Newly Translated 



Εἰ μὲν τὸ σῶμά σού τις ἐπέτρεπε τῷ ἀπαντήσαντι, ἠγανάκτεις ἄν: ὅτι δὲ σὺ τὴν γνώμην τὴν σεαυτοῦ ἐπιτρέπεις τῷτυχόντι, ἵνα, ἐὰν λοιδορήσηταί σοι, ταραχθῇ ἐκείνη καὶ συγχυθῇ, οὐκ αἰσχύνῃ τούτου ἕνεκα;

“If someone handed over your body to anyone you meet, you would be vexed. And that you hand over your intelligence to any chance comer so that, if you are reviled, it is disconcerted and confused; for this are you not ashamed?”

Manual, 28


There are things that are by nature free and things that are by nature slave. Diairesis is the Superjudgement able to understand and distinguish what is free and what is slave. Counterdiairesis is the Superjudgement that misunderstands what is slave as though it were free and what is free as though it were slave.

[E1,1] Among the things that are, some are in our exclusive power while others are not in our exclusive power. In our exclusive power are conception, impulse, desire, aversion and, in a word, what is our own work. Not in our exclusive power are our body, our estate, reputation, offices and, in a word, what is not our own work. [E1,2] Furthermore the things in our exclusive power are by nature free, unhampered, unimpeded, while the things not in our exclusive power are weak, servant, hampered, are another’s. [E1,3] Remember, then, that if you think free what is by nature servant and your peculiar what is another’s, you will be hindered, you will mourn, you will be disconcerted, you will blame both gods and men. If, on the contrary, you think yours only what is yours and what is another’s, as it is, another’s; no one will ever constrain you, no one will hamper you; you will blame no one, you will bring charges to no one, you will perform absolutely nothing without consent, you will have no personal enemies, no one will damage you, for you will experience nothing harmful. [E1,4] Having such important aims remember, then, that you must undertake them not moderately stirred but that you must totally give up some things and defer others for the time being. If you want this so important attainment and at the same time to hold office and be wealthy in money, because you aim also at the former you will not obtain, perhaps, even these latter; but you will at any rate fail those through which only freedom and happiness ensue. [E1,5] Straightaway, then, study to say to every harsh impression “You are an impression and non at all what you appear to be”. After that inquire and evaluate it with these standards that you have, and in the first place and especially with this: whether it concerns things in our exclusive power or things not in our exclusive power. And if it concerns some of the things that are not in our exclusive power, have ready at hand that “It is nothing to me”.


Misfortunes and ill fortunes.

[E2,1] Remember that the profession of desire is to hit the mark of what you desire and that the profession of aversion is to not stumble on what is averted. He who fails in desire is misfortuned, while he who stumbles on what he averts has ill fortune. If, then, among what is in your exclusive power, you avert only what is not in accord with the nature of things, you will stumble on nothing of what you avert. But if you avert sickness or death or poverty in money, you will have ill fortune. [E2,2] Remove, then, your aversion from all that is not in our exclusive power and transpose it on what, among the things that are in our exclusive power, is not in accord with the nature of things. For the time being, totally abolish your desire. For if you desire something of what is not in our exclusive power, it’s necessary for you to be misfortuned, while nothing of what is in our exclusive power and would be beautiful to desire is as yet present to you. Use only your impulse and your repulsion, yet lightly, with reservation and mildly.


The nature of things.

For any of the things by which your soul is won or that provides you with some utility or that you cherish, remember to say to yourself, beginning from the smallest, which is its nature. If you cherish a pot, say “I cherish a pot”; for when it is broken you will not be disconcerted. If you kiss your child or your wife, say that you kiss a human being; for when he dies you will not be disconcerted.


Proairesis: the logic faculty of human beings as our only faculty able to assume a diairetic or a counterdiairetic attitude.

When you are going to undertake a work, remind yourself which is the nature of the work. If you go away for a warm bath, put in front of you the events at the baths: those who sprinkle, those who jostle, those who revile, those who steal. And thus you will undertake the work more safely, if at once you will say: “I dispose to take a warm bath but also to keep my proairesis in accord with the nature of things”. And behave in the same way for each work. For thus, if any hindrance to take a warm bath happens, you will have ready at hand that: “Yet I did not dispose only this, but also to keep my proairesis in accord with the nature of things; and I’ll not so keep it, if I am vexed at the events”.


We are proairesis; that is, we are our judgements.

It is not the things themselves that disconcert the human beings, but their judgements about these things. For example, death is nothing terrible, or else it would have appeared such also to Socrates; but the judgement upon death, that it’s terrible, this is the terrible thing. When, then, we are hindered or disconcerted or grieved, let’s never impute anyone else but ourselves, that is our judgements. To bring charges to other people for what he fares ill is the work of the uneducated to diairesize. To bring charges to himself is the work of the one who has begun to diairesize. To bring charges neither to another nor to himself is the work of the man educated to diairesize. 


The excellence of human nature is nothing else but the right use, that is, in accord with the nature of things, of our impressions.

Be not elated at any primacy that is not your own. If a horse in his elation said: “I am beautiful”, it would be bearable; but when you say elated: “I have a beautiful horse”, know that you are elating at the goodness of a horse. What is, then, yours? The use of impressions. Therefore at that time be elated when you behave in accord with the nature of things in the use of impressions; for then you will be elated at some goodness of yourself.


All that is aproairetic, earlier or later has to be given back.

Precisely as during a sea-voyage, when the vessel has anchored, if you should go out to fetch fresh water, along the way you will pick up for yourself a small snail or a small bulb, yet your intellect has to be intent upon the vessel and you have to turn it constantly to the possible call of the steersman; and if he calls, you have to give up all those things, that you may avoid being thrown on board fettered as the sheep; in like manner in life too, if, instead of a small bulb and a small snail, are given you a wife and a child, nothing will prevent you to pick them up for yourself; but if the steersman calls, run to the vessel, giving up all those things and without turning your mind to them. And if you are old, do not be far from the vessel, that you may not be left out when he calls.


Error, vice, unhappiness.

Do not seek to have the events happen as you want, but dispose for the events to happen as they happen and you will be serene. 


Only our proairesis is by nature free from any hindrance.

Sickness is a hindrance of the body, not of proairesis, if our proairesis does not dispose so. Lameness is a hindrance of the leg, not of proairesis. And say this for each occurrence, for you will find that it hinders something else but not you.


A proairesis able to keep itself free in every circumstance.

For each of the events that befall us, remember to turn the mind to yourself and to seek which faculty you have for its use. If you see a handsome younker or a handsome girl, you will find that the faculty for these things is self-restraint. If a pain is laid upon you, you will find fortitude. If reviling, you will find patience. And accustomed in this way, the impressions will not sweep you away.


All that is aproairetic, earlier or later has to be given back. 2

Never say about anything “I lost it”, but “I gave it back”. Did the child die? He was given back. Did the wife die? She was given back. “The farm was confiscated”. This also, then, was given back. “But the one who confiscated it is a vicious person”. What do you care through whom the giver demanded it back? And till the giver gives it to you, take care of it as of something that is another’s; as the passers-by of the inn.


Men, prices and profit.

[E12,1] If you dispose to profit, give up the reckonings of this sort: “If I neglect my own affairs, I’ll have no means of subsistence”. “If I don’t punish the boy, he will be a knavish fellow”. For it’s better for you to die of hunger once able to control grief and fear rather than to live in the abundance being prey to disconcertment. It’s better for your boy to be a bad fellow than for you to be unhappy. Begin, therefore, from small things. [E12,2] Some oil is spilled; some wine is stolen. Say: “This is the price of self control, this is the price of undisconcertment”. Nothing ensues free of charge. When you call the boy, brood that he may not heed you or heed you but do nothing of what you want: yet he is not in such a mighty position that your undisconcertment is in his exclusive power!


This or that are they the same for me?

If you dispose to profit, submit to seem crazy and silly with regard to external objects and do not decide to seem someone who has science of anything. And if some people think that you are somebody, distrust yourself. For know that it is not easy to guard your proairesis working in accord with the nature of things and the external objects, but if you take care of the first one it’s inevitable for you to neglect the others.


Can anything that is in another’s power free us?

[E14,1] If you want that your offspring and wife and friends live forever, you are silly; for you want that what is not in your exclusive power be in your exclusive power and that what is another’s be yours. In like manner if you want that the boy be unaberrating, you are stupid; for you want that the vice be not vice but something else. Yet if you dispose to be unfailing in desire, this you can. [E14,2] Exercise, then, this that you can. Each person’s lord is the one who has the power to secure or subtract the things that the person wants or does not want. Whoever, then, decides to be free let him neither want nor avoid anything that is in the power of other people. Otherwise, it’s necessary for him to be servant.


The banquet.

Remember that you must conduct yourself as in a banquet. A course has been carried in front of you: stretch out the hand and take a share decently. It passes on: do not withhold it. It does not yet come along: do not fling your desire onwards, but await till it is not in front of you. So towards offspring, so towards a wife, so towards offices, so towards money’s wealth: and at some time you will be a fellow-drinker worthy of the gods. And when the courses are placed beside you but you do not take and disdain them, then you will not only be a fellow-drinker of the gods but you will rule with them. For by so doing Diogenes, Heracleitus and similar men deservedly were and were called gods.


The grief of another person.

When you see someone crying and mourning either because one if his offspring sets off or because he has lost his property, pay attention not to be swept away by the impression that he finds himself in an evil plight because of the external objects. But straightaway have ready at hand that “This fellow is not oppressed by what has occurred (for it does not oppress another) but by his judgement about it”. Yet till so far as words are concerned, do not hesitate to be complaisant with him and, perhaps, to groan over the thing together with him. Yet pay attention to not sigh also from within.


You are an actor.

Remember that you are an actor of a drama, the sort of which is disposed by the director. If he disposes the drama to be short, of a short one; if long, of a long one. If he disposes for you to play the part of a beggar, he does this in order that you may play this too as a thoroughbred actor; and the same for the part of a lame, of a magistrate, of a private citizen. For yours is to play well the given role; to select it is another’s business.


My own good is in my own hands.

When a crow croaks inauspiciously, be not swept away by that impression but straightaway, you within yourself, discriminate and say: “None of these things omens to me, but either to my body or to my estate or to my reputation or to my offspring or wife. To me all signs given are auspicious, if I dispose so; for whatever comes about it is in my exclusive power to benefit from it”.


Invincible in the freedom’s contest.

[E19,1] You can be invincible if you never descend into a contest in which victory is not in your exclusive power. [E19,2] When you see someone honoured above you or a tycoon or someone who wins applause, behold not to bless him, swept away by the impression. For if the substance of the good is in what is in our exclusive power, then neither envy nor jealousy have country there; and you will neither want to be general nor official nor consul but a free man. One only is the way leading to this: the contempt of what is not in our exclusive power.


The outrage.

Remember that it’s not the fellow who reviles or strikes that outrages you, but your judgement about these acts as outrageous. When, then, one provokes you, know that your conception has provoked you. In the first place, therefore, try not to be swept away by the impression, for once you have obtained some time and some delay, you will be more easily master of yourself.


The death.
Let death, exile and everything that appears terrible be before your eyes every day. Most of all death. And you will never brood anything slave-minded nor crave excessively for anything.


The derision and the admiration of human beings.

If you crave for philosophy, prepare immediately to be mocked, to be derided from many people who will say: “Suddenly this fellow is returned home philosopher!” and “Whence does this frown come?” You do not have the frown, but cleave to what appears to you the best as a man positioned to this task by Zeus. Remember that if you remain fixed to the same judgements, those who first mocked you, these same people will later admire you; but if you are defeated by them, you will add to the first a second derision.


To appear and to be.

If, owing to the decision to please someone, it ever happens to you to turn yourself outside, know that you lost your institute of life. Be content, then, in every circumstance to be a philosopher. And if you decide also to seem one, appear a philosopher to yourself and that will be sufficient.


To sacrifice our life for the sake of “the Cause” at the cost of losing our true goods?

[E24,1] Let not these considerations oppress you: “I’ll live lacking honours and will be nobody anywhere”. For if the lack of honours is an evil, you cannot be in evil because of another person, no more than in shame. Is it perhaps your work to obtain an office or to be invited to a dinner-party? Not at all. How is this, then, any longer a lack of honours? How is it that you will be nobody anywhere, when you have to be somebody only in the things that are in your exclusive power, wherein you have the power to be of the greatest value? [E24,2] But will your friends be helpless? Why do you say “helpless”? They will not have from you small coins nor you will make them Roman citizens. And who told you that these things are among those in our exclusive power and not another’s work? Who can give to another person what he does not himself have? “Get them for yourself, then”, someone says, “so that we too may have them”. [E24,3] If I can get them keeping myself self respecting, faithful, high-minded, show me the way and I’ll get them. But if you are urging me to lose my goods so that you may secure what are not goods, you see for yourselves how unfair and unintelligent you are. What do you decide better to have? Some money or a faithful and self respecting friend? Take rather part with me in this, then, and do not urge me to perform actions by which I’ll throw away my very faithfulness and self respect. [E24,4] “But my fatherland, as long as it is in my power”, someone says, “will be helpless”. Again, of what kind is this help? It will have, thanks to you, neither roofed colonnades nor baths. And what is this? For neither does it have shoes thanks to the smith nor weapons thanks to the cobbler. It is sufficient, instead, if anyone fulfils his own work. If you structured for it another faithful and self respecting citizen, would you be of no benefit to your fatherland? “Yes”. Therefore you would not be futile to it. “Which task”, someone says, “will I have, then, in town?” The one that you can have, guarding at the same time the faithful and self respecting man. [E24,5] But if, having decided to benefit your town, you will throw away this, of what avail would you be to it coming out disrespectful and faithless?


Flunkeys and arse-lickers.

[E25,1] Was anyone honoured above you at a dinner-party or on occasion of an address or in being invited for a counsel? If these are goods, you must rejoice that he obtained them. If, instead, they are evils, do not take offence because you did not obtain them. Remember that you cannot, not doing the same things that he does in order to obtain what is not in our exclusive power, deserve an equal share in it. [E25,2] For how can have an equal share, the one who does not frequent the doors of someone and the one who frequents them? The one who does not accompany someone and the one who accompanies him? The one who does not praise and the one who praises? You will be, then, unjust and insatiate if, while not turning over the things in exchange of which those are retailed, you would decide to get them free of charge. [E25,3] At what price are the heads of lettuce retailed? Perhaps, one obol. If, then, turning over one obol a fellow gets the lettuce and you, not turning over the obol will not get it, do not think that you have less than the fellow who got it. For as he has the head of lettuce, so you have the obol that you did not give. [E25,4] In the same way it is also here. Were you not invited to somebody’s dinner-party? For you did not give the host the price for which he sells his dinner. And he sells it for praises, for personal assistance. Give him, then, the price for which it is sold, if it’s advantageous for you. But if you want not to turn over that and yet to get this, you are insatiate and ignoble. [E25,5] Have you nothing, then, in exchange of the dinner? You have that you did not praise the fellow you did not want to praise; that you had not to tolerate his doorkeepers.


The grief of another person. 2

It is possible to decipher the plan of nature from the consideration of the points in which we do not differ from one another. For example, when another’s boy breaks the drinking-cup, you have straightaway ready at hand the words: “These are things that happen!” Know, then, that when your drinking-cup too is broken, you must be the same person you were when the other drinking-cup was broken. In like manner, transpose this principle also to greater things. Another’s offspring or wife has died. No one but would say: “It’s a human thing!” Yet when somebody’s own child dies, straightaway: “Woe’s me! Wretched me!”. But it would be compulsory to remember what we experience when we hear this event befalling other people.


Good and evil do not exist outside of our proairesis.

As a target is not set in order to fail it, so neither the nature of evil exists in the World.


The rape of intelligence.

If someone handed over your body to anyone you meet, you would be vexed. And that you hand over your intelligence to any chance comer so that, if you are reviled, it is disconcerted and confused; for this are you not ashamed?


Please, give up philosophy.

[E29,1] Consider the antecedents and the consequents of each work and at that point come to it. Otherwise, at first you will come along with spirited vigour, inasmuch as you have brooded nothing of what follows next but later, when some difficulties will be shown forth, you will desist shamefully. [E29,2] Do you want to win the Olympic games? So do I, by the gods, for it is a fine thing. But consider the antecedents and the consequents, and at that point undertake the work. You must obey discipline, eat by regimen, abstain from delicacies, train under compulsion, at a fixed hour, in burning heat, in cold; you must not drink cold water nor wine haphazardly; in short you must have committed yourself to the supervisor as to a physician. And then in contest to dig in beside your opponent, sometimes to dislocate a hand, to sprain your ankle, to gulp down much sand, possibly to be whipped and, after all this, to be defeated. [E29,3] Once you have examinated this, if you still want it, come to the trial. Otherwise, you will have conducted yourself as the children, who now play the wrestlers, now the gladiators, now blow trumpets and then croon. So you too are now athlete, now gladiator and then orator and then philosopher but with your entire soul nothing. Like an ape you imitate whatever spectacle you see and are pleased with something that is always different. For you did not come to anything after an analysis or a diligent study but at random and according to a cold craving. [E29,4] In this way some people, once they have observed a philosopher and heard someone speaking like Euphrates (and yet who can speak like him?), want they too to do philosophy. [E29,5] You sir, examine first what is the business and then decipher also your nature, if you can bear it. Do you decide to be a pentathlete or a wrestler? See your arms, your thighs, decipher your loins. [E29,6] For one is born for one thing, another for another one. Do you think that doing this you can eat in the same way, drink in the same way, similarly desire, similarly be ill pleased? You must stay awake, toil, depart from your household, be despised by a young boy, be mocked by those you meet, have less in every circumstance: in honour, in office, in court, in every small business. [E29,7] Examine these issues, if you dispose to give that in exchange for self control, freedom, undisconcertment. Otherwise do not bring yourself near philosophy, that you may not be, like the children, now a philosopher and later a tax collector and then an orator and then a Procurator of Caesar. These things do not harmonize. You must be one person only, either good or bad. You must work at your ruling principle or at the external objects; elaborate artfully your inside or things outside; that is to have the position of a philosopher or of a layman.


About social relationships.

The proper deeds are generally calibrated upon our social relationships. He is a father: what is dictated is to take care of him, to give him way in everything, to tolerate him if he reviles, if he smites. “But he is a bad father”. Were you made by nature kinsman to a good father? No, but simply to a father. “My brother does me wrong”. Keep, therefore, your position with regard to him and do not consider what he does but what you do in order to have your proairesis in accord with the nature of things. For another person will not damage you, if you do not dispose so. And then you will have been damaged, when you conceive that you are damaged. In like manner, then, you will find what is the proper deed of a neighbour, of a citizen, of a general, if you accustom yourself to know the general principles of your social relationships.


On men and gods.

[E31,1] About the piety towards the gods, know that the dominant issue is to have right conceptions of them, as existing and governing the whole well and justly; and to have appointed yourself to obey them, to make way to any of them and to follow them purposely as brought to completion by our best intelligence. For in this way you will never blame the gods nor you will bring charges to them for neglecting you. [E31,2] And it’s impossible for this to happen, otherwise than removing the good and the evil from what is not in our exclusive power and setting it only into what is in our exclusive power. For if you conceive any of those things to be good or evil it’s inevitable for you, when you fail what you want and you stumble on what you do not want, to blame and hate the causes of this outcome. [E31,3] For every creature is born to flee and turn aside from what appears harmful and from its causes, and to go in quest of and give value to what is beneficial and to its causes. It’s unmanageable, then, for the one who thinks to be damaged, to rejoice at what he thinks to damage him, as it’s also impossible to rejoice of the damage itself. [E31,4] Hence it comes that the father is reviled from the son when he does not give him a share of those things that the boy thinks are good. And this made Eteocles and Polyneices enemies of one another: to think tyranny to be a good thing. For this reason the farmer reviles the Gods, and so does the sailor, so does the merchant, so do those who lose their wives and their offspring. For where the useful is, there is also the pious. So that whoever takes care of desiring and averting as one ought, at the same time he is taking care also of the piety. [E31,5] It befits on each occasion to make libations and sacrifices, to offer the first-fruits after the manner of our fathers; doing it with purity, neither carelessly nor niggardly nor beyond our faculties.


The indifferent divination.

[E32,1] When you approach divination, remember that you don’t know what will come about but that you came in order to know it from the seer. Yet you came knowing what’s the nature of the thing that will come about, if indeed you are a philosopher. For if it’s something that is not in our exclusive power, it’s inevitable for it to be neither good nor evil. [E32,2] Do not bring, then, to the seer desire or aversion and do not approach him trembling, but having screened that everything will come about is indifferent and nothing to you; and that whatever it is, it will be possible to use it well and that nobody can prevent this. Come, then, confidently to the gods as to counsellors. Well then, when some counsel is given to you, remember whom you assumed as counsellors and whom you will misunderstand if you disobey. [E32,3] Come to divination, precisely as Socrates urged, in those cases in which every analysis has reference to the outcome and neither from reasoning nor from any other art are given resources in order to discover the issue in question. So that, when you have to run risks with a friend or with your fatherland, do not divine whether you have run them. For if the seer foretells you that the sacred victims have been unfavourable, it’s plain that this means death or lameness of some part of the body or exile. But reason chooses, also with these risks, to stand by side of the friend and to run risks with the fatherland. Pay attention, then, to the greatest seer, to Pythian Apollo, who cast out of his temple the fellow who did not help the friend who was being cleared out.


Some suggestions.

[E33,1] Position by now for yourself a certain style and pattern, that you will guard whether you are by yourself or are meeting with people. [E33,2] And be silent for the most part or chat the necessary and with few words. Rarely, and when the right time invites you to talk, talk indeed, but not about what you chance upon: not about gladiatorial combats, or horse-races, or athletes, or foodstuff or drinks or such trivialities and especially not about people, censuring or praising or comparing. [E33,3] If, then, you are able, with your discourses bring over also those of the fellows who are with you to what is befitting. If by chance you are taken apart among aliens, keep silent. [E33,4] Do not laugh much nor at many things nor coarsely. [E33,5] Spurn an oath, if possible, at all; otherwise, as far as it is contingent. [E33,6] Decline dinner-parties with outsiders and laymen. If ever the right time for this happens, pay much attention not to glide into any vulgarity. Know, indeed, that if the fellow is defiled, also the one who rubs against him must of necessity defile himself, even if he is by chance clean. [E33,7] With respect to the body, employ things like food, drink, clothing, house, servitude, till the satisfaction of the mere need; and set limits to everything which is for reputation or effeminacy. [E33,8] About sexual pleasures before marriage, one must keep oneself clean; and the one who touches them must take a share of the lawful ones. Yet don’t become rude nor challenging with those who indulge and do not quote repeatedly that you do not indulge. [E33,9] If someone reports to you that So-and-so speaks ill of you, do not speak in your defence against what is said but answer that “So-and-so ignored the others vices that are joined to me, since he would not speak, then, of these only!” [E33,10] To go to the theatre is, for the most part, not necessary. If it is ever the right time, show to be eager for none but yourself, that is dispose for that only to happen that happens, and for him only to win who wins: for in this way you will not be hindered. Abstain totally from shouting and mocking at anyone or from exciting yourself for long. Once you are far from the theatre, do not argue a great deal about what has happened, except in so far as this brings to your rectification; for such a behaviour discloses that you admired the spectacle. [E33,11] Do not go at random nor easily to people’s lectures. If you go, guard yourself solemn, stable and at the same time not rude. [E33,12] When you are about to confer with somebody, especially one of those thought “Excellence”, put in front of you what would Socrates or Zeno have done in this case and you will not be at a loss for using befittingly of the occurrence. [E33,13] When you frequent any tycoon, put in front of you that you will not find him in, that you will be shut outside, that his doors will be slammed in your face, that he will not worry about you. And if, despite this, it is a proper deed to come, come and bear with the events and never say to yourself: “It was not worth that much trouble!”; for this is typical of the layman and of one who has been filled with suspicion and resentment against the external events. [E33,14] In your conversations keep yourself far away from remembering for long certain works of yours or, beyond measure, certain dangers that you have run. For as it’s pleasant for you to remember your dangers, it is not so pleasant for other people to hear about the dangers that have occurred to you. [E33,15] Keep yourself also far away from moving laugh, for the way that brings into vulgarity is slippery and at the same time sufficient to lessen the respect of those who are nearby towards you. [E33,16] Unsafe is also to step forth towards smutty talk. When, then, something of this sort occurs, if it’s a well-timed occasion rebuke also the person who stepped forth to it. Otherwise, cease speaking and be silent and blush and be sullen, so displaying your dislike at the discourse.


The strength of our impressions.

When you get the impression of some ecstasy, precisely as for the other impressions guard yourself against being swept away by it. Let the thing, then, wait for you, and take some delaying. Next recollect both the times: the time in which you will enjoy the ecstasy and the time when, later, after enjoying it, you will repent and revile yourself. Set against this how you will rejoice in abstaining from it and how you will praise yourself. However, if it appears to you the right time to undertake the work, pay attention not to be defeated by its enticement and pleasantness and attractiveness. But set against this how better is for you the cognition of having won this victory.


About decision.

When you, having screened that a certain thing has to be done, do it; never avoid to be seen performing it, even though the multitude is going to conceive something different about it. For if you do it unrightly, avoid the work itself. If rightly, why do you fear those who will rebuke you unrightly?


A clash of interests.

As the statements “It is day” and “It is night” have a great value for a disjunctive clause but lack value for a coordinate clause, so let to select the greater part of a course have value for your body, but it lacks value to the purpose of guarding as one ought the sociability at a dinner-party. When, then, you eat with another person, remember to look not only at the value for your body of the courses that lie nearby, but also at guarding your respect towards the banquet-giver.


Out of the lines.

If you interpret a role that is above your faculties, in this you were indecent and you omitted to fulfill the role that you could have fulfilled.


The damage.

Precisely as in walking you pay attention not to step on a nail or to twist your foot, so pay attention not to damage your ruling principle. And if we are on our guard about this in each work, we will undertake it more safely.


The measure and above.

Each person’s body is a measure for his estate, as the foot is a measure for his shoe. If, then, you abide by this principle, you will guard the measure. If you go beyond it, well, then it’s necessary to be brought like along a cliff. Precisely as for the shoe, if you go beyond the foot, the shoe becomes gilded and then purple and then embroidered. For there is no limit to what is once above the measure.


Ladies whose only good is their cunt.

Straightaway from the age of fourteen the females are called by the males “Ladies”. Seeing, therefore, that nothing else is joined to them but to be bed-fellows of the males, they begin to embellish themselves and to devote all their hopes to that. It is worth, then, to pay attention so that they may realize to be honoured for nothing else but for appearing well-regulated and self respecting.


Shitting and fucking.

It’s a scum’s sign to linger fondly on things that concern our body, like training oneself for long, for long to eat, for long to drink, for long to shit, to fuck. These things must be done as accessory works. All thoughtfulness has to be for our intelligence.


Who is the damaged one?

When somebody treats you ill or speaks ill of you, remember that he does or says so, thinking this to be a proper deed for himself. It is not, then, possible for him to follow what appears to you but what appears to him, so that if his opinion is wrong, the damaged one is the deceived one. For if one conceives false a true coordinate clause, it is not the coordinate clause that has been damaged but the one who was deceived. Taking, then, impulse from this, you will be meek with the reviler. For to every reviling exclaim: “He thought it!”


The two handles of the business.

Every business has two handles: a bearable one and an unbearable one. If your brother wrongs you, do not take the business from here, that he wrongs (for this is its unbearable handle), but rather from there, that he is your brother, that he has lived in common with you; and you will take the business from the bearable handle.


Discourses that cannot fit together.

These are discourses that cannot fit together: “I am money’s wealthier than you, so I am better than you”; “I am more eloquent than you, so I am better than you”. These discourses, rather, can be combined: “I am money’s wealthier than you, so my estate is better than yours”; “I am more eloquent than you, so my elocution is better than yours”. But you are indeed neither estate nor elocution.


Reality and appearance.

Somebody bathes hastily; do not say that he bathes badly but hastily. Somebody drinks much wine; do not say that he drinks badly but that he drinks much. Before screening the judgements, whence do you know whether he is doing it badly? Thus it will not occur to you that you seize the cataleptic impressions of certain things and assent to others.


On being philosophers.

[E46,1] In no place call yourself philosopher and for the most part do not chat among laymen of general philosophical principles, but do what follows from those principles. At a banquet, for example, do not say how one ought to eat but eat as one ought. For remember that Socrates had so eliminated from all quarters the showing off, that people came to him and wanted to be recommended by him to the philosophers; and he used to bring them along. To such a point he tolerated its underestimation! [E46,2] And if a discourse about some general philosophical principle runs into laymen, for the most part keep silent; for great is the danger to vomit straightaway what you did not yet digest. And when someone tells you that you know nothing and you are not bitten by this, then know that you are beginning the real business. Since also the sheep do not show off to the shepherds how much they ate by bringing them the fodder but, once they have digested the pasturage within themselves, they bring outside wool and milk. You too, therefore, do not show off the general philosophical principles to laymen but, after digesting them, the works.


On ostentation.

When you have suited yourself, with regard to the body, to cheap living, do not embellish yourself with this and, if you drink water, do not seek every motive to say that you drink water. If you dispose to exercise yourself to toil, do it for yourself and not for outsiders to behold. Do not embrace statues, but when you have a vehement thirst draw upon yourself some fresh water and then spit it, without telling anybody.


Human beings and men.

[E48,1] Station and style of a layman: he never expects benefit or damage from himself but from external things. Station and style of a philosopher: he expects every benefit and damage from himself. [E48,2] These are the signs of the one who profits: he censures nobody, praises nobody, blames nobody, brings charges to nobody, says nothing about himself as though he were somebody or knew something. When he is hindered in something or hampered, he brings charges to himself. If anyone praises him, he mocks within himself the one who praises; and if he is censured, he does not speak in his defence. He goes around like an invalid, cautious to move, before they take solidity, any of the parts that are being reconstituted. [E48,3] He has removed from himself every desire and has transposed aversion only upon what, among what is in our exclusive power, is not in accord with the nature of things. Towards everything he uses the impulse mildly. If he is thought to be silly or uncultured, he does not worry about. In a word, he is in his guard against himself as against a treacherous personal enemy.


Solemnity of being philosophers or of commenting on philosophers.

When one takes a solemn air because he is able to comprehend and explain the books of Chrysippus, say to yourself: “If Chrysippus had not written obscurely, this fellow would have nothing about which to take a solemn air”. What do I decide? To decipher the nature of things and to stay in her company. I seek, then, the one who explains it and, having heard that Chrysippus does so, I come to him. But I do not comprehend his writings. I seek, then, the one who explains them. And down to this point there is nothing solemn. When I find the commentator, what is left behind is to use the prescriptions: this only is solemn. But if I admire this mere fact of commenting, what else do I come out if not a grammarian instead of a philosopher? Except that instead of Homer I can comment, indeed, Chrysippus. When one tells me: “Read me Chrysippus again”, I, then, rather blush, when I am unable to show off works similar and in harmony with his discourses.


What is at stakes is happiness.

Remain fixed to what is proposed to you as to laws, as if you would commit an impiety in violating it. And do not turn your mind towards whatever thing one says about you; for this is no longer yours.


Olympia is now.

[E51,1] And to what kind of time do you still delay to think yourself worth of the best thing and to violate in nothing the reason that performs the diairesis? You have assumed the general philosophical principles with which you had to match and you have matched with them. What kind of teacher, then, do you still expect, that you may defer to him your rectification? You are no longer a lad but by now a perfect adult. If you are now neglectful and lazy and make deferment after deferment and define one after the other the day when you will pay attention to yourself, it will escape your notice that you are not making profit and will continue to live and die as a layman. [E51,2] Urge yourself by now, then, to live as a perfect man and a man who profits; and let everything that appears best, be for you an inviolable law. If something painful or pleasant is brought near you, bringing good reputation or ill reputation, remember that the contest is now, that the Olympic games are by now before you, that it is no longer possible to delay and that in a day only and a contest only your profit is lost or safeguarded. [E51,3] Socrates came out the man he was because, in all that was brought near him, he used to pay attention to nothing but his reason. And even if you are not yet Socrates, you are bound to live as one who decides to be a Socrates.


The three fields of philosophy.

[E52,1] In philosophy, the first and more necessary topic is the one concerning the use of general principles: for example, non to lie. The second is the one concerning the demonstrations: for example, whence is it that one ought not to lie? The third is the one that strengthens and articulates these issues: for example, whence does it come that this is a demonstration? For what is demonstration, what is logical consequence, what is contradiction, what is truth, what is falsehood? [E52,2] Therefore the third topic is necessary because of the second and the second because of the first. But the most necessary one and the one in which we must rest is the first. We instead do the things backwards; for we pass our time in the third topic and all our eagerness is given to this one, while we neglect totally the first. Therefore we lie, but how to demonstrate that one ought not lie, this we have ready at hand


Who takes side with Socrates?

[E53,1] In every occasion we must have ready at hand these words: “Lead me, Zeus, and you indeed, Destiny, to that goal long ago to me assigned. Resolute, I’ll stay in your company; and if I don’t want so, becoming vicious, nevertheless I’ll stay in your company”. [E53,2] “Whoever has complied as a virtuous man with necessity, for us is wise and knows what is divine”. [E53,3] “Well, O Crito, if so it pleases the gods, so be it”. [E53,4] “Anytus and Meletus can kill me but not damage me”.





Newly Translated 



Εἰδέναι χρή, ὅτι οὐ ῥᾴδιον δόγμα παραγενέσθαι ἀνθρώπῳ, εἰ μὴ καθ’ ἑκάστην ἡμέραν τὰ αὐτὰ καὶ λέγοι τις καὶἀκούοι καὶ ἅμα χρῷτο πρὸς τὸν βίον.

“It is compulsory to know that a judgement does not become easily present to a person unless he should every day say and hear the same judgements and at the same time use them for life”. (Fr. XVI)

Stobaeus “Eclogae” 2, 1, 31. 

From Arrian, pupil of Epictetus. To the one who meddled in the problem of substance.

What do I care, Epictetus says, whether the things that are consist of atoms or of homoeomeries or of fire and earth? Is it not sufficient to learn the substance of good and evil things, the measures of desires and aversions and, further, of impulses and repulsions and using these as standards to govern the affairs of life, dispensing with the issues that are beyond us? Issues that are, perhaps, out of the grasp of human intelligence, and even if one stated that they are very well within our grasp, what would be the avail of grasping them? Ought we not to say that have troubles in vain those who ascribe these issues as necessary to the definition of philosopher? Is it, then, also the prescription at Delphi redundant: “Recognize yourself”? -This is not, he says- Which is, then, its meaning? If one bade a chorus-singer to recognize himself, would he not pay attention to the precept by turning his mind both towards his chorus-fellows and his harmony with them? -Yes- And if one bade a sailor? And a soldier? And you deem the human being a creature made for himself or for society? -For society- By what? -By nature- What is nature and how it governs the whole and whether it exists or not, these are issues it is no longer necessary to meddle in.


Stobaeus “Eclogae” 4, 44, 65.
From Arrian, pupil of Epictetus. 

He who dislikes what is present and has been given him by fortune is, in point of life, a layman. But he who bears with this generously and works rationally with what comes out of it, deserves to be legitimized a good man. 


Stobaeus “Eclogae” 4, 44, 66.
From the same.

All things heed and do service to the World: earth and sea, sun and the other stars, vegetables and animals of the earth. Our body too heeds to it, being sick and being healthy when it disposes so, and being young and getting old and going across the other transformations. Therefore it is reasonable that also what is in our exclusive power, that is the determination, should not contend alone against it. For it is potent and superior to us and has taken about us the better counsel and governs us together with the whole. Besides this the resistance to it means to side with unreason and making nothing more that to fidget in vain, makes us to stumble on sorrows and grieves.


Stobaeus “Eclogae” 2, 8, 30. 
Musonius, Fragment 38 Hense.
Of Rufus. From the remarks of Epictetus on friendship.

Of the things that are, Zeus set some in our exclusive power, others not in our exclusive power. In our exclusive power is the most beautiful and worth of the most earnest attention, the one by which he himself is happy, that is the use of impressions. For when this use occurs rightly there are freedom, serenity, cheerfulness, stability of judgements. Right use of the impressions is also justice, law, temperance and virtue all at once. All the rest he did not made in our exclusive power. Therefore it is compulsory that we too become men voting unanimously with Matter Immortal and, discriminating the things in this way, that we lay claim in all manner on what is in our exclusive power and entrust what is not in our exclusive power to the World, and that we merrily give way to it, would it need our children, our fatherland, our body or anything whatsoever.


Stobaeus “Eclogae” 3, 19, 13.
Musonius, Fragment 39 Hense.
Of Rufus. From Epictetus on friendship.

Who among us does not admire the words of Lycurgus the Lacedaemonian? For crippled to an eye from one of the citizens, he assumed the younker from the populace, that he may take vengeance upon him as he decided. Yet he abstained from this, but he educated him and after declaring him a good man, brought him to the theatre. To the amazed Lacedaemonians “When I got him”, he said, “from you, this fellow was outrageous and violent. I give him back to you acquiescent and friend to people”.


Stobaeus “Eclogae” 3, 20, 60.
Musonius, Fragment 40 Hense.
Of Rufus. From Epictetus on friendship.

But above all else, the work of nature is to tie and reconcile our impulse to the impression of befitting and beneficial.


Stobaeus “Eclogae” 3, 20, 61.
Musonius, Fragment 41 Hense.
From the same.

To think that we will be contemptible in another’s eye if we do not damage in every way our first personal enemies, is typical of very mean and crazy people. For we say that the contemptible person is identified also by his impossibility to damage, but much more he is identified by his impossibility to benefit.


Stobaeus “Eclogae” 4, 44, 60.
Musonius, Fragment 42 Hense.
Of Rufus. From the remarks of Epictetus on friendship.

Such was, is and will be the nature of the World, and it’s impossible for the events to happen otherwise than they do now. And not only the human beings and the other creatures on earth have taken a share into this development and transformation, but also what is material takes a share in it and, by Zeus, the four elements themselves turn upside down and transform and the earth becomes water, the water air and this again is transformed into ether. And the same is the manner of transformation from above downwards. If one attempts to lean his mind to this truth and persuades himself to admit purposely what is necessary, he will live a very well-balanced and harmonious life.


Gellius “Noctes Atticae” 19, 1, 14-21.

A well-known philosopher of the Stoic school….brought out of his handbag the fifth book of the “Discourses” of the philosopher Epictetus, gathered by Arrian and no doubt in agreement with the writings of Zeno and of Chrysippus. In that book, obviously written in Greek, we read a passage so conceived: “The impressions (that the philosophers call fantasìai) by which the mind of a human being is at once struck as soon as the appearance of anything comes to it, are subject neither to his free judgement nor to his control but they find their way almost with violence, in order to be known by him. On the contrary the assents (that the philosophers call sunkatathéseis) with which the same impressions are recognized, are free judgements and are subject to the control of the human being. For this reason, when some terrifying noise comes either from the sky or from the collapse of a building, or the sudden new of some danger is given or something else of this sort happens, it is necessary also for the mind of the wise man to be shaken for a while and for him to shrink and turn pale, not because of any prevision of some evil but because of the presence of certain swift and unconsidered motions that prevail over the normal functions of mind and reason. Soon, however, the wise man does not give his assent (this means où sunkatatìthetai oudé prosepidoxàzei) to those impressions (that is, to the frightfulness of those impressions of his mind) but rejects and drives them back, and sees in them nothing dreadful. And this, they say, is the difference between the mind of the wise man and that of the insipient person. This last believes truly awful and cruel the things that so appeared to him at his first impression and afterwards, as if they were really terrible, he gives also his assent and makes it to become his own opinion (prosepidoxàzei is the verb that Stoics use when talking about this). The wise man, on the contrary, after having briefly and fleetly changed his color and his expression où sunkatatìthetai, that is he does not give his assent, but keeps firmly and with vigour the judgement that he always had about such impressions, as not dreadful and frightening with a false appearance and with a vain fear”. In the above-mentioned book we read that this is what thinks and says Epictetus, according to the doctrines of the Stoics.


Gellius “Noctes Atticae” 17, 19.
“Tolerate another’s intolerance” and “Abstain from intemperance”.

I heard Favorinus say that the philosopher Epictetus observed how most of those who seem to philosophize are philosophers of the kind: “àneu toù pràttein, mékri toù léghein” (that means: apart from practice, as far as words). There is also another more vehement expression that Epictetus was accustomed to use and that Arrian has recorded in the books he wrote gathering the ‘Discourses’ of his teacher. When Epictetus realized, Arrian says, that a person who had lost his self respect, who spent his energies in a disorderly life, who had depraved habits, who was bold, impudent in speech and concerned with everything but his mind, well, he says, when he saw such kind of person handling the philosophical works and disciplines, undertaking physics, studying dialectic and trying to know and inquire many principles of this order of studies, then he called as witness god and men’s faithfulness and often shouting he would tell off the fellow with these words: “O man, and where do you throw this stuff? Analyse first whether the container has been cleaned. For if you throw it where there is conceit, it is lost. And if it rots away it becomes urine or vinegar or something worse than these things”. There are certainly no words weightier nor truer than these, with which the greatest the of philosophers declared that philosophical literature and doctrines, when poured in a false and depraved fellow, like in a dirty and defiled container, turn, change, are spoiled and, as he said more cynically, become urine or something dirtier than urine. The same Epictetus, as I heard from Favorinus, used to say that there are two vices far more severe and disgusting than all others, that is intolerance and intemperance. Intolerance, when we are unable to tolerate or bear with offences that we must bear with; intemperance, when we are unable to restrain ourselves from the things and pleasures from which we must restrain. “Therefore”, he said, “if one would take to heart these two words and would worry about making them his own regulating and governing principles, then he would never make mistakes and would live a very peaceful life”. These were the two words that he said: “anékou” and “apékou”


Stobaeus “Eclogae” 4, 33, 28.
From the hortatory conversations of Arrian.

Yet Socrates, when Archelaus sent for him with the promise of making him wealthy in money, summoned to announce to him that “At Athens four choenixes of barley-meal can be purchased with an obol and there are springs of running water”. For even if what I have is not sufficient, I am sufficient for it and in this way it too is sufficient for me. Or don’t you see that Polus did not play the part of Oedipus the Tyrant with a better and more pleasant voice than the Oedipus, wanderer and beggar, at Colonus? And then will the generous man show himself worse than Polus, and not play well any part with which his gene clothes him? And will he not imitate Odysseus, who stood out no less in rags than in a woolly purple wrapper?


Stobaeus “Eclogae” 3, 20, 47.
From Arrian.

There are great-hearted people who perform, with a quiet meekness and as without anger, what those vehemently drifted by wrath do. We must be on our guard, then, against their oversight, because it is much worse of the furious anger of the others. For these are quickly sated with revenge, while the first prolong it like those who have a slight persistent fever.


Stobaeus “Eclogae” 1, 3, 50.
From the Memoirs of Epictetus.

But I see, someone says, also the virtuous men perishing from hunger and shivers- 
And don’t you see those who are not virtuous perishing from effeminacy, brag, ignorance of the beautiful? 
-But it’s a shameful thing to be fed by another!- 
And which other thing, O unhappy fellow, feeds by itself except the World? Therefore whoever brings charges to Matter Immortal’s mind because knavish people do not pay the penalty and because they are strong and wealthy in money, does something similar as he said that, once they have lost their eyes, they nevertheless have not paid the penalty because their finger-nails are sound. And I say that there is much more difference between virtue and estate than between eyes and finger-nails.


Stobaeus “Eclogae” 3, 6, 57.
From the Memoirs of Epictetus.

and bring forward those ill-tempered philosophers who think pleasure not to be in accord with nature but to supervene to things in accord with nature, as justice, temperance, freedom. Why, then, does the soul rejoice and find peace through the body’s goods, that are smaller, as Epicurus says, while it does not delight in its own goods, that are the greatest? Yet nature has given me self respect and many times I blush, when I conceive something shameful to say. This motion does not allow me to set physical pleasure as good and end of life.


Stobaeus “Eclogae” 3, 6, 58.
From the Memoirs of Epictetus.

At Rome the ladies have in their hands the “Republic” of Plato, because it would urge the ladies to be common. They are paying attention to the phrases, not to the intellect of the philosopher; because he does not summon to marry and dwell together one male with one female, and then decides the ladies to be common, but eradicates such a marriage and brings in another form of it. Generally the human beings rejoice in providing defenses for their aberrations. Since philosophy says that it does not befit to stretch out at random not even the finger!


Stobaeus “Eclogae” 3, 29, 84.
From the Memoirs of Epictetus.

It is compulsory to know that a judgement does not become easily present to a person unless he should every day say and hear the same judgements and at the same time use them for life.


Stobaeus “Eclogae” 3, 4, 91.
From Epictetus.

When, then, we are invited to a banquet, we use what is present. If one would summon his host to place beside him fish or cakes, he would be regarded as eccentric. Yet in the World we ask the gods for what they don’t give, even if there are many things that they have actually given us.


Stobaeus “Eclogae” 3, 4, 92.
From the same.

They are amusing, he said, those who have high thoughts about what is not in our exclusive power! “I” one says, “am better than you because I have many lands, while you are tormented by hunger”. Another says: “I am of consular rank”. Another: “I am a procurator”. Another: “I have woolly hair”. Yet a horse does not say to another horse: “I am better than you because I have plenty of fodder and of barley, my bits are golden and my saddlecloths are multicoloured”, but it says “I run faster than you”. And every creature is better or worse according to its own virtue or vice. Only for the human being, then, there is no virtue and we must have in view the hair and the robes and the grandfathers?


Stobaeus “Eclogae” 3, 4, 93.
From the same.

The patients take offence with the physician who advises nothing to them and believe to be despaired by him. And why should not one be disposed in like manner towards the philosopher, so as to think to be despaired by him with regard to temperance, if he would tell one nothing profitable?


Stobaeus “Eclogae” 3, 4, 94.
From the same.

Those whose body is well disposed abide patiently burning heat and cold weather. So also those whose mind is virtuously disposed abide patiently anger, grief, great joy and the other passions.


Stobaeus “Eclogae” 3, 7, 16.
From Epictetus.

For this reason it is right to praise Agrippinus, because, although being a man of the greatest value, he never praised himself but, if someone else praised him, he blushed. This was such a man, Epictetus said, as to always write a praise of the difficulty that occurred to him. If he had a fever, of the fever; if he had ill reputation, of ill reputation; if he went into exile, of exile. And once, he said, while he was going to lunch, someone stood by his side and told that Nero summoned him to go into exile. “Well”, he said, “then we shall lunch at Aricia!”


