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Thread: The Emperor-Philosopher: Marcus Aurelius

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    Marcus Aurelius

    The Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius was perhaps the only true philosopher- king(sic,he forgets Julian) in the history of the world. He was not an original nor a systematic philosopher, but in his meditations, a series of notes to himself, he formulated his pantheist Stoic beliefs with a passionate religious conviction.

    He shared the basic Stoic belief in the divinity of the cosmos as an intelligent being with a soul, and stressed (perhaps too fatalistically) the harmony of all things and the importance of resigning oneself to whatever happened.

    Marcus Aurelius reigned from 161 AD to 180 AD. He seems to have been a good and conscientious ruler who was magnanimous towards his enemies. He banned informers, stamped down hard on corruption, and freed slaves at every opportunity. Although he tolerated the circus, he ordered gladiators to fight with blunted points. Needing extra funds for his wars in Eastern Europe, he refused to raise taxes but instead held a public auction of his own golden tableware and of his wife's silk and gold embroidered dresses.

    The Meditations were written day by day, in every situation including war. They often appear to be responses to the stress of supreme power, from the imminent fear of death in battle, to the trials of everyday life.

    With hindsight Marcus' greatest omission was that he did not impose Stoicism as the imperial religion, with as much rigour as Theodosius later imposed Christianity. Had he done so, the history of the world might have turned out very differently. But the fact that he was more tolerant might be regarded as another of his virtues.



    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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, 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.

    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.

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    Post Re: The Emperor-Philosopher: Marcus Aurelius


    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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?

    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.

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    Post Re: The Emperor-Philosopher: Marcus Aurelius

    Great thread, Alkman!

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    Post Re: The Emperor-Philosopher: Marcus Aurelius

    Lots of wisdom therein, but I find these two passages a bit peculiar.

    "In my father I observed that he had overcome all passion for

    "nor did he court men by gifts or by trying to please them"

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    Post Re: The Emperor-Philosopher: Marcus Aurelius

    Quote Originally Posted by Nordhammer
    Lots of wisdom therein, but I find these two passages a bit peculiar.

    "In my father I observed that he had overcome all passion for
    In Imperial Rome, where slavery was very common -almost every freeborn household had their slaves- the slaves were the master's property and they could be used for anything including sexual means too -which did not count as adultery. In addition there could be concubines, themselves slaves, but these were exclusively female. It was not uncommon for some emperors or the aristocracy to have sex with their slaves who were young boys (but not men) apparently boys and men were not considered to be the same thing. Marcus Aurelius and his father Marcus Annius Verus were decidedly of a more reserved nature and Marcus Aurelius was a Stoic so he lived by very different principles in comparison to the rather debauch life in the Empire which the notables enjoyed. However, as far as I know he's referring to his grandfather as "father" because his father had died when Marcus Aurelius was only three. In any case, especially during the late Empire excess in any form was not unheard of and sex with slaves, women or boys were very much acceptable and it did not count as homosexuality because the master would never be in a passive position.

    "nor did he court men by gifts or by trying to please them"

    I'm not sure to what he's exactly referring to here but it seems to me as rather political and social as opposed to of an intimate nature. Gaining favors by bribing was also not uncommon but I'm not sure.

    Anyway here's an excerpt about Household Sex in the Roman Empire. It should also be noted that the Republic and the Empire were very different from each other, in regards to society.

    As far as the law was concerned then sex with slaves was not adulterous. Or at least not for men. And sex with a free-born man or woman was only adultery if they were not doing it for money. Thus, sex with a prostitute did not constitute adultery.
    However, adultery with a free-born was a crime, stuprum. And for this there was only one punishment; death.
    So as long as one steered clear of committing stuprum, anything was allowed. There was no limits on age and also none on gender. However, if Rome was a tolerant society in law, then socially it was still not acceptable to be seen to practice sex in excess. This was deemed a flaw in a Roman's character, making him disreputable.
    And if the majority of Romans treated sex with a embarrassed silence, then it was expected that everyone else did so, too.
    Worst of all was it to follow the example of the Greeks, who saw sex as some form of pleasurable art. That in Roman eyes was decadent, perverse, if not barbaric. Sex offered many social pitfalls to a citizen. If it followed no particular rules, then its practice could reveal weaknesses about the man.
    The worst weakness ever to be discovered in a man was 'effeminacy'. in fact it was perhaps the worst insult known to Romans to be called effeminate.
    For an effeminate man was soft, he had become weak and girlish in the eyes of his fellow countrymen. The easy life had made him so, particularly if he enjoyed sexual relations too much. Such a man become both a homosexual and a womanizer in the eyes of others. Paradoxical as that might be, it was the Roman way. And few were safe from being deemed effeminate. Even Pompey the great general who had led forces into the east and conquered huge sways of territory for Rome, was deemed an effeminate lecher for his excessive love for Julia - his own wife !

