|June 25, 2022
July 8, 5022 U
edited by C.R. Haines
Copyright © 1918. All Rights Reserved.
HARVARD UNIVERSITY PRESS
1. This too serves as a corrective to vain-gloriousness, that
thou art no longer able to have lived thy life wholly, or even
from thy youth up, as a philosopher. Thou canst clearly
perceive, and many others can see it too, that thou art far from
Philosophy. So then thy life is a chaos, and no longer is it easy
for thee to win the credit of being a philosopher; and the facts of
thy life too war against it. If then thine eyes have verily seen
where the truth lies, care no more what men shall think of thee,
but be content if the rest of thy life, whether long or short, be
lived as thy nature wills. Make sure then what that will is, and
let nothing else draw thee aside. For past experience tells thee
in how much thou hast gone astray, nor anywhere lighted upon
the true life; no, not in the subtleties of logic, or in wealth or
fame or enjoyment, or anywhere. Where then is it to be found?
In doing that which is the quest of man's nature. How then shall
a man do this? By having axioms as the source of his impulses
and actions. What axioms? On the nature of Good and Evil,
shewing that nothing is for a man's good save what makes him
just, temperate, manly, free; nor any
BOOK VIII (cont.)
thing for his ill that makes him not the reverse of these.
2. In every action ask thyself, How does this affect me?
Shall I regret it? But a little and I am dead and all is past and
gone. What more do I ask for, as long as my present work is
that of a living creature, intelligent, social, and under one law
3. What are Alexander and Gaius and Pompeius to Diogenes
and Heraclitus and Socrates? For these latter had their eyes
opened to things and to the causes and the material substance of
things, and their ruling Reason was their very own. But
those—what a host of cares, what a world of slavery!
4. Thou mayst burst thyself with rage, but they will go on
doing the same things none the less.
5. Firstly, fret not thyself, for all things are as the Nature of
the Universe would have them, and within a little thou shalt be
non-existent, and nowhere, like Hadrianus and Augustus.
Secondly, look steadfastly at the thing, and see it as it is and,
remembering withal that thou must be a good man, and what the
Nature of man calls for, do this without swerving, and speak as
seemeth to thee most just, only be it graciously, modestly, and
6. The Nature of the Universe is charged with this task, to
transfer yonder the things which are here, to interchange them,
to take them hence and convey them thither. All things are but
BOOK VIII (cont.)
change, but nothing new-fangled need be feared; all things are
of the wonted type, nay, their distributions also are alike.
7. Every nature is content with itself when it speeds well on
its way; and a rational nature speeds well on its way, when in its
impressions it gives assent to nothing that is false or obscure,
and directs its impulses towards none but social acts, and limits
its inclinations and its aversions only to things that are in its
power, and welcomes all that the Universal Nature allots it. For
it is a part of that, as the nature of the leaf is of the plant-nature;
with the difference however, that in the case of the plant the
nature of the leaf is part of a nature void both of sentience and
reason, and liable to be thwarted, while a man's nature is part of
a nature unthwartable and intelligent and just, if indeed it
divides up equally and in due measure to every one his quotas
of time, substance, cause, activity, circumstance. And consider,
not whether thou shalt find one thing in every case equal to one
thing, but whether, collectively, the whole of this equal to the
aggregate of that.
8. Thou canst not be a student. But thou canst refrain from
insolence; but thou canst rise superior to pleasures and pains;
but thou canst tread under thy feet the love of glory; but thou
canst forbear to be angry with the unfeeling and the thankless,
aye and even care for them.
9. Let no one hear thee any more grumbling at life in a
Court, nay let not thine own ears hear thee.
10. Repentance is a sort of self-reproach at some useful
thing passed by; but the good must needs be a useful thing, and
ever to be cultivated by the true
BOOK VIII (cont.)
good man; but the true good man would never regret having
passed a pleasure by. Pleasure therefore is neither a useful thing
nor a good.
11. What of itself is the thing in question as individually
constituted? What is the substance and material of it? What the
causal part? What doeth it in the Universe? How long doth it
12. When thou art loth to get up, call to mind that the due
discharge of social duties is in accordance with thy constitution
and in accordance with man's nature, while even irrational
animals share with us the faculty of sleep; but what is in
accordance with the nature of the individual is more congenial,
more closely akin to him, aye and more attractive.
13. Persistently and, if possible, in every case test thy
impressions by the rules of physics, ethics, logic.
14. Whatever man thou meetest, put to thyself at once this
question: What are this mans convictions about good and evil?
For if they are such and such about pleasure and pain and
what is productive of them, about good report and ill report,
about death and life, it will be in no way strange or surprising to
me if he does such and such things. So I will remember that he
is constrained to act as he does.
15. Remember that, as it is monstrous to be surprised at a
fig-tree bearing figs, so also is it to be surprised at the Universe
bearing its own particular crop. Likewise it is monstrous for a
physician or a steersman to be surprised that a patient has
fever or that a contrary wind has sprung up.
BOOK VIII (cont.)
16. Remember that neither a change of mind nor a
willingness to be set right by others is inconsistent with true
freedom of will. For thine alone is the active effort that effects
its purpose in accordance with thy impulse and judgment, aye
and thy intelligence also.
17. If the choice rests with thee, why do the thing? if with
another, whom dost thou blame? Atoms or Gods? To do either
would be crazy folly. No one is to blame. For if thou canst, set
the offender right. Failing that, at least set the thing itself right.
If that too be impracticable, what purpose is served by imputing
blame? For without a purpose nothing should be done.
18. That which dies is not cast out of the Universe. As it
remains here, it also suffers change here and is dissolved into
its own constituents, which are the elements of the Universe
and thy own. Yes, and they too suffer change and murmur not.
19. Every thing, be it a horse, be it a vine, has come into
being for some end. Why wonder? Helios himself will say:
I exist to do some work; and so of all the other Gods. For what
then dost thou exist? For pleasure? Surely it is not to be
20. Nature has included in its aim in every case the ceasing
to be no less than the beginning and the duration, just as the
man who tosses up his ball. But what good does the ball gain
while tossed upwards, or harm as it comes down, or finally
when it reaches the ground? Or what good accrues to the
bubble while it coheres, or harm in its bursting? And the same
holds good with the lamp-flame.
BOOK VIII (cont.)
21. Turn it inside out and see what it is like, what it comes
to be when old, when sickly, when carrion.
They endure but for a short season, both praiser and praised,
rememberer and remembered. All this too in a tiny corner of
this continent, and not even there are all in accord, no nor a man
with himself; and the whole earth is itself a point.
22. Fix thy attention on the subject-matter or the act or the
principle or the thing signified.
Rightly served! Thou wouldst rather become a good man to-
morrow than be one to-day.
23. Am I doing some thing? I do it with reference to the
well-being of mankind. Does something befall me? I accept it
with a reference to the Gods and to the Source of all things from
which issue, linked together, the things that come into being.
24. What bathing is when thou thinkest of it—oil, sweat,
filth, greasy water, everything revolting—such is every part of
life and every object we meet with.
25. Lucilla buried Verus, then Lucilla was buried; Secunda
Maximus, then Secunda; Epitynchanus Diotimus, then
Epitynchanus; Antoninus Faustina, then Antoninus. The same
tale always: Celer buried Hadrianus and then Celer was buried.
And those acute wits, men renowned for their prescience or
their pride, where are they? Such acute wits, for instance, as
Charax and Demetrius [the Platonist]
BOOK VIII (cont.)
and Eudaemon, and others like them. All creatures of a day,
dead long ago!—some not remembered even for a while, others
transformed into legends, and yet others from legends faded
into nothingness! Bear then in mind that either this thy
composite self must be scattered abroad, or thy vital breath be
quenched, or be transferred and set elsewhere.
26. It brings gladness to a man to do a man's true work. And
a man's true work is to shew goodwill to his own kind, to
disdain the motions of the senses, to diagnose specious
impressions, to take a comprehensive view of the Nature of the
Universe and all that is done at her bidding.
27. Thou hast three relationships—the first to the vessel thou
art contained in; the second to the divine Cause wherefrom issue
all things to all; and the third to those that dwell with thee.
28. Pain is an evil either to the body—let the body then
denounce it—or to the Soul; but the Soul can ensure her own
fair weather and her own calm sea, and refuse to account it an
evil. For every conviction and impulse and desire and aversion
is from within, and nothing climbs in thither.
29. Efface thy impressions, saying ever to thyself: Now lies
it with me that this soul should harbour no wickedness nor lust
nor any disturbing element at all; but that, seeing the true
nature of all things, I should deal with each as is its due.
Bethink thee of this power that Nature gives thee.
BOOK VIII (cont.)
30. Say thy say in the Senate or to any person whatsoever
becomingly and naturally. Use sound speech.
31. The court of Augustus—wife, daughter, descendants,
ancestors, sister, Agrippa, kinsfolk, household, friends, Areius,
Maecenas, physicians, diviners—dead, the whole court of them!
Pass on then to other records and the death not of individuals but
of a clan, as of the Pompeii. And that well-known epitaph, Last
of his race—think over it and the anxiety shewn by the man's
ancestors that they might leave a successor. But after all some
one must be the last of the line—here again the death of a whole
32. Act by act thou must build up thy life, and be content, if
each act as far as may be fulfils its end. And there is never a
man that can prevent it doing this. But there will be some
impediment from without. There can be none to thy behaving
justly, soberly, wisely. But what if some other exercise of activity
be hindered? Well, a cheerful acceptance of the hindrance and a
tactful transition to what is allowed will enable another action to
be substituted that will be in keeping with the built-up life of
which we are speaking.
33. Accept without arrogance, surrender without reluctance.
BOOK VIII (cont.)
34. Thou hast seen a hand cut off or a foot, or a head severed
from the trunk, and lying at some distance from the rest of the
body. Just so does the man treat himself, as far as he may, who
wills not what befalls and severs himself from mankind or acts
unsocially. Say thou hast been tom away in some sort from the
unity of Nature; for by the law of thy birth thou wast a part; but
now thou hast cut thyself off. Yet here comes in that exquisite
provision, that thou canst return again to thy unity. To no other
part has God granted this, to come together again, when once
separated and cleft asunder. Aye, behold His goodness,
wherewith He hath glorified man! For He hath let it rest with a
man that he be never rent away from the Whole, and if he do
rend himself away, to return again and grow on to the rest and
take up his position again as part.
35. Just as the Nature of rational things has given each
rational being almost all his other powers, so also have we
received this one from it; that, as this Nature moulds to its
purpose whatever interference or opposition it meets, and gives
it a place in the destined order of things, and makes it a part of
itself, so also can the rational creature convert every hindrance
into material for itself and utilize it for its own purposes.
