I do it with reference to the good of
mankind. Does anything happen to me? I receive it and refer it to
the gods, and the source of all things, from which all that happens is
  Such as bathing appears to thee- oil, sweat, dirt, filthy water,
all things disgusting- so is every part of life and everything.
  Lucilla saw Verus die, and then Lucilla died. Secunda saw Maximus
die, and then Secunda died. Epitynchanus saw Diotimus die, and
Epitynchanus died. Antoninus saw Faustina die, and then Antoninus
died. Such is everything. Celer saw Hadrian die, and then Celer
died. And those sharp-witted men, either seers or men inflated with
pride, where are they? For instance the sharp-witted men, Charax and
Demetrius the Platonist and Eudaemon, and any one else like them.
All ephemeral, dead long ago. Some indeed have not been remembered
even for a short time, and others have become the heroes of fables,
and again others have disappeared even from fables. Remember this
then, that this little compound, thyself, must either be dissolved, or
thy poor breath must be extinguished, or be removed and placed
  It is satisfaction to a man to do the proper works of a man. Now
it is a proper work of a man to be benevolent to his own kind, to
despise the movements of the senses, to form a just judgement of
plausible appearances, and to take a survey of the nature of the
universe and of the things which happen in it.
  There are three relations between thee and other things: the one
to the body which surrounds thee; the second to the divine cause
from which all things come to all; and the third to those who live
with thee.
  Pain is either an evil to the body- then let the body say what it
thinks of it- or to the soul; but it is in the power of the soul to
maintain its own serenity and tranquility, and not to think that
pain is an evil. For every judgement and movement and desire and
aversion is within, and no evil ascends so high.
  Wipe out thy imaginations by often saying to thyself: now it is in
my power to let no badness be in this soul, nor desire nor any
perturbation at all; but looking at all things I see what is their
nature, and I use each according to its value.- Remember this power
which thou hast from nature.
  Speak both in the senate and to every man, whoever he may be,
appropriately, not with any affectation: use plain discourse.
  Augustus' court, wife, daughter, descendants, ancestors, sister,
Agrippa, kinsmen, intimates, friends, Areius, Maecenas, physicians and
sacrificing priests- the whole court is dead. Then turn to the rest,
not considering the death of a single man, but of a whole race, as
of the Pompeii; and that which is inscribed on the tombs- The last of
his race. Then consider what trouble those before them have had that
they might leave a successor; and then, that of necessity some one
must be the last. Again here consider the death of a whole race.
  It is thy duty to order thy life well in every single act; and if
every act does its duty, as far as is possible, be content; and no one
is able to hinder thee so that each act shall not do its duty.- But
something external will stand in the way.- Nothing will stand in the
way of thy acting justly and soberly and considerately.- But perhaps
some other active power will be hindered.- Well, but by acquiescing
in the hindrance and by being content to transfer thy efforts to
that which is allowed, another opportunity of action is immediately
put before thee in place of that which was hindered, and one which
will adapt itself to this ordering of which we are speaking.
  Receive wealth or prosperity without arrogance; and be ready to
let it go.
  If thou didst ever see a hand cut off, or a foot, or a head, lying
anywhere apart from the rest of the body, such does a man make
himself, as far as he can, who is not content with what happens, and
separates himself from others, or does anything unsocial. Suppose that
thou hast detached thyself from the natural unity- for thou wast made
by nature a part, but now thou hast cut thyself off- yet here there
is this beautiful provision, that it is in thy power again to unite
thyself. God has allowed this to no other part, after it has been
separated and cut asunder, to come together again. But consider the
kindness by which he has distinguished man, for he has put it in his
power not to be separated at all from the universal; and when he has
been separated, he has allowed him to return and to be united and to
resume his place as a part.
  As the nature of the universal has given to every rational being all
the other powers that it has, so we have received from it this power
also. For as the universal nature converts and fixes in its
predestined place everything which stands in the way and opposes it,
and makes such things a part of itself, so also the rational animal is
able to make every hindrance its own material, and to use it for
such purposes as it may have designed.
  Do not disturb thyself by thinking of the whole of thy life. Let not
thy thoughts at once embrace all the various troubles which thou
mayest expect to befall thee: but on every occasion ask thyself,
What is there in this which is intolerable and past bearing? For
thou wilt be ashamed to confess. In the next place remember that
neither the future nor the past pains thee, but only the present.
But this is reduced to a very little, if thou only circumscribest
it, and chidest thy mind, if it is unable to hold out against even
  Does Panthea or Pergamus now sit by the tomb of Verus? Does Chaurias
or Diotimus sit by the tomb of Hadrian? That would be ridiculous.
Well, suppose they did sit there, would the dead be conscious of it?
And if the dead were conscious, would they be pleased? And if they
were pleased, would that make them immortal? Was it not in the order
of destiny that these persons too should first become old women and
old men and then die? What then would those do after these were
dead? All this is foul smell and blood in a bag.
  If thou canst see sharp, look and judge wisely, says the
  In the constitution of the rational animal I see no virtue which
is opposed to justice; but I see a virtue which is opposed to love
of pleasure, and that is temperance.
  If thou takest away thy opinion about that which appears to give
thee pain, thou thyself standest in perfect security.- Who is this
self?- The reason.- But I am not reason.- Be it so. Let then the
reason itself not trouble itself. But if any other part of thee
suffers, let it have its own opinion about itself.
  Hindrance to the perceptions of sense is an evil to the animal
nature. Hindrance to the movements (desires) is equally an evil to the
animal nature. And something else also is equally an impediment and an
evil to the constitution of plants. So then that which is a
hindrance to the intelligence is an evil to the intelligent nature.
Apply all these things then to thyself. Does pain or sensuous pleasure
affect thee? The senses will look to that.- Has any obstacle opposed
thee in thy efforts towards an object? if indeed thou wast making this
effort absolutely (unconditionally, or without any reservation),
certainly this obstacle is an evil to thee considered as a rational
animal. But if thou takest into consideration the usual course of
things, thou hast not yet been injured nor even impeded. The things
however which are proper to the understanding no other man is used
to impede, for neither fire, nor iron, nor tyrant, nor abuse,
touches it in any way. When it has been made a sphere, it continues
a sphere.
  It is not fit that I should give myself pain, for I have never
intentionally given pain even to another.
  Different things delight different people. But it is my delight to
keep the ruling faculty sound without turning away either from any man
or from any of the things which happen to men, but looking at and
receiving all with welcome eyes and using everything according to
its value.
  See that thou secure this present time to thyself: for those who
rather pursue posthumous fame do consider that the men of after time
will be exactly such as these whom they cannot bear now; and both
are mortal. And what is it in any way to thee if these men of after
time utter this or that sound, or have this or that opinion about
  Take me and cast me where thou wilt; for there I shall keep my
divine part tranquil, that is, content, if it can feel and act
conformably to its proper constitution. Is this change of place
sufficient reason why my soul should be unhappy and worse than it was,
depressed, expanded, shrinking, affrighted? And what wilt thou find
which is sufficient reason for this?
  Nothing can happen to any man which is not a human accident, nor
to an ox which is not according to the nature of an ox, nor to a
vine which is not according to the nature of a vine, nor to a stone
which is not proper to a stone. If then there happens to each thing
both what is usual and natural, why shouldst thou complain? For the
common nature brings nothing which may not be borne by thee.
  If thou art pained by any external thing, it is not this thing
that disturbs thee, but thy own judgement about it. And it is in thy
power to wipe out this judgement now. But if anything in thy own
disposition gives thee pain, who hinders thee from correcting thy
opinion? And even if thou art pained because thou art not doing some
particular thing which seems to thee to be right, why dost thou not
rather act than complain?- But some insuperable obstacle is in the
way?- Do not be grieved then, for the cause of its not being done
depends not on thee.- But it is not worth while to live if this
cannot be done.- Take thy departure then from life contentedly, just
as he dies who is in full activity, and well pleased too with the
things which are obstacles.
  Remember that the ruling faculty is invincible, when
self-collected it is satisfied with itself, if it does nothing which
it does not choose to do, even if it resist from mere obstinacy.
What then will it be when it forms a judgement about anything aided by
reason and deliberately? Therefore the mind which is free from
passions is a citadel, for man has nothing more secure to which he can
fly for, refuge and for the future be inexpugnable. He then who has
not seen this is an ignorant man; but he who has seen it and does
not fly to this refuge is unhappy.
  Say nothing more to thyself than what the first appearances
report. Suppose that it has been reported to thee that a certain
person speaks ill of thee. This has been reported; but that thou
hast been injured, that has not been reported. I see that my child
is sick. I do see; but that he is in danger, I do not see. Thus then
always abide by the first appearances, and add nothing thyself from
within, and then nothing happens to thee. Or rather add something,
like a man who knows everything that happens in the world.
  A cucumber is bitter.- Throw it away.- There are briars in the
road.- Turn aside from them.- This is enough. Do not add, And why were
such things made in the world? For thou wilt be ridiculed by a man who
is acquainted with nature, as thou wouldst be ridiculed by a carpenter
and shoemaker if thou didst find fault because thou seest in their
workshop shavings and cuttings from the things which they make. And
yet they have places into which they can throw these shavings and
cuttings, and the universal nature has no external space; but the
wondrous part of her art is that though she has circumscribed herself,
everything within her which appears to decay and to grow old and to be
useless she changes into herself, and again makes other new things
from these very same, so that she requires neither substance from
without nor wants a place into which she may cast that which decays.
