Epictetus - Handbook (Encheiridion)

# 1.1. Some things are within our power, while others are not. Within our power are opinion, motivation, desire, aversion, and, in a word, whatever is of our own doing; not within our power are our body, our property, reputation, office, and, in a word, whatever is not of our own doing. 2. The things that are within our power are by nature free, and immune to hindrance and obstruction, while those that are not within our power are weak, slavish, subject to hindrance, and not our own. 3. Remember, then, that if you regard that which is by nature slavish as being free, and that which is not your own as being your own, you’ll have cause to lament, you’ll have a troubled mind, and you’ll find fault with both gods and human beings; but if you regard only that which is your own as being your own, and that which isn’t your own as not being your own (as is indeed the case), no one will ever be able to coerce you, no one will hinder you, you’ll find fault with no one, you’ll accuse no one, you’ll do nothing whatever against your will, you’ll have no enemy, and no one will ever harm you because no harm can affect you.

4. Since you’re aiming, then, at such great things, remember that you’ll have to exert no small effort to attain them, and that you’ll have to renounce some things altogether, while postponing others for the present. But if you want to have both these things and public office and riches too, you’ll quite possibly not even gain the latter because you’re aiming at the former too, and you’ll certainly fail to get the former, through which alone happiness and freedom can be secured.

5. Practise, then, from the very beginning to say to every disagreeable impression, 'You’re an impression and not at all what you appear to be.’ Then examine it and test it by these rules that you possess, and first and foremost by this one, whether the impression relates to those things that are within our power, or those that aren’t within our power; and if it relates to anything that isn’t within our power, be ready to reply, 'That’s nothing to me.’

# 2.1. Remember that desire promises the attaining of what you desire, and aversion the avoiding of what you want to avoid, and that he who falls into desire is unfortunate, while he who falls into what he wants to avoid suffers misfortune. If you seek to avoid, then, only what is contrary to nature among those things that are within your own power, you’ll never fall into anything that you want to avoid; but if you attempt to avoid illness, or death, or poverty, you’ll suffer misfortune. 2. Remove your aversion, then, from everything that is not within our power, and transfer it to what is contrary to nature among those things that are within our power. For the present, however, suppress your desires entirely; for if you desire any of the things that are not within our power, you’re bound to be unfortunate, while those that are within our power, which it would be right for you to desire, aren’t yet within your reach. But use only your motives to act or not to act, and even those lightly, with reservations and without straining.

# 3. With regard to everything that is a source of delight to you, or is useful to you, or of which you are fond, remember to keep telling yourself what kind of thing it is, starting with the most insignificant. If you’re fond of a jug, say, 'This is a jug that I’m fond of,’ and then, if it gets broken, you won’t be upset. If you kiss your child or your wife, say to yourself that it is a human being that you’re kissing; and then, if one of them should die, you won’t be upset.

# 4. When you’re about to embark on any action, remind yourself what kind of action it is. If you’re going out to take a bath, set before your mind the things that happen at the baths, that people splash you, that people knock up against you, that people steal from you. And you’ll thus undertake the action in a surer manner if you say to yourself at the outset, 'I want to take a bath and ensure at the same time that my choice remains in harmony with nature.’ And follow the same course in every action that you embark on. So if anything gets in your way while you’re taking your bath, you’ll be ready to tell yourself, 'Well, this wasn’t the only thing that I wanted to do, but I also wanted to keep my choice in harmony with nature; and I won’t keep it so if I get annoyed at what is happening.’

# 5. It isn’t the things themselves that disturb people, but the judgements that they form about them. Death, for instance, is nothing terrible, or else it would have seemed so to Socrates too; no, it is in the judgement that death is terrible that the terror lies. So accordingly, whenever we’re impeded, disturbed, or distressed, we should never blame anyone else, but only ourselves, that is to say, our judgements. It is the act of an ill-educated person to cast blame on others when things are going badly for him; one who has taken the first step towards becoming properly educated casts blame on himself; while one who is fully educated casts blame neither on another nor on himself.