Stobaeus “Eclogae” 4, 7, 44.
From Agrippinus.

When Agrippinus was governor, he used to try to persuade those who were sentenced by him that it befitted them to be sentenced. For, he said, I do not cast down the pebble against them as against enemies or robbers, but as a curator and tutor; as also the physician consoles the one who needs surgery and persuades him to submit to the operation.


Stobaeus “Eclogae” 4, 53, 29.
From Epictetus.

Amazing is nature and, as Xenophon says, fond of her creatures. At all events we cherish and look after our body, the thing most unpleasant and filthy of all. For if, for five days only, we had to look after the body of our neighbour, we would have submit to this. Just see what sort of thing is to set up in the morning and brush another’s teeth; then, after doing something necessary, to wash clean those parts. It’s indeed amazing to have a predilection for a thing for which we perform so many services every day. I stuff this sack and then I evacuate: what is heavier than this? But I must do service to Matter Immortal. For this reason I remain and I tolerate to bathe this shabby body, to fodder it, to shelter it. When I was younger, it enjoined me also something else and yet I tolerated it. When nature, that gave us the body, takes it off why, then, don’t you tolerate it? 
-I love it- someone says
But, as I was saying now, is it not nature that has given you also this very love? And nature says: “Give it up by now and have no more troubles”.


Stobaeus “Eclogae” 4, 53, 30.
From the same.

If one ends his life when young, he brings charges to the gods… [because he is carried off before his time. If, when old, one is slow in dying, also in this case he brings charges to the gods…] because, being for him by now time to rest, he has troubles. Nonetheless, when he approaches death, he decides to live and sends for the physician and entreats him to leave behind neither zeal nor diligence. Amazing, he said, are the human beings who want neither live nor die.


Stobaeus “Eclogae” 3, 20, 67.
From Epictetus.

When you assault anyone with a threatening vehemence, remember to foretell yourself that you are a tame creature; and having done nothing wild, you will go through life unrepentant and free from liability.


Marcus Aurelius 4, 41.

You are a little soul that bears a corpse, as Epictetus used to say.


Marcus Aurelius 11, 37.

We must, he said, find an art about assenting and, in the topic of impulses, we must guard to keep attention, that they may be with reservations, sociable and as it’s worth. And we must abstain altogether from desire and use aversion towards nothing of what is not in our exclusive power.


Marcus Aurelius 11, 38.

The contest, then, is not on what we chance upon, he said, but on being mad or not mad.


Marcus Aurelius 11, 39.

Socrates used to say: “What do you decide? To have the soul of rational creatures or of creatures lacking reason?” “Of rational ones”. “And which kind of rational creatures? Sound or insipient ones?” “Sound”. “Why, then, don’t you look for that?” “Because we have it”. “Why, then, do you struggle and quarrel?”


Marcus Aurelius 4, 49, 2-6.

Misfortuned me, because this occurred to me!” Say not so, but: “Fortunate that I am, because, although this has occurred to me, I continue to be able to control grief, being neither shattered by the present nor in fear of whatever will come”. For something of this sort could occur to anyone, but not everyone would have continued to be able to control grief. Why, then, is that one a misfortune rather than this one a fortune? Generally do you call misfortune of a man what is not a failure of man’s nature? And do you think a failure of man’s nature what is not against the plan of his nature? What then? You have learned the plan of man’s nature. Does what has occurred prevent you to be just, magnanimous, temperate, judicious, not precipitate, not deceitful, self respecting, free and the other things thanks to the presence of which man’s nature has what is peculiar to it? Well then, in the face of anything that promotes you to a grief, remember to use this judgements: “Not that this is a misfortune but that to bear generously with it is a good fortune”.



Stobaeus “Eclogae” 3, 35, 10.
From the Manual of Epictetus.

In every circumstance mind of nothing as of safety; for to keep silent is safer than to speak. And do not allow yourself to say what will be crazy and full of censure.


Stobaeus “Eclogae” 4, 46, 22.
From Epictetus.

We ought neither anchor the ship to one anchor only, nor our life to one hope only.


Stobaeus “Eclogae” 4, 46, 23.
From the same.

Both with our legs and with our hopes we must cross over what we can.


Stobaeus “Eclogae” 4, 46, 23.
From Epictetus.

It is more necessary to heal the soul than the body, for it’s better to die than to live viciously.


Stobaeus “Eclogae” 3, 6, 59.
Democritus, Fragment 232 Diels.

Of the pleasures, the rarest ones gladden to the highest degree.


Stobaeus “Eclogae” 3, 6, 60.
Democritus, Fragment 233 Diels.

If a man should overpass the moderation, the more delicious things would become the less attractive.


Florilegium, Cod. Paris. 1168

No man is free if he is not the master of himself.


Antonius Diogenes 1, 21.

The truth is an immortal and everlasting stuff, that provides us neither with a prettiness that withers with time nor with a freedom of word that can be subtracted by a lawsuit, but with what is just and lawful, distinguishing it from what is unjust and refuting it. 






The four books of the Discourses are neither Dialogues in the style of Plato nor Orations written by Isocrates for display, but the faithful recording -by his pupil Arrian- of Epictetus’ live talking. I have done my best to preserve this peculiarity and have kept very close to the Greek text. The reader should bear this in mind, and read according to the right ‘tempo’.

Thank you for choosing this new translation of Epictetus.


“Why, then, did you say that he is a man? For is perhaps each being judged from its mere external appearance? Since, in this way, say that also a waxen apple is an apple. But it must also have the aroma and the taste of an apple; the external feature is not sufficient. Not even nose and eyes are, then, adequate to make a man, if he has not the judgements of a man”. (IV, 5, 19-20)


No insipient person is free (1-5)

[IV,1,1] Free is the one who lives as he decides, whom it is impossible to constrain or hamper or force; whose impulses are unhindered, whose desires are right on the mark, whose aversions do not stumble on what they avert. Who, then, wants to live a life full of aberrations? -No one- [IV,1,2] Who wants to live deceived, reckless, unjust, impudent, faultfinding, slave-minded? -No one- [IV,1,3] No insipient person, then, lives as he decides to live and therefore no insipient person is free. [IV,1,4] Who wants to live grieving, fearing, envying, pitying, desiring and failing in his desires, averting and stumbling on what he averts? -No one at all- [IV,1,5] Have we, then, any insipient person without grief, without fear, unstumbling, unfailing? -No one- No one of them, therefore, is free.

Our freedom is not built upon birth or social position (6-10)

[IV,1,6] When someone who has been twice consul hears this, if you add up: “But you are a wise man, this does not apply to you”, he will forgive you. [IV,1,7] Yet if you tell him the truth: “With regard to not being you too a servant, you differ in nothing from those who have been thrice retailed”; what else have you to expect but blows? [IV,1,8] “How”, he says, “am I a servant? My father was free, my mother was free; nobody has a deed of sale for me. More than this, I am a senator, a friend of Caesar, I have been consul and I have many servants”. [IV,1,9] In the first place, my dear sir and senator, your father too was probably subject to the same servitude, and your mother, and your grandfather and besides them all your ancestors. [IV,1,10] And even if they were free to the highest degree, what has this to do with you? What, if they were generous and you are mean; if they were fearless and you are cowardly; if they were self-restrained and you are impudent?

A slave is he who has a master… (11-15)

[IV,1,11] -What has this to do, says someone, with being a servant?- To do something unwillingly, being constrained, groaning, does it appear to you nothing with regard to being a servant? [IV,1,12] – Let this be so, he says. But who can constrain me except Caesar, who is the Lord of all us?- [IV,1,13] You yourself, then, acknowledge that you have a master. And do not be consoled by the fact that, as you say, he is the master of all us. Recognize, instead, that you are the servant of a great family. [IV,1,14] Also the Nicopolitans are accustomed to acclaim in this way: “Yes, by the fortune of Caesar we are free men!” [IV,1,15] Yet, if you deem so, for the time being let’s acquit Caesar, but tell me this: Were you never in love with anyone? A maiden, a young boy, a servant, a free person?

… or a mistress (16-23)

[IV,1,16] -What has this to do with being servant or free?- [IV,1,17] Were you never ordered by your beloved to do something you did not want to do? Did you never flatter your little servant? Did you never kiss his feet? And yet if someone constrained you to kiss those of Caesar, you would believe this an outrage and the height of tyranny. [IV,1,18] What else is, then, servitude? Did you never leave at

night for places where you did not want to go? Did you never spend as much as you did not want? Did you never say some things wailing and groaning? Did you never endure to be reviled, to be shut outside? [IV,1,19] But if you are ashamed to acknowledge this in your case, look at the words and deeds of Thrasonides who, having served in so many military campaigns -as you probably have not- at first is gone out of the camp at night, when Geta does not dare to go out, while if the latter had been constrained by him to do so, he would have gone out yelling insults and decrying his bitter servitude. [IV,1,20] And then what does Thrasonides say? *…a cheap maiden, he says, has enslaved me; me, whom not one of my enemies ever…* [IV,1,21] You wretched fellow, who are servant of a maiden, and a cheap one! Why, then, do you still call yourself free? Why do you blether about your military campaigns? [IV,1,22] And then he asks for a sword and becomes embittered with the fellow who, out of benevolence, does not give it to him; and sends gifts to the girl who hates him, and entreats and cries and again is elated when he has had somewhat of a happy day. [IV,1,23] Except that even then, how could he have freedom for himself if he has not learned to give up craving or fear?

The instinct is what more closely approaches freedom, in the case of aproairetic creatures (24-28)

[IV,1,24] Analyse how we use the concept of freedom in the case of animals. [IV,1,25] Some people shut tame lions in a cage, feed them, pasture them and convey them about like pets. Who will say that this lion is free? The softer its condition, is it not the more servile? Which lion, if it possessed a conscience and reasoning power, would decide to be one of these tame lions? [IV,1,26] Come on, and when these birds are caught and fed in a cage, what do they experience when seeking a means of escape? Some of them starve to death rather than submitting to such a form of luxury. [IV,1,27] And those who preserve themselves in life do so with toil and pain and embitterment; they waste away and generally, when they find a small opening, they leap out. To such a point they desire their natural freedom and to be autonomous, unhampered! [IV,1,28] What evil is here for you, in the cage? “What do you say? I have been born to fly where I want, to pass my life in the open air, to sing when I want: you deprive me of all this and then say: ‘What evil is here for you?’ “.

A freedom for whose sake men can give their life (29-32)

[IV,1,29] For this reason we will call free only those creatures that do not bear captivity and that, when captured, flee by dying. [IV,1,30] In like manner also Diogenes somewhere says that the only device to preserve our freedom is to die in a light-hearted way, and writes to the Persian king: “You cannot enslave the town of the Athenians; no more, he says, than the fishes”. [IV,1,31] “How? Will I not catch them?” “If you catch them”, Diogenes says, “they will desert you and disappear precisely as the fishes do. Also if you catch one of them, it dies. If the Athenians die when you catch them, how does this avail your preparations for war?” [IV,1,32] This is the voice of a free man who has earnestly inquired into the business and, as it’s likely, has found the truth. But if you look for it in a place where it is not, why be amazed if you never find it?

The amazing story of slaves who ignore their true slavery (33-40)

[IV,1,33] The slave wishes to be set straightaway free. Why? Do you think he longs to give money to those who collect the five per cent tax? No. But because he fancies that till now he is hindered and is not serene because he has not yet hit the mark. [IV,1,34] “If I am set free”, he says, “straightaway all is serenity, I turn my mind towards nobody, I talk to everybody as equal and similar, I proceed where I want, I come whence I want and go where I want”. [IV,1,35] Later he is emancipated, and having nothing to eat, straightaway he seeks someone to flatter, someone at whose house to dine. And then, either prostitutes himself and experiences the most terrible things -and if he gets a manger from prostitution he has fallen into a slavery [IV,1,36] much more arduous than the former- or, finding himself in abundance but being a person ignorant of the beautiful, he has fallen in love with a maiden and having ill fortune he bursts into tears and yearns for his servitude. [IV,1,37] “What evil had I with that? Another clothed me, another gave me shoes, another fed me, another cured me when I was sick

and I did him some service. Now, wretched me, what I experience being the servant of many rather than of one! [IV,1,38] Yet”, he says, ” if I get the rings of the equestrian order, then indeed I’ll pass my life in the utmost serenity and happiness”. In the first place, in order to get those rings he experiences what he deserves. [IV,1,39] And then, once he has got them, again it is the same story. And he says “If I serve in a military campaign, I would have got rid of all my evils”. He serves in a military campaign, he experiences what befits one who wants whipping and nevertheless he asks for a second campaign and a third. [IV,1,40] And when he puts on the finishing touch and becomes a senator, then he becomes a slave who comes to the assembly, then he serves in the most honourable and sleekest slavery.

All animals, as aproairetic creatures, behave by instincts. The human being, who is a proairetic animal, remains an instinctive creature as far as he uses counterdiairesis, and becomes free, that is a man, only when he learns to play rightly with antidiairesis and to use diairesis with art. Our witnesses are Caesar and his court (41-50)

[IV,1,41] That he may not be stupid, that he may learn what Socrates said: ‘The “what is” of each thing’, and that he may not adapt at random his preconceptions to the particular substances! [IV,1,42] For this is what causes all of human beings’ evils: the inability to adapt the common preconceptions to the particular cases. [IV,1,43] We think one, one thing and another, another thing to be cause of our evils. One thinks that the cause of his evils is the fact of being sick. Not at all, but the fact that he does not adapt in the right way his preconceptions. Another thinks, because he is a beggar; another, because he has an embittering father or mother; another, because Caesar is not propitious. Yet the cause is one and only one: that he does not know how to adapt his preconceptions. [IV,1,44] For who does not have the preconception of evil, the fact that evil is a harmful thing, that it is to be avoided, that we must manage so as to get rid of it in every way? [IV,1,45] One preconception does not contradict another preconception, but conflict arises when one proceeds to adapt them. What is, then, this evil, this harmful thing that has to be avoided? One person says: not to be Caesar’s friend. He left for the wrong way, he aborted his adaptation, he oppresses himself, he seeks something that has nothing to do with his program: for when he hits the mark and is a Caesar’s friend, nevertheless he has not achieved the true goal he was seeking. [IV,1,46] For what is it that every person seeks? Stability of judgement, to be happy, to do everything as he disposes, not to be hampered, not to be constrained. When, then, he becomes a friend of Caesar, has he ceased of being hampered, of being constrained, is he stable, is he serene? From whom shall we try to know this? Whom do we have more trustworthy than this very person who has become Caesar’s friend? [IV,1,47] Come in our midst and tell us when you slept with more contentment. Now or before you became Caesar’s friend? Straightaway you hear him saying: “Stop, by the gods, mocking my soul; you don’t know what I am experiencing, wretched me! Sleep does not come to me but, look, first one and then another person comes and says: Caesar is already awake! Caesar is already advancing! And then disconcertment, and then worries”. [IV,1,48] Come on, when did you dine with more pleasure: now or before? Listen what he tells about this too. He says that if he is not invited, he is sorry; and that if he is invited, he dines like a servant at the Lord’s table, meanwhile taking care not to say or do anything stupid. What do you believe he fears? To be whipped like a servant? And how could he get off so well? But he fears, as is fitting to a person so important, to a friend of Caesar, to lose his neck. [IV,1,49] When did you bathe with more contentment? When did you train more at your leisure? On the whole, which life would you rather live, the current or the previous one? [IV,1,50] I can swear that nobody is so insensitive or such a liar as not to bitterly lament his mishaps the more he is a friend of Caesar.

Listen to those who have looked for the Truth and have found it: no unhappy person is free (51-53)

[IV,1,51] -When, then, neither the so-called kings nor the friends of the kings live as they want, who are anymore free men?- Seek and you will find. For nature has given you resources for finding the truth. [IV,1,52] And if you are unable to find what comes next proceeding with these mere resources, listen those who have already sought. What do they say? Do you deem freedom a good? -The greatest- Can, then, one who hits the mark of the greatest good be unhappy or fare ill? -No- Those people, then, whom you see unhappy, not serene, mourning, declare confidently that they are not free. [IV,1,53] -I

declare so- Therefore, as far as freedom is concerned, from now on we can skip questions of buying, of selling and of relying on any kind of estate. For if you have rightly acknowledged this, whether he is a Great King or a little king, whether he is a fellow who has been consul once or twice, if he is unhappy he is not free. -Let it be so-

Great slaves with purple-edged robes, little slaves on holidays and syllogisms worthy of slaves (54-61)

[IV,1,54] Answer me, then, this further question: do you think freedom anything great and generous, anything renowned? -And how not?- Is it, then, possible that the one who hits the mark of such a great and renowned and generous good be a slave-minded person? -It is not possible- [IV,1,55] When, then, you see someone cringing before another or flattering contrary to what appears true to him, say confidently that this person too is not free: and not only if he does it for the sake of a dinner, but also for the sake of a province or of a consulship. And call little slaves those who do these things for small ends and the others, as they deserve, great slaves. [IV,1,56] -Let this also be so- Do you deem freedom something unconditioned and autonomous? -And how not?- When, then, it is in another’s power to hamper or constrain someone, say confidently that this person is not free. [IV,1,57] And don’t look to his grandfathers and great-grandfathers, don’t look for a deed of purchase or sale; if you hear him say from deep inside and with passion “Lord!”, even if twelve rods promote him, call him a slave. If you hear him say “Wretched me, what I do experience!” call him a slave. If, in short, you see him weeping aloud, finding fault, not being serene: call him a slave who has a purple-edged robe. [IV,1,58] If however he does none of these things, do not call him free yet but decipher whether his judgements are constrained, hampered, leading to a lack of serenity. And if you find him to be such a person, call him a slave on vacation during the Saturnalia. Say that his Lord is setting off; but he will come along and then you will recognize what he experiences! [IV,1,59] -Who will come along?- Whoever has the power to secure or withhold any of the things that the fellow wants. -Have we, then, so many Lords?- So many. For, previous to these we have as lords different circumstances, and they are many. For this reason it is necessary that those be lords who have power over any of them. [IV,1,60] Since no one fears Caesar himself, but fears death, exile, removal of property, prison, lack of honours. Nor does anyone have a predilection for Caesar, unless Caesar is a man of great value, but we have a predilection for wealth, tribuneship, praetorship, consulship. When we have a predilection for and hate and fear these things, it is necessary that those who have power over them be our Lords. For this reason we revere them as Gods. [IV,1,61] For we have this concept: “What has the power of the greatest benefit is divine”. Then we wrongly subordinate: “This person has the power of the greatest benefit”. The conclusion from these premises is by necessity wrongly inferred.

Can anything that is in another’s power make us free? No, it cannot (62-67)

[IV,1,62] What is it, then, that makes the man unhampered, unconditioned? For wealth does not do it, nor a consulship nor a province nor the kingdom, [IV,1,63] we must find something else. What is it that makes a person unhampered and unimpeded in writing? -The science of writing-And in playing the lyre? -The science of lyre-playing- Then, also in living, the science of living. [IV,1,64] In short, you have heard. Analyse it also in its particular cases. Is it feasible for the person who aims at some of the things that are in power of others to be unhampered? -No- Is it feasible for him to be unimpeded? -No- [IV,1,65] Therefore he is not free. Look, then: have we nothing in our exclusive power, or is everything in our exclusive power, or some things are in our exclusive power and others in the power of other people? -How do you say?- [IV,1,66] When you want your body to be intact, is this in your exclusive power or not? -It is not in my exclusive power- And it to be healthy? -Nor this, either- And it to be handsome? -Nor this, either- It to live or to die? -Nor this, either- Therefore the body is what is another’s, it is subjected to everything that is stronger than it. -Let it be so- [IV,1,67] And your land, is it in your exclusive power to have it when you want, for all the time you want and in the manner you want? -No- And your servants? -No- Your robes? -No- Your house? -No- Your horses? -None of these things- And if you want at any cost your offspring or wife or brother or friends to live, is this in your exclusive power? -Nor this, either-

Is there anything that is in our exclusive power? Yes, there is (68-75)

[IV,1,68] Have you, then, nothing unconditioned, that is in your exclusive power or do you have something of this sort? -I don’t know- [IV,1,69] Look, then, and analyse it in this way. Can anyone make you assent to what is false? -No one- In the topic of assent, then, you are unhampered and unhindered. -Let it be so- [IV,1,70] Come on, can anyone constrain you to impel to what you do not want? – He can. For when he threatens me with death or chains he constrains me to impel- But if you despise to die or to be fettered, do you turn any longer your mind towards him? -No- [IV,1,71] Is it, then, your work to despise death or is it not yours? -It is mine- So it is your own work also to impel or is it not? -Let it be mine- And to repel something? This also is yours. [IV,1,72] -What then if, when I start walking, the fellow hampers me?- What will he hamper of you? Perhaps your assent? -No, but my body- Yes, as he would hamper a stone. -Let it be so, but I do no longer walk- [IV,1,73] And who told you that “to walk is an unhampered work of your own”? For I said unhampered only to impel. Where there is need of the body and of its cooperation, you have heard long ago that nothing is yours. -Let it be so also this- [IV,1,74] And can anyone compel you to desire what you do not want? -No one- Compel you to propose or design or in short to use the impressions that befall you? [IV,1,75] -Nor that either, but when I desire he will prevent me from achieving what I desire- If you desire some of the things that are yours and unhampered, how will he hamper you? -Not at all- Who, then, tells you that the one who desires what is another’s is unhampered?

This is the Truth, put it in practice and do not fear its consequences (76-80)

[IV,1,76] -Should I not, then, desire bodily health?- Not at all, nor anything else of what is another’s. [IV,1,77] For what is not in your exclusive power to arrange or keep when you dispose so, this is what is another’s. Keep far away from it not only your hands but above all your desire. Otherwise you enslaved yourself, you bowed your neck, whatever the thing that is not yours and that you are infatuated with may be, whatever is the subjected and mortal thing for which you are pining away. [IV,1,78] -Is not my hand mine?- It is a part of you, but by the nature of things it is clay, it is the hampered, constrained, servant of everything that is stronger than it. [IV,1,79] But why do I tell you the “hand”? You ought to treat your whole body like a loaded-down donkey, as long as it is possible, as long as it is given. And if there is an impressment and a soldier lays hold of it let it go, do not contend, do not grumble. Otherwise you will take blows and nevertheless you will lose your donkey. [IV,1,80] When you ought to behave in this way towards your body, look what is left for you to do about all the other things that are provided for the sake of the body. When the body is a donkey, the rest will be bridles of the donkey, pack-saddles, shoes, barley, fodder. Let them also go, set them free more quickly and more light-heartedly than the donkey.

Provided with diairesis… (81)

[IV,1,81] Once prepared in this way, exercised in the exercise of distinguishing what is another’s from what is your own, what is hampered from what is unhampered, to believe that this is for you while the former is not, to have thoughtfully here your desire, here your aversion: do you any longer fear anyone?

…what will you fear? (82-85)

[IV,1,82] -No one- And what will you fear about? About what is yours and where is for you the substance of good and evil? Who has power on this? Who can deprive you of this, who can hinder you? No more than one can hinder Zeus. [IV,1,83] Do you fear for the body, for the estate, for what is another’s, for what is nothing to you? And what else did you study from the beginning but how to distinguish what is yours and what is not yours, what is and what is not in your exclusive power, what is hampered and what is unhampered? For what purpose did you come to the philosophers? That you might nevertheless be misfortuned and have ill fortune? [IV,1,84] In this way you will not be able to

control fear and disconcertment. What is grief for you? For the fear of things expected becomes grief when they are present. What do you still crave? Now you have a well proportioned and reconstituted desire of what is proairetic because you know that this is beautiful and present; and you desire nothing of what is aproairetic, so that that certain element which is unreasonable, impetuous, urgent beyond measure may not have a place. [IV,1,85] When, then, you are behaving in this way towards the things, which person can still be fearful to you? What is frightening in a person either when seen or chatting or, generally, when one interacts with him, for another person? Nothing more than a horse can be frightening for another horse or a dog for another dog or a bee for another bee. But it is things that frighten each of us, and when a person can secure these things for or deprive someone of them, then this person becomes frightening.

The comparison of the demolition of the acropolis that is within ourselves and of the town’s acropolis (86-88)

[IV,1,86] How is an acropolis put down? Not by iron nor by fire but by judgements. For if we crush the acropolis of the town, have we perhaps thrown away the acropolis of fever also, that of handsome females, in short the acropolis that is within us and the tyrants that are within us? Have we thrown away those who are tyrants of each of us every day, and are sometimes the same tyrants and sometimes others? [IV,1,87] Thence we must begin and thence we must crush the acropolis, casting out the tyrants: we must disregard the body, its parts, its arts and faculties, our estate, fame, offices, honours, offspring, brothers, friends. All this we must believe another’s. [IV,1,88] And if thence the tyrants are cast out why, on my account, is there still reason to raze the walls of the acropolis? For if it stays, what harm does it to me? Why any longer should I cast out the bodyguards? Whence do I become aware of them? It is against others that they have their rods, their spears and daggers.

I am accountable only for the acropolis that is within me, not for the one that is in town (89-90)

[IV,1,89] I was never hampered when I disposed something nor I was ever constrained when I did not dispose it. How is this possible? I have adjoined my impulse to Matter Immortal. It disposes that I have a fever: and I dispose it too. It disposes that I impel to something: and I dispose it too. It disposes that I desire: and I dispose it too. It disposes that I obtain something: and I decide it. It does not dispose it: I do not decide it. [IV,1,90] Then I dispose to die; then I dispose to be racked. Who can hamper me any longer or compel me contrary to what appears true to me? No more than one can hamper or compel Zeus.

The comparison of the wise traveller, who is able to find the safe fellow (91-98)

[IV,1,91] So do also the safest travellers. One has heard that the way is infested with robbers. He does not dare to venture alone, but awaits the caravan of an ambassador or of a quaestor or of a proconsul and attaching himself to their party he passes on in safety. [IV,1,92] So also does, in this world, the prudent man. “Many robberies, tyrants, storms, want of means, wasting of the dearest things. [IV,1,93] Where to find a refuge? How to pass on without being robbed? After awaiting which caravan in order to cross in safety? [IV,1,94] To whom should he attach himself? To So-and-so, a money’s rich fellow, or to one of consular rank? And how does it avail me? He himself is stripped naked, wails, mourns. And what if my fellow-traveller turns upon me and robs me? [IV,1,95] What have I to do? I’ll be a friend of Caesar, and being his fellow no one will wrong me. In the first place, how many things I must endure and experience, how many times and by how many people I must be robbed in order to become his friend! [IV,1,96] And then, if I become his friend, Caesar, too, is mortal. And if he, because of some circumstance, becomes my personal enemy, to where is it better for me to withdraw? To a lonely place? [IV,1,97] Come on, and there does not fever come? What, then, will happen? Is it impossible to find a safe, faithful, strong, not insidious fellow-traveller?” [IV,1,98] Thus he reflects and comes to the concept that if he adjoins himself to Zeus, he will cross in safety.

Our only safe fellow is Matter Immortal, with its excellent laws (99-102)

[IV,1,99] -How do you say ‘adjoin oneself”?- So that what Zeus disposes, the man also disposes; and what Zeus does not dispose, the man also does not dispose. [IV,1,100] -How will this happen?- How else than by examining the impulses and the government of Matter Immortal? What has It given me that is mine and unconditioned? What did It forsake for Itself? It gave me the proairetic things, It has placed this in my exclusive power, unhindered, unhampered. But the body made of clay, how could Matter Immortal have made it unhampered? Matter Immortal, then, subordinated my estate, furniture, house, offspring, wife to the regular cycle of the whole. [IV,1,101] Why, then, fight against Matter Immortal? Why do I want what I cannot dispose; why do I want to have at any cost what is not given to me? But how? As it has been given and for how long it has been given. – But he who gives, also takes away- Why, then, do I contend? I do not say that I’ll be silly using force upon one who is stronger, but still earlier that I am unjust. [IV,1,102] I came in this world having what I have from where? -My father gave it to me- And who gave it to him? Who has made the sun, who the fruits, who the seasons, who sexuality and the sociability of men one with another?

Soul’s immortality is not the desire of a free man but of a foolish slave (103-106)

[IV,1,103] After having taken everything from another one, and your very self too, are you vexed and do you blame the giver, if It takes away anything? [IV,1,104] Who are you and for what purpose have you come to this world? Did not Matter Immortal introduce you here? Did not Matter Immortal show you the light? Has It not given you co-workers, sensations, reason? As what kind of creature did Matter Immortal introduce you here? Not as a mortal being? Not in order to live on earth with a bit of flesh, to observe Its government, to parade and to feast with It for a while? [IV,1,105] Don’t you want, then, till it has been given to you, to observe the parade and the festival and then, when you draw out from it, to proceed in reverence and gratitude for what you heard and saw? “No, but I wanted to feast further”. [IV,1,106] Also the initiates in the mysteries want to go on with the initiation and those at Olympia probably desire to watch more athletes. But the festival has an end. Go out, get rid of it as a grateful and self respecting man. Give place to others. Other people too must be born precisely as you were born and, once born, to have a country and dwellings and provisions. If the first-comers do not slowly retire, what is left over? Why are you insatiate? Why are you dissatisfied with everything? Why do you distress the world?

If you are not satisfied with it, go out! (107-110)

[IV,1,107] -Yes, but I want my offspring and my wife to be with me- For, are they yours? Are they not of the giver? Are they not of the one that has made you too? And then will you not withdraw from what is another’s? Will you not give way to the better? [IV,1,108] -Why did Matter Immortal introduce me into the world on these terms?- If this thing does not suit you, go out! Matter Immortal does not need a faultfinding observer. It needs those who feast with It and join in the dance, that they may rather applaud, treat It as a god and sing a hymn in praise of the festival. [IV,1,109] Matter Immortal will, not unpleasantly, look at slothful and cowardly people as people left out of the festival; for when they were present, they did not pass their life as in a feast nor did they fulfill their fitting task but they were sorry, they blamed their genes, their fortune, those who were with them; insensible to what came to their lot and of the faculties that equip them to face the difficulties: magnanimity, generosity, virility, the very freedom for which we are now seeking. [IV,1,110] -For what purpose, then, have I got the aproairetic things? -To use them. -Till when?- Till the lender disposes so. -And if they are necessary to me?- Do not pine away for them and they will not be necessary. Do not say to yourself that they are necessary and they are not necessary.

A very good daily exercise (111-113)

[IV,1,111] This is the study that we should conduct from morning till evening. Beginning from the smallest things, the more fragile ones: a pot, a drinking-cup; and then go on to the garment, to dogs, to

horses, to a bit of land; and thence to yourself: your body, its parts, your offspring, wife, brothers. [IV,1,112] Look them around from every side and throw them away from you. Clean your judgements, if anything that is not yours has ever remained glued to you, that it may not become connatural, that you may not be sorry when it is dragged away. [IV,1,113] And if you train yourself every day, as you do in the gymnasium, do not say that you do philosophy (let this name be a wearisome one) but that you have an emancipator, for this is indeed freedom.

The freedom and Diogenes (114-117)

[IV,1,114] In this way Diogenes was freed from Antisthenes, and afterwards said that he could be no longer enslaved by any one. [IV,1,115] Look how he, thanks to this, dealt with the pirates when he was captured: did he ever call any of them “Lord”? And I am not talking of the name, for I do not fear the words, but of the passion from which the word gushes. [IV,1,116] How he reproached them because they were feeding the captives poorly! And when he was retailed did he seek, perhaps, a “Lord”? No, but a servant. And how, after he was retailed, he treated his master! Straightaway he argued with him, telling him that he ought not to have attired himself in that way, not shorn in that way and, about his sons, how they ought to pass their lives. [IV,1,117] What is amazing in that? For if he had purchased a gymnastic trainer would he have treated him as a manservant or as a lord in issues relating to the wrestling-school? And in the same way if he had purchased a physician or an architect. Thus in each subject matter it is inevitable that the skilled person master the unskilled one.

The possession of the science of living and the freedom (118-119)

[IV,1,118] And in general whoever possesses the science of living, what else ought he to be but the master? For who is lord in a ship? -The steersman- Why? -Because the one who disobeys him is penalized- [IV,1,119] But can he flay me? -Can he do that without a penalty?- So I judged. But because he cannot do it without a penalty, for this reason he has not that power. No one can do an injustice without penalty.

He who ignores the science of living has in this very fact his penalty (120-122)

[IV,1,120] -And what is the penalty for the person who, when he deems so, fetters his own servant?- The fact of fettering him. This is what you too will acknowledge, if you wish to safeguard the judgement that the man is not a beast but a tame creature. [IV,1,121] For, when does a vine fare badly? When it fares contrary to its own nature. And a cock? In the same way. [IV,1,122] A man too, then. And which is his nature? To bite, to kick, to throw into prison and behead? No, but to do well, to cooperate, to wish good things. Therefore he is faring badly, whether you will or not, when he acts without intelligence.

The happiness of Socrates and the unhappiness of his prosecutors and judges (123-127)

[IV,1,123] -So that Socrates did not fare badly?- No, but his judges and his accusers. -Nor Helvidius at Rome?- No, but the one who killed him. [IV,1,124] -How do you say that?- As you, too, say that the winning cock does not fare badly, even if cut to pieces; but the defeated one, even if unwounded. Nor you deem a dog happy when he does not pursue the prey and does not toil but when you see it sweating, suffering, broken by the run. [IV,1,125] Why do we say a paradox if we say that everything’s evil is what is contrary to its own nature? Is this a paradox? Don’t you say that for all other creatures? Why, in the case of man alone, do you drift along otherwise? [IV,1,126] But as we say that the nature of man is tame, unselfish, faithful, this is not a paradox. -No, it is not- [IV,1,127] -How, then, is the man not damaged even if he is flayed or fettered or beheaded?- It is not so if he experiences it generously and he goes out getting from this both gain and benefit; while damaged is the human being who experiences the most lamentable and shameful things; who, instead of a man, becomes a wolf or a viper or a wasp.

An unforgettable summary (128-131)

[IV,1,128] Come on, let’s come to the acknowledged points. The unhampered man, the man who has the things ready at hand as he decides them, is free. On the contrary the one whom it is possible to hamper or constrain or hinder or cast out unwillingly into something, is a slave. [IV,1,129] Who is unhampered? The man who aims at nothing that is another’s. What is another’s? What it is not in our exclusive power to have or not to have or to have of a certain kind or in a certain state. [IV,1,130] Therefore the body is another’s, its parts are another’s, the estate is another’s. If you, then, pine away for any of these things as exclusively yours, you will pay the penalty deserved by one who aims at what is another’s. [IV,1,131] This way leads to freedom, this is the only release from servitude: to be able to say at some time with our entire soul * Lead me, Zeus, and you indeed, Destiny, to that goal long ago to me assigned *.

The wise man is able to take decisions about good and evil at a glance (132-134)

[IV,1,132] But what do you say, philosopher? The tyrant calls upon you to say one of those things that are not fitting for you. Do you say it or not say it? Tell me. -Let me analyse the question- Do you analyse it now? When you were at school, what did you analyse? Did you not study what is good, what is evil and what is oudeterous? -I analysed this- [IV,1,133] Which conclusions were you pleased with? – That the just and beautiful things are goods; the unjust and shameful one are evils- Is perhaps life a good? -No- Is perhaps to die an evil? -No- Is perhaps prison an evil? -No- But a mean and faithless discourse, the betrayal of a friend, the flattery of a tyrant, what did they appear to you? -Evils- [IV,1,134] What then? You are not analysing the question now, nor have you hitherto analysed or deliberated about it. What kind of analysis? Knowing that I can do this, if it is proper that I secure for myself the greatest goods and not secure the greatest evils? Wonderful analysis, necessary and needing much deliberation! Why do you mock us, sir? Such an analysis never happens.

But you waver, and say one thing at school and another thing out of the school (135-138)

[IV,1,135] You would not have come to this statement, nor near it, if you truly imagined that the shameful things are evil and that the rest is oudeterous. But you would immediately distinguish, as with your sight, with your intellect. [IV,1,136] For when do you analyse whether the black is white, whether the heavy is light? Do you not stick to what appears as evidence? How, then, do you say that you are analysing now whether what is oudeterous has to be avoided more than what is evil? [IV,1,137] But you do not have these judgements, and these things -death and prison- do not appear to you oudeterous things but the greatest evils. Nor those things -a faithless discourse, the betrayal of a friend, the flattery of a tyrant- appear to you evils, but rather things that are nothing to us. [IV,1,138] For from the beginning you accustomed yourself to say so: “Where am I? At school. Who hears me? I am talking with the philosophers. But now I have gone out of the school: remove those judgements worthy of schoolboys and stupid people!”

Contradiction between theory and practice? Not at all. (138-140)

In this way a friend is condemned on the testimony of a philosopher. [IV,1,139] In this way a philosopher becomes a parasite; in this way a philosopher rents himself for money and in the Senate someone does not say what appears true to him. While within his head his judgement shouts loudly, [IV,1,140] not a cold and paltry conception depending on idle reasoning as on a hair, but a potent conception, one fit for use, one familiar with its business by having been trained through hard work.

Men and worms (141-143)

[IV,1,141] Be on your guard, and see how you hear -I do not say: that your child died; how would you

react?- that your oil was spilled, that your wine was drained dry. [IV,1,142] That someone, standing by your side while you are furious, may tell you only this: “O philosopher, at school you say other things. Why do you deceive us? Why do you say to be a man while you are a worm?” [IV,1,143] I would like to stand by the side of one of these philosophers while he is having sexual intercourse, that I may see how he is tense and what words he lets loose, if he remembers his name and the discourses that he hears or says or reads.

The slavery of people who, because they are wealthy in money, believe to be free (144-150)

[IV,1,144] -What has this to do with freedom?- Nothing else but this has to do with freedom, whether you wealthy people so wish or not. [IV,1,145] -And who witnesses this?- Who but you yourself, who have the Great Lord and live at his bidding and motion; who grow cold if only he looks at one of you with a hardened gaze; who look after old ladies and old crooks and say: “I cannot do this: I have not this power”? [IV,1,146] Why don’t you have this power? Did you not contradict me just now saying that you are free? “But Aprulla has hampered me!” Tell, then, the truth, slave; and do not run away from your Lords, do not make denials, do not dare to present your emancipator when you have so many controls of your servitude! [IV,1,147] Yet one would still conceive more worthy of excuse the fellow who is compelled by amorous passion to do something contrary to what appears true to him, who at the same time sees what would be better for him but lacks the right tension to follow it, inasmuch as he is stably held by something violent and somehow divine. [IV,1,148] But who would tolerate you when you play the lover of old ladies and old crooks, when you wipe their nose, rinse them, give them gifts and while -when they are sick- you cure them as a servant, in the meantime you wish them die and consult the physicians in order to know if they are eventually near death? Or again when, for the sake of these great and solemn offices and honours, you kiss the hands of another’s slaves, that you may be the servant of people who are not even free? [IV,1,149] And then you walk around solemn, in your dignity as a praetor or a consul. Don’t I know how you became praetor, whence you got the consulship, whom gave it to you? [IV,1,150] As for me, I would not dispose to live if one had to live by the intercession of Felicio, tolerating his frown and his servile insolence: for I know what is a servant who has what seems to be good fortune and is puffed up with pride.

A free man? Diogenes (151-158)

[IV,1,151] -But you, says someone, are you free?- I want this, by the gods; and I wish it. But I am yet unable to look in the face of my Lords; I still honour my body; I hold in high esteem the fact of having it intact even if it is not intact. [IV,1,152] But I can show you a free man, so that you may no more seek a paradigm. Diogenes was free. Whence do you know this? Not because he was born from free parents, for he was not; but because he himself was free, because he had thrown away all the handles of servitude and there was no way to come upon him nor whence to take and enslave him. [IV,1,153] He could easily unbind himself from everything, everything was only glued to him. If you had laid hold of his estate, he would have let it loose, rather than follow you for its sake. If you had laid hold of his leg, he would have let loose the leg; if of the whole body, the whole body; and of household, friends, fatherland in the same way. He knew whence and from what he had those things and on which terms. [IV,1,154] He would have never abandoned his authentic ancestors, the gods, and his real fatherland; nor he would have given way to another in more obedience and heed to them, nor another would have died for his fatherland more light-heartedly than him. [IV,1,155] For he did not seek to seem, at some time, to be doing anything on behalf of the whole, but remembered that all that happens comes from there, is performed on behalf of that fatherland and handed down through the law that governs it. Therefore see what he himself says and writes: [IV,1,156] “For this reason”, he says, “you, Diogenes, have the power to argue as you decide with the king of the Persians and with Archidamus, king of the Lacedaemonians”. [IV,1,157] Was it so because he was born from free parents? Was it because they were the offspring of enslaved people that all the Athenians, all the Lacedaemonians and Corinthians were unable to argue with those kings as they wanted to do but feared and paid court to them,? [IV,1,158] Why, then, someone says, have you this power? “Because I believe the body not to be mine,

because I need nobody, because the law and nothing else is everything to me”. This is what allowed him to be free.

Another free man? Socrates (159-166)

[IV,1,159] And that you may not think I am showing the paradigm of a solitary man, one who has neither wife nor offspring nor fatherland or friends or congenerous from whom he could be bent and distracted, take Socrates and observe a man who has a wife and children -even if as another’s things-, fatherland, -as much and how one ought to have it- friends and congenerous; who has subordinated all this to the law and to ready obedience to the law. [IV,1,160] For this reason, when he had to serve in a military campaign, he went away first and there unsparingly ran risks. When he was sent by the Tyrants to fetch Leon, because he thought this deed a shameful one, he did not take counsel on this subject, although he knew that might die as a result. [IV,1,161] And what difference did it make to him? For he disposed to save something else: not the flesh but the faithful, self respecting man. This cannot be tampered with, this is impossible to subordinate. [IV,1,162] And then when he had to speak in defence of his life, does he deal with this business as one who has offspring and wife? No, but as one who is alone. And when he had to drink the poison, how does he deal with this? [IV,1,163] When he could preserve himself in life and Crito told him: “Go out, do it for your children”, what did Socrates say? Did he believe this an unexpected piece of luck? Whence? But he considers what is decorous and the rest he does not see or calculate. For he did not want, he says, save the body, but what is grown and saved by just conduct, while is diminished and lost by unjust conduct. [IV,1,164] Socrates does not save himself in a shameful way; he who refused to put the vote when the Athenians summoned him to do so; he who disdained the Tyrants; he who argues in that way about virtue and about human excellence. [IV,1,165] It is not possible to safeguard this man with a shameful deed; this man is safeguarded by death and not by flight. For also the good actor is safeguarded as such if he stops talking when he has to stop, rather than playing out of the right time. [IV,1,166] What will, then, the children do? “If I had gone away to Thessaly, you would have taken care of them; and if I set off to Hades, will there be no one to take care of them?” Look how he calls death soft names and scoffs at it!

What would have we done if we had to meet the circumstances that Socrates met? (167-169)

[IV,1,167] But if it had been you and I, straightaway we would have philosophized “One must resist the wrongdoers with equal weapons” and added up “If I save myself I’ll be of avail to many people; if I die, to nobody” and if we had to crawl out through a hole to escape, we would have gone out through it! [IV,1,168] And how would we have benefited anybody? Where would we have been of benefit remaining there? And if by living we would have benefited anybody, would we not have benefited people much more by dying when one has and how one has to die? [IV,1,169] Now that Socrates is dead, the memory of what he performed or said when living is not less beneficial to people but, on the contrary, even more beneficial.

Look at these models (170-175)

[IV,1,170] Study these models, these judgements, these discourses; have in view these paradigms if you dispose to be free, if you crave for freedom in proportion to its value. [IV,1,171] And what is amazing there, if you purchase a thing so important at the price of things so many and so great? For the sake of this legitimate freedom some hang themselves, others hurl themselves down a cliff and sometimes entire towns perish. [IV,1,172] And for the sake of the authentic, not insidious, safe freedom, will you not give back to Matter Immortal what It has given, when It demands it back? As Plato says, will you not study not only to die, but also to be racked, to be exiled, to be flayed and in short to give back what is another’s? [IV,1,173] You will therefore be a servant among servants even if you are consul ten thousand times; even if you climb up the Palatine hill, a servant none the less. And you will realize that the philosophers possibly say paradoxes, precisely as Cleanthes says, but certainly not what is contrary to reason. [IV,1,174] For you will know in practice that what they say is true and that none of these

things which are admired and which you are eager for avail those who obtain them. Those who have not yet obtained them imagine that, once these things become present, all things good will be present to them. And then, when these things become present the burning heat is just as bad, the restlessness of this people is the same, and so is their surfeit and their craving for what they do not have. [IV,1,175] For freedom is not arranged through the fulfilment of what they crave but by the suppression of their craving.

Freedom is obtained by removing the craving for what is not in our exclusive power, that is striving to acquire the diairetic judgement (176-177)

[IV,1,176] And that you may know that this is true, as you have toiled for those things, so transpose your toil upon these too: stay awake to secure the judgement that frees you. [IV,1,177] Instead of looking after an old fellow who is wealthy in money, look after a philosopher. Let you be seen at his doors. If seen, you will have not behaved indecently; you will not depart empty and without gain, if you come to him as one ought. Otherwise, try at least; the experiment is not shameful.


My pupil must forget complaisance at any cost and learn how to play rationally with diairesis and antidiairesis (1-6)

[IV,2,1] In this topic, first of all you ought to pay attention not to mix again with some of your former intimates or friends so as to condescend to do the same things with him. Otherwise you will lose yourself. [IV,2,2] If the thought is insinuated in you: “I’ll appear awkward to him and he will not behave with me as before”, remember that nothing happens free of charge and that it is not possible, if you are not doing the same things, to be the same person as before. [IV,2,3] Choose, then, whether you dispose to be similarly loved by those who loved you before, remaining similar to your former self; or, being better, to lose the same affection. [IV,2,4] For if this is better, immediately bend your mind towards this and let no other considerations distract you. No one who plays a double game can make profit and, if you have preferred this above all, if you dispose to be for this only, to do all you can to achieve it, give up all the rest. [IV,2,5] Otherwise ambivalence will prevent you from making a profit as it’s worth and to obtain what you used to obtain before. [IV,2,6] For before, when you aimed at exquisitely worthless things, you were pleasant to those who were with you.