36. Let not the mental picture of life as a whole confound
thee. Fill not thy thoughts with what and how many ills may
conceivably await thee, but in every present case ask thyself:
What is there in this experience so crushing, so insupportable?
Thou wilt blush
BOOK VIII (cont.)
to confess. Remind thyself further that it is not the future nor
the past but the present always that brings thee its burden. But
this is reduced to insignificance if thou isolate it, and take thy
mind to task if it cannot hold out against this mere trifle.
37. Does Pantheia now watch by the urn of her lord, or
Pergamus? What, does Chabrias or Diotimus by Hadrian's?
Absurd! What then? Had they sat there till now, would the
dead have been aware of it? and, if aware of it, would they
have been pleased? and, if pleased, would that have made the
mourners immortal? Was it not destined that these like others
should become old women and old men and then die? What
then, when they were dead, would be left for those whom they
had mourned to do? It is all stench and foul corruption 'in a
sack of skin.'
38. Hast thou keenness of sight? Use it with judgment ever
so wisely, as the saying goes.
39. In the constitution of the rational creature I see no virtue
incompatible with justice, but incompatible with pleasure I
40. Take away thy opinion as to any imagined pain, and
thou thyself art set in surest safety. What is 'thyself'? Reason.
But I am not reason. Be it so. At all events let the Reason not
cause itself pain, but if any part in thee is amiss, let it form its
own opinion about itself.
BOOK VIII (cont.)
41. To the animal nature a thwarting of sense-perception is an
evil, as is also to the same nature the thwarting of impulse.
There is similarly some other thing that can thwart the
constitution of plants and is an evil to them. Thus then the
thwarting of intelligence is an evil to the intelligent nature.
Transfer the application of all this to thyself. Does pain, does
pleasure take hold of thee? The senses shall look to it. Wast
thou impelled to a thing and wast thwarted? If thy impulse
counts on an unconditional fulfilment, failure at once becomes
an evil to thee as a rational creature. But accept the universal
limitation, and thou hast so far received no hurt nor even been
thwarted. Indeed no one else is in a way to thwart the inner
purposes of the mind. For it no fire can touch, nor steel, nor
tyrant, nor obloquy, nor any thing soever: a sphere once
formed continues round and true.
42. It were not right that I should pain myself for not even
another have I ever knowingly pained.
43. One thing delights one, another thing another To me it is
a delight if I keep my ruling Reason sound, not looking askance
at man or anything that befalls man, but regarding all things
with kindly eyes, accepting and using everything for its intrinsic
44. See thou dower thyself with this present time. Those that
yearn rather for after-fame do not realize that their successors
are sure to be very much the same as the contemporaries whom
they find such a
BOOK VIII (cont.)
burden, and no less mortal. What is it anyway to thee if there be
this or that far-off echo of their voices, or if they have this or
that opinion about thee?
45. Take me up and cast me where thou wilt. For even there
will I keep my 'genius' gracious, that is, content if in itself and
in its activity it follow the laws of its own constitution.
Is this worth while, that on its account my soul should be ill
at ease and fall below itself, grovelling, grasping, floundering,
affrighted? What could make it worth while?
46. Nothing can befall a man that is not a contingency natural
to man; nor befall an ox, that is not natural to oxen, nor a vine,
that is not natural to a vine, nor to a stone that is not proper to it.
If therefore only what is natural and customary befalls each,
why be aggrieved? For the common Nature brings thee nothing
that thou canst not bear.
47. When thou art vexed at some external cross, it is not the
thing itself that troubles thee, but thy judgment on it. And this
thou canst annul in a moment. But if thou art vexed at
something in thine own character, who can prevent thee from
rectifying the principle that is to blame? So also if thou art
vexed at not undertaking that which seems to thee a sound act,
why not rather undertake it than be vexed? But there is a lion in
the path! Be not vexed then, for the blame of inaction rests not
with thee. But life is not worth living, this left undone. Depart
BOOK VIII (cont.)
then from life, dying with the same kindly feelings as he who
effects his purpose, and accepting with a good grace the
obstacles that thwart thee.
48. Never forget that the ruling Reason shews itself
unconquerable when, concentrated in itself, it is content with
itself, so it do nothing that it doth not will, even if it refuse from
mere opposition and not from reason—much, more, then, if it
judge of a thing on reasonable grounds and advisedly. Therefore
the Mind, unmastered by passions, is a very citadel, for a man
has no fortress more impregnable wherein to find refuge and
be untaken for ever. He indeed who hath not seen this is
ignorant, but he that hath seen it and takes not refuge therein is
49. Say no more to thyself than what the initial impressions
report. This has been told thee, that so and so speaks ill of thee.
This has been told thee, but it has not been told thee that thou
art harmed. I see that my child is ailing. I see it, but I do not see
that he is in danger. Keep then ever to first impressions and
supplement them not on thy part from within, and nothing
happens to thee. And yet do supplement them with this, that
thou art familiar with every possible contingency in the world.
50. The gherkin is bitter. Toss it away. There are briars in
the path. Turn aside. That suffices, and thou needest not to add
Why are such things found in the world? For thou wouldst be a
laughing stock to any student of nature; just as thou wouldst be
laughed at by a carpenter and a cobbler if thou tookest them to
task because in their shops are seen sawdust and parings from
what they are
BOOK VIII (cont.)
making. And yet they have space for the disposal of their
fragments; while the Universal Nature has nothing outside
herself; but the marvel of her craftsmanship is that, though she
is limited to herself, she transmutes into her own substance all
that within her seems to be perishing and decrepit and useless,
and again from these very things produces other new ones;
whereby she shews that she neither wants any substance outside
herself nor needs a corner where she may cast her decaying
matter. Her own space, her own material, her own proper
craftsmanship is all that she requires.
51. Be not dilatory in doing, nor confused in conversation,
nor vague in thought; let not thy soul be wholly concentred in
itself nor uncontrollably agitated; leave thyself leisure in thy
They kill us, they cut us limb from limb, they hunt us with
execrations! How does that prevent thy mind being still pure,
sane, sober, just? Imagine a man to stand by a crystal-clear
spring of sweet water, and to rail at it; yet it fails not to bubble
up with wholesome water. Throw in mud or even filth and it
will quickly winnow them away and purge itself of them and
take never a stain. How then possess thyself of a living fountain
and no mere well? By guiding thyself carefully every hour into
freedom with kindliness, simplicity, and modesty.
52. He that knoweth not what the Universe is knoweth not
where he is. He that knoweth not the end of its being knoweth
not who he is or what the Universe is. But he that is wanting in
the knowledge of any
BOOK VIII (cont.)
of these things could not tell what is the end of his own being.
What then must we think of those that court or eschew the
verdict of the clappers, who have no conception where or who
53. Carest thou to be praised by a man who execrates himself
thrice within the hour? Carest thou to win the approval of a man
who wins not his own? Can he be said to win his own approval
who regrets almost every thing he does?
54. Be no longer content merely to breathe in unison with the
all-embracing air, but from this moment think also in unison
with the all-embracing Intelligence. For that intelligent faculty
is everywhere diffused and offers itself on every side to him
that can take it in no less than the aerial to him that can breathe.
55. Taken generically, wickedness does no harm to the
Universe, and the particular wickedness does no harm to
others. It is harmful to the one individual alone, and he has been
given the option of being quit of it the first moment he pleases.
56. To my power of choice the power of choice of my
neighbour is as much a matter of indifference as is his vital
breath and his flesh. For however much we may have been
made for one another, yet our ruling Reason is in each case
master in its own house. Else might my neighbour's wickedness
become my bane; and this was not God's will, that another
might not have my unhappiness in his keeping.
57. The sun's light is diffused down, as it seems, yes, and in
every direction, yet it does not diffuse itself away. For this
diffusion is an extension. At any
BOOK VIII (cont.)
rate the beams of the Sun are called Extensions, because they
have an extension in space. And what a ray is you may easily
see, if you observe the sun's light entering through a narrow
chink into a darkened room, for it extends straight on, and is as
it were brought up against any solid body it encounters that
cuts off the air beyond. There the ray comes to a standstill,
neither slipping off nor sinking down. Such then should be the
diffusion and circumfusion of the mind, never a diffusing away
but extension, and it should never make a violent or
uncontrollable impact against any obstacle it meets with, no,
nor collapse, but stand firm and illuminate what receives it. For
that which conducts it not on its way will deprive itself wilfully
of its beams.
58. Dread of death is a dread of non-sensation or new
sensation. But either thou wilt feel no sensation, and so no
sensation of any evil; or a different kind of sensation will be
thine, and so the life of a different creature, but still a life.
59. Mankind have been created for the sake of one another.
Either instruct therefore or endure?
60. One is the way of an arrow, another of the mind.
Howbeit the mind, both when it cautiously examines its ground
and when it is engaged in its enquiry, is none the less moving
straight forward and towards its goal.
61. Enter into every man's ruling Reason, and give every one
else an opportunity to enter into thine?
1. Injustice is impiety. For in that the Nature of the
Universe has fashioned rational creatures for the sake of one
another with a view to mutual benefit based upon worth, but by
no means for harm, the transgressor of her will acts with
obvious impiety against the most venerable of Deities.
And the liar too acts impiously with respect to the same
Goddess. For the Nature of the Universe is the Nature of the
things that are. And the things that are have an intimate
connexion with all the things that have ever been, Moreover this
Nature is named Truth, and is the primary cause of all that is
true. The willing liar then is impious in so far as his deceit is a
wrong-doing; and the unwilling liar too, for he is out of tune
with the Nature of the Whole, and an element of disorder by
being in conflict with the Nature of an orderly Universe; for he
is in conflict who allows himself, as far as his conduct goes, to
be carried into opposition to what is true. And whereas he had
previously been endowed by nature with the means of
distinguishing false from true, by neglecting to use them he has
lost the power.
Again he acts impiously who seeks after pleasure as a good
thing and eschews pain as an evil. For
BOOK IX (cont.)
such a man must inevitably find frequent fault with the
Universal Nature as unfair in its apportionments to the
worthless and the worthy, since the worthless are often lapped
in pleasures and possess the things that make for pleasure, while
the worthy meet with pain and the things that make for pain.
Moreover he that dreads pain will some day be in dread of
something that must be in the world. And there we have impiety
at once. And he that hunts after pleasures will not hold his hand
from injustice. And this is palpable impiety.
But those, who are of one mind with Nature and would walk
in her ways, must hold a neutral attitude towards those things
towards which the Universal Nature is neutral—for she would
not be the Maker of both were she not neutral towards both. So
he clearly acts with impiety who is not himself neutral towards
pain and pleasure, death and life, good report and ill report,
things which the Nature of the Universe treats with neutrality.