She is content then with her own space, and her own matter and her own
  Neither in thy actions be sluggish nor in thy conversation without
method, nor wandering in thy thoughts, nor let there be in thy soul
inward contention nor external effusion, nor in life be so busy as
to have no leisure.
  Suppose that men kill thee, cut thee in pieces, curse thee. What
then can these things do to prevent thy mind from remaining pure,
wise, sober, just? For instance, if a man should stand by a limpid
pure spring, and curse it, the spring never ceases sending up
potable water; and if he should cast clay into it or filth, it will
speedily disperse them and wash them out, and will not be at all
polluted. How then shalt thou possess a perpetual fountain and not a
mere well? By forming thyself hourly to freedom conjoined with
contentment, simplicity and modesty.
  He who does not know what the world is, does not know where he is.
And he who does not know for what purpose the world exists, does not
know who he is, nor what the world is. But he who has failed in any
one of these things could not even say for what purpose he exists
himself. What then dost thou think of him who avoids or seeks the
praise of those who applaud, of men who know not either where they are
or who they are?
  Dost thou wish to be praised by a man who curses himself thrice
every hour? Wouldst thou wish to please a man who does not please
himself? Does a man please himself who repents of nearly everything
that he does?
  No longer let thy breathing only act in concert with the air which
surrounds thee, but let thy intelligence also now be in harmony with
the intelligence which embraces all things. For the intelligent
power is no less diffused in all parts and pervades all things for him
who is willing to draw it to him than the aerial power for him who
is able to respire it.
  Generally, wickedness does no harm at all to the universe; and
particularly, the wickedness of one man does no harm to another. It is
only harmful to him who has it in his power to be released from it, as
soon as he shall choose.
  To my own free will the free will of my neighbour is just as
indifferent as his poor breath and flesh. For though we are made
especially for the sake of one another, still the ruling power of each
of us has its own office, for otherwise my neighbour's wickedness
would be my harm, which God has not willed in order that my
unhappiness may not depend on another.
  The sun appears to be poured down, and in all directions indeed it
is diffused, yet it is not effused. For this diffusion is extension:
Accordingly its rays are called Extensions [aktines] because they
are extended [apo tou ekteinesthai]. But one may judge what kind of
a thing a ray is, if he looks at the sun's light passing through a
narrow opening into a darkened room, for it is extended in a right
line, and as it were is divided when it meets with any solid body
which stands in the way and intercepts the air beyond; but there the
light remains fixed and does not glide or fall off. Such then ought to
be the out-pouring and diffusion of the understanding, and it should
in no way be an effusion, but an extension, and it should make no
violent or impetuous collision with the obstacles which are in its
way; nor yet fall down, but be fixed and enlighten that which receives
it. For a body will deprive itself of the illumination, if it does not
admit it.
  He who fears death either fears the loss of sensation or a different
kind of sensation. But if thou shalt have no sensation, neither wilt
thou feel any harm; and if thou shalt acquire another kind of
sensation, thou wilt be a different kind of living being and thou wilt
not cease to live.
  Men exist for the sake of one another. Teach them then or bear
with them.
  In one way an arrow moves, in another way the mind. The mind indeed,
both when it exercises caution and when it is employed about
inquiry, moves straight onward not the less, and to its object.
  Enter into every man's ruling faculty; and also let every other
man enter into thine.
                           BOOK NINE

  HE WHO acts unjustly acts impiously. For since the universal
nature has made rational animals for the sake of one another to help
one another according to their deserts, but in no way to injure one
another, he who transgresses her will, is clearly guilty of impiety
towards the highest divinity. And he too who lies is guilty of impiety
to the same divinity; for the universal nature is the nature of things
that are; and things that are have a relation to all things that
come into existence. And further, this universal nature is named
truth, and is the prime cause of all things that are true. He then who
lies intentionally is guilty of impiety inasmuch as he acts unjustly
by deceiving; and he also who lies unintentionally, inasmuch as he
is at variance with the universal nature, and inasmuch as he
disturbs the order by fighting against the nature of the world; for he
fights against it, who is moved of himself to that which is contrary
to truth, for he had received powers from nature through the neglect
of which he is not able now to distinguish falsehood from truth. And
indeed he who pursues pleasure as good, and avoids pain as evil, is
guilty of impiety. For of necessity such a man must often find fault
with the universal nature, alleging that it assigns things to the bad
and the good contrary to their deserts, because frequently the bad are
in the enjoyment of pleasure and possess the things which procure
pleasure, but the good have pain for their share and the things which
cause pain. And further, he who is afraid of pain will sometimes also
be afraid of some of the things which will happen in the world, and
even this is impiety. And he who pursues pleasure will not abstain
from injustice, and this is plainly impiety. Now with respect to the
things towards which the universal nature is equally affected- for it
would not have made both, unless it was equally affected towards
both- towards these they who wish to follow nature should be of the
same mind with it, and equally affected. With respect to pain, then,
and pleasure, or death and life, or honour and dishonour, which the
universal nature employs equally, whoever is not equally affected is
manifestly acting impiously. And I say that the universal nature
employs them equally, instead of saying that they happen alike to
those who are produced in continuous series and to those who come
after them by virtue of a certain original movement of Providence,
according to which it moved from a certain beginning to this ordering
of things, having conceived certain principles of the things which
were to be, and having determined powers productive of beings and of
changes and of such like successions.
  It would be a man's happiest lot to depart from mankind without
having had any taste of lying and hypocrisy and luxury and pride.
However to breathe out one's life when a man has had enough of these
things is the next best voyage, as the saying is. Hast thou determined
to abide with vice, and has not experience yet induced thee to fly
from this pestilence? For the destruction of the understanding is a
pestilence, much more indeed than any such corruption and change of
this atmosphere which surrounds us. For this corruption is a
pestilence of animals so far as they are animals; but the other is a
pestilence of men so far as they are men.
  Do not despise death, but be well content with it, since this too is
one of those things which nature wills. For such as it is to be
young and to grow old, and to increase and to reach maturity, and to
have teeth and beard and grey hairs, and to beget, and to be
pregnant and to bring forth, and all the other natural operations
which the seasons of thy life bring, such also is dissolution. This,
then, is consistent with the character of a reflecting man, to be
neither careless nor impatient nor contemptuous with respect to death,
but to wait for it as one of the operations of nature. As thou now
waitest for the time when the child shall come out of thy wife's womb,
so be ready for the time when thy soul shall fall out of this
envelope. But if thou requirest also a vulgar kind of comfort which
shall reach thy heart, thou wilt be made best reconciled to death by
observing the objects from which thou art going to be removed, and the
morals of those with whom thy soul will no longer be mingled. For it
is no way right to be offended with men, but it is thy duty to care
for them and to bear with them gently; and yet to remember that thy
departure will be not from men who have the same principles as
thyself. For this is the only thing, if there be any, which could draw
us the contrary way and attach us to life, to be permitted to live
with those who have the same principles as ourselves. But now thou
seest how great is the trouble arising from the discordance of those
who live together, so that thou mayest say, Come quick, O death,
lest perchance I, too, should forget myself.
  He who does wrong does wrong against himself. He who acts unjustly
acts unjustly to himself, because he makes himself bad.
  He often acts unjustly who does not do a certain thing; not only
he who does a certain thing.
  Thy present opinion founded on understanding, and thy present
conduct directed to social good, and thy present disposition of
contentment with everything which happens- that is enough.
  Wipe out imagination: check desire: extinguish appetite: keep the
ruling faculty in its own power.
  Among the animals which have not reason one life is distributed; but
among reasonable animals one intelligent soul is distributed: just
as there is one earth of all things which are of an earthy nature, and
we see by one light, and breathe one air, all of us that have the
faculty of vision and all that have life.
  All things which participate in anything which is common to them all
move towards that which is of the same kind with themselves.
Everything which is earthy turns towards the earth, everything which
is liquid flows together, and everything which is of an aerial kind
does the same, so that they require something to keep them asunder,
and the application of force. Fire indeed moves upwards on account
of the elemental fire, but it is so ready to be kindled together
with all the fire which is here, that even every substance which is
somewhat dry, is easily ignited, because there is less mingled with it
of that which is a hindrance to ignition. Accordingly then
everything also which participates in the common intelligent nature
moves in like manner towards that which is of the same kind with
itself, or moves even more. For so much as it is superior in
comparison with all other things, in the same degree also is it more
ready to mingle with and to be fused with that which is akin to it.
Accordingly among animals devoid of reason we find swarms of bees, and
herds of cattle, and the nurture of young birds, and in a manner,
loves; for even in animals there are souls, and that power which
brings them together is seen to exert itself in the superior degree,
and in such a way as never has been observed in plants nor in stones
nor in trees. But in rational animals there are political
communities and friendships, and families and meetings of people;
and in wars, treaties and armistices. But in the things which are
still superior, even though they are separated from one another, unity
in a manner exists, as in the stars. Thus the ascent to the higher
degree is able to produce a sympathy even in things which are
separated. See, then, what now takes place. For only intelligent
animals have now forgotten this mutual desire and inclination, and
in them alone the property of flowing together is not seen. But
still though men strive to avoid this union, they are caught and
held by it, for their nature is too strong for them; and thou wilt see
what I say, if thou only observest. Sooner, then, will one find
anything earthy which comes in contact with no earthy thing than a man
altogether separated from other men.