Do you prefer to be a boozer and please the people or a sober man unpleasant to them? (7-9)

[IV,2,7] You cannot excel in both forms of behaviour, but it is necessary for you to be left behind in one to the degree in which you associate to the other. If you do not drink in the company of those you used to drink with, you cannot appear pleasant to them. Choose, then, whether you dispose to be a boozer and pleasant to those fellows or a sober man and unpleasant. If you do not sing with those you used to sing with, you cannot be similarly loved by them. Here too choose, then, what you dispose. [IV,2,8] For if to be a self respecting and well-regulated man is better than for someone to say of you “a pleasant person”, give up the rest, despair of it, turn away from it, let nothing be between you and it. [IV,2,9] If you are not pleased with this, incline entirely to the opposite: become one of the lewd fellows, one of the adulterers, do what comes next and you will obtain what you want. Jump up and yell to the dancer!

The choice is anyway unavoidable (10)

[IV,2,10] So different personalities do not mix together: you cannot play both Thersites and Agamemnon. If you dispose to be Thersites you ought to be humpbacked and bald. If Agamemnon

you ought to be tall, wonderful and to love your subordinates.


To get a beautiful action rather than some coins is not a loss but a gain for you (1-3)

[IV,3,1] When you leave behind some external object, have ready at hand the thought of what you are securing for yourself in its place. And if this is more valuable, never say: “I have been penalized”. [IV,3,2] You have not been penalized if in place of an ass you secure a horse, in place of a sheep an ox, in place of coins a beautiful action, in place of cold discourses a quiet as it ought to be, in place of smutty talk, the self respect. [IV,3,3] Mindful of this, you will preserve everywhere the sort of role you ought to have. Otherwise consider that you are losing your time at random and that you are going to spill out and undo all the attention that you pay to yourself now.

The transition from diairesis to counterdiairesis and vice versa is but a small twisting of our reason…(4-7)

[IV,3,4] Little is needed to lose and overthrow everything: a small twisting of reason. [IV,3,5] In order to overthrow his vessel, the steersman does not need the same preparation he needs in order to safeguard it. If he turns a little by the wind side, he is lost. And if he looses his attention even unwillingly, he is lost. [IV,3,6] Something of this sort happens here too. If you slumber a little, all you have amassed till now is gone. [IV,3,7] Pay attention, then, to your impressions; stay awake because of them. For the treasure you keep is not small but is self respect, is faithfulness, stability of judgement, self control, control of grief, control of fear, undisconcertment, in short is freedom.

If you are more valuable than all the gold of the world, at what price are you going to sell yourself? (8-10)

[IV,3,8] At what price are you going to sell these things? Notice how valuable they are. -But I’ll not obtain something of the sort that he obtains!- But when he obtains anything, notice what he gets in return. [IV,3,9] “I get orderly behaviour, he gets a tribuneship. He a praetorship, I self respect. I do not cry aloud where it’s unfitting; I’ll not stand up when one ought not. For I am free and friend of Zeus, that I may obey It purposely. [IV,3,10] I ought to lay claim to nothing else: not to the body, not to estate, not to office, not to fame; in short to nothing, nor does It decides that I lay claim to them. For if It so disposed, It would have made them my goods. But It has not made them so; for this reason I cannot violate any of Its directions”.

Be content to use the external objects in a rational way, that is, in accord with the nature of things (11-12)

[IV,3,11] Keep your own good well protected in every circumstance and, as for the rest, keep it according to what is given and so as to deal with it rationally, and be content with this only. Otherwise you will have ill fortune, you will be misfortuned, hampered, hindered. [IV,3,12] These are the laws that have been dispatched from There, these are the ordinances. Of these you ought to become an interpreter, to these become subordinated; not to those of Masurius and Cassius.


To crave for or against an external object does not make any difference. In both cases we show ourselves unable to use it rightly so as to enjoy serenity (1-5)

[IV,4,1] Remember that it is not only the craving of offices and money’s wealth that make people slave- minded and subordinated to others, but also the craving of quiet, of leisure, of setting off, of scholarship. In short whatever the external object, its price subordinates you to another. [IV,4,2] What difference, then, does it make to crave being a Senator or not being a Senator? What difference does it make to crave for an office or for not having it? What difference does it make to say “I fare badly, I have nothing to perform but am tied down to books like a corpse”, or say “I fare badly, I have no abundant leisure to read”? [IV,4,3] For as salutations and offices are external and aproairetic objects, so is also a book. [IV,4,4] Why do you want to read? Tell me. If you turn to reading because your soul is won by it or in order to learn something, you are a cold and slothful fellow. If you refer reading to what it ought to be referred, what else is this but serenity? And if reading does not secure you serenity, how does it avail you? [IV,4,5] -It secures me serenity, one says, and for this reason I am vexed when I must leave reading behind- And which serenity is this, that a chance comer can hinder, I don’t say Caesar or a friend of Caesar but a crow, a flute-player, a fever and thirty thousand other things? Serenity cleaves to nothing so strongly as to continuity and freedom from hindrance.

How to stop always making the same errors? (6-7)

[IV,4,6] I am called now to perform a certain task. I’ll go now with the purpose of paying attention to the measures that one ought to keep, in order to act with self respect, with safety, apart from desire of and aversion for external objects. [IV,4,7] Furthermore I pay attention to people, to what they say, to how they move; and this I do not with a malignant attitude nor in order to have something to censure or mock, but to turn my mind towards myself and see whether I too am performing the same aberrations. “How to stop, then?” At that time I too was aberrant; now no longer, thanks to Zeus…

We do not live in order to study but we study in order to live well (8-13)

[IV,4,8] Come on, once you have done this and come to these things, have you done anything worse than reading a thousand lines or writing as many? When you eat, do you take offence because you are not reading? Are you not content with eating according to the principles you learned by reading? And when you take a warm bath? When you train? [IV,4,9] Why, then, are you not the same in all cases, both when you approach Caesar and when you approach So-and-so? If you remain the self-controlled, the undaunted, the restrained man; [IV,4,10] if you notice what happens rather than being noticed, if you do not envy those who are honoured above you, if you are not panic-stricken by the subject matters of life: what do you lack? [IV,4,11] Books? How and for what? Are not books a preparation for life? But life is then filled with things other than books. As if an athlete, when he enters the stadium, would cry because he is not training outside. [IV,4,12] But you trained for these contests; the jumping- weights, the sand, your young training partners were for this. And now do you look for those things when it’s time to work? [IV,4,13] Like if in the topic of assent, while some cataleptic and acataleptic impressions stand side by side, we should dispose not to distinguish them but to read the books “On apprehension”.

We, instead, do not study in order to live well but, if given the chance, to explain to others what we have studied (14-18)

[IV,4,14] What then, is the cause of this? That we never read for this purpose, never wrote for this purpose, that in our daily work we may use the impressions that befall us in accord with the nature of things, but we end by learning what is said and by being able to explain it to someone else, by resolving a syllogism, by scouring a hypothetical argument. [IV,4,15] For this reason where there is eagerness, there is also hindrance. Do you want at any cost what is not in your exclusive power? Be therefore hampered, be hindered, fail! [IV,4,16] If, instead, we should read the books “On impulse” not in order to see what is said about impulse but in order to impel well; and the books “On desire and aversion” in order that we may never fail when we desire nor, when we avert something, stumble on what we avert; and the books “On proper deeds” in order that, mindful of social relationships, we may do nothing

unreasonably nor contrary to them: [IV,4,17] well, we would not be vexed when we are hindered in our readings but we would be content with performing the appropriate deeds in return; and would not number what we are accustomed to number till now “Today I read so many lines, so many I wrote”, [IV,4,18] but we would say: “Today I used impulse as it is prescribed by the philosophers, I did not use desire, I used aversion only towards proairetic things, I was not terrified by So-and-so, I was not discountenanced by So-and-so, I trained my ability to tolerate another’s intemperance, my ability to abstain from it, my cooperativity”, and in this way we should thank Matter Immortal for what one ought to thank It.

If the external objects are not goods they are not anyway evils and can be called with good reason ‘oudeterous things’ (19- 22)

[IV,4,19] Now we do not know that we too, though in a different way, become similar to the multitude. Another fellow fears that he may not hold office; you to hold it. Not at all, sir! [IV,4,20] But as you mock the one who fears that he will not hold office, so mock yourself too. For it makes no difference to be thirsty because one has a fever or to fear water because one is sick with rabies. [IV,4,21] How will you any longer be able to say with Socrates “If it pleases Zeus, let it be so”? If Socrates craved to spend his leisure in the Lyceum or in the Academy and to argue every day with youths, do you deem that he would have served in such a light-hearted way in so many military campaigns? Would he not regret and groan “Wretched me! Now I am here, miserable and misfortuned when I could be sunning myself in the Lyceum”? [IV,4,22 ] Was this his work: to sun himself? Was it not to be serene, unhampered, unimpeded? And how would he still be Socrates if he regretted these things? How could he still write paeans in prison?

To give a wrong value, either positive or negative, to external objects means to improperly set in motion our counterdiairesis and therefore enslave our proairesis (23-28)

[IV,4,23] In short, remember that whatever outside of your proairesis you will honour, you have lost your proairesis. And outside of it there is not only an office but also the lack of an office, not only a commitment but also the leisure. [IV,4,24] “Am I now, then, to enjoy myself in this turmoil?” Why do you say turmoil? Being among many people, what is embittering about that? Imagine that you are at Olympia, believe it to be a festival. There too one has cried aloud something and another something else, one performs something and another something else, one jostles another, there is a mob at the baths. And who of us does not rejoice at this festival and is not sorry for being far from it? [IV,4,25] Do not become a person difficult to please, a stomach weak person in the face of the events. “The vinegar is rotten, for it’s acid”. “The honey is rotten, for it disrupts my body’s state”. “I do not want garden vegetables”. And so: “I do not want the leisure, it is loneliness”, “I do not want a mob, it is turmoil”. [IV,4,26] But if the affairs of life cause you to enjoy yourself alone or with few people, call this quiet and use the thing for what one ought: chat with yourself, train your impressions, refine your preconceptions. [IV,4,27] If, however, you run into a mob, call it a contest, a festival, a feast, and try to feast with the men. Which spectacle is more pleasant for a lover of mankind than the view of many men? We view with pleasure herds of horses or of oxen and when we see a great fleet we are all in joyful effusions: who is annoyed when he notices many men? [IV,4,28] “But they cry down to me”. Your hearing, then, is hindered. What, then, is this to you? Is the faculty that uses the impressions perhaps also hindered? And who prevents you from using desire and aversion, impulse and repulsion in accord with the nature of things? Which turmoil is sufficient to this end?

The right moment to enter the contest has come. Do not moan: unhappiness is an evil (29-32)

[IV,4,29] Remember only the universal principles: “What is mine, what is not mine? What is given to me? What does Zeus dispose me to do now, what does It not dispose?” [IV,4,30] A little while ago It disposed that you should have leisure, chat with yourself, write about these principles, read, listen, prepare: you had sufficient time for this. Now It tells you: “Come now to the contest, show us what

you learned, how you engaged in trials. How long will you train yourself alone? By now is the right time to recognize whether you are an athlete deserving victory or one of those who go around the whole world and are always defeated”. [IV,4,31] Why, then, are you vexed? No contest happens without turmoil. There must be many fellow-wrestlers, many who yell, many supervisors, many spectators. [IV,4,32] -But I wanted to pass my life at ease- Wail therefore and groan as you deserve. For he who is uneducated to diairesize and disobeys the ordinances of Matter Immortal, what other penalty is greater than this, that is to grieve, to mourn, to envy, in short to be misfortuned and have ill fortune? Don’t you want to get rid of this?

In order to get serenity, that is a good, we must remove the desire of what is not in our exclusive power (33-38)

[IV,4,33] -And how shall I get rid of it?- Did you not often hear that you ought to remove totally your desire and turn your aversion towards the proairetic things only? That you ought to give up everything: body, estate, fame, books, turmoil, offices, lack of office? For where you are inclined there you are a servant, you are subordinated, you become hampered, constrained, entirely in the power of others. [IV,4,34] Keep ready at hand instead the line of Cleanthes *Lead me, Zeus, and you indeed, Destiny*. Do You dispose that I go to Rome? I go to Rome. To Gyara? I go to Gyara. To Athens? I go to Athens. To prison? I go to prison. [IV,4,35] If you once say: “When may one depart for Athens?”, you are lost. For it’s necessary that your desire, being imperfect, makes you misfortuned; and if perfect, that it makes you empty, elated at what one ought not be. Again, if you are hindered, you are prey to ill fortune, because you stumble on what you do not want. [IV,4,36] Give up, then, all this. “Athens is beautiful”. But it is much more beautiful to be happy, to be self-controlled, undisconcerted, having your affairs in the power of no one. [IV,4,37] “There is turmoil at Rome, and salutations”. But to be serene is worth all the difficulties. If, then, it is the right time for these things, why don’t you remove the aversion for them? What necessity is there to bear burdens like a belaboured ass? [IV,4,38] Otherwise, see that you must always be the servant of the fellow who can bring about your acquittal, who can hinder you in everything, and you have to look after him as you would after an Evil Genius.

Industry? What kind of industry? Industry is toiling in order to keep our own ruling principle in accord with the nature of things. All the other activities must be defined as what they actually are and therefore in a different way (39-48)

[IV,4,39] There is only one way to serenity (keep this judgement ready at hand at dawn, by day and by night): the detachment from aproairetic things, to believe none of them exclusively ours, to commit everything to our genius, to fortune; to make trustees of them those whom Zeus too has made trustees; [IV,4,40] and to be for one thing only, for what is exclusively yours, for what is unhampered; and to read referring your reading to this end, and so to write and so to listen. [IV,4,41] For this reason I cannot call a fellow industrious if I only hear that he reads or writes. And if one adds up that he does it the entire night, I do not call him industrious till I don’t recognize referring to what he does so. For neither do you call industrious the one who stays awake for the sake of a maiden, nor do I. [IV,4,42] Yet if he does this for the sake of reputation, I call him a lover of fame; if for the sake of money, I call him a lover of money, not industrious. [IV,4,43] But if he toils in reference to his own ruling principle, that he may have it and enjoy himself in accord with the nature of things, only then do I call him industrious. [IV,4,44] Never praise and never censure on the basis of commonplaces, but on the basis of judgements. For these, the judgements, are peculiar to each and are those that make our actions shameful or beautiful. [IV,4,45] Mindful of this, rejoice with what is present and prize what is timely. [IV,4,46] If you see that some judgements that you learned and carefully analysed come to fruition for you in practice, make merry. If you have put away or diminished your malignant attitude, and reviling, recklessness, smutty talk, idleness, negligence; if you are not moved by your former judgements or not in the same way as before, you can feast every day. Today because you conducted yourself as a virtuous man in this work; tomorrow, in another one. [IV,4,47] How much greater cause for a sacrifice is this than a consulship or a province! These goods come to you from yourself and from the gods. Remember who is the giver, to whom and for what. [IV,4,48] Brought up with these considerations, do you still make a distinction about where you will be happy, about where you will please Zeus? From all

quarters are not men equally distant from Zeus? From all quarters do they not see events similarly?


Socrates is wise because he knows that nobody can be master of another’s proairesis (1-6)

[IV,5,1] The virtuous man does not engage in strife with another person nor does he allow, at his best, another to do that. [IV,5,2] The life of Socrates is exposed to us as a paradigm, precisely as in other things, in this one too. He not only avoided strife everywhere, but did not allow others as well to engage in strife. [IV,5,3] See in Xenophon’s ‘Banquet’ how much strife he resolved and, again, how he tolerated Thrasymachus, Polus, Callicles and how he was tolerant with his wife, with his son when this tried to confute him by quibbling. [IV,5,4] For Socrates very safely remembered that nobody dominates another’s ruling principle and wanted nothing else but what was exclusively his own. [IV,5,5] And what is this? If he does only what is exclusively his own to do, not even Socrates is sufficient to convince those people to keep their proairesis in accord with the nature of things; for this, their proairesis, is what is another’s. But Socrates is up to this task: that while those people do what is exclusively theirs as they think it fitting for them, he nevertheless will stay and enjoy himself in accord with the nature of things. [IV,5,6] For this is always the program of the virtuous man. To obtain a praetorship? No; but if this is given to him, to keep his ruling principle, upon this subject matter, in accord with the nature of things. To marry? No; but if marriage is given to him, to keep himself, upon this subject matter, in accord with the nature of things.

To educate oneself means nothing else but to learn diairesis (7)

[IV,5,7] But if he wants his son or his wife to cease their aberrations, he wants what is another’s to cease being what is another’s. And this is the education to diairesis: to learn what is exclusively ours and what is another’s.

A man thus educated on the world’s roads (8-9)

[IV,5,8] Where, then, remains a place for strife, if a man is so disposed? Does he become infatuated with anything that happens? Does anything appear novel to him? Does he not accept from insipient people much worse and much more embittering things than those that occur? And does he not count it a gain that they omitted to do more extreme things? [IV,5,9] “So-and-so reviled you!” I am very grateful to him because he did not strike me. “But he struck you too!” I am very grateful because he did not wound me. “But he wounded you too!” I am very grateful because he did not kill me.

An insipient fellow on the same world’s roads (10-18)

[IV,5,10] For when did he learn, or from whom, that he is a tame, unselfish creature; and that the great damage to the wrongdoer is the injustice in itself? Having, then, not learned this or being persuaded about it, why will he not follow what appears useful to him? [IV,5,11] “My neighbour has thrown some stones!” Did you aberr, then, did you? “But some things in my house were broken!” Are you, then, a vessel? No, but proairesis. [IV,5,12] What, then, is given to you to meet this event? To you as a wolf, to bite on your turn and throw more stones than he did. But if you seek what is given to you as a man, examine your store-room and see with what faculties you have come into this world. Perhaps bestiality? Perhaps the faculty of bearing grudges? [IV,5,13] When is a horse miserable? When it is dispossessed of its natural faculties: not when it cannot sing ‘cuckoo!’ but when it cannot run. [IV,5,14] And the dog? When it cannot fly? No, but when it cannot keep the scent. Is it not, then, in like manner that a person has ill fortune not when he cannot choke lions or embrace statues (for he has come into the world

having from nature certain faculties not to this end) but when he has lost his good intelligence, his faithfulness? [IV,5,15] We ought to gather in order to moan this fellow and the many evils that he has come into and not, by Zeus, the one who is born or who dies, but the one who during his life has lost what is exclusively his own. Not what is of his father, not a bit of land, the house, the inn and the servants (for none of these things is exclusive to the man, but they are all another’s, they are servants, subjected, given by their lords once to one and once to another) but what makes a man, the imprints of the intellect with which he has come to this world, [IV,5,16] those that we seek also upon coinage and if we find them we evaluate the coinage good, while if we do not find them we hurl it away. [IV,5,17] “Whose imprint does this sesterce have? Of Trajan. Bring it here. Of Nero? Hurl it away, it is counterfeit, it is rotten”. So here too. What imprint do his judgements have? “He is gentle, sociable, tolerant of another’s intemperance, unselfish”. Bring him here, I accept him, I make him a citizen; I accept him as a neighbour, as a shipmate. [IV,5,18] Only see that he has not the imprint of Nero. Is he perhaps prone to anger, furious, faultfinding? “When he deems so, he smashes the heads of whom he meets”.

The shocking Truth (19-21)

[IV,5,19] Why, then, do you say that he is a man? For is perhaps each being judged from its mere external appearance? Since, in this way, say that also a waxen apple is an apple. [IV,5,20] But it must also have the aroma and the taste of an apple, the external feature is not sufficient. Not even nose and eyes are, then, adequate to make a man, if he has not the judgements of a man. [IV,5,21] This human being does not listen to reason, does not understand when he is controlled: he is an ass. In this one the self respect has gone into necrosis: he is unprofitable, he is anything but a man. This one looks for someone to kick or bite when he meets him: so that he is not a sheep or an ass but some wild beast.

What kind of approval do you want? The approval of human beings or the approval of men? (22-24)

[IV,5,22] -What then? Do you dispose me to be despised?- By whom? By men of knowledge? And how will they despise me, knowing that I am meek, self respecting? By an ignorant human being? And what do you care? For no other artist cares about the opinions of those unskilled in his art. [IV,5,23] -But they will stick much closer to me!- Why do you say ‘to me’? Can anyone damage your proairesis or prevent it to use the impressions that befall you as it has been born to do? -No- [IV,5,24] Why, then, are you any longer disconcerted and want to show yourself off as a fearful fellow? Will you not come into the midst and proclaim that you are at peace with all people, whatever they will do; and that you mock especially those who deem to damage you? “These slaves know neither who I am nor where my good and my evil are: there is no way for them to approach what is mine”.

Only a stronghold of right judgements is able to resist any attack (25-28)

[IV,5,25] In this way also those who dwell in a well fortified town mock the besiegers: “Why do these people go now to such troubles for nothing? Our walls are safe; we have sufficient food to last a very long time and every other preparation”. [IV,5,26] This is what makes a town well fortified and impregnable. And what makes impregnable the soul of a man is nothing else but his judgements. For what kind of wall is so strong or what kind of body is so adamantine or what kind of estate is so secure against theft or what kind of good name is so unassailable? [IV,5,27] All things are everywhere mortal, easy to capture, and it is inevitable that he who pays attention, in any way, to any of them, is disconcerted, has ill hopes, fears, mourns, has imperfect desires and aversions that stumble on what they avert. [IV,5,28] Then do we not dispose to make well fortified the only safety given to us? And, diverting ourselves from what is mortal and subservient, do we not dispose to labour for what is not mortal at another’s hand and is free by nature? And do we not remember that no person damages or benefits another person, but that it’s the judgement upon each of these things that damages, that overthrows; that the judgement is strife, is civil war, is war?

What happens if we consider as good and evil things not our judgements about the external objects but the external objects themselves? (29-32)

[IV,5,29] What made Eteocles and Polyneices what they were was nothing but this, the judgement upon tyranny, the judgement about exile: that one is the extreme of the evils and the other is the greatest of the goods. [IV,5,30] This is the nature of every being: to pursue his good, to flee from his evil; to believe an enemy, a treacherous fellow, he who deprives us of the first and encompasses us with the opposite, even though he is a brother or a son or a father. For nothing is a closer congenerous to us than the good. [IV,5,31] Well then, if these external things are good and evil, a father is not friend to his sons, nor a brother to a brother; but all is everywhere full of enemies, of treacherous people, of delators. [IV,5,32] But if our only good is proairesis as it ought to be, and the only evil is proairesis as it ought not to be, where is there any longer room for strife, where for reviling? About what? About things that are nothing to us? Against whom? Against ignorant people, against ill fortuned people, against people who have been deceived in the greatest issues?

Only the right judgements produce friendship, peace and justice (33-37)

[IV,5,33] Socrates, mindful of this, administered his house tolerating a very shrewish wife and an unintelligent son. To what end was she shrewish? -To pour over his head as much water as she wanted and to trample underfoot the cake-. And what is this to me, if I conceive that this is nothing to me? [IV,5,34] This is my work and a tyrant will not hamper me from disposing this, nor will a master, nor will the multitude the single individual, nor will the stronger the weaker. For this has been given unhampered to each human being by Matter Immortal. [IV,5,35] These judgements in a house make friendship, in a town concord, among nations peace; make man thankful to Matter Immortal, confident everywhere, because external things are another’s things, because they are worthless. [IV,5,36] We, however, are capable of writing and reading these things and of praising them when they are read; but we are nowhere near to being persuaded by them. [IV,5,37] Therefore what is said about the Lacedaemonians “At home lions, at Ephesus foxes” suits us too: at school lions, outside foxes.


Pitying people, pitied people and pity (1-2)

[IV,6,1] -I am annoyed, says someone, at being pitied- To be pitied, then, is it a work of yours or of those who pity you? What then? Is it in your exclusive power to stop it? -It is in my power, if I show them that I do not deserve their pity- [IV,6,2] But this fact of not deserving pity is it or is it not already there? -I indeed deem it to be there. But these people do not pity me for what, if anything, would deserve pity: that is for my aberrations; but for poverty in money, lack of office, diseases, deaths and other things of this sort-

Two ways for escaping pity (3)

[IV,6,3] Are you, then, prepared to persuade the multitude that no one of those things is evil and that it is possible also for the man who is poor in money and lacks office and honours to be happy; or are you prepared to show yourself off to them wealthy in money and holding office?

The ways of the braggart are numberless (4-5)

[IV,6,4] For of these alternatives the second is that of the cold and worthless braggart. See through what means you could achieve your pretence. You will have to borrow some servants and possess a few

pieces of silverware and show these same pieces openly and often, if possible, trying however to have it pass unnoticed that they are the same; then possess splendid robes and the other parade of finery. You must also show that you are honoured by the most well known persons and try to dine with them or at least to be thought to do so. As for the body, you must use some base arts so as to appear more shapely and more noble than you are. [IV,6,5] This you must contrive if you want to use the second method to avoid pity.

The impossible way: to do what Zeus itself has been unable to do (5-8)

The first way, an ineffectual and long one, is to attempt what Zeus itself could not do, that is to persuade all human beings which things are good and which are evil. [IV,6,6] For has this been given to you? Persuade yourself: only this has been given to you. You have not yet persuaded yourself and you are attempting to persuade others? [IV,6,7] Who lives as long with you as you live with yourself? Who is as capable of persuading you as you yourself? Who has a better disposition and behaves more informally with you than you with yourself? [IV,6,8] How is it, then, that you have not yet persuaded yourself to learn? Are not you now upside down? Is this what you have been eager for: to learn how to be able to control grief, to be undisconcerted, not slave-minded, free?

If you are disconcerted by another’s opinion about you, do you think you know what is good and what is evil? (9-10)

[IV,6,9] Have you not heard that there is only one way that brings to this: to give up aproairetic things, withdraw from them and acknowledge what is another’s? [IV,6,10] The fact, then, that another conceives something about you, of what class of things is it? -Aproairetic- Therefore is it nothing to you? -Nothing- But if you are still bit and disconcerted by this, do you think that you have been persuaded of what is good and what is evil?

Look at yourself in a mirror and recognize your weak points (11- 17)

[IV,6,11] Will you not, then, disregard others and become your own pupil and teacher? “The others will see whether it is advantageous for them to behave and enjoy themselves in a manner not in accord with the nature of things; as for me no one is nearer to me than myself. [IV,6,12] Why is it, then, that I have heard the discourses of the philosophers and I assent to them but, in practice, I have become no lighter? Am I so bastard? Yet in other things that I decided to do, I was not found very bastard. I quickly learned literature, wrestling, to use geometry, to resolve syllogisms. [IV,6,13] Is it that reason, perhaps, has not persuaded me? Yet from the beginning I chose nothing else nor valued anything more highly, and now I read about these issues, I hear them, I write them: till now we have not found an argument stronger than this. [IV,6,14] What do I lack, then? Have not the opposite judgements been torn away? Are my very conceptions untrained, unaccustomed to meet the real deeds and, like old pieces of armour stored away, are rusting and can no longer suit me? [IV,6,15] Yet in wrestling, in writing or reading I am not content with mere learning, but I turn over and over the syllogisms that are propounded and I twine new ones myself and likewise syllogisms with equivocal premises. [IV,6,16] However, the necessary philosophical principles, those which enable the man who takes impulse from them to become able to control grief, able to control fear, self-controlled, unhampered, free; these I do not train nor do I study them as befits them. [IV,6,17] And then do I care about what others will say about me, whether I shall appear to them renowned or happy?”

The man who knows that he is doing a good job is not sorry if other people speak ill of him (18-21)

[IV,6,18] Paltry fellow, will you not notice what you are saying about yourself? Who do you appear to be to yourself? Who are you in conceiving, in desiring, in averting; who are you in impulse, in preparation, in design, in the other human deeds? Yet do you care if the others pity you? [IV,6,19] -Yes, but I do not deserve to be pitied!- Are you sorry, then, for this reason? And is the one who is sorry, worthy of pity? -Yes- How, then, are you still pitied without deserving it? By the very things that you

experience about pity, you structure yourself worthy of pity. [IV,6,20] What does Antisthenes, then, say? Did you never heard it? “It is a kingly thing, O Cyrus, to act well but to be ill spoken of”. [IV,6,21] My head is sound yet everybody thinks that I have a headache. What do I care? I have no fever, yet everybody condoles with me as if I had it: “Wretched fellow, you have had a fever for such a long time!” I too adopt a sullen expression and say: “Yes, indeed I have fared badly for a long time”. “What may happen, then?” As Matter Immortal disposes. And at the same time I laugh in my sleeve at those who pity me.

How can I have right judgements if it’s not enough for me to be who I am, yet I lay claim upon other people’s judgements about me, that they might be as I want them? (22-24)

[IV,6,22] What, then, prevents me from doing a similar thing here? I am poor in money, but I have a right judgement about being poor in money. What do I care, then, if I am pitied because I am poor in money? I do not hold office, while others do. But what one must have conceived about holding office and not holding it, I have conceived. [IV,6,23] Those who pity me will see; I am not hungry, I am not thirsty, I am not shivering, but they think that I too am hungry and thirsty for the things for which they hunger and thirst. What am I to do with them? Should I go around and proclaim and say “Do not err, sirs, I fare well. I do not turn my mind towards poverty in money or lack of office or, in short, anything else but only towards right judgements: these I have unhampered and I do not worry about anything else”? [IV,6,24] What babble is this? How can I have right judgements any longer if I am not content with being who I am, but I am dismayed by what other people think of me?

What do you claim? Do you want to be successful where you did not toil? (25-27)

[IV,6,25] -But other people will obtain more than me and will be honoured above me- What is, then, more reasonable than the fact that those who have been eager for something have more of it? They have been eager for offices, you for judgements; they for money’s wealth, you for the use of impressions. [IV,6,26] See whether they have more than you of what you have been eager for and they neglect. Whether they assent more in accord with the natural standards; whether their desire is more unfailing than yours; whether their aversion is more unstumbling than yours; whether they hit the mark more than you in design, in purpose, in impulse; whether they safeguard what is fitting as husbands, as sons, as parents, and so on according to all the other names of human relationships. [IV,6,27] If those people hold offices, will you not say to yourself the truth: that you do nothing to achieve this, while they do everything; and that it is very unreasonable that the one who cares for something would acquire less of it than the one who neglects it?

Wisdom in the first place, petty politics in its place: look at why the wise man is in no way eager to rule the world (28-30)

[IV,6,28] -No, but because I worry about right judgements, it’s more reasonable for me to rule- In what you worry about, in judgements; but in those things in which other people have worried about more than you have, give way to them. It is as if, because you have right judgements, you urged, when you shoot with the bow, to hit the centre of the target more often than an archers, or to work the bronze better than a smith. [IV,6,29] Give up, then, eagerness for judgements, deal with what you want to get for yourself and, if things do not proceed successfully, at that time cry; for you deserve to cry. [IV,6,30] But now you say that you are intent upon other things, that you take care of other things, and the crowd says well: “One work has no partnership with another work”.

The prayer of the petty politician (31-33)

[IV,6,31] A fellow gets up at dawn and looks for someone of Caesar’s house to greet, someone to whom he may say a hypocritical word, to whom he may send a present, how he may please a dancer, how he may gratify one maligning another. [IV,6,32] When he wishes, he wishes for these things. When he sacrifices, he sacrifices for these things. He has placed the words of Pythagoras “Do not accept sleep

on your soft eyes” here beside. [IV,6,33] ” ‘Where did I violate’… in matters of flattery? ‘What did I do’… perhaps something as a free, perhaps something as a generous man? ” And if he finds something of this sort he reproaches and brings charges against himself: “But what business did you have to say that? Wasn’t it possible to lie? Also the philosophers say that there is nothing to hamper one’s telling a lie”.

The remarks and the wishes of the wise man (34-35)

[IV,6,34] Yet if you are indeed worried only about the use of impressions as it ought to be, the instant you get up in the morning, straightaway brood: “What do I lack to achieve self control? To achieve undisconcertment? Who am I? Am I perhaps a body, an estate, fame? None of this. But what? I am a rational creature”. [IV,6,35] Which are, then, the demands upon me? Unearth your actions. ” ‘Where did I violate’… in matters of serenity? What did I do’… that was unfriendly or unsocial or unintelligent? ‘What had I to do but left undone’… with regard to these issues?”

True good things against false illusions (36-38)

[IV,6,36] Since, then, there is so great a difference in the things for which you crave, in your deeds, in your wishes, do you still want to be on equal footing with them with regard to those things you have not been eager for, but they have? [IV,6,37] And then are you amazed and vexed if they pity you? Those people are not vexed if you pity them. Why? Because they are persuaded to obtain good things, while you are not. [IV,6,38] For this reason you are not content with your goods and aim at theirs. They, on the contrary, are content with their goods and do not aim at yours. For if you were indeed persuaded that, as for good things, it’s you who hits the mark and they have gone astray, you would not brood over what they say about you.


Our fear in the face of a tyrant comes from a certain judgement about the tyrant and about ourselves (1-5)

[IV,7,1] What makes the tyrant frightening? -The bodyguards, one says, their daggers, the chamberlain and those who deny entry- [IV,7,2] Why, then, if you bring a child near the tyrant and his bodyguards, is the child not afraid? Is it because the child is not aware of the presence of the bodyguards? [IV,7,3] Yet if one is aware of the presence of the bodyguards and the fact that they have daggers, but comes to see the tyrant for this very purpose, for the reason that he disposes to die because of some difficult circumstance, and seeks a carefree way to experience this at another’s hand, is this person afraid of the bodyguards? -No, for he wants just what makes them frightening- [IV,7,4] And if one comes to him disposing neither to die nor to live at any cost but according to what is given, what prevents this person to come to him with no dread? -Nothing- [IV,7,5] If, then, a person behaves with regard to his own estate in the same way as this fellow does with regard to his own body, and if he behaves so also with regard to his offspring and wife and in short, if due to some madness or insanity a person is so disposed that he cares not a whit about having or not having these things but, as the children playing with potsherds quarrel about the game and are not worried about the potsherds themselves, so this person has not cared a whit about the subject matters of life but greets the game that he plays with them and pays attention to its conduct, well, what kind of tyrant remains frightening to him, what kind of bodyguards, what kind of daggers in their hands?

Only the safe possession of diairesis makes the man free and allows him to control fear (6-11)

[IV,7,6] And then, if one can be so disposed towards these things because of madness -and the Galileans are so disposed because of habit-, because of reasoning and rational demonstration can no

one learn that Matter Immortal has made all things in the world, that the whole world itself is not hampered and has its end in itself, while its parts are made for the needs of the whole? [IV,7,7] All other creatures have been removed far from understanding the government of Matter Immortal while the rational creature has the resources to recapitulate all these things, to understand that he is a part of them and what kind of part he is and that it’s well for the parts to make way for the whole. [IV,7,8] Besides this, the rational creature, being by nature generous, magnanimous, free, sees that of the things which are around him, something is unhampered and in his exclusive power, while something else is hampered and in another’s power. Unhampered is what is proairetic, hampered what is aproairetic. [IV,7,9] And for this reason, if the rational creature believes that what is good and useful for himself is only in those things that are unhampered and in his exclusive power, then he will be free, serene, happy, undamaged, high-minded, pious, grateful for all things to Matter Immortal, nowhere finding fault with what happens and bringing charges to no one. [IV,7,10] If, however, he believes it to be in the external and aproairetic objects, it is necessary for this creature to be hampered, hindered, subservient to those who have power over external and aproairetic objects, objects that he is infatuated with and that he fears. [IV,7,11] And it is also necessary for him to be impious, inasmuch as he thinks that he is damaged by Matter Immortal; to be unfair in securing for himself always more than his share; to be slave-minded and full of mean tricks.

Ecce homo (12-15)

[IV,7,12] When one has distinctly stated this, what prevents him from living light and docile, awaiting meekly everything that may occur and bearing what has already occurred? [IV,7,13] “Do you dispose that I am poor in money?” Bring it and you will recognize what is poverty in money when it chances in the hands of a good actor. “Do you dispose that I hold some offices?” Bring them. “Do you dispose lack of office?” Bring it. “Do you dispose pains?” Bring also the pains. [IV,7,14] “And banishment?” Wherever I go, it will be well with me there. For here too it was well with me not because of the place but because of my judgements, and I am going to bring them along with me. For no one can deprive me of them, they alone are mine and impossible to take away. Their presence is sufficient for me wherever I am and whatever I do. [IV,7,15] “But it’s now time to die!” Why do you say ‘die’? Do not croon the thing, but tell the business as it is. “It’s now the right time that the material from which I was gathered be restored again to those elements. What is so terrible about that? Of the things that are in the world, what is going to be lost? Which novel thing, which thing contrary to reason is going to be born?

The free man has power over nobody and nobody has power over him (16-18)

[IV,7,16] Is the tyrant frightening for this reason? Is it because of this that his bodyguards seem to have great and sharp daggers? Leave these judgements to others. I have analysed the business from every point of view. [IV,7,17] No one has power over me. I have been constituted free by Matter Immortal. I have recognized Its directions. No longer can anyone put me in servitude. I have the emancipator that one ought and the judges that one ought to have. [IV,7,18] “Am I not the lord of your body?” What is that, then, to me? “Am I not the lord of your estate?” What is that, then, to me? “Am I not the lord of exile or chains?” I withdraw here again from all these things and from the whole body in your favour, when you want. Try your power over me and you will recognize its limits.

Give things their proper value and play without fear till everything remains a game. But when the game is no longer fairly played, at that point we must save ourselves, that is save at any cost the Truth of diairesis (19-24)

[IV,7,19] Whom, then, can I still fear? The chamberlains? What can they do to frighten me? Shut me outside? If they find that I want to enter, let them shut me outside! – Why, then, do you come to these doors?- Because I deem it proper for me to play the game, while it remains a game. [IV,7,20] -How, then, are you not shut outside?- Because if one does not receive me, I do not dispose to enter but rather I always dispose what happens. For I believe that what Zeus disposes is better than what I

dispose. I’ll devote myself to It as a minister and follower. I co-impel, I co-desire, in short I co-dispose. The exclusion is not for me but for those who use the force. [IV,7,21] Why, then, do I not use the force? Because I know that inside, no good is distributed to those who enter. And when I hear that someone feels blessed because he is honoured by Caesar, I say: “What occurs to him? Is he perhaps also acquiring the judgement as it ought to have for governing a Province? And the right judgement to administer a guardianship? Why, then, should I any longer break in? [IV,7,22] Someone is scattering dried figs and nuts. The children snatch them and fight with one another; the men do not, for they believe them to be a small thing. If someone scatters potsherds, not even the children snatch them. [IV,7,23] Provinces are distributed. The children will see to that. Money. The children will see to that. A praetorship, a consulship: let the children snatch them up; let them be excluded, be struck, let them kiss the hands of the giver, of the servants. For me they are dried figs and nuts”. [IV,7,24] What, then, if a fig, when he hurls them, by chance lands in a fold of my garment? I pick it up and I gorge on it. For to that degree, it is possible to honour a fig. But neither a dried fig nor any other evil thing, that the philosophers have convinced me to deem evil, is worth my grovelling and overthrowing someone else or being overthrown by him, or flattering those who hurl the figs.

But you fear the tyrant because you are like him, because you give the same value to the same things, because you think you are immortal and therefore are linked by the same magic chain of shit with which you recognize each other and feed each other (25-28)

[IV,7,25] Show me the daggers of the bodyguards. “Look how they are great and how they are sharp!” And what, then, do these great and sharp daggers do? [IV,7,26] “They kill!” And what does the fever do? “Nothing else”. And what does a tile do? “Nothing else”. Do you want me, then, to admire and revere all these things, and go about serving them all? Far from it. [IV,7,27] But once I have learned that what is born must also be destroyed so that the world may not remain still nor be hindered, it no longer makes a difference for me whether a fever, a tile or a soldier will do it; but, if I must compare, I know that the soldier will do it with less pain and more quickly. [IV,7,28] If, then, I fear none of the ways in which the tyrant can dispose of me and I crave nothing he can provide me with, why do I admire him any longer, why still stand in awe of him? Why do I fear the bodyguards? Why do I rejoice if the tyrant chats and receives me politely, and I expose to others how he chatted with me?

Socrates breaks the magic chain of shit. And, with Socrates, all those who recognize that they are proairesis and that they are subject to death (29-32)

[IV,7,29] Is he perhaps Socrates, is he Diogenes, so that his praise is a demonstration of what I am? [IV,7,30] Have I emulated his character? I simply come to him in order to safeguard the game and I do him some service as long as he summons me for no ignoble or disproportionate purpose. If he tells me: “Leave and bring here Leon of Salamis”, I tell him: “Look for another, for I no longer play the game”. [IV,7,31] “Carry him off to prison!” I follow him in the game. “But your neck is taken off!” And does his neck always remain where it is? And the neck of you who obey him? “But you will be cast away unburied!” If I am a corpse, I’ll be cast away. If I am something different from a corpse, tell more finely how the business truly is and do not arouse my fear. [IV,7,32] These things are frightening to the children and to crazy people. And if a person who once entered a philosopher’s school does not know who he is, he deserves to fear and to flatter those whom he flattered before, if he has not yet learned that he is neither flesh nor bones nor sinews but what uses them, what governs and understands the impressions.

But when you say this you despise the laws, you are a subversive, an asocial man! Don’t panic: which laws are you talking about, which order, which society? Don’t panic: let’s see where you are superior to me and where I am superior to you (33- 36)

[IV,7,33] -Yes, but such discourse makes men despise the laws- Quite to the contrary, which kind of reasoning provides the laws with men more ready to obey them? Law is not what is in the power of a

stupid person. [IV,7,34] Yet see how such reasoning prepares one to behave as one ought also towards these stupid people, teaching us to claim from them nothing in which they can win us. [IV,7,35] About the body, such reasoning teaches us to withdraw from it; about the estate, to withdraw; about children, parents, brothers, it teaches us to give way to all, to give up everything. The only exception is judgement, which Zeus too disposed to be special to each of us. [IV,7,36] What kind of lawlessness is here, what kind of ignobility? Where you are better and stronger than me, there I withdraw in your favour. Again, where I am better than you, give way to me. For this is what I have cared about, while you have not.

You care about the external objects, and in this you are superior to me. I care about my judgements, and in this I am superior to you (37-41)

[IV,7,37] For you care about dwelling in marble halls and, further, how slave boys and freedmen are to minister to you; how to wear showy clothes; how to have many hunting dogs, citharists, singers. [IV,7,38] Do I lay claim to these things? Have you, then, cared about your judgements, perhaps about your own reason? Do you know of what parts it consists, how they are combined, which is its articulation, which faculties it has and of what nature? [IV,7,39] Why, then, are you vexed if another, a man who has studied, has more in this regard than you? -But these are the greatest issues!- And who prevents you from concerning yourself with these issues and taking care of them? Who has the greater availability of books, more abundant leisure, people ready to be of use to this end? [IV,7,40] Only bend your mind towards these studies at some time, allot some time to your ruling principle. Analyse why you have it and whence it has come, this thing that uses all the rest, that evaluates all the rest, that selects and does not select. [IV,7,41] But as long as you concern yourself with external objects, you will have those as nobody is able to have them, but you will have your ruling principle as you dispose to have it, filthy and neglected.


The judgement from which proceeds the action of a person is not always easily understood from external appearances or through commonplaces (1-9)

[IV,8,1] Never praise or censure anybody on the basis of commonplaces, nor credit him with some art or want of art: in this way you will get rid of both recklessness and maliciousness. [IV,8,2] “This fellow bathes hastily”. Does he, then, do wrong? Not at all. But what? He bathes hastily. [IV,8,3] -Does everything, then, happen well?- Not at all. What proceeds from right judgements happens well, what proceeds from rascally judgements happens in a rascally way. Yet until you decipher the judgement from which a person does each work, do not praise or censure him. [IV,8,4] And a judgement is not easily determined from the outside. “This fellow is a carpenter”. Why? “He uses an adze”. And what is this? “This is a musician: for he sings”. And what is this? “This is a philosopher”. Why? “For he has a cloak and a long hair”. [IV,8,5] And what do the begging priests have? For this reason if a person sees one of them behaving indecently he straightaway says: “Look at what the philosopher is doing!”. But from the fact that he was behaving indecently one ought instead to say that he is not a philosopher. [IV,8,6] For if the preconception and the profession of the philosopher is this: “To have a cloak and a long hair”, they would speak well. But if it is rather this: “To be free from aberration”, why do they not deprive him of the appellation of philosopher, since he does not fulfill that profession? [IV,8,7] So it is also in the case of other arts. When one sees a fellow hewing badly with an axe, he does not say: “What is the avail of carpentry? Look at the bad work the carpenters do!”, but he says quite the opposite: “This fellow is not a carpenter, for he hews badly with the axe”. [IV,8,8] Similarly if one hears a fellow singing badly, he does not say: “Look how the musicians sing!” but rather: “This fellow is not a musician”. [IV,8,9] Only in the case of philosophy they experience this: when they see somebody doing

things contrary to the professionalism of the philosopher, they do not deprive him of that appellation but, defining him as a philosopher and then based on what happened, that he behaved indecently, they conclude that being a philosopher is of no use.

Thanks to those who call themselves philosophers, philosophy has acquired a negative preconception (10-11)

[IV,8,10] What is, then, the cause of this fact? The cause is that to the preconception of ‘carpenter’, of ‘musician’ and in the same way of the other artists we give the rank of ambassador, while we do not give this rank to the preconception of philosopher, and inasmuch as our preconception is confused and unarticulated we judge only from externals. [IV,8,11] Which other art is acquired by a certain dress and a long hair but has no general principles, a subject matter, an end?

Subject matter, end and general principles of philosophy (12-14)

[IV,8,12] What is, then, the subject matter of the philosopher? Perhaps a cloak? No, but our reason. What is his end? Perhaps to wear a cloak? No, but to have our reason right. What are his general principles? Perhaps those concerning the way to grow a big beard or a thick hair? No, they are rather those that Zeno says, that is to recognize the elements of a discourse, what is the nature of each of them, how they are fitted one to another and what is consequent to these facts. [IV,8,13] Will you not, then, see first whether, by behaving indecently, a person fulfils the profession of a philosopher, and then bring charges against this job? Now instead, when you are temperate, on the basis of what you think he is doing wrongly you say “Look at the philosopher!” (as if it were fitting to call ‘philosopher’ a fellow who does such things) and again “Is this a philosopher?”; while you do not say “Look at the carpenter!” when you recognize some adulterer or when you see someone sating his greed, nor do you say “Look at the musician!” [IV,8,14] And thus that little that you also realize about the profession of a philosopher, you let it slip from your grasp and you confuse it through your lack of study.