# 6. Don’t pride yourself on any excellence that is not your own. If a horse were to say in its pride, 'I’m beautiful,’ that would be bearable; but when you exclaim in your pride, 'I have a beautiful horse,’ you should be clear in your mind that you’re priding yourself on a good quality that belongs to a horse. What is your own, then? The use of impressions.* So when you’re in harmony with nature through the right use of impressions, you should then be proud of yourself; for then you’ll be taking pride in some good of your own.

# 7. When you’re on a voyage and your ship has set anchor, if you should go ashore to fetch water, you may pick up a little shellfish or bulb on the way, but you have to keep your attention directed towards the ship, and turn round constantly in case the captain calls you back; and if he does, you must cast these things aside, if you don’t want to be thrown on board trussed up like a sheep. So in life too, if in place of some little bulb or shellfish, a little wife and child should be granted to you, there is nothing wrong with that; but if the captain calls, you must give up all of these things and run to the ship, without even turning around to look back. And if you’re an old man, you shouldn’t even wander any distance from the ship, so as not to be missing when the call comes.

# 8. Don’t seek that all that comes about should come about as you wish, but wish that everything that comes about should come about just as it does, and then you’ll have a calm and happy life.

# 9. Disease is an impediment to the body, but not to choice, unless choice wills it to be so. Lameness is an impediment to the leg, but not to choice.* And tell yourself the same with regard to everything that happens to you; for you’ll find that it acts as an impediment to something else, but not to yourself.

# 10. With regard to everything that happens to you, remember to look inside yourself and see what capacity you have to enable you to deal with it. If you catch sight of a beautiful boy or woman, you’ll find that you have self- control to enable you to deal with that; if hard work lies in store for you, you’ll find endurance; if vilification, you’ll find forbearance. And if you get into the habit of following this course, you won’t get swept away by your impressions.

# 11. Never say about anything, 'I’ve lost it,’ but rather, 'I’ve given it back.’ Your child has died? It has been given back. Your wife has died? She has been given back. 'My farm has been taken from me.’ Well, that too has been given back. 'Yes, but the man who took it is a rogue.’ What does it matter to you through what person the one who gave it to you demanded it back? So long as he entrusts it to you, take care of it as something that isn’t your own, as travellers treat an inn.

# 12.1. If you want to make progress, reject such thoughts as these: 'If I neglect my affairs, I’ll have nothing to live on,’ or, 'If I don’t punish my slave-boy, he’ll turn out badly.’ For it is better to die of hunger, but free from distress and fear, than to live in plenty with a troubled mind; and it is better that your slave should be bad than that you should be unhappy. Make a start, then, with small things. 2. A drop of oil is spilled, a little wine is stolen; say to yourself, 'Such is the price at which equanimity is bought; such is the price that one pays for peace of mind.’ For nothing can be acquired at no cost at all. When you summon your slave-boy, keep in mind that he may not obey, and even if he does, he may not do what you want; but he is hardly so well placed that it depends on him whether you’re to enjoy peace of mind.

# 13. If you want to make progress, put up with being thought foolish and silly with regard to external things, and don’t even wish to give the impression of knowing anything about them; and if some people come to think that you’re somebody of note, regard yourself with distrust. For you should recognize that it isn’t easy to keep your choice in accord with nature and, at the same time, hold onto externals, but if you apply your attention to one of those things, you’re bound to neglect the other.

# 14.1. If you want your children and wife and friends to live for ever, you’re a fool, because you’re wanting things that aren’t within your power to be within your power, and things that aren’t your own to be your own. And likewise, if you want your slave-boy never to commit a fault, you’re an idiot, because you’re wanting badness not to be badness, but something else. If you make it your wish, however, not to fail in your desires, that lies within your power. So exercise yourself in that which you can achieve. 2. Everyone is subject to anyone who has power over what he wants or doesn’t want, as one who is in a position to confer it or take it away. If anyone wants to be free, then, let him neither want anything nor seek to avoid anything that is under the control of others; or else he is bound to be a slave.