  Both man and God and the universe produce fruit; at the proper
seasons each produces it. But if usage has especially fixed these
terms to the vine and like things, this is nothing. Reason produces
fruit both for all and for itself, and there are produced from it
other things of the same kind as reason itself.
  If thou art able, correct by teaching those who do wrong; but if
thou canst not, remember that indulgence is given to thee for this
purpose. And the gods, too, are indulgent to such persons; and for
some purposes they even help them to get health, wealth, reputation;
so kind they are. And it is in thy power also; or say, who hinders
  Labour not as one who is wretched, nor yet as one who would be
pitied or admired: but direct thy will to one thing only, to put
thyself in motion and to check thyself, as the social reason requires.
  To-day I have got out of all trouble, or rather I have cast out
all trouble, for it was not outside, but within and in my opinions.
  All things are the same, familiar in experience, and ephemeral in
time, and worthless in the matter. Everything now is just as it was in
the time of those whom we have buried.
  Things stand outside of us, themselves by themselves, neither
knowing aught of themselves, nor expressing any judgement. What is it,
then, which does judge about them? The ruling faculty.
  Not in passivity, but in activity lie the evil and the good of the
rational social animal, just as his virtue and his vice lie not in
passivity, but in activity.
  For the stone which has been thrown up it is no evil to come down,
nor indeed any good to have been carried up.
  Penetrate inwards into men's leading principles, and thou wilt see
what judges thou art afraid of, and what kind of judges they are of
  All things are changing: and thou thyself art in continuous mutation
and in a manner in continuous destruction, and the whole universe too.
  It is thy duty to leave another man's wrongful act there where it
  Termination of activity, cessation from movement and opinion, and in
a sense their death, is no evil. Turn thy thoughts now to the
consideration of thy life, thy life as a child, as a youth, thy
manhood, thy old age, for in these also every change was a death. Is
this anything to fear? Turn thy thoughts now to thy life under thy
grandfather, then to thy life under thy mother, then to thy life under
thy father; and as thou findest many other differences and changes and
terminations, ask thyself, Is this anything to fear? In like manner,
then, neither are the termination and cessation and change of thy
whole life a thing to be afraid of.
  Hasten to examine thy own ruling faculty and that of the universe
and that of thy neighbour: thy own that thou mayest make it just:
and that of the universe, that thou mayest remember of what thou art a
part; and that of thy neighbour, that thou mayest know whether he
has acted ignorantly or with knowledge, and that thou mayest also
consider that his ruling faculty is akin to thine.
  As thou thyself art a component part of a social system, so let
every act of thine be a component part of social life. Whatever act of
thine then has no reference either immediately or remotely to a social
end, this tears asunder thy life, and does not allow it to be one, and
it is of the nature of a mutiny, just as when in a popular assembly
a man acting by himself stands apart from the general agreement.
  Quarrels of little children and their sports, and poor spirits
carrying about dead bodies, such is everything; and so what is
exhibited in the representation of the mansions of the dead strikes
our eyes more clearly.
  Examine into the quality of the form of an object, and detach it
altogether from its material part, and then contemplate it; then
determine the time, the longest which a thing of this peculiar form is
naturally made to endure.
  Thou hast endured infinite troubles through not being contented with
thy ruling faculty, when it does the things which it is constituted by
nature to do. But enough of this.
  When another blames thee or hates thee, or when men say about thee
anything injurious, approach their poor souls, penetrate within, and
see what kind of men they are. Thou wilt discover that there is no
reason to take any trouble that these men may have this or that
opinion about thee. However thou must be well disposed towards them,
for by nature they are friends. And the gods too aid them in all ways,
by dreams, by signs, towards the attainment of those things on which
they set a value.
  The periodic movements of the universe are the same, up and down
from age to age. And either the universal intelligence puts itself
in motion for every separate effect, and if this is so, be thou
content with that which is the result of its activity; or it puts
itself in motion once, and everything else comes by way of sequence in
a manner; or indivisible elements are the origin of all things.- In a
word, if there is a god, all is well; and if chance rules, do not thou
also be governed by it.
  Soon will the earth cover us all: then the earth, too, will
change, and the things also which result from change will continue
to change for ever, and these again for ever. For if a man reflects on
the changes and transformations which follow one another like wave
after wave and their rapidity, he will despise everything which is
  The universal cause is like a winter torrent: it carries
everything along with it. But how worthless are all these poor
people who are engaged in matters political, and, as they suppose, are
playing the philosopher! All drivellers. Well then, man: do what
nature now requires. Set thyself in motion, if it is in thy power, and
do not look about thee to see if any one will observe it; nor yet
expect Plato's Republic: but be content if the smallest thing goes
on well, and consider such an event to be no small matter. For who can
change men's opinions? And without a change of opinions what else is
there than the slavery of men who groan while they pretend to obey?
Come now and tell me of Alexander and Philip and Demetrius of
Phalerum. They themselves shall judge whether they discovered what the
common nature required, and trained themselves accordingly. But if
they acted like tragedy heroes, no one has condemned me to imitate
them. Simple and modest is the work of philosophy. Draw me not aside
to indolence and pride.
  Look down from above on the countless herds of men and their
countless solemnities, and the infinitely varied voyagings in storms
and calms, and the differences among those who are born, who live
together, and die. And consider, too, the life lived by others in
olden time, and the life of those who will live after thee, and the
life now lived among barbarous nations, and how many know not even thy
name, and how many will soon forget it, and how they who perhaps now
are praising thee will very soon blame thee, and that neither a
posthumous name is of any value, nor reputation, nor anything else.
  Let there be freedom from perturbations with respect to the things
which come from the external cause; and let there be justice in the
things done by virtue of the internal cause, that is, let there be
movement and action terminating in this, in social acts, for this is
according to thy nature.
  Thou canst remove out of the way many useless things among those
which disturb thee, for they lie entirely in thy opinion; and thou
wilt then gain for thyself ample space by comprehending the whole
universe in thy mind, and by contemplating the eternity of time, and
observing the rapid change of every several thing, how short is the
time from birth to dissolution, and the illimitable time before
birth as well as the equally boundless time after dissolution.
  All that thou seest will quickly perish, and those who have been
spectators of its dissolution will very soon perish too. And he who
dies at the extremest old age will be brought into the same
condition with him who died prematurely.
  What are these men's leading principles, and about what kind of
things are they busy, and for what kind of reasons do they love and
honour? Imagine that thou seest their poor souls laid bare. When
they think that they do harm by their blame or good by their praise,
what an idea!
  Loss is nothing else than change. But the universal nature
delights in change, and in obedience to her all things are now done
well, and from eternity have been done in like form, and will be
such to time without end. What, then, dost thou say? That all things
have been and all things always will be bad, and that no power has
ever been found in so many gods to rectify these things, but the world
has been condemned to be found in never ceasing evil?
  The rottenness of the matter which is the foundation of
everything! Water, dust, bones, filth: or again, marble rocks, the
callosities of the earth; and gold and silver, the sediments; and
garments, only bits of hair; and purple dye, blood; and everything
else is of the same kind. And that which is of the nature of breath is
also another thing of the same kind, changing from this to that.
  Enough of this wretched life and murmuring and apish tricks. Why art
thou disturbed? What is there new in this? What unsettles thee? Is
it the form of the thing? Look at it. Or is it the matter? Look at it.
But besides these there is nothing. Towards the gods, then, now become
at last more simple and better. It is the same whether we examine
these things for a hundred years or three.
  If any man has done wrong, the harm is his own. But perhaps he has
not done wrong.
  Either all things proceed from one intelligent source and come
together as in one body, and the part ought not to find fault with
what is done for the benefit of the whole; or there are only atoms,
and nothing else than mixture and dispersion. Why, then, art thou
disturbed? Say to the ruling faculty, Art thou dead, art thou
corrupted, art thou playing the hypocrite, art thou become a beast,
dost thou herd and feed with the rest?
  Either the gods have no power or they have power. If, then, they
have no power, why dost thou pray to them? But if they have power, why
dost thou not pray for them to give thee the faculty of not fearing
any of the things which thou fearest, or of not desiring any of the
things which thou desirest, or not being pained at anything, rather
than pray that any of these things should not happen or happen? for
certainly if they can co-operate with men, they can co-operate for
these purposes. But perhaps thou wilt say, the gods have placed them
in thy power. Well, then, is it not better to use what is in thy power
like a free man than to desire in a slavish and abject way what is not
in thy power? And who has told thee that the gods do not aid us even
in the things which are in our power? Begin, then, to pray for such
things, and thou wilt see. One man prays thus: How shall I be able
to lie with that woman? Do thou pray thus: How shall I not desire to
lie with her? Another prays thus: How shall I be released from this?
Another prays: How shall I not desire to be released? Another thus:
How shall I not lose my little son? Thou thus: How shall I not be
afraid to lose him? In fine, turn thy prayers this way, and see what
  Epicurus says, In my sickness my conversation was not about my
bodily sufferings, nor, says he, did I talk on such subjects to
those who visited me; but I continued to discourse on the nature of
things as before, keeping to this main point, how the mind, while
participating in such movements as go on in the poor flesh, shall be
free from perturbations and maintain its proper good. Nor did I, he
says, give the physicians an opportunity of putting on solemn looks,
as if they were doing something great, but my life went on well and
happily. Do, then, the same that he did both in sickness, if thou
art sick, and in any other circumstances; for never to desert
philosophy in any events that may befall us, nor to hold trifling talk
either with an ignorant man or with one unacquainted with nature, is a
principle of all schools of philosophy; but to be intent only on
that which thou art now doing and on the instrument by which thou
doest it.
