|June 25, 2022
July 8, 5022 U
edited by C.R. Haines
Copyright © 1918. All Rights Reserved.
HARVARD UNIVERSITY PRESS
1. At daybreak, when loth to rise, have this thought
ready in thy mind: I am rising for a mans work. Am I then
still peevish that I am going to do that for which I was born
and for the sake of which I came into the world? Or was I
made for this, that I should nuzzle under the bed-clothes
and keep myself warm? But this is pleasanter. Hast thou
been made then for pleasure? In a word, ask thee, to be
acted upon or to act? Consider each tiny plant, each little
bird, the ant, the spider, the bee, how they go about their
own work and do each his part for the building up of an
orderly Universe. Dost thou then refuse to do the work of a
man? Dost thou not hasten to do what Nature bids thee. But
some rest, too, is necessary. I do not deny it. Howbeit
Nature has set limits to this, and no less so to eating and
drinking. Yet thou exceedest these limits and exceedest
sufficiency. But in acts it is no longer so; there thou comest
short of the possibility.
BOOK V (cont.)
For thou lovest not thyself, else surely hadst thou loved
thy nature also and to do her will. But others who love their
own art wear themselves to a shadow with their labours
over it, forgetting to wash or take food. But thou boldest
thine own nature in less honour than the chaser of metal his
art of chasing, than the dancer his dancing, than the miser
his moneybags, than the popularity-hunter his little
applause. And these, when they are exceptionally in
earnest, are ready to forgo food and sleep, so that they
forward the things in which they are interested. But dost
thou deem the acts of a social being of less worth and less
deserving of attention?
2. How easy a thing it is to put away and blot out every
impression that is disturbing or alien, and to be at once in
3. Deem no word or deed that is in accord with Nature to
be unworthy of thee, and be not plucked aside by the
consequent censure of others or what they say, but if a
thing is good to do or say, judge not thyself unworthy of it.
For those others have their own ruling Reason and follow
their own bent. Do not thou turn thine eyes aside, but keep
to the straight path, following thy own and the universal
Nature; and the path of these twain is one.
4. I fare forth through all that Nature wills until the day
when I shall sink down and rest from my labours, breathing
forth my last breath into the air whence I daily draw it in, and
falling upon that earth, whence also my father gathered the
seed, and my mother the blood, and my nurse the milk; whence
BOOK V (cont.)
daily for so many years I am fed and watered; which bears
me as I tread it under foot and make full use of it in a
5. Sharpness of wit men cannot praise thee for. Granted!
Yet there are many other qualities of which thou canst not
say: I had not that by nature. Well then, display those which
are wholly in thy power, sterling sincerity, dignity, endurance
of toil, abstinence from pleasure. Grumble not at thy lot, be
content with little, be kindly, independent, frugal, serious,
high-minded. Seest thou not how many virtues it is in thy
power to display now, in respect of which thou canst plead
no natural incapacity or incompatibility, and yet thou art
content still with a lower standard? Or art thou forced to be
discontented, to be grasping, to flatter, to inveigh against
the body, to play the toady and the braggart, and to be so
unstable in thy soul, because forsooth thou hast no natural
gifts? By the Gods, No! but long ere now couldest thou
have shaken thyself free from all this and have lain under
the imputation only, if it must be so, of being somewhat slow
and dull of apprehension. And this too thou must amend
with training and not ignore thy dulness or be in love with it.
6. One man, when he has done another a kindness, is
ready also to reckon on a return. A second is not ready to
do this, but yet in his heart of hearts ranks the other as a
debtor, and he is conscious of what he has done But a
third is in a manner not
BOOK V (cont.)
conscious of it, but is like the vine that has borne a cluster of
grapes, and when it has once borne its due fruit looks for no
reward beyond, as it is with a steed when it has run its
course, a hound when it has singled out the trail, a bee
when she hath made her comb. And so a man when he
hath done one thing well, does not cry it abroad, but
betakes himself to a second, as a vine to bear afresh her
clusters in due season.
A man then must be of those who act thus as it were
unconsciously? Yes; but he must be conscious of the fact,
for it is, we are told, the peculiar characteristic of the man of
true neighbourly instincts to be aware that he puts such
instincts into practice. And by heaven to wish that his
neighbour also should be aware of it. What thou sayest is
true; but thou misconceivest what is now said: consequently
thou wilt be one of those whom I mentioned before, for in
fact they are led astray by a certain plausibility of reasoning.
But if thou thinkest it worth while to understand what has
been said, fear not that thou wilt be led thereby to neglect
any social act.
7. A prayer of the Athenians: Rain, Rain, O dear Zeus,
upon the corn-land o f the Athenians and their meads.
Either pray not at all, or in this simple and frank fashion.
8. We have all heard, Aesculapius has prescribed for so
and so riding exercise, or cold baths, or walking barefoot.
Precisely so it may be said that the Universal Nature has
prescribed for so and so sickness or
maim or loss or what not of the same kind. For, in the
former case, prescribed has some such meaning as this:
He ordained this for so and so as conducive to his health;
while in the latter what befalls each man has been ordained
in some way as conducive to his destiny. For we say that
things jail to us, as the masons too say that the huge
squared stones in walls and pyramids fall into their places,
adjusting themselves harmoniously to one another in a sort
of structural unity. For, in fine, there is one harmony of all
things, and just as from all bodies the Universe is made up
into such a body as it is, so from all causes is Destiny made
up into such a Cause. This is recognized by the most
unthinking, for they say: Fate brought this on him. So then
this was brought on this man, and this prescribed for this
man. Let us then accept our fate, as we accept the
prescriptions of Aesculapius. And in fact in these, too, there
are many "bitter pills," but we welcome them in hope of
Take much the same view of the accomplishment and
consummation of what Nature approves as of thy health,
and so welcome whatever happens, should it even be
somewhat distasteful, because it contributes to the health of
the Universe and the well-faring and well-doing of Zeus
himself. For he had not brought this on a man, unless it had
brought welfare to the Whole. For take any nature thou wilt,
it never brings upon that which is under its control anything
that does not conduce to its interests.
For two reasons then it behoves thee to acquiesce in
what befalls: one, that it was for thee it took
BOOK V (cont.)
place, and was prescribed for thee, and had reference in
some sort to thee, being a thread of destiny spun from the
first for thee from the most ancient causes; the other, that
even what befalls each individual is the cause of the well-
faring, of the consummation and by heaven of the very
permanence of that which controls the Universe. For the
perfection of the Whole is impaired, if thou cuttest off ever
so little of the coherence and continuance of the Causes no
less than of the parts. And thou dost cut them off, as far as
lies with thee, and bring them to an end, when thou
9. Do not feel qualms or despondency or discomfiture if
thou dost not invariably succeed in acting from right
principles; but when thou art foiled, come back again to
them, and rejoice if on the whole thy conduct is worthy of a
man, and love the course to which thou returnest. Come not
back to Philosophy as to a schoolmaster, but as the
sore-eyed to their sponges and their white of egg, as this
patient to his plaster and that to his fomentations. Thus wilt
thou rest satisfied with Reason, yet make no parade of
obeying her. And forget not that Philosophy wishes but what
thy nature wishes, whereas thy wish was for something else
that accords not with Nature. Yes, for it would have been
the acme of delight. Ah, is not that the very reason why
pleasure trips us up? Nay, see if these be not more
delightful still: high-mindedness, independence, simplicity,
tenderness of heart, sanctity of life. Why what is more
delightful than wisdom herself,
BOOK V (cont.)
when thou thinkest how sure and smooth in all its workings
is the faculty of understanding and knowledge?