# 15. Remember that you should behave in life as you do at a banquet. Something is being passed around and arrives in front of you: reach out your hand and take your share politely. It passes: don’t try to hold it back. It has yet to reach you: don’t project your desire towards it, but wait until it arrives in front of you. So act likewise with regard to your children, to your wife, to public office, to riches, and the time will come when you’re worthy to have a seat at the banquets of the gods. And if you don’t even take these things when they’re in front of you, but view them with contempt, then you’ll not only share in the banquets of the gods, but also in their rule. For it was by acting in such a way that Diogenes, and Heraclitus,* and others like them, deservedly became divine and were called so.

# 16. When you see someone weeping in sorrow because his child has gone away, or because he has lost his possessions, take care that you’re not carried away by the impression that he is indeed in misfortune because of these external things, but be ready at once with this thought, 'It isn’t what has happened that so distresses this person—for someone else could suffer the same without feeling that distress—but rather the judgement that he has formed about it.’ As far as words go, however, don’t hesitate to sympathize with him, or even, if the occasion arises, to join in his lamentations; but take care that you don’t also lament deep inside.

# 17. Remember that you’re an actor in a play, which will be as the author chooses, short if he wants it to be short, and long if he wants it to be long. If he wants you to play the part of a beggar, act even that part with all your skill; and likewise if you’re playing a cripple, an official, or a private citizen. For that is your business, to act the role that is assigned to you as well as you can; but it is another’s* part to select that role.

# 18. When a raven croaks* inauspiciously, don’t allow yourself to be carried away by the impression, but immediately draw a distinction within your mind, and say, 'None of these omens apply to me, but only to my poor body, to my paltry possessions, or my reputation, or my children, or my wife. But for me every omen is favourable for I want it to be so; for whatever may come about, it is within my power to derive benefit from it.’

# 19.1. You can be invincible if you never enter a contest in which the victory doesn’t depend on you. 2. So whenever you see someone being preferred above you in the awarding of honours, or holding great power, or enjoying high repute in any other way, take care that you don’t get carried away by the outward impression and count him as happy; for if the nature of the good is one of the things that lie within our power, there can be no place for either envy or jealousy, and you yourself won’t want to be a praetor or senator or consul, but a free man. Now there is one path alone that leads to that: to despise everything that doesn’t lie within our own power.

# 20. Remember that what insults you isn’t the person who abuses you or hits you, but your judgement that such people are insulting you. So whenever anyone irritates you, recognize that it is your opinion that has irritated you. Try above all, then, not to allow yourself to be carried away by the impression; for if you delay things and gain time to think, you’ll find it easier to gain control of yourself.

# 21. Day by day you must keep before your eyes death and exile and everything else that seems frightening, but most especially death; and then you’ll never harbour any mean thought, nor will you desire anything beyond due measure.

# 22. If you set your desire on pursuing philosophy, prepare from that moment to be subject to ridicule, and to have many people mocking you, and saying, 'Look, he’s come back to us having become a philosopher all of a sudden!’ and 'Where do you suppose he picked up that supercilious air?’ You shouldn’t assume an air of self-importance, but should hold fast to the things that seem best to you, as one who has been appointed by God to this post; and remember that if you hold true to the same principles, those who laughed at you will later come to admire you; but if you allow these people to get the better of you, you’ll merely be laughed at twice over.

# 23. If it should ever come about that you turn to external things because you want to gratify another person, be clear that you’ve lost your plan in life. Be content, then, to be a philosopher in all that you do, and if you also want to be viewed as one, show yourself that you are, and you’ll be able to achieve that.