  When thou art offended with any man's shameless conduct, immediately
ask thyself, Is it possible, then, that shameless men should not be in
the world? It is not possible. Do not, then, require what is
impossible. For this man also is one of those shameless men who must
of necessity be in the world. Let the same considerations be present
to thy mind in the case of the knave, and the faithless man, and of
every man who does wrong in any way. For at the same time that thou
dost remind thyself that it is impossible that such kind of men should
not exist, thou wilt become more kindly disposed towards every one
individually. It is useful to perceive this, too, immediately when the
occasion arises, what virtue nature has given to man to oppose to
every wrongful act. For she has given to man, as an antidote against
the stupid man, mildness, and against another kind of man some other
power. And in all cases it is possible for thee to correct by teaching
the man who is gone astray; for every man who errs misses his object
and is gone astray. Besides wherein hast thou been injured? For thou
wilt find that no one among those against whom thou art irritated
has done anything by which thy mind could be made worse; but that
which is evil to thee and harmful has its foundation only in the mind.
And what harm is done or what is there strange, if the man who has not
been instructed does the acts of an uninstructed man? Consider whether
thou shouldst not rather blame thyself, because thou didst not
expect such a man to err in such a way. For thou hadst means given
thee by thy reason to suppose that it was likely that he would
commit this error, and yet thou hast forgotten and art amazed that
he has erred. But most of all when thou blamest a man as faithless
or ungrateful, turn to thyself. For the fault is manifestly thy own,
whether thou didst trust that a man who had such a disposition would
keep his promise, or when conferring thy kindness thou didst not
confer it absolutely, nor yet in such way as to have received from thy
very act all the profit. For what more dost thou want when thou hast
done a man a service? Art thou not content that thou hast done
something conformable to thy nature, and dost thou seek to be paid for
it? Just as if the eye demanded a recompense for seeing, or the feet
for walking. For as these members are formed for a particular purpose,
and by working according to their several constitutions obtain what is
their own; so also as man is formed by nature to acts of
benevolence, when he has done anything benevolent or in any other
way conducive to the common interest, he has acted conformably to
his constitution, and he gets what is his own.
                              BOOK TEN

  WILT thou, then, my soul, never be good and simple and one and
naked, more manifest than the body which surrounds thee? Wilt thou
never enjoy an affectionate and contented disposition? Wilt thou never
be full and without a want of any kind, longing for nothing more,
nor desiring anything, either animate or inanimate, for the
enjoyment of pleasures? Nor yet desiring time wherein thou shalt
have longer enjoyment, or place, or pleasant climate, or society of
men with whom thou mayest live in harmony? But wilt thou be
satisfied with thy present condition, and pleased with all that is
about thee, and wilt thou convince thyself that thou hast everything
and that it comes from the gods, that everything is well for thee, and
will be well whatever shall please them, and whatever they shall
give for the conservation of the perfect living being, the good and
just and beautiful, which generates and holds together all things, and
contains and embraces all things which are dissolved for the
production of other like things? Wilt thou never be such that thou
shalt so dwell in community with gods and men as neither to find fault
with them at all, nor to be condemned by them?
  Observe what thy nature requires, so far as thou art governed by
nature only: then do it and accept it, if thy nature, so far as thou
art a living being, shall not be made worse by it.
  And next thou must observe what thy nature requires so far as thou
art a living being. And all this thou mayest allow thyself, if thy
nature, so far as thou art a rational animal, shall not be made
worse by it. But the rational animal is consequently also a
political (social) animal. Use these rules, then, and trouble
thyself about nothing else.
  Everything which happens either happens in such wise as thou art
formed by nature to bear it, or as thou art not formed by nature to
bear it. If, then, it happens to thee in such way as thou art formed
by nature to bear it, do not complain, but bear it as thou art
formed by nature to bear it. But if it happens in such wise as thou
art not formed by nature to bear it, do not complain, for it will
perish after it has consumed thee. Remember, however, that thou art
formed by nature to bear everything, with respect to which it
depends on thy own opinion to make it endurable and tolerable, by
thinking that it is either thy interest or thy duty to do this.
  If a man is mistaken, instruct him kindly and show him his error.
But if thou art not able, blame thyself, or blame not even thyself.
  Whatever may happen to thee, it was prepared for thee from all
eternity; and the implication of causes was from eternity spinning the
thread of thy being, and of that which is incident to it.
  Whether the universe is a concourse of atoms, or nature is a system,
let this first be established, that I am a part of the whole which
is governed by nature; next, I am in a manner intimately related to
the parts which are of the same kind with myself. For remembering
this, inasmuch as I am a part, I shall be discontented with none of
the things which are assigned to me out of the whole; for nothing is
injurious to the part, if it is for the advantage of the whole. For
the whole contains nothing which is not for its advantage; and all
natures indeed have this common principle, but the nature of the
universe has this principle besides, that it cannot be compelled
even by any external cause to generate anything harmful to itself.
By remembering, then, that I am a part of such a whole, I shall be
content with everything that happens. And inasmuch as I am in a manner
intimately related to the parts which are of the same kind with
myself, I shall do nothing unsocial, but I shall rather direct
myself to the things which are of the same kind with myself, and I
shall turn an my efforts to the common interest, and divert them
from the contrary. Now, if these things are done so, life must flow on
happily, just as thou mayest observe that the life of a citizen is
happy, who continues a course of action which is advantageous to his
fellow-citizens, and is content with whatever the state may assign
to him.
  The parts of the whole, everything, I mean, which is naturally
comprehended in the universe, must of necessity perish; but let this
be understood in this sense, that they must undergo change. But if
this is naturally both an evil and a necessity for the parts, the
whole would not continue to exist in a good condition, the parts being
subject to change and constituted so as to perish in various ways. For
whether did nature herself design to do evil to the things which are
parts of herself, and to make them subject to evil and of necessity
fall into evil, or have such results happened without her knowing
it? Both these suppositions, indeed, are incredible. But if a man
should even drop the term Nature (as an efficient power), and should
speak of these things as natural, even then it would be ridiculous
to affirm at the same time that the parts of the whole are in their
nature subject to change, and at the same time to be surprised or
vexed as if something were happening contrary to nature, particularly
as the dissolution of things is into those things of which each thing
is composed. For there is either a dispersion of the elements out of
which everything has been compounded, or a change from the solid to
the earthy and from the airy to the aerial, so that these parts are
taken back into the universal reason, whether this at certain periods
is consumed by fire or renewed by eternal changes. And do not imagine
that the solid and the airy part belong to thee from the time of
generation. For all this received its accretion only yesterday and
the day before, as one may say, from the food and the air which is
inspired. This, then, which has received the accretion, changes, not
that which thy mother brought forth. But suppose that this which thy
mother brought forth implicates thee very much with that other part,
which has the peculiar quality of change, this is nothing in fact in
the way of objection to what is said.
  When thou hast assumed these names, good, modest, true, rational,
a man of equanimity, and magnanimous, take care that thou dost not
change these names; and if thou shouldst lose them, quickly return
to them. And remember that the term Rational was intended to signify a
discriminating attention to every several thing and freedom from
negligence; and that Equanimity is the voluntary acceptance of the
things which are assigned to thee by the common nature; and that
Magnanimity is the elevation of the intelligent part above the
pleasurable or painful sensations of the flesh, and above that poor
thing called fame, and death, and all such things. If, then, thou
maintainest thyself in the possession of these names, without desiring
to be called by these names by others, thou wilt be another person and
wilt enter on another life. For to continue to be such as thou hast
hitherto been, and to be tom in pieces and defiled in such a life,
is the character of a very stupid man and one overfond of his life,
and like those half-devoured fighters with wild beasts, who though
covered with wounds and gore, still intreat to be kept to the
following day, though they will be exposed in the same state to the
same claws and bites. Therefore fix thyself in the possession of these
few names: and if thou art able to abide in them, abide as if thou
wast removed to certain islands of the Happy. But if thou shalt
perceive that thou fallest out of them and dost not maintain thy hold,
go courageously into some nook where thou shalt maintain them, or even
depart at once from life, not in passion, but with simplicity and
freedom and modesty, after doing this one laudable thing at least in
thy life, to have gone out of it thus. In order, however, to the
remembrance of these names, it will greatly help thee, if thou
rememberest the gods, and that they wish not to be flattered, but wish
all reasonable beings to be made like themselves; and if thou
rememberest that what does the work of a fig-tree is a fig-tree, and
that what does the work of a dog is a dog, and that what does the work
of a bee is a bee, and that what does the work of a man is a man.
  Mimi, war, astonishment, torpor, slavery, will daily wipe out
those holy principles of thine. How many things without studying
nature dost thou imagine, and how many dost thou neglect? But it is
thy duty so to look on and so to do everything, that at the same
time the power of dealing with circumstances is perfected, and the
contemplative faculty is exercised, and the confidence which comes
from the knowledge of each several thing is maintained without showing
it, but yet not concealed. For when wilt thou enjoy simplicity, when
gravity, and when the knowledge of every several thing, both what it
is in substance, and what place it has in the universe, and how long
it is formed to exist and of what things it is compounded, and to whom
it can belong, and who are able both to give it and take it away?
  A spider is proud when it has caught a fly, and another when he
has caught a poor hare, and another when he has taken a little fish in
a net, and another when he has taken wild boars, and another when he
has taken bears, and another when he has taken Sarmatians. Are not
these robbers, if thou examinest their opinions?