A quotation from Euphrates (15-20)

[IV,8,15] But the so-called philosophers also go in quest of followers starting from commonplaces. Once they have put on a cloak and let their beard grow long, they say “I am a philosopher!” [IV,8,16] But nobody will say “I am a musician!”, if he buys a plectrum and a lyre; nor “I am a smith!”, if he puts on a felt cap and an apron. The dress is suited to the art, but those people acquire their name from the art, not from the dress. [IV,8,17] For this reason Euphrates says well: “For a long time I tried to philosophize escaping people’s notice”, he says, “and this was beneficial to me. For in the first place I knew that whatever I did well, I did not it for the spectators but for myself. For myself I ate well, I had a calm gaze, a calm gait: all for me and for the gods. [IV,8,18] And then, as I was competing alone, so also I alone ran the risks. If I did a shameful or unfitting action, the name of philosophy was not in danger nor was I damaging the multitude by aberrating as a philosopher. [IV,8,19] For this reason, those who did not know my design wondered how it was that I was not calling myself a philosopher, although dealing and living with all the philosophers. [IV,8,20] And what evil was there in being recognized as a philosopher by what I did and not by some outward signs?”

What does it matter to pretend to be somebody when one is, in fact, nobody? Does not the very fact of making such a claim testify to its falsity? Socrates did not behave in this way (20-29)

Notice how I eat, how I drink, how I sleep, how I tolerate another’s intemperance, how I abstain from intemperance, how I cooperate, how I use desire and aversion, how I maintain my natural and acquired relationships without confusion and unimpededly. [IV,8,21] Judge me on this basis, if you can. But if you are so deaf and blind as to conceive that not even Hephaestus is a wonderful smith unless you see the felt cap on his head, what evil is there in being ignored by so silly an umpire? [IV,8,22] In this way, the kind of man Socrates was escaped most people’s notice and they used to come to him urging to be recommended to the philosophers. [IV,8,23] Was he, then, vexed about that -as we are-, and said: “But

don’t I look like a philosopher to you?” So he used to lead them away and to recommend them, content with being a philosopher and rejoicing that he was not bit if they did not deem him a philosopher; for he remembered his own peculiar work. [IV,8,24] And what is the work of the virtuous man? To have many pupils? Not at all. Those who are eager for this will see it. To state with great precision difficult philosophical principles? Other people will see this too. [IV,8,25] In what field, then, was Socrates somebody and he disposed to be so? In the field of damage and benefit. “If one”, he says, “can damage me, I am doing nothing. If I wait another to do something beneficial for me, I am nothing. I want something and this does not happen: I am misfortuned”. [IV,8,26] To so great an arena he called out to fight anybody whomsoever, and I believe that he would not have withdrawn before anyone. What do you think? In announcing and saying “I am such a man”? Far from it. But in being such a man. [IV,8,27] For, again, it is the part of the idiot and the braggart to say: “I am a self-controlled and undisconcerted man. Do not ignore, men, that while you are in disorder and turmoil for worthless things, I alone have rid myself of all disconcertment”. [IV,8,28] Thus it is not sufficient for you to feel no pain without proclaiming: “Gather, all you who are suffering from gout, headaches, fever, you lame, you blind and see how healthy I am!”? [IV,8,29] This proclamation is empty and wearisome unless you, like Asclepius, can indicate at once by what cure they too will be exempt from diseases, and that it is for this reason that you present as a paradigm your own health.

The attitude of the true Cynic (30-33)

[IV,8,30] Such a man is the Cynic deemed worthy by Zeus of a sceptre and a diadem, who says: “That you may see, O men, that you are looking for happiness and undisconcertment not where they are but where they are not, [IV,8,31] behold, I have been dispatched from Matter Immortal as a paradigm for you. I have neither estate nor home nor wife nor offspring nor even a bed or a tunic or a vessel: and see how healthy I am. Make trial of me and if you will see me undisconcerted, hear the medicines I was cured with”. [IV,8,32] This is already the attitude of a mankind-loving and generous man. But see whose work is this: it is the work of Zeus or of him whom Matter Immortal judges worthy of this service, that he may at no time lay bare to the crowd anything capable of invalidating his testimony, the one that he presents in favour of virtue and against the external objects *never whitening his beautiful color, nor wiping the tears from his cheeks*. [IV,8,33] And not only this, but that he may not yearn or seek after anything, be it a person, a place, a way of life, like the children do with the vintage season or holidays; adorned from every side by self respect as the others are from walls, from doors and from doorkeepers.

The slow formation of a philosopher (34-40)

[IV,8,34] But now, being merely moved to philosophy, like stomach weak people towards a foodstuff that they will soon loathe, straightaway they aim at the sceptre, at the kingdom. One lets grow his hair, puts on a cloak, shows his shoulder naked, brawls with those he meets and if he sees a person with an overcoat he brawls with him. [IV,8,35] You sir, go through a winter training first. Look at your impulse, that it may not be the one of a stomach weak person or of a pregnant female craving for strange food. Study first how to be ignored. For a while philosophize with yourself who you are. [IV,8,36] This is the way a fruit is born. The seed has to be buried for some time, to be hidden, to grow by small degrees and then bring the fruit to completion. But if it brings forth the ear of corn before sprouting the knee of the stalk, it is imperfect, it comes from a garden of Adonis. [IV,8,37] You too are a small plant of this sort: you have flowered more quickly than you ought, the winter frost will burn you off. [IV,8,38] Look, what do the farmers say about seeds when the hot weather arrives before its season? They are anxious that the seeds may not grow too lush, for then a single frost may confute their exuberance. Look at this you too, sir! [IV,8,39] You have grown too lush, you have leapt upon a bit of reputation before the right season. You deem you are somebody, an idiot among idiots. You will freeze, or rather you are already frozen down at the root; while your upper part still flowers for a little and for this reason you think that you are still alive and verdant. [IV,8,40] Let’s at least ripen in accord with nature. Why do you strip us naked, why do you force us? We cannot yet bear with the air. Allow the root to

grow and acquire the first knee, then the second, then the third; and so the fruit will project itself out by force of nature, even if I don’t want this.

There are no philosophers prodigies (41-43)

[IV,8,41] Who, once he has become pregnant and is filled with such important judgements, does not realize his own preparation and does not impel to the appropriate works? [IV,8,42] A bull does not ignore its own nature and preparation when a wild beast appears, nor does it await the one who will encourage it; nor does a dog ignore it when it sees some wild creature. [IV,8,43] Will I instead, if I have the preparation of a virtuous man, wait for you to prepare me for my own deeds? Now I do not yet have it, trust me. Why do you want me, then, to wither away before season, like you withered?


To have a lot of money, to hold offices, to live with handsome females and to lack the right judgements about all this (1-5)

[IV,9,1] When you see another person holding office, set over against this the fact that you do not need offices. When you see a person wealthy in money, see what you have in place of this. [IV,9,2] For if you have nothing in its place, you are a miserable fellow. But if instead you have freedom from the need for monetary wealth, recognize that you are richer than him and have something much more valuable than monetary wealth. [IV,9,3] Another has a shapely wife; you the freedom from craving for a shapely wife. Do you deem these to be small things? Yet how much would these very people, those wealthy in money and those who hold offices and lead their lives with shapely ladies, pay to be able to despise monetary wealth, offices, those very ladies whom they love and obtain! [IV,9,4] Do you ignore what kind of thing is the thirst of one who has a fever? It is not similar to the thirst of one who is healthy. The latter drinks and his thirst has been quenched. The former, after a momentary satisfaction, is nauseated, turns the water into bile, vomits, has a colic and has a more vehement thirst. [IV,9,5] Such sort of thing is to be wealthy in money and to crave for money; to hold office and to crave for it; to go to bed with a handsome female and to crave for it; because to this are joined jealousy, fear of dispossession, shameful discourse, shameful broodings, indecent works.

A bit of money and our self respect. Which is the greater loss? (6-10)

[IV,9,6] -But, someone says, what do I lose?- You sir, you were self respecting and now you are no longer so. Have you lost nothing? Instead of Chrysippus and Zeno you read Aristeides and Evenus: have you lost nothing? Instead of Socrates and Diogenes you have come to admire the one who is able to seduce and ruin the largest number of females. [IV,9,7] You want to be handsome and, because you are not so, you shape yourself. You want to show off splendid clothes, that the ladies may turn towards you; and if somehow you light upon a perfume you deem yourself blessed. [IV,9,8] Formerly you did not brood over these things but over where could be found a decorous discourse, a renowned man, a generous meditation. Therefore you used to sleep as a man, to advance as a man, to wear man’s clothes, to engage in conversations befitting a good man. And then do you tell me: “I lost nothing”? [IV,9,9] And so people lose nothing but coins? Is not self respect lost? Is not decorum lost? Or to lose these things is not to be penalized? [IV,9,10] You, then, definitely deem that for the loss of these things there is no longer a penalty. But there was a time when you computed that loss only as a penalty and damage; a time when you were anxious least anyone should displace you from these discourses and these works.

If you look for goods greater than virtue, you are lost (11-18)

[IV,9,11] Look, you have been displaced by no one else but yourself. Struggle with yourself, hand

yourself back to decorum, to self respect, to freedom. [IV,9,12] If anyone ever told you about me that someone constrains me to commit adultery, to wear certain clothes, to perfume myself: would you not have left and murdered with your own hands this person who so abuses me? [IV,9,13] Now, then, will you not help yourself? And how much easier is this help! You have to kill no one, fetter no one, outrage no one, you have not to step forth into the market-place but to speak to yourself, to the one who will be very obedient to you and with whom no one is more persuasive than you. [IV,9,14] In the first place stigmatize the events and then, once you have stigmatized them, do not despair of yourself, do not experience what mean people experience who, once they have given in, surrender themselves and are swept off by the current. [IV,9,15] Learn, instead, what the gymnastic trainers do. The child has fallen. “Get up”, he says, “and start again to wrestle, till you get stronger”. [IV,9,16] Experience something of this sort too! For you have to know that nothing is more flexible than the human soul. You have only to dispose so and it has happened, the soul has been corrected. Slumber again and it has been lost. For loss and help are found within. [IV,9,17] -And then what good is it for me?- What do you seek greater than this? Rather than shameless you will be self respecting; instead of unseemly, well regulated; instead of faithless, faithful; instead of impudent, temperate. [IV,9,18] If you seek things greater than these, do what you are doing: not even a god can save you any longer.


Because aproairetic things are not in our exclusive power, we feel embarrassed and are always in difficulty about them (1- 2)

[IV,10,1] Among human beings every embarrassment is embarrassment about external objects, every unmanageability is unmanageability of external objects. “What to do? How is it to happen? How is it to turn out? May this not confront me, may that not”. [IV,10,2] All these are the utterances of people turned to aproairetic things. For who says: “How am I not to assent to the false? How am I not to bend away from the true?”

The words of an immortal mother to her beloved sons (3-7)

[IV,10,3] If one is so a thoroughbred man as to be anxious about this, I’ll remind him: “Why are you anxious? This is in your exclusive power; be secure. Do not be in a hurry to give your assent before applying the natural standard”. [IV,10,4] Again, if he is anxious about desire, that it may be imperfect and failing; [IV,10,5] and about aversion, that it may stumble on what averts; in the first place I’ll kiss him because, giving up what dismays other people and their fears, he has worried about his truly peculiar work, where he himself is. And then I’ll tell him: [IV,10,6] “If you decide to desire without failing and to avert without stumbling on what you avert, desire nothing of what is another’s and avert nothing of what is not in your exclusive power. Otherwise it is necessary for you to fail and stumble on what you avert”. [IV,10,7] What kind of embarrassment is here involved? Where is there a place for questions like “How is it to happen?” and “How is it to turn out?” and “May this not confront me, may that not”?

Use the external things in accord with their nature and shine in your virtue (8-9)

[IV,10,8] Now, the outcome of any business is it not an aproairetic thing? -Yes- The substance of the good and of the evil is it not a proairetic thing? -Yes- You have, then, the power to use everything that comes about in accord with the nature of things. Can anyone hamper you? -No one- [IV,10,9] Say no more, then, to me: “How is it to happen?”. For anyhow it happens, you will set the thing upright and what came about will be a good fortune for you.

Like Heracles did (10)

[IV,10,10] Who would Heracles be if he said “How am I to prevent a big lion, a big boar or bestial human beings from confronting me?” What do you care? If a big boar confronts you, you will engage yourself in a bigger trial; if vicious people, you will rid the whole world of vicious people.

And if I had to die? To die as a good man is a marvelous moment of life (11-13)

[IV,10,11] -And if in this way, then, I die?- You will die as a good man, bringing to completion a generous action. Since we must die in any case, it is necessary to be found doing something, either cultivating or digging or engaged in commerce or being consul or suffering from indigestion or having diarrhoea. [IV,10,12] What, then, do you want to be doing when the death finds you? I, for my part, while doing some work befitting a man, beneficent, of common utility, generous. [IV,10,13] And if I cannot be found while doing such important things, at least while doing what is unhampered, what is given to me, while I am rectifying myself, while I refine the faculty that uses the impressions, while I labour at my self control, while I am giving back to my social relationships what is their due. If I am so fortunate, while I am touching upon the third topic of philosophy, that of safety in determinations.

The death of the wise man (14-17)

[IV,10,14] And if death will seize me while I am occupied with this, it is sufficient for me if I can lift up my hands to Matter Immortal and say: “The resources that I got from You in order to become aware of Your government and to follow it, these I did not neglect. On my part I did not put You to shame. [IV,10,15] Behold how I have used my sensations, behold how I have used the preconceptions. Did I ever blame You? Was I ill pleased at some event or did I ever want it to happen otherwise? Did I violate my social relationships?[IV,10,16] I am grateful to You because You begot me, I am grateful because of what You gave me; and the time I had to use Your gifts is sufficient for me. Take them back again and appoint me to the task that You dispose, for everything was Yours, You gave it to me”. [IV,10,17] Is it not sufficient to go out behaving in this way? And which life is better or more decorous than the life of a man behaving in this way? What kind of overturn is happier?

If you crave for some external object, behold that you must lose yourself, because you have to pay for it with yourself: nothing comes free of charge (18-19)

[IV,10,18] In order that this may happen, it is not small the trouble that you have to accept and not small things you have to miss. You cannot want to be consul and decide this; to be eager for having lands and decide this; you cannot worry about servants and at the same time about yourself. [IV,10,19] But if you want anything that is another’s, you have lost what is yours. This is the nature of the business: nothing happens free of charge. What is amazing in that?

You are ready to lick any ass whatsoever in order to obtain some wicked office, but are adamant in believing that happiness must be obtained free of charge (20-24)

[IV,10,20] If you want to be consul you must stay awake, run here and there, kiss hands, rot away at another’s door, say many things and perform many slavish deeds, send gifts to many people and guest- gifts to some people every day. And then what happens? [IV,10,21] Twelve bundles of rods, to sit down three or four times on a tribune, to provide games in the Circus and dinner in small baskets. Or let someone show me what more there is beyond this! [IV,10,22] Do you want, then, to spend nothing, not to toil for the sake of getting self control, undisconcertment, of sleeping indeed when you are sleeping, of being indeed awake when you are awake, of fearing nothing, of being anxious about nothing? [IV,10,23] And if while you are engaged in these things, something of yours is lost or badly spent or if another obtains what you ought to obtain, straightaway will you be bitten by the event?

[IV,10,24] Will you not counter it with what you are getting in exchange, how much in exchange for how much? Do you want to get such important things free of charge? And how can you? One work with another work.

You must choose (25-26)

[IV,10,25] You cannot obtain diligence about external objects and your ruling principle at the same time. If you want those things, give up this. Otherwise you will have neither one nor the other, being distracted by both. [IV,10,26] If you want this, you must give up those. Oil will be spilled, my vessels will be lost but I’ll maintain my self control. During my absence there will be a fire and my books will be lost, but I’ll use my impressions in accord with the nature of things.

There is a harbour anyway (27)

[IV,10,27] But I’ll have nothing to eat! If I am so wretched, death will be my harbour. This is the harbour of all, death, this is the refuge. For this reason nothing in life is arduous. When you dispose so, you go out and are no longer bothered by the smoke.

Take it easy: your goods are safe (28-30)

[IV,10,28] Why, then, are you anxious, why do you stay awake? Recapitulating where are your good and your evil, you can say straightaway to yourself: “Both are in my exclusive power. No one can deprive me of that nor encompass me with this without my consent. [IV,10,29] Why, then, don’t I throw myself down and snore? What is mine is safe! What is another’s will be the concern of whoever gets it as it is given by the one who has power over it. [IV,10,30] Who am I to want that it be so or so? An option over it has perhaps been given to me? Has anyone made me its governor? To me it’s sufficient to have that over which I have power. This I must arrange most beautifully. The rest will be as its lord disposes”.

What a shame are the ‘heroes’ lacking right judgements! To show them at work is Homer’s purpose (31-36)

[IV,10,31] When a man has these judgements before his eyes, does he stay awake and toss and turn? Wanting what or yearning after what? Patroclus or Antilochus or Protesilaus? For when did he believe that any of his friends were immortal? When did he not have before his eyes the fact that tomorrow or the day after either he or his friend might have to die? [IV,10,32] “Yes”, he says, “but I thought that he would survive me and would raise my son”. For you were stupid and were thinking dubious things. Why, then, don’t you bring charges to yourself instead of sitting and crying like a wench? [IV,10,33] “But he placed beside me something to eat!” For then he was living, stupid! Now he cannot. Automedon will place it beside you and if Automedon also dies, you will find someone else. [IV,10,34] If the pot in which a piece of meat used to be boiled for you is broken, must you die of hunger because you do not have your customary pot? Don’t you send out and buy a new one? [IV,10,35] *No worse evil,* he says, *could I experience* And is this an evil for you? You forbear tearing this evil away from you and impute your mother because she did not foretell it to you, so that from that time forth you might continue to be in sorrow? [IV,10,36] What do you think? Did not Homer compose these stories on purpose, so that we might see that nothing prevents people of the noblest birth, the physically strongest, the wealthiest, the shapeliest ones, when they lack the judgements that they ought to have, from being the most miserable people and prey to the worst fortune?


Clean in body and pure in mind: the sense of cleanliness as a man’s instinct and a peculiarity of the gods whom they are father of (1-4)

[IV,11,1] Some people dispute whether sociability is included in the nature of human beings; yet these same people, so I deem, would not dispute that a sense of cleanliness is quite included and that, if for nothing else, for this quality a man is separated from the other animals. [IV,11,2] When, then, we see some other animal cleansing itself, we are used to say with admiration “Like a man!”. And again, if one scolds some animal, straightaway we are used to say, as though excusing it, “Of course it’s not a man!”. [IV,11,3] And we think cleanliness to be something specific to the man, taking this characteristic in the first place from the gods. Since they are by nature pure and undefiled, and as much as men have approached them in terms of reason, the more they cling to what is pure and clean. [IV,11,4] But since it is unattainable for human substance to be altogether pure because it is mingled with the kind of material that we know, our reason -invited to do what is feasible- tries to make the human substance to come out as clean as possible.

The mind’s purity consists of the presence of the judgements that it ought to have (5-8)

[IV,11,5] The first, then, and highest purity and similarly the first impurity, is that of the soul. But you would not find the soul’s impurity as visible as that of the body, because what impurity of the soul could you find except what makes it filthy for the performance of its own functions? [IV,11,6] Now, the soul’s functions are to impel, to repel, to desire, to avert, to prepare, to design, to assent. [IV,11,7] What is, then, that makes a soul filthy and impure in these functions? Nothing else but its rascally determinations. [IV,11,8] Thus the soul’s impurities lie in the knavish judgements, while its purification occurs with the infusion of judgements as they ought to be. Pure is the soul that has the judgements that it ought, for this soul alone is without confusion and pollution in its own functions.

The cleanliness of our nose… (9)

[IV,11,9] We ought to work artfully to accomplish something similar to this also with our body, according to what is feasible. It was unattainable that snivel would not run from our nose, man being the mixture that we know. For this reason nature made hands and made nostrils exactly like tubes to discharge the fluids. If, then, one gulps them down, I say that he is not doing a man’s work.

of our feet… (10)

[IV,11,10] It was unattainable that our feet would not be covered with mud or would not be entirely defiled when they proceed through such mires. For this reason nature provided water; for this, it provided hands.

of our teeth… (11)

[IV,11,11] It was unattainable that, when we chew, some filth would not remain attached to our teeth. For this reason “Wash”, nature says, “your teeth”. Why? That you may be a man and not a beast or a porker.

of our skin and body… (12-14)

[IV,11,12] It was unattainable that something filthy and needing cleansing would not remain on our bodies by our sweat and by the contact of our skin with our clothes. For this reason there are water, oil, hands, towel, strigil, nitre and, on occasion, other equipment to clean it. [IV,11,13] No, but the smith will clean the iron from rust and will have instruments constructed for this purpose; you yourself will wash your small plate before you eat, unless you are an absolutely dirty and filthy person; and will you not wash your body nor make it clean? -Why? says someone- [IV,11,14] Again I’ll tell you: in the first

place, that you may do a man’s work and then that you may not annoy those with whom you meet.

Be at least careful not to annoy others with your filthiness (15-18)

[IV,11,15] Here, too, you are doing something of this sort and you do not realize it. Do you believe that you deserve to stink? Let it be so, let you be worthy of it. But do those who sit down at your side, recline beside you and kiss you, also deserve it? [IV,11,16] Please, leave for a lonely place somewhere, a place of which you are worthy, and pass your life alone spreading your stench! For it is right that you enjoy your uncleanliness alone. But being in a town, for whom does it appear that such inconsiderate and unintelligent behaviour is typical? [IV,11,17] If nature had committed to your care a horse, would you overlook and neglect it? Now, think that your body has, like a horse, been put in your care: wash it, wipe it off, do it so that no one may turn away or turn aside. [IV,11,18] Who does not turn aside from a filthy fellow, a fellow who stinks, whose skin is dirtier than one befouled with dung? And this odour is acquired from the outside, while the other is acquired through slovenliness from within and is as if one were putrefied.

But Socrates did not use to wash himself so much… (19-21)

[IV,11,19] -But Socrates used to bathe infrequently- Yet his body was gleaming, and was so charming and pleasant that the most wonderfully youthful and those of most noble birth were in love with him and longed to lie on a bed near him rather than near others more shapely. Socrates had, then, the power neither to bathe nor to wash himself, if he so disposed; and yet even his infrequent bathings what a might they had! [IV,11,20] -But Aristophanes says *the pallid, the shoeless ones, I say*- He says also that Socrates trod the air and that he used to steal people’s robes from the wrestling school. [IV,11,21] Yet all those who have written about Socrates credit him with the opposite, and say that he was pleasant not only to hear but also to see. And again about Diogenes they write the same things.

If the philosopher is a clean man he will attract many people to philosophy (22-24)

[IV,11,22] For with regard to uncovering one’s own body, one must not scare people away from philosophy, rather one must exhibit cheerfulness and undisconcertment, as in everything else, also on the side of his own body. [IV,11,23] “Behold, O men: I have nothing and need nothing. Behold how even being homeless, without a city, perhaps in exile and hearthless, I pass my life with less disconcertment and more serenity than all the noble families and those of great monetary wealth. And you see also that my body is not maltreated by my austere mode of life”. [IV,11,24] But if I am told these things by someone who has the dress and the face of a condemned person, which of the gods will persuade me to come to philosophy, if philosophy itself makes people of this sort? Far from it. I would not dispose it, even if I were going to be a wise man!

Cleanliness as man’s aspiration to what is beautiful: Polemo comes to Xenocrates (25-30)

[IV,11,25] As for me, by the gods, I dispose that the young who experiences the first stirrings towards philosophy comes to me with his hair well groomed rather than scruffy and filthy. For in this case one can notice in him a certain impression of the beautiful, an aspiration for what is decorous; and that where he fancies it to be, there he works artfully to obtain it. [IV,11,26] Well then, one has only to indicate it to him and say: “Younker, you seek the beautiful and you do well. Know, then, that the beautiful sprouts there where you have your reason. Seek it there where are your impulses and repulsions, where are your desires and aversions. [IV,11,27] For this you have special in yourself, while the body is by nature only clay. Why do you toil for it to no purpose? Time will make you recognize, if nothing else, that it is nothing”. [IV,11,28] If instead he comes to me befouled with dung, filthy, his moustache reaching down to his knees, what have I to tell him, from which kind of resemblance to anything beautiful may I attract him to reason? [IV,11,29] What has enthused him that is similar to the beautiful, so that I may transpose him and say: “Beauty is not here but there”? Do you want me to tell

him: “Beauty is found not in befouling yourself with dung but is in your reason”? For does he aim at what is beautiful? Has he any disclosement of it? Leave and hold a dialogue with a pig that it may not roll itself into the mire! [IV,11,30] And for this reason the discourses of Xenocrates touched Polemo as a younker and a lover of the beautiful. For he entered the school of Xenocrates because he had glimmerings of an eagerness for beauty, but was seeking it somewhere else.

As for cleanliness, we can also find examples among certain animals (31-32)

[IV,11,31] Nature did not made filthy even those animals that live in common with human beings. Does perhaps a horse roll itself into the mire? Or does a purebred dog? No, but the hog, the rotten geese, the worms, the spiders, the creatures disbanded as far as possible from correlation with men. [IV,11,32] You, then, as a human being, would not even be one of the creatures that live in common with them but rather a worm or a spider? Will you not at some time bathe in whatever manner pleases you, rinse yourself, if not with hot water then with cold water? Will you not arrive here clean, so that those who are here may welcome you? But do you gather with us in such a state even in the shrines, places where it is illegitimate to spit or wipe one’s nose, you who are but spit and snivel?

Do not offend the sense of cleanliness of another person and avoid any eccentricity and oddness (33-36)

[IV,11,33] What then? Is anyone urging you to embellish yourself? Far from it. But to embellish that for which we are born: the reason, its judgements, its activities; and to keep the body clean, sufficient to avoid offence. [IV,11,34] Yet if you hear that one must not wear scarlet clothes, leave and befoul your cloak with dung or tear it to pieces! -But whence can I acquire a wonderful cloak?- You sir, you have the water: wash it! [IV,11,35] See, here is a young boy worthy of love, here an elder worthy of loving and to be loved in return, an elder to whom one will commit his own son that he may be educated, to whom daughters and youths will come, perhaps, so that he may deliver his lectures in a place for dung? Far from it [IV,11,36] Every eccentricity comes from some human trait, but this one is near to being not human!


To pay attention to the general principles means doing not what comes to our mind but what we think (1-6)

[IV,12,1] When you relax your attention for a while, do not fancy that you can retrieve it when you want, but have ready at hand the thought that because of today’s aberration your condition is necessarily worse as regards to everything else. [IV,12,2] For in the first place a habit -and this is the more embittering thing of all- of not paying attention emerges; and then a habit of delaying attention, and so you are accustomed to always defer from one time to another your serenity, a decorous behaviour, to be and enjoy yourself in accord with the nature of things. [IV,12,3] If, then, the deferment is advantageous, more advantageous is the total detachment of attention. But if it’s not advantageous, why don’t you guard your attention continuously? [IV,12,4] “Today I want to play”. What prevents you, then, to do it with attention? “I want to sing”. What prevents you, then, to do it with attention? Can we tear away a part of life on which attention does not extend? For will you do it worse with attention and better without attention? And what in life becomes better thanks to those who pay no attention? [IV,12,5] Does the carpenter who pays no attention do his work more precisely? Does the steersman who pays no attention steer more safely? And which other of the smaller tasks is completed more perfectly thanks to inattention? [IV,12,6] Don’t you realize that, whenever you give up your intelligence, it is no longer in your exclusive power to recall it to you, to what is decorous, to self respect, to restraint? But you do anything that comes into your head, you follow your impulsions.

Be careful to firmly hold the universal principles on the issue of desire and of aversion (7-14)

[IV,12,7] -To what ought I, then, pay attention?- In the first place to the universal principles and these have ready at hand. Neither sleep nor get up, neither drink nor eat nor confer with people separate from these principles: that no one is lord of another’s proairesis and that good and evil are only in proairesis. [IV,12,8] No one, then, is lord either to secure some thing good for me or to encompass me with an evil one, but I alone have power over myself with regard to this. [IV,12,9] When these principles are secure in me, what reason have I to be disconcerted about external objects? Which tyrant is frightening, which sickness, which poverty in money, which obstacle? [IV,12,10] -But I did not please So-and-so- Was that perhaps my work, was it my determination? -No- What do I care, then, any longer? -But he is thought to be somebody!- [IV,12,11] He and those who deem right to do so will see to that. I have the one whom I ought to please, to whom to be subordinated, whom to obey: Zeus and after It myself. [IV,12,12] It recommended me to myself and subordinated my proairesis to myself only, giving standards for its right use; and when I conform to these standards, in syllogisms I do not turn my mind towards any who claims otherwise; and in equivocal arguments I worry about no one. [IV,12,13] Why, then, in the greatest issues am I annoyed at those who censure me? What’s the cause of this disconcertment? Nothing else but the fact that in this topic I am untrained. [IV,12,14] Since every science is entitled to despise ignorance and ignorant people, as are the arts also so entitled. Bring any cobbler and he mocks the crowd’s ignorance of his own work; bring here any carpenter.

Be careful to firmly hold the universal principles on the issue of impulse and repulsion and of what is proper in social relationships (15-18)

[IV,12,15] In the first place you must, then, have ready at hand these principles and do nothing apart from them, but to have your soul intent upon this target: to pursue none of the external things, nothing of what is another’s but, as the one with the power ordained, to pursue at any cost proairetic things and the rest as it is given. [IV,12,16] Besides this we must remember who we are and what is our name, and try to adjust the proper deeds to our faculty for social relationships: [IV,12,17] which time is appropriate for a song of praise, which time is appropriate for a game, and in whose presence; what will come out of the business; perhaps those who are with us will despise us, perhaps we will despise them; when to scoff and when and whom to mock, and when to be complaisant with whom and about what and, well then, how to keep our own personality even in the case of a complaisance. [IV,12,18] Wherever you veer away from any of these principles, straightaway there is the penalty, not from somewhere outside, but from the activity itself.

If you were sure of obtaining happiness in this way, you would not defer it but would immediately put yourself to work (19-21)

[IV,12,19] What then? Can we by now avoid aberration? It’s unmanageable. But we can be continuously intent upon avoiding aberrations. For it is a thing to prize if, by never weakening this attention, we will be rid of at least a few aberrations. [IV,12,20] Now, when you say: “From tomorrow I’ll pay attention”, know that you are saying: “Today I’ll be shameless, ill timed, slave minded; it will be in another’s power to grieve me; today I’ll be prey to anger, to envy”. [IV,12,21] Notice how many evils you entrust to yourself! But if it will be good tomorrow, how much better it is today! If it will be useful tomorrow, it’s much more so today, that you may be able to do it also tomorrow and not to delay it again until the day after tomorrow.


Do not trust the first chance comer (nor the second, nor the third…) (1-4)

[IV,13,1] When we deem someone has discussed his affairs frankly with us, we too are somehow drawn out to divulge our secrets to him and we think that this is what it means to be frank. [IV,13,2] In the first place because we deem it unfair to have heard the affairs of our neighbour and not to give him a share, in our turn, of our affairs. And then because we think, being silent about our own affairs, of giving to him the impression that we are not frank men. [IV,13,3] No doubt, people are often used to say: “I have told you all my affairs, don’t you want to tell me anything about yours? Where does this happen?” [IV,13,4] Furthermore, there is also the thought that we can safely trust one who has already trusted us about his affairs, for we believe that this person would never spread around our affairs as a precaution against us spreading around his in turn.

Spy stories in Rome and its surroundings (5-8)

[IV,13,5] In this way too, in Rome, reckless people are caught by the soldiers. A soldier dressed as a civilian sits down at your side and begins to speak ill of Caesar. Then, taking from him as a pledge of faithfulness the fact that he has begun the abuse, you say what you think about the issue and then are carried off in fetter. [IV,13,6] We also experience something of this sort in general. For even though that person has safely trusted me with his affairs, I do not myself in this way tell my affairs to the first chance comer. [IV,13,7] But after listening I hold my tongue, if I am such a man; while the other goes out and divulges my affairs to everybody. If I know what has happened and am myself similar to him, as I want to get even with him, I divulge his affairs. Thus I tangle and I am tangled. [IV,13,8] If, however, I remember that a person does not damage another one but that each person’s own works damage or benefit him, I firmly hold the principle of doing nothing similar to what he has done, and that I have experienced what I have experienced because of my own babbling.

The first chance comer is, with a very high probability, a cracked wine jar, a fellow that systematically uses counterdiairesis (9-11)

[IV,13,9] -Yes, but having heard the secrets of our neighbour, it’s unfair to give him no share of our affairs in our turn- [IV,13,10] Did I pray you to tell me your affairs, sir? Did you divulge your affairs on the condition that you could, in turn, hear about mine? [IV,13,11] If you are a babbler and deem all you meet friends, do want me too to become like you? Why, if you have done well in trusting me with your affairs but it is not wise to trust you, do you want me to be reckless?

The two wine jars (12-16)

[IV,13,12] It is as though I had a watertight wine jar and you one with a hole in it, and you came to commend your wine to me, that I pour it into my wine jar. And then are you vexed because I too do not trust you with my wine? For you have a wine jar with a hole in it! [IV,13,13] How is this, then, equivalent? You have commended your affairs to a faithful, self respecting man, to a man who believes that only his own activities and nothing that is external are harmful or beneficial. [IV,13,14] And do you want me to commend my affairs to you, to a human being who disparages his own proairesis, who wants to obtain small coins or some office or a promotion at court, even if you are going to slaughter your offspring as Medea did? [IV,13,15] How is this equivalent? Show me that you are a faithful, self respecting, secure man; show that you have friendly judgements; show that your container has no hole in it and you will see how I’ll not wait for you to trust me with your affairs, but will myself come and pray you to hear about mine! [IV,13,16] For who does not want to use a wonderful container, who disparages a well disposed and faithful counsellor, who will not receive merrily the man who intends to

take a share of our difficult circumstances as though it was a load and who, by this very sharing, makes it light for us?

How is it possible for the person who is a slave to external objects not to be officious and unreliable? (17-24)

[IV,13,17] -Yes, but I trust you while you do not trust me- In the first place you do not trust me either but are a babbler and for this reason you are unable to stably hold anything. Since, if it is so, trust me alone with your affairs. [IV,13,18] Now, instead, when you see anyone at his leisure, you sit down at his side and tell him: “Brother, I have no one more well disposed and more friendly than you. I pray you listen to my affairs”. And this you do with people whom you hardly known! [IV,13,19] And if you trust me, it’s plain that you do so because I am a faithful and self respecting man, not because I told you of my affairs. [IV,13,20] Let me, then, also conceive the same things about you. Show me that, if a person tells of his own affairs, he is faithful and self respecting. For, if it were so, I would go around telling my affairs to all people, if by these means I could be faithful and self respecting. But such is not the case, and in order to be faithful and self respecting a man requires judgements and not casual ones. [IV,13,21] If, therefore, you see someone who is eager for aproairetic things and who has subordinated to them his own proairesis, know that this fellow has myriads of people who constrain him, who hamper him. [IV,13,22] He has no need of pitch or rack for saying what he knows but the little nod, perhaps, of a maiden will start him off, a sign of friendship from a Caesar’s courtier, the craving for office, for an inheritance and thirty thousand other things similar to these. [IV,13,23] In general, one ought, then, to remember that secrets require faithfulness and judgements of this sort. [IV,13,24] Where is it possible to find these things easily nowadays? Or let someone show me a man so minded that he can say: “I only care about what is mine, what is not hampered, what is free by nature. This, which is the substance of the good, I have. Let everything else happen as it is given: it makes no difference to me”.






The four books of the Discourses are neither Dialogues in the style of Plato nor Orations written by Isocrates for display, but the faithful recording -by his pupil Arrian- of Epictetus’ live talking. I have done my best to preserve this peculiarity and have kept very close to the Greek text. The reader should bear this in mind, and read according to the right ‘tempo’.

Thank you for choosing this new translation of Epictetus.


“What a great thing is to be able to say to oneself: “What now the others talk solemnly about in the schools thinking to say paradoxes, this I actually bring to completion. Sitting, they comment upon my virtues and inquire about me, they sing a hymn of praise to me”. (III, 24, 111)


Every creature has its own perfection or virtue (1-5)

[III,1,1] When a younker student of rhetoric -whose hair was very elaborately dressed and who, as far as the general attire, had decked himself out- came into his presence ‘Tell me, said Epictetus, if you do not think that some dogs are wonderful and some horses too and so every other creature’. [III,1,2] -I think so, said the student- Therefore also among human beings, are not some of them handsome and some ugly? -And how not?- Do we, then, according to the same criterion, address each of these creatures wonderful of the same kind of wonderfulness or each wonderful of a peculiar kind of wonderfulness? [III,1,3] Thus you will see my point. Since we see that the dog is born for a certain thing, the horse for another one and the nightingale, perhaps, for yet another; in general it would not be absurd to declare that each creature is at that time wonderful, when it achieves the excellence of its nature, and since the nature of each is different, I think that each of them is wonderful of a different wonderfulness, or not? -He acknowledged this- [III,1,4] Does not, then, what makes a dog wonderful make a horse ugly and what makes a horse wonderful make a dog ugly, if their natures are different? – So it seems- [III,1,5] For, I think, what makes a pancratiast wonderful does not make a wrestler good and makes a runner very ridiculous. And is the fellow who is wonderful for the pentathlon, this same, the ugliest for wrestling? -So it is, he said-

And what about the human being? Which is his perfection? Is it not that of being a man? (6-7)

[III,1,6] What does, then, make beautiful the human being if not what makes wonderful, in its kind, the dog and the horse? -It is this, he said- What does, then, make wonderful a dog? The presence of the virtue of the dog. And what a horse? The presence of the virtue of the horse. And a human being? Is it not the presence of the virtue of the man? [III,1,7] If you, then, dispose to be beautiful, do all you can upon this, upon the virtue of the man. -And which one is it?-

Do you ignore which one the virtue of the man is? Whom do you praise when you praise dispassionately? Meet the consequences of this (8-9)

[III,1,8] See whom you yourself praise when you praise someone dispassionately. The just or the unjust? -The just- The temperate or the impudent? -The temperate- The self-restrained ones or those who are not masters of themselves? -The masters of themselves- [III,1,9] If, then, you make yourself a man of this sort, know that you will make yourself beautiful; but if you neglect this, it is necessary for you to be shameful, even if you contrive all sort of artifice in order to appear wonderful.

If you came to me with the attitude with which one has to go to a philosopher, look at the reproaches I would be worth of if I did not speak to you (10-14)

[III,1,10] From here on I do not know how to talk to you. For if I say what I have high thoughts about, I’ll annoy you and, once you go out, probably you will not enter here again. If I do not say it, see what I do, assuming that you come to me for getting a benefit and I’ll not benefit you at all; that you come to me as to a philosopher and I’ll tell you nothing as a philosopher. [III,1,11] How is it not cruel towards

you to overlook the fact of leaving you unrectified? Later, if you have good sense, you will bring me charges with good reason: [III,1,12] “Noticing me enter his school in such a shameful condition, what sort of thing did Epictetus see in me that he did not mind my presence and never said a phrase to me? To such a point did he despair of me? [III,1,13] Was I not young? Was I not able to listen a discourse? How many other youths do aberrate so heavily because of their age? [III,1,14] I hear that a certain Polemo, from a very impudent younker as he was, had so great a transformation. Let it be so; he did not think that I should be a Polemo but he could at least correct me as far as my hair, strip off my trinkets, stop me stripping bare of my hairs. Noticing me, instead, to have the look -whose must I say?- he was silent”.

I’ll talk to you, even if I know that I’ll not convince you; or am I wrong? I’ll do what Apollo did with Laius (15- 18)

[III,1,15] I do not say whose this look is. You will say it when you come to yourself and recognize whose it is and who does this job. [III,1,16] If you later bring this charge to me, what will I have to say in my defense? Yes, but I’ll say and he will not obey. And did Laius obey Apollo? Did he not depart and get drunk and say farewell to the oracle? What then? Despite this, did not Apollo tell him the truth? [III,1,17] Whereas I do not know whether you will obey me or not, Apollo knew very precisely that Laius would not obey, and yet he spoke. [III,1,18] -Why did he speak?- Because he is Apollo. Because he gives oracles. Because he has appointed himself to this task, so as to be a seer and source of truth and so that the people of the whole world may come to him. Why has “Recognize yourself” been written in front of his temple, although no one comprehends it?

I’ll do like Socrates. Did Socrates convince all those whom he spoke with? (19-21)

[III,1,19] Did Socrates persuade all those who approached him to take care of themselves? Not even one in a thousand. Yet, because his gene appointed him to this position, as he says, he no more left it out. And to the judges too, what does he say? [III,1,20] “If you acquit me”, he says, “on these terms that I no more perform what I perform now, well, I’ll not tolerate this nor appease myself; but coming to a youth or to an elder and in short to anyone that I always meet, I’ll try to know what I try to know now too; and especially from you citizens, he says, because you are nearer akin to me”. [III,1,21] Are you so officious, Socrates, and meddlesome? What do you care about what we do? “But what do you say? You are my mate and congenerous and yet you neglect yourself, you provide the town with a bad citizen, your congenerous with a bad congenerous, your neighbors with a bad neighbour”.

But he had to do it, because he was the one who takes care of the men (22)

[III,1,22] “You, then, who are you?” Here the great thing is to say: “This I am, he who has to care about men”. For no any chance ox dares to withstand a lion; but if the bull comes on and withstands it, tell the bull, if you think so: “And who are you?” and “What do you care about?”

Because he was the man between the human beings, because he was the purple in the robe (23)

[III,1,23] You sir, some special creature sprouts in every species: among oxen, among dogs, among bees, among horses. Do not say to this special creature “You, then, what are you?”. Otherwise, taking a voice from somewhere it will say: “I am such as the purple in the robe. Do not urge me to be similar to the others and do not find fault with nature because it made me different from the others”.

So I’ll speak to you… (24)

[III,1,24] What then? Am I of this sort? Whence? And are you such as to be able to hear the truth? I would that you were! And yet, since I was somehow condemned to have a hoary beard and a cloak and you enter here like coming to a philosopher, I’ll use with you neither cruelty nor despair but I’ll say: younker, whom do you dispose to make beautiful?

…and I’ll tell you: recognize who you are. You are a mortal creature, able to use the impressions rationally (25)

[III,1,25] In the first place recognize who you are and as such adorn yourself. You are a human being: that is a mortal creature able to use the impressions rationally. What is rationally? Acknowledging the nature of things and perfectly.

Where is your specificity? Exclusively in the rational element. This and nothing else keep in order and embellish (26-35)

[III,1,26] What is, then, special about you? The creature? No. The mortal? No. The use of impressions? No. The rational element is the special element that you have: adorn and embellish that. Let your hair to him who shaped it as he disposed. [III,1,27] Come on, what other appellations do you have? Are you male or female? -Male- Embellish, then, the male, not the female. The female has been born by nature smooth and effeminate, and if she is very hairy she is a prodigy and is shown at Rome among the prodigies. [III,1,28] The same thing is, for a male, to be not hairy. And if a male is not hairy by nature, he is a prodigy; but if he himself cuts off and plucks out his hairs, what shall we do with him? Where will we show him and what shall we write in front of him? “I’ll show you a male who wants rather be a female than a male”. [III,1,29] What a strange spectacle! No one will be amazed at this advertising sign? Yes, by Zeus, I think that those who pluck themselves do it without understanding what is that they do! [III,1,30] You sir, what reason have you to bring charges to your nature? That it begot you male? What then? Ought it beget all females? And what would be for you the avail of adorning yourself? Whom for would you adorn yourself, if all were females? [III,1,31] Are you not pleased with your small business? Do it whole for whole: remove -what is ever that?- the cause of your hair. Make yourself a female forever, so that we may not err and you may not be half male and half female. [III,1,32] Whom do you want to please? The females? Please them as a male. “Yes, but they rejoice over smooth faces”. Will you not hang yourself? And if they rejoiced over lewd fellows, would you become a lewd fellow? [III,1,33] Is this your work, were you begot for this reason, so that impudent females may rejoice over you? [III,1,34] Should we set you, a male of this sort, citizen of Corinth and perhaps warden of the city or superintendent of the ephebi or general or superintendent of the games? [III,1,35] Come on, even after marriage are you going to pluck yourself? For whom and for what? And having begot children, will you introduce them into the body of citizen as plucked creatures too? Wonderful citizen and councilor and orator! Such sort of youths ought we to wish to sprout and be reared?

Will you do that? The nature of things spoke to you through me (36-39)

[III,1,36] No, by the gods, younker! But once you have heard these discourses, leaving my school say to yourself: “It is not Epictetus who told me these words – and whence could he?- but, through him, some well disposed god. For it would not have come into the head of Epictetus to say these words, he who is not used to tell them to anyone. [III,1,37] Come on, let’s obey, then, to Zeus, that we may not be the objects of his disgust”. No; but if a crow gives you a sign by croaking, it is not the crow that gives the sign but God through it. And if it gives a sign through the voice of a man, will you pretend that it is the man who says this, so that you may ignore the faculty of the gene that gives to someone this sign and to others another sign but that, on the greatest and most dominant issues gives its signs through the most beautiful messenger? [III,1,38] What else does the poet say? *Since we did warn him sending Hermes messenger god, the slayer of Argus, neither to kill him nor to woo for his bride.* [III,1,39] As Hermes descended to say this to Aegisthus, now the gods tell you this *sending Hermes messenger god, the slayer of Argus*: not to distort utterly and not to interfere with what is well like it is, but to let the male male, the female female, the beautiful man as beautiful man, the shameful human being as shameful human being.

You are neither flesh nor hair but proairesis, as Socrates told Alcibiades (40-42)

[III,1,40] Because you are neither a piece of meat nor hairs but proairesis: if you have this beautiful,

then you will be beautiful. [III,1,41] Till now I do not dare to tell you that you are shameful, for I think you eager to rather hear anything than this. [III,1,42] But see what Socrates says to the most handsome and youthfully wonderful of all, to Alcibiades: “Try, then, to be beautiful”. What does he tell him? “Shape your hair and pluck your leg’s hair?” Far from it. But: “Adorn your proairesis, eradicate your insipient judgements”.

Does this mean that we must neglect our body and everything else that is not proairesis? (43-45)

[III,1,43] Our body, then, how should we keep it? As it is by nature. Another cared about these things; entrust them to it. [III,1,44] -What then? Must one be dirty?- Far from it. But clean as you are and you are by nature; that a male may be clean as a male, a female as a female, a child as a child. [III,1,45] No; but let’s pluck off the lion’s mane too, that it may not be dirty; and the cock’s comb, for this too has to be clean! But as a cock, and that one as a lion, and the hunting dog clean as a hunting dog.