    If slaves were all bound not merely by ownership but by loyalty (fides) to a particular household, then the rejection of one of the men's advances could be seen as more than disobedience, but betrayal of sorts. And if the man did refrain from forcing the slave to obey, then it was not necessarily out of respect of the slave's shared humanity, but could well have been due to his own desire to restrain himself. Self-control and restraint, inner discipline, was a virtue sought by all Romans. To be able to curb his desires and show inner strength both to himself as well as to his slaves will have no doubt made many a master not abuse his powers to too great an extent.

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    Post Re: The Emperor-Philosopher: Marcus Aurelius

    That's true, in ancient Rome and Greece homosexuality was typically pedophilic, men with boys, rather than the lifestyle as we know it today.

    The first quote is probably referring to pedophilia, where the second quote I just threw in because of the wording. Most likely the second quote meant as you said, flattery to gain favor.

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    Post Re: The Emperor-Philosopher: Marcus Aurelius

    Quote Originally Posted by Nordhammer
    That's true, in ancient Rome and Greece homosexuality was typically pedophilic, men with boys, rather than the lifestyle as we know it today.
    Interestingly enough, pederasty or sex with transsexuals is still not considered a homosexual action in certain cultures (mostly Eastern) but personally, it is homosexuality to me, either way. Of course, I'm sure my sensibilities would have been different if I were living in the Roman Empire because then it would have been the norm.

    The first quote is probably referring to pedophilia, where the second quote I just threw in because of the wording. Most likely the second quote meant as you said, flattery to gain favor.
    Well, not much has changed in terms of politics.

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    Re: The Emperor-Philosopher: Marcus Aurelius

    He was a very interesting Emperor. His evil side was his son..Commodus....Commodus participated in the gladiotrial games, and killed about 12 000 men in his career.. What an emperor. He also killed his child and sister...

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    Re: The Emperor-Philosopher: Marcus Aurelius

    I love Marcus Aurelius but what I find really interesting about him is pondering whether or not he would still be known today for his Stoic philosophy if he had lived during a more comfortable peroid of the Roman Empire.
    He was often absent, fighting, *I think*, the Goths and Vandals,his home life was far from happy, his wife was rather,ahem "loose with her wiles" and his son was deeply disturbed. It was these elements,over which he had no control,that I think encouraged his views on the acceptance of what life doles out - the heart of Stoicism.

  10. #10

    Few Quotes

    Marcus Aurelius Nationality: Roman Type: Soldier Born: 121 Died: 180

    "Life is neither good or evil, but only a place for good and evil." Marcus Aurelius.

    Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones. I am not afraid. --Marcus Aurelius.

    Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones. I am not afraid. - M. Aurelius.

    Everything that exists is in a manner the seed of that which will be. Marcus Aurelius.

    Begin - to begin is half the work, let half still remain; again begin this, and thou wilt have finished. Marcus Aurelius.

    When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive - to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love. Marcus Aurelius.

    Each day provides its own gifts. Marcus Aurelius.

    We ought to do good to others as simply as a horse runs, or a bee makes honey, or a vine bears grapes season after season without thinking of the grapes it has borne. Marcus Aurelius.

    Anything in any way beautiful derives its beauty from itself and asks nothing beyond itself. Praise is no part of it, for nothing is made worse or better by praise. Marcus Aurelius.

    When thou art above measure angry, bethink thee how momentary is man's life. Marcus Aurelius.

    To understand the true quality of people, you must look into their minds, and examine their pursuits and aversions. Marcus Aurelius.

    Men exist for the sake of one another. Marcus Aurelius.

    We are too much accustomed to attribute to a single cause that which is the product of several, and the majority of our controversies come from that. Marcus Aurelius.

    The secret of all victory lies in the organization of the non-obvious. Marcus Aurelius.

    The act of dying is one of the acts of life. Marcus Aurelius.

    It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live. Marcus Aurelius.

    Despise not death, but welcome it, for nature wills it like all else. Marcus Aurelius.

    Death is a release from the impressions of the senses, and from desires that make us their puppets, and from the vagaries of the mind, and from the hard service of the flesh. Marcus Aurelius.

    Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth. Marcus Aurelius.

    Natural ability without education has more often raised a man to glory and virtue than education without natural ability. Marcus Aurelius.

    Accept the things to which fate binds you, and love the people with whom fate brings you together, but do so with all your heart. Marcus Aurelius.

    Nothing has such power to broaden the mind as the ability to investigate systematically and truly all that comes under thy observation in life. Marcus Aurelius.

    Aptitude found in the understanding and is often inherited. Genius coming from reason and imagination, rarely. Marcus Aurelius.

    That which is not good for the bee-hive cannot be good for the bees. Marcus Aurelius.

    Look back over the past, with its changing empires that rose and fell, and you can foresee the future, too. Marcus Aurelius.