  Acquire the contemplative way of seeing how all things change into
one another, and constantly attend to it, and exercise thyself about
this part of philosophy. For nothing is so much adapted to produce
magnanimity. Such a man has put off the body, and as he sees that he
must, no one knows how soon, go away from among men and leave
everything here, he gives himself up entirely to just doing in all his
actions, and in everything else that happens he resigns himself to the
universal nature. But as to what any man shall say or think about
him or do against him, he never even thinks of it, being himself
contented with these two things, with acting justly in what he now
does, and being satisfied with what is now assigned to him; and he
lays aside all distracting and busy pursuits, and desires nothing else
than to accomplish the straight course through the law, and by
accomplishing the straight course to follow God.
  What need is there of suspicious fear, since it is in thy power to
inquire what ought to be done? And if thou seest clear, go by this way
content, without turning back: but if thou dost not see clear, stop
and take the best advisers. But if any other things oppose thee, go on
according to thy powers with due consideration, keeping to that
which appears to be just. For it is best to reach this object, and
if thou dost fail, let thy failure be in attempting this. He who
follows reason in all things is both tranquil and active at the same
time, and also cheerful and collected.
  Inquire of thyself as soon as thou wakest from sleep, whether it
will make any difference to thee, if another does what is just and
right. It will make no difference.
  Thou hast not forgotten, I suppose, that those who assume arrogant
airs in bestowing their praise or blame on others, are such as they
are at bed and at board, and thou hast not forgotten what they do, and
what they avoid and what they pursue, and how they steal and how
they rob, not with hands and feet, but with their most valuable
part, by means of which there is produced, when a man chooses,
fidelity, modesty, truth, law, a good daemon (happiness)?
  To her who gives and takes back all, to nature, the man who is
instructed and modest says, Give what thou wilt; take back what thou
wilt. And he says this not proudly, but obediently and well pleased
with her.
  Short is the little which remains to thee of life. Live as on a
mountain. For it makes no difference whether a man lives there or
here, if he lives everywhere in the world as in a state (political
community). Let men see, let them know a real man who lives
according to nature. If they cannot endure him, let them kill him. For
that is better than to live thus as men do.
  No longer talk at all about the kind of man that a good man ought to
be, but be such.
  Constantly contemplate the whole of time and the whole of substance,
and consider that all individual things as to substance are a grain of
a fig, and as to time, the turning of a gimlet.
  Look at everything that exists, and observe that it is already in
dissolution and in change, and as it were putrefaction or
dispersion, or that everything is so constituted by nature as to die.
  Consider what men are when they are eating, sleeping, generating,
easing themselves and so forth. Then what kind of men they are when
they are imperious and arrogant, or angry and scolding from their
elevated place. But a short time ago to how many they were slaves
and for what things; and after a little time consider in what a
condition they will be.
  That is for the good of each thing, which the universal nature
brings to each. And it is for its good at the time when nature
brings it.
  "The earth loves the shower"; and "the solemn aether loves": and the
universe loves to make whatever is about to be. I say then to the
universe, that I love as thou lovest. And is not this too said, that
"this or that loves (is wont) to be produced"?
  Either thou livest here and hast already accustomed thyself to it,
or thou art going away, and this was thy own will; or thou art dying
and hast discharged thy duty. But besides these things there is
nothing. Be of good cheer, then.
  Let this always be plain to thee, that this piece of land is like
any other; and that all things here are the same with things on top of
a mountain, or on the sea-shore, or wherever thou choosest to be.
For thou wilt find just what Plato says, Dwelling within the walls
of a city as in a shepherd's fold on a mountain.
  What is my ruling faculty now to me? And of what nature am I now
making it? And for what purpose am I now using it? Is it void of
understanding? Is it loosed and rent asunder from social life? Is it
melted into and mixed with the poor flesh so as to move together
with it?
  He who flies from his master is a runaway; but the law is master,
and he who breaks the law is a runaway. And he also who is grieved
or angry or afraid, is dissatisfied because something has been or is
or shall be of the things which are appointed by him who rules all
things, and he is Law, and assigns to every man what is fit. He then
who fears or is grieved or is angry is a runaway.
  A man deposits seed in a womb and goes away, and then another
cause takes it, and labours on it and makes a child. What a thing from
such a material! Again, the child passes food down through the throat,
and then another cause takes it and makes perception and motion, and
in fine life and strength and other things; how many and how strange I
Observe then the things which are produced in such a hidden way, and
see the power just as we see the power which carries things
downwards and upwards, not with the eyes, but still no less plainly.
  Constantly consider how all things such as they now are, in time
past also were; and consider that they will be the same again. And
place before thy eyes entire dramas and stages of the same form,
whatever thou hast learned from thy experience or from older
history; for example, the whole court of Hadrian, and the whole
court of Antoninus, and the whole court of Philip, Alexander, Croesus;
for all those were such dramas as we see now, only with different
  Imagine every man who is grieved at anything or discontented to be
like a pig which is sacrificed and kicks and screams.
  Like this pig also is he who on his bed in silence laments the bonds
in which we are held. And consider that only to the rational animal is
it given to follow voluntarily what happens; but simply to follow is a
necessity imposed on all.
  Severally on the occasion of everything that thou doest, pause and
ask thyself, if death is a dreadful thing because it deprives thee
of this.
  When thou art offended at any man's fault, forthwith turn to thyself
and reflect in what like manner thou dost err thyself; for example, in
thinking that money is a good thing, or pleasure, or a bit of
reputation, and the like. For by attending to this thou wilt quickly
forget thy anger, if this consideration also is added, that the man is
compelled: for what else could he do? or, if thou art able, take
away from him the compulsion.
  When thou hast seen Satyron the Socratic, think of either Eutyches
or Hymen, and when thou hast seen Euphrates, think of Eutychion or
Silvanus, and when thou hast seen Alciphron think of Tropaeophorus,
and when thou hast seen Xenophon think of Crito or Severus, and when
thou hast looked on thyself, think of any other Caesar, and in the
case of every one do in like manner. Then let this thought be in thy
mind, Where then are those men? Nowhere, or nobody knows where. For
thus continuously thou wilt look at human things as smoke and
nothing at all; especially if thou reflectest at the same time that
what has once changed will never exist again in the infinite
duration of time. But thou, in what a brief space of time is thy
existence? And why art thou not content to pass through this short
time in an orderly way? What matter and opportunity for thy activity
art thou avoiding? For what else are all these things, except
exercises for the reason, when it has viewed carefully and by
examination into their nature the things which happen in life?
Persevere then until thou shalt have made these things thy own, as the
stomach which is strengthened makes all things its own, as the blazing
fire makes flame and brightness out of everything that is thrown
into it.
  Let it not be in any man's power to say truly of thee that thou
art not simple or that thou are not good; but let him be a liar
whoever shall think anything of this kind about thee; and this is
altogether in thy power. For who is he that shall hinder thee from
being good and simple? Do thou only determine to live no longer,
unless thou shalt be such. For neither does reason allow thee to live,
if thou art not such.
  What is that which as to this material (our life) can be done or
said in the way most conformable to reason. For whatever this may
be, it is in thy power to do it or to say it, and do not make
excuses that thou art hindered. Thou wilt not cease to lament till thy
mind is in such a condition that, what luxury is to those who enjoy
pleasure, such shall be to thee, in the matter which is subjected
and presented to thee, the doing of the things which are conformable
to man's constitution; for a man ought to consider as an enjoyment
everything which it is in his power to do according to his own nature.
And it is in his power everywhere. Now, it is not given to a
cylinder to move everywhere by its own motion, nor yet to water nor to
fire, nor to anything else which is governed by nature or an
irrational soul, for the things which check them and stand in the
way are many. But intelligence and reason are able to go through
everything that opposes them, and in such manner as they are formed by
nature and as they choose. Place before thy eyes this facility with
which the reason will be carried through all things, as fire
upwards, as a stone downwards, as a cylinder down an inclined surface,
and seek for nothing further. For all other obstacles either affect
the body only which is a dead thing; or, except through opinion and
the yielding of the reason itself, they do not crush nor do any harm
of any kind; for if they did, he who felt it would immediately
become bad. Now, in the case of all things which have a certain
constitution, whatever harm may happen to any of them, that which is
so affected becomes consequently worse; but in the like case, a man
becomes both better, if one may say so, and more worthy of praise by
making a right use of these accidents. And finally remember that
nothing harms him who is really a citizen, which does not harm the
state; nor yet does anything harm the state, which does not harm law
(order); and of these things which are called misfortunes not one
harms law. What then does not harm law does not harm either state or
  To him who is penetrated by true principles even the briefest
precept is sufficient, and any common precept, to remind him that he
should be free from grief and fear. For example-

  Leaves, some the wind scatters on the ground-
  So is the race of men.

Leaves, also, are thy children; and leaves, too, are they who cry
out as if they were worthy of credit and bestow their praise, or on
the contrary curse, or secretly blame and sneer; and leaves, in like
manner, are those who shall receive and transmit a man's fame to
aftertimes. For all such things as these "are produced in the season
of spring," as the poet says; then the wind casts them down; then
the forest produces other leaves in their places. But a brief
existence is common to all things, and yet thou avoidest and
pursuest all things as if they would be eternal. A little time, and
thou shalt close thy eyes; and him who has attended thee to thy
grave another soon will lament.