10. Things are in a sense so wrapped up in mystery that
not a few philosophers, and they no ordinary ones, have
concluded that they are wholly beyond our comprehension:
nay, even the Stoics themselves find them hard to
comprehend. Indeed every assent we give to the
impressions of our senses is liable to error, for where is the
man who never errs? Pass on then to the objective things
themselves, how transitory they are, how worthless, the
property, quite possibly, of a boy-minion, a harlot, or a
brigand. After that turn to the characters of thine
associates, even the most refined of whom it is difficult to
put up with, let alone the fact that a man has enough to do
to endure himself.
What then there can be amid such murk and nastiness,
and in so ceaseless an ebbing of substance and of time, of
movement and things moved, that deserves to be greatly
valued or to excite our ambition in the least, I cannot even
conceive. On the contrary, a man should take heart of grace
to await his natural dissolution, and without any chafing at
delay comfort himself with these twin thoughts alone: the
one, that nothing will befall me that is not in accord with the
Nature of the Universe; the other, that it is in my power to
do nothing contrary to the God and the 'genius' within
me. For no one can force me to disobey that.
11. To what use then am putting my soul? Never fail to
ask thyself this question and to cross-examine
BOOK V (cont.)
thyself thus: What relation have I to this part of me which
they call the ruling Reason? And whose Soul anyhow have
I got now? The Soul of a child? Of a youth? Of a woman?
Of a tyrant? Of a domestic animal? Of a wild beast?
12. What are counted as good things in the estimation of
the many thou canst gather even from this. For if a man fix
his mind upon certain things as really and unquestionably
good, such as wisdom, temperance, justice, manliness, with
this preconception in his mind he could no longer bear to
listen to the poet's, By reason of his wealth of goods—; for it
would not apply. But, if a man first fix his mind upon the
things which appear good to the multitude, he will listen and
readily accept as aptly added the quotation from the Comic
Poet. In this way even the multitude have a perception of
the difference. For otherwise this jest would not offend and
be repudiated, while we accept it as appropriately and wittily
said of wealth and of the advantages which wait upon luxury
and popularity. Go on, then, and ask whether we should
prize and count as good those things, with which first fixed
in our mind we might germanely quote of their possessor,
that for his very wealth of goods he has no place to ease
13. I am made up of the Causal and the Material, and
neither of these disappears into nothing, just
BOOK V (cont.)
as neither did it come into existence out of nothing. So shall
my every part by change be told off to form some part of
the Universe, and that again be changed into another part of
it, and so on to infinity. It was by such process of change
that 1 too came into being and my parents, and so
backwards into a second infinity. And the statement is quite
legitimate, even if the Universe be arranged according to
14. Reason and the art of reasoning are in themselves
and in their own proper acts self-sufficing faculties. Starting
from a principle peculiar to them, they journey on to the end
set before them. Wherefore such actions are termed right
acts, as signifying that they follow the right way.
15. Call none of those things a man's that do not fall to
him as man. They cannot be claimed of a man; man's
nature does not guarantee them; they are no
consummations of that nature. Consequently neither is the
end for which man lives placed in these things, nor yet that
which is perfective of the end, namely The Good. Moreover,
if any of these things did fall to a man, it would not fall to him
to contemn them and set his face against them, nor would a
man be commendable who shewed himself still lacking in
these things, nor yet would he be a good man who came
short of himself in any of them, if so be these things were
good. But as it is, the more a man can cut himself free, or
even be set free, from these and other such things with
equanimity, by so much the more is he good.
16. The character of thy mind will be such as is
BOOK V (cont.)
the character of thy frequent thoughts, for the soul takes its
dye from the thoughts. Dye her then with a continuous
succession of such thoughts as these: Where life is
possible, there it is possible also to live well.—But the life is
life in a Court. Well, in a Court too it is possible to live well.
And again: A thing is drawn towards that for the sake of
which it has been made, and its end lies in that towards
which it is drawn and, where its end lies, there lie also its
interest and its good. The Good, then, for a rational creature
is fellowship with others. For it has been made clear long
ago that we were constituted for fellowship. Or was it not
obvious that the lower were for the sake of the higher and
the higher for the sake of one another? And living things are
higher than lifeless, and those that have reason than those
that have life only.
17. To crave impossibilities is lunacy; but it is impossible
for the wicked to act otherwise.
18. Nothing befalls anyone that he is not fitted by nature
to bear. Others experience the same things as thou, but
either from ignorance that anything has befallen them, or to
manifest their greatness of mind, they stand firm and get no
hurt. A strange thing indeed that ignorance and vanity
should prove stronger than wisdom!
19. Things of themselves cannot take the least hold of
the Soul, nor have any access to her, nor deflect or move
her; but the Soul alone deflects
BOOK V (cont.)
and moves herself, and whatever judgments she deems it
right to form, in conformity with them she fashions for
herself the things that submit themselves to her from
20. In one respect a man is of very close concern to us,
in so far as we must do him good and forbear; but in so far
as any stand in the way of those acts which concern us
closely, then man becomes for me as much one of things
indifferent as the sun, as the wind, as a wild-beast. Though
a man may in some sort fetter my activity, yet on my own
initiative and mental attitude no fetters can be put because
of the power they possess of conditional action and of
adaptation to circumstances. For everything that stands in
the way of its activity is adapted and transmuted by the
mind into a furtherance of it, and that which is a check on
this action is converted into a help to it, and that which is a
hindrance in our path goes but to make it easier.
21. Prize the most excellent thing in the Universe; and
this is that which utilizes all things and controls all things.
Prize in like manner the most excellent thing in thyself; and
this is that which is akin to the other. For this, which utilizes
all else is in thee too, and by it thy life is governed.
22. That which is not hurtful to the community cannot hurt
the individual. Test every case of apparent hurt by this rule: if the community be not hurt by this, neither am I hurt; but if
the community be hurt, there is no need to be angry with
him that hath done the hurt, but to enquire, In what hath he
BOOK V (cont.)
23. Think often on the swiftness with which the things
that exist and that are coming into existence are swept past
us and carried out of sight. For all substance is as a river in
ceaseless flow, its activities ever changing and its causes
subject to countless variations, and scarcely anything
stable; and ever beside us is this infinity of the past and
yawning abyss of the future, wherein all things are
disappearing. Is he not senseless who in such an
environment puffs himself up, or is distracted, or frets as
over a trouble lasting and far-reaching?
24. Keep in memory the universal Substance, of which
thou art a tiny part; and universal Time, of which a brief, nay
an almost momentary, span has been allotted thee; and
Destiny, in which how fractional thy share?
