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June 25, 2022
July 8, 5022 U
   
     
 

 

 

 

MEDITATIONS

 

BY

MARCUS AURELIUS

 

 

[English Version]

edited by C.R. Haines

 

Copyright © 1918. All Rights Reserved.

 

 

HARVARD UNIVERSITY PRESS

CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS

LONDON, ENGLAND

 

 

 
     
     
 

PART 2

 
     
 

 

[Koine Greek]

98

BOOK V

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.

99

[Koine Greek]

100

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

perfect peace.


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

101

[Koine Greek]

102

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

thousand ways.


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

103

[Koine Greek]

104

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

105

[Koine Greek]

106
BOOK V (cont.)

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

health.


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

107

[Koine Greek]

108

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

murmurest.


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,

109

[Koine Greek]

110

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


111


[Koine Greek]

112


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

himself in.


13. I am made up of the Causal and the Material, and

neither of these disappears into nothing, just


113


[Koine Greek]

114


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

completed cycles.


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

115

[Koine Greek]

116

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

117

[Koine Greek]

118

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

without.


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

seen amiss

119

[Koine Greek]

120

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.

121

[Koine Greek]

122

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

social creature.


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

123

[Koine Greek]

124

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

eternity.


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

125

[Koine Greek]

126

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

suffer?


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)

127

[Koine Greek]

128

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.

129

[Koine Greek]

130

BOOK VI

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.

131

[Koine Greek]

132

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

God.


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

133

[Koine Greek]

134
BOOK VI (cont.)
thou wouldst pay due service to the former, and yet thy

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,

135

[Koine Greek]

136

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

him.


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.

137

[Koine Greek]

138

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

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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

have ordained.


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

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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

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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

succumb.


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

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BOOK VI (cont.)

harvest of earthly existence, a righteous disposition and

social acts.


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

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148

BOOK VI (cont.)

again, look at these realities as thou didst at those thy

dreams.


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

things indifferent.


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

Gods?


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.

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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

things.


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-

heartedly.


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

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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

towards men.


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

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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,

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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

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[Koine Greek]

158

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

unjust men.


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?

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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

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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!

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BOOK VII

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,

everything fleeting.


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

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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

another's help?

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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

Eternity.


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

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BOOK VII (cont.)

dost practise it still as a bare duty, not yet as a boon to

thyself.


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,

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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

another.


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

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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

its youth.


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

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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

awry.


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

thee.


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

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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."

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BOOK VII (cont.)

36. [From Antisthenes.] 'Tis royal to do well and be ill spoken

of.


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

of it.


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

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[Koine Greek]

182

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

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[Koine Greek]

184

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

impassive elements.


51. Again:

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

sees awry.


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

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[Koine Greek]

186

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

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[Koine Greek]

188

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.

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[Koine Greek]

190

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

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[Koine Greek]

192

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

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[Koine Greek]

194

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

and feasible.


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

thyself.


71. It is absurd not to eschew our own wickedness,

which is possible, but to eschew that of others, which is

not possible.


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.

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[Koine Greek]

196

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.

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