  The healthy eye ought to see all visible things and not to say, I
wish for green things; for this is the condition of a diseased eye.
And the healthy hearing and smelling ought to be ready to perceive all
that can be heard and smelled. And the healthy stomach ought to be
with respect to all food just as the mill with respect to all things
which it is formed to grind. And accordingly the healthy understanding
ought to be prepared for everything which happens; but that which
says, Let my dear children live, and let all men praise whatever I may
do, is an eye which seeks for green things, or teeth which seek for
soft things.
  There is no man so fortunate that there shall not be by him when
he is dying some who are pleased with what is going to happen. Suppose
that he was a good and wise man, will there not be at last some one to
say to himself, Let us at last breathe freely being relieved from this
schoolmaster? It is true that he was harsh to none of us, but I
perceived that he tacitly condemns us.- This is what is said of a
good man. But in our own case how many other things are there for
which there are many who wish to get rid of us. Thou wilt consider
this then when thou art dying, and thou wilt depart more contentedly
by reflecting thus: I am going away from such a life, in which even my
associates in behalf of whom I have striven so much, prayed, and
cared, themselves wish me to depart, hoping perchance to get some
little advantage by it. Why then should a man cling to a longer stay
here? Do not however for this reason go away less kindly disposed to
them, but preserving thy own character, and friendly and benevolent
and mild, and on the other hand not as if thou wast torn away; but
as when a man dies a quiet death, the poor soul is easily separated
from the body, such also ought thy departure from men to be, for
nature united thee to them and associated thee. But does she now
dissolve the union? Well, I am separated as from kinsmen, not
however dragged resisting, but without compulsion; for this too is one
of the things according to nature.
  Accustom thyself as much as possible on the occasion of anything
being done by any person to inquire with thyself, For what object is
this man doing this? But begin with thyself, and examine thyself
  Remember that this which pulls the strings is the thing which is
hidden within: this is the power of persuasion, this is life, this, if
one may so say, is man. In contemplating thyself never include the
vessel which surrounds thee and these instruments which are attached
about it. For they are like to an axe, differing only in this that
they grow to the body. For indeed there is no more use in these
parts without the cause which moves and checks them than in the
weaver's shuttle, and the writer's pen and the driver's whip.
                         BOOK ELEVEN

  THESE are the properties of the rational soul: it sees itself,
analyses itself, and makes itself such as it chooses; the fruit which
it bears itself enjoys- for the fruits of plants and that in animals
which corresponds to fruits others enjoy- it obtains its own end,
wherever the limit of life may be fixed. Not as in a dance and in a
play and in such like things, where the whole action is incomplete,
if anything cuts it short; but in every part and wherever it may be
stopped, it makes what has been set before it full and complete, so
that it can say, I have what is my own. And further it traverses the
whole universe, and the surrounding vacuum, and surveys its form,
and it extends itself into the infinity of time, and embraces and
comprehends the periodical renovation of all things, and it
comprehends that those who come after us will see nothing new, nor
have those before us seen anything more, but in a manner he who is
forty years old, if he has any understanding at all, has seen by
virtue of the uniformity that prevails all things which have been and
all that will be. This too is a property of the rational soul, love of
one's neighbour, and truth and modesty, and to value nothing more
more than itself, which is also the property of Law. Thus then right
reason differs not at all from the reason of justice.
  Thou wilt set little value on pleasing song and dancing and the
pancratium, if thou wilt distribute the melody of the voice into its
several sounds, and ask thyself as to each, if thou art mastered by
this; for thou wilt be prevented by shame from confessing it: and in
the matter of dancing, if at each movement and attitude thou wilt do
the same; and the like also in the matter of the pancratium. In all
things, then, except virtue and the acts of virtue, remember to
apply thyself to their several parts, and by this division to come
to value them little: and apply this rule also to thy whole life.
  What a soul that is which is ready, if at any moment it must be
separated from the body, and ready either to be extinguished or
dispersed or continue to exist; but so that this readiness comes
from a man's own judgement, not from mere obstinacy, as with the
Christians, but considerately and with dignity and in a way to
persuade another, without tragic show.
  Have I done something for the general interest? Well then I have had
my reward. Let this always be present to thy mind, and never stop
doing such good.
  What is thy art? To be good. And how is this accomplished well
except by general principles, some about the nature of the universe,
and others about the proper constitution of man?
  At first tragedies were brought on the stage as means of reminding
men of the things which happen to them, and that it is according to
nature for things to happen so, and that, if you are delighted with
what is shown on the stage, you should not be troubled with that which
takes place on the larger stage. For you see that these things must be
accomplished thus, and that even they bear them who cry out "O
Cithaeron." And, indeed, some things are said well by the dramatic
writers, of which kind is the following especially:-

    Me and my children if the gods neglect,
    This has its reason too.

And again-

    We must not chale and fret at that which happens.


    Life's harvest reap like the wheat's fruitful ear.

And other things of the same kind.
  After tragedy the old comedy was introduced, which had a magisterial
freedom of speech, and by its very plainness of speaking was useful in
reminding men to beware of insolence; and for this purpose too
Diogenes used to take from these writers.
  But as to the middle comedy which came next, observe what it was,
and again, for what object the new comedy was introduced, which
gradually sunk down into a mere mimic artifice. That some good
things are said even by these writers, everybody knows: but the
whole plan of such poetry and dramaturgy, to what end does it look!
  How plain does it appear that there is not another condition of life
so well suited for philosophising as this in which thou now
happenest to be.
  A branch cut off from the adjacent branch must of necessity be cut
off from the whole tree also. So too a man when he is separated from
another man has fallen off from the whole social community. Now as
to a branch, another cuts it off, but a man by his own act separates
himself from his neighbour when he hates him and turns away from
him, and he does not know that he has at the same time cut himself off
from the whole social system. Yet he has this privilege certainly from
Zeus who framed society, for it is in our power to grow again to
that which is near to us, and be to come a part which helps to make up
the whole. However, if it often happens, this kind of separation, it
makes it difficult for that which detaches itself to be brought to
unity and to be restored to its former condition. Finally, the branch,
which from the first grew together with the tree, and has continued to
have one life with it, is not like that which after being cut off is
then ingrafted, for this is something like what the gardeners mean
when they say that it grows with the rest of the tree, but that it has
not the same mind with it.
  As those who try to stand in thy way when thou art proceeding
according to right reason, will not be able to turn thee aside from
thy proper action, so neither let them drive thee from thy
benevolent feelings towards them, but be on thy guard equally in
both matters, not only in the matter of steady judgement and action,
but also in the matter of gentleness towards those who try to hinder
or otherwise trouble thee. For this also is a weakness, to be vexed at
them, as well as to be diverted from thy course of action and to
give way through fear; for both are equally deserters from their post,
the man who does it through fear, and the man who is alienated from
him who is by nature a kinsman and a friend.
  There is no nature which is inferior to art, for the arts imitate
the nature of things. But if this is so, that nature which is the most
perfect and the most comprehensive of all natures, cannot fall short
of the skill of art. Now all arts do the inferior things for the
sake of the superior; therefore the universal nature does so too. And,
indeed, hence is the origin of justice, and in justice the other
virtues have their foundation: for justice will not be observed, if we
either care for middle things (things indifferent), or are easily
deceived and careless and changeable.
  If the things do not come to thee, the pursuits and avoidances of
which disturb thee, still in a manner thou goest to them. Let then thy
judgement about them be at rest, and they will remain quiet, and
thou wilt not be seen either pursuing or avoiding.
  The spherical form of the soul maintains its figure, when it is
neither extended towards any object, nor contracted inwards, nor
dispersed nor sinks down, but is illuminated by light, by which it
sees the truth, the truth of all things and the truth that is in
  Suppose any man shall despise me. Let him look to that himself.
But I will look to this, that I be not discovered doing or saying
anything deserving of contempt. Shall any man hate me? Let him look to
it. But I will be mild and benevolent towards every man, and ready
to show even him his mistake, not reproachfully, nor yet as making a
display of my endurance, but nobly and honestly, like the great
Phocion, unless indeed he only assumed it. For the interior parts
ought to be such, and a man ought to be seen by the gods neither
dissatisfied with anything nor complaining. For what evil is it to
thee, if thou art now doing what is agreeable to thy own nature, and
art satisfied with that which at this moment is suitable to the nature
of the universe, since thou art a human being placed at thy post in
order that what is for the common advantage may be done in some way?
  Men despise one another and flatter one another; and men wish to
raise themselves above one another, and crouch before one another.
  How unsound and insincere is he who says, I have determined to
deal with thee in a fair way.- What art thou doing, man? There is no
occasion to give this notice. It will soon show itself by acts. The
voice ought to be plainly written on the forehead. Such as a man's
character is, he immediately shows it in his eyes, just as he who is
beloved forthwith reads everything in the eyes of lovers. The man
who is honest and good ought to be exactly like a man who smells
strong, so that the bystander as soon as he comes near him must
smell whether he choose or not. But the affectation of simplicity is
like a crooked stick. Nothing is more disgraceful than a wolfish
friendship (false friendship). Avoid this most of all. The good and
simple and benevolent show all these things in the eyes, and there
is no mistaking.