25. Another does me some wrong? He shall see to it.
His disposition is his own, his activities are his own. What
the universal Nature wills me to have now, that I now have,
and what my nature wills me now to do, that I do.
26. Let the ruling and master Reason of thy soul be proof
against any motions in the flesh smooth or rough. Let it not
mingle itself with them, but isolate and restrict those
tendencies to their true spheres. But when in virtue of that
other sympathetic connection these tendencies grow up into
the mind as is to be expected in a single organism, then
must thou not go about to resist the sensation, natural as it
is, but see that thy ruling Reason adds no opinion of its own
as to whether such is good or bad.
BOOK V (cont.)
27. Walk with the Gods! And he does walk with the Gods,
who lets them see his soul invariably satisfied with its lot
and carrying out the will of that 'genius,' a particle of
himself, which Zeus has given to every man as his captain
and guide—and this is none other than each man's
intelligence and reason.
28. If a man's armpits are unpleasant, art thou angry with
him? If he has foul breath? What would be the use? The
man has such a mouth, he has such armpits. Some such
effluvium was bound to come from such a source. But the
man has sense, quotha! With a little attention he could see
wherein he offends. I congratulate thee! Well, thou too hast
sense. By a rational attitude, then, in thyself evoke a rational
attitude in him, enlighten him, admonish him. If he listen,
thou shalt cure him, and have no need of anger.
Neither tragedian nor harlot.
29. Thou canst live on earth as thou dost purpose to live
when departed. But if men will not have it so, then is it time
for thee even to go out of life, yet not as one who is treated
ill. 'Tis smoky and I go away Why think it a great matter?
But while no such cause drives me forth, I remain a free
man, and none shall prevent me from doing what I will, and I
will what is in accordance with the nature of a rational and
30. The intelligence of the Universe is social. It hath at
any rate made the lower things for the sake of the higher,
and it adapted the higher to one another. Thou seest how it
hath subordinated, coordinated, and given each its due lot
BOOK V (cont.)
and brought the more excellent things into mutual accord.
31. How hast thou borne thyself heretofore towards
Gods, parents, brethen, wife, children, teachers, tutors,
friends, relations, household? Canst thou say truly of them
all to this day, Doing to no man wrong, nor speaking aught
that is evil? And call to mind all that thou hast passed
through, all thou hast found strength to bear; that the story
of thy life is now full-told and thy service is ending; and how
many beautiful sights thou hast seen, how many pleasures
and pains thou hast disregarded, forgone what ambitions,
and repaid with kindness how much unkindness.
32. Why do unskilled and ignorant souls confound him
who has skill and has knowledge? What soul, then, has
skill and knowledge? Even that which knoweth beginning
and end, and the reason that informs all Substance, and
governs the Whole from ordered cycle to cycle through all
33. But a little while and thou shalt be burnt ashes or a
few dry bones, and possibly a name, possibly not a name
even. And a name is but sound and a far off echo. And all
that we prize so highly in our lives is empty and corrupt and
paltry, and we but as puppies snapping at each other, as
quarrelsome children now laughing and anon in tears. But
faith and modesty and justice and truth
BOOK V (cont.)
What then keeps thee here?—if indeed sensible objects are
ever changing and unstable, and our faculties are so feeble
and so easily misled; and the poor soul itself is an
exhalation from blood; and to be well-thought of in such a
world mere vanity. What then remains? To wait with a good
grace for the end, whether it be extinction or translation. But
till our time for that be come, what sufficeth? What but to
reverence the Gods and to praise them, to do good unto
men and to bear with them and forbear? but, for all else that
comes within the compass of this poor flesh and breath, to
remember that it is not thine nor under thy control?
34. Thou hast it in thy power that the current of thy life be
ever fair, if also 'tis thine to make fair way, if also in ordered
way to think and act. The Soul of God and the souls of men
and of every rational creature have these two
characteristics in common: to suffer no let or hindrance
from another, and to find their good in a condition and
practice of justice, and to confine their propension to this.
35. If this be no vice of mine nor the outcome of any vice
of mine, and if the common interest does not suffer, why
concern myself about it? And how can the common interest
36. Be not carried incontinently away by sense impressions,
but rally to the fight as thou canst and as is due.
If there be failure in things indifferent, yet think not
there is any great harm done; for that is an evil habit. But
as the greybeard (in the play)
BOOK V (cont.)
taking his leave reclaimed his foster-child's top, not
forgetting that it was but a top, so do thou here also. Since
indeed thou art found haranguing on the hustings, O Man,
hast thou forgotten what this really means? Aye, but people
will have it. Must thou too be a fool in consequence?
Time was that wheresoever forsaken I was a man well-
portioned; but that man well-portioned is he that hath given
himself a good portion; and good portions are good
tendencies of the soul, good impulses, good actions.
1. The Universal Substance is docile and ductile; and
the Reason that controls it has no motive in itself to do
wrong. For it hath no wrongness and doeth no wrong, nor is
anything harmed by it. But all things come into being and
fulfil their purpose as it directs.
2. Make no difference in doing thy duty whether thou art
shivering or warm, drowsy or sleep-satisfied, defamed or
extolled, dying or anything else. For the act of dying too is
one of the acts of life. So it is enough in this also to get the
work in hand done well.
3. Look within. Let not the special quality or worth of
anything escape thee.
4. All objective things will anon be changed and either
etherialized into the Universal Substance, if that indeed be
one, or dispersed abroad.
5. The controlling Reason knows its own bent and its
work and the medium it works in.
BOOK VI (cont.)
6. The best way of avenging thyself is not to do likewise.
7. Delight in this one thing and take thy rest therein—from
social act to go on to social act, keeping all thy thoughts on
8. The ruling Reason it is that can arouse and deflect
itself, make itself whatever it will, and invest everything that
befalls with such a semblance as it wills.
9. In accordance with the Nature of the Universe is
accomplished each several thing. For surely this cannot be
in accordance with any other nature, that either envelops it
from without, or is enveloped by it within, or exists in external
detachment outside it.
10. Either a medley and a tangled web and a dispersion
abroad, or a unity and a plan and a Providence. If the
former, why should I even wish to abide in such a random
welter and chaos? Why care for anything else than to turn
again to the dust at last. Why be disquieted? For, do what I
will, the dispersion must overtake me. But if the latter, I bow
in reverence, my feet are on the rock, and I put my trust in
the Power that rules.
11. When forced, as it seems, by thine environment to be
utterly disquieted, return with all speed into thy self, staying
in discord no longer than thou must. By constant recurrence
to the harmony, thou wilt gain more command over it.
12. Hadst thou at once a stepmother and a mother
constant recourse would be to thy mother. So hast thou now
the court and philosophy for stepmother and mother. Cease
not then to come to the latter and take thy rest in her,
whereby shall both thy court life seem more tolerable to
thee, and thou to thy court life.