And by the Universal Nature treating these with neutrality I
mean that all things happen neutrally in a chain of sequence to
things that come into being and to their after products by some
primeval impulse of Providence, in accordance with which She
was impelled by some primal impulse to this making of an
ordered Universe, when She had conceived certain principles
for all that was to be, and allocated the powers generative of
substances and changes and successions such as we see.
2. It were more graceful doubtless for a man to depart from
mankind untainted with falsehood and
BOOK IX (cont.)
all dissimulation and luxury and arrogance; failing that,
however, the 'next best course' is to breathe out his life when
his gorge has risen at these things. Or is it thy choice to throw in
thy lot with vice, and does not even thy taste of it yet persuade
thee to fly from the pestilence? For the corruption of the mind
is a pest far worse than any such miasma and vitiation of the air
which we breathe around us. The latter is a pestilence for living
creatures and affects their life, the former for human beings and
affects their humanity.
3. Despise not death, but welcome it, for Nature wills it like
all else. For dissolution is but one of the processes of Nature,
associated with thy life's various seasons, such as to be young,
to be old, to wax to our prime and to reach it, to grow teeth and
beard and gray hairs, to beget, conceive and bring forth. A man
then that has reasoned the matter out should not take up towards
death the attitude of indifference, eagerness, or scorn, but await
it as one of the processes of Nature. Look for the hour when
thy soul shall emerge from this its sheath, as now thou awaitest
the moment when the child she carries shall come forth from
thy wife's womb.
But if thou desirest a commonplace solace too that will
appeal to the heart, nothing will enable thee to meet death with
equanimity better than to observe the environment thou art
leaving and the sort of characters with whom thy soul shall no
BOOK IX (cont.)
mixed up. For while it is very far from right to fall foul of
them, but rather even to care for and deal gently with them, yet
it is well to remember that not from men of like principles with
thine will thy release be. For this alone, if anything, could draw
us back and bind us to life, if it were but permitted us to live
with those who have possessed themselves of the same
principles as ours. But now thou seest how thou art driven by
sheer weariness at the jarring discord of thy life with them to
say: Tarry not, O Death, lest peradventure I too forget myself.
4. He that does wrong, does wrong to himself. The unjust
man is unjust to himself, for he makes himself bad.
5. There is often an injustice of omission as well as of
6. The present assumption rightly apprehended, the present
act socially enacted, the present disposition satisfied with all
that befalls it from the Cause external to it—these will suffice.
7. Efface imagination. Restrain impulse. Quench desire.
Keep the ruling Reason in thine own power.
8. Among irrational creatures one life is distributed, and
among the rational one intellectual soul has been parcelled out.
Just as also there is one earth for all the things that are of the
BOOK IX (cont.)
one is the light whereby we see, and one the air we all breathe
that have sight and life.
9. All that share in a common element have an affinity for
their own kind. The trend of all that is earthy is to earth; fluids
all run together; it is the same with the aerial; so that only
interposing obstacles and force can keep them apart. Fire indeed
has a tendency to rise by reason of the elemental fire, but is so
quick to be kindled in sympathy with all fire here below that
every sort of matter, a whit drier than usual, is easily kindled
owing to its having fewer constituents calculated to offer
resistance to its kindling. So then all that shares in the Universal
Intelligent Nature has as strong an affinity towards what is akin,
aye even a stronger. For the measure of its superiority to all
other things is the measure of its readiness to blend and coalesce
with that which is akin to it.
At any rate to begin with among irrational creatures we find
swarms and herds and birdcolonies and, as it were, love-
associations. For already at that stage there are souls, and the
bond of affinity shews itself in the higher form to a degree of
intensity not found in plants or stones or timber. But among
rational creatures are found political communities and
friendships and households and gatherings, and in wars treaties
and armistices. But in things still higher a sort of unity in
separation even exists, as in the stars. Thus the ascent to the
higher form is able to effect a sympathetic connexion even
among things which are separate.
BOOK IX (cont.)
See then what actually happens at the present time; for at the
present time it is only the intelligent creatures that have forgotten
their mutual affinity and attraction, and here alone there is no sign
of like flowing to like. Yet flee as they will, they are nevertheless
caught in the toils, for Nature will have her way. Watch closely
and thou wilt see 'tis so. Easier at any rate were it to find an earthy
thing in touch with nothing earthy than a man wholly severed from
10. They all bear fruit—Man and God and the Universe: each
in its due season bears. It matters nought that in customary
parlance such a term is strictly applicable only to the vine and such
things. Reason too hath its fruit both for all and for itself, and there
issue from it other things such as is Reason itself.
11. If thou art able, convert the wrong-doer. If not, bear in
mind that kindliness was given thee to meet just such a case. The
Gods too are kindly to such persons and even co-operate with
them for certain ends—for health, to wit, and wealth and fame, so
benignant are they. Thou too canst be the same; or say who is
there that prevents thee.
12. Do thy work not as a drudge, nor as desirous of pity or
praise. Desire one thing only, to act or not to act as civic reason
13. This day have I got me out of all trouble, or rather have cast
out all trouble, for it was not from without, but within, in my own
BOOK IX (cont.)
14. All these are things of familiar experience; in their
duration ephemeral, in their material sordid. Everything is now
as it was in the days of those whom we have buried.
15. Objective things stand outside the door, keeping
themselves to themselves, without knowledge of or message
about themselves. What then has for us a message about them?
The ruling Reason.
16. Not in being acted upon but in activity lies the evil and
the good of the rational and civic creature, just as his virtue too
and his vice lie in activity and not in being acted upon.
17. The stone that is thrown into the air is none the worse for
falling down, or the better for being carried upwards.
18. Find the way within into their ruling Reason, and thou
shalt see what these judges are whom thou fearest and what their
judgment of themselves is worth.
19. Change is the universal experience. Thou art thyself
undergoing a perpetual transformation and, in some sort,
decay: aye and the whole Universe as well.
20. Another's wrong-doing should be left with him.
21. A cessation of activity, a quiescence from impulse and
opinion and, as it were, their death, is no evil. Turn now to
consider the stages of thy life—childhood, boyhood, manhood,
old age—each step in the ladder of change a death. Is there
anything terrible here? Pass on now to thy life under thy
grandfather, then under thy mother, then under thy
BOOK IX (cont.)
father, and finding there many other alterations, changes, and
cessations, ask thyself: Is there anything terrible here? No, nor
any in the ending and quiescence and change of the whole of
22. Speed to the ruling Reason of thyself, and of the
Universe, and of thy neighbour: of thine own, that thou mayest
make it just; of that of the Universe, that thou mayest
therewithal remember of what thou art a part; of thy neighbour,
that thou mayest learn whether it was ignorance with him or
understanding, and reflect at the same time that it is akin to
23. As thou thyself art a part perfective of a civic organism,
let also thine every act be a part perfective of civic life. Every
act of thine then that has no relation direct or indirect to this
social end, tears thy life asunder and destroys its unity, and
creates a schism, just as in a commonwealth does the man who,
as far as in him lies, stands aloof from such a concord of his
24. Children's squabbles and make-believe, and little souls
bearing up corpses—the Invocation of the Dead might strike
one as a more vivid reality!
25. Go straight to that which makes a thing what it is, its
formative cause, and, isolating it from the material, regard it
so. Then mark off the utmost time for which the individual
object so qualified is calculated to subsist.
BOOK IX (cont.)
26. By not being content with thy ruling Reason doing the
work for which it was constituted, thou hast borne unnumbered
ills. Nay, 'tis enough!
27. When men blame or hate thee or give utterance to some
such feelings against thee, turn to their souls, enter into them,
and see what sort of men they are. Thou wilt perceive that thou
needest not be concerned as to what they think of thee. Yet
must thou feel kindly towards them, for Nature made them dear
to thee. The Gods too lend them aid in divers ways by dreams
and oracles, to win those very things on which their hearts are
28. The same, upwards, downwards, from cycle to cycle are
the revolutions of the Universe. And either the Universal Mind
feels an impulse to act in each separate case—and if this be so,
accept its impulsion—or it felt this impulse once for all, and
all subsequent things follow by way of consequence; and what
matters which it be, for if you like to put it so the world is all
atoms [or indivisible]. But as to the Whole, if God—all is well;
if haphazard—be not thou also haphazard.
Presently the earth will cover us all. It too will anon be
changed, and the resulting product will go on from change to
change, and so for ever and ever. When a man thinks of these
successive waves of change and transformation, and their
rapidity, he will hold every mortal thing in scorn.
29. The World-Cause is as a torrent, it sweeps everything
along. How negligible these manikins
BOOK IX (cont.)
that busy themselves with civic matters and flatter themselves
that they act therein as philosophers! Drivellers all! What then,
O Man? Do what Nature asks of thee now. Make the effort if it
be given thee to do so and look not about to see if any shall
know it. Dream not of Utopias, but be content if the least thing
go forward, and count the outcome of the matter in hand as a
small thing. For who can alter another's conviction? Failing a
change of conviction, we merely get men pretending to be
persuaded and chafing like slaves under coercion. Go to now and
tell me of Alexander and Philip and Demetrius of Phalerum.
Whether they realized the will of Nature and schooled
themselves thereto, is their concern. But if they played the
tragedy-hero, no one has condemned me to copy them. Simple
and modest is the work of Philosophy: lead me not astray into
pomposity and pride.
30. Take a bird's-eye view of the world, its endless
gatherings and endless ceremonials, voyagings manifold in
storm and calm, and the vicissitudes of things coming into being,
participating in being, ceasing to be. Reflect too on the life lived
long ago by other men, and the life that shall be lived after thee,
and is now being lived in barbarous countries; and how many
have never even heard thy name, and how many will very soon
forget it, and how many who now perhaps acclaim, will very
soon blame thee, and that neither memory nor fame nor anything
else whatever is worth reckoning.
31. Freedom from perturbance in all that befalls
BOOK IX (cont.)
from the external Cause, and justice in all that thine own inner
Cause prompts thee to do; that is, impulse and action finding
fulfilment in the actual performance of social duty as being in
accordance with thy nature.
32. It is in thy power to rid thyself of many unnecessary
troubles, for they exist wholly in thy imagination. Thou wilt at
once set thy feet in a large room by embracing the whole
Universe in thy mind and including in thy purview time
everlasting, and by observing the rapid change in every part of
everything, and the shortness of the span between birth and
dissolution, and that the yawning immensity before birth is only
matched by the infinity after our dissolution.
33. All that thine eyes behold will soon perish and they, who
live to see it perish, will in their turn perish no less quickly; and
he who outlives all his contemporaries and he who dies before
his time will be as one in the grave.
34. What is the ruling Reason of these men, and about what
sort of objects have they been in earnest, and from what motives
do they lavish their love and their honour! View with the mind's
eye their poor little souls in their nakedness. What immense
conceit this of theirs, when they fancy that there is bane in their
blame or profit in their praises!