# 24.1. Don’t allow these thoughts to upset you: 'I’ll live unhonoured, and be nobody anywhere.’ For if it is a bad thing to be unhonoured, you cannot be in a bad state as a result of someone else’s actions, any more than you can be brought into shame in that way. It is no business of yours, surely, to gain a public post or be invited to a dinner party? Certainly not. So how can this still be a source of dishonour? And how will you be 'nobody anywhere’ if you only need to be somebody in those things that are within your own power, and in which it is possible for you to be a man of the highest worth? 2. But your friends will be left unhelped? What do you mean by 'left unhelped’? They won’t receive any little payouts from you, nor will you be able to grant them Roman citizenship. Well, who told you that these are things that are within our power, rather than being other people’s business? And who is able to give to another person something that he himself doesn’t have? 'Then get hold of some money’, a friend says, 'so that we too may have some.’ 3. If I can get some while preserving my self-respect, trustworthiness, and generosity of mind, show me the way and I’ll get it; but if you require me to lose the good things that I have to enable you to acquire things that aren’t good, consider how unfair you’re being, or how foolish. After all, what would you rather have? Money, or a faithful and self-respecting friend? So help me instead to become such a person, and don’t require me to do things that would cause me to lose those qualities.
4. 'But my country’, he says, 'will receive no help from me, so far as I can offer it.’ Here again, what kind of help do you mean? It won’t acquire any arcades or baths through your good offices. And what of that? For it doesn’t acquire shoes either through the good offices of a blacksmith, or arms through those of a cobbler; it is enough that each person fulfils his own function. And if you provide your country with another citizen who is trustworthy and self-respecting, would you bring it no benefit? 'Indeed I would.’ Well then, in that case you wouldn’t be of no use to it. 'What place shall I hold in the state, then?’, he asks. Whatever place you can hold while maintaining your trustworthiness and self-respect. 5. But if, out of a wish to help the state, you sacrifice those qualities, what use could you be to it, when you’ve turned out to be shameless and untrustworthy?

# 25.1. Has someone been honoured above you at a banquet, or in being saluted, or in being summoned to give advice? If these things are good, you ought to rejoice if someone else has secured them; but if they’re bad, don’t be aggrieved that you haven’t secured them. And remember, too, that if you don’t resort to the same means as other people to acquire things that aren’t within our power, you can’t lay claim to an equal share of them. 2. For how can someone who doesn’t hang around somebody’s door claim an equal share with someone who does? Or if he doesn’t join the man’s retinue when he goes out along with the other person? Or he doesn’t sing his praises along with the other person? You’ll be unjust, then, and thoroughly greedy, if you refuse to pay the price for which these things are marketed, and want to get hold of them for nothing. 3. Well, at what price are lettuces sold? An obol perhaps. If someone pays the obol, then, and gets the lettuces, while you pay nothing and get nothing, don’t suppose that you’re worse off than the man who gets the lettuces; for while he has his lettuces, you have your obol, which you haven’t given away. 4. Things follow the same course in the present case too. You haven’t been invited to somebody’s dinner party? Of course not, because you haven’t paid the host the price at which he sells the dinner; he sells it for praise, he sells it for attention. Very well, then, pay him the price for which it is sold, if it is in your interest. But if you want to make no payment and still receive the goods, you’re greedy and foolish. Do you have nothing, then, in place of the dinner? Why, of course you have: you haven’t been obliged to praise a man whom you didn’t want to praise, you didn’t have to suffer the insolence of the people at the door.

# 26. The will of nature may be learned from those events in life in which we don’t differ from one another. For instance, when someone else’s slave-boy breaks a cup, we’re ready at once to say, 'That’s just one of those things.’ So you should be clear, then, that if your own cup gets broken, you ought to react in exactly the same way as when someone else’s does. Transfer the principle to greater matters too. Someone else’s child or wife has died; there isn’t anyone who wouldn’t say, 'Such is our human lot.’ And yet when one’s own child or wife dies, one cries out at once, 'Oh poor wretch that I am.’ But we ought to remember how we feel when we hear that the same thing has happened to others.

# 27. Just as a target isn’t set up to be missed, so nothing that is bad by nature comes into being in the universe.

# 28. If someone handed over your body to somebody whom you encountered, you’d be furious; but that you hand over your mind to anyone who comes along, so that, if he abuses you, it becomes disturbed and confused, do you feel no shame at that?

# 29. [See Discourse 3.15.1-13.]

# 30. Appropriate actions are measured on the whole by our social relationships. He is your father: you’re obliged to take care of him, to give way to him in everything, to put up with it if he scolds you or strikes you. 'But he’s a bad father.’ Do the ties of nature bind you, then, only to a good father? No, but to a father. 'My brother is wronging me.’ Very well, maintain the relation that you have towards him; don’t look to what he is doing, but to what you must do if you are to keep your choice in harmony with nature. For no one will cause you harm if you don’t wish it; you’ll have been harmed only when you suppose that you’ve been harmed. In this way, then, you’ll discover the appropriate actions to expect from a neighbour, from a fellow citizen, from a general, if you get into the habit of examining your social relationships.