13. As in the case of meat and similar eatables the
thought strikes us, this is the dead body of a fish, this of a
fowl or pig; and again that this Falernian is merely the juice
of a grape-cluster, and this purple-edged robe is nought but
sheep's wool steeped in the blood of a shell-fish; or, of
sexual intercourse, that it is merely internal attrition and the
spasmodic excretion of mucus —such, I say, as are these
impressions that get to grips with the actual things and enter
into the heart of them, so as to see them as they really are,
thus should it be thy life through, and where things look to be
above measure convincing, laying them quite bare, behold
their paltriness and strip off their conventional prestige. For
conceit is a past master in fallacies and, when thou flatterest
thyself most that thou art engaged in worthy tasks, then art
thou most of all deluded by it. At any rate, see what Crates
has to say about none other than Xenocrates.
14. Objects admired by the common sort come chiefly
under things of the most general kind, which are held
together by physical coherence, such as stones and wood,
or by a natural unity, such as figs,
BOOK VI (cont.)
vines, olives; and those which are admired by persons of a
somewhat higher capacity may be classed as things which
are held together by a conscious life, such as flocks and
herds; and those which are admired by persons still more
refined, as things held together by a rational soul; I do not
mean rational as part of the Universal Reason, but in the
sense of master of an art or expert in some other way, or
merely in so far as to own a host of slaves. But he that
prizes a soul which is rational, universal, and civic, no longer
turns after anything else, but rather than everything besides
keeps his own soul, in itself and in its activity, rational and
social, and to this end works conjointly with all that is akin to
15. Some things are hastening to be, others to be no
more, while of those that haste into being some part is
already extinct. Fluxes and changes perpetually renew the
world, just as the unbroken march of time makes ever new
the infinity of ages. In this river of change, which of the
things which swirl past him, whereon no firm foothold is
possible, should a man prize so highly? As well fall in love
with a sparrow that flits past and in a moment is gone from
our eyes. In fact a man's life itself is but as an exhalation
from blood and an inhalation from the air. For just as it is to
draw in the air once into our lungs and give it back again, as
we do every moment, so is it to give back thither, whence
thou didst draw it first, thy faculty of breathing which thou
didst receive at thy birth yesterday or the day before.
BOOK VI (cont.)
16. Neither is it an inner respiration, such as that of
plants, that we should prize, nor the breathing which we
have in common with cattle and wild animals, nor the
impressions we receive through our senses, nor that we are
pulled by our impulses like marionettes, nor our gregarious
instincts, nor our need of nutriment; for that is on a par with
the rejection of the waste products of our food.
What then is to be prized? The clapping of hands? No.
Then not the clapping of tongues either. For the
acclamations of the multitude are but a clapping of tongues.
So overboard goes that poor thing Fame also. What is left to
be prized? This methinks: to limit our action or inaction to
the needs of our own constitution, an end that all
occupations and arts set before themselves. For the aim of
every art is that the thing constituted should be adapted to
the work for which it has been constituted. It is so with the
vine-dresser who looks after the vines, the colt-trainer, and
the keeper of the kennel. And this is the end which the care
of children and the methods of teaching have in view. There
then is the thing to be prized!
This once fairly made thine own, thou wilt not seek to gain
for thyself any of the other things as well. Wilt thou not cease
prizing many other things also? Then thou wilt neither be
free nor sufficient unto thyself nor unmoved by passion. For
thou must needs be full of envy and jealousy, be suspicious
of those that can rob thee of such things, and scheme
against those who possess what thou prizest. In fine, a man
who needs any of those things cannot but be in complete
turmoil, and in many cases find
BOOK VI (cont.)
fault even with the Gods. But by reverencing and prizing
thine own mind, thou shalt make thyself pleasing in thine
own sight, in accord with mankind, and in harmony with the
gods, that is, grateful to them for all that they dispense and
17. Up, down, round and round sweep the elements
along. But the motion of virtue is in none of these ways. It
is something more divine, and going forward on a
mysterious path fares well upon its way.
18. What a way to act! Men are chary of commending
their contemporaries and associates, while they
themselves set great store by the commendation of
posterity, whom they have never seen or shall see. But this
is next door to taking it amiss that thy predecessors also
did not commend thee.
19. Because thou findest a thing difficult for thyself to
accomplish do not conceive it to be impracticable for
others; but whatever is possible for a man and in keeping
with his nature consider also attainable by. thyself.
20. Suppose that a competitor in the ring has gashed us
with his nails and butted us violently with his head, we do
not protest or take it amiss or suspect our opponent in
future of foul play. Still we do keep an eye on him, not
indeed as an enemy, or from suspicion of him, but with
good-humoured avoidance. Act much in the same way in
all the other parts of life. Let us make many allowances for
our fellow-athletes as it were. Avoidance is always
possible, as I have said, without suspicion or hatred.
21. If any one can prove and bring home to me
BOOK VI (cont.)
that a conception or act of mine is wrong, I will amend it,
and be thankful. For I seek the truth, whereby no one was
ever harmed. But he is harmed who persists in his own
self-deception and ignorance.
22. I do my own duty; other things do not distract me.
For they are either inanimate or irrational, or such as have
gone astray and know not the road.
23. Conduct thyself with magnanimity and freedom
towards irrational creatures and, generally, towards
circumstances and objective things, for thou hast reason
and they have none. But men have reason, therefore treat
them as fellow creatures. And in all cases call upon the
Gods, and do not concern thyself with the question, How
long shall I do this? Three hours are enough so spent.
24. Death reduced to the same condition Alexander the
Macedonian and his muleteer, for either they were taken
back into the same Seminal Reason of the Universe or
scattered alike into the atoms.
25. Bear in mind how many things happen to each one
of us with respect to our bodies as well as our souls in the
same momentary space of time, so wilt thou cease to
wonder that many more things—not to say all the things
that come into existence in that One and Whole which in
fact we call the Universe— subsist in it at one time.
26. If one enquire of thee, How is the name Antoninus
written? wilt thou with vehemence enunciate each
constituent letter? What then? If thy listeners lose their
temper, wilt thou lose
BOOK VI (cont.)
thine? Wouldst thou not go on gently to enumerate each
letter? So recollect that in life too every duty is the sum of
separate items. Of these thou must take heed, and carry
through methodically what is set before thee, in no wise
troubled or shewing counter-irritation against those who
are irritated with thee.
27. How intolerant it is not to permit men to cherish an
impulse towards what is in their eyes congenial and
advantageous! Yet in a sense thou withholdest from them
the right to do this, when thou resentest their wrong-doing.
For they are undoubtedly drawn to what they deem
congenial and advantageous. But they are mistaken. Well,
then, teach and enlighten them without any resentment.
28. Death is a release from the impressions of sense,
and from impulses that make us their puppets, from the
vagaries of the mind, and the hard service of the flesh.
29. It is a disgrace for the soul to be the first to
succumb in that life in which the body does not
30. See thou be not Caesarified, nor take that dye, for
there is the possibility. So keep thyself a simple and good
man, uncorrupt, dignified, plain, a friend of justice, god-
fearing, gracious, affectionate, manful in doing thy duty.