35. Loss and change, they are but one. Therein doth the
Universal Nature take pleasure, through whom are all things
done now as they have been in like fashion from time
everlasting; and to eternity shall other like things be. Why then
dost thou say that all things have been evil and will remain evil
BOOK IX (cont.)
to the end, and that no help has after all been found in Gods, so
many as they be, to right these things, but that the fiat hath gone
forth that the Universe should be bound in an unbroken chain of
36. Seeds of decay in the underlying material of
everything—water, dust, bones, reek! Again, marble but
nodules of earth, and gold and silver but dross, garments merely
hair-tufts, and purple only blood. And so with everything else.
The soul too another like thing and liable to change from this to
37. Have done with this miserable way of life, this
grumbling, this apism! Why fret? What is the novelty here?
What amazes thee? The Cause? Look fairly at it. What then,
the Material? Look fairly at that. Apart from these two, there is
nothing. But in regard to the Gods also now even at the eleventh
hour show thyself more simple, more worthy.
Whether thy experience of these things lasts three hundred
years or three, it is all one.
38. If he did wrong, with him lies the evil. But maybe he did
39. Either there is one intelligent source, from which as in
one body all after things proceed—and the part ought not to
grumble at what is done in the interests of the whole—or there
are atoms, and nothing but a medley and a dispersion. Why
then be harassed? Say to thy ruling Reason: Thou art dead!
Thou art corrupt! Thou hast become a wild beast! Thou art a
hypocrite! Thou art one of the herd! Thou battenest with them!
40. Either the Gods have no power or they have
BOOK IX (cont.)
power. If they have no power, why pray to them? But if they
have power, why not rather pray that they should give thee
freedom from fear of any of these tilings and from lust for any
of these things and from grief at any of these things [rather] than
that they should grant this or refuse that. For obviously if they
can assist men at all, they can assist them in this. But perhaps
thou wilt say: The Gods have put this in my power. Then is it
not better to use what is in thy power like a free man than to
concern thyself with what is not in thy power like a slave and an
abject? And who told thee that the Gods do not co-operate with
us even in the things that are in our power? Begin at any rate
with prayers for such things and thou wilt see. One prays: How
may I lie with that woman! Thou: How may I not lust to lie
with her! Another: How may I be quit of that man! Thou: How
may I not wish to be quit of him! Another: How may I not lose
my little child! Thou: How may I not dread to lose him. In a
word, give thy prayers this turn, and see what comes of it.
41. Listen to Epicurus where he says: In my illness my talk
was not of any bodily feelings, nor did I chatter about such
things to those who came to see me, but I went on with my
cardinal disquisitions on natural philosophy, dwelling
especially on this point, how the mind, having perforce its share
in such affections of the flesh, yet remains unperturbed,
safeguarding its own proper good. Nor did I—he goes on—let
the physicians ride the high horse as if they were doing
grand things, but my life went on well and happily. Imitate him
then in sickness, if thou art sick, and in any other emergency; for
it is a commonplace of every sect not to renounce Philosophy
whatever difficulties we encounter, nor to consent to babble as
he does that is unenlightened in philosophy and nature; . . .
devote thyself to thy present work alone and thy instrument for
42. When thou art offended by shamelessness in any one, put
this question at once to thyself: Can it be then that shameless
men should not exist in the world? It can not be. Then ask not
for what can not be. For this man in question also is one of the
shameless ones that must needs exist in the world. Have the
same reflection ready for the rogue, the deceiver, or any other
wrongdoer whatever. For the remembrance that this class of men
cannot but exist will bring with it kindlier feelings towards
individuals of the class. Right useful too is it to bethink thee at
once of this: What virtue has Nature given man as a foil to the
wrong-doing in question? For as an antidote against the
unfeeling man she has given gentleness, and against another
man some other resource.
In any case it is in thy power to teach the man that has gone
astray the error of his ways. For every one that doth amiss misses
his true mark and hath gone astray. But what harm hast thou
suffered? Thou wilt find that not one of the persons against
whom thou art exasperated has done anything capable of making
thy mind worse; but it is in
BOOK IX (cont.)
thy mind that the evil for thee and the harmful have their whole
Where is the harm or the strangeness in the boor acting—like
a boor? See whether thou art not thyself the more to blame in
not expecting that he would act thus wrongly. For thy reason too
could have given thee means for concluding that this would
most likely be the case. Nevertheless all this is forgotten, and
thou art surprised at his wrongdoing.
But above all, when thou findest fault with a man for
faithlessness and ingratitude, turn thy thoughts to thyself. For
evidently the fault is thine own, whether thou hadst faith that a
man with such a character would keep faith with thee, or if in
bestowing a kindness thou didst not bestow it absolutely and as
from the very doing of it having at once received the full
For when thou hast done a kindness, what more wouldst thou
have? Is not this enough that thou hast done something in
accordance with thy nature? Seekest thou a recompense for it?
As though the eye should claim a guerdon for seeing, or the feet
for walking! For just as these latter were made for their special
work, and by carrying this out according to their individual
constitution they come fully into their own, so also man, formed
as he is by nature for benefiting others, when he has acted as
benefactor or as co-factor in any other way for the general weal,
has done what he was constituted for, and has what is his.
1. Wilt thou then, O my Soul, ever at last be good and
simple and single and naked, shewing thyself more visible than
the body that overlies thee? Wilt thou ever taste the sweets of a
loving and a tender heart? Ever be full-filled and self- sufficing,
longing for nothing, lusting after nothing animate or inanimate,
for the enjoyment of pleasures —not time wherein the longer to
enjoy them, nor place or country or congenial climes or men
nearer to thy liking—but contented with thy present state and
delighted with thy present everything, convincing thyself withal
that all that is present for thee is present from the Gods, and
that everything is and shall be well with thee that is pleasing to
them and that they shall hereafter grant for the conservation of
that Perfect Being that is good and just and beautiful, the
Begetter and Upholder of all things, that embraces and gathers
them in, when they are dissolved, to generate therefrom other
like things? Wilt thou ever at last fit thyself so to be a fellow-
citizen with the Gods and with men as never to find fault with
them or incur their condemnation?
BOOK X (cont.)
2. Observe what thy nature asks of thee, as one controlled by
Nature alone, then do this and with a good grace, if thy nature
as a living creature is not to be made worse thereby. Next must
thou observe what thy nature as a living creature asks of thee.
And this must thou wholly accept, if thy nature as a rational
living creature be not made worse thereby. Now the rational is
indisputably also the civic. Comply with these rules then and be
not needlessly busy about anything.
3. All that befalls either so befalls as thou art fitted by nature
to bear it or as thou art not fitted. If the former, take it not
amiss, but bear it as thou art fitted to do. If the latter, take not
that amiss either, for when it has destroyed thee, it will itself
perish. Howbeit be assured that thou art fitted by nature to bear
everything which it rests with thine own opinion about it to
render bearable and tolerable, according as thou thinkest it thy
interest or thy duty to do so.
4. If a man makes a slip, enlighten him with loving-kindness,
and shew him wherein he hath seen amiss. Failing that, blame
thyself or not even thyself.
5. Whatever befalls thee was set in train for thee from
everlasting, and the interplication of causes was from eternity
weaving into one fabric thy existence and the coincidence of
6. Whether there be atoms or a Nature, let it be postulated
first, that I am a part of the whole Universe controlled by
Nature; secondly, that I stand in some intimate connexion with
other kindred parts.
BOOK X (cont.)
For bearing this in mind, as I am a part, I shall not be displeased
with anything allotted me from the Whole. For what is
advantageous to the whole can in no wise be injurious to the
part. For the Whole contains nothing that is not advantageous
to itself; and all natures have this in common, but the Universal
Nature is endowed with the additional attribute of never being
forced by any external cause to engender anything hurtful to
As long then as I remember that I am a part of such a whole,
I shall be well pleased with all that happens; and in so far as I
am in intimate connexion with the parts that are akin to myself,
I shall be guilty of no unsocial act, but I shall devote my
attention rather to the parts that are akin to myself, and direct
every impulse of mine to the common interest and withhold it
from the reverse of this. That being done, life must needs flow
smoothly, as thou mayst see the life flow smoothly of a citizen
who goes steadily on in a course of action beneficial to his
fellow-citizens and cheerfully accepts whatever is assigned him
by the State.
7. The parts of the Whole—all that Nature has comprised in
the Universe—must inevitably perish, taking "perish" to mean
"be changed." But if this process is by nature for them both
evil and inevitable, the Whole could never do its work
satisfactorily, its parts ever going as they do from change to
change and being constituted to perish in diverse ways. Did
Nature herself set her hand to bringing evil upon parts of herself
and rendering them not only liable to fall into evil but of
necessity fallen into it,
BOOK X (cont.)
or was she not aware that such was the case? Both alternatives
But supposing that we even put Nature as an agent out of the
question and explain that these things are "naturally" so, even
then it would be absurd to assert that the parts of the whole are
naturally subject to change, and at the same time to be
astonished at a thing or take it amiss as though it befell contrary
to nature, and that though things dissolve into the very
constituents out of which they are composed. For either there is
a scattering of the elements out of which I have been built up,
or a transmutation of the solid into the earthy and of the
spiritual into the aerial; so that these too are taken back into
the Reason of the Universe, whether cycle by cycle it be
consumed with fire or renew itself by everlasting
Aye and so then do not be under the impression that the solid
and the spiritual date from the moment of birth. For it was but
yesterday or the day before that all this took in its increment
from the food eaten and the air breathed. It is then this, that it
took in, which changes, not the product of thy mother's womb.
But granted that thou art ever so closely bound up with that by
thy individuality, this, I take it, has no bearing upon the present
8. Assuming for thyself the appellations, a good man, a
modest man, a truthteller, wise of heart,
BOOK X (cont.)
sympathetic of heart, great of heart, take heed thou be not new-
named. And if thou shouldst forfeit these titles, e'en make haste
to get back to them. And bear in mind that wise of heart was
meant to signify for thee a discerning consideration of every
object and a thoroughness of thought; sympathetic of heart, a
willing acceptance of all that the Universal Nature allots thee;
great of heart an uplifting of our mental part above the motions
smooth or rough of the flesh, above the love of empty fame, the
fear of death, and all other like things. Only keep thyself entitled
to these appellations, not itching to receive them from others,
and thou wilt be a new man and enter on a new life. For to be
still such as thou hast been till now, and to submit to the
rendings and defilements of such a life, is worthy of a man that
shews beyond measure a dull senselessness and a clinging to
life, and is on a level with the wild-beast fighters that are half-
devoured in the arena, who, though a mass of wounds and gore,
beg to be kept till the next day, only to be thrown again, torn as
they are, to the same teeth and talons.