The three topics in which our proairesis is at work: desire and aversion, impulse and repulsion, assent and dissent (1-4)

[III,2,1] Three are the topics in which the man who will be virtuous must train himself: that which deals with desires and aversions, that he may not fail in his desire and, when he averts, that he may not stumble on what he averts; [III,2,2] that which deals with impulses and repulsions and in short with what is a dutiful deed, that he may act in an orderly way, rationally and not carelessly; third is that which deals with undeceivableness and rashness in judgement, and generally with assents. [III,2,3] Among these, the most dominant and especially urgent topic is that which deals with passions: for the passion is not born otherwise than by a desire that fails or by an aversion that stumbles on what it averts. This is what brings in disconcertments, turmoils, misfortunes and ill fortunes; what produces mourning, wailings, envies, fears and jealousies, and by which we are unable to listen to our reason. [III,2,4] The second topic is the one about the proper deeds: for I must not be self-controlled as a statue, but I must keep my natural and acquired relationships as a pious man, as a son, as a brother, as a father, as a citizen.

The study of the third topic befits only those who have already made progress in the first two (5-10)

[III,2,5] The third topic is incumbent upon those who already make profit and concerns the safety in the first two, that not even when sleeping, not even when one is slightly drunk or melancholy-mad an impression may pass and escape unexamined. -This, someone says, is beyond us- [III,2,6] But philosophers nowadays give up the first and the second topic and linger in the third one: upon equivocal arguments, syllogisms that are drawn to conclusion by questions, hypothetical arguments and sophisms like ‘The Liar’. [III,2,7] -For one must, he says, guard carefully to be undeceivable also on these subject matters- Who must do this? -The virtuous man- [III,2,8] Do you, then, lack this only? Have you done all you could on the other subject matters? Are you undeceivable on small coins? If you see a wonderful wench, do you hold out against the impression? If your neighbour inherits, are you not bitten? Now do you lack nothing else but unchangeableness? [III,2,9] Wretched fellow! You learn these very things trembling and being anxious that someone despises you and trying to know what anybody says about you. [III,2,10] And if someone comes and tells you: “When the discourse was about who is the best philosopher, one of those present said that the only philosopher is So-and-so”, your soul from a finger’s length has become two cubits. But if another party of those present says: “Nonsense! It is not worth to hear So-and-so. For, what does he know? He has the first resources and nothing more” you are dazed, you have turned pale, straightaway you cry aloud: “I’ll show him who I am, that I am a great


With the simple movement of his middle finger, Diogenes is able to show us whether Demosthenes is accustomed to diairesize or counterdiairesize (11-12)

[III,2,11] This can be noticed from these very words. What do you want to show with other words? Do you not know that Diogenes showed one of the sophists in this way, stretching out his middle finger? And as the fellow went mad with rage, “This is So-and-so”, Diogenes said, “I showed him to you”. [III,2,12] For a person is not shown with a finger, like a stone or a piece of wood; but when one shows his judgements, then he has shown himself as a person.

We are our judgements. Show me, then, your judgements and I’ll tell you who you are (13-17)

[III,2,13] Let’s look at your judgements too. Is it not plain that you set to nothing your proairesis and that you look outside, to the aproairetic things, to what So-and-so will say and who you will seem to be, whether people will think you a scholar, or one who has read Chrysippus or Antipater? If Archedemus too, you have really everything! [III,2,14] Why are you still anxious to show us who you are? Do you want me to tell you what kind of person you have shown us that you are? A slave-minded, faultfinding, choleric, cowardly, blaming everything, bringing charges to everybody, never quiet, vainglorious human being: this you showed. [III,2,15] Leave now and read Archedemus. Then, if a mouse falls down and makes a noise, you die. For a death remains for you of the sort of… -who was he?- of Crinus. He too had high thoughts about the fact that he comprehended Archedemus. [III,2,16] Wretched fellow! Will you not give up these things that are nothing to you? They are fitting for those who can learn them apart from disconcertment, who have the power to say: “I do not get angry, I do not grieve, I do not envy, I am not hampered, I am not constrained. What is the rest for me? I have abundant leisure, I am quiet. [III,2,17] Let me see how one ought to deal with equivocal premises in arguments; let me see how, taking an hypothesis, one will not be led away to an absurd conclusion”.

You are the fellow who hoists the topsails in a stormy sea (18)

[III,2,18] These studies are theirs. To kindle a fire, to lunch and, perhaps, also to sing and dance is fitting to those who fare well. But while the vessel is sinking you come and hoist the topsails!


About the nature of things, the invariance of human soul’s nature and about its motions (1-4)

[III,3,1] The subject matter of the virtuous man is his own ruling principle, the body is the subject matter of the physician and of the masseur, the land is the subject matter of the farmer. The work of the virtuous man is the use of the impressions in accord with the nature of things. [III,3,2] Every soul is born both for nodding to the truth, dissenting from the false, suspending the judgement in doubtful issues, as for moving with desire towards the good, with aversion towards the evil and neutrally towards what is neither evil nor good. [III,3,3] For as neither the banker nor the greengrocer have the power to refuse the coinage of Caesar, but if you show it he must, whether he wants or not, turn over to you what has been sold; so it is also with the soul. [III,3,4] As soon as the good appears, it straightaway moves the soul towards itself; the evil, away from itself. The soul never refuses the evident impression of a good, no more than the coinage of Caesar. Every motion both of man and of god has been hung upon this.

We never love our neighbour, we only love our own good. Where is, then,our ‘ good’? Our true good is only in the right proairesis (5-10)

[III,3,5] That is why the good is preferred above every kinship. There is nothing between my father and me but only between the good and me. “Are you so hard?” I am so by nature. Matter Immortal has given me this coinage. [III,3,6] For this reason, if the good is something different from the beautiful and the just, then father, brother, fatherland and all things disappear. [III,3,7] Should I disdain my good so that you may have it, should I give way to you? In exchange for what? “I am your father!” But not the good. “I am your brother”. But not the good. [III,3,8] If, however, we set the good in a right proairesis, the very fact of keeping our relationships becomes a good and furthermore the one who recedes from certain external objects hits the centre of the good. [III,3,9] “My father is taking away my money”. Yet he does not damage me. “My brother will have more than me of the land”. As much as he wants! And then will he have more than me also of self respect, of faithfulness, of brotherly love? [III,3,10] For who can cast you out of this substance? Not even Zeus. Nor he so disposed, but he made it in my exclusive power and gave it to me as he had it himself, unhampered, unconstrained, unimpeded.

What does it happen when we set the good outside of the right proairesis? (11-13)

[III,3,11] When, then, the coinage is different from person to person, one shows it and has what is retailed in exchange. [III,3,12] A thief has come to this Province as proconsul. What coinage does he use? Money. Show it and bring outside what you want. An adulterer has come. What coinage does he use? Wenches. “Take”, one says, “the coinage and sell me the business”. Give and buy. [III,3,13] Another is eager for young boys. Give him the coinage and take what you want. Another is fond of hunting. Give him a wonderful horse or a dog: even wailing and groaning he will sell in exchange what you want. For another constrains him from within, the one who has positioned this coinage.

Diairesis and counterdiairesis at work, judgement after judgement (14-19)

[III,3,14] We must train ourselves especially in this form of exercise. At once, stepping forth at dawn, inquire about whom you see, inquire about whom you hear and answer like to a question. What did you see? A handsome younker or a handsome wench? Apply the standard. Is it an aproairetic or proairetic thing? Aproairetic. Remove it outside. [III,3,15] What did you see? Someone mourning over the end of his offspring? Apply the standard. Death is an aproairetic thing. Remove it out. Did you meet a consul? Apply the standard: what kind of thing is a consulship? Aproairetic or proairetic? Aproairetic: remove this too, it has no value; throw it away, it is nothing to you. [III,3,16] If we did this and in this we exercised every day from dawn to night, something would have happened, by the gods! [III,3,17] Now instead, straightaway we are caught agape by every impression and only at school, if even, we wake up a bit. And then, when we go out, if we see someone mourning we say: “He is lost!”. If we see a consul: “Blessed man!”. If a banished fellow: “Paltry man!”. If someone poor in money: “Miserable man, he has nothing whence to eat!”. [III,3,18] We ought to cut off these knavish judgements and concentrate ourselves on this business. For what is to cry and to wail? A judgement. What is ill fortune? A judgement. What is conflict, what is disagreement, what is blame, what is accusation, what is impiety, what are babbles? [III,3,19] These are all judgements and nothing else, and judgements on aproairetic things as good and evil ones. Let one transpose these judgements on proairetic things and I warrant him that he will be stable, whatever be the state of what surrounds him.

The sea as seen from far above (20-22)

[III,3,20] The soul is something like a basin of water and the impressions are something like the ray of light that strikes against the water. [III,3,21] When the water is moved, it seems that the ray of light too is moved, even if it is not. [III,3,22] When, therefore, one becomes gloomy, it is not the arts and the virtues that go into confusion but the pneuma in which they are. When this reconstitutes itself steady,

so do those too.


To take sides for things that are not in our exclusive power will necessarily put us into conflict, first with other people and then with ourselves (1- 5)

[III,4,1] When the Procurator of Epirus took sides rather unseemly for a comedy actor and was for this reason publicly reviled, and thereupon reported to him that he had been reviled and was vexed against the revilers: And what evil, said Epictetus, were they doing? [III,4,2] They were taking sides just as you were. When the procurator said: This way, then, does one take sides? Noticing you, said Epictetus, who rule over them, a friend and Procurator of Caesar, to take sides in that way, were not they too going to take sides in that way? [III,4,3] For if one ought not to take sides in that way, do not take sides you yourself. But if one ought, why are you embittered if they imitated you? Whom has the multitude to imitate but you, eminent people? Whom must they have in view when they come to the theatre but you? [III,4,4] “Look how the Procurator of Caesar sees the spectacle. He has cried aloud: therefore I too will cry aloud. He jumps up: I too will jump up. His servants, sitting here and there, are crying aloud. I have no servants: I’ll cry as loud as I can to make up for all of them”. [III,4,5] When you enter the theatre, then, you must know that you enter it as a standard and paradigm for the others, of how they must see the spectacle.

The passion or, as we call it more commonly, ‘our will’ is very often a pathology of our intellect (6-12)

[III,4,6] Why, then, did they revile you? Because people hate what hinders them. Those people wanted So-and-so to be crowned; you wanted another one to be crowned. Those were hindering you and you were hindering them. You found yourself stronger; those did what they could and reviled what was hindering them. [III,4,7] What do you want, then? That you may do what you want and those not even say what they want? What is amazing in all that? Do not the farmers revile Zeus, when they are hindered by it? Do not the sailors revile? Do people ever stop reviling Caesar? What then? [III,4,8] Does not Zeus know this? Is what is said not reported to Caesar? And what does he do? He knows that if he punishes all his revilers, he will have no more people to rule over. [III,4,9] What then? Upon entering the theatre, ought one say: “Come on, let Sophron be crowned”? No, but that: “Come on, let me keep, on this subject matter, my proairesis in accord with the nature of things”. [III,4,10] Nobody is friendlier to me than myself. It is ridiculous, then, that I damage myself in order that another fellow, who plays comedies, may win. [III,4,11] -Whom, then, do I dispose to be the winner?- The winner; and so the one I dispose, he will always win. -But I want Sophron to be crowned- At home, stage as many contests as you want and herald him winner in the Nemean, Pythian, Isthmian, Olympic games. But openly do not be greedy and do not filch what is common. [III,4,12] Otherwise tolerate to be reviled; for when you do the same things that the multitude does, you institute yourself an equal to them.


Sicknesses and insipience’s sickness (1-6)

[III,5,1] -Here, says a student, I am sick and I want to go home- [III,5,2] For at home, were you exempt from disease? Are you not considering whether you do here any of those things that bring to a rectification of your proairesis? For if you are accomplishing nothing, it is superfluous that you came.

[III,5,3] Go away; take care of things at home. For if your ruling principle cannot stay here in accord with the nature of things, a bit of land will do the job: you will grow your small coins, you will assist your old father, you will revolve around the market-place, you will hold office. Bad yourself, what will not you badly do of what comes next? [III,5,4] If, instead, you understand that you are throwing away certain insipient judgements and are acquiring other judgements in their place; that you have transposed your station from aproairetic things to proairetic ones; that if you say “woe’s me” you are not saying this because of your father or your brother but “because of me”, do you any longer compute sickness? [III,5,5] Don’t you know that sickness and death are bound to seize us while we are doing something? They seize the farmer while he cultivates; the sailor while he sails. [III,5,6] And you want to be seized while are you doing what? For you must be seized while you are doing something. If you can be seized while you are doing anything better than this, do it.

The words of the dying Epictetus (7-11)

[III,5,7] As for me, may it happen that I am seized while nothing else I am taking care of but my proairesis, that it may be self-controlled, unhampered, unconstrained, free. [III,5,8] I dispose to be found while I do this job, that I may say to Matter Immortal: “Did I violate Your directions? Did I use to other ends the resources that You gave me? Did I use the sensations amiss, or the preconceptions? Did I ever bring charges to You? Did I ever blame Your government? [III,5,9] I was sick when You so disposed; the others too, but I purposely. I became poor in money because You so disposed, but rejoicing. I did not hold office because You did not dispose so, but I never craved for offices. Did You see me for this reason more dejected? Did I not ever come before You in a radiant guise, ready to Your orders, to Your signs? [III,5,10] Now You dispose that I leave this festival; I go away and I am fully grateful to You because You thought me worth to be with You at the festival, to see Your works and to understand with You Your government”. [III,5,11] May death seize me while I am brooding over these things, these things I am writing, and these things I am reading.

Instead you say: “I want certain cares… I want certain bedrooms” (12-13)

[III,5,12] -But my mother will not hold my head firmly when I am sick!- Go away, therefore, to your mother, for you are worth to be sick with your head firmly hold. [III,5,13] -But at home I lie on a pretty bed- Go away to your bed; for you deserve to be healthy lying on such a bed. Therefore do not lose what you can do there.

The example of Socrates (14-19)

[III,5,14] But what does Socrates say? “As a person”, he says, “rejoices in making finer his land, another his horse, so every day I rejoice in understanding that I become better”. [III,5,15] –Better for what? For trifling phrases?- You sir, hush! –Better for the general principles of philosophy?- What are you doing? [III,5,16] -Indeed I do not notice what else is what the philosophers spend their commitment on- Do you think to be nothing the fact of never bringing charges to anyone, neither god nor man; of not blaming anybody; of bringing out and in always the same guise? [III,5,17] This is what Socrates knew and yet he never said that he knew or taught anything. If someone asked for trifling phrases or general philosophical principles, he led them away to Protagoras, to Hippias. For if anyone had come to him seeking garden vegetables he would have led him away to the gardener. [III,5,18] Who of you has this design? Since if you had it, you would be sick, you would be hungry, you would die with pleasure. [III,5,19] If any of you was ever in love with a pretty wench, he knows that I am saying the truth.


What we earnestly engage ourselves in, there we make profit (1-4)

[III,6,1] When someone tried to know how, despite having now done all he could on logic, his bigger profits had been made before, [III,6,2] “On what, said Epictetus, has one laboured now and on what were then the profits bigger? For on what one has labored now, on this too profits will now be found. [III,6,3] Now one has labored to resolve syllogisms, and there are profits. Then, instead, one labored with the aim of keeping our ruling principle in accord with the nature of things, and there were profits. [III,6,4] Do not exchange, then, one thing for the other and do not seek, when you do all you can in one topic, to profit in another one. See whether any of us does not make profits when he decides to stay and enjoy himself in accord with the nature of things. You will find none”.

The virtuous man is invincible only in virtue (5-7)

[III,6,5] The earnest in virtue is unconquerable, for he does not compete where he is not the best one. [III,6,6] “If you want what has to do with my land, take it; take my household slaves, take my office, take my body. But you will neither make my desire to fail nor my aversion to stumble on what averts”. [III,6,7] He ventures only in this contest, the one about proairetic things. How, then, is he going to be but unconquerable?

The common mind (8)

[III,6,8] When someone tried to know what is the common mind, “As, says Epictetus, one could call common hearing the hearing that is able only to distinguish the voices while that able to distinguish musical sounds is no more common but technical, so there are things that those who are not altogether perverted see by virtue of the common resources of the human beings. Such a condition is called common mind.

The reasoning is food for thoroughbred youths, not for soft ones (9-10)

[III,6,9] It is not easy to prevail upon soft youths, as it is not easy to take some cheese with a fishhook. But the thoroughbred youths, even if you deter them, they cleave to reasoning still more. [III,6,10] And so Rufus too, most of the time deterred and used this criterion to evaluate the thoroughbred and the bastard ones. For he said: “Like a stone, even if you throw it upwards, will be brought downwards to earth by virtue of its own structure, so the thoroughbred younker too, the more one beats him back, the more he nods to what he has been born for”.


Some questions to a very high official of the town that rules over the world: what is most powerful in the human being? Flesh? Soul? External objects? (1-4)

[III,7,1] When the Corrector (he was an epicurean) entered to see him, It is worth, said Epictetus, that we laymen try to know from you philosophers, precisely as those who come in a foreign town try to know from the citizens and those who know, what is most powerful in the world; so that we too may go in quest of it and visit and observe it, like those people do with the most excellent works in town. [III,7,2] Almost no one objects that three things concern the human being: soul, body, external objects. Well then, it is your deed to answer what is the most powerful. [III,7,3] What shall we say to the people? The flesh? And for this Maximus sailed in escort during the winter, with his son, as far as Cassiope, that he might delight in the flesh? [III,7,4] But the other denied this and said: Far from it. Does it not befit to have been eager for what is most powerful? -It befits most of all- What do we have,

then, more powerful than the flesh? -The soul, he said- Are the goods of the most powerful thing better than those of the more ordinary one? -Better are those of the most powerful-

For some men, the right judgements about our body (health, physical well-being, etc…) and about external objects ( work, money, etc…) are soul’s goods and therefore the sources of its pleasure. In the same way the corresponding wrong judgements are the soul’s evils and the sources of its displeasure. Soul’s goods and evils are, then, proairetic (5-7)

[III,7,5] And are the goods of our soul proairetic or aproairetic? -Proairetic- Is the soul’s pleasure, then, proairetic? -Yes, he said- [III,7,6] And at what things does this pleasure happen? At itself? But this is inconceivable; for some cardinal substance of the good must stand as support, hitting the mark of which we will be delighted in our soul. -He acknowledged this also- [7] At what, then, shall we feel this soul’s pleasure? If it is at the goods of the soul, the substance of the good has been found. For it cannot be the good one thing and another what we elate reasonably about nor, if the cardinal is not a good, that the subsequent be a good. For the subsequent to be reasonable, the cardinal must be a good.

For other people, not the right judgements about health, about physical well-being, about work, about money, etc… but the health itself, the physical well being itself, the work itself, the money itself, or their contrary are the soul’s goods or evils and therefore the sources of its pleasure or grief. Soul’s goods and evils are, then, aproairetic (8-10)

[III,7,8] But there is no danger that you say this, if you have good sense; otherwise you will say things inconsequent with Epicurus and with your other judgements. [III,7,9] Well then, it is left over that the soul’s pleasure is felt at the things of the body; so that those things become again cardinal and substance of the good. [III,7,10] For this reason Maximus did something imprudent if he sailed for the sake of anything but the flesh, that is the most powerful thing.

Come on, a bit of coherence! If the soul’s goods are aproairetic and money is a good thing, why should we not steal? (11- 16)

[III,7,11] And does something imprudent also the fellow who, when he is judge, abstains from another’s estate when he can take it. But, if you think so, let’s analyse this only, how the stealing could happen hiddenly, in safety and that no one may recognize it. [III,7,12] Epicurus himself does not declare an evil thing to steal, but to run into detection; and because it is impossible to get a guarantee of escaping detection, for this reason he says: “Do not steal”. [III,7,13] But I tell you that if the business happens smartly and covertly, we will escape. Besides that, we have at Rome powerful male and female friends; and the Greeks are a feeble folk: no one will dare to embark for Rome for this purpose. [III,7,14] Why do you abstain from your peculiar good? This is imprudent, this is silly. If you tell me that you abstain from it, I’ll not trust you. [III,7,15] For as it is impossible to assent to what appears false and to bend away from the true, so it is impossible to divert from what appears good. Money’s wealth is a good and, whatever it be, really the most productive of ecstasies. [III,7,16] Why should you not secure it? Why should we not ruin the wife of our neighbour, if we can escape detection? And if her husband babbles, why should we not break his neck to boot?

Blessed be those who have shameful judgements but do beautiful things (17-18)

[III,7,17] So it is, if you want to be the sort of philosopher that one ought, a perfect one, consequent with your judgements. Otherwise, you will not differ from us who are called Stoics; for we too say one thing but do another. [III,7,18] We say beautiful things but do shameful ones; while you will have been perverted of the opposite perversion, as you have shameful judgements but do beautiful things.

Do you mind if I make a small caricature of Epicuropolis town? (19-23)

[III,7,19] An Epicurean town, by Zeus, can you think about it? “I do not marry”. “Neither do I, for people ought not to marry”. Not even beget children, nor engage in city’s business. What will, then,

happen? Whence will citizens come? Who will educate them? Who will be superintendent of the ephebi, who head of the gymnasium? And to what will he educate them? What Lacedaemonians or Athenians were educated to? [III,7,20] Take me a youth and lead him on according to your judgements. They are knavish judgements, overthrower of towns, spoiler of houses, not befitting to the woman. [III,7,21] Give them up, you sir. You live in an imperial town; you must rule; judge justly; abstain from another’s estate; no female must appear handsome to you but yours; no boy handsome, no silverware wonderful nor jewellery. [III,7,22] Seek judgements in harmony with this and taking impulse from them you will abstain with pleasure from things that are so persuasive in leading on and winning people. [III,7,23] But if, in addition to their persuasiveness, we will have invented also this certain philosophy that helps to push us onto them and reinforces them, what will happen?

Chrysippopolis town is a strange town indeed: here people blush in shame when they are not faithful, free, self respecting men, and feel pleasure only when they are so (24-28)

[III,7,24] What is most powerful in an embossed work: the silver or the art? The substance of a hand is the flesh, but cardinal are the works of the hand. [III,7,25] There are three types of proper deeds: deeds proper as to being; deeds proper as to being of a certain kind; and deeds cardinal as such. So in man too we must not honor the subject matter, the flesh, but his cardinal deeds. [III,7,26] Which are these cardinal deeds? To engage in city’s business, to marry, beget children, worship god, take care of parents; in general to desire, avert, impel, repel as one ought to do each of these thing and as we are born to do. [III,7,27] And how are we born to do it? As free, generous, self respecting men. For which other kind of creature blushes, which other kind of creature gets the impression of shameful? [III,7,28] To this subordinate the physical pleasure as a minister, as a manservant, that it may stimulate our spirited vigour, that it may chair our works in accord with the nature of things.

A dramatic final scene (29-36)

[III,7,29] -But I am wealthy in money and I need nothing- Why, then, do you still pretend to live as a philosopher? Silverware and jewellery are sufficient for you; what need do you have of the judgements of a philosopher? [III,7,30] -But I am also umpire of the Greeks- Do you know how to umpire? What did make you to know that? -Caesar wrote a codicil for me- [III,7,31] Let him write a codicil for you, that you may umpire in musical issues; and what is the avail of it for you? Yet, how did you become umpire? After having kissed whose hand, that of Symphorus or that of Numenius? After lulling in front of whose bedroom? After sending gifts to whom? And then are you not aware that to be umpire is worth as much as Numenius is? -But I can throw into prison whom I want- [III,7,32] Like you can a stone. -But I can thrash with a club whom I want- Like you can an ass. This is not ruling over men. [III,7,33] Rule over us as rational creatures, show us what is useful and we will follow. Show us what is useless and we will turn away from it. [III,7,34] Structure us as your emulators, like Socrates of himself. He was the one who ruled over people as men, who has structured them so that they have subordinated to it, to reason, their desire, their aversion, their impulse, their repulsion. [III,7,35] “Do this, don’t do that; otherwise I’ll throw you into prison”. This is no more to rule over us as rational creatures. [III,7,36] But: “As Zeus constituted, do that; if you do not do that you will be penalized, you will be damaged”. What kind of damage? No other damage but that of not doing what one ought. You will lose the faithful, the self respecting, the well-regulated man. Do not seek others damages greater than these.


Aproairetic things can be neither good nor evil; only proairetic things can be so (1-5)

[III,8,1] As we train ourselves to deal with sophistic questions, so we ought to train every day also with the impressions; [III,8,2] for they too propound us some questions. The son of So-and-so died. Answer: “Aproairetic thing, it is not an evil. “His father left behind So-and-so disinherited. What do you think? “Aproairetic, not evil”. Caesar condemned him. “Aproairetic, not evil”. [III,8,3] He grieved at this. “Proairetic thing, it is an evil”. He stood firm generously. “Proairetic, it is a good thing”. [III,8,4] If we so accustom ourselves, we will profit; for we will never assent to anything but to that of which our impression becomes cataleptic. [III,8,5] The son died. What did it happen? The son died. Nothing else? Nothing. The vessel was lost. What did it happen? The vessel was lost. He was carried off to prison. What has happened? He was carried off to prison. “He has fared ill” is something that each person adds up from himself.

But you say that Matter Immortal does evil things in doing so (6)

[III,8,6] “But Zeus does not do these things rightly”. Why? Because He made you resistant, magnanimous; because He deprived them of the quality of being evil; because you have the power to be happy also when you experience them; because He opened for you the door when they are not good for you? You sir, go out and do not bring charges.

About the Romans and the philosophy (7)

[III,8,7] If you want to recognize how the Romans stand towards the philosophers, hear this. Italicus, who is thought by them a very great philosopher, once, when I was present, got embittered against his fellows as though he were experiencing the most atrocious pains: “I cannot”, he said, “bear with it; you make me die, you will make me become a man of that sort”, and he was pointing at me.


The cause of any of our actions is a judgement (1-3)

[III,9,1] When a certain person who was going to Rome for a lawsuit involving his office entered to see him, Epictetus tried to know the cause why he was going up and he answered questioning him in turn about his intelligence of the business. [III,9,2] If you try to know from me what you will perform at Rome, says Epictetus, whether you will be successful or fail, I have no general principle with regard to this. But if you try to know how you will perform it, I say that if you have right judgements you will perform it well; if you have insipient ones, you will perform it badly. For in every case, the cause of how one performs anything is the judgement. [III,9,3] What is the cause by which you were craving to be elected by show of hands Chief Patron of the people of Cnossos? Your judgement. What is the cause by which you now go up to Rome? Your judgement. And you do this during winter, with danger and expenses? -For it is necessary- What tells you this? Your judgement.

Good judgements make good actions, bad judgements make bad actions (4-6)

[III,9,4] If, then, the cause of everything is a judgement and one has insipient judgements, the result will be of the same sort as the cause. [III,9,5] Do we all have sound judgements, both you and your adversary? How is it, then, that you quarrel? Are your judgements sounder than his ones? And why? Because you think it? So does he, and mad people too. [III,9,6] This is a knavish criterion. Show me, instead, that you have made some examination and given some diligence to your judgements. And as you now are sailing to Rome because you are Chief Patron of the people of Cnossos and it does not seem adequate for you to remain at home having the honors that you have but crave for some greater and more well known one; well, when did you sail in this way for the purpose of examining your

judgements and, if you have one that is insipient, to cast it out?

During your life did you care of your judgements? (7-11)

[III,9,7] For this purpose whom did you come to? At what time did you order this for yourself, at what age? Come to the times of your life, if you are ashamed of me, all to yourself. [III,9,8] When you were a boy did you review your judgements? Are you not doing everything now like you did then what you did? When you were already a lad and you listened to the orators and you yourself declaimed, what did you fancy as lacking to you? [III,9,9] When you were a younker and already engaged yourself in city’s business, you spoke in lawsuits and won applause, who any longer appeared to you your equal? And where would have you tolerated to be inquired from anyone because you have knavish judgements? [III,9,10] What do you want me, then, to tell you? -Help me in this business- I have no general principles to offer for this purpose; and if you came to me for this reason, you did not come to me as a philosopher but as to a greengrocer or to a cobbler. [III,9,11] -But to what end have the philosophers, then, general principles?- To this end: to have our ruling principle in accord with the nature of things and enjoy ourselves, whatever will come about. Do you think this to be a small thing? -No, the greatest- What then? Does it need a short time and is it possible to get it on a passing visit? If you can, get it!

What does it mean to meet someone as a man? (12-14)

[III,9,12] And then you will say: “I conferred with Epictetus as with a stone, as with a statue”. For you saw me and nothing more. The person who confers as a man with a man is, instead, the one who deciphers the judgements of the other and in turn shows his own. [III,9,13] Decipher my judgements, show me yours, and thus say that you have conferred with me. Let’s control each other: if I have any bad judgement, take it off; if you have any, set it in the midst. [III,9,14] This is to confer with a philosopher. No; but “We are passing, and while we are hiring the vessel we can also see Epictetus. Let’s see what he ever says”. And then going out: “Epictetus was nothing; his language was full of solecisms and of barbarisms”. For you enter here to be umpire of what else?

The rich man (15-17)

[III,9,15] “But if I devote myself to these things”, someone says, “I’ll not have a land, as you do not have; I’ll not have silver drinking-cups, as you do not have; and beautiful cattle, as you do not have..”. [III,9,16] To this it is equally sufficient to say: “But I do not need them while you, even when you get for yourself many things, need other ones and, whether you want it or not, you are more beggar than I am”. [III,9,17] -What, then, do I need?- What is not present in you: to be stable, to have the intellect in accord with the nature of things, to be undisconcerted.

Earthenware judgements and golden vessels (18-21)

[III,9,18] Patron, not patron, what do I care? You care. I am richer than you: I am not anxious about what thoughts Caesar will have about my case; I do not flatter anybody for this reason. This I have in exchange of your silverware and jewellery. You golden vessels, but earthenware your reason, your judgements, your assents, impulses, desires. [III,9,19] When I have these in accord with the nature of things, why should I not work artfully also my reason? For I have abundant leisure for that; my intellect is not distracted. As I am not distracted, what will I do? Have I anything more manly than this to do? [III,9,20] When you have nothing to do, you are disconcerted, you enter the theatre or loiter. Why will the philosopher not work at his own reason? [III,9,21] You turn to vessels of crystal, I to ‘The Liar’. You to myrrhine vessels, I to ‘The Denegator’. The things you have all appear to you small ones; mine appear to me all great ones. Your craving is insatiable, mine has been satiated.

With the hand in a narrow-necked jug (22)

[III,9,22] The same thing occurs to the children who put their hand down in a narrow-necked jug and bring out of it dried figs and nuts. If they fill the hand full, they cannot bring it out and then cry. Give up a few of them and you will bring it out. You too give up your desire; do not crave for many things and you will prosper.


On having judgements suitable to the circumstances (1-4)

[III,10,1] When there is the need of each distinct judgement, we must have it ready at hand: at lunch, the judgements about lunch; at the baths, the judgements about a bath; in bed, the judgement about a bed. [III,10,2] *And not accept the sleep on our soft eyes before we have reckoned each of the deeds of the day. [III,10,3] “Where did I violate..? What did I do..? What had I to do but was left undone..?” Begin from this and then go on: “Rebuke what you did cowardly and rejoice of the good”.* [III,10,4] And hold stably and fittingly these lines, not that we only may exercise our voice as with “Pean Apollo!”

Sickness and fever have now come to visit you (5)

[III,10,5] Again, in a fever have ready the judgements for that and do not, if we have a fever, give up everything and forget everything. “If only I can further study philosophy, let anything happen that will. I must depart for somewhere to take care of my body”. If the fever does not come there too!

Now the right time has come to test our judgements. During this test, some of us show to be very skilled in transforming into shit whatever they touch, while others are able to transform even shit into something beautiful (6-9)

[III,10,6] What is philosophy? Is it not to prepare oneself to what can occur? Do you not understand, then, that you are saying something of this sort: “If only I can further prepare myself to meekly bear with what occurs, let anything happen that will!” It is as if one desisted from fighting in the pancratium because he is getting blows. [III,10,7] But there one has the power to put down the fight and not be flayed while here, if we put down philosophy, what is the avail of that for us? What ought one, then, say to himself in front of each harshness? “For this purpose I was training, on this I was exercising”. [III,10,8] Matter Immortal tells you “Give me a demonstration whether you engaged in trials lawfully, ate as much as one ought, trained, listened to your physical trainer”. And then you become flabby on the very deed? Now it is the right time to have a fever: let this happen beautifully! To be thirsty: be thirsty beautifully! To be hungry: be hungry beautifully! [III,10,9] Is not this in your exclusive power? Who will hamper you? The physician will prevent you from drinking but he cannot prevent you from being thirsty beautifully. He will prevent you from eating too, but he cannot prevent you from being hungry in a beautiful way.

Oh professor, my professor! To what ‘some’ do you belong? (10-15)

[III,10,10] -But am I not a scholar?- And to what purpose do you pursue your scholarship? Slave! Is it not to be serene? Is it not to be stable? Is it not to be and enjoy yourself in accord with the nature of things? [III,10,11] What prevents you, when you have a fever, from having your ruling principle in accord with the nature of things? Here is the control of the business, the evaluation of the one who does philosophy. For this too, the fever, is a part of our life, as a stroll, as a sea-voyage or a travel by land. [III,10,12] When you stroll do you, perhaps, read? -No- In like manner when you have a fever. But if you stroll in the right way you cleave to the business of the stroller. If you have a fever in the right way, you cleave to the business of he who has a fever. [III,10,13] What is to have a fever in the right way? To blame neither god nor man; not to be oppressed by the events; to accept death bravely

and as a beautiful man; to do what is enjoined. When the physician enters, neither to fear what he says nor, if he says “You fare smartly”, to be carried away with joy. For what good did he tell you? [III,10,14] When you were healthy what good was it to you? Nor, if he says “You fare ill”, to be downhearted. For what is to fare ill? An approach to the dissolution of the soul from the body. What is terrible, then, about that? If you do not approach it now, will you not approach it later? And is the world going to be overthrown by your death? [III,10,15] Why, then, do you flatter the physician? Why do you say “If you want it, lord, I’ll fare well”? Why do you provide him with a motive to hoist his frown? Why do you not give him back just what is his due? As I give it to the cobbler for the foot, to the carpenter for the house, so I give it also to the physician for the body, for what is not mine, for what is by nature corpse-like. For the man who has a fever it is the right time for this deed: if he fulfils it, he has what is his own.

The deed of the philosopher (16-17)

[III,10,16] For it is not the deed of the philosopher to keep these external objects, neither the wine nor the oil nor the body but what? His own ruling principle. And how to manage what is outside? As far as to conduct himself not unreasonably with regard to it. [III,10,17] Where is any longer the right time to fear? Where is any longer the right time for anger? Where is the fear about what is another’s, about what has no value?

I do not only seek things, I find them (18-20)

[III,10,18] For we must have ready at hand these two general principles: that outside of proairesis nothing is either good or evil; and that one must not take the lead of the things but stick to them. [III,10,19] “My brother should not behave in this way with me”. No; but this he will see. As for me, however he behaves, I’ll deal with my relationships to him as I ought. [III,10,20] For this is mine; that one is another’s. In this nobody can hamper me; that one is hampered.


About the impossibility of violating the laws of Matter Immortal and about the tragic chain of counterdiairesis, vice, unhappiness (1-3)

[III,11,1] For those who disobey to the government of Matter Immortal there are punishments constituted as by law. [III,11,2] “Whoever believes good anything else but what is proairetic, let him envy, crave, flatter, be disconcerted. Whoever believes evil anything but what is proairetic, let him grieve, mourn, moan, have ill fortune”. [III,11,3] And yet, even if we are so bitterly punished, we are unable to desist.

Zeus regards us all (4-6)

[III,11,4] Remember what the poet says about the guest: “Foreigner, it is not my custom -not even if someone comes who is in a worse state than you are- to dishonor a guest; for they are all of Zeus, foreigners and beggars”. [III,11,5] This, then, we must have ready at hand also for a father: it is not my custom -not even if someone comes who is in a worse state than you are- to dishonor a father; for they are all of Zeus, god of the fathers. [III,11,6] And for a brother: for they are all of Zeus, the god of kindred. And so for the other relationships, we will find the Zeus that regards them.


We are accustomed to use desire and aversion only towards aproairetic things. If, then, we decide to change our life to happiness, we must change our habits (1-6)

[III,12,1] Our practice must not be done through exhibitions against nature and bizarre, since in that case we, who say to do philosophy, will differ in nothing from the mountebanks. [III,12,2] Also to walk on a rope is difficult, and not only difficult but dangerous too. For this reason ought we also study to walk on a rope or to clamber up a palm tree or to embrace a statue? Not at all. [III,12,3] Not to labor at every difficult and dangerous exercise is suitable for our practice, but only to labor at what is pertinent to our program. [III,12,4] What is to labor at our program? In desire and aversion to conduct oneself in an unhampered way. And what is this? Neither to fail what one desires nor, when one averts, to stumble on what is averted. Our practical exercise too ought, then, lean to this. [III,12,5] Since it is impossible to have an unfailing desire and an unstumbling aversion without great and constant practice, know that if you allow your practice to be turned outwards, to the aproairetic things, you will neither have a desire right on the mark nor an unstumbling aversion. [III,12,6] And since our habit takes the lead in a potent way, because we are accustomed to use desire and aversion only towards aproairetic things, we must set against it the opposite habit, and where the biggest slipperiness of the impressions is, to set against that our practical exercise.

The practical exercise on desire and aversion (7-12)

[III,12,7] I have a propensity for physical pleasure: I’ll roll to the other side, beyond measure, for practice. I have an aversion for physical pain: I’ll strain and train to this my impressions, so that I may divert my aversion from everything of this sort. [III,12,8] For who is the practiser? The fellow who studies to not use his desire and to use his aversion only towards proairetic things, and who studies more the things that are hard to execute. And so one has to exercise more in something and another in something else. [III,12,9] What good does it make here, then, to clamber up a palm tree or to carry about a leather tent, or a mortar and a pestle? [III,12,10] You sir, exercise, if you are fiery, to tolerate to be reviled and to not take offence at being disparaged. And then you will go further on, so that you may say to yourself, if someone strikes you, “Think that you have embraced a statue”. [III,12,11] And then use smartly the wine, not that you may drink a lot of it (for even on this subject there are sinister practisers) but in the first place that you may abstain from it, as you abstain from a wench and from a small cake. And then at some time, if it is the case, for an evaluation of your state, you will venture in a well-timed way to recognize whether the impressions defeat you similarly as before. [III,12,12] But the first times flee far away from the more potent ones. The battle between a pretty wench and a young beginner in philosophy is an unfair one. Pot and rock, as one says, do not harmonize.

The practical exercise on impulse and repulsion (13)

[III,12,13] After desire and aversion, the second topic is that of impulse and repulsion: that we may be obedient to reason, not act out of the right time, of the right place or of some other symmetry of this sort.

The practical exercise on assent and dissent (14-16)

[III,12,14] The third topic is that of assents, and concerns the persuasive and dragging impressions. [III,12,15] As Socrates told us not to live an unexamined life, so one ought not to accept an unexamined impression, but we must say: “Wait for me, let me see what you are and whence you come”, like the night guards say “Show me your countermarks”. “Do you have from nature the token that must have the impression that will be accepted?” [III,12,16] Furthermore, as many exercises are administered to the body by those who train it, if they lean somehow to desire and aversion, they also

could be used for practical exercise. But if they tend to exhibition, they are proper of a fellow who has nodded outwards, who is hunting something else and seeks spectators who will say “O, the great man!”

It is better to be than to appear: do not look for people’s praise (17)

[III,12,17] For this reason Apollonius rightly used to say: “When you dispose to exercise for your own sake, if at some time you are thirsty because of the burning heat, sip a mouthful of cold water, then spit it and do not tell anybody”.


Loneliness is not the condition of being simply alone but that of being helpless (1-8)

[III,13,1] Loneliness is the condition of a fellow who is helpless. For the fellow who is alone is not straightaway also lonely, as not even the fellow who is amidst a multitude of people is not lonely. [III,13,2] When, then, we lose a brother, a son, a friend in whose society we find relief, we say that we have been left behind lonely, though often we are in Rome, with so great a mob meeting us, and dwelling together with so many people and sometimes even though we have a great number of servants. According to the concept, ‘lonely’ is, then, the fellow who feels himself helpless and exposed to those who decide to damage him. [III,13,3] For this reason, when we travel we call ourselves lonely especially when we run into robbers. For it is not the sight of a human being that delivers us from loneliness, but the sight of a faithful, self respecting, beneficial man. [III,13,4] Since if it’s sufficient to be alone in order to be lonely, then say that Zeus too, at the moment of the conflagration of the universe is lonely and laments himself: “Wretched me! I have neither Hera nor Athena nor Apollo nor, generally, brother or son or progeny or congenerous”. [III,13,5] Some say that Zeus does this, when it is alone in the conflagration of the universe. For taking impulse from something natural, namely from the fact that it is by nature sociable, unselfish, that with pleasure interacts with people, they do not think possible to enjoy oneself alone. [III,13,6] Nevertheless one ought to have a preparation for this too, to be able to be self-sufficient, to be able to be with himself. [III,13,7] As Zeus is with itself, keeps quiet in itself, has the concept of what sort is its government and is into notions that are fitting to it; so we too ought be able to chat to ourselves, not to be in need of other people, not to be at a loss for the way of passing our life; [III,13,8] to reflect upon the government of Matter Immortal, upon our relationship with the rest; to look attentively at how we stood towards what occurred to us before and how we stand now; what still oppresses us, how we can look after this too, how to eradicate it; and if anything needs refinement to refine it in accord with our rational faculty.

Our reason is able to do much more than Caesar can do (9-10)

[III,13,9] For you see that Caesar seems to provide us with a great peace, that now there are no more wars nor battles nor great robberies nor piracy, but one has the power to travel at any hour, to sail from orient to occident. [III,13,10] Yet can he provide us with peace from a fever too, from a shipwreck too, from a fire too or from an earthquake or from a thunderbolt? Come on, and from an amorous passion? He cannot. From mourning? He cannot. From envy? He cannot. In short from none of these things.

The words of our reason (11-17)

[III,13,11] But the reason of the philosophers promises to provide us with peace from these things too. And what does it say? “Men! If you pay attention to me, wherever you are, whatever you do, you will not grieve, you will not get angry, you will not be constrained, you will not be hampered but will pass your life with self control and freedom from any trouble”. [III,13,12] Who, having this peace

proclaimed not from Caesar (for whence could he proclaim it?) but from Matter Immortal through our reason, is not content with it [III,13,13] when he is alone? When he looks attentively and broods “Now no evil can occur to me, there is no robber for me, no earthquake; everything is full of peace and undisconcertment; every way, every town, every fellow-traveler, neighbour, mate are inoffensive. Another, whose care it is, provides food, another clothes, another gave me the senses, another the preconceptions. [III,13,14] And when it does not provide the necessary, it gives the signal of the retreat, it opens the door and tells you ‘Come!’. Where? To nothing terrible but whence you were born; to what is friend and congenerous, to the physical elements. [III,13,15] As much fire was in you goes away into fire; as much earth, into earth; as much pneuma into pneuma and as much water into water. There is no Hades, nor Acheron nor Cocytus nor Pyriplegethon but everything is full of gods and genes”. [III,13,16] If one has this to brood about, and notices the sun, the moon, the stars, and enjoys the earth and the sea, he is no lonelier than he is helpless. [III,13,17] “What then? And if someone attacks me and cuts my throat?” Stupid! He does not cut you but your body.

Is it possible for insipience to prevail over wisdom? (18-19)

[III,13,18] What kind, then, of loneliness; what kind of want of means can we any longer experience? Why do we make ourselves worse than the little children who, when they are left behind alone, what do they do? They pick up potsherds and ashes and build something; then overturn it and again build something else. And thus they are never at a loss for a way of passing life. [III,13,19] If, then, you sail, am I going to sit and cry because I have been deserted alone and so I am lonely? Will I not have potsherds and ashes? But they do this out of imprudence, and do we out of prudence get ill fortune?

The danger that a faculty so potent as reason represents for a beginner (20-23)

[III,13,20] Every great art or faculty is unsafe for the beginner. We ought, then, bear with such things at our best,….. other activities too are in accord with nature but do not suit a consumptive. [III,13,21] Study sometime to pass your life as an invalid, so that you may later pass your life as one who is healthy. Fast, drink water; at some time abstain altogether from desire, that you may at some time desire also reasonably. And if you desire reasonably, when you have in you some good, you will desire well. [III,13,22] No, but we want straightaway to pass life as wise men and benefit people. What kind of benefit? What do you do? Did you benefit yourself? And do you want to prevail upon them? For did you prevail upon yourself? Do you want to benefit them? [III,13,23] Show them, by your own example, what sort of men philosophy makes and do not babble. When you eat, benefit those who eat with you; when you drink, those who drink with you; making way to all, giving way, tolerating. Benefit them in this way and do not vomit upon them your bile.


Chorus singers and soloists (1-3)

[III,14,1] Like the bad singers cannot sing alone but only with many other voices, in the same way some people cannot walk alone. [III,14,2] You sir, if you are anybody, walk alone too, chat to yourself and do not hide yourself into the chorus. [III,14,3] Let yourself be scoffed at, sometimes; look around; shake yourself up, that you may recognize who you are.

Why do we want to please insipient people? (4-6)

[III,14,4] When one drinks water or does some practical exercise, every opportunity is a good one to tell everybody: “I drink water”. [III,14,5] Do you drink water for this reason: for the sake of drinking water? You sir, if it is advantageous for you to drink water, drink it; otherwise, what you do is

ridiculous. [III,14,6] If it is useful and you drink, keep silent with those who are ill pleased at people of this sort. What then? Do you want to please this very people?

We perform many types of actions (7)

[III,14,7] Of the actions that we perform, some are performed as cardinal, others according to the circumstance, others to our management of a business, others to our complaisance, others to our institute of life.

Conceit of knowing everything and distrust in the possibility of a serene life mark out the counterdiairetic attitude of the proairesis of human beings (8-10)

[III,14,8] We should tear away from people these two things: conceit and distrust. Conceit is to think to be in need of nothing further. Distrust is to conceive impossible to be serene with so many difficulties that surround us. [III,14,9] Now, the control tears away the conceit and this is what Socrates does in the first place. With regard to a serene life and to the fact that this business is not impossible, analyse it and seek: this inquiry will not damage you. [III,14,10] And to do philosophy is practically this: to seek how it is feasible to use desire and aversion unimpededly.