Strive to be always such as Philosophy minded to make
thee. Revere the Gods, save mankind. Life is short. This
only is the
BOOK VI (cont.)
harvest of earthly existence, a righteous disposition and
Do all things as a disciple of Antoninus. Think of his
constancy in every act rationally undertaken, his invariable
equability, his piety, his serenity of countenance, his
sweetness of disposition, his contempt for the bubble of
fame, and his zeal for getting a true grasp of affairs. How he
would never on any account dismiss a thing until he had first
thoroughly scrutinized and clearly conceived it; how he put
up with those who found fault with him unfairly, finding no
fault with them in return; how he was never in a hurry; how
he gave no ear to slander, and with what nicety he tested
dispositions and acts; was no imputer of blame, and no
craven, not a suspicious man, nor a sophist, what little
sufficed him whether for lodging or bed, dress, food, or
attendance; how fond he was of work, and how long-
suffering; how he would remain the whole day at the same
occupation, owing to his spare diet not even requiring to
relieve nature except at the customary time; and how loyal
he was to his friends and always the same; and his
forbearance towards those who openly opposed his views,
and his pleasure when anyone pointed out something
better; and how god-fearing he was and yet not given to
superstition. Take heed to all this, that thy last hour come
upon thee as much at peace with thy conscience as he was.
31. Be sober once more and call back thy senses, and
being roused again from sleep and realizing that they were
but dreams that beset thee, now awake
BOOK VI (cont.)
again, look at these realities as thou didst at those thy
32. I consist of body and soul. To the body indeed all
things are indifferent, for it cannot concern itself with them.
But to the mind only those things are indifferent which
are not its own activities; and all those things that are its
own activities are in its own power. Howbeit, of these it is
only concerned with the present; for as to its activities in
the past and the future, these two rank at once among
33. For hand or foot to feel pain is no violation of nature,
so long as the foot does its own appointed work, and the
hand its own. Similarly pain for a man, as man, is no
unnatural thing so long as he does a man's appointed
work. But, if not unnatural, then is it not an evil either.
34. The pleasures of the brigand, the pathic, the
parricide, the tyrant—just think what they are!
35. Dost thou not see how the mechanic craftsman,
though to some extent willing to humour the non-expert, yet
holds fast none the less to the principles of his handicraft,
and cannot endure to depart from them. Is it not strange
that the architect and the physician should hold the
rationale of their respective arts in higher reverence than a
man his own reason, which he has in common with the
36. Asia, Europe, corners of the Universe: the whole
Ocean a drop in the Universe: Athos but a little clod
therein: all the present a point in Eternity:—everything on
a tiny scale, so easily changed, so quickly vanished.
BOOK VI (cont.)
All things come from that one source, from that ruling
Reason of the Universe, either under a primary impulse
from it or by way of consequence. And therefore the gape of
the lion's jaws and poison and all noxious things, such as
thorns and mire, are but after-results of the grand and the
beautiful. Look not then on these as alien to that which thou
dost reverence, but turn thy thoughts to the one source of all
37. He, who sees what now is, hath seen all that ever
hath been from times everlasting, and that shall be to
eternity; for all things are of one lineage and one likeness.
38. Meditate often on the intimate union and mutual
interdependence of all things in the Universe. For in a
manner all things are mutually intertwined, and thus all
things have a liking for one another. For these things are
consequent one on another by reason of their contracting
and expanding motion, the sympathy that breathes
through them, and the unity of all substance.
39. Fit thyself to the environment that is thy portion, and
love the men among whom thy lot is thrown, but whole-
40. Every implement, tool, or vessel is well if it do the
work for which it is made, and yet in their case the maker is
not at hand. But in the things which owe their organic unity
to Nature, the Power that made is within them and abides
there. Wherefore also must thou reverence it the more, and
BOOK VI (cont.)
realize that if thou keep and conduct thyself ever according
to its will, all is to thy mind. So also to its mind are the
things of the Universe.
41. If thou regardest anything not in thine own choice as
good or evil for thyself, it is inevitable that, on the incidence
of such an evil or the miscarriage of such a good, thou
shouldst upbraid the Gods, aye, and hate men as the
actual or supposed cause of the one or the other; and in
fact many are the wrongdoings we commit by setting a
value on such things. But if we discriminate as good and
evil only the things in our power, there is no occasion left
for accusing the Gods or taking the stand of an enemy
42. We are all fellow-workers towards the fulfilment of
one object, some of us knowingly and intelligently, others
blindly; just as Heraclitus, I think, says that even when they
sleep men are workers and fellow-agents in all that goes
on in the world. One is a co-agent in this, another in that,
and in abundant measure also he that murmurs and seeks
to hinder or disannul what occurs. For the Universe had
need of such men also. It remains then for thee to decide
with whom thou art ranging thyself. For He that controls
the Universe will in any case put thee to a good use and
admit thee to a place among his fellow-workers and
coadjutors. But see that thou fill no such place as the paltry
BOOK VI (cont.)
and ridiculous line in the play which Chrysippus mentions.
43. Does the sun take upon himself to discharge the
functions of the rain? or Asclepius of the Fruit-bearer?
And what of each particular star? Do they not differ in glory
yet co-operate to one end?
44. If the Gods have taken counsel about me and the
things to befall me, doubtless they have taken good
counsel. For it is not easy even to imagine a God without
wisdom. And what motive could they have impelling them
to do me evil? For what advantage could thereby accrue
to them or to the Universe which is their special care? But
if the Gods have taken no counsel for me individually, yet
they have in any case done so for the interests of the
Universe, and I am bound to welcome and make the best
of those things also that befall as a necessary corollary to
those interests. But if so be they take counsel about
nothing at all—an impious belief—in good sooth let us
have no more of sacrifices and prayers and oaths, nor do
any other of these things every one of which is a
recognition of the Gods as if they were at our side and
dwelling amongst us—but if so be, I say, they do not take
counsel about any of our concerns, it is still in my power to
take counsel about myself, and it is for me to consider my
own interest. And that is to every man's interest which is
agreeable to his own constitution and nature. But my
nature is rational and civic; my city and country,
BOOK VI (cont.)
as Antoninus, is Rome; as a man, the world. The things
then that are of advantage to these communities, these,
and no other, are good for me.
45. All that befalls the Individual is to the interest of the
Whole also. So far, so good. But further careful
observation will shew thee that, as a general rule, what is
to the interest of one man is also to the interest of other
men. But in this case the word interest must be taken in a
more general sense as it applies to intermediate things.
46. As the shows in the amphitheatre and such places
grate upon thee as being an everlasting repetition of the
same sight, and the similarity makes the spectacle pall,
such must be the effect of the whole of life. For everything
up and down is ever the same and the result of the same
things. How long then?
47. Never lose sight of the fact that men of all kinds, of
all sorts of vocations and of every race under heaven, are
dead; and so carry thy thought down even to Philistion
and Phoebus and Origanion. Now turn to all other folk. We
must pass at last to the same bourne whither so many
wonderful orators have gone, so many grave
philosophers, Heraclitus, Pythagoras, Socrates: so many
heroes of old time, and so many warriors, so many tyrants
of later days: and besides them, Eudoxus, Hipparchus,
Archimedes, and other acute natures, men of large minds,
lovers of toil, men of versatile powers, men of strong will,
mockers, like Menippus
BOOK VI (cont.)
and many another such, of man's perishable and transitory
life itself. About all these reflect that they have long since
been in their graves. What terrible thing then is this for
them? What pray for those whose very names are
unknown? One thing on earth is worth much—to live out
our lives in truth and justice, and in charity with liars and
48. When thou wouldst cheer thine heart, think upon the
good qualities of thy associates; as for instance, this
one's energy, that one's modesty, the generosity of a third,
and some other trait of a fourth. For nothing is so cheering
as the images of the virtues mirrored in the characters of
those who live with us, and presenting themselves in as
great a throng as possible. Have these images then ever
before thine eyes.