Take ship then on these few attributions, and if thou canst
abide therein, so abide as one who has migrated to some Isles of
the Blest. But if thou feelest thyself adrift, and canst not win thy
way, betake thyself with a good heart to some nook where thou
shalt prevail, or even depart altogether from life, not in wrath
but in simplicity, independence, and modesty, having at least
BOOK X (cont.)
one thing well in life, that thou hast quitted it thus. Howbeit, to
keep these attributions in mind it will assist thee greatly if thou
bear the Gods in mind, and that it is not flattery they crave but for
all rational things to be conformed to their likeness, and that man
should do a man's work, as the fig tree does the work of a fig-tree,
the dog of a dog, and the bee of a bee.
9. Stage-apery, warfare, cowardice, torpor, servility—these
will day by day obliterate all those holy principles of thine which,
as the student of Nature, thou dost conceive and accept. But thou
must regard and do everything in such a way that at one and the
same time the present task may be carried through, and full play
given to the faculty of pure thought, and that the self-confidence
engendered by a knowledge of each individual thing be kept
intact, unobtruded yet unconcealed.
When wilt thou find thy delight in simplicity? When in dignity?
When in the knowledge of each separate thing, what it is in its
essence, what place it fills in the Universe, how long it is formed
by Nature to subsist, what are its component parts, to whom it can
pertain, and who can bestow and take it away?
10. A spider prides itself on capturing a fly; one man on
catching a hare, another on netting a sprat, another on taking wild
boars, another bears, another Sarmatians. Are not these brigands,
if thou test their principles?
BOOK X (cont.)
11. Make thy own a scientific system of enquiry into the
mutual change of all things, and pay diligent heed to this branch
of study and exercise thyself in it. For nothing is so conducive
to greatness of mind. Let a man do this and he divests himself of
his body and, realizing that he must almost at once relinquish all
these things and depart from among men, he gives himself up
wholly to just dealing in all his actions, and to the Universal
Nature in all that befalls him. What others may say or think
about him or do against him he does not even let enter his mind,
being well satisfied with these two things—justice in all present
acts and contentment with his present lot. And he gives up all
engrossing cares and ambitions, and has no other wish than to
achieve the straight course through the Law and, by achieving
it, to be a follower of God.
12. What need of surmise when it lies with thee to decide
what should be done, and if thou canst see thy course, to take it
with a good grace and not turn aside; but if thou canst not see it,
to hold back and take counsel of the best counsellors; and if any
other obstacles arise therein, to go forward as thy present means
shall allow with careful deliberation holding to what is clearly
just? For to succeed in this is the best thing of all, since in fact
to fail in this would be the only failure.
Leisurely without being lethargic and cheerful as well as
composed shall he be who follows Reason in everything.
13. Ask thyself as soon as thou art roused from sleep: Will it
make any difference to me if another does
BOOK X (cont.)
what is just and right? It will make none. Hast thou forgotten
that those who play the wanton in their praise and blame of
others, are such as they are in their beds, at their board; and
what are the things that they do, the things that they avoid or
pursue, and how they pilfer and plunder, not with hands and feet
but with the most precious part of them, whereby a man calls
into being at will faith, modesty, truth, law, and a good 'genius'?
14. Says the well-schooled and humble heart to Nature that
gives and takes back all we have; Give what thou wilt, take back
what thou wilt. But he says it without any bravado of fortitude,
in simple obedience and good will to her.
15. Thou has but a short time left to live. Live as on a
mountain; for whether it be here or there, matters not provided
that, wherever a man live, he live as a citizen of the World-
City. Let men look upon thee, cite thee, as a man in very deed
that lives according to Nature. If they cannot bear with thee, let
them slay thee. For it were better so than to live their life.
16. Put an end once for all to this discussion of what a good
man should be, and be one.
17. Continually picture to thyself Time as a whole, and
Substance as a whole, and every individual
BOOK X (cont.)
thing, in respect of substance, as but a fig-seed and, in respect to
time, as but a twist of the drill.
18. Regarding attentively every existing thing reflect that it is
already disintegrating and changing, and as it were in a state of
decomposition and dispersion, or that everything is by nature
made but to die.
19. What are they like when eating, sleeping, coupling,
evacuating, and the rest! What again when lording it over
others, when puffed up with pride, when filled with resentment
or rebuking others from a loftier plane! Yet but a moment ago
they were lackeying how many and for what ends, and anon
will be at their old trade.
20. What the Universal Nature brings to every thing is for the
benefit of that thing, and for its benefit then when she brings it.
21. The earth is in love with showers and the majestic sky is
in love. And the Universe is in love with making whatever has
to be. To the Universe then I say: Together with thee I will be in
love. Is it not a way we have of speaking, to say, This or that
loves to be so?
22. Either thy life is here and thou art inured to it; or thou
goest elsewhere and this with thine own will; or thou diest and
hast served out thy service. There is no other alternative. Take
23. Never lose sight of the fact that a man's 'freehold' is
such as I told thee, and how all the conditions are the same here
as on the top of a
BOOK X (cont.)
mountain or on the sea-shore or wherever thou pleasest. Quite
apposite shalt thou find to be the words of Plato: Compassed
about (by the city wall as) by a sheep-fold on the mountain, and
24. What is my ruling Reason and what am I making of it
now? To what use do I now put it? Is it devoid of intelligence?
Is it divorced and severed from neighbourliness? Does it so
coalesce and blend with the flesh as to be swayed by it?
25. He that flies from his master is a runaway. But the Law is
our master, and he that transgresses the Law is a runaway. Now
he also, that is moved by grief or wrath or fear, is fain that
something should not have happened or be happening or happen
in the future of what has been ordained by that which controls
the whole Universe, that is by the Law laying down all that falls
to a man's lot. He then is a runaway who is moved by fear or
grief or wrath.
26. A man passes seed into a womb and goes his way, and
anon another cause takes it in hand and works upon it and
perfects a babe—what a consummation from what a beginning!
Again he passes food down the throat, and anon another cause
taking up the work creates sensation and impulse and, in fine,
life and strength and other things how many and how
mysterious! Muse then on these
BOOK X (cont.)
things that are done in such secrecy, and detect the efficient force,
just as we detect the descensive and the ascensive none the less
clearly that it is not with our eyes.
27. Bear in mind continually how all such things as now exist
existed also before our day and, be assured, will exist after us. Set
before thine eyes whole dramas and their stagings, one like
another, all that thine own experience has shewn thee or thou hast
learned from past history, for instance the entire court of
Hadrianus, the entire court of Antoninus, the entire court of
Philip, of Alexander, of Croesus. For all those scenes were such as
we see now, only the performers being different.
28. Picture to thyself every one that is grieved at any
occurrence whatever or dissatisfied, as being like the pig which
struggles and screams when sacrificed; like it too him who, alone
upon his bed, bewails in silence the fetters of our fate; and that to
the rational creature alone has it been granted to submit willingly
to what happens, mere submission being imperative on all.
29. In every act of thine pause at each step and ask thyself: Is
death to he dreaded for the loss of this?
30. Does another's wrong-doing shock thee? Turn
incontinently to thyself and bethink thee what analogous wrong-
doing there is of thine own, such as deeming money to be a good
or pleasure or a little cheap fame and the like. For by marking
BOOK X (cont.)
this thou wilt quickly forget thy wrath, with this reflection too to
aid thee, that a man is under constraint; for what should he do?
Or, if thou art able, remove the constraint.
31. Let a glance at Satyron call up the image of Socraticus or
Eutyches or Hymen, and a glance at Euphrates the image of
Eutychion or Silvanus, and a glance at Alciphron
Tropaeophorus, and at Severus Xenophon or Crito. Let a glance
at thyself bring to mind one of the Caesars, and so by analogy in
every case. Then let the thought strike thee: Where are they
now? Nowhere, or none can say where. For thus shalt thou
habitually look upon human things as mere smoke and as
naught; and more than ever so, if thou bethink thee that what has
once changed will exist no more throughout eternity. Why strive
then and strain? Why not be content to pass this thy short span
of life in becoming fashion?
What material, what a field for thy work dost thou forgo! For
what are all these things but objects for the exercise of a reason
that hath surveyed with accuracy and due inquiry into its nature
the whole sphere of life? Continue then until thou hast
assimilated these truths also to thyself, as the vigorous digestion
assimilates every food, or the blazing fire converts into warmth
and radiance whatever is cast into it.
32. Give no one the right to say of thee with truth that thou
art not a sincere, that thou art not a
BOOK X (cont.)
good man, but let anyone that shall form any such an idea of
thee be as one that maketh a lie. All this rests with thee. For
who is there to hinder thee from being good and sincere?
Resolve then to live no longer if thou be not such. For neither
doth Reason in that case insist that thou shouldest.
33. Taking our 'material' into account, what can be said or
done in the soundest way? Be it what it may, it rests with thee
to do or say it. And let us have no pretence that thou art being
Never shalt thou cease murmuring until it be so with thee
that the utilizing, in a manner consistent with the constitution of
man, of the material presented to thee and cast in thy way shall
be to thee what indulgence is to the sensual. For everything
must be accounted enjoyment that it is in a man's power to put
into practice in accordance with his own nature; and it is
everywhere in his power.
A cylinder we know has no power given it of individual
motion everywhere, nor has fire or water or any other thing
controlled by Nature or by an irrational soul. For the interposing
and impeding obstacles are many. But Intelligence and Reason
make their way through every impediment just as their nature or
their will prompts them. Setting before thine eyes this ease
wherewith the Reason can force its way through every obstacle,
as fire upwards, as a stone downwards, as a cylinder down a
slope, look for nothing beyond. For other hindrances either
concern that veritable corpse, the body, or, apart from
imagination and the surrender of Reason herself, cannot crush
us or work any harm at all.
BOOK X (cont.)
Else indeed would their victim at once become bad.
In fact in the case of all other organisms, if any evil happen
to any of them, the victim itself becomes the worse for it. But a
man so circumstanced becomes, if I may so say, better and more
praiseworthy by putting such contingencies to a right use. In
fine, remember that nothing that harms not the city can harm
him whom Nature has made a citizen; nor yet does that harm a
city which harms not law. But not one of the so-called
mischances harms law. What does not harm law, then, does no
harm to citizen or city.
34. Even an obvious and quite brief aphorism can serve to
warn him that is bitten with the true doctrines against giving
way to grief and fear; as for instance,
Such are the races of men as the leaves that the wind scatters
And thy children too are little leaves. Leaves also they who
make an outcry as if they ought to be listened to, and scatter
their praises or, contrariwise, their curses, or blame and scoff in
secret. Leaves too they that are to hand down our after-fame.