The difference between a man and a human being lies in the diairetic or counterdiairetic attitude of their proairesis (11- 14)

[III,14,11] “I am better than you because my father is of consular rank”. [III,14,12] Another says “I have been a tribune, you have not”. If we were horses, you would say “My father was swifter than yours”, or “I have very much barley and fodder”, or “I have pretty neck-trappings”. If, then, while you say this I said: “Let it be so. Let’s run a race, then”? [III,14,13] Come on, for a person is there nothing such as running in the case of a horse, and thanks to which one will recognize the worse and the better? Isn’t there such a thing as self respect, faithfulness, justice? [III,14,14] Show yourself better in these things, that you may be better as a man. If you tell me “I deliver mighty kicks”, I too will tell you “You have high thoughts about the work of an ass”.


We must approach rationally each work, weighing its antecedents and its consequents (1)

[III,15,1] Consider the antecedents and the consequents of each work and at that point come to it. Otherwise, at first you will come along with spirited vigour, inasmuch as you have brooded nothing of what follows next but later, when some difficulties will be shown forth, you will desist shamefully.

Do you want to win the Olympic games? You must know that this is not a children’s business (2-7)

[III,15,2] “I want to win the Olympic games”. But consider the antecedents and the consequents of this business and at that point, if it is advantageous for you, undertake the work. [III,15,3] You must obey discipline, eat by regimen, abstain from delicacies, train under compulsion, at a fixed hour, in a burning heat, in the cold; you must not drink cold water nor wine when it chances; in short you must have committed yourself to your supervisor as to a physician. [III,15,4] And then in contest you have to dig in beside your opponent, sometimes to dislocate a hand, to sprain your ankle, to gulp down much sand, to be whipped and, after all this, to be sometimes defeated. [III,15,5] Once you have counted these things, if you still want it, come to the trial; otherwise, see that you will have conducted yourself as the children do, who now play athletes, now gladiators, now blow trumpets and then croon whatever they

see and admire. [III,15,6] So you too are now an athlete, now a gladiator and then a philosopher and then an orator, but with your entire soul you are nothing. Like an ape you imitate whatever you see and are pleased with something that is always different, while what is customary displeases you. [III,15,7] For you came to nothing after an analysis or a diligent study of the whole business or after having put it to a test, but at random and according to a cold craving.

Do you decide to be free, serene, happy? You must know that you will have to toil a lot (8-13)

[III,15,8] In this way some people, once they have seen a philosopher and heard someone who speaks like Euphrates (and yet who can speak like him?), they too want to do philosophy. [III,15,9] You sir, analyse first what this business is and then also your nature, what you can bear. If you want to be a wrestler see your shoulders, your thighs, your loins. [III,15,10] For one is born for one thing and another for something else. Do you think that you can live as a philosopher and keep doing what you do now? Do you think that you can eat in the same way, drink in the same way, similarly get angry, similarly be ill pleased? [III,15,11] You must stay awake, toil, overcome certain cravings, depart from your household, be despised by a young boy, be mocked by those you meet, have less in every circumstance, in office, in honor, in court. [III,15,12] Once you have observed carefully this, if you think so, come to philosophy if you dispose to give that in exchange for self control, freedom, undisconcertment. Otherwise do not bring yourself near philosophy, that you may not be, like the children, now a philosopher and later a tax collector and then an orator and then a Procurator of Caesar. [III,15,13] These things do not harmonize. You must be one person only, either good or bad. You must work at your ruling principle or at external objects; to be industrious upon inside things or upon outside things: that is to have the station of a philosopher or of a layman.

Even the ancients had some doubts about the saying that ‘Government work is God’s work’ (14)

[III,15,14] After Galba was butchered, someone said to Rufus: “Is now the world governed by Matter Immortal’s mind?”; and he said “Starting from Galba, did I ever structure even accessorily that the world is governed by Providence?”


Are you able to tune up a piano, a violin, your proairesis? If it is not so, you will be forced to play the music, to follow the judgements, of other people (1-6)

[III,16,1] It is necessary that a person who frequently stoops to consort with people either for chatting or for banquets or, in short, for social purposes, become like them himself or that those people transpose themselves to his way of thinking. [III,16,2] For if you set a gone out coal by the side of a live one, either the first will put out the second or the second will kindle the first. [III,16,3] Since the danger, then, is so important, we must stoop with caution to such a complaisance with the laymen, remembering that it is unmanageable for the fellow who rubs himself against a sooted person not to enjoy himself some soot too. [III,16,4] For what will you do if he starts chatting about gladiators, horses, athletes and, still worse, about people: “So-and-so is bad; So-and-so is good. This was well; that was evil”? And if he scoffs, he jeers, he maligns? [III,16,5] Has any of you got the preparation that the lyre-player has when he takes the lyre and is able, the instant he touches the strings, to recognize those out of harmony and to suit the instrument? The faculty that Socrates had, so as to lead on his own side, in occasion of every social intercourse, those who were with him? [III,16,6] Whence does this come to you? But then it is necessary that you are led round from the laymen.

The power of people lies in the strength of their judgements: laymen with an counterdiairesis of steel and so-called

philosophers with a diairesis of wax (7-10)

[III,16,7] Why, then, are those people stronger than you are? Because they chat these rotten discourses taking them from their judgements, while your pretty discourses come merely from your lips. For this reason they lack tension and are corpse-like; and it is well possible that he who hears your exhortations and hears that paltry virtue prattled up and down, may loathe it. [III,16,8] Thus the laymen overcome you; for everywhere the judgement is strong, the judgement is invincible. [III,16,9] Until, then, these pretty conceptions of yours will not be well fixed and you will not secure a power that gives you safety, I advise you to condescend with caution to consort with the laymen. Otherwise, whatever note you take at school will melt away every day like wax in the sun. [III,16,10] As long as you have waxen conceptions go, then, to some place far away from the sun.

He who takes with himself old habits and wrong judgements never travels, wherever he goes; even if he were on a round-of- the-world tour (11-16)

[III,16,11] For this reason the philosophers advise people to retire away even from their own fatherland, because the old habits distract us and do not allow the beginning of another custom, nor we bear to have people meet us and say: “Look, So-and-so lives a philosophic life; he who was such and such”. [III,16,12] Thus also the physicians do well when they send those who suffer from chronic diseases out to another country and to other airs. [III,16,13] You too, introduce other habits; fix well your conceptions, compete with them. [III,16,14] No; but from here to a spectacle, to a gladiatorial combat, to the covered colonnade, to the circus. And then from there to here and again from here to there, being always the same. [III,16,15] And so we acquire no fine habit nor attention nor thoughtfulness upon ourselves and surveillance: “How do I use the impressions that befall me? In accord with the nature of things or not in accord with the nature of things? How do I answer them? As one ought or as one ought not? Do I say to aproairetic things that they are nothing to me?” [III,16,16] For, if you do not fare yet in this way, flee from your former habits, flee from the laymen if you dispose to begin at some time to be somebody.


People rich ofmoney and men rich offaithfulness. Ifyou had to choose, whom would you prefer? (1-5)

[III,17,1] When you bring charges to Matter Immortal’s mind, turn your mind towards what happened and you will recognize that it happened according to reason. [III,17,2] “Yes, but the unjust person has more”. In what? In money, for in this he is better than you are: he flatters, he is shameless, he stays awake at night. What is amazing in that? [III,17,3] But notice the other side: if he has more than you in faithfulness, in self respect. You will not find that. And where you are better, there you will find yourself to have more. [III,17,4] I too once said to a person who was vexed because Philostorgus had good fortune: “Would you go, you, to bed with Sura?” “May that day”, he says, “never happen!” [III,17,5] Why, then, are you vexed if he takes something in exchange for what he sells? How is it that you bless the fellow who gets for himself through these deeds, that you abhor, those things? What evil Matter Immortal’s mind does if It gives the best to the best men? Is it not better to be self respecting men than people wealthy in money? He acknowledged.

To call ignorant and unjust Matter Immortal because It always gives the best to the best men, means to think ourselves poor whilst we are rich, having from It eyes for sight, hands for working, and reason so that we may be happy (6-9)

[III,17,6] Why, then, are you vexed, you sir, if you have the better? Remember always, then, and have ready at hand that the natural law is this: for the better to have more than the worse in what he is

better, and you will never be vexed. [III,17,7] “But my wife deals badly with me”. Well. If someone tries to know from you what this is, say: “My wife deals badly with me”. “Nothing else, then?” Nothing. [III,17,8] “My father gives me nothing..”. That this is an evil, you must add it up from within you and add a lie too. [III,17,9] For this reason we ought not to cast out the poverty in money but the judgement upon it, and in this way we will be serene.


What news can the newspapers give? (1)

[III,18,1] When some disconcerting news is reported to you, have ready at hand that no news are about proairetic things.

The diairesis at work (2-4)

[III,18,2] Can anyone give you the news that you conceived or desired badly? -Not at all- But that someone died. What is this, then, to you? That someone speaks ill about you. What is this, then, to you? [III,18,3] That your father has these certain things ready. Against whom? Against, perhaps, your proairesis? And whence can he? But against your body, against your petty estate. You are safe; it is not against you. [III,18,4] But the umpire declares that you committed an impiety. And in the case of Socrates did not the judges declare that? Is it perhaps your work what the umpire declares? -No- Why, then, do you still care?

A pillar of stoicism (5-6)

[III,18,5] Your father has a certain deed to perform as a father, and if he does not fulfill it, he loses the father, the man affectionate to his offspring, the gentle man. Seek nothing else that loses the father but this. For one never aberrates in something but is damaged in something else. [III,18,6] Again, your deed is to speak in your defense with stability of judgement, with self respect, without anger. Otherwise you too lost within you the son, the self respecting, generous man.

What do I have to do with other people’s evils? (7-9)

[III,18,7] What then? Is the umpire free from dangers? No, but he too is equally in danger. Why, then, do you still fear what he is going to determine? What have you to do with another’s evil? [III,18,8] Your evil is to speak badly in your defense: only guard yourself against this. To be judged innocent or guilty, as it is another’s work, so it is another’s evil. [III,18,9] “So-and-so threatens you”. Me? No. “He censures you”. He will see how he does his own work. “He is on the point of condemning you unjustly”. Miserable fellow!


For the insipient layman the fault is never his own but always another’s. The fellow who has started to do philosophy finds the fault in himself (1-2)

[III,19,1] The first difference between a layman and a philosopher. The one says, “Woe’s me! because

of my young boy, because of my brother; Woe’s me! because of my father”. The other, if he is at some time constrained to say “Woe’s me!”, reflects and says: “because of me”. [III,19,2] For no aproairetic thing can hamper or damage the proairesis but only proairesis itself.

Only the proairesis is self-determinative (3)

[III,19,3] If, then, we too lean to this, so as to impute ourselves when we are out of way and to remember that nothing else but a judgement is the cause of disconcertment and instability, I swear to you by all the gods that we made profit.

We instead, even when grown up, are still plump children and if we trip on something we accuse the stone (4-6)

[III,19,4] Now, instead, we have come from the beginning through another way. When we were still children our nurse, if we ever tripped on a stone while gaping at something, did not rebuke us but struck the stone. Yet what did the stone do? Ought it to shift about, because of the stupidity of your child? [III,19,5] Again, if we find nothing to eat when we come back from the baths, the pedagogue never restrains our craving but flays the cook. You sir, did we perhaps institute you pedagogue of the cook? No, but of our child: rectify him, benefit him. [III,19,6] And so, even grown up we show ourselves children. For a plump child in music is the uneducated in music; a plump child in grammar is the uneducated in grammar; a plump child in life is the uneducated to diairesize.


We acknowledge that logical mistakes are our exclusive faults (1-3)

[III,20,1] In the case of theoretical impressions, almost all the philosophers reserved good and evil things inside us and not in external objects. [III,20,2] No one says good the statement that it is day and evil the statement that it is night, or a very great evil the statement that three is four. [III,20,3] But what? That science is good while deception is evil; so that a good is recommended even about the falsehood itself, being a good thing the knowledge of the falsehood of some statement.

But we are not at all disposed to acknowledge that good and evil are in our exclusive power. Yet it is a logical mistake to say that life is a good thing and that death is an evil thing. For not life, but a virtuous life is a good thing; not life, but a vicious life is an evil thing. Not death, but a noble death is a good thing; not death, but a shameful death is an evil thing (4-7)

[III,20,4] It should be so, then, also in the case of life. Is body’s health a good and sickness an evil? You sir, no. But what? To live in body’s health as a virtuous man is good, to live in health as a vicious human being is an evil. -So that it is possible to benefit also by sickness?- By Zeus, and by death is it not possible? [III,20,5] By a lameness is it not possible? Do you think that Menoeceus got but little benefit when he was dying? -Might one get the sort of benefit that he got by saying such words!- Please, you sir: did he not keep the patriot, the high-minded, faithful, generous man? And surviving would he not lose all this? [III,20,6] Would he not secure for himself the opposite? Would he not put on the character of the cowardly, mean, hater of his fatherland, pusillanimous human being? Come on, do you think that he got small benefit from his death? No. [III,20,7] And did the father of Admetus get great benefit from living so meanly and miserably? And later did he not die?

The consequences of logical mistakes fall upon us and only upon us (8)

[III,20,8] Stop, by the gods, to be infatuated with the subject matters; stop to make yourselves servant in the first place of the things and then, because of those, also of the people who can secure or subtract


The knavish fellow is bad to himself but to me he is good, for he trains my virtues (9-11)

[III,20,9] -Is it, then, possible to benefit by this?- By everything. -Also by a reviler?- To what extent does the fellow-wrestler benefit the athlete? To the greatest. And so this also becomes my fellow- wrestler: he trains my ability to tolerate another’s intemperance, my control over anger, my meekness. [III,20,10] No; but he who clinches my neck and puts in order my loins and my shoulders benefits me; and the physical trainer does well when he says “Lift the pestle with both hands”, and the heavier it is, the more I benefit by it. And if someone trains me to the control over anger, does he not benefit me? [III,20,11] Not to know how to benefit by human beings means this. A bad neighbour? Bad for himself, but good for me: he trains my good intelligence, my acquiescence. A bad father? Bad for himself, but for me he is good.

The magic wand exists and I have it (12-17)

[III,20,12] This is the magic wand of Hermes. “Touch what you want”, the saying goes, “and it will be gold”. No, but bring forth what you dispose and I’ll make a good out of it. Bring sickness, bring death, bring want of means, bring reviling, a lawsuit with peril of life; all this will be beneficial with the wand of Hermes. [III,20,13] “Death, what will you make of it?” What else but a thing that adorns you or through which to show in practice what is a man who understands the nature’s plan? [III,20,14] “Sickness, what will you make of it?” I’ll show its nature, I’ll stand out in it, I’ll be stable, serene, I’ll not flatter the physician, I’ll not wish to die. [III,20,15] What else do you still seek? Everything that you give I’ll make it blessed, productive of happiness, solemn, to be emulated. [III,20,16] No, but: “Watch that you may not be sick: it is an evil”. Like if someone said: “Watch that you may not get the impression that three are four: it is an evil”. You sir, evil how? If upon this I conceive what one ought, how will it still damage me? Will it not, rather, even benefit me? [III,20,17] If, then, I conceive upon poverty in money, upon sickness, upon lack of office what one ought to conceive, is this not sufficient for me? Will it not be beneficial? How, then, ought I still seek goods and evils in the external objects?

Do you forget these judgements at school or do you take them home? (18-19)

[III,20,18] But what? These judgements are of use till you are here and nobody brings them outside, home. Straightaway it is war with the young boy, with our neighbors, with those that scoff, with those that mock us. [III,20,19] May be well to Lesbius, because every day he convicts me of knowing nothing!


Philosophers and pseudophilosophers, food and vomit, blood and babbles (1-7)

[III,21,1] Epictetus says that some people, when they have acquired the mere general philosophical principles, straightaway want to vomit them out, as stomach weak people do with food. [III,21,2] In the first place digest them, so that there is no danger that you vomit them. Otherwise, a clean thing becomes indeed vomit, an uneatable stuff. [III,21,3] Once you have assimilated them show us, instead, some transformation of your ruling principle; as the athletes, as a result of their trainings and eating, show their shoulders; and those who learned some art show the result of what they learned. [III,21,4] The carpenter does not come and say: “Listen to me argue about carpentry” but, after he is hired, he shows to have his art by structuring a house. [III,21,5] You also do something of this sort: eat as a man, drink as a man, adorn yourself, marry, beget children, engage in city’s business; tolerate the reviling, bear with an unintelligent brother, bear with a father, bear with a son, a neighbour, a fellow-traveler.

[III,21,6] Show us this, that we may see that you have indeed learned something from the philosophers. No, but: “Come and listen to me talk about footnotes”. Go, seek someone to vomit upon. [III,21,7] “Yet I’ll explain the texts of Chrysippus as nobody can; I’ll dissolve his elocution in the purest forms, adding up in some places the profusion of Antipater and of Archedemus too”.

How can you give to others what you do not have? (8-10)

[III,21,8] Have the youths, then, to desert their fatherland and their parents for this reason, so that they may come and listen to you commenting on trifling phrases? [III,21,9] Ought they not, when they return home, to be able to tolerate another’s intemperance, to be co-working, self-controlled, undisconcerted; having such a provision for the journey of their life that, taking impulse from it, they will be able to bear well whatever falls upon them and also to adorn themselves with it? [III,21,10] Whence does it come to you the power of giving a share to others of what you yourself do not have? From the beginning did you ever do anything but wear yourself over how will the syllogisms, the equivocal arguments and those that are drawn to conclusion by questions be resolved?

What you are really interested in is not philosophy but its parody: similarity with the Eleusinian mysteries (11-16)

[III,21,11] “But So-and-so has a school; why should not I too?” This does not happen at random, slave, nor haphazardly, but one ought to be of a certain age and life and have a god as leader. [III,21,12] No, nobody puts to sea from a harbor without sacrificing to the Gods and pray them for help, nor human beings sow but after invoking Demeter. If a person undertakes so important a work, will he undertake it in safety without the help of gods; and will the approach to him be a fortune for those who will approach him? [III,21,13] What else are you doing, you sir, if not a parody of the mysteries and saying: “A room is there at Eleusis; see, here too. There is a hierophant there; I’ll make a hierophant. There is a herald; I’ll institute a herald. There is a torchbearer; I too will have a torchbearer. Torches are there; here too. The voices are the same; in what do these events differ from those?” [III,21,14] You sir, you most impious sir, do they differ in nothing? Do the same things benefit even if they are done out of place and out of the right time? No. But one ought to come also with a sacrifice, with wishes, after one has first abstained from sexual relationships and with the intelligence predisposed to believe that he will come to sacred shrines, and ancient sacred shrines. [III,21,15] Thus the mysteries become beneficial, thus we come to the impression that all these rites were instituted from the ancients for the education and rectification of our life. [III,21,16] But you tell them out and make a parody of them out of time, out of place, without offerings, without first abstaining from sexual relationships. You do not have the clothes that the hierophant ought to have, nor the hair, nor the headband one ought to have, nor the voice, nor the age, nor you abstained from sexual relationships as he did. You memorized only the words and say them. Are the words sacred by themselves?

Not all people can have the role of Socrates, of Diogenes, of Zeno (17-19)

[III,21,17] One ought to come to these things in a different way: the business is great, connected with the mysteries, neither given haphazardly nor to a chance comer. [III,21,18] In order to take care of youths, not even to be a wise man is, perhaps, adequate. There must be also some readiness and suitableness to this. Yes, by Zeus, also a certain kind of physique and first of all it must be a god to advise to stably hold this task. [III,21,19] As it advised Socrates to have the task of challenger, Diogenes that of king and rebuker, Zeno that of teacher and theorist.

Even if you had the mere instruments, how could you know the right use of them? (20-22)

[III,21,20] But you open a physician’s cabinet having nothing else but drugs, without knowing where and how these are apposed nor having meddled about. [III,21,21] “Look, he has these eyewashes, I have them too”. Have you, perhaps, also the faculty of using them? Do you know when and how and whom they will benefit? [III,21,22] Why, then, do you play dice in the greatest issues, why do you play

the rogue, why do you attempt a thing that does not befit you? Let it to those who can adorn themselves through it. Do not inflict, you too, ugliness to philosophy through your own actions, do not become part of those who slander this work.

Leave to others the important things: they are not for you (23-24)

[III,21,23] If your soul is won by the general philosophical principles, sit and turn them in your mind all by yourself. But never tell yourself philosopher and do not tolerate if someone else tells this, but say: “He has erred, for I do not desire otherwise than before, nor I impel to other things, nor I assent to others, nor generally I diversified in anything from my former condition in the use of the impressions”. [III,21,24] This have your thoughts about and say this about yourself, if you dispose to have thoughts as it’s worth. Otherwise, play dice and do what you do. For this is what fits you.


In the overall harmony of this world there is a place also for the Cynic, provided he is a true Cynic (1-8)

[III,22,1] When one of his acquaintances, who appeared to have a propension for Cynism, tried to know from him what sort of man the Cynic ought to be and what the preconception of this business is, Epictetus said: We will analyse it at leisure, [III,22,2] but for the moment this much I have to tell you, that he who designs for himself a business so important without the presence of a god, he is the object of divine disgust and wants nothing else but to behave indecently in public. [III,22,3] For no one comes in a well administered family and says: “I must be the manager of this family”. Otherwise the master, worried at seeing him to constitute himself so haughtily, drags him out and cuts his tongue. [III,22,4] So it happens also in this great town. For here too there is the housemaster, the constitutor of each thing. [III,22,5] “You are the sun: as you go around you can make the year and the seasons, grow and feed the fruits, move and appease the winds, warm in right proportion the human bodies. Go, make your revolution and so set in motion all things, from the greatest to the smallest. [III,22,6] You are a calf: when a lion appears, perform your work; otherwise you will wail. You are a bull: come on and fight, for this is incumbent upon you, is fitting to you and you can do it. [III,22,7] You can head the army against Ilium: be Agamemnon. You can fight one to one against Hector: be Achilles. [III,22,8] But if Thersites came and laid claim to this office, either he would not have hit the mark or, if he had, he would have behaved indecently among a multitude of witnesses.

It is not the cowl that makes the Cynic (9-12)

[III,22,9] Deliberate about this business with diligence: it is not what you think. [III,22,10] “I wear even now a cloak and I’ll have one then; I lie down even now on a hard bed and on a hard one I’ll lie also then; I’ll add a small wallet and a staff, and going around I’ll begin to beg from those I meet, to revile them. If I see someone who has stripped himself bare of his hairs with a pitch-plaster, I’ll reproach him; and the same thing I’ll do if I see someone with his forelock well shaped or who walks in scarlet clothes”. [III,22,11] If you fancy the business to be something of this sort, stay far away from it. Do not come to it, it is not for you. [III,22,12] If you fancy the business as it is and do not disclaim yourself as unworthy of it, analyse what a great business you attempt.

The Cynic hides nothing about his life (13-18)

[III,22,13] First, in what concerns you, you must no longer appear similar in nothing to what you do now, and bring no more charges to god or man. You must totally remove desire and transpose your aversion only on proairetic things. You must not have anger, fury, envy, pity. No wench, no bit of

reputation, no young boy, no small cake must appear wonderful to you. [III,22,14] For you ought to know that other people, when they do something of this sort, have put walls, houses and darkness in front of them and have many ways to hide what they do. So-and-so has closed the door and stationed someone at the entrance of his bedroom: “If anyone comes, say ‘he is out’, say ‘he is not at leisure’”. [III,22,15] The Cynic, instead of all this, is bound to have put self respect in front of him. Otherwise, naked and in the open air he will simply behave indecently. This self respect is to him home, door, chamberlains, it is to him the darkness. [III,22,16] Nor ought he want to conceal anything that is his (otherwise he left, he lost the Cynic, the open air’s, the free man; he has begun to fear some of the external objects, he has begun to need something to conceal him) and when he wants this, he cannot. For where will he conceal it or how? [III,22,17] If our trainer in diairesis, our common pedagogue will fail, what is necessary for him to experience? [III,22,18] For him, then, who dreads this, is it still possible to take heart and supervise other people with his entire soul? It is unmanageable, it is impossible.

A program for life (19-22)

[III,22,19] You must, then, in the first place make your ruling principle pure and this must be your institute of life: [III,22,20] “Now my subject matter is my intellect, as the wood is for the carpenter and the leather for the cobbler. My work is the right use of the impressions. [III,22,21]The body is nothing to me, nothing to me are its parts. Death? Let it come when it will, whether it be the death of the whole body or of a part of it. [III,22,22] Exile? And where can one cast me out? Outside the world he cannot. Wherever I depart for, there are the sun, the moon, the stars, visions in sleep, birds of omen, the conversation with gods”.

The Cynic is a messenger and a scout (23-25)

[III,22,23] And then thus prepared, it is not possible for the man who is indeed a Cynic to be content with this, but he must know that he has been dispatched from Zeus to the human beings as a messenger, to indicate to them that they have erred about good and evil things and that they seek the substance of the good and of the evil where it is not, and that they do not brood where it is; [III,22,24] and that he is also a scout, like Diogenes, when he was carried off to Philip after the battle of Chaeroneia. For indeed the Cynic is a scout of what is friend and what is enemy to men [III,22,25] and he must, after having analysed it with precision, come and report the Truth not panic-stricken with fear, so as to show nonexistent enemies, nor in some other way distraught or confused by the impressions.

It is impossible to find in the body or in the estate or in the offices or in royal power what can make us serene and happy(26-30)

[III,22,26] The Cynic then must be able, if so it chances, to lift himself up, to mount the tragic stage and say the words of Socrates: “Alas human beings, where are you rushing? What are you doing, paltry fellows? You roll up and down like blind people; you leave through a different way, having deserted the right one; you seek what makes serenity and happiness somewhere else, where it is not, and distrust the one who shows it to you. [III,22,27] Why do you seek it outside? It is not in the body. If you distrust me, look at Miro, look at Ophellius. It is not in the estate. If you distrust me, look at Croesus, look at the wealthy people nowadays, how many wailings their life is full of. It is not in offices. Otherwise, those who have been twice or thrice consuls should be happy, but they are not. [III,22,28] Whom shall we trust about this issue? You, who notice their things from the outside and who are dazzled by imagination, or they themselves? [III,22,29] What do they say? Listen to them when they wail, groan and think to fare more miserably and more dangerously because of these very consulships, and reputation, and notoriety. [III,22,30] It is not in the kingdom. Otherwise Nero would have been happy, and Sardanapalus too.

The example that we get from the good shepherd, that is the unhappy Agamemnon; and from the sheep, that is the

unhappy human beings who allow him to rule over them (30-37)

Not even Agamemnon was happy, and yet he was a much finer fellow than Sardanapalus and Nero. While the others snore, what is he doing? *From his head he was tearing his hair in bunches, by the roots* and what does he say? *Thus I wander* he says, and *I am in anguish: my heart is leaping forth from my bosom*. [III,22,31] Wretched fellow, what about you fares badly? Your estate? It does not fare badly: you are rich in gold and bronze. Your body? It does not fare badly. What evil have you, then? That one: you have neglected and brought to naught whatever that is within you by which we desire, by which we avert, by which we impel and repel. [III,22,32] How has it been neglected? It ignores the substance of the good for which it has been born and the substance of the evil, and what is peculiar to it and what is another’s. Whenever something of what is another’s fares badly, Agamemnon says: “Woe’s me, the Greeks are in danger!” [III,22,33] Paltry ruling principle, the only thing neglected and with no cure! “They are about to die, cleared out by the Trojans”. And if the Trojans do not kill them, will they not die anyway? “Yes, but not all at once”. What difference does it make, then? For if to die is an evil, to die all at once or to die one at a time is similarly an evil. Is anything else going to happen but the separation of body from soul? [III,22,34] “Nothing”. And if the Greeks perish, has the door been closed for you? Has one not the power to die? “One has it”. Why, then, do you mourn, Woe’s me! being a king and having the sceptre of Zeus? A king is not misfortuned, no more than Matter Immortal is misfortuned. [III,22,35] What are you, then? Truly a shepherd, for you cry as the shepherds when a wolf snatches one of their sheep. And these people you rule upon are sheep. [III,22,36] Why did you come here? Was your desire in danger, was your aversion; perhaps your impulse or your repulsion? “No”, he says, “my brother’s wife was snatched away”. [III,22,37] But is it not a great gain to be dispossessed of an adulterous wife? “Shall we, then, be despised by the Trojans?” And who are the Trojans? Are they prudent men or imprudent people? If they are prudent men, why do you wage war against them? If they are imprudent people, why do you care?

Look at the Truth: serenity and happiness are there where is in us something which is by nature free… (38-41)

[III,22,38] “Since it is not in these things, in what is, then, the good? Tell us, lord messenger and scout!” “Where you do not think it to be and where you do not want to seek it. For, if you so disposed, you would have found that the good is in you, and you would not deflect it outside, nor would you seek what is another’s as your peculiar. [III,22,39] Turn the mind towards yourselves, decipher the preconceptions you have. What kind of thing do you imagine the good to be? What makes serenity, is productive of happiness, makes us unimpeded men. Come on, do you not imagine it to be something naturally great? Do you not imagine it as something renowned? As something inoffensive? [III,22,40] In what kind of subject matter ought one, then, to seek what is serene and unimpeded? In that which is servant or in that which is free?” “In that which is free”. ” Have you the body, then, free or servant?” “We do not know”. “Do you not know that it is servant of fever, gout, ophthalmia, dysentery, of a tyrant, fire, iron, of everything that is stronger?” [III,22,41] “Yes, it is servant”. “How can, then, anything that pertains to the body be any longer unhindered? How can something that by nature is corpse-like, is earth, is clay, be great or renowned? What then? Have you nothing that is free?” “Perhaps nothing”.

…that is in our proairesis (42-44)

[III,22,42] “And who can constrain you to assent to what appears to be false?” “No one”. “Who to not assent to what appears true?” “No one”. “Here, then, you see that there is in you something that is free by nature. [III,22,43] Who of you can desire or avert, impel or repel, prepare or propose anything without first getting the impression of something advantageous or of something not proper?” “No one”. “You have in this, then, something that is unhampered and free. [III,22,44] Paltry people! Work at this, take care of this; seek here the good”.

The Cynic: the model of a happy man (45-50)

[III,22,45] And how is it feasible that he who has nothing, is naked, homeless, hearthless, bristly, with no servant and no city may enjoy himself with serenity? [III,22,46] Look, Matter Immortal has dispatched to you the man who will show you in practice that this is feasible. [III,22,47] “Look at me: I am homeless, without a city, penniless, without a servant; I lull on the ground; I have no wife nor children nor a governor’s mansion; but only earth, sky and one small cloak. [III,22,48] And what do I lack? Am I not able to control grief, able to control fear, am I not free? When did any of you see me failing in desire or, in aversion, stumbling on what I avert? When did I blame god or man, when did I bring charges to anyone? Has anyone of you seen me sullen? [III,22,49] How do I meet with these people that you fear and whom you are infatuated with? Do I not meet them as I meet slaves? Seeing me, who does not think that he is seeing his king and master?” [III,22,50] Look, these are Cynic words; look, this is the style, the design of a Cynic. No, but a small wallet, a staff and big jaws; to gorge on everything you give him or to stow it away; revile at ill time whom he meets or show his wonderful shoulder.

What is at stakes (51-52)

[III,22,51] Do you see how you are about to set your hand to a very important business? Take at first a mirror and look at your shoulders, decipher your loins, your thighs. You are on the point of enrolling in the Olympic games, you sir, not in some bleak and paltry contest. [III,22,52] At the Olympic games it is not possible for you merely to be defeated and go out but, in the first place, you ought to have disgraced yourself while the whole world, not only the Athenians, the Lacedaemonians or the Nicopolitans, watches you. In the second place, he who enters at random must be flayed and, before he is flayed, he has to suffer thirst, to swelter, to gulp down much sand.

The Olympic games and the Cynic games (53-56)

[III,22,53] Take counsel in the most diligent way, recognize yourself, question your gene, do not attempt this business apart from a god. For if the god advises you to enter the games, know that it disposes you either to become great or to get many blows. [III,22,54] This very pretty thread has been woven also in the business of Cynism, when the Cynic has to be flayed as an ass and, even if flayed, he must have a predilection for the very flayers as father of all, as their brother. [III,22,55] No, but if someone flays you, stay in the midst and cry aloud: “O Caesar, what sort of harsh treatments have I to experience in your peace! Let’s go before the Proconsul!” [III,22,56] But for a Cynic what is Caesar, or a Proconsul or anyone other but What has sent them down and to What the Cynic serves, that is, Zeus? Does he invoke others but Zeus? Is he not persuaded that whatever of these harsh treatments he experiences, it is Matter Immortal that is training him?

The labours of Heracles and the fever of Diogenes (57-59)

[III,22,57] Heracles, trained by Eurystheus, did not legitimize to be miserable because of this, but resolutely brought to completion all his injunctions. And does he deserve to carry the sceptre of Diogenes the fellow who, engaged in the trial and trained by Zeus, is about to cry aloud and be vexed? [III,22,58] Listen to what Diogenes, when he has a fever, says to the passers-by: “Fucking heads”, he says, “will you not stop here? You go away to Olympia through so long a way, to watch the struggle of damned athletes, and decide not to see the struggle between the fever and the man?” [III,22,59] Probably such a man would have brought charges to Zeus because It sent him down in order to use him not according to his merit! He, who embellished himself with difficult circumstances and urged to be a spectacle for the passers-by! For will he bring charges about what? Because he is behaving decorously? What will he accuse? That Zeus shows off more radiantly his virtue?

How can happiness dwell in the rotten judgements of small and big ‘powerful people’? (60-61)

[III,22,60] Come on, and what does Diogenes say about poverty in money, about death, about pain? How did he usually compare his happiness to that of the Great King? Or, rather, he thought that there could not even be a comparison? [III,22,61] For where are disconcertments, grieves, fears, imperfect desires, aversions that stumble on what is averted, envies, jealousies: where is a passage for happiness in all this? Wherever rotten judgements are held, there all these passions must necessarily be.

Only a Cynic can be the friend of a Cynic, as Diogenes was of Antisthenes and Crates of Diogenes (62-66)

[III,22,62] When the younker tried to know whether he, being sick, should head to a friend who urges him to come to his home so as to be cured, Where will you find me a Cynic’s friend? said Epictetus. [III,22,63] For this man must be another Cynic, in order to be worth of being numbered as friend of the first. He must be his mate of sceptre and kingdom and worthy minister, if he is going to be worthy of friendship, as Diogenes became friend of Antisthenes and Crates of Diogenes. [III,22,64] Or do you think that if anyone comes to him and says ‘Welcome!’ he is his friend, and that the Cynic will believe him worthy to enter his friendship? [III,22,65] If you think so, if you brood something of this sort, rather look around and seek a fine dunghill in which to have your fever, one that gives you shelter from Boreas, that you may not get chilled. [III,22,66] I think you want to depart for someone’s house in order to be foddered for a while. What is there, then, between you and the attempt to a business so important?

The Cynic’s attitude towards marriage and paternity, in two different towns (67-76)

[III,22,67] -Will marriage and boys, the younker said, be assumed as cardinal deeds by the Cynic?- If you give me, said Epictetus, a town of wise men, probably one will not easily come along and do Cynism. For whose sake will he take up this way of enjoying himself? [III,22,68] Yet if we suggest this, nothing will prevent him to marry and beget children, for his wife will be a Cynic woman too, his father-in-law a Cynic too and the children will be reared in this way. [III,22,69] But being the condition of the town such as it is now, like in line of battle, ought not the Cynic be without distraction, entirely devoted to the ministry of Zeus, able to mix with people, not tied down to deeds proper to a layman nor implicated in social relationships that he cannot violate and still safeguard his role as virtuous man, whereas if he keeps them he will lose the messenger, the scout and herald of the gods? [III,22,70] For see that he must demonstrate certain services to his father-in-law, give back certain services to the other congenerous of his wife and to his wife herself; furthermore, he excludes himself from Cynism in order to cure those who are sick, to supply them what they need. [III,22,71] To give up other things, he has to supply a kettle where to heat the water for the child, to bathe it in a bathtub; to supply some wool for his wife that has given birth to a child; and then oil, a mattress, a drinking-cup (and the vessels become by now more); not to mention the other commitments, the other distractions. [III,22,72] Well then, where will any more be that king, the king who devotes his leisure to the common interests, *who has charge of the folk and for many things must be watchful*; the king who has to survey the others, married people, those who have begot children, the one who is dealing with his own wife well and the one who is dealing badly, the one who quarrels, the family that is stable and the family that is not, going around as a physician and feeling pulses? [III,22,73] “You have a fever, you have a headache, you have the gout; you persevere in abstinence from food, you eat, you do not bathe; you need surgery, you need cautery”. [III,22,74] Where is this leisure for the fellow who is tied up to the deeds proper of a layman? Must he not supply little robes for his children? Dispatch them to the grammar-teacher with small tablets, writing instruments and have a mattress ready for them? For they cannot be Cynics as soon as they come out of the belly. Otherwise, it would be better to expose them at birth than to kill them in this way. [III,22,75] Consider to what a state we reduce the Cynic, how we deprive him of his kingdom. [III,22,76] -Yes, but Crates married- You are talking about a circumstance born from amorous passion, and you set in front of us a woman who was another Crates. But we are inquiring about ordinary marriages and apart from special circumstances, and inquiring in this way we find this business, under the present condition, not cardinal for the Cynic.

The Cynic and the society (77-82)

[III,22,77] -And how, says the younker, will the Cynic still preserve the society?- By Zeus, are they greater benefactors of mankind those who introduce in their stead two or three children with ugly muzzles or those who survey at their best all the people: what they do, how they pass their life, what they take care of, what they unbefittingly neglect? [III,22,78] Did those who died forsaking them their offspring benefit the Thebans more than Epaminondas who died without offspring? And did Priam, who begot fifty filthy children, or Danaus or Aeolus confer to society more things than Homer? [III,22,79] A praetorship or the composition of a treatise will set someone aside from marriage or paternity and this person will not think to have changed with nothing the fact of being without offspring, and will not the kingdom be the worthy compensation for the Cynic? [III,22,80] Perhaps are we not aware of his greatness and do not imagine as it is worth the style of Diogenes, but do we only glance at the nowadays Cynics, at these *dogs of the table, guards of the gate* who nothing imitate of him but, forsooth, become farters and nothing else? [III,22,81] Since these facts would not move us, nor we would be astonished if such a Cynic does not marry nor begets children. You sir, the Cynic has begot all mankind as his children, the males as his sons and the females as his daughters; and so he comes to them all and cares for them all. [III,22,82] Or do you think that he reviles whom he meets out of impertinence? He does it as a father, as a brother and manservant of the common father, of Zeus.

The Cynic, the everyday politics and the city’s business (83-85)

[III,22,83] If you think so, try also to know from me whether he will engage in the city’s business. [III,22,84] You zany, are you seeking a politics greater than that in which the Cynic is engaged? Or will a Cynic come to the Athenians and talk about incomes and revenues, he who ought to hold a dialogue with all, Athenians, Corinthians or Romans alike, not about revenues and incomes, not about peace or war but about happiness and unhappiness, good and ill fortune, servitude and freedom? [III,22,85] Of a man who is engaged in such important politics, are you trying to know from me whether he will engage in the city’s business? Try also to know from me whether he will hold office. Again I’ll tell you: stupid boy, what office is greater of the one that he holds?

The physical qualities and the cleanliness of the Cynic (86-89)

[III,22,86] Yet such a man needs also a certain kind of body. Since if he steps forth consumptive, thin and pale, his testimony has no longer a similar emphasis. [III,22,87] For he must not only set forth to the laymen, showing off the qualities of his own soul, that it is feasible to be virtuous apart from what they admire; but also show, through his own body, that a mode of life simple, frugal and in the open air does not spoil the body. [III,22,88] “Look, I and my body are witnesses of this too”. Like Diogenes used to do: for he used to go around with a gleaming body and his mere body made the people turn their sight towards him. [III,22,89] But if the Cynic excites pity, he seems a mendicant: all turn away from him, all offend him. And he must not appear filthy, so as not to scare people away in this respect too; but even his bristliness ought to be clean and attractive.

The natural charm and the sharpness of the Cynic’s wit (90-92)

[III,22,90] The Cynic must also have much natural charm and sharpness of wit (otherwise he is snivel and nothing else), so that he may meet the occurrences readily and aptly. [III,22,91] As Diogenes, when asked “Are you that Diogenes who thinks that there are no Gods?” “And how”, he answered, “do I legitimize you as a personal enemy of the gods?” [III,22,92] Again, to Alexander who stood near him while he was sleeping and said *It does not befit a giver of counsel to sleep the whole night*, still half asleep he opposed *who has charge of the folk and of many things*.

The freedom of speech of the Cynic (93-96)

[III,22,93] But first of all, the ruling principle of the Cynic must be purer than the sun; otherwise, he is necessarily a gambler and one who plays the rogue, because he will reproach other people while he himself is ensnared in some vice. [III,22,94] For see what the point is. Their bodyguards and their weapons provide these kings and tyrants, even if they are vicious fellows, with the power to reproach some and punish the criminals. Instead of the weapons and of the bodyguards, his full cognition commits this power to the Cynic. [III,22,95] When he sees that he has kept watch over the human beings and has toiled in their behalf; that he has come to bed clean and that the sleep leaves him even cleaner; that what he has brooded, he has brooded it as friend of the gods, as manservant, as a partaker of the rule of Zeus; that everywhere he has ready at hand the *Lead me, Zeus, and you indeed, Destiny* and also *If so it pleases the gods, so be it* ; [III,22,96] why will he not have the courage of the freedom of speech with his own brothers, children, in short his congenerous?

The privilege of the Cynic (97-99)

[III,22,97] For this reason, the man who is so disposed is neither officious nor meddlesome. For when he surveys the human things, the Cynic does not meddle with what is another’s but with what is his own. Otherwise, say that also the general is meddlesome when he surveys and reviews the soldiers, and is on his guard and punishes those who are out of their place. [III,22,98] If, while having a small cake under your armpit, you reproach others, I’ll tell you: wouldn’t you rather depart for a corner to gorge on what you have stolen? [III,22,99] What is there between you and what is another’s? Who are you? Are you the bull, or the queen bee? Show me the tokens of the leadership, like those the queen bee has by nature. But if you are a drone that sues for the kingdom of the bees, don’t you think your accomplices in the city’ business will knock you down like the bees do with the drones?

The tolerance of the Cynic (100-102)

[III,22,100] The Cynic must also have an ability to tolerate another’s intemperance so great that he seems to the multitude insensitive, like a stone. Nobody can revile him, nobody can strike him, nobody can outrage him, and he has given his body for anyone to use as he wants to do. [III,22,101] For he remembers that necessarily the worse, where it’s worse, is overcome by the better; and a body is worse than the crowd, the weaker is worse than the stronger. [III,22,102] The Cynic, then, does never descend in this contest, where he can be overcome; but he straightaway withdraws from what is another’s and does not lay claim to what is servant.

The Cynic knows that there are no thieves of our proairesis (103-106)

[III,22,103] Where, instead, are proairesis and the use of the impressions, there you will see that the Cynic has so many eyes that you will say Argus was blind in comparison with him. [III,22,104] Where is in him a reckless assent, a rash impulse, a failing desire, an aversion that stumbles on what it averts, an imperfect design; where are blames, slave-mindedness or envy? [III,22,105] Here is his great attention and energy; for the rest he snores flat on his back: complete peace. There is no robber of proairesis, no tyrant of proairesis. [III,22,106] And of the body? Yes. And of the estate? Yes, and of offices and honours too. What does he care of these things? When, then, one wants to arouse his fear through them, the Cynic tells him: “Go, seek some children; the masks are frightful to them, but I know that they are made of earthenware and that inside them there is nothing”.

The Cynism is not a business for you (107-109)

[III,22,107] You are deliberating about this sort of business. So that, if you think so, defer, by the god, your decision and see first your preparation. [III,22,108] See what Hector says to Andromaca: “Go”, he says, “rather home and weave; the males will care for war, all the males and mostly I”. [III,22,109] So he had consciousness of his own preparation and of her inability.


Recognize yourself and become who you are (1-3)

[III,23,1] In the first place, tell yourself who you dispose to be; and at that point do what you do. For we see that in almost all other cases things happen in this way. [III,23,2] Those who engage in trials determine first who they want to be and at that point do what comes next. If a fellow wants to be a distance runner, he adopts such food, such walk, such massage, such training. If he wants to be a sprinter, all this is different. If a pentathlete, even more different. [III,23,3] You will find that it is so in the arts too. If you dispose to be a carpenter, you will have to do such works; if a smith, such others. For if we refer each of our activities to nothing, we will do it at random; and if we refer it to what must not be referred, we will do it ruinously.

The reference models are necessary (4-7)

[III,23,4] Well then, there is a common reference model and a peculiar one. The first, that I may act as a man. What does this include? Not to act at random, nor with the acquiescence of a sheep nor with the harmfulness of a beast. [III,23,5] The peculiar model is referred to the job of each person and to his proairesis, that is, that the citharist may act as a citharist, the carpenter as a carpenter, the philosopher as a philosopher, the orator as an orator. [III,23,6] When, then, you say: “Come hither and listen to me readimg for you”, analyse first that you do not do this at random. And if you find that you refer it to something, analyse if it is what it has to be referred to. [III,23,7] Do you want to benefit or to be praised? Straightaway you hear people saying: “What a discourse is there between me and the praise of the crowd?”, and he talks well in saying this. For that praise is nothing also for the musician in so far as musician, nor for the geometrician.

Can you benefit others if you have not first benefited yourself? (8)

[III,23,8] Do you want, then, to benefit? To what end? Tell it to us too, that we also may run to your lecture room. Now, can anyone benefit others if he has not first benefited himself? No. For he who is not carpenter cannot benefit others in the art of carpentry, nor in the art of shoemaking he who is not a cobbler.

Dio Chrysostom: a model of insipient lecturer (9-14)

[III,23,9] Do you want, then, to recognize if you have benefited yourself? Bring forth your judgements, philosopher! What is the profession of desire? Not to fail. What is the profession of aversion? Not to stumble on what it averts. [III,23,10] Come on, do we fulfill their profession? Tell me the truth. If you lie I’ll tell you: “Lately, when your hearers gathered rather coolly and did not acclaim you, you went out slave-minded. [III,23,11] Lately, when you were praised, you went around saying to everybody ‘What did I seem to you?’ ‘Amazing, lord, I swear it by my life’ ‘How did I render that passage?’ ‘Which one?’ ‘Where I drew a picture of Pan and the Nimphs’ ‘Supernaturally’ “. [III,23,12] And then you tell me that in desire and aversion you conduct yourself in accord with the nature of things? Go, and persuade someone else. [III,23,13] Lately did you not praise So-and-so contrary to what appeared true to you? Did you not flatter So-and-so, the senator? Would you like your children to be people of this sort? -Far from it- [III,23,14] -Why, then, did you praise him and encircled him with words?- -He is a thoroughbred younker and able to hear discourses- -Whence do you know this?- -He admires me- -You told me your demonstration-.