# 31.1. As regards piety towards the gods, you should know that the most important point is to hold correct opinions about them, regarding them as beings who exist and govern the universe well and justly, and to have made up your mind to obey them and submit to everything that comes about, and to fall in with it of your own free will, as something that has been brought to pass by the highest intelligence. For if you follow that course, you’ll never find fault with the gods or accuse them of having neglected you.

2. But it isn’t possible for you to achieve this in any other way than by withdrawing your conception of good and bad from the things that are not within our power, and placing it in those things alone that are within our power. For if you regard any of the former as being good or bad, it will necessarily follow that, whenever you fail to get what you want or fall into things that you want to avoid, you’ll blame and hate those who are responsible. 3. For it lies in the nature of every living creature that it should flee from and seek to avoid those things that seem harmful to it, and pursue and admire those that are helpful and all that gives rise to them. Accordingly, it is impossible for someone who thinks that he is suffering harm to take pleasure in what he thinks to be responsible for that harm, just as it is impossible for him to take pleasure in the harm itself. 4. And so it comes about that even a father is abused by his son if he fails to give him a share of the things that pass for good; and it was this that caused Eteocles and Polynices* to become enemies: the idea that the throne was a good thing. That is why a farmer reviles the gods, and so too a sailor or merchant, and those who have lost their wives and children. For where a person’s interest lies, there too lies his piety. It follows that whoever takes care to exercise his desires and aversions as he ought is taking care at the same time that he’ll act with piety. 5. But it is also appropriate on each occasion to offer libations and sacrifices, and first fruits, in accordance with the customs of our forebears, and do so with purity, and in no casual or perfunctory manner, and neither stingily nor beyond what we can afford.

# 32.1. When you take recourse to divination, remember that you don’t know how that matter in question will turn out, but that you’ve come to discover that from the diviner; but if you are indeed a philosopher, you already know when you arrive what kind of thing it is. For if it is one of those things that are not within our power, it follows with absolute certainty that it must be neither good nor bad. 2. So you should bring neither desire nor aversion to the diviner, and you shouldn’t approach him with trepidation, but as one who fully recognizes that every outcome is indifferent and of no concern to you, and that whatever it may be, it will be possible for you to make good use of it, and that no one can prevent you from doing so. So approach the gods with confidence, as your advisers, and afterwards, when some advice has been granted to you, remember who it is that you have taken as your advisers, and whom you will be disregarding if you disobey them. 3. Resort to divination as Socrates* thought right, in matters in which the enquiry relates exclusively to the outcome, and where neither reason nor any technical knowledge provides the means that are required to discover the point in question. So accordingly, when it is your duty to share a friend’s danger or that of your country, you shouldn’t resort to divination to ask whether you should share that danger. For even if the diviner should warn you that the omens from the sacrifice are unfavourable, and it is clear that death is portended, or mutilation of some part of your body, or exile, reason requires all the same that, even in the face of these risks, you should support your friend and share the danger of your country. Pay heed, then, to that greater diviner the Pythian Apollo,* who cast out of his temple the man who failed to come to the help of his friend when he was being murdered.

# 33.1. Lay down from this moment a certain character and pattern of behaviour for yourself, which you are to preserve both when you’re alone and when you’re with others.

2. Remain silent for the most part, or say only what is essential, and in few words. Very infrequently, however, when the occasion demands, do speak, but not about any of the usual topics, not about gladiators, not about horse- races, not about athletes, not about food and drink, the subjects of everyday talk; but above all, don’t talk about people, either to praise or criticize them, or to compare them. 3. If you’re able to so, then, through the manner of your own conversation bring that of your companions round to what is fit and proper. But if you happen to find yourself alone among strangers, keep silent.

4. Don’t laugh much, or at many things, or without restraint.

5. Refuse to swear any oath at all, if that is possible, but if it isn’t, refuse as far as you’re able.

6. Avoid parties that are hosted by outsiders and people who have no knowledge of philosophy, but if you do have occasion to attend them, take great care that you don’t fall back into a layman’s state of mind. For you should be clear that if your companion is polluted, anyone who rubs up against him is bound to become polluted too, even if he himself happens to be clean.