For all these things
Burgeon again with the season of spring;
anon the wind hath cast them down, and the forest puts forth
others in their stead. Transitoriness is the common lot of all
things, yet there is none of these that thou huntest not after or
BOOK X (cont.)
as though it were everlasting. A little while and thou shalt close
thine eyes; aye, and for him that bore thee to the grave shall
another presently raise the dirge.
35. The sound eye should see all there is to be seen, but
should not say: I want what is green only. For that is
characteristic of a disordered eye. And the sound hearing and
smell should be equipped for all that is to be heard or smelled.
And the sound digestion should act towards all nutriment as a
mill towards the grist which it was formed to grind. So should
the sound mind be ready for all that befalls. But the mind that
says: Let my children be safe! Let all applaud my every act is
but as an eye that looks for green things or as teeth that look for
36. There is no one so fortunate as not to have one or two
standing by his death-bed who will welcome the evil which is
befalling him. Say he was a worthy man and a wise; will there
not be some one at the very end to say in his heart, We can
breathe again at last, freed from this schoolmaster, not that he
was hard on any of us, but I was all along conscious that he
tacitly condemned us? So much for the worthy, but in our own
case how many other reasons can be found for which hundreds
would be only too glad to be quit of us! Think then upon this
when dying, and thy passing from life will be easier if thou
reason thus: I am leaving a life in which even my intimates for
whom I have so greatly toiled, prayed, and thought, aye even
they wish me gone, expecting belike to gain thereby
BOOK X (cont.)
some further ease. Why then should anyone cling to a longer
Howbeit go away with no less kindliness towards them on
this account, but maintaining thy true characteristics be friendly
and goodnatured and gracious; nor again as though wrenched
apart, but rather should thy withdrawal from them be as that
gentle slipping away of soul from body which we see when a
man makes a peaceful end. For it was Nature that knit and
kneaded thee with them, and now she parts the tie. I am parted
as from kinsfolk, not dragged forcibly away, but going
unresistingly. For this severance too is a process of Nature.
37. In every act of another habituate thyself as far as may be
to put to thyself the question: What end has the man in view?
But begin with thyself, cross-examine thyself first.
38. Bear in mind that what pulls the strings is that Hidden
Thing within us: that makes our speech, that our life, that, one
may say, makes the man. Never in thy mental picture of it
include the vessel that overlies it nor these organs that are
appurtenances thereof. They are like the workman's adze, only
differing from it in being naturally attached to the body. Since
indeed, severed from the Cause that bids them move and bids
them stay, these parts are as useless as is the shuttle of the
weaver, the pen of the writer, and the whip of the charioteer.
1. The properties of the Rational Soul are these: it sees itself,
dissects itself, moulds itself to its own will, itself reaps its own
fruits—whereas the fruits of the vegetable kingdom and the
corresponding produce of animals are reaped by others,—it
wins to its own goal wherever the bounds of life be set. In
dancing and acting and such-like arts, if any break occurs, the
whole action is rendered imperfect; but the rational soul in
every part and wheresoever taken shews the work set before it
fulfilled and all-sufficient for itself, so that it can say: I have to
the full what is my own.
More than this, it goeth about the whole Universe and the
void surrounding it and traces its plan, and stretches forth into
the infinitude of Time, and comprehends the cyclical
Regeneration of all things, and takes stock of it, and discerns
that our children will see nothing fresh, just as our fathers too
never saw anything more than we. So that in a manner the man
of forty years, if he have a grain of sense, in view of this
sameness has seen all that has been
BOOK XI (cont.)
and shall be. Again a property of the Rational Soul is the love of
our neighbour, and truthfulness, and modesty, and to prize
nothing above itself— a characteristic also of Law. In this way
then the Reason that is right reason and the Reason that is justice
2. Thou wilt think but meanly of charming song and dance
and the pancratium, if thou analyze the melodious utterance
into its several notes and in the case of each ask thyself: Has this
the mastery over me? For thou wilt recoil from such a
confession. So too with the dance, if thou do the like for each
movement and posture. The same holds good of the pancratium.
In fine, virtue and its sphere of action excepted, remember to
turn to the component parts, and by analyzing them come to
despise them. Bring the same practice to bear on the whole of
3. What a soul is that which is ready to be released from the
body at any requisite moment, and be quenched or dissipated or
hold together! But the readiness must spring from a man's inner
judgment, and not be the result of mere opposition [as is the
case with the Christians]. It must be associated with
deliberation and dignity and, if others too are to be convinced,
with nothing like stage-heroics.
4. Have I done some social act? Well, I am amply
rewarded. Keep this truth ever ready to turn to, and in no wise
slacken thine efforts.
5. What is thy vocation? To be a good man.
BOOK XI (cont.)
But how be successful in this save by assured conceptions on the
one hand of the Universal Nature and on the other of the special
constitution of man?
6. Originally tragedies were brought on to remind us of real
events, and that such things naturally occur, and that on life's
greater stage you must not be vexed at things, which on the
stage you find so attractive. For it is seen that these things must
be gone through, and they too have to endure them, who cry
Ah, Kithaeron! Aye, and the dramatic writers contain some
serviceable sayings, for example this more especially:
Though, both my sons and me the gods have spurned,
For this too there is reason;
It nought availeth to be wroth with things;
Our lives are reaped like the ripe ears of corn;
and how many more like them.
And after Tragedy the old Comedy was put on the stage,
exercising an educative freedom of speech, and by its very
directness of utterance giving us no unserviceable warning
against unbridled arrogance. In somewhat similar vein
Diogenes also took up this role. After this, consider for what
purpose the Middle Comedy was introduced, and subsequently
the New, which little by little degenerated into ingenious
mimicry. For that some serviceable
BOOK XI (cont.)
things are said even by the writers of these is recognized by all.
But what end in view had this whole enterprize of such poetical
and dramatic composition?
7. How clearly is it borne in on thee that there is no other
state of life so fitted to call for the exercise of Philosophy as this
in which thou now findest thyself.
8. A branch cut off from its neighbour branch cannot but be
cut off from the whole plant. In the very same way a man
severed from one man has fallen away from the fellowship of
all men. Now a branch is cut off by others, but a man separates
himself from his neighbour by his own agency in hating him or
turning his back upon him; and is unaware that he has thereby
sundered himself from the whole civic community. But mark
the gift of Zeus who established the law of fellowship. For it is
in our power to grow again to the neighbour branch, and again
become perfective of the whole. But such a schism constantly
repeated makes it difficult for the seceding part to unite again
and resume its former condition. And in general the branch that
from the first has shared in the growth of the tree and lived with
its life is not like that which has been cut off and afterwards
grafted on to it, as the gardeners are apt to tell you. Be of one
bush, but not of one mind.
9. As those who withstand thy progress along the path of
right reason will never be able to turn thee
BOOK XI (cont.)
aside from sound action, so let them not wrest thee from a
kindly attitude towards them; but keep a watch over thyself in
both directions alike, not only in steadfastness of judgment
and action but also in gentleness towards those who endeavour
to stand in thy path or be in some other way a thorn in thy side.
For in fact it is a sign of weakness to be wroth with them, no
less than to shrink from action and be terrified into surrender.
For they that do the one or the other are alike deserters of their
post, the one as a coward, the other as estranged from a natural
kinsman and friend.
10. 'Nature in no case comelh short of art.' For indeed the
arts are copiers of various natures. If this be so, the most
consummate and comprehensive Nature of all cannot be
outdone by the inventive skill of art. And in every art the lower
things are done for the sake of the higher; and this must hold
good of the Universal Nature also. Aye and thence is the origin
of Justice, and in justice all the other virtues have their root,
since justice will not be maintained if we either put a value on
things indifferent, or are easily duped and prone to slip and
prone to change.
11. If therefore the things, the following after and eschewing
of which disturb thee, come not to thee, but thou in a manner
dost thyself seek them out, at all events keep thy judgment at
rest about them and they will remain quiescent, and thou shalt
not be seen following after or eschewing them.
BOOK XI (cont.)
12. The soul is 'a sphere truly shaped,' when it neither
projects itself towards anything outside nor shrinks together
inwardly, neither expands nor contracts, but irradiates a light
whereby it sees the reality of all things and the reality that is in
13. What if a man think scorn of me? That will be his affair.
But it will be mine not to be found doing or saying anything
worthy of scorn. What if he hate me? That will be his affair.
But I will be kindly and goodnatured to everyone, and ready to
shew even my enemy where he has seen amiss, not by way of
rebuke nor with a parade of forbearance, but genuinely and
chivalrously like the famous Phocion, unless indeed he was
speaking ironically. For such should be the inner springs of a
man's heart that the Gods see him not wrathfully disposed at
any thing or counting it a hardship. Why, what evil can happen
to thee if thou thyself now doest what is congenial to thy nature,
and welcomest what the Universal Nature now deems well-
timed, thou who art a man intensely eager that what is for the
common interest should by one means or another be brought
14. Thinking scorn of one another, they yet fawn on one
another, and eager to outdo their rivals they grovel one to
15. How corrupt is the man, how counterfeit, who proclaims
aloud: I have elected to deal straightforwardly with thee!
Man, what art thou at? There is no need to give this out. The
fact will instantly declare itself. It ought to be written on the
BOOK XI (cont.)
forehead. There is a ring in the voice that betrays it at once, it flashes
out at once from the eyes, just as the loved one can read at a glance
every secret in his lover's looks. The simple and good man should
in fact be like a man who has a strong smell about him, so that, as
soon as ever he comes near, his neighbour is, will-he nill-he, aware
of it. A calculated simplicity is a stiletto. There is nothing more
hateful than the friendship of the wolf for the lamb. Eschew that
above all things. The good man, the kindly, the genuine, betrays
these characteristics in his eyes and there is no hiding it.
16. Vested in the soul is the power of living ever the noblest of
lives, let a man but be indifferent towards things indifferent. And
he will be indifferent, if he examine every one of these things both
in its component parts and as a whole, and bear in mind that none
of them is the cause in us of any opinion about itself, nor obtrudes
itself on us. They remain quiescent, and it is we who father these
judgments about them and as it were inscribe them on our minds,
though it lies with us not to inscribe them and, if they chance to
steal in undetected, to erase them at once. Bear in mind too that we
shall have but a little while to attend to such things and presently
life will be at an end. But why complain of the perversity of things?
If they are as Nature wills, delight in them and let them be no
hardship to thee. If they contravene Nature, seek then what is in
accord with thy nature and speed towards that, even though it bring
no fame. For it is pardonable for every man to seek his own good.
BOOK XI (cont.)
17. Think whence each thing has come, of what it is built up,
into what it changes, what it will be when changed, and that it
cannot take any harm.