    Time is a sort of river of passing events, and strong is its current; no sooner is a thing brought to sight than it is swept by and another takes its place, and this too will be swept away. Marcus Aurelius.

    The sexual embrace can only be compared with music and with prayer. Marcus Aurelius.

    Death, like birth, is a secret of Nature. Marcus Aurelius.

    Life is neither good or evil, but only a place for good and evil. Marcus Aurelius.

    Do every act of your life as if it were your last. Marcus Aurelius.

    How much time he saves who does not look to see what his neighbour says or does or thinks. Marcus Aurelius.

    Poverty is the mother of crime. Marcus Aurelius.

    Let not your mind run on what you lack as much as on what you have already. Marcus Aurelius.

    The universe is change; our life is what our thoughts make it. Marcus Aurelius.

    Loss is nothing else but change, and change is Nature's delight. Marcus Aurelius.

    Forward, as occasion offers. Never look round to see whether any shall note it... Be satisfied with success in even the smallest matter, and think that even such a result is no trifle. Marcus Aurelius.

    Yet living and dying, honour and dishonour, pain and pleasure, riches and poverty, and so forth are equally the lot of good men and bad. Things like these neither elevate nor degrade; and therefore they are no more good than they are evil. Marcus Aurelius.

    The longest-lived and the shortest-lived man, when they come to die, lose one and the same thing. Marcus Aurelius.

    Many the lumps of frankincense on the same altar; one falls there early and another late, but it makes no difference. IV, 15. Marcus Aurelius.

    How much time he gains who does not look to see what his neighbor says or does or thinks, but only at what he does himself, to make it just and holy. IV, 18. Marcus Aurelius.

    Thou art a little soul bearing about a corpse, as Epictetus used to say. IV, 41.

    Time is a sort of river of passing events, and strong is its current; no sooner is a thing brought to sight than it is swept by and another takes its place, and this too will be swept away. IV, 43. Marcus Aurelius.

    Mark how fleeting and paltry is the estate of man - yesterday in embryo, tomorrow a mummy or ashes. So for the hairsbreadth of time assigned to thee, live rationally, and part with life cheerfully, as drops the ripe olive, extolling the season that bore it and the tree that matured it. IV, 48. Marcus Aurelius.

    Art thou angry with him whose arm-pits stink? art thou angry with him whose mouth smells foul? What good will this anger do thee? V, 28. Marcus Aurelius.

    Take heed not to be transformed into a Caesar, not to be dipped in the purple dye, for it does happen. Keep yourself therefore, simple, good, pure, grave, unaffected, the friend of justice, religious, kind, affectionate, strong for your proper work. Wrestle to be the man philosophy wished to make you. Reverence the gods, save men. Life is brief; there is but one harvest of earthly existence, a holy disposition and neighborly acts. VI, 30. Marcus Aurelius.

    How many together with whom I came into the world are already gone out of it. VI, 56. Marcus Aurelius.

    Love that only which happens to thee and is spun with the thread of thy destiny. For what is more sutiable? VII, 57. Marcus Aurelius.

    Very little is needed to make a happy life. VII, 67 Marcus Aurelius.

    You may break your heart, but men will still go on as before. VIII, 4 Marcus Aurelius.

    A wrongdoer is often a man who has left something undone, not always one who has done something. IX, 5 Marcus Aurelius.

    Short-lived are both the praiser and the praised, and 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. VIII, 21.
    All things are the same,—familiar in enterprise, momentary in endurance, coarse in substance. All things now are as they were in the day of those whom we have buried. IX, 14. Marcus Aurelius.

    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 of 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 mayst live in harmony? but wilt thou be satisfied with thy present condition, and pleased with all that is around 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? X, 1. Marcus Aurelius.

    A little time, and thou shalt close thy eyes; and him who has attended thee to thy grave, another soon will lament. X, 34. Marcus Aurelius.

    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 a wise man, will there not be at least 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 perceive 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. X, 36. Marcus Aurelius.

    Human life! Its duration is momentary, its substance in perpetual flux, its senses dim, its physical organism perishable, its conscience a vortex, its destiny dark, its repute uncertain – in fact, the material elements in a rolling stream, the spiritual elements dreams and vapour, life is a war and a sojourning in a far country, fame oblivion. What can see through us? One thing and only one thing Philosophy, and that means keeping the spirit within us unspoiled and undishonoured, not giving away to pleasure or pain, never acting unthinkingly or deceitfully or insincerely, and never being dependent on the moral support of others. It also means taking what comes contentedly as all part of the process to which we owe our being; and above all, it means facing death calmly – taking it simply as a dissolution of the atoms of which every living organism is composed. Their perpetual transformation does not hurt the atoms, so why should one mind the whole organism being transformed and dissolved? It is a law of nature, and Natural law can never be wrong. Marcus Aurelius.

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