  As to living in the best way, this power is in the soul, if it be
indifferent to things which are indifferent. And it will be
indifferent, if it looks on each of these things separately and all
together, and if it remembers that not one of them produces in us an
opinion about itself, nor comes to us; but these things remain
immovable, and it is we ourselves who produce the judgements about
them, and, as we may say, write them in ourselves, it being in our
power not to write them, and it being in our power, if perchance these
judgements have imperceptibly got admission to our minds, to wipe them
out; and if we remember also that such attention will only be for a
short time, and then life will be at an end. Besides, what trouble
is there at all in doing this? For if these things are according to
nature, rejoice in them, and they will be easy to thee: but if
contrary to nature, seek what is conformable to thy own nature, and
strive towards this, even if it bring no reputation; for every man
is allowed to seek his own good.
  Consider whence each thing is come, and of what it consists, and
into what it changes, and what kind of a thing it will be when it
has changed, and that it will sustain no harm.
  If any have offended against thee, consider first: What is my
relation to men, and that we are made for one another; and in
another respect, I was made to be set over them, as a ram over the
flock or a bull over the herd. But examine the matter from first
principles, from this: If all things are not mere atoms, it is
nature which orders all things: if this is so, the inferior things
exist for the sake of the superior, and these for the sake of one
  Second, consider what kind of men they are at table, in bed, and
so forth: and particularly, under what compulsions in respect of
opinions they are; and as to their acts, consider with what pride they
do what they do.
  Third, that if men do rightly what they do, we ought not to be
displeased; but if they do not right, it is plain that they do so
involuntarily and in ignorance. For as every soul is unwillingly
deprived of the truth, so also is it unwillingly deprived of the power
of behaving to each man according to his deserts. Accordingly men
are pained when they are called unjust, ungrateful, and greedy, and in
a word wrong-doers to their neighbours.
  Fourth, consider that thou also doest many things wrong, and that
thou art a man like others; and even if thou dost abstain from certain
faults, still thou hast the disposition to commit them, though
either through cowardice, or concern about reputation, or some such
mean motive, thou dost abstain from such faults.
  Fifth, consider that thou dost not even understand whether men are
doing wrong or not, for many things are done with a certain
reference to circumstances. And in short, a man must learn a great
deal to enable him to pass a correct judgement on another man's acts.
  Sixth, consider when thou art much vexed or grieved, that man's life
is only a moment, and after a short time we are all laid out dead.
  Seventh, that it is not men's acts which disturb us, for those
acts have their foundation in men's ruling principles, but it is our
own opinions which disturb us. Take away these opinions then, and
resolve to dismiss thy judgement about an act as if it were
something grievous, and thy anger is gone. How then shall I take
away these opinions? By reflecting that no wrongful act of another
brings shame on thee: for unless that which is shameful is alone
bad, thou also must of necessity do many things wrong, and become a
robber and everything else.
  Eighth, consider how much more pain is brought on us by the anger
and vexation caused by such acts than by the acts themselves, at which
we are angry and vexed.
  Ninth, consider that a good disposition is invincible, if it be
genuine, and not an affected smile and acting a part. For what will
the most violent man do to thee, if thou continuest to be of a kind
disposition towards him, and if, as opportunity offers, thou gently
admonishest him and calmly correctest his errors at the very time when
he is trying to do thee harm, saying, Not so, my child: we are
constituted by nature for something else: I shall certainly not be
injured, but thou art injuring thyself, my child.- And show him with
gentle tact and by general principles that this is so, and that even
bees do not do as he does, nor any animals which are formed by
nature to be gregarious. And thou must do this neither with any double
meaning nor in the way of reproach, but affectionately and without any
rancour in thy soul; and not as if thou wert lecturing him, nor yet
that any bystander may admire, but either when he is alone, and if
others are present...
  Remember these nine rules, as if thou hadst received them as a
gift from the Muses, and begin at last to be a man while thou
livest. But thou must equally avoid flattering men and being veied
at them, for both are unsocial and lead to harm. And let this truth be
present to thee in the excitement of anger, that to be moved by
passion is not manly, but that mildness and gentleness, as they are
more agreeable to human nature, so also are they more manly; and he
who possesses these qualities possesses strength, nerves and
courage, and not the man who is subject to fits of passion and
discontent. For in the same degree in which a man's mind is nearer
to freedom from all passion, in the same degree also is it nearer to
strength: and as the sense of pain is a characteristic of weakness, so
also is anger. For he who yields to pain and he who yields to anger,
both are wounded and both submit.
  But if thou wilt, receive also a tenth present from the leader of
the Muses (Apollo), and it is this- that to expect bad men not to do
wrong is madness, for he who expects this desires an impossibility.
But to allow men to behave so to others, and to expect them not to
do thee any wrong, is irrational and tyrannical.
  There are four principal aberrations of the superior faculty against
which thou shouldst be constantly on thy guard, and when thou hast
detected them, thou shouldst wipe them out and say on each occasion
thus: this thought is not necessary: this tends to destroy social
union: this which thou art going to say comes not from the real
thoughts; for thou shouldst consider it among the most absurd of
things for a man not to speak from his real thoughts. But the fourth
is when thou shalt reproach thyself for anything, for this is an
evidence of the diviner part within thee being overpowered and
yielding to the less honourable and to the perishable part, the
body, and to its gross pleasures.
  Thy aerial part and all the fiery parts which are mingled in thee,
though by nature they have an upward tendency, still in obedience to
the disposition of the universe they are overpowered here in the
compound mass (the body). And also the whole of the earthy part in
thee and the watery, though their tendency is downward, still are
raised up and occupy a position which is not their natural one. In
this manner then the elemental parts obey the universal, for when they
have been fixed in any place perforce they remain there until again
the universal shall sound the signal for dissolution. Is it not then
strange that thy intelligent part only should be disobedient and
discontented with its own place? And yet no force is imposed on it,
but only those things which are conformable to its nature: still it
does not submit, but is carried in the opposite direction. For the
movement towards injustice and intemperance and to anger and grief and
fear is nothing else than the act of one who deviates from nature. And
also when the ruling faculty is discontented with anything that
happens, then too it deserts its post: for it is constituted for piety
and reverence towards the gods no less than for justice. For these
qualities also are comprehended under the generic term of
contentment with the constitution of things, and indeed they are prior
to acts of justice.
  He who has not one and always the same object in life, cannot be one
and the same all through his life. But what I have said is not enough,
unless this also is added, what this object ought to be. For as
there is not the same opinion about all the things which in some way
or other are considered by the majority to be good, but only about
some certain things, that is, things which concern the common
interest; so also ought we to propose to ourselves an object which
shall be of a common kind (social) and political. For he who directs
all his own efforts to this object, will make all his acts alike,
and thus will always be the same.
  Think of the country mouse and of the town mouse, and of the alarm
and trepidation of the town mouse.
  Socrates used to call the opinions of the many by the name of
Lamiae, bugbears to frighten children.
  The Lacedaemonians at their public spectacles used to set seats in
the shade for strangers, but themselves sat down anywhere.
  Socrates excused himself to Perdiccas for not going to him,
saying, It is because I would not perish by the worst of all ends,
that is, I would not receive a favour and then be unable to return it.
  In the writings of the Ephesians there was this precept,
constantly to think of some one of the men of former times who
practised virtue.
  The Pythagoreans bid us in the morning look to the heavens that we
may be reminded of those bodies which continually do the same things
and in the same manner perform their work, and also be reminded of
their purity and nudity. For there is no veil over a star.
  Consider what a man Socrates was when he dressed himself in a
skin, after Xanthippe had taken his cloak and gone out, and what
Socrates said to his friends who were ashamed of him and drew back
from him when they saw him dressed thus.
  Neither in writing nor in reading wilt thou be able to lay down
rules for others before thou shalt have first learned to obey rules
thyself. Much more is this so in life.
  A slave thou art: free speech is not for thee.
  And my heart laughed within.
  And virtue they will curse, speaking harsh words.
  To look for the fig in winter is a madman's act: such is he who
looks for his child when it is no longer allowed.
  When a man kisses his child, said Epictetus, he should whisper to
himself, "To-morrow perchance thou wilt die."- But those are words of
bad omen.- "No word is a word of bad omen," said Epictetus, "which
expresses any work of nature; or if it is so, it is also a word of bad
omen to speak of the ears of corn being reaped."
  The unripe grape, the ripe bunch, the dried grape, all are
changes, not into nothing, but into something which exists not yet.
  No man can rob us of our free will.
  Epictetus also said, A man must discover an art (or rules) with
respect to giving his assent; and in respect to his movements he
must be careful that they be made with regard to circumstances, that
they be consistent with social interests, that they have regard to the
value of the object; and as to sensual desire, he should altogether
keep away from it; and as to avoidance (aversion) he should not show
it with respect to any of the things which are not in our power.
  The dispute then, he said, is not about any common matter, but about
being mad or not.
  Socrates used to say, What do you want? Souls of rational men or
irrational?- Souls of rational men.- Of what rational men? Sound or
unsound?- Sound.- Why then do you not seek for them?- Because we have
them.- Why then do you fight and quarrel?
                         BOOK TWELVE

  ALL those things at which thou wishest to arrive by a circuitous
road, thou canst have now, if thou dost not refuse them to thyself.