7. In things relating to the body, take only as much as your bare need requires, with regard to food, for instance, or drink, clothes, housing, or household slaves; but exclude everything that is for show or luxury.

8. As regards sexual relations, keep yourself pure, so far as you can, until you marry; but if you do indulge, confine yourself to what is lawful. Don’t make yourself tiresome, however, to those who indulge, or be over-critical, and don’t constantly call attention to the fact that you don’t behave like them.

9. If someone reports to you that a certain person is speaking ill of you, don’t defend yourself against what has been said, but reply instead, 'Ah yes, he was plainly unaware of all my other faults, or else those wouldn’t have been the only ones that he mentioned.’

10. There is no need on the whole to go to public shows, but if you ever have occasion to do so, show yourself as not taking sides for anyone other than yourself, that is to say, wish only that what actually does happen should happen, and that only the man who actually does win should win; for if you do that, you’ll meet with no hindrance. But refrain entirely from shouting out, or laughing at anyone, or getting overexcited. And after you’ve left, don’t talk much about what has taken place, except in so far as that contributes to your own improvement; for such talk would suggest that you were impressed by the spectacle.

11. Don’t go casually or readily to people’s public readings;* but if you do go, preserve your dignity and composure, taking care at the same time not to make yourself disagreeable.

12. When you’re due to meet somebody, and in particular one who is regarded with high respect, put this question to yourself: 'What would Socrates or Zeno have done in this situation?’ And then you’ll have no difficulty in making proper use of the occasion. 13. When you’re going to meet some very powerful man, put the thought to yourself that you won’t find him at home, that you’ll be shut out, that the door will be closed in your face, that he’ll pay no heed to you. And if, in spite of all that, it is your duty to go, then go, and put up with whatever comes about, and never tell yourself, 'It wasn’t worth the trouble.’ For that is the mark of a layman, of someone who can be upset by externals.

14. In your conversation, avoid talking at length or overmuch about your own exploits or the dangers that you’ve faced; for pleasant though it may be for you to recall your perils, it is not as pleasant for others to listen to everything that has happened to you.

15. Abstain too from trying to arouse laughter, for that is behaviour that can easily slip into vulgarity, and tends at the same time to cause your neighbours to view you with less respect. 16. It is dangerous likewise to engage in smutty talk. So when anything like that comes up, you should, if the occasion presents itself, even reproach the person who has resorted to such talk; or if that isn’t possible, show by your silence at least, and your blushes and frowns, that you’re displeased at what is being said.

# 34. When you receive an impression of some pleasure, take care not to get carried away by it, as with impressions in general; but rather, make it wait for you, and allow yourself some slight delay. And next, think about these two moments in time, that in which you’ll enjoy the pleasure, and that in which you’ll come to repent after having enjoyed it and will reproach yourself; and set against all of that how you’ll rejoice if you’ve abstained from the pleasure, and will congratulate yourself for having done so. If you think, however, that a suitable occasion has come for you to engage in this task, take care that you’re not overcome by its allure, and by the pleasantness and attraction of it; but set against this the thought of how much better it is to be conscious of having gained a victory over it.

# 35. When you’ve decided that you ought to do something and are doing it, never try to avoid being seen to do it, even if most people will probably view it with disapproval; for if it isn’t right to do it, avoid doing it in the first place, but if it is, why be afraid of those who’ll reproach you without justification?

# 36. Just as the propositions 'it is day’ and 'it is night’ are entirely meaningful when taken separately, but become meaningless when joined into one, so likewise it may make sense with regard to your body to take the larger share at a dinner, but it makes no sense at all with regard to the maintenance of proper social feeling. So when you’re eating with another person, remember to look not only at the value that the dishes set before you will have for your body, but also at the value of maintaining proper respect for your host.

# 37. If you take on a role that is beyond your power, you’ll not only disgrace yourself in that role, but you’ll also neglect to take on that which you might have been capable of filling.

# 38. Just as, when walking around, you take care not to tread on a nail or sprain your ankle, so take care likewise to avoid harming your ruling centre; and if we observe this rule in every action, we’ll undertake the task in a more secure fashion.