18. Firstly: Consider thy relation to mankind and that we came
into the world for the sake of one another; and taking another
point of view, that I have come into it to be set over men, as a ram
over a flock or a bull over a herd. Start at the beginning from this
premiss: If not atoms, then an all-controlling Nature. If the latter,
then the lower are for the sake of the higher and the higher for one
Secondly: What sort of men they are at board and in bed and
elsewhere. Above all how they are the self-made slaves of their
principles, and how they pride themselves on the very acts in
Thirdly: That if they are acting rightly in this, there is no call
for us to be angry. If not rightly, it is obviously against their will
and through ignorance. For it is against his will that every soul is
deprived, as of truth, so too of the power of dealing with each man
as is his due. At any rate, such men resent being called unjust,
unfeeling, avaricious, and in a word doers of wrong to their
Fourthly: That thou too doest many a wrong thing thyself and
art much as others are, and if thou dost refrain from certain
wrong-doings, yet hast thou a disposition inclinable thereto even
supposing that through cowardice or a regard for thy good name or
some such base consideration thou dost not actually commit them.
BOOK XI (cont.)
Fifthly: That thou hast not even proved that they are doing
wrong, for many things are done even 'by way of policy.'
Speaking generally a man must know many things before he can
pronounce an adequate opinion on the acts of another.
Sixthly: When thou art above measure angry or even out of
patience, bethink thee that man's life is momentary, and in a little
while we shall all have been laid out.
Seventhly: That in reality it is not the acts men do that vex
us—for they belong to the domain of their ruling Reason—but the
opinions we form of those acts. Eradicate these, be ready to
discard thy conclusion that the act in question is a calamity, and
thine anger is at an end. How then eradicate these opinions? By
realizing that no act of another debases us. For unless that alone
which debases is an evil, thou too must perforce do many a wrong
thing and become a brigand or any sort of man.
Eighthly: Bethink thee how much more grievous are the
consequences of our anger and vexation at such actions than are
the acts themselves which arouse that anger and vexation.
Ninthly: That kindness is irresistible, be it but sincere and no
mock smile or a mask assumed. For what can the most
unconscionable of men do to thee, if thou persist in being kindly to
him, and when a chance is given exhort him mildly and, at the
very time when he is trying to do thee harm, quietly teach him a
better way thus: Nay, my child, we have been made for other
things. I shall be in
BOOK XI (cont.)
no wise harmed, but thou art harming thyself, my child. Shew him
delicately and without any personal reference that this is so, and
that even honey-bees do not act thus nor any creatures of
gregarious instincts. But thou must do this not in irony or by way
of rebuke, but with kindly affection and without any bitterness at
heart, not as from a master's chair, nor yet to impress the
bystanders, but as if he were indeed alone even though others are
Bethink thee then of these nine heads, taking them as a gift
from the Muses, and begin at last to be a man while life is thine.
But beware of flattering men no less than being angry with
them. For both these are non-social and conducive of harm. In
temptations to anger a precept ready to thy hand is this: to be
wroth is not manly, but a mild and gentle disposition, as it is more
human, so it is more masculine. Such a man, and not he who gives
way to anger and discontent, is endowed with strength and sinews
and manly courage. For the nearer such a mind attains to a passive
calm, the nearer is the man to strength. As grief is a weakness, so
also is anger. In both it is a case of a wound and a surrender.
But take if thou wilt as a tenth gift from Apollo, the Leader of
the Muses, this, that to expect the bad not to do wrong is worthy
of a madman; for that is to wish for impossibilities. But to
acquiesce in their wronging others, while expecting them to
refrain from wronging thee, is unfeeling and despotic.
BOOK XI (cont.)
19. Against four perversions of the ruling Reason thou
shouldest above all keep unceasing watch, and, once detected,
wholly abjure them, saying in each case to thyself: This thought
is not necessary; this is destructive of human fellowship; this
could be no genuine utterance from the heart,—And not to
speak from the heart, what is it but a contradiction in
terms?—The fourth case is that of self-reproach, for that is an
admission that the divine part of thee has been worsted by and
acknowledges its inferiority to the body, the baser and mortal
partner, and to its gross notions.
20. Thy soul and all the fiery part that is blended with thee,
though by Nature ascensive, yet in submission to the system of
the Universe are held fast here in thy compound personality.
And the entire earthy part too in thee and the humid, although
naturally descensive, are yet upraised and take up a station not
their natural one. Thus indeed we find the elements also in
subjection to the Whole and, when set anywhere, remaining
there under constraint until the signal sound for their release
Is it not then a paradox that the intelligent part alone of thee
should be rebellious and quarrel with its station? Yet is no
constraint laid upon it but only so much as is in accordance with
its nature. Howbeit it does not comply and takes a contrary
course. For every motion towards acts of injustice and
licentiousness, towards anger and grief and fear, but betokens
one who cuts himself adrift from Nature. Aye
BOOK XI (cont.)
and when the ruling Reason in a man is vexed at anything that
befalls, at that very moment it deserts its station. For it was not
made for justice alone, but also for piety and the service of
God. And in fact the latter are included under the idea of a true
fellowship, and indeed are prior to the practice of justice.
21. He who has not ever in view one and the same goal of
life cannot be throughout his life one and the same. Nor does
that which is stated suffice, there needs to be added what that
goal should be. For just as opinion as to all the things that in one
way or another are held by the mass of men to be good is not
uniform, but only as to certain things, such, that is, as affect the
common weal, so must we set before ourselves as our goal the
common and civic weal. For he who directs all his individual
impulses towards this goal will render his actions homogeneous
and thereby be ever consistent with himself.
22. Do not forget the story of the town mouse and the
country mouse, and the excitement and trepidation of the latter.
23. Socrates used to nickname the opinions of the multitude
Ghouls, bogies to terrify children.
24. The Spartans at their spectacles assigned to strangers
seats in the shade, but themselves took their chance of seats
BOOK XI (cont.)
25. Socrates refused the invitation of Perdiccas to his court,
That I come not, said he, to a dishonoured grave, meaning, that
I be not treated with generosity and have no power to return it.
26. In the writings of the Ephesians was laid down the
advice to have constantly in remembrance some one of the
ancients who lived virtuously.
27. Look, said the Pythagoreans, at the sky in the morning,
that we may have in remembrance those hosts of heaven that
ever follow the same course and accomplish their work in the
same way, and their orderly system, and their purity, and their
nakedness; for there is no veil before a star.
28. Think of Socrates with the sheepskin wrapped round
him, when Xanthippe had gone off with his coat, and what he
said to his friends when they drew back in their embarrassment
at seeing him thus accoutred.
29. In reading and writing thou must learn first to follow
instruction before thou canst give it. Much more is this true of
30. 'Tis not for thee, a slave, to reason why.
31. . . . . and within me my heart laughed.
32. Virtue they will upbraid and speak harsh words in her
33. Only a madman will look for figs in winter.
BOOK XI (cont.)
No better is he who looks for a child when he may no longer
34. A man while fondly kissing his child, says Epictetus,
should whisper in his heart: 'To-morrow peradventure thou
wilt die.' Ill-omened words these! Nay, said he, nothing is ill-
omened that signifies a natural process. Or it is ill-omened also
to talk of ears of corn being reaped.
35. The grape unripe, mellow, dried—in every stage we have
a change, not into non-existence, but into the not now existent.
36. Hear Epictetus: no one can rob us of our free choice.
37. We must, says he, hit upon the true science of assent and
in the sphere of our impulses pay good heed that they be subject
to proper reservations; that they have in view our neighbours
welfare; that they are proportionate to worth. And we must
abstain wholly from inordinate desire and shew avoidance in
none of the things that are not in our control.
38. It is no casual matter, then, said he, that is at stake, but
whether we are to be sane or no.
39. Socrates was wont to say: What would ye have? The
souls of reasoning or unreasoning creatures? Of reasoning
creatures. Of what kind of reasoning creatures? Sound or
vicious? Sound. Why then not make a shift to get them?
Because we have them already. Why then fight and wrangle?
1. All those things, which thou prayest to attain by a
roundabout way, thou canst have at once if thou deny them not
to thyself; that is to say, if thou leave all the Past to itself and
entrust the Future to Providence, and but direct the Present in
the way of piety and justice: piety, that thou mayest love thy
lot, for Nature brought it to thee and thee to it; justice, that thou
mayest speak the truth freely and without finesse, and have an
eye to law and the due worth of things in all that thou doest;
and let nothing stand in thy way, not the wickedness of others,
nor thine own opinion, nor what men say, nor even the
sensations of the flesh that has grown around thee ; for the part
affected will see to that.
If then, when the time of thy departure is near, abandoning
all else thou prize thy ruling Reason alone and that which in
thee is divine, and dread the thought, not that thou must one
day cease to live, but that thou shouldst never yet have begun to
live according to Nature, then shalt thou be a man worthy of the
Universe that begat thee, and no longer an alien in thy
fatherland, no longer shalt thou marvel at what happens every
day as if it
BOOK XII (cont.)
were unforeseen, and be dependent on this or that.
2. God sees the Ruling Parts of all men stripped of material
vessels and husks and sloughs. For only with the Intellectual
Part of Himself is He in touch with those emanations only
which have welled forth and been drawn off from Himself into
them. But if thou also wilt accustom thyself to do this, thou wilt
free thyself from the most of thy distracting care. For he that
hath no eye for the flesh that envelopes him will not, I trow,
waste his time with taking thought for raiment and lodging and
popularity and such accessories and frippery.
3. Thou art formed of three things in combination—body,
vital breath, intelligence. Of these the first two are indeed
thine, in so far as thou must have them m thy keeping, but the
third alone is in any true sense thine. Wherefore, if thou cut off
from thyself, that is from thy mind, all that others do or say and
all that thyself hast done or said, and all that harasses thee in the
future, or whatever thou art involved in independently of thy
will by the body which envelopes thee and the breath that is
twinned with it, and whatever the circumambient rotation
outside of thee sweeps along, so that thine intellectual faculty,
delivered from the contingencies of destiny, may live pure and
undetached by itself, doing what is just, desiring what befalls it,
speaking the truth—if, I say, thou strip from this ruling Reason
all that cleaves to it from the bodily influences and the things
that lie beyond in time and
BOOK XII (cont.)
the things that are past, and if thou fashion thyself like the
Empedoclean Sphere to its circle true in its poise well-rounded,
rejoicing, and school thyself to live that life only which is thine,
namely the present, so shalt thou be able to pass through the
remnant of thy days calmly, kindly, and at peace with thine
4. Often have I marvelled how each one of us loves himself
above all men, yet sets less store by his own opinion of himself
than by that of everyone else. At any rate, if a God or some
wise teacher should come to a man and charge him to admit no
thought or design into his mind that he could not utter aloud as
soon as conceived, he could not endure this ordinance for a
single day. So it is clear that we pay more deference to the
opinion our neighbours will have of us than to our own.