Despised, without him knowing it, by his hearers (15-18)

[III,23,15] And then what do you think? Don’t these very people, without you knowing it, despise you? When a person has the full cognition of having done or brooded nothing good, and finds a philosopher who says “You have a great temperament, you are frank and incorruptible”; do you think the person says to himself but: “This fellow somehow needs me”? [III,23,16] Or tell me, what deed of great temperament has he shown off? Look, he is with you from such a long time, he has heard you hold discourses, he has heard you read. But has he restrained himself, has he turned his mind towards himself? Has he realized the evil plights in which he is? Has he thrown away his conceit? Does he seek the man who will teach him? [III,23,17] -He seeks him, says the fellow – The man who will teach him how one ought to live? No, stupid. But how one ought to express himself in a speech; for this is the reason why he admires you too. Hear him, what he says. “This fellow writes in a very artistic fashion, much better than Dio”. [III,23,18] The business is entirely different. Does he perhaps say: “The man is self respecting; this man is faithful; this is undisconcerted”? And even if he said that, I would have told him: “Since this man is faithful, what is it to be faithful?” And if he had nothing to say, I would have added: “First learn what you say and then say it”.

Who only cares about ‘audience’ and ‘share’ (19-23)

[III,23,19] Do you want, then, to benefit others when you are so badly disposed and gape for people to praise you and number your hearers? “Today my hearers were many more”. “Yes, many”. “We think they were five hundred”. “You say nothing; set them at a thousand”. “Dio never had so many hearers”. “And whence could he gather so many people?” “And they are smart at realizing the reasonings”. “What is wonderful, my lord, can move also a stone”. [III,23,20] Look, these are the words of a philosopher; look, this is the disposition of one who will benefit people. Look at a man who has listened to reason, who has read the writings of Socrates as coming from Socrates and not as though they were writings of Lysias or of Isocrates! “I have often admired by what reasonings ever..”. No, rather say “…by what reasoning ever..”.; this is smoother than that. [III,23,21] For have you read them otherwise than if they were pop songs? If indeed you had read them as one ought to have, you would have not come to these points, but you would rather notice: “Anytus and Meletus can kill me but not damage me”; and: “For I am such that I always pay attention to no other faculty of mine but to reason, and to the reason that appears to me the best after careful consideration”. [III,23,22] For this reason, who ever heard Socrates say: “I know something and I teach it”? But he used to send one person in one place and another somewhere else. Therefore people came to Socrates and urged him to recommend them to the philosophers, and Socrates led them and recommended them. [III,23,23] No, you think instead that he used to send words saying: “Today hear me holding a discourse at Quadratus’ home”.

And looks for praises (23-26)

Why should I listen to you? Do you want to demonstrate that you prettily compose locutions? You compose them, you sir! And what good is it to you? “But, praise me!” [III,23,24] What do you mean by “praise”? “Tell me ‘Uah!’ and ‘Amazing!'” Look, I say it. But if the praise is something to be set in the category of the good, as sometimes the philosophers say, what have I to praise you for? If to express himself rightly is a good thing, teach me about this and I’ll praise you. [III,23,25] What then? Ought one to listen with unpleasantness to such things? Far from it. I do not listen unpleasantly to a citharist, but because of this must I, then, set myself up and sing to the accompaniment of the lyre? Listen to what Socrates says: “For it would not be fitting, O men of Athens, at this age to come into your presence shaping discourses like a lad”. “Like a lad”, he says. [III,23,26] For it is indeed a fine thing the small art of selecting names and composing them and coming to read or recite them in a thoroughbred way and while reading to exclaim: “Not many people can understand this, by your lives, I swear it!”

The philosopher does not flatter (27-29)

[III,23,27] -Does a philosopher invite to a lecture?- Is it not true that, as the sun leads its own food to

itself, so the philosopher too leads to himself those who will be benefited by him? What kind of physician invites the patients to come, so that they may be cured by him? Yet I hear that now in Rome the physicians do this; however, in my time they were invited to cure. [III,23,28] “I invite you to come to me and hear that you fare badly, that you take care of all but of what you must take care, that you ignore what is good and what is evil, that you are unhappy and prey to ill fortune”. Pretty invitation! But if the discourse of a philosopher does not infuse this, both the discourse and he who holds it are corpse-like things. [III,23,29] Rufus used to say: “If you have so much free time as to praise me, then I am saying nothing”. Therefore he spoke in such a way that, sitting there, each of us thought to have been slandered in Rufu’s eyes by someone else; to such a point he touched the events; to such a point he set before the eyes of each of us our evils.

The school of the philosopher is like a physician’s cabinet (30-32)

[III,23,30] The school of the philosopher, sirs, is a physician’s cabinet: one ought to come out of it not in pleasure but in pain. For you do not come into it healthy, but one with a dislocated shoulder, another with an abscess, another with a fistula, another with an headache. [III,23,31] And then I sit down and tell you little thoughts and clever mottoes, so that you may go out praising me, but one bringing out his shoulder in the same state as he brought it in, another with his head in the same way, another with his fistula, another with his abscess? [III,23,32] Is this the reason why the youth have to set off deserting their parents, their friends, their congenerous and their estate; that they may say “Uah!” while you tell clever mottoes? Is this what Socrates used to do, or Zeno, or Cleanthes?

The style of Dio Chrysostom is neither hortatory nor challenging nor didactic but ‘for showing off’ (33-38)

[III,23,33] -What then? Is there no hortatory style?- Who denies that? As the challenging, as the didactic one. Who, then, speaks ever, besides these, of a fourth style: the one “for showing off”? [III,23,34] For what is the hortatory style? To be able to show to one fellow and to many people the contradiction in which they flounder, and that they worry about anything rather than what they truly want. For they want the things that bring us to happiness, but they look for them in the wrong place. [III,23,35] In order that this may happen, has one to set a thousand benches, invite those who will hear, and have you -with a fine raiment or a small cloak – to mount the speaker’s stand and draw a picture of how Achilles died? By the gods, stop to put to shame, as far as it is in your power, wonderful names and wonderful things. [III,23,36] Nothing is more hortatory than when he who talks discloses to the hearers that he needs them. [III,23,37] Or tell me who, listening you read or hold a discourse, was anxious about himself or turned his mind towards himself, or going out said: “The philosopher touched me well: I must no longer do these things”. [III,23,38] No, if you win a lot of applause, he tells someone: “He expressed the story of Xerxes in a fine way!”; and another: “No, the battle at the Thermopylae!”. Is this the lecture of a philosopher?


I have nothing to do with the grieves of other people; I am interested in their judgements (1-8)

[III,24,1] What another fellow does not in accord with the nature of things, let it not become an evil for you. For you are not born to become slave-minded nor to have misfortune in company with other people but to have good fortune. [III,24,2] If one is misfortuned, remember that he is misfortuned for himself. For Matter Immortal made all men for happiness, for stability of judgement. [III,24,3] And to this purpose It gave resources, giving to each of us some things peculiar to us and some things not peculiar to us. What can be hampered, subtracted and constrained is not peculiar to us; peculiar to us is, on the contrary, what cannot be hampered. The substance of the good and of the evil, as it was worth

of the one who cares for us and convoys us like a father, is in the peculiar. [III,24,4] “But I retired from So-and-so and he is sorry”. And why did he believe his own what is another’s? Why, when he rejoiced in noticing you, did he not calculate that you are a mortal creature, that you can set off? Therefore he pays the penalty for his own stupidity. [III,24,5] And you do this in exchange for what? Why do you cry on yourself? Or did you not study these things, and like those worthless ladies, you were with all you rejoiced with, as though you could always be with it: places, people, amusements? And now you sat down crying because you do not notice the same people and do not amuse yourself in the same places? [III,24,6] For this you deserve, to be more miserable than crows and ravens, that have the power to fly off where they want, to build their nests elsewhere, to go across open seas without groaning nor yearning after their first home. [III,24,7] -Yes, but they experience this because they lack reason- Then from the gods a reason for misfortune and unhappiness has been given to us, that we may be miserable and mourn continuously? [III,24,8] Or have all to be immortal, has no one to set off, have we to remain rooted in the ground like vegetables? If, then, one of our intimates sets off, have we to sit crying and if he comes back again, have we to dance and clap our hands like children?

The universe is but one substance and one town (9-12)

[III,24,9] Shall we not wean ourselves by now and remember what we heard from the philosophers? [III,24,10] If indeed we did not listen to it as to a refrain: that this world is but one town; that the substance with which it has been fabricated is but one; that there must necessarily be a regular cycle and a giving way of the ones to the others; that some things must necessarily be dissolved, others supervene, others remain still, others move. [III,24,11] All is full of friendly presences, first of gods and then of men, made kinsmen with one another by nature. And some must be present with each other, others have to be far away; and we must rejoice in those who are with us and not take offence at those who are far away. [III,24,12] The man, besides being by nature high-minded and able to despise everything that is aproairetic, has had also the quality of not being rooted nor clutched to the earth but to hasten from place to place, sometimes for some urgent needs, sometimes also for the vision itself.

The town of Odysseus and of Heracles, the town where men know that the unhappy fellow is a vicious one and that no virtuous man has ever ill fortune (13-21)

[III,24,13] It was something of this sort that occurred to Odysseus *who saw the towns and knew the mind of many people* ; and even before this happened to Heracles, who went around the whole world * to see the wanton behaviour and the respect for the law of men*, casting out the first and cleaning the world of it, while introducing the second in its place. [III,24,14] Yet how many friends do you think Heracles had in Thebes, how many in Athens and how many of them he got going around the world, he who used to marry when it appeared to him the right time for that, to beget children, to desert the boys without groaning nor yearning after them nor leaving them as orphans? [III,24,15] For he knew that no man is orphan, but that there is a father who cares for all, always and continuously. [III,24,16] Not as mere words he had heard that Zeus is the father of men, but he thought him his own father and so called him and was performing what he was performing having him in view. Therefore he had the power to pass his life happily everywhere. [III,24,17] But it is never possible that happiness and yearn for what is not present come together. For happiness must have everything it disposes and must resemble a satiated man: no thirst, no hunger has to be joined to it. [III,24,18] -But Odysseus was longing for his wife and cried sitting still over a rock- And do you pay attention to Homer and to his tales in everything? If indeed he cried, what else had he but ill fortune? And which virtuous man has ill fortune? [III,24,19] The whole is indeed badly governed if Zeus does not take care of his own citizens, that they may be similar to him, that is, happy. But it is unlawful and unholy to brood these thoughts and Odysseus, [III,24,20] if he had cried and regretted, would not have been a good man. For, who is good if he does not know who he is? And who does know it, if he has forgotten that what is born is destroyable and that it is impossible for a person to be always with another person? [III,24,21] What then? To aim at what is impossible is slavish, is silly, it is acting like a foreigner who fights against Matter Immortal in the only way that’s possible to him, with his judgements.

I am not interested in another’s unhappiness or vices; I care of the error that caused them (22-30)

[III,24,22] -But my mother groans when she does not see me- And why did she not learn these discourses? I am not saying that one has to take no care to keep her from wailing, but that one must not want at any cost what is another’s. [III,24,23] The grief of another person is what is another’s, my grief is what is mine. I, then, will stop at any cost my grief, for this is in my exclusive power. About another’s grief I’ll try at my best, but not at any cost. [III,24,24] Otherwise, I shall be fighting against Matter Immortal, I shall set myself against Zeus, I shall counter Him with regard to the whole. And the wages of this battle against Matter Immortal and of this disobedience will not be paid by the “children’s children” but by myself in my person, at night starting up out of visions in sleep, and at day, being prey to disconcertment, trembling at any report, with my self control depending upon missives written from others. [III,24,25] One has arrived from Rome. “If only there is no evil!” But what evil can occur to you where you are not? One has arrived from Greece. “If only there is no evil!” In this way every place can be the cause of ill fortune to you. [III,24,26] Is it not sufficient for you to be misfortuned where you are; must you be so also overseas and by letter? Is your business safe in a like manner? [III,24,27] -But what, then, if my friends over there die?- What else than that mortal people died? How is it that you want to get old and at the same time not see the death of any whom you cherish? [III,24,28] Don’t you know that, in the long time, it is necessary that many and various events come about: that a fever gets the better of someone, a robber of another, a tyrant of still another? [III,24,29] Such is the context, such are those whom you are living with. Cold and burning heat, unbalanced food, sea-voyages and travels by land, winds and various circumstances make one perish, another be banished, another to be thrown in an embassy, another in a military campaign. [III,24,30] Sit therefore dismayed by all this, mourning, misfortuned, prey to ill fortune, depending from something other than yourself, and not from one or two things only but from myriads over myriads of them.

You have a place on the ship, you have a place beside Socrates hoplite (31-37)

[III,24,31] Did you hear this from the philosophers, did you learn this? Don’t you know that this stuff is a military campaign? That one must mount guard, another quit on reconnaissance, another wage war? It’s not possible nor it’s better that all have the same role. [III,24,32] You, instead, disregard to execute the injunctions of the general, bring charges when something harsh is enjoined and do not understand what sort of army, as far as in you lies, you are exhibiting; and that if all imitate you, no one will dig a trench, no one will encompass a palisade, stay awake, run risks, but all will seem unprofitable for a military campaign. [III,24,33] Again, if you sail on a vessel as sailor, stably hold one task only and persevere in that one. But if you have to climb the must, be unwilling; if you have to run to the bow, be unwilling. And which steersman will tolerate you? Will he not cast you out as an unprofitable piece of pottery, a hindrance and nothing else, a bad paradigm for the other sailors? [III,24,34] So it is here. The life of each of us is a long and various military campaign. You have to keep the role of soldier and to perform each work at the bidding of the general; [III,24,35] even divining, if possible, what he disposes. For that general and this one are not similar neither for might nor for excellence of character. [III,24,36] You have been positioned in an imperial town and not to some wicked task, not an annual one but of senator for life. Don’t you know that such a person has to give only a little time to the management of his private business but most of the time he has to set off in order to command or be commanded, to do a service in some office either in a military campaign or sitting as judge? And then do you want to be hooked to the same places and rooted in the ground like a vegetable? [III,24,37] -For it is pleasant!- And who says no? Also a soup is pleasant, also a handsome female is pleasant. What else those who make physical pleasure their end do they say?

An epicurean’s day (38-39)

[III,24,38] Don’t you realize the kind of people they are whose speech you just let loose? That it is the speech of Epicureans and lewd fellows? And then performing their works and having their judgements,

you tell us the discourses of Zeno and of Socrates? [III,24,39] Will you not throw away, as far as possible, what is another’s and with which you adorn yourself although it is not befitting to you? What else do that people want but to sleep unimpeded and unconstrained, set up, yawn at their ease, rinse their faces and then write and read what they want, then babble something among friends who praise whatever they will say, then step forth for a stroll and after having strolled a bit to take a warm bath, then eat, then go to bed; and what bed and what sleep is likely for people of this sort -why should one say it?-for one has the power to guess it.

If you claim to be a Stoic without having rectified your judgements, don’t you see what sort of awful penalty you are paying? (40-41)

[III,24,40] Come on, bring forth you too your pastime, what you yearn for, you emulator of the truth and of Socrates and of Diogenes! What do you want to do in Athens? These same things. Perhaps other things? [III,24,41] Why, then, do you say to be a Stoic? Those who falsely claim Roman citizenship are bitterly punished, and ought those who claim so great and so solemn a business and name to set off scot-free?

He who moans is lost (42-43)

[III,24,42] This is truly impossible, and the divine, potent, inescapable law is the law that exacts the biggest punishments from those who are guilty of the greatest aberrations. [III,24,43] For what does it say? “Let him who pretends what is nothing to him be a braggart, be a boastful fellow. Let him who disobeys the divine government be a slave-minded, be a servant fellow; let him grieve, envy, pity and, capital point, let him have ill fortune and moan”.

The stoic is the fellow who knows the nature of things and therefore keeps himself a man in every circumstance (44-49)

[III,24,44] -What then? Do you want me to look after So-and-so? To proceed to his doors?- If the reason chooses so for the sake of your fatherland, of your congenerous, of your friends, why should you not depart? You are not ashamed to proceed to the cobbler when you need shoes, nor to the gardener when you need lettuce, and are you ashamed to proceed to the doors of people who are wealthy in money when you need something similar? [III,24,45] -Yes, for I do not admire the cobbler- And not the people wealthy in money either. -Nor I’ll flatter the gardener- And not the people wealthy in money either. [III,24,46] -How, then, can I hit the mark of what I need?- Am I telling you: “Depart like he who is certain to hit the mark?” Is it not only in order to perform what is fitting to you? [III,24,47] -Why, then, to proceed anymore?- So as to have departed and given back your deed as citizen, as brother, as friend. [III,24,48] Well then, remember that you will come to a cobbler, to a greengrocer, to someone who has power over nothing great or solemn, also if he sells it at a high price. As you depart for heads of lettuce, that are worth an obol, not a talent; [III,24,49] so it is here too. The business is worth that you come to someone’s doors. Let it be; I’ll come to. It is also worth that I hold a dialogue. Let it be; I’ll hold a dialogue with him. But you ought also to kiss his hand and wheedle it through praises. Lead away! This is worth a talent. It is advantageous neither for me nor for the town nor for the friends to lose a good citizen and friend.

If virtue is not self-sufficient, what kind of virtue is it? (50-53)

[III,24,50] -But if you accomplish nothing, it will seem that you did it with no spirited vigour!- Again, did you forget why you went? Don’t you know that the virtuous man does nothing for the sake of appearances but for the sake of having performed something well? [III,24,51] -What is for him the avail of performing something well?- And what is the avail of it for the one who writes the name “Dio” as it is compulsory to write it? The mere fact of writing it. -No reward, then?- Are you looking for a reward bigger than the reward of performing beautiful and right things, in the case of the good man? [III,24,52] At Olympia no one looks for anything else and you think it sufficient to have been crowned

at the Olympic games. Do you think, then, so small and worthless a thing to be virtuous and happy? [III,24,53] Once introduced by the gods in this town for these achievements, when you are already bound to undertake the works of a man, are you yearning for nurses and their breast, and do the cries of stupid ladies bend your knees and make you a female? In this way you will never stop to be an infant. Don’t you know that he who does childish things, the more is elder the more is ridiculous?

You are your judgements (54-57)

[III,24,54] In Athens, did you see nobody when you frequented his home? -Whom I decided to see- Here too: dispose to see this person and you will see whom you decide. Only not in a slave-minded way, not with desire or aversion, and what is yours will be well. [III,24,55] What is yours is not the fact of coming or of staying before the doors, but is within you, in your judgements. [III,24,56] Once you have disparaged the external and aproairetic objects and believed none of them as yours, and believed yours, instead, only to determine, to conceive, to impel, to desire, to avert as a virtuous man; where is there any more place for flattery, for a slave-minded appreciation of yourself? [III,24,57] Why do you still yearn for the leisure you enjoyed there, for those customary places? Wait briefly and you will have again these places as customary. And then if you are so mean, cry and groan when you are far from these too.

If aproairetic things are neither good nor evil, why do you deduce that you can no longer show affection? (58-59)

[III,24,58] -How, then, to be affectionate?- As a generous, as a fortunate man. For the reason never chooses that you are slave-minded nor that you break down nor that you are hung up to something else nor that you blame god or man. [III,24,59] Be affectionate in this way, that you may keep this. If however, because of this affection, whatever it is what you call affection, you are going to be servant and miserable, it is not advantageous for you to be affectionate.

Had Socrates no affection for his children? (60-63)

[III,24,60] What prevents you from loving anyone as a mortal being, as a person who can set off? Did not Socrates love his children? Indeed he did; but as a free man, as one who remembers that in the first place we must be friends of the gods. [III,24,61] For this reason he violated nothing of what is fitting to a good man, neither speaking in his defence nor proposing his own penalty nor, even before, sitting in Council or serving in military campaigns. [III,24,62] We, however, have abundance of all sort of pretexts in order to be mean, some because of their children, some because of their mother, others because of their brothers. [III,24,63] But it is not befitting to have ill fortune because of someone and instead it befits to have good fortune because of all, and especially because of Matter Immortal that structured us to this end.

Did Diogenes love nobody? (64-66)

[III,24,64] Come on, did Diogenes love nobody? Diogenes, a man so gentle and mankind-loving as to merrily take upon himself so many toils and hardships for the sake of the common weal? But how did he love? [III,24,65] As ought a minister of Zeus, who cares for the men and at the same time is subordinated to Matter Immortal. [III,24,66] For this reason to him only every land, and not a particular land, was his fatherland. When he was captured, he did not yearn for Athens nor his intimates and friends from there, but became an intimate of the pirates themselves and tried to rectify them. Retailed later at Corinth, he passed his life there as before at Athens, and he would act in the same way even if he departed to the Perrhaebians.

Antisthenes and Diogenes: freedom is born this way (67-77)

[III,24,67] Freedom is born this way. For this reason Diogenes said: “Since Antisthenes freed me, I was

no longer a servant”. [III,24,68] How did Antisthenes free him? Listen to what Diogenes says: “He taught me what is mine and what is not mine. The estate is not mine; congenerous, household, friends, fame, customary places, pastime: all this is another’s. [III,24,69] ‘What is, then, yours? The use of the impressions’. He showed me that I have this use unhampered, unconstrained; that no one can hinder me, no one can force me to use the impressions otherwise than as I dispose. [III,24,70] Who, then, has still power over me? Philip or Alexander or Perdiccas or the Great King? Whence does such power come to them? For the one who is about to be defeated by a human being, well before must have been defeated by things”. [III,24,71] Therefore physical pleasure, pain, reputation, wealth in money cannot overcome the man; and the man who, when he thinks so, can depart after having spat his whole body at someone’s face, whose servant can he any longer be, whom has he been subordinated to? [III,24,72] If Diogenes were passing his life with pleasure in Athens and were defeated by the amusement of such life, his things would be in anyone’s power, and a person stronger than him would be lord to grieve him. [III,24,73] How do you think he would have flattered the pirates, that they may sell him to an Athenian, so that he could see again the wonderful Piraeus, the Long Walls and the Acropolis? [III,24,74] As being what kind of person do you think you would see them, slave? [III,24,75] A servant and a slave-minded fellow! And what is its avail to you? -No, I would look at them as a free man- Show me how you are free. Look, someone has laid hold of you, he draws you out from your customary pastime and says: “You are my servant, for it is in my power to prevent you from passing your life as you want. It is in my power to appease you, or to make your proairesis a slave one. And when I want so, you can be merry again and proceed relieved to Athens”. [III,24,76] What do you say to this fellow who puts you in servitude? What kind of emancipator do you give him? Or do you not even look at his face but, disregarding all the discourses, do you implore him to set you free? [III,24,77] You sir, you must go into prison rejoicing, with haste, forestalling those who lead you away. And then do you hesitate to pass your life in Rome and yearn for the Greece? And when you must die, also then are you going to lament before us, because you are no longer going to watch Athens nor stroll in the Lyceum?

Why did you come to Nicopolis? To learn the syllogisms? (78-80)

[III,24,78] Did you set off for this purpose? For this purpose did you seek someone to confer with, someone who could benefit you? What kind of benefit? That you may resolve syllogisms more by habit or scour hypothetical arguments? For this cause did you desert your brother, your fatherland, friends and household? That you may return after having learned this? [III,24,79] So that you did not set off in order to acquire the stability of your judgements and undisconcertment; not in order that, once become undamaged, you may blame nobody, bring charges to nobody, that nobody may do wrong to you and so you may safeguard unimpededly your social relationships? [III,24,80] Wonderful the merchandise that you got ready for yourself! Syllogisms, equivocal arguments, hypothetical arguments. If you think so, sit down in the market-place and put an advertising sign, as the drug-pedlars do.

What do you live for? To feel affection and be misfortuned? (81-83)

[III,24,81] Will you not deny to know also what you have learned, so as not to slander as unprofitable the general principles of philosophy? What evil did philosophy do to you? What wrong against you did Chrysippus so that, in practice, you confute his toils as unprofitable? Were not the evils you had at home sufficient for you, all those causes for grieving and mourning even without setting off? Had you to add more of them? [III,24,82] If you have again other intimates and friends, if you pine away for another country, you will have more things that will make you wail. Why, then, do you live? To encompass yourself with one grief after another, and be misfortuned thanks to them? [III,24,83] And then do you call this affection? What kind of affection, you sir? If the affection is a good, it does not become cause of any evil. If it is an evil, there is nothing between me and affection. I have been born for my good, I have not been born for evils.

Do not let senseless imaginations or immortality dreams drive you (84-87)

[III,24,84] What is, then, the exercise for this? In the first place, when you pine away for something, the highest and dominant exercise and the one that stands at the very gates of this subject, is to say to yourself that you are pining away for something that can be taken away, something of the sort of a pot, of a glass drinking-cup, so that when it breaks, remembering this fact you are not disconcerted. [III,24,85] So here too. If you kiss your child, a brother, a friend, do not fully bestow yourself to the impression and do not allow the joyful effusion to step forth as it wants but hold it back, hamper it like those who stay near the generals riding in triumph and remind them that they are human beings. [III,24,86] You too remind yourself something of this sort, that you love a mortal creature, that you love nothing of yours. For the present it has been given to you, but it can be taken away, it is not fully yours, but is like a fig, a bunch of grapes at the fixed season of the year. If you yearn for it during winter, you are a stupid. [III,24,87] In the same way, if you yearn for a son or a friend when he has not been given to you, know that you are yearning for a fig during winter. For, what the winter is for a fig, the same sort of thing is any circumstance arising from the whole, with regard to what, in that circumstance, is cleared out.

Lay hold of the right judgements, which are the only ones able to benefit you; and do not dread to say the Truth (88-92)

[III,24,88] Well then, at the very moment when you rejoice for something, put in front of you the opposite impressions. While you are kissing your child, what evil is there if you whisper: “Tomorrow you will die”? In the same way to a friend: “Tomorrow you will set off, or I’ll; and we will no longer see each other”? [III,24,89] -But these are words of bad omen!”- So are some refrains, but since they are of benefit I do not turn my mind towards that, only let them be of benefit! Do you call anything of bad omen except what means some evil for us? [III,24,90] Bad omen is cowardice; bad omen is meanness, mourning, grief, shamelessness: these are the words of bad omen. And yet we must not hesitate to utter these very names to guard against the things themselves. [III,24,91] Do you say of bad omen a word that means something natural? Say, then, that it is of bad omen also the harvest of the ears of corn, because it means the loss of the ears of corn. But not of the world. Say that it is of bad omen also the shedding of the leaves, the turning of a fresh fig into a dried one and of a bunch of grapes into raisins. [III,24,92] All these are transformations of the former things in others: not a loss, then, but a well positioned management and government.

Look at what death is! (93-94)

[III,24,93] This is to set off a small transformation. This is death: a greater transformation from what exists now, not into what does not exist but into what does not exist now. [III,24,94] –Will I, then, no longer exist?- You will not exist, but something else will exist that now the world needs. For you were born not when you disposed so, but when the world needed you.

The virtuous man has clear impressions… (95-100)

[III,24,95] For this reason the virtuous man, mindful of who he is and whence he has come and what he is born from, for this only he is alive: how to fulfill his own task in an orderly manner and with obedience to Matter Immortal. [III,24,96] “Do You still dispose that I remain? I’ll remain as a free, generous man, as You disposed; for You made me unhampered in what is mine. [III,24,97] Do You no longer need me? Well be it for You! Till now I remained thanks to You and no other; now I depart obeying You”. [III,24,98] “How do you depart?” “Again, as You disposed: as a free man, as Your manservant, as one who has realized Your injunctions and Your prohibitions. [III,24,99] But till I pass my time with Your things, whom do You dispose me to be? A magistrate or a layman, a senator or one of the common people, a soldier or a general, a trainer in diairesis or a housemaster? The task and the position that You will put in my hand, as Socrates says, I’ll die ten thousand times before I abandon them. [III,24,100] And where do You dispose me to be? In Rome, in Athens, in Thebes, in Gyara? Only remember me there.

…till the signal for the retreat (101-102)

[III,24,101] If You send me where it is not possible to enjoy oneself as a man, in accord with the nature of things, I quit this life not to disobey You but because You are giving me a signal for retreat. I do not desert You, far from it. But I realize that You do not need me. [III,24,102] If, instead, You give me a way of enjoying myself in accord with the nature of things, I’ll not seek other place than that in which I am, nor people other than those with whom I am”.

The considerations that we must have ready at hand by day and by night (103-109)

[III,24,103] Let this be ready at hand by day and by night. Let’s write this, read this. About this let’s hold discourses, we with ourselves, or tell another fellow: “Are you able to help me to this purpose?”. And then to come to another one and still to another. [III,24,104] If, then, some of those things that we say to be independent from our decisions happens, straightaway you will be lightened in the first place by the judgement that it is not an unexpected thing. [III,24,105] For a great help is to be able to say in all cases: “I knew I had begot a mortal son”. So you will also say: “I knew that I was mortal”; “I knew to be subject to set off”; “I knew to be subject to be cast out of my country”; “I knew to be subject to prison”. [III,24,106] And then if you turn your mind to yourself and look for the quarter from which what has occurred comes, straightaway you will recall to memory: “From the quarter of what is aproairetic, of what is not mine; what is it, then, to me?” [III,24,107] And then the dominant judgement will follow: “Who has sent it?” The imperator, or the general, or the town, or the law of the town. “Give it to me, then, for I must always obey in every circumstance to the law”. [III,24,108] And then when the imagination bites you (for this is not in your exclusive power), fight it with the reason, prevail against it, do not allow it to grow strong nor to promote itself to what comes next and reshape what it wants and as it wants. [III,24,109] If you are in Gyara, do not reshape in your thoughts your lifestyle in Rome and how many joyful effusions were available for the people who lives there, and how many will be available to the people who returns there. Strive, instead, as ought he who passes his life in Gyara, to pass your life in Gyara in a manful way. And if you are in Rome, do not reshape your lifestyle in Athens, but make your life in Rome the only object of your study.

The apparent paradoxes become reality: the life of the virtuous man (110-114)

[III,24,110] And then in place of all the other joyful effusions, introduce that which comes from the understanding that you obey to Zeus, that not in words but in practice you execute the deeds of the virtuous man. [III,24,111] What a great thing is to be able to say to oneself: “What now the others talk solemnly about in the schools thinking to say paradoxes, this I actually bring to completion. Sitting, they comment upon my virtues and inquire about me, they sing a hymn of praise to me. [III,24,112] And of this Zeus disposed to take a demonstration in my person, and also to recognize if He has a soldier as ought to be, a citizen as ought to be and to promote me as witness of the aproairetic things: ‘Behold that at random you fear, that like fools you crave for what you crave. Do not seek your goods outside, seek them in yourselves; otherwise you will not find them.’ [III,24,113] On these terms He leads me now here, He sends me now there, He shows me to the people poor in money, with no office, sick; He dispatches me to Gyara, He introduces me in prison. Not hating me, far from it. Who hates the best one of his manservants? Nor neglecting me, for He does not neglect even the smallest of His creatures; but training me and using me as a witness for the others. [III,24,114] After having been appointed to such a service, do I still worry about where I am or whom with or what people say about me? Am I not wholly intent upon Matter Immortal, upon Its directions and injunctions”.

The shameful thing is not to lack something to eat, but to have a reason incapable of freeing us from the grief and the fear of having nothing to eat (115-118)

[III,24,115] If you always have these judgements in your hands and have a consummate skill in them

and keep them in readiness, you will need nobody to console you, to reinforce you. [III,24,116] For shameful is not to have nothing to eat but to have a reason not sufficient to secure us from fear and grief. [III,24,117] If once you secure the ability to control grief and fear, will there any longer be for you a tyrant, a bodyguard, the members of Caesar’s household? Will an appointment to office, or those who offer sacrifice in Capitol in taking the auspices bite you with envy? You who got from Zeus an office so important? [III,24,118] Only do not parade it ostentatiously, do not brag about it but show it in practice. And if nobody becomes aware of it, be content to live healthy and to be happy.


Happiness is at stake: dare to win! (1-3)

[III,25,1] Analyse which of the things that you proposed to yourself at the beginning you have mastered, and which one you have not. Analyse how it is that when you recall some of them to memory you are merry, while you take offence when you recall some others and, if possible, memorize again also those that slipped from your grasp. [III,25,2] For the men who compete in the greatest contest must not shrink back but also take blows. [III,25,3] The contest in program is not in wrestling or in pancratium, contests in which, whether scoring a victory or not, one may be a person of the greatest value or of little value and, by Zeus, very fortunate or very unhappy; but the contest is for good fortune and happiness itself.

In this contest it is possible and it is worth to try again after each defeat (4-5)

[III,25,4] What then? Even if we capitulate here, no one prevents us from competing again, and one has not to await four years for another Olympic festival to come. The man who revives and recovers and brings in himself the same spirited vigour has the power to compete at once. And if you surrender again, again you have that power. And if only once you win, you are similar to the man who never surrendered. [III,25,5] Only do not begin to do it with pleasure out of the sheer habit and, well then, do not go around like a bad athlete goes around always defeated during the period between one Olympic festival and the next, like escaped quails.

Pay attention to bad habits: they make your proairesis lose sensitivity (6-10)

[III,25,6] “I am defeated by the impression of a handsome maiden. What then? Lately was I not defeated?” “I have an impulsion to censure someone. And lately did I not censure?” [III,25,7] You are chatting as if you had come out of this business without penalty, as if one said to the physician who forbids him to take a warm bath: “But lately did I not take a warm bath?” The physician, then, can say to him: “Come on, after the bath what did you experience? Had you not a fever? Had you not a headache?” [III,25,8] You too, when you censured someone lately, did you not perform the deed of a malicious person, of a babbler? Did you not feed this attitude, by throwing upon it its own deeds? Defeated from the maiden, did you depart without penalty? [III,25,9] Why are you talking about what you did lately? You ought, I think, to remember and abstain from the same aberrations, as the servants do from blows. [III,25,10] But the two cases are not similar; for in the case of the servants it’s the pain that produces a memory, while in the case of your aberrations what is the pain, what is the penalty that produces a memory? When did you get accustomed to avoiding evil activities?


To fear the want of means of subsistence is the dread of a mind more miserable than the mind of a runaway slave (1-7)

[III,26,1] Are you not ashamed to be more cowardly and mean than the runaway slaves? When they flee, how do they desert their masters? Relying on what lands? On what household slaves? They steal that little for the first days, and later do not they drift along over earth or sea elaborating artfully one resource after another in order to keep themselves fed? [III,26,2] And which runaway slave did ever die of hunger? But you tremble for fear of lacking the necessary and stay awake at night. [III,26,3] Paltry! Are you so blind, do you not see the way where the indigence of the necessary things leads? For, where does it lead? Where also a fever leads, where also a stone that falls upon you: to death. Did not you yourself say often this to your fellows; did you not read many such things, did you not write many? How many times did you brag that as far as death is concerned, you have a well-balanced attitude? [III,26,4] -Yes, but my family too will starve- What then? Does their hunger lead somewhere else? Is the descent not somehow the same? Are not the things down there identical for all? [III,26,5] Don’t you want, then, with courage in the face of every want of means and of every indigence, to stare at the place where also the people wealthiest in money, also those who hold the highest offices, the kings themselves and the tyrants must go down while you, perhaps, are starving and they, instead, are bursting with indigestion and drunkenness? [III,26,6] Did you ever easily see a mendicant who was not an old one? And some extremely old ones too? But shivering night and day, cast on the ground and taking the barely necessary food they arrive near the impossibility to die [III,26,7] while you, intact as you are, with hands and feet, do you dread hunger in this way? Can’t you draw water, can’t you write, be a pedagogue, guard another’s door? -But it’s shameful to come to this necessity- Learn first what is shameful and then tell us to be a philosopher. But now, if another says that you are one, do not tolerate it.

What is shameful and what is not shameful (8-12)

[III,26,8] Is it shameful for you what is not your work, what you did not cause, what meets you accidentally as a headache, as a fever? If your parents were poor in money or if they left behind others as their heir; if while alive they give no help to you, is this shameful? [III,26,9] Did you learn this from the philosophers? Did you never hear that what is shameful is censurable and that the censurable is what deserves censure? And who is censurable for what is not his own work, for what he did not do? [III,26,10] Did you, then, make a father of this sort? Or have you the power to rectify him? Is this given to you? What then? Ought you to want what is not given or be ashamed when you do not hit the mark? [III,26,11] Were you so accustomed, when you studied philosophy, to have in view the others and to hope nothing from yourself? [III,26,12] Therefore wail, groan, eat dreading of not having the food tomorrow and, about your servants, tremble that they may steal something, or flee, or die.

The truth is that you have been educated to toil not in order to become master of yourself but to safeguard your unhappiness (13-14)

[III,26,13] Live so and never stop, you who only in name came to philosophy and, as far as in you lay, have put to shame its general principles by showing them off to be unprofitable and futile to those who acquire them. You never desired stability of judgement, undisconcertment, self control. For this purpose you looked after nobody; for the sake of syllogisms, instead, after many. You never thoroughly put to test, within yourself, any of these impressions: [III,26,14] “Am I able to bear with it or not? What have I to do next?” But as if all your impressions were good and safe, you lingered in the last topic of philosophy, that of unchangeableness. To have what unchangeable? Your cowardice, your meanness, your infatuation for people wealthy in money, your imperfect desire, your failing aversion. The safety of these impressions you were worried about!

The one who provides himself with the mere instruments of logic is like the doorkeeper of a nonexistent door (15-20)

[III,26,15] Ought you not, first, to take some advantage from reasoning and then secure safety to it? Whom did you ever see encompass a wall never built with a frieze? Who institutes himself doorkeeper of a door that does not exist? [III,26,16] But you study in order to demonstrate; demonstrate what? You study in order that you may not be unmoored by sophisms; what sophisms? [III,26,17] In the first place show me what it is that you keep, what it is that you measure or weigh, and then show off the scale or the bushel measure. [III,26,18] Or how long will you keep measuring ashes? Ought you not to demonstrate what it is that makes men happy, what it is that makes things proceed successfully as they dispose them, what it is thank to which one ought to find fault with no one, bring charges to no one and obey to the government of the whole? [III,26,19] Show me this. “Look, I show it”, says the fellow, “I’ll resolve syllogisms”. But this is what measures, slave! not what is measured. [III,26,20] This is why you now pay the penalty for what you neglected: you tremble, you stay awake, you take counsel with all and, if the resolutions are not going to please all, you think you have deliberated badly.

Your life is the life of an invalid. In all truth you fear to be healthy, you fear a simple and frugal life (21-23)

[III,26,21] And then, as you think, you fear hunger. Yet you do not fear hunger but you dread of not having a cook, a caterer, another to put on your shoes for you, another to clothe you, others to massage you, others to follow you; [III,26,22] so that at the baths, undressed and stretched like those who have been crucified, you may be massaged on this side and on the other and the attending physical trainer may say “Shift, give me your side, take his head, set me near his shoulder” and then, coming from the baths, you may cry aloud “Is no one bringing me something to eat?” and then “Take away the table, sponge it!” [III,26,23] This you fear: that you may not live the life of an invalid. Anyway, learn the life of those who are healthy, how the servants live, how the workers live, how the veritable philosophers live, how Socrates lived -he with a wife and children too-, how Diogenes lived, how Cleanthes, who was a schoolboy and at the same time went to draw water.

You are your proairesis. Do you remember this? (24-26)

[III,26,24] If you dispose to have this, you will have it everywhere and will live confidently. Confident in what? In the only thing in which it’s feasible to be confident in: what is faithful, unhampered, what cannot be taken away, that is in your proairesis. [III,26,25] Why, instead, have you prepared yourself to be so unprofitable and futile that nobody wants to receive you in his house or to have care for you? Whoever finds an intact and profitable vessel hurled outside, takes it up and will believe this a gain. To find you, instead, is no gain; but anyone will believe it a penalty. [III,26,26] So you are unable to provide the utility of a dog or of a cock! Why, then, do you want to live any longer, if you are this sort of person?

What kind of virtuous man are you if you fear that food will lack you? (27-30)

[III,26,27] Does a virtuous man fear that he will lack food? Blind people do not lack food, lame people do not either. Will the virtuous man lack food? A gallant soldier does not lack someone to give him a pay, or a worker, or a cobbler. And will the virtuous man? [III,26,28] To this point does Matter Immortal neglect Its successful hits, Its ministers, Its witnesses, whom alone It uses as paradigms towards those uneducated to diairesize, in order to show that It exists, that It well governs the whole, that It does not neglect the human things and that for the virtuous man there is no evil either in life or in death? [III,26,29] -What, then, when It does not provide food?- What else does this mean but that, as a good general, It has given the signal for the retreat? I obey, I follow It glorifying the leader, singing a hymn of praise to Its works. [III,26,30] For I came when It thought so and again I go away when It thinks so. While living, this was my work: to sing a hymn of praise to Zeus and to me on myself, both

to one person or to many people.

Heracles, naked and alone, introduces into the world justice and law (31-32)

[III,26,31] Zeus does not provide me with many things nor in abundance, nor He disposes that I live among effeminacies. But He did not provide with many things Heracles either, His own son. And while another was king over Argos and Mycenae, he had to obey orders, to toil, to train himself. [III,26,32] Yet Eurystheus, such as he was, was not king over either Argos or Mycenae, as he was not king even over himself! Heracles, on the contrary, was ruler and leader of all the earth and sea, was the purifier from injustice and lawlessness, the introducer of what is just and holy. And these things he did naked and alone.

Odysseus, naked and alone, relies on his right judgements (33-34)

[III,26,33] And when Odysseus was shipwrecked and cast ashore, did the want of means make his proairesis slave, did it subdue it? How did he go towards the young maidens to ask for the necessary – and to entreat it from another seems to be the most shameful of the things-? “As a lion feeding in the mountains”. [III,26,34] Relying on what? Neither on reputation nor stuff nor office but on his vigour, that is on his judgements on what is and what is not in our exclusive power.

Only the right judgements make the men free (35-38)

[III,26,35] For only the judgements make the men free, unhampered; make people whose proairesis has been slave to hoist their neck; make men look in the face of people wealthy in money and in the face of tyrants. [III,26,36] The gift of the philosopher was this, yet will you not go out confident but trembling for your robes and your silverware? Shabby fellow! Have you so lost your time till now? [III,26,37] – What then? And if I get sick?- You will be sick as a virtuous man. -Who will cure me?- Matter Immortal, your friends. -I’ll lie on a hard bed- But as a man. -I’ll not have a suitable room- You will be sick in an unsuitable one. -Who will make food for me?- Those who make it for others too; you will be sick like Manes. -And what end of the sickness?- [III,26,38] Anything but death? Don’t you brood, then, that the capital cause of all the evils of the human being, of his meanness and cowardice is not death but the fear of death?

The freedom or death of men (39)

[III,26,39] Train yourself, then, in this game; let all your discourses, practical exercises, readings nod to this and you will know that in this way only the men become free.






The four books of the Discourses are neither Dialogues in the style of Plato nor Orations written by Isocrates for display, but the faithful recording -by his pupil Arrian- of Epictetus’ live talking. I have done my best to preserve this peculiarity and have kept very close to the Greek text. The reader should bear this in mind, and read according to the right ‘tempo’.

Thank you for choosing this new translation of Epictetus.


“You only remember of that diairesis by means of which a boundary is drawn between what is and what is not in your exclusive power”. (II, 6, 24)


To be a man means to know the art of combining courage and caution: caution in choosing for us our true good and courage in front of what can in no way be an evil for us (1-7)

[II,1,1] Perhaps the following contention of the philosophers appears paradoxical to some people, and yet let’s analyse at our best wheter it is true that we must do everything both with caution and with courage. [II,1,2] For caution seems to be somehow the opposite of courage, and opposites do not coexist at all. [II,1,3] That which appears to many to be paradoxical in this topic, seems to me to pertain to something of this sort: if for the same things we urged the use of both caution and courage, we would be rightly imputed for combining what cannot be combined. [II,1,4] Now, instead, what is strange in what is said? For if it is sound what has been often said and often demonstrated, namely that the substance of the good as well as that of the evil is in the use of our impressions, while that which is aproairetic admits neither the nature of evil nor the nature of good, [II,1,5] what a paradox do the philosophers urge if they say: “Where aproairetic things are involved, there be courageous; where proairetic things are involved, there be cautious”? [II,1,6] For if the evil lies in an evil proairesis, only to this regard it is worth to use caution; and if what is aproairetic and not in our exclusive power is nothing to us, one must use courage towards it. [II,1,7] And so we shall be cautious and at the same time courageous and, by Zeus, courageous because of our caution. For, being cautious about the actual evils, it will occur to us to be courageous towards what is not an evil.

But we make a mess out of the things and, like the deer for fear of the crimson feathers fall into the hunters’ nets, in order to flee from death or exile or ill reputation we seek comfort in shame, in cowardice, in servility (8-14)

[II,1,8] Well then, we experience what the deer experience. When the hinds fear the crimson feathers and flee from them, where do they turn and to what do they withdraw as a safe retreat? To the nets: and so they perish because they have exchanged what one must fear and what in the face of which one has to be courageous. [II,1,9] So we too, where do we use fear? In front of the aproairetic things. Again, about what do we conduct ourselves with courage as if there were nothing terrible in it? About the proairetic things. [II,1,10] To be deceived or to be reckless or to do something shameless or to desire something with a shameful crave makes no difference to us, if only we hit the mark in the aproairetic things. Where, instead, there are death or exile or pain or ill reputation, there is withdrawal, there is agitation. [II,1,11] Therefore, as it is likely to happen to those who heavily aberrate in the greatest issues, that which is in us by nature courageous, this we fashion brazen, insane, haughty, shameless; whereas that which is in us by nature cautious and self respecting, this we fashion cowardly and wicked and full of fears and disconcertments. [II,1,12] For if one transposes his caution there where proairesis and the deeds of proairesis are, together with being cautious to want something he will also have his aversion in his exclusive power. If, on the contrary, he transposes his caution there where lies what is not in our exclusive power and is aproairetic, having his aversion turned to things that are in power of other people he will necessarily fear, he will be unstable and disconcerted. [II,1,13] For it is not death or pain that is a frightening thing but to fear pain or death. For this reason we praise the one who says: “Terrible is not to die but to die shamelessly”. [II,1,14] Our courage ought, then, to be turned round against the death, and our caution against the fear of death. Now, on the contrary, in the face of death we turn to flight; in the face of the judgement on the death we turn to heedlessness, to carelessness, to indifference.