49. Thou art not aggrieved, art thou, at being so many
pounds in weight and not three hundred? Then why be
aggrieved if thou hast only so many years to live and no
more? For as thou art contented with the amount of
matter allotted thee, so be content also with the time.
50. Try persuasion first, but even though men would say
thee nay, act when the principles of justice so direct.
Should any one however withstand thee by force, take
refuge in being well-content and unhurt, and utilize the
obstacle for the display of some other virtue. Recollect that
the impulse thou hadst was conditioned by circumstances,
and thine aim was not to do impossibilities. What then was it?
BOOK VI (cont.)
To feel some such impulse as thou didst. In that thou art
successful. That which alone was in the sphere of our
choice is realized.
51. The lover of glory conceives his own good to consist
in another's action, the lover of pleasure in his own feelings,
but the possessor of understanding in his own actions.
52. We need not form any opinion about the thing in
question or be harassed in soul, for Nature gives the thing
itself no power to compel our judgments.
53. Train thyself to pay careful attention to what is being
said by another and as far as possible enter into his soul.
54. That which is not in the interests of the hive cannot be
in the interests of the bee.
55. If the sailors spoke ill of a steersman or the sick of a
physician, what else would they have in mind but how the
man should best effect the safety of the crew or the health
of his patients?
56. How many have already left the world who came into
it with me!
57. To the jaundiced honey tastes bitter; and the victim of
hydrophobia has a horror of water; and to little children their
ball is a treasure. Why then be angry? Or dost thou think
that error is a less potent factor than bile in the jaundiced
and virus in the victim of rabies?
58. From living according to the reason of thy nature no
one can prevent thee: contrary to the
BOOK VI (cont.)
reason of the Universal Nature nothing shall befall thee.
59. The persons men wish to please, the objects they
wish to gain, the means they employ—think of the character
of all these! How soon will Time hide all things! How many
a thing has it already hidden!
1. What is vice? A familiar sight enough. So in everything
that befalls have the thought ready: This is a familiar sight.
Look up, look down, everywhere thou wilt find the same
things, whereof histories ancient, medieval, and modern are
full; and full of them at this day are cities and houses. There
is no new thing under the sun. Everything is familiar,
2. How else can thy axioms be made dead than by the
extinction of the ideas that answer to them? And these it
lies with thee ever to kindle anew into flame. I am
competent to form the true conception of a thing. If so, why
am I harassed? What is outside the scope of my mind has
absolutely no concern with my mind. Learn this lesson and
thou standest erect.
Thou canst begin a new life! See but things afresh as
thou usedst to see them; for in this consists the new life.
3. Empty love of pageantry, stage-plays, flocks and
herds, sham-fights, a bone thrown to lap-dogs, crumbs cast
in a fish-pond, painful travail of ants and their bearing of
burdens, skurryings of scared little
BOOK VII (cont.)
mice, puppets moved by strings: amid such environment
therefore thou must take thy place graciously and not
'snorting defiance' nay thou must keep abreast of the fact
that everyone is worth just so much as those things are
worth in which he is interested.
4. In conversation keep abreast of what is being said,
and, in every effort, of what is being done. In the latter see
from the first to what end it has reference, and in the former
be careful to catch the meaning.
5. Is my mind competent for this or not? If competent, I
apply it to the task as an instrument given me by the
Universal Nature. If not competent, I either withdraw from
the work in favour of someone who can accomplish it better,
unless for other reasons duty forbids; or I do the best I can,
taking to assist me any one that can utilize my ruling
Reason to effect what is at the moment seasonable and
useful for the common welfare. For in whatsoever I do either
by myself or with another I must direct my energies to this
alone, that it shall conduce to the common interest and be
in harmony with it.
6. How many much-lauded heroes have already been
given as a prey unto forgetfulness, and how many that
lauded them have long ago disappeared!
7. Blush not to be helped; for thou art bound to carry out
the task that is laid upon thee as a soldier to storm the
breach. What then, if for very lameness thou canst not
mount the ramparts unaided, but canst do this with
BOOK VII (cont.)
8. Be not disquieted about the future. If thou must come
thither, thou wilt come armed with the same reason which
thou appliest now to the present.
9. All things are mutually intertwined, and the tie is
sacred, and scarcely anything is alien the one to the other.
For all things have been ranged side by side, and together
help to order one ordered Universe. For there is both one
Universe, made up of all things, and one God immanent in
all things, and one Substance, and one Law, one Reason
common to all intelligent creatures, and one Truth: if
indeed there is also one perfecting of living creatures that
have the same origin and share the same reason.
10. A very little while and all that is material is lost to
sight in the Substance of the Universe, a little while and all
Cause is taken back into the Reason of the Universe, a little
while and the remembrance of everything is encairned in
11. To the rational creature the same act is at once
according to nature and according to reason.
12. Upright, or made upright.
13. The principle which obtains where limbs and body
unite to form one organism, holds good also for rational
things with their separate individualities, constituted as they
are to work in conjunction. But the perception of this shall
come more home to thee, if thou sayest to thyself, I am a
limb of the organized body of rational things. But if [using
the letter R] thou sayest thou art but a part, not yet dost
thou love mankind from the heart, nor yet does well-doing
delight thee for its own sake. Thou
BOOK VII (cont.)
dost practise it still as a bare duty, not yet as a boon to
14. Let any external thing, that will, be incident to
whatever is able to feel this incidence. For that which feels
can, if it please, complain. But I, if I do not consider what
has befallen me to be an evil, am still unhurt. And I can
refuse so to consider it.
15. Let any say or do what he will, I cannot but for my
part be good. So might the emerald—or gold or
purple—never tire of repeating, Whatever any one shall do
or say, I cannot but be an emerald and keep my colour.
16. The ruling Reason is never the disturber of its own
peace, never, for instance, hurries itself into lust. But if
another can cause it fear or pain, let it do so. For it will not
let its own assumptions lead it into such aberrations.
Let the body take thought for itself, if it may, that it suffer
no hurt and, if it do so suffer, let it proclaim the fact. But the
soul that has the faculty of fear, the faculty of pain, and
alone can assume that these exist, can never suffer; for it is
not given to making any such admission.
In itself the ruling Reason wants for nothing unless it
create its own needs, and in like manner nothing can disturb
it, nothing impede it, unless the disturbance or impediment
come from itself.
17. Well-being is a good Being, or a ruling Reason that
is good. What then doest thou here,
BOOK VII (cont.)
O Imagination? Avaunt, in God's name, as thou earnest,
for I desire thee not! But thou art come according to thine
ancient wont. I bear thee no malice; only depart from me!