# 39. Each person’s body is the measure for his property,* as the foot is for a shoe. If you abide by this principle, then, you’ll maintain due measure, but if you pass beyond it, you’ll find yourself falling, so to speak, over a cliff. It is the same in the case of a shoe: if you pass beyond what the foot requires, you’ll first get a gilded shoe, and then a purple one, and then an embroidered one; for as soon as you’ve passed beyond the measure, there is no limit.

# 40. As soon as they reach the age of fourteen, women are called mistresses by men. And so when they see that they have no other function than to become bedfellows of men, they set to work to beautify themselves, and place all their hopes in that. It is worth our while, then, to make them aware that they’re valued for nothing other than being modest and self-respecting.

# 41. It is a sign of a lack of natural aptitude to spend much time on things relating to the body, by taking a large amount of exercise, for instance, and eating too much, drinking too much, and spending too much time emptying one’s bowels and copulating. No, these things should be done in passing, and you should devote undivided attention to your mind.

# 42. When someone acts badly towards you, or speaks badly of you, remember that he is acting or speaking in that way because he regards that as being the proper thing for him to do. Now, it isn’t possible for him to act in accordance with what seems right to you, but only with what seems right to him. So if he judges wrongly, he is the one who suffers the harm, since he is the one who has been deceived. For if anyone should think a true composite judgement* to be false, the judgement itself isn’t harmed, but the person who has been deceived. If you start out, then, from this way of thinking, you’ll be gentle with someone who abuses you, for in each case you’ll say, 'That is how it seemed to him.’

# 43. Everything has two handles, and it may be carried by one of these handles, but not by the other. If your brother acts wrongly towards you, don’t try to grasp the matter by this handle, that he is wronging you (because that is the handle by which it can’t be carried), but rather by the other, that he is your brother, he was brought up with you, and then you’ll be grasping the matter by the handle by which it can be carried.

# 44. The following assertions don’t form a coherent argument: 'I’m richer than you, therefore I’m better than you’ or 'I’m more eloquent than you, therefore I’m better than you’; no, it is these that do: 'I’m richer than you, therefore my possessions are superior to yours’ or 'I’m more eloquent than you, therefore my way of speaking is superior to yours.’ But you yourself are neither your possessions nor your way of speaking.

# 45. Someone takes his bath in a hurry; don’t say that he bathes badly, but that he does so in a hurry. Someone drinks a large amount of wine. Don’t say that he drinks badly, but that he drinks a large amount. For until you’ve determined from what judgement he is proceeding, how do you know whether he is acting badly? And so in that way it won’t come about that you receive convincing impressions of some things but give your assent to others.

# 46.1. Never call yourself a philosopher, and don’t talk among laymen for the most part about philosophical principles, but act in accordance with those principles. At a banquet, for example, don’t talk about how one ought to eat, but eat as one ought. Remember how Socrates so completely renounced all outward show that when people came to him and asked to be introduced to philosophers, he would take them along and introduce them, so readily did he submit to being overlooked.* 2. And accordingly, if any talk should arise among laymen about some philosophical principle, keep silent for the most part, for there is a great danger that you’ll simply vomit* up what you haven’t properly digested. So when the day arrives when someone tells you that you know nothing, and you, like Socrates, aren’t upset by that, you may be sure that you’re making a start on your work as a philosopher. For sheep, too, don’t vomit up their fodder to show the shepherds how much they’ve eaten, but digest their food inside them, and produce wool and milk on the outside. And so you likewise shouldn’t show off your principles to laymen, but rather show them the actions that result from those principles when they’ve been properly digested.

# 47. When you’ve become adapted to a simple way of life in bodily matters, don’t pride yourself on that, and likewise, if you drink nothing but water, don’t proclaim at every opportunity that you drink nothing but water. And if at any time you want to train yourself to endure hardship, do it for your own sake and not for others; don’t embrace statues,* but if you ever find yourself extremely thirsty, take some cold water into your mouth and then spit it out again, without telling a soul.*

# 48.1. The condition and character of a layman is this: that he never expects that benefit or harm will come to him from himself, but only from externals. The condition and character of a philosopher is this: that he expects all benefit and harm to come to him from himself.