Many bogeys for many human beings (15-16)

[II,1,15] Socrates did well when he called these things bogeys. For as masks appear terrible and frightening to children because of their inexperience, in the face of troubles we too experience something of this sort for no other reason than inexperience, like the children do in the face of the bogeys. [II,1,16] For what is a child? Ignorance. What is a child? Lack of culture. But where he knows, he has that knowledge not less than we have it.

The bogey of death (17-18)

[II,1,17] What is death? A bogey. Turn it round and decipher it. Look how it does not bite: the body must be separated from the pneuma, as it was separated before, either now or later. Why, then, are you vexed if now? For if it is not now, it will be later. [II,1,18] Why? So that the world’s regular cycle may be accomplished, as it needs the present, the future and the past times.

The bogey of pain (19-20)

[II,1,19] What is pain? A bogey. Turn it round and decipher it. The flesh is moved harshly and then smoothly again. If this is not advantageous to you, the door is open. [II,1,20] If it is advantageous, bear with it. For the door must be open for all contingencies, and we have no trouble.

If diairesis is the root and antidiairesis is the trunk, then the branches of the diairesis tree are laden with fruits whose names are freedom and happiness. If, on the contrary, counterdiairesis is the root and antidiairesis is the trunk, then the branches are laden with fruits whose names are unhappiness and slavery (21-28)

[II,1,21] What is, then, the fruit of these judgements? The one that must be the most beautiful and appropriate to those who indeed are trained to diairesize: undisconcertment, control of fear, freedom. [II,1,22] For on these points one must not trust the majority, who say that only the free citizens are in power of being educated; but rather trust the philosophers, who say that only the men trained to diairesize are free. [II,1,23] -How is this?- Thus: now, is freedom something else but the power to enjoy ourselves as we decide? “Nothing else”. Tell me, men, do you decide to live aberrating? “We do not”. Therefore no person who aberrates is free. [II,1,24] Do you decide to live fearing, do you decide to live grieving, do you decide to live disconcerted? “Not at all”. Then no one who fears, who grieves, who is disconcerted is free; whereas whoever has gotten rid of grieves, of fears and of disconcertments, well this man, through the same way, has got rid also of being a servant. [II,1,25] How, then, shall we any longer trust you, O dearest lawgivers, who allow none but the free citizens to be educated? For the philosophers say “We do not allow anyone to be free but those who have been trained to diairesize, that is, it is Matter Immortal that does not allow it”. [II,1,26] -When, therefore, in the presence of a praetor one makes his slave to turn round, has he done nothing?- He did something. -What?- He made his slave to turn round in the presence of a praetor. -Nothing else?-Yes, he is also bound to pay a tax of five per cent. [II,1,27] -What then? Has not the slave who experiences this become free?- No more than undisconcerted. [II,1,28] Since you, who can make others to turn round, have you no lord? Have you not money as your lord, or a wench, or a young boy, or a tyrant, or some tyrant’s friend? Why, then, do you tremble when you go away to meet such a circumstance?

From words to facts (29-33)

[II,1,29] For this reason I often say: “Study these things and have ready at hand the knowledge of what you must face with courage and of what you must dispose yourselves towards with caution, because in the face of the aproairetic we must be courageous and in the face of the proairetic cautious”. [II,1,30] – But did I not read the texts to you and did you not know what I am doing?”- [II,1,31] In what? In trifling phrases. Let you have your trifling phrases. Show me, instead, how you stand towards desire and

aversion; if you do not fail in what you want, if you do not stumble on what you do not want. Those trifling periods, if you have a sound mind, you will somehow remove and cancel. [II,1,32] -What then? Did Socrates not write?- And who wrote that much? But how? Since he could not always have at hand someone to control his judgements or to be controlled by him in turn, Socrates controlled and reviewed himself and always fittingly trained some preconception. [II,1,33] This is what a philosopher writes. The trifling phrases, the “said-he-said-I” he leaves to others, to the insensitive or the blessed, to those who have such leisure thanks to their undisconcertment or to those who, because of their stupidity, compute nothing of what comes next.

The show that suits a young man who leaves Epictetus’ school (34-40)

[II,1,34] And now, when the right time calls, will you depart and show us those trifling periods, will you read them and brag? “See how I compose dialogues!” [II,1,35] No, sir, but rather that: “See how I do not fail in my desire. See how, in my aversion, I do not stumble on what I avert. Bring death and you will recognize it. Bring pain, bring prison, bring ill reputation, bring a condemnation”. [II,1,36] This is the exhibition of a young man who has come from my school! Leave other things to others and let no one hear your voice about that. If one praises you for this reason, do not tolerate it, but think to be a nobody and to know nothing. [II,1,37] Appear to know only this: how you never fail nor stumble on what you avert. [II,1,38] Let others study lawsuits, others study problems, others study syllogisms. You to die, to be fettered, to be racked, to be banished. [II,1,39] And all this with courage, relying on the One who has called you to do that, on What has judged you worth of this task, appointed to which you will exhibit what a rational ruling principle arrayed against aproairetic forces can do. [II,1,40] And thus the paradox that at the same time we must be both cautious and courageous will no longer appear either impossible or a paradox, because we must be courageous in the face of the aproairetic things and cautious about the proairetic ones.


Reassuring truths for the man who has to appear in a court of law (1-7)

[II,2,1] You who go away for a lawsuit, see what you want to keep and where you want to accomplish something. [II,2,2] For if you dispose to keep your proairesis in accord with the nature of things, all safety is yours, every facility is yours, you have no trouble. [II,2,3] When you dispose to keep unconditioned the things that are in your exclusive power and are free by nature and to be content with that, what do you turn anymore your mind towards? Who is lord of those things, who can dispossess you of them? [II,2,4] If you dispose to be self respecting and faithful, who will not allow you to be so? If you dispose not to be hampered nor constrained, who will constrain you to desire what does not seem to you to be desirable, and to avert what it does not appear to you that should be averted? [II,2,5] But someone will perform against you things that seem to be frightful. And how can he also make you to experience them with aversion? [II,2,6] When, then, it’s in your exclusive power to desire and to avert, what do you turn anymore your mind towards? [II,2,7] This is your preamble, this your exposition of the case, this your means of persuasion, this your victory, this your peroration, this your approbation.

Reassuring truths indeed, but provided that one knows which our true goods are (8-14)

[II,2,8] For this reason Socrates, to the one who reminded him to prepare himself for his lawsuit said: “Don’t you think, then, that I am prepared for this with all my life?” [II,2,9] -“What kind of preparation?”- “I have kept safely” he says, “that which is in my exclusive power”. -“How, then?”- “I never performed an injustice, either privately or publicly”. [II,2,10] If you want instead to keep the

external objects too, your body, your petty properties, your petty dignity, I tell you: make immediately all the preparation you can and, well then, analyse the nature both of the judge and of your adversary. [II,2,11] If one has to clasp knees, clasp knees; if one has to cry, cry; if to wail, wail. [II,2,12] For when you subject that which is yours to the external objects, from now on be a servant and don’t hold yourself back, willing to be a servant at one moment and not willing at another; [II,2,13] but simply and with your entire intellect, be either this or that; either free or servant; either a man who has been trained to diairesize or a human being uneducated to diairesize; either a generous fighting cock or a mean one; and when you are struck either stand until you die or renounce straightaway. Let it not happen that you take many blows and later you renounce. [II,2,14] If this is shameful, discriminate immediately: “Where is the nature of the evil and the good things? Where our inner truth also is. In fact, where our inner truth and the nature of things are involved, there we must be cautious; while where it comes to external reality and natural events, there we must be courageous”.

Socrates knew this very well (15-20)

[II,2,15] Do you think that Socrates, whilst he wants to keep the external objects, would come forward and say: “Anytus and Meletus can kill me but not damage me”? [II,2,16] Was he so stupid as not to see that this way does not bring here but elsewhere? What then? Is it that Socrates has no argument and, further, that he provokes his judges? [II,2,17] Like my friend Heracleitus who, having in Rhodes some troubles because of a bit of land, after demonstrating to the judges that he was telling what was right, coming to the peroration said: “But I’ll neither entreat you nor I do turn my mind towards what you are going to judge; it is you who are judged rather than I”. And so he overturned the affair. [II,2,18] What need was there of behaving like that? Only do not entreat, do not add up “And I do not entreat”, unless it is the right time to provoke the judges on purpose, like it was for Socrates. [II,2,19] You too, if you prepare such a peroration why do you mount the platform, why do you heed the summons? [II,2,20] If you want to be crucified, await and the cross will come along. But if reason chooses to heed and persuade at your best, you must do what comes next after this, while keeping, of course, what is your own.

“Make my intellect able to suit itself to whatever comes about”. Remember this universal principle and you will never lack the right suggestion (21-26)

[II,2,21] So it is also ridiculous to say: “Suggest something to me!” What must I suggest to you? Say rather, “Make my intellect able, whatever comes about, to suit itself to this”. [II,2,22] Since that request is similar to the one of an illiterate person who says: “Tell me what to write, when some name is put forward for me to write”. [II,2,23] For if I say “Write Dio”, and then the teacher comes and puts forward for him to write not the name “Dio” but “Theo”, what will happen? What will he write? [II,2,24] But if you have studied to write, you are also prepared to write all the words that are dictated. If it is not so, what must I suggest to you now? If the business of life will dictate something else, what will you say or what will you perform? [II,2,25] Remember, then, this universal principle and you will not be at a loss for a suggestion. If, instead, you gape open in the face of external objects, it is necessary for you to be rolled up and down according to the plan of your lord. [II,2,26] And who is lord? He who has power over any of the things that you are eager for or that you avert.


Diogenes knew very well the art of distinguishing men from human beings and for this reason he never wrote a letter of recommendation (1-5)

[II,3,1] Diogenes says well to the one who urges to get recommendation’s letters from him: “That you

are a human being” he says, “he will recognize at a glance. Whether you are good or bad, he will recognize if he is skilled in screening between those who are good and those who are bad. But if he is unskilled, he will not recognize this difference, even though I write to him ten thousand times”. [II,3,2] For the fact is similar as though a drachma urged to be recommended to someone in order to be evaluated. If he is an assayer of silver, you will recommend yourself. [II,3,3] We ought, then, have also in life the sort of ability that we have in the case of money, so that I may say precisely as the assayer says: “Bring the drachma that you want and I’ll screen it”. [II,3,4] On syllogisms I say: “Bring the one that you want and I’ll distinguish the analytical and the not analytical one”. Why? Because I know how to resolve syllogisms; because I have the faculty that the one who discerns what is successful in the case of syllogisms must have. [II,3,5] And in life, what do I do? Now I say that something is good, now that it is evil. What is the cause of this? The opposite of what happens in the case of syllogisms: my lack of culture and my inexperience.


The metamorphoses of a very learned and very insipient person (1-11)

[II,4,1] As Epictetus was saying that the man is born for faithfulness and that the one who overthrows this overthrows what is peculiar to the man, there entered one of those who had the reputation of being scholars and who had once been caught in adultery in town. [II,4,2] If then, says Epictetus, we give up the faithfulness that we are born for and lay snares for the wife of a neighbour, what are we doing? What else but losing and abolishing? Whom? The faithful, the self respecting, the holy man we are. [II,4,3] Is that all? Do we not abolish also the neighbourhood, the friendship, the town? To what task do we appoint ourselves? As whom am I to use you, sir? As a neighbour, as a friend? Of what kind? As a citizen? About what am I to trust you? [II,4,4] If you were a vessel so rotten that one could make no use of you, you would be cast outside upon the dunghills and no one would take you up from there. [II,4,5] And if as a human being you cannot fulfill any task of a man, what will we do with you? Let it be so: you cannot have a place as a friend. Can you have a place as a servant? And who will trust you? Don’t you want, then, you too to be cast upon a dunghill as an unprofitable vessel, as dung? [II,4,6] And then you will say: “Nobody turns his mind towards me, towards a man and a scholar!”? For you are someone bad and unprofitable. It is as if the wasps were vexed because nobody turns his mind towards them but all avoid them and, if one can, strikes and knocks them down. [II,4,7] You have such a sting that you throw into troubles and sorrow whomever you strike. What do you want us to do with you? There is no place where you may be set. [II,4,8] What then? Are not ladies a common property by nature? I also say this. The little pig too is common to the invited guests; but when the portions are already there, if you think so, come and snatch up the portion of the fellow who lies down beside you, stealing it secretly, or let your hand drop by your side and sate your greed; and if you cannot drag away a piece of meat, grease your fingers and lick them all round. A wonderful fellow-drinker and Socratic table companion! [II,4,9] Come on, is not the theatre a common property of the citizens? When they sit down come, then, if so it appears to you, and cast someone of them out of his seat. [II,4,10] In this sense the ladies also are common by nature. When the lawgiver, like a banquet-giver, has apportioned them, will you not, you too, seek your own portion instead of filching and sating your greed upon another’s one? [II,4,11] “But I am a scholar and I understand Archedemus!” Understand therefore Archedemus and be an adulterer, a faithless person and a wolf or an ape instead of a man. For what prevents you to be so?


We must show greatness of mind about the subject matters that we encounter in our life but an extreme diligence in our use of them, as the skilled chess-player is able to do (1-3)

[II,5,1] The subject matters are indifferent but our use of them is not indifferent. [II,5,2] How, then, will a man keep both stability of judgement and undisconcertment, and at the same time a diligent and not rash nor negligent attitude? If he imitates the dice-players. [II,5,3] The pebbles are indifferent, the dice are indifferent. Whence do I know what is going to fall? But to use what has fallen with diligence and art, this is by now my work.

Our proairesis can assume a diairetic or a counterdiairetic attitude (4-5)

[II,5,4] And so in life too, your cardinal deed is this: discriminate things, divide them and say [II,5,5] “External objects are not in my exclusive power; proairesis is in my exclusive power. Where shall I seek the good and the evil? Inside myself, in what is my own”. About what is another’s, never name it good or evil, benefit or damage or anything else of this sort.

To play successfully with diairesis and antidiairesis does it perhaps mean that we must use the external objects, what is another’s, in a word, the subject matter of our normal existence, at random or carelessly or even refuse to use them? (6-9)

[II,5,6] What then? Must you use these external objects carelessly? Not at all. For this again is an evil for our proairesis and, through this way, is not in accord with the nature of things. [II,5,7] You must use the external objects both with diligence, because their use is not indifferent, and with stability of judgement and undisconcertment, because the subject matter does not make any difference. [II,5,8] For where what makes the difference is, there nobody can either hamper or constrain me. Where I can be hampered or constrained, there the attainment of those things is not in my exclusive power and is neither good nor evil. The use, indeed, is either evil or good, but this is in my exclusive power. [II,5,9] It is difficult to mix and combine the diligence of the person who pines away for the subject matters and the stability of judgement of the man who pays no heed to them, except that it is not impossible. Otherwise it would be impossible to be happy.

Like the steersman (10-14)

[II,5,10] Let’s do the sort of thing that we do in the case of a sea-voyage. What is possible for me? To select the steersman, the sailors, the day, the right time. [II,5,11] And then a storm has fallen upon us. What do I further care about? For I have fulfilled my part. The storm is another’s hypothesis, of the steersman. [II,5,12] But the ship is sinking too. What have I to do? What I can, this only I do: I drown without fear, neither croaking nor bringing charges to Zeus but knowing that what is born must also be destroyed. [II,5,13] For I am not eternal but a man, a part of the whole, as an hour of a day. I must be present as the hour and as an hour I must pass away. [II,5,14] What difference is it to me, then, how I pass away, whether drowned or because of a fever? For by something of this sort I must pass away.

Like the ball player (15-17)

[II,5,15] You will see that also the skilled handball players do that. None of them quarrels about the handball as being something good or evil, but about throwing and receiving it. [II,5,16] Well then, in this lies the rhythm, in this the art, the speed, the good intelligence; so that I cannot catch the ball even if I stretch out the fold of my garment, whilst he catches it if I throw it. [II,5,17] Yet if we receive or throw it with disconcertment and fear, what kind of game is anymore this? Where will one be stable? Where will one see what comes next? One player will say “Throw the handball!”; another “Don’t throw it!”; yet another “Don’t throw it up!”. Indeed this is a strife, not a game.

Like Socrates (18-20)

[II,5,18] Therefore Socrates knew how to play ball. How? How to play in a court of law. “Tell me”, he says, “Anytus, how do you say that I do not legitimize the existence of God? And the genes, what do you think that they are? Are they not either God’s boys or creatures mixed from men and Gods?” [II,5,19] When Anytus acknowledges that: “And who do you think can believe that there are mules but not asses?”. Like playing with a handball. Which was there in the midst, then, the handball? The handball was to be fettered, exiled, to drink the poison, to be deprived of the wife, to forsake his offspring orphan. [II,5,20] This was there in the midst what he was playing with, and nevertheless he played and played the ball with rhythm. So should we too exhibit on one side the diligence of the most skilled handball player and on the other side his same indifference about the handball.

Like the weaver (21-22)

[II,5,21] For you must at any rate work artfully some of the external subject matters, not approving it but, whatever it is, exhibiting your art in working with it. So the weaver too does not make himself the wool but, whatever he assumes, he works artfully with it. [II,5,22] Another gives you the food and an estate but these very things you can be deprived of, and of the body itself. Well then, do work the subject matter that you employ.

As each person has in any case to deal with a defined and actual environment, we must learn to play successfully the game of diairesis and antidiairesis, using correctly the second when it’s the proper time and using artfully the first. Therefore life, body health and wealth in money are ‘preferable’ to death, to body sickness and to poverty in money only in theory, because in defined and actual cases the last ones become necessary choices if we decide not to fail our nature of men (23-29)

[II,5,23] And then if you come out of this game without experiencing any harm, while other people meeting you will rejoice with you merely because you were saved, the man who knows how to stare at these sorts of things will praise and congratulate you if he sees that you conducted yourself in this affair decorously; but he will do the opposite if he sees that you have been preserved in life thanks to some indecorous act. For where a man rejoices with good reason, there it’s reasonable to rejoice with him too. [II,5,24] How, then, is it said that of the external objects some are in accord with nature and others are not in accord with nature? It is as if we were absolute beings. For I’ll say that for the foot itself it is in accord with nature to be clean, but if you take it as a foot and not as an absolute thing, it will be a proper deed for the foot to step into the mud, to trample on thorns and in case of need to be amputated for the sake of the whole body; otherwise it will no longer be a foot. Something of this sort has to be conceived about us too. [II,5,25] What are you? A human being. If you consider yourself as an absolute thing, it is in accord with nature to live to old age, to be rich in money, to be healthy. But if you consider yourself as a man and part of a certain whole, on account of that whole it is a proper deed for you now to be sick, now to sail and run risks, now to be in want and, on occasion, to die before your hour. [II,5,26] Why, then, are you vexed? Don’t you know that as the foot will no longer be a foot, so you too will no longer be a man? For what is a man? A part of a town, the first one made of gods and men, and after that of the town which is said to be the nearest to us and to be a small imitation of the whole. [II,5,27] “Must I, then, be judged now?” Another one must now have a fever, another one must sail, another one die, another one be condemned. For it is impossible for those who live with such a body, in this context, with these fellow creatures, that such different things do not fall at the same time upon different people. [II,5,28] Your work is, then, to come and say what you ought, to dispose the speech as it is incumbent on you. And then that fellow says: “I judge you guilty”. [II,5,29]” Well be it for you! I did my part; if you too did yours, you will see”. For there is also a danger for him, don’t let this thought slip your mind.


We must be indifferent about the subject matters of life, not about our use of them (1-2)

[II,6,1] The hypothetical proposition is indifferent, yet our determination upon it is not indifferent, but is either science or opinion or deception. Thus to live is indifferent, but our use of living is not indifferent. [II,6,2] When, then, someone tells you “These things also are indifferent”, do not become careless; and when someone exhorts you to be diligent do not become slave-minded and infatuated with the subject matters.

Recognize ourselves, that is our limits (3-5)

[II,6,3] It is also beautiful to know our own preparation and strength, so that in things for which you have had no preparation you can keep quiet and not be vexed if, in those, others have more than you have. [II,6,4] For you will urge to have more in syllogisms, and if they are vexed at that, you will console them: “I learned them, you didn’t”. [II,6,5] So also where a consummate skill is needed, do not seek what ensues only from that, but give way to those who have that consummate skill and let it be sufficient for you to remain stable in your judgements.

Use the diairesis in everyday life and you will constantly hit the mark of man’s nature (6-19)

[II,6,6] “Depart and greet So-and-so”. “I greet him”. “How?” “Not slave-mindedly”. “But you were excluded”. “I did not learn how to enter from a window. For when I find the door closed it is necessary for me either to retire or to enter from a window”. [II,6,7] “But chat with him too”. “I chat with him”. “In which way?” “Not slave-mindedly”. [II,6,8] “But you did not get what you wanted”. For was perhaps this your deed? No, it was his. Why, then, do you lay claim on what is another’s? If you always remember what is yours and what is another’s, you will not be disconcerted. [II,6,9] For this reason Chrysippus says well: “As long as the consequences of something are doubtful to me, I always cleave to the judgements more thoroughbred for obtaining what is in accord with the nature of things, for Matter Immortal itself made me able to select them. [II,6,10] If I knew that it’s my destiny now to be sick, I would even impel to this; for the foot too, if it had good sense, would impel to be covered with mud”. [II,6,11] Since what are the ears of corn born for? Is it not also to parch? And if they parch is it not to be harvested too? For they are not born as absolute things. [II,6,12] If they had conscience, then, should they wish to be never harvested? But to be never harvested is a curse for the ears of corn. [II,6,13] In like manner, know that for men too it is a curse not to die: similar to not ripen, to not be harvested. [II,6,14] But since we are ourselves those who must be harvested and at the same time those who understand the fact of being harvested, we are vexed on this account. For we neither know who we are, nor we have studied humanity as the horsemen study horsemanship. [II,6,15] But Chrysantas, when he was on the point of smiting the enemy, refrained from that because he heard the trumpet sounding the recall: so much more serviceable seemed to him the injunction of the general than to follow his own plan. [II,6,16] Yet no one of us, not even when necessity calls, disposes to heed to it easily, but we experience what we experience -we call them “difficult circumstances”- crying and groaning. [II,6,17] What kind of difficult circumstances, sir? If you call circumstances that which surrounds you, everything is “circumstances”. If you call them in this way because they are difficult, what kind of difficulty is involved in the fact that what is born is destroyed? [II,6,18] What destroys is either a dagger or a wheel of torture or the sea or a tile or a tyrant. What do you care about the way you descend to Hades? They are all equal. [II,6,19] And if you want to hear the truth, the one by which the tyrant sends you is the shortest cut. No tyrant ever took six months to cut someone’s throat, whilst fever often takes even one year.

Epitaph on the daily, stubborn, everlasting refusal of diairesis on which the amazing heap of religious superstitions, philosophies ‘de l’esprit’, myths of redemption and dreams of social liberation is grounded (19)

All these judgements are a noise and a boast of empty names.

As far as you are concerned, be content to never lose the consciousness of the distinction between what is and what is not in your exclusive power (20-27)

[II,6,20] “I run the risk of my head in Caesar’s presence!” And do I not run a risk by dwelling in Nicopolis, where there are so many earthquakes? And what risk do you yourself run when you sail through the Adriatic? Is not your head in danger? [II,6,21] “But my conceptions too run risk in Caesar’s presence!” Yours? How? Who can constrain you to conceive anything that you do not want? Are you in danger because of the conceptions of another person? And what kind of risk is it for you the fact that others conceive false judgements? [II,6,22] “But I run the risk of being banished!” What is it to be banished? Is it to be somewhere else than in Rome? “Yes”. What then? “And if I am sent to Gyara?” If this is good for you, you will depart. If not, you have a place to which you may depart instead of Gyara, a place where also the fellow that sends you to Gyara will come, whether he wants it or not. [II,6,23] Well then, why do you go up to Rome as though this were some great thing? It is smaller than your preparation for it, so that a young thoroughbred can say: “It was not worth so much to have heard so many lessons, to have written so many papers, to have sat down so many times at the side of a little old man he himself not worthy so much”. [II,6,24] You only remember of that diairesis according to which a boundary is drawn between what is and what is not in your exclusive power. Never lay claim to anything that is another’s. [II,6,25] Tribune and prison are both a place; the tribune an elevated one; the prison a wicked one. But our proairesis can be guarded equal, if you dispose to guard it equal, in each of these two places. [II,6,26] And then we will be emulators of Socrates, when we can write paeans in prison. [II,6,27] But as we stand till now, see if we could have tolerated that in prison someone else said to us: “Do you want me to read you paeans?” “Why do you provide me with troubles? Do you not know what evils I am in? Is it possible for me, in these evils…?” What evils? “I am going to die”. And will other people be immortal?


Divination, even if it could foresee the events, couldn’t be but totally unaware of their value (1-8)

[II,7,1] Because our divination is ill timed, many of us omit many proper deeds. [II,7,2] For what can the seer see more than death or danger or sickness or, generally, things of this sort? [II,7,3] If, then, one ought to run risks for a friend, if it is even a proper deed to die for him, when is it still the right time for me to divine? Have I not inside me the one who has told me the substance of the good and of the evil, who has explained the signs of both? [II,7,4] What further need do I have of entrails or birds of omen and why do I tolerate the seer when he says: “This is useful to you”? Does he know what is useful? Does he know what is good? [II,7,5] As he has learned the signs of the entrails, in like manner did he learn which are the signs of the good and of the evil? For if he knows the signs of these things, he knows also those of beautiful and of shameful, of just and unjust deeds. [II,7,6] You sir, tell me what signs are given to me: life or death, poverty in money or wealth in money. Whether these are useful or useless, am I going to try to know it from you? [II,7,7] Why don’t you say a word on points of grammar? Yet here, where we all people err and contradict each other, you do speak? [II,7,8] For this reason the lady who disposed to send the vessel of monthly provisions to the banished Gratilla, replied very well to the one who said: “Domitian will confiscate them”. “I dispose”, she said, “to have him confiscate them rather than myself not to send them”.

We do not need divination but a serene detachment from cowardice and fear (9-14)

[II,7,9] What, then, leads us to divine so constantly? Cowardice, the fear of the outcome. For this reason we flatter the seers: “Will I inherit, lord, my father’s property?” “Let’s see, let’s offer a sacrifice

about that”. “Yes, lord, as luck wants”. And then if he says: “You will inherit”, we thank him as if we had got the inheritance from him. Well then, for this reason they mock us too. [II,7,10] What then? We ought to come to them apart from desire and from aversion, just as the traveller tries to know from the person he meets, which one of two roads brings forth to his destination, without desiring that the road which brings him there is the right more than the left one: for he does not dispose to depart through one of these but through the one that brings him forth to his destination. [II,7,11] So we ought also to come to Zeus as to a guide, as we use our eyes without praying them to show us such objects rather than such ones, but we receive the impressions of the objects as they show them. [II,7,12] Now, instead, trembling we hold the hand of the augur and invoking him like a God we entreat him: “Lord, have mercy: allow me to come out safe”. [II,7,13] Slave! Do you want anything but what is best for you? And is there anything best for you than what seems best to Zeus? [II,7,14] Why, as far as you are concerned, do you ruin your umpire, do you lead astray your counsellor?


Flesh and mud too are substances of Zeus because everything is made out of the same atoms, of the same Matter Immortal. The dawn of the good, the dawn of right reason breaks up from Matter Immortal through the man’s flesh like a rainbow from the atmosphere (1-8)

[II,8,1] Zeus is beneficial, but the good too is beneficial. It is then likely that where the substance of Zeus is there is also that of the good. [II,8,2] Which substance of Zeus? Flesh? Far from it. Land? Far from it. Fame? Far from it [II,8,3] Mind, science, right reason. Therefore simply seek here the substance of the good. Do you seek it, perhaps, in a vegetable? No. Or in a being lacking reason? No. If, then, you seek it in a rational being, why do you still seek it somewhere else than in the gap with the beings lacking reason? [II,8,4] Vegetables are not even able to use the impressions. For this reason you do not speak of “good” with regard to them. [II,8,5] The good, then, needs the use of impressions. The use only? For if the use only is needed, then, please, say that also in the other animals there are goods and happiness and unhappiness. [II,8,6] Now, you don’t say that; and you do it well. For if they have, even to the highest degree, the use of impressions, still they do not have any understanding of their use of the impressions. And suitably: for they have been born manservants to others and not cardinal beings themselves. [II,8,7] The ass is it perhaps born as a cardinal being? No. But because we needed a back able to bear something. But, by Zeus, we needed it to walk too. For this reason Zeus added also the use of impressions: otherwise it could not walk. [II,8,8] Well then, and here somehow Zeus has stopped. If Zeus had added to the use of impressions also the understanding of their use, it’s plain that, because of reason, the ass would not have been anymore our subordinate nor would provide us with these utilities, but would be our equal and similar.

All creatures issue from the same incorruptible Matter Immortal and every creature has its peculiarity. In man and in man only, Zeus becomes able to engender gods (9-14)

[II,8,9] Will you not, then, seek the substance of the good there where, if it is absent in any of the other creatures, you will not speak of “good”? [II,8,10] “What then? Are not those also works of Gods?” Are they? But not cardinal works nor parts of gods. [II,8,11] You instead, you are a cardinal being, you are a sparkling of Matter Immortal, you have in yourself a particularity of It. Why do you ignore your congenerousness? [II,8,12] Why don’t you know whence you have come? Will you not remember, when you eat, who is eating and whom you feed? When you have sexual intercourse, who is having it? When you have conversation, when you have training, when you hold a dialogue; don’t you know that you feed a god, that you train a god? You carry about a god and you ignore it, wretched fellow! [II,8,13] Do you think that I am talking of some God silver or golden-made from the outside? You carry it within yourself and you are unaware that you are defiling it with impure thoughts and filthy actions. [II,8,14]

In the presence of even a statue of Zeus you would not dare to do anything of what you do. And when Zeus Itself is present within you and regards and gives hear to everything, are you not ashamed to be brooding and making these things, O insensible of your own nature, and object of divine disgust!

Divinity of Matter Immortal and materialness of the divine (15-23)

[II,8,15] Well then, if we send a young out of the school to certain activities, why do we fear that he will do something amiss: eat amiss, have sexual intercourse amiss, become slave-minded if he puts on rags and elated if he puts on smart robes? [II,8,16] Because he does not know his own divinity, he does not know with whom he is leaving. Do we tolerate him when he says: “I would like to have you here”? [II,8,17] Have you not got Zeus there? [II,8,18] And then do you seek someone else when you have It with you? Or will He tell you other words than these? If you were a statue of Pheidias, his Athena or his Zeus, you would have remembered both yourself and the artist, and if you had conscience you would try to do nothing unworthy of him who fashioned you and of yourself, and would not try to appear in an unfitting aspect to those who look at you. [II,8,19] Now, because Zeus has made you, for this reason do you neglect what sort of person you will show yourself to be? In what the artist Zeus is similar to another artist, or a structure is similar to a structure? [II,8,20] What work of an artist has straightaway in itself the faculties that its structure discloses? Is it not stone or bronze or gold or ivory? The Athena of Pheidias, once it has stretched out the hand and received the Victory upon it, stays so for the eternity. The works of Matter Immortal, instead, are works which move, breathe, which are able to use the impressions, to evaluate them. [II,8,21] And being a structure made by this craftsman, do you put It to shame? Why? And the fact that not only It fashioned you but also trusted and commended you to yourself only, [II,8,22] not even this will you remember, and will put to shame the guardianship too? If Zeus had placed beside you an orphan, would you neglect him in like manner? [II,8,23] Zeus has committed you to yourself and He says: “I had no other person more faithful than you. Guard him, on my account, such as he is by the nature of things: self respecting, faithful, elevated, undaunted, self- controlled, undisconcerted”. And then do you fail to guard him?

You too like the Zeus at Olympia (24-29)

[II,8,24] “But they will say: ‘Whence has this fellow brought us such a frown and so solemn a countenance’?'” Solemn not yet as it is worth. For I still lack confidence in what I learned and assented to. I still fear my weakness. [II,8,25] Let me take confidence and then you will see the sort of gaze and the sort of aspect one ought to have; when it is perfect and shining, then I’ll show you the statue of the god. [II,8,26] What do you think of it? Frown? Far from it. For does the Zeus at Olympia pucker his eyebrows? No, but its gaze has been fixed as befits one who says *no word of mine can be revoked or prove untrue…*. [II,8,27] Such I’ll show myself to you: faithful, self respecting, generous, undisconcerted. [II,8,28] Perhaps, then, immortal, ageless, exempt from disease? No, but a man who dies like a god, who is sick like a god. This I have, this I can: the rest I have not, the rest I cannot. [II,8,29] I’ll show you the sinews of a philosopher. What sinews? An unfailing desire, an unstumbling aversion, a dutiful impulse, a diligent purpose, an assent far from precipitation. That you will see.


We differ from all other creatures only for our reason (1-2)

[II,9,1] Even the mere fulfilment of the profession of a man is not a perchance result. [II,9,2] For what is the man? The man is a rational, mortal creature, Epictetus says. For instance, in the rational element from what creatures are we separated? From the beasts. And from what else? From the sheep and the like.

Who is, then, the human being? The human being is that mortal, rational creature unable to play happily with diairesis and antidiairesis (3-7)

[II,9,3] See, then, that you do nothing somehow like a beast. Otherwise you have lost the man, you did not fulfill your profession. See that you do nothing as a sheep: otherwise, in like manner too, the man is lost. [II,9,4] What do we do, then, as sheep? When we do something for the sake of our paunch, of our genitals, at random, in a filthy way, heedlessly, to what did we incline? To the sheep. What did we lose? Our rational element. [II,9,5] When we do something in a quarrelsome way, harmfully, wrathfully and impetuously, to what did we incline? To the beasts. [II,9,6] Well then, some of us are big beasts, while others are small and malignant beasts that give us occasion to say: “Let it be a lion to devour me!” [II,9,7] By means of all these actions the profession of a man is lost.

And who is the man? The man is that mortal, rational creature able to play happily with diairesis and antidiairesis, using rightly the first and skillfully the second (8-12)

[II,9,8] When is a coordinate clause safeguarded? When it fulfils his profession; so that the safety of a coordinate clause is to be plaited with a true coordination of clauses. When is a disjunctive clause safeguarded? When it fulfils his profession. When are flutes, when is a lyre, when is a horse, when is a dog safeguarded? [II,9,9] What is there amazing, then, if the man too is in the same way safeguarded and in the same way lost? [II,9,10] Each of us is safeguarded and grown by the appropriate deeds: the carpenter by those of carpentry; the grammarian by those of grammar. But if the grammarian accustoms himself to write illiterately, it is necessary for his art to be brought to naught and be lost. [II,9,11] Thus the self respecting deeds safeguard the self respecting man, while the disrespectful ones get him lost. The faithful deeds safeguard the faithful man; while the opposite ones get him lost. [II,9,12] The opposite deeds, again, grow the opposite creatures: the shamelessness grows the shameless human being; the faithlessness grows the faithless; revile the reviler; anger the one prone to anger; inappropriate encashment and payments, the lover of money.

One thing is to eat the bread and drink the wine of diairesis and a different thing is to keep them in a storeroom with the aim of showing them, perhaps, to someone (13-18)

[II,9,13] For this reason the philosophers prescribe not to be content with mere learning but to add to it study and then practice. [II,9,14] For since a long time we have accustomed ourselves to do the opposite and have fit for use conceptions that are opposite to the right ones. If, then, we do not make fit for use the right conceptions too, we will be nothing else but interpreters of other people’s judgements. [II,9,15] Who among us, just now, cannot speak as a rule of art about good and evil things? Of things that are, some are good, others evil, others indifferent. Good things are virtues and what partakes in the virtues; evils, the opposite things; indifferent are money’s wealth, body’s health, reputation. [II,9,16] And then if, meanwhile we speak, the noise becomes greater or one of those present mocks at us, we are panic-stricken. [II,9,17] Where are, you philosopher, the words that you were saying? Where did you blether them from? From your lips, from here. Why, then, do you defile what is another’s succour? Why do you play dice with the greatest issues? [II,9,18] For one thing is to put away bread and wine in a storeroom, another thing is to eat. What is ingested is digested, assimilated, becomes sinews, flesh, bones, blood, healthy look, good breathing. What is stored away you can readily take and show, when you want, but there is no avail of it for you, except in so far as people think that you have it.

But you go on with your beliefs in revealed and mysterious faiths, in horrible superstitions, in other people’s opinions, in everything except that in diairesis. Why, then, do you call yourself a stoic and play the philosopher when you are unable to first become a man? (19-22)

[II,9,19] What does it differ to comment on these principles or on those of philosophers having

different opinions? Sit down now and speak as a rule of art about the principles of Epicurus and you will probably speak as a rule of art more fittingly than he did. Why, then, do you call yourself a stoic, why do you deceive the multitude, why do you play the part of a Greek when you are a Jew? [II,9,20] Don’t you see how each one is called Jew, or Syrian, or Egyptian? And when we see someone playing a double game, we are accustomed to say: “He is not a Jew, but he plays that part”. When however he puts on the passion of the baptized and chosen fellow, then indeed he is and is called a Jew. [II,9,21] So we also, like impostor Jews baptized with words but in practice something else, we have no sympathy at all for reason and are far away from using the principles that we talk about, except that we are elated because we know them. [II,9,22] Thus, although we cannot fulfill the profession of a man, we add to it that of a philosopher: so large a load! It is like if a person who cannot lift ten pounds wanted to bear the stone of Aias.


The deeds that are suggested by the names of human being… (1-3)

[II,10,1] Analyse who you are. In the first place you are a human being, that is a creature who has nothing more dominant than his proairesis and who has the rest subordinated to it, being the proairesis itself neither servant nor subordinate. [II,10,2] Consider, then, from what creatures you have been separated by virtue of reason. You have been separated from beasts; you have been separated from sheep. [II,10,3] Besides this you are a citizen of the world and a part of it; not one of the manservant but one of the cardinal parts, for you are able to understand the government of Matter Immortal and to take into account its consequences.

…of citizen of the world… (4-6)

[II,10,4] What is, then, the profession of a citizen? To have no private profit, to deliberate on nothing as an absolute unit but like the hand or the foot, which, if they had some reasoning power and understood the structure of nature, would never impel or desire otherwise than by referring to the whole. [II,10,5] For this reason the philosophers say well that the virtuous man, if he knew beforehand the things that will be, would cooperate to be sick and to die and to be crippled, because he is aware that this is allotted by the constitution of the whole, that the whole is more dominant than the part and the town of the citizen. [II,10,6] Now, because we do not know things beforehand, it is a proper deed to cleave to the judgements that are more thoroughbred for an option, since for this purpose we have been born.

… of son… (7)

[II,10,7] After this remember that you are a son. What is the profession of this role? To believe everything that is his own as belonging to his father; to heed to him in everything; never to censure him with anyone else nor tell him or perform to him anything harmful; to withdraw in everything and give way to him, cooperating with him at his best.

… of brother… (8-9)

[II,10,8] After this know that you are a brother too. For this role one is bound to give way, to ready obedience, to kindly speech, to never lay claim to anything aproairetic in contrast with your brother but to turn it over with pleasure, so that you have more in what is proairetic. [II,10,9] For see what sort of thing is to get for oneself a good intelligence in exchange for a head of lettuce or perhaps for a seat; how big is the revenue!

… of councilor, of youth, of elder, of father… (10-11)

[II,10,10] After these roles, if you are councilor of a town, remember that you are a councilor. If you are young, remember that you are young. If old, that you are an elder. If father, that you are a father. [II,10,11] For each name of this sort, coming to a reckoning, always gives as sum its own deeds.

The loss that you suffer when you forget who you are (12-13)

[II,10,12] If you depart and then censure your brother, I tell you: “You forgot who you are and what is your name”. [II,10,13] If you were a smith and used your hammer amiss, you would have forgotten the smith you were. And if you forgot the brother you are and instead of a brother you become a personal enemy, will you appear to yourself to have changed nothing for nothing?

The most dramatic loss is not the loss of a few small coins but the one of he who becomes unable to play rightly with diairesis and antidiairesis (14-23)

[II,10,14] If instead of man, a tame and sociable creature, you have become a harmful, treacherous, biting beast, have you lost nothing? Must you lose coins in order to be penalized, and does the loss of nothing else penalize the man? [II,10,15] Yet, if you throw away your skill in grammar or in music, you would believe a penalty its loss; and if you throw away self respect, restraint, gentleness, do you believe that this business is nothing? [II,10,16] And yet those things are lost by some external and aproairetic cause, while these are lost by our fault. Those are neither beautiful to have nor shameful to lose; while not to have and to lose these is shameful, it’s disgraceful, it’s a misfortune. [II,10,17] The one who experiences what a lewd fellow experiences, what does he lose? The male. And he who disposes of him? Beside many other things, he also loses none the less the male. [II,10,18] What does the adulterer lose? The self respecting, self-restrained, well regulated man, the citizen, the neighbour. What does he who gets angry lose? Something else. He who fears? Something else. [II,10,19] No one is evil without loss and penalty. Well then, if you seek the penalty in coins, all these people are undamaged, are without penalty and, perhaps, they benefit and gain when through some of these deeds they accrue their coins. [II,10,20] But see that if you refer everything to small coins, in your opinion not even the one who loses his nose will be damaged. -Yes, he says, for his body has been mutilated- [II,10,21] Come on, and the one who has lost the smelling itself, does he lose nothing? Is there, then, no faculty of the soul that, if a man gets it for himself he benefits, while the one who throws it away is penalized? [II,10,22] -What kind of faculty do you say?- Have we not a natural sense of self respect? -We have it- Is the man who loses this not penalized, is he dispossessed of nothing, does he throw away nothing of what is his own? [II,10,23] Have we not a natural attitude of faithfulness, a natural attitude to cherish, a natural attitude to be beneficial, a natural attitude to tolerate one another? Whoever, then, overlooks the fact that in this respect he is penalizing himself, is he undamaged and without penalty?

The insipience of answering to the wrongdoer as a wrongdoer does (24-30)

[II,10,24] What then? Am I not to damage the one who damages me? In the first place see what is damage and remember what you heard from the philosophers. [II,10,25] For if the good is in proairesis and the evil is, in the same way, in proairesis, notice if what you say is not something of this sort: [II,10,26] “What then? Because that fellow damaged himself by doing me some wrong, will I not damage myself by doing him some wrong?” [II,10,27] Why do we fancy nothing of this sort and instead, where there is some impairment of our body or of our estate, there we count this as a damage; and where the impairment affects our proairesis, we count that as no damage? [II,10,28] For the fellow who is deceived or does wrong, does not feel pain in his head or in his eyes or in his hip nor does he lose his land. [II,10,29] And we want nothing else but this. Yet whether we will have our proairesis self respecting and faithful or shameless and faithless, this we are not even near to quarrel about, except in school only and so far as petty discourses are involved. [II,10,30] Therefore we profit so far as petty

discourses are involved, and apart from them we don’t make even the least profit.


The preconceptions with which human beings come to life (1-5)

[II,11,1] The beginning of philosophy -at least with those who undertake it as one ought to and enter by its door- is the consciousness of their weakness and inability on issues of vital necessity. [II,11,2] For we have come to this world without having by nature any concept of the right-angled triangle or of the half-tone diesis but we are taught about each of them through certain technical assumptions of knowledge and for this reason those who do not know them also do not think that they do. [II,11,3] But who has come into this world without having an innate concept of what is good and evil, beautiful and shameful, fitting and unfitting, of happiness, of what is befitting, of what is incumbent, of what one must do and not do? [II,11,4] For this reason we all use these names and try to adapt our preconceptions to each particular substances. [II,11,5] He did well; as he ought, as he ought not; he had a misfortune, he had good fortune; he is unjust, he is just. Who of us spares these names? Who of us delays their use until he has learned, precisely as those who do not know about geometrical figures or musical sounds do?

Identical preconceptions and opinions that are thought to be true but which, by the end, contradict each other (6-12)

[II,11,6] The cause is that we have come into this world as if we had been already taught by nature in this topic and, taking impulse from these teachings, we have added our conceit on to them. [II,11,7] – Yes, by Zeus, for do I not know by nature what is beautiful and what is shameful? Do I not have a concept of it?- You have it. -Do I not adapt it to each particular case?- You adapt it. [II,11,8] -Do I not, then, adapt it well?- All the inquiry is here and here is our conceit accrued. For after having taken impulse from these acknowledged concepts, people promote themselves to dispute because of an inappropriate adaptation of them. [II,11,9] For if they had further possessed, besides those concepts, the faculty of an appropriate adaptation of them, what would prevent them from being perfect? [II,11,10] Now, since you think that you adapt your preconceptions to each particular case in an appropriate way too, tell me: whence do you get this certainty? -It is because I think so- This other fellow, on the same question, does not think so, and yet he also thinks that he is adapting them well, does he not? -He thinks that- [II,11,11] Can, then, both of you adapt in an appropriate way your preconceptions in issues on which you entertain contradictory opinions? [II,11,12] -We cannot- In order to adapt them better can you, then, show us anything higher than what you think? Does the mad do anything else but what he thinks beautiful? Is this criterion, then, sufficient for him too? -It is not sufficient- Let’s come, then, to something higher than what one thinks. -And what is this?-

The starting point of philosophy and its goal (13-18)

[II,11,13] Look at the beginning of philosophy: the conscience of the contrast of human beings each against the other, the inquiry about the origin of the contrast, the disavowal and the distrust of mere thinking; then a search about what one thinks, to determine whether one thinks it rightly; and the finding of a standard, as we found the scale for the weights and the carpenter’s rule for the straight and crooked lines. [II,11,14] This is the beginning of philosophy. Is everything right what everyone of us thinks? And how is it possible for what is contradictory to be right? So, not everything is right. [II,11,15] -Is it right, then, what we think? And why our thinking rather than what the Syrians think, or the Egyptians; why my thinking rather than what So-and-so thinks?- There is no reason why. – In order to be a standard, what each person thinks is, therefore, not sufficient; for in the case of weights and measures we are not content with their mere disclosure, but we have found a standard for each of

them. [II,11,16] Here, then, is there no standard higher than what one thinks? And how is it possible that what among men is of the most vital necessity, should be unintelligible and impossible to find? [II,11,17] -There is, therefore, a standard- Why do we not seek and find it out and once found out, well then, use it inviolably not even stretching out our finger apart from it? [II,11,18] For this is what, I think, if found sets free of madness those