5. How can the Gods, after disposing all things well and with
good will towards men, ever have overlooked this one thing,
that some of mankind, and they especially good men, who have
had as it were the closest commerce with the Divine, and by
devout conduct and acts of worship have been in the most
intimate fellowship with it, should when once dead have no
second existence but be wholly extinguished? But if indeed
this be haply so, doubt not that they would have ordained it
otherwise, had it needed to be otherwise. For had it been just, it
would also have been feasible, and had it been in conformity
with Nature, Nature would have brought it about.
BOOK XII (cont.)
Therefore from its not being so, if indeed it is not so, be assured
that it ought not to have been so. For even thyself canst see that
in this presumptuous enquiry of thine thou art reasoning with
God. But we should not thus be arguing with the Gods were
they not infinitely good and just. But in that case they could not
have overlooked anything being wrongly and irrationally
neglected in their thorough Ordering of the Universe.
6. Practise that also wherein thou hast no expectation of
success. For even the left hand, which for every other function is
inefficient by reason of a want of practice, has yet a firmer grip
of the bridle than the right. For it has had practice in this.
7. Reflect on the condition of body and soul befitting a man
when overtaken by death, on the shortness of life, on the
yawning gulf of the past and of the time to come, on the
impotence of all matter.
8. Look at the principles of causation stripped of their husks;
at the objective of actions; at what pain is, what pleasure, what
death, what fame. See who is to blame for a man's inner unrest;
how no one can be thwarted by another; that nothing is but
what thinking makes it.
9. In our use of principles of conduct we should imitate the
pancratiast not the gladiator. For the latter lays aside the blade
which he uses, and takes it up again, but the other always has his
hand and needs only to clench it.
BOOK XII (cont.)
10. See things as they really are, analyzing them into Matter,
11. What a capacity Man has to do only what God shall
approve and to welcome all that God assigns him!
12. Find no fault with Gods for what is the course of Nature,
for they do no wrong voluntarily or involuntarily; nor with
men, for they do none save involuntarily. Find fault then with
13. How ludicrous is he and out of place who marvels at
anything that happens in life.
14. There must be either a predestined Necessity and
inviolable plan, or a gracious Providence, or a chaos without
design or director. If then there be an inevitable Necessity, why
kick against the pricks? If a Providence that is ready to be
gracious, render thyself worthy of divine succour. But if a chaos
without guide, congratulate thyself that amid such a surging sea
thou hast in thyself a guiding Reason. And if the surge sweep
thee away, let it sweep away the poor Flesh and Breath with
their appurtenances: for the Intelligence it shall never sweep
15. What!' shall the truth that is in thee and the justice
and the temperance be extinguished ere thou art, whereas the
light of a lamp shines forth and keeps its radiance until the
flame be quenched?
16. Another has given thee cause to think that he has done
wrong: But how do I know that it is a wrong^ And even if he be
guilty, suppose that his
BOOK XII (cont.)
own heart has condemned him, and so he is as one who wounds
his own face?
Note that he who would not have the wicked do wrong is as
one who would not have the fig-tree secrete acrid juice in its
fruit, would not have babies cry, or the horse neigh, or have any
other things be that must be. Why, what else can be expected
from such a disposition? If then it chafes thee, cure the
17. If not meet, do it not: if not true, say it not. For let thine
impulse be in thy own power.
18. Ever look to the whole of a thing, what exactly that is
which produces the impression on thee, and unfold it, analyzing
it into its causes, its matter, its objective, and into its life-span
within which it must needs cease to be.
19. Become conscious at last that thou hast in thyself
something better and more god-like than that which causes the
bodily passions and turns thee into a mere marionette. What is
my mind now occupied with? Fear? Suspicion?
Concupiscence ? Some other like thing?
20. Firstly, eschew action that is aimless and has no
objective. Secondly, take as the only goal of conduct what is to
the common interest.
21. Bethink thee that thou wilt very soon be no one and
nowhere, and so with all that thou now seest and all who are
now living. For by Nature's law all things must change, be
transformed, and perish, that other things may in their turn
come into being.
22. Remember that all is but as thy opinion
BOOK XII (cont.)
of it, and that is in thy power. Efface thy opinion then, as thou
mayest do at will, and lo, a great calm! Like a mariner that has
turned the headland thou findest all at set-fair and a halcyon
23. Any single form of activity, be it what it may, ceasing in
its own due season, suffers no ill because it hath ceased, nor
does the agent suffer in that it hath ceased to act. Similarly then
if life, that sum total of all our acts, cease in its own good time,
it suffers no ill from this very fact, nor is he in an ill plight who
has brought this chain of acts to an end in its own due time. The
due season and the terminus are fixed by Nature, at times even
by our individual nature, as when in old age, but in any case by
the Universal Nature, the constant change of whose parts keeps
the whole Universe ever youthful and in its prime. All that is
advantageous to the Whole is ever fair and in its bloom. The
ending of life then is not only no evil to the individual—for it
brings him no disgrace, if in fact it be both outside our choice
and not inimical to the general weal—but a good, since it is
timely for the Universe, bears its share in it and is borne along
with it. For then is he, who is borne along on the same path as
God, and borne in his judgment towards the same things, indeed
a man god-borne.
24. Thou must have these three rules ready for use. Firstly,
not to do anything, that thou doest, aimlessly, or otherwise than
as Justice herself would have acted; and to realize that all that
befalls thee from without is due either to Chance or to
BOOK XII (cont.)
nor hast thou any call to blame Chance or to impeach
Providence. Secondly this: to think what each creature is from
conception till it receives a living soul, and from its reception of
a living soul till its giving back of the same, and out of what it
is built up and into what it is dissolved. Thirdly, that if carried
suddenly into mid-heaven thou shouldest look down upon
human affairs and their infinite diversity, thou wilt indeed
despise them, seeing at the same time in one view how great is
the host that peoples the air and the aether around thee; and
that, however often thou wert lifted up on high, thou wouldst
see the same sights, everything identical in kind, everything
fleeting. Besides, the vanity of it all!
25. Overboard with opinion and thou art safe ashore. And
who is there prevents thee from throwing it overboard?
26. In taking umbrage at anything, thou forgettest this, that
everything happens in accordance with the Universal Nature;
and this, that the wrong-doing is another's; and this
furthermore, that all that happens, always did happen, and will
happen so, and is at this moment happening everywhere. And
thou forgettest how strong is the kinship between man and
mankind, for it is a community not of corpuscles, of seed or
blood, but of intelligence. And thou forgettest this too, that
each man's intelligence is God and has emanated from Him;
and this, that nothing is a man's very own, but that his babe, his
BOOK XII (cont.)
body, his very soul came forth from Him; and this, that
everything is but opinion; and this, that it is only the present
moment that a man lives and the present moment only that he
27. Let thy mind dwell continually on those who have shewn
unmeasured resentment at things, who have been conspicuous
above others for honours or disasters or enmities or any sort of
special lot. Then consider, Where is all that now? Smoke and
dust and a legend or not a legend even. Take any instance of
the kind—Fabius Catullinus in the country, Lusius Lupus in his
gardens, Stertinius at Baiae, Tiberius in Capreae, and Velius
Rufus—in fact a craze for any thing whatever arrogantly
indulged. How worthless is everything so inordinately desired!
How much more worthy of a philosopher is it for a man without
any artifice to shew himself in the sphere assigned to him just,
temperate, and a follower of the Gods. For the conceit that is
conceited of its freedom from conceit is the most insufferable of
28. If any ask, Where hast thou seen the Gods or how hast
thou satisfied thyself of their existence that thou art so devout a
worshipper? I answer: In the first place, they are even visible
to the eyes. In the next, I have not seen my own soul either, yet
I honour it. So then from the continual proofs of their power I
am assured that Gods also exist and I reverence them.
BOOK XII (cont.)
29. Salvation in life depends on our seeing everything in its
entirety and its reality, in its Matter and its Cause: on our
doing what is just and speaking what is true with all our soul.
What remains but to get delight of life by dovetailing one good
act on to another so as not to leave the smallest gap between?
30. There is one Light of the Sun, even though its continuity
be broken by walls, mountains, and countless other things.
There is one common Substance, even though it be broken up
into countless bodies individually characterized. There is one
Soul, though it be broken up among countless natures and with
individual limitations. There is one Intelligent Soul, though it
seem to be divided. Of the things mentioned, however, all the
other parts, such as Breath, are the material Substratum of
things, devoid of sensation and the ties of mutual affinity—yet
even they are knit together by the faculty of intelligence and the
gravitation which draws them together. But the mind is
peculiarly impelled towards what is akin to it, and coalesces
with it, and there is no break in the feeling of social fellowship.
31. What dost thou ask for? Continued existence? But what
of sensation? Of desire? Of growth? Or again of coming to an end?
Of the use of speech? The exercise of thought?
Which of these, thinkest thou, is a thing to long for?
But if these things are each and all of no account, address
thyself to a final endeavour to follow Reason and to follow
God. But it militates against this to prize such things, and to
grieve if death comes to deprive us of them.
BOOK XII (cont.)
32. How tiny a fragment of boundless and abysmal Time has
been appointed to each man! For in a moment it is lost in
eternity. And how tiny a part of the Universal Substance! How
tiny of the Universal Soul! And on how tiny a clod of the whole
Earth dost thou crawl! Keeping all these things in mind, think
nothing of moment save to do what thy nature leads thee to do,
and to bear what the Universal Nature brings thee.
33. How does the ruling Reason treat itself? That is the gist
of the whole matter. All else, be it in thy choice or not, is dead
dust and smoke.
34. Most efficacious in instilling a contempt for death is the
fact that those who count pleasure a good and pain an evil have
nevertheless contemned it.
35. Not even death can bring terror to him who regards that
alone as good which comes in due season, and to whom it is all
one whether his acts in obedience to right reason are few or
many, and a matter of indifference whether he look upon the
world for a longer or a shorter time.
36. Man, thou hast been a citizen in this World-City, what
matters it to thee if for five years or a hundred? For under its
laws equal treatment is meted out to all. What hardship then is
there in being banished from the city, not by a tyrant or an unjust
judge but by Nature who settled thee in it?
BOOK XII (cont.)
So might a praetor who commissions a comic actor, dismiss
him from the stage. But I have not played my five acts, but only
three. Very possibly, but in life three acts count as a full play.
For he, that is responsible for thy composition originally and
thy dissolution now, decides when it is complete. But thou art
responsible for neither. Depart then with a good grace, for he
also that dismisses thee is gracious.
May the Wisdom Force
be with You.
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