18. Does a man shrink from change? Why, what can
come into being save by change? What be nearer or dearer
to the Nature of the Universe? Canst thou take a hot bath
unless the wood for the furnace suffer a change? Couldst
thou be fed, if thy food suffered no change, and can any of
the needs of life be provided for apart from change? Seest
thou not that a personal change is similar, and similarly
necessary to the Nature of the Universe?
19. Through the universal Substance as through a
rushing torrent all bodies pass on their way, united with the
Whole in nature and activity, as our members are with one
How many a Chrysippus, how many a Socrates, how
many an Epictetus hath Time already devoured!
Whatsoever man thou hast to do with and whatsoever thing,
let the same thought strike thee.
20. I am concerned about one thing only, that I of myself
do not what man's constitution does not will, or wills not
now, or in a way that it wills not.
21. A little while and thou wilt have forgotten everything, a
little while and everything will have forgotten thee.
22. It is a man's especial privilege to love even those
who stumble. And this love follows as soon as
BOOK VII (cont.)
thou reflectest that they are of kin to thee and that they do
wrong involuntarily and through ignorance, and that within
a little while both they and thou will be dead; and this,
above all, that the man has done thee no hurt; for he has
not made thy ruling Reason worse than it was before.
23. The Nature of the Whole out of the Substance of
the Whole, as out of wax, moulds at one time a horse,
and breaking up the mould kneads the material up again
into a tree, then into a man, and then into something else;
and every one of these subsists but for a moment. It is no
more a hardship for the coffer to be broken up than it was
for it to be fitted together.
24. An angry scowl on the face is beyond measure
unnatural, and when it is often seen there, all comeliness
begins at once to die away, and in the end is so utterly
extinguished that it can never be rekindled at all. From this
very fact try to reach the conclusion that it is contrary to
reason. The consciousness of wrong-doing once lost,
what motive is left for living any more?
25. Everything that thou seest will the Nature that
controls the Universe change, no one knows how soon,
and out of its substance make other compounds, and
again others out of theirs, that the world may ever renew
26. Does a man do thee wrong? Go to and mark what
notion of good and evil was his that did the wrong. Once
perceive that and thou wilt feel
BOOK VII (cont.)
compassion, not surprise or anger. For thou hast still
thyself either the same notion of good and evil as he or
another not unlike. Thou needs must forgive him then.
But if thy notions of good and evil are no longer such, all
the more easily shalt thou be gracious to him that sees
27. Dream not of that which thou hast not as though
already thine, but of what thou hast pick out the choicest
blessings, and do not forget in respect of them how
eagerly thou wouldst have coveted them, had they not
been thine. Albeit beware that thou do not inure thyself,
by reason of this thy delight in them, to prize them so
highly as to be distressed if at any time they are lost to
28. Gather thyself into thyself. It is characteristic of the
rational Ruling Faculty to be satisfied with its own
righteous dealing and the peace which that brings.
29. Efface imagination! Cease to be pulled as a puppet
by thy passions. Isolate the present. Recognize what
befalls either thee or another. Dissect and analyze all that
comes under thy ken into the Causal and the Material.
Meditate on thy last hour. Let the wrong thy neighbour
does thee rest with him that did the wrong.
30. Do thy utmost to keep up with what is said. Let thy
mind enter into the things that are done and the things
that are doing them.
31. Make thy face to shine with simplicity and modesty
and disregard of all that lies between virtue and vice. Love
human kind. Follow God. Says
BOOK VII (cont.)
the Sage: All things by Law, but in very truth only
elements. But it suffices to remember that all things are by
law: there thou hast it briefly enough.
32. Of Death: Either dispersion if atoms; or, if a single
Whole, either extinction or a change of state.
33. Of Pain: When unbearable it destroys us, when
lasting, it is bearable, and the mind safeguards its own
calm by withdrawing itself, and the ruling Reason takes no
hurt. As to the parts that are impaired by the pain, let them
say their say about it as they can.
34. Of Glory: Look at the minds of its votaries, their
characteristics, ambitions, antipathies. Remember too
that, as the sands of the sea drifting one upon the other
bury the earlier deposits, so in life the earlier things are
very soon hidden under what comes after.
35. [From Plato.] Dost thou think that the life of man
can seem any great matter to him who has true grandeur
of soul and a comprehensive outlook on all Time and all
Substance? "It cannot seem so," said he. Will such a
man then deem death a terrible thing? "Not in the least."
BOOK VII (cont.)
36. [From Antisthenes.] 'Tis royal to do well and be ill spoken
37. It is a shame that while the countenance is subject to the
mind, taking its cast and livery from it, the mind cannot take its
cast and its livery from itself.
38. It nought availeth to be wroth with things, For they reck not
39. Unto the deathless Gods and to us give cause for rejoicing.
40. Our lives are reaped like the ripe ears of com, And as one
falls, another still is born.
41. Though me and both my sons the Gods have spurned,
For this too there is reason.
42. For justice and good luck shall bide with me.
43. No chorus of loud dirges, no hysteria.
44. [Citations from Plato]:
I might fairly answer such a questioner: Thou art mistaken if
thou thinkest that a man, who is worth anything at all, ought to let
considerations of life and death weigh with him rather than in all
that he does consider but this, whether it is just or unjust and the.
work of a good man or a bad.
45. This, O men of Athens, is the true slate of the case:
Wherever a man has stationed himself, deeming
BOOK VII (cont.)
it the best for him, or has been stationed by his commander, there
methinks he ought to stay and run every risk, taking into account
neither death nor any thing else save dishonour.
46. But, my good sir, see whether nobility and goodness do not
mean something other than to save and be saved; for surely a
man worthy of the name must waive aside the question of the
duration of life however extended, and must not cling basely to life,
but leaving these things in the hands of God pin his faith to the
women's adage, 'his destiny no man can flee,' and thereafter
consider in what way he may best live for such time as
he has to live.
47. Watch the stars in their courses as one that runneth about
with them therein; and think constantly upon the reciprocal
changes of the elements, for thoughts on these things cleanse
away the mire of our earthly life.
48. Noble is this saying of Plato's. Moreover he who
discourses of men should, as if from some vantage-point above,
take a bird's-eye view of the things of earth, in its gatherings,
armies, husbandry, its marriages and separations, its births and
deaths, the din of the law-court and the silence of the desert,
barbarous races manifold, its feasts and mournings and markets,
the medley of it all and its orderly conjunction of contraries.
49. Pass in review the far-off things of the past
BOOK VII (cont.)
and its succession of sovranties without number. Thou
canst look forward and see the future also. For it will most
surely be of the same character, and it cannot but carry
on the rhythm of existing things. Consequently it is all one,
whether we witness human life for forty years or ten
thousand. For what more shalt thou see?
50. All that is earth-born gravitates earthwards,
Dust unto dust; and all that from ether
Grows, speeds swiftly back again heavenward;
that is, either there is
a breaking up of the closely-linked atoms or,
what is much the same, a scattering of the
With meats and drinks and curious sorceries
Side-track the stream, so be they may not die.
When a storm from the Gods beats down on our bark,
At our oars then we needs must toil and complain not.