And this means, if thou wilt take no notice of all the past, and trust
the future to providence, and direct the present only conformably to
piety and justice. Conformably to piety, that thou mayest be content
with the lot which is assigned to thee, for nature designed it for
thee and thee for it. Conformably to justice, that thou mayest always
speak the truth freely and without disguise, and do the things which
are agreeable to law and according to the worth of each. And let
neither another man's wickedness hinder thee, nor opinion nor voice,
nor yet the sensations of the poor flesh which has grown about thee;
for the passive part will look to this. If then, whatever the time may
be when thou shalt be near to thy departure, neglecting everything
else thou shalt respect only thy ruling faculty and the divinity
within thee, and if thou shalt be afraid not because thou must some
time cease to live, but if thou shalt fear never to have begun to live
according to nature- then thou wilt be a man worthy of the universe
which has produced thee, and thou wilt cease to be a stranger in thy
native land, and to wonder at things which happen daily as if they
were something unexpected, and to be dependent on this or that.
  God sees the minds (ruling principles) of all men bared of the
material vesture and rind and impurities. For with his intellectual
part alone he touches the intelligence only which has flowed and
been derived from himself into these bodies. And if thou also usest
thyself to do this, thou wilt rid thyself of thy much trouble. For
he who regards not the poor flesh which envelops him, surely will
not trouble himself by looking after raiment and dwelling and fame and
such like externals and show.
  The things are three of which thou art composed, a little body, a
little breath (life), intelligence. Of these the first two are
thine, so far as it is thy duty to take care of them; but the third
alone is properly thine. Therefore if thou shalt separate from
thyself, that is, from thy understanding, whatever others do or say,
and whatever thou hast done or said thyself, and whatever future
things trouble thee because they may happen, and whatever in the
body which envelops thee or in the breath (life), which is by nature
associated with the body, is attached to thee independent of thy will,
and whatever the external circumfluent vortex whirls round, so that
the intellectual power exempt from the things of fate can live pure
and free by itself, doing what is just and accepting what happens
and saying the truth: if thou wilt separate, I say, from this ruling
faculty the things which are attached to it by the impressions of
sense, and the things of time to come and of time that is past, and
wilt make thyself like Empedocles' sphere,

    All round, and in its joyous rest reposing;

and if thou shalt strive to live only what is really thy life, that
is, the present- then thou wilt be able to pass that portion of life
which remains for thee up to the time of thy death, free from
perturbations, nobly, and obedient to thy own daemon (to the god
that is within thee).
  I have often wondered how it is that every man loves himself more
than all the rest of men, but yet sets less value on his own opinion
of himself than on the opinion of others. If then a god or a wise
teacher should present himself to a man and bid him to think of
nothing and to design nothing which he would not express as soon as he
conceived it, he could not endure it even for a single day. So much
more respect have we to what our neighbours shall think of us than
to what we shall think of ourselves.
  How can it be that the gods after having arranged all things well
and benevolently for mankind, have overlooked this alone, that some
men and very good men, and men who, as we may say, have had most
communion with the divinity, and through pious acts and religious
observances have been most intimate with the divinity, when they
have once died should never exist again, but should be completely
  But if this is so, be assured that if it ought to have been
otherwise, the gods would have done it. For if it were just, it
would also be possible; and if it were according to nature, nature
would have had it so. But because it is not so, if in fact it is not
so, be thou convinced that it ought not to have been so:- for thou
seest even of thyself that in this inquiry thou art disputing with the
diety; and we should not thus dispute with the gods, unless they
were most excellent and most just;- but if this is so, they would not
have allowed anything in the ordering of the universe to be
neglected unjustly and irrationally.
  Practise thyself even in the things which thou despairest of
accomplishing. For even the left hand, which is ineffectual for all
other things for want of practice, holds the bridle more vigorously
than the right hand; for it has been practised in this.
  Consider in what condition both in body and soul a man should be
when he is overtaken by death; and consider the shortness of life, the
boundless abyss of time past and future, the feebleness of all matter.
  Contemplate the formative principles (forms) of things bare of their
coverings; the purposes of actions; consider what pain is, what
pleasure is, and death, and fame; who is to himself the cause of his
uneasiness; how no man is hindered by another; that everything is
  In the application of thy principles thou must be like the
pancratiast, not like the gladiator; for the gladiator lets fall the
sword which he uses and is killed; but the other always has his
hand, and needs to do nothing else than use it.
  See what things are in themselves, dividing them into matter, form
and purpose.
  What a power man has to do nothing except what God will approve, and
to accept all that God may give him.
  With respect to that which happens conformably to nature, we ought
to blame neither gods, for they do nothing wrong either voluntarily or
involuntarily, nor men, for they do nothing wrong except
involuntarily. Consequently we should blame nobody.
  How ridiculous and what a stranger he is who is surprised at
anything which happens in life.
  Either there is a fatal necessity and invincible order, or a kind
Providence, or a confusion without a purpose and without a director
(Book IV). If then there is an invincible necessity, why dost thou
resist? But if there is a Providence which allows itself to be
propitiated, make thyself worthy of the help of the divinity. But if
there is a confusion without governor, be content that in such a
tempest thou hast in thyself a certain ruling intelligence. And even
if the tempest carry thee away, let it carry away the poor flesh,
the poor breath, everything else; for the intelligence at least it
will not carry away.
  Does the light of the lamp shine without losing its splendour
until it is extinguished; and shall the truth which is in thee and
justice and temperance be extinguished before thy death?
  When a man has presented the appearance of having done wrong, say,
How then do I know if this is a wrongful act? And even if he has
done wrong, how do I know that he has not condemned himself? and so
this is like tearing his own face. Consider that he, who would not
have the bad man do wrong, is like the man who would not have the
fig-tree to bear juice in the figs and infants to cry and the horse to
neigh, and whatever else must of necessity be. For what must a man
do who has such a character? If then thou art irritable, cure this
man's disposition.
  If it is not right, do not do it: if it is not true, do not say
it. For let thy efforts be-
  In everything always observe what the thing is which produces for
thee an appearance, and resolve it by dividing it into the formal, the
material, the purpose, and the time within which it must end.
  Perceive at last that thou hast in thee something better and more
divine than the things which cause the various affects, and as it were
pull thee by the strings. What is there now in my mind? Is it fear, or
suspicion, or desire, or anything of the kind?
  First, do nothing inconsiderately, nor without a purpose. Second,
make thy acts refer to nothing else than to a social end.
  Consider that before long thou wilt be nobody and nowhere, nor
will any of the things exist which thou now seest, nor any of those
who are now living. For all things are formed by nature to change
and be turned and to perish in order that other things in continuous
succession may exist.
  Consider that everything is opinion, and opinion is in thy power.
Take away then, when thou choosest, thy opinion, and like a mariner,
who has doubled the promontory, thou wilt find calm, everything
stable, and a waveless bay.
  Any one activity whatever it may be, when it has ceased at its
proper time, suffers no evil because it has ceased; nor he who has
done this act, does he suffer any evil for this reason that the act
has ceased. In like manner then the whole which consists of all the
acts, which is our life, if it cease at its proper time, suffers no
evil for this reason that it has ceased; nor he who has terminated
this series at the proper time, has he been ill dealt with. But the
proper time and the limit nature fixes, sometimes as in old age the
peculiar nature of man, but always the universal nature, by the change
of whose parts the whole universe continues ever young and perfect.
And everything which is useful to the universal is always good and
in season. Therefore the termination of life for every man is no evil,
because neither is it shameful, since it is both independent of the
will and not opposed to the general interest, but it is good, since it
is seasonable and profitable to and congruent with the universal.
For thus too he is moved by the deity who is moved in the same
manner with the deity and moved towards the same things in his mind.
  These three principles thou must have in readiness. In the things
which thou doest do nothing either inconsiderately or otherwise than
as justice herself would act; but with respect to what may happen to
thee from without, consider that it happens either by chance or
according to Providence, and thou must neither blame chance nor accuse
Providence. Second, consider what every being is from the seed to
the time of its receiving a soul, and from the reception of a soul
to the giving back of the same, and of what things every being is
compounded and into what things it is resolved. Third, if thou
shouldst suddenly be raised up above the earth, and shouldst look down
on human things, and observe the variety of them how great it is,
and at the same time also shouldst see at a glance how great is the
number of beings who dwell around in the air and the aether,
consider that as often as thou shouldst be raised up, thou wouldst see
the same things, sameness of form and shortness of duration. Are these
things to be proud of?
  Cast away opinion: thou art saved. Who then hinders thee from
casting it away?
  When thou art troubled about anything, thou hast forgotten this,
that all things happen according to the universal nature; and
forgotten this, that a man's wrongful act is nothing to thee; and
further thou hast forgotten this, that everything which happens,
always happened so and will happen so, and now happens so
everywhere; forgotten this too, how close is the kinship between a man
and the whole human race, for it is a community, not of a little blood
or seed, but of intelligence. And thou hast forgotten this too, that
every man's intelligence is a god, and is an efflux of the deity;
and forgotten this, that nothing is a man's own, but that his child
and his body and his very soul came from the deity; forgotten this,
that everything is opinion; and lastly thou hast forgotten that
every man lives the present time only, and loses only this.
  Constantly bring to thy recollection those who have complained
greatly about anything, those who have been most conspicuous by the
greatest fame or misfortunes or enmities or fortunes of any kind: then
think where are they all now? Smoke and ash and a tale, or not even
a tale. And let there be present to thy mind also everything of this
sort, how Fabius Catullinus lived in the country, and Lucius Lupus
in his gardens, and Stertinius at Baiae, and Tiberius at Capreae and
Velius Rufus (or Rufus at Velia); and in fine think of the eager
pursuit of anything conjoined with pride; and how worthless everything
is after which men violently strain; and how much more philosophical
it is for a man in the opportunities presented to him to show.