2. The signs of one who is making progress are that he criticizes no one, praises no one, blames or accuses no one, and never speaks of himself as being anyone of importance, or as one who has any knowledge. And if he is praised, he laughs within at the person who is praising him, and if anyone finds fault with him, he makes no defence. He goes about like an invalid, taking care not to disturb any part of him that is getting better until he has achieved lasting recovery. 3. He has rid himself of every desire,** and has transferred his aversion to those things alone that are contrary to nature among the things that are within our own power. He is moderate in his motives whatever they may be directed towards. If he gives the impression of being foolish or ignorant, he doesn’t mind. In a word, he keeps guard against himself, as though he were an enemy lying in ambush for himself.

# 49. When someone is filled with pride because he is able to understand and interpret the works of Chrysippus, say to yourself, 'If Chrysippus hadn’t written in such an obscure style, this person wouldn’t have anything to pride himself on.’ But what is it that I want? To understand nature and to follow it. So I look around for someone who can interpret it, and having heard that Chrysippus can, I go to him. But I don’t understand his writings, so I look for someone who can interpret them. Up to this point, there is nothing to be proud of. But when I find the interpreter, what remains for me to do is to apply his precepts; that is the only thing that gives any ground for pride. But if what I value is the mere act of interpretation, what else have I achieved than to have become a literary scholar instead of a philosopher? The only difference is that I’m interpreting Chrysippus rather than Homer. So when someone says to me, 'Read me some Chrysippus,’ I blush rather than feeling any pride, when I’m unable to show that my actions match up to his words and are consistent with them.

# 50. Whatever rules of conduct are set for you, hold to them as if they were laws, as if it would be an act of impiety for you to transgress them; as to what anyone says about you, pay no heed to it, since in the end that is not your concern.

# 51.1. How much longer will you delay before you think yourself worthy of what is best, and transgress in nothing the distinctions that reason imposes? You’ve acquired knowledge of the philosophical principles that you ought to accept, and have accepted them. What kind of teacher, then, are you still waiting for, that you should delay any effort to reform yourself until he appears? You’re no longer a youth; you’re a full-grown man. If you’re now negligent and idle, and are constantly making one delay after another, and setting one day and then another as the date after which you’ll devote proper attention to yourself, then you’ll fail to appreciate that you’re making no progress, but will continue to be a layman your whole life through until you die. 2. So you should think fit from this moment to live as an adult and as one who is making progress; and let everything that seems best to you be an inviolable law for you. And if you come up against anything that requires an effort, or is pleasant, or is glorious or inglorious, remember that this is the time of the contest, that the Olympic Games have now arrived, and that there is no possibility of further delay, and that it depends on a single day and single action whether progress is to be lost or secured. 3. It was in this way that Socrates became the man he was, by attending to nothing other than reason in everything that he had to deal with. And even if you’re not yet a Socrates, you ought to live like someone who does in fact wish to be a Socrates.*

# 52.1. The first and most necessary area of study in philosophy is the one that deals with the application of principles, such as, 'Don’t lie.’ The second deals with demonstrations, for instance, 'How is it that we oughtn’t to lie?’ The third confirms and analyses the other two, for instance, 'How is this a demonstration?’ For what is a demonstration, what is logical consequence, what is contradiction, what is truth, what is falsehood? 2. The third area of study is necessary, then, because of the second, and the second because of the first, but the most necessary, and that on which we should dwell, is the first. But we do the opposite; for we spend our time on the third area of study, and employ all our efforts on that, while wholly neglecting the first. And so it comes about that we lie, while having at hand all the arguments that show why we oughtn’t to lie.

# 53.1. On every occasion we should have these arguments at hand:

Guide me, O Zeus, and thou, O Destiny,
To wheresoever you have assigned me;
I’ll follow unwaveringly, or if my will fails,
Base though I be, I’ll follow nonetheless.*


Whoever rightly yields to necessity
We accord wise and learned in things divine.*

3. 'Well, Crito, if that is what is pleasing to the gods, so be it.’*

4. 'Anytus and Meletus can kill me, but they cannot harm me.’*