52. Better at the cross-buttock, may be, but not at
shewing public spirit or modesty, or being readier for
every contingency or more gracious to our neighbour if he
53. A work that can be accomplished in obedience to
that reason which we share with the Gods is attended with
no fear. For no harm need be anticipated, where by an
activity that follows the
BOOK VII (cont.)
right road, and satisfies the demands of our constitution, we
can ensure our own weal.
54. At all times and in all places it rests with thee both to
be content with thy present lot as a worshipper of the Gods,
and to deal righteously with thy present neighbours, and to
labour lovingly at thy present thoughts, that nothing
unverified should steal into them.
55. Look not about thee at the ruling Reason of others,
but look with straight eyes at this, To what is Nature guiding
thee?—both the Nature of the Universe, by means of what
befalls thee and thy nature by means of the acts thou hast
to do. But everyone must do what follows from his own
constitution; and all other things have been constituted for
the sake of rational beings—just as in every other case the
lower are for the sake of the higher—but the rational for
their own sake.
Social obligation then is the leading feature in the
constitution of man and, coming second to it, an
uncompromising resistance to bodily inclinations. For it is
the privilege of a rational and intelligent motion to isolate
itself, and never to be overcome by the motions of sense or
desire; for either kind is animal-like. But the motion of the
Intelligence claims ever to have the pre-eminence and never
to be mastered by them. And rightly so, for it is its nature to
put all those to its own use. Thirdly, the rational constitution
is free from precipitancy and cannot be misled. Let the ruling
Reason then, clinging to these characteristics, accomplish a
straight course and then it comes into its own.
56. As one that is dead, and his life till now lived
BOOK VII (cont.)
and gone, thou must live the rest of thy days as so much
to the good, and live according to Nature.
57. Love only what befalls thee and is spun for thee by
fate. For what can be more befitting for thee?
58. In every contingency keep before thine eyes those
who, when these same things befell them, were
straightway aggrieved, estranged, rebellious. Where are
they now? Nowhere! What then? Wouldst thou too be like
them? Why not leave those alien deflections to what
deflects and is deflected by them, and devote thyself
wholly to the question how to turn these contingencies to
the bestadvantage? For then wilt thou make a noble use of
them, and they shall be thy raw material. Only in thought
and will take heed to be beautiful to thyself in all that thou
doest. And remember, in rejecting the one and using the
other, that the thing which matters is the aim of the action.
59. Look within. Within is the fountain of Good, ready
always to well forth if thou wilt al way delve.
60. The body too should be firmly set and suffer no
distortion in movement or bearing. For what the mind
effects in the face, by keeping it composed and well-
favoured, should be looked for similarly in the whole body.
But all this must be secured without conscious effort.
61. The business of life is more akin to wrestling than
dancing, for it requires of us to stand ready and
unshakeable against every assault however unforeseen.
BOOK VII (cont.)
62. Continually reflect, who they are whose favourable
testimony thou desirest, and what their ruling Reason; for
thus wilt thou not find fault with those who unintentionally
offend, nor wilt thou want their testimony, when thou
lookest into the inner springs of their opinions and desires.
63. Every soul, says Plato, is bereft of truth against its
will. Therefore it is the same also with justice and
temperance and lovingkindness and every like quality. It is
essential to keep this ever in mind, for it will make thee
gentler towards all.
64. Whenever thou art in pain, have this reflection
ready, that this is nothing to be ashamed of, nor can it
make worse the mind that holds the helm. For it cannot
impair it in so far as it is rational or in so far as it is social.
In most pains, however, call to thy rescue even Epicurus
when he says that a pain is never unbearable or
interminable, so that thou remember its limitations and add
nothing to it in imagination. Recollect this too that many of
our every-day discomforts are really pain in disguise, such
as drowsiness, a high temperature, want of appetite.
When inclined to be vexed at any of these, say to thyself:
I am giving in to pain.
65. See that thou never have for the inhuman the
feeling which the inhuman have for human kind.
66. How do we know that Telauges may not have
excelled Socrates in character? For it is not enough
BOOK VII (cont.)
that Socrates died a more glorious death, and disputed
more deftly with the Sophists, and with more hardihood
braved whole nights in the frost, and, when called upon to
fetch the Salaminian, deemed it more spirited to
disobey, and that he carried his head high as he
walked—and about the truth of this one can easily
judge—; but the point to elucidate is this: what sort of soul
had Socrates, and could he rest satisfied with being just
in his dealings with men and religious in his attitude
towards the Gods, neither resentful at the wickedness of
others nor yet lackeying the ignorance of anyone, nor
regarding as alien to himself anything allotted to him from
the Whole, nor bearing it as a burden intolerable, nor
letting his intelligence be swayed sympathetically by the
affections of the flesh?
67. Nature did not make so intimate a blend in the
compound as not to allow a man to isolate himself and
keep his own things in his own power. For it is very
possible to be a godlike man and yet not to be recognized
by any. Never forget this; nor that the happy life depends
on the fewest possible things; nor because thou hast
been baulked in the hope of becoming skilled in dialectics
and physics, needest thou despair of being free and
modest and unselfish and obedient to God.
68. Thou mayest live out thy life with none to constrain
thee in the utmost peace of mind even though the whole
world cry out against thee what
BOOK VII (cont.)
they will, even though beasts tear limb from limb this
plastic clay that has encased thee with its growth. For
what in all this debars the mind from keeping itself in
calmness, in a right judgment as to its environment, and in
readiness to use all that is put at its disposal? so that the
judgment can say to that which meets it: In essential
substance thou art this, whatever else the common fame
would have thee be. And the use can say to the object
presented to it: Thee was I seeking. For the thing in hand
is for me ever material for the exercise of rational and civic
virtue, and in a word for the art of a man or of God. For
everything that befalls is intimately connected with God or
man, and is not new or difficult to deal with, but familiar
69. This is the mark of a perfect character, to pass
through each day as if it were the last, without agitation,
without torpor, without pretence.
70. The Gods—and they are immortal—do not take it
amiss that for a time so long they must inevitably and
always put up with worthless men who are what they are
and so many; nay they even care for them in all manner
of ways. But thou, though destined to die so soon, criest
off, and that too though thou art one of the worthless ones
71. It is absurd not to eschew our own wickedness,
which is possible, but to eschew that of others, which is
72. Whatever thy rational and civic faculty discovers to
be neither intelligent nor social, it judges with good reason
to fall short of its own standard.
BOOK VII (cont.)
73. When thou hast done well to another and another
has fared well at thy hands, why go on like the foolish to
look for a third thing besides, that is, the credit also of
having done well or a return for the same?
74. No one wearies of benefits received; and to act by
the law of Nature is its own benefit. Weary not then of
being benefited therein, wherein thou dost benefit others.
75. The Nature of the Whole felt impelled to the
creation of a Universe; but now either all that comes into
being does so by a natural sequence, or even the most
paramount things, towards which the ruling Reason of the
Universe feels an impulse of its own, are devoid of
intelligence. Recollect this and thou wilt face many an ill
with more serenity.
May the Lightforce
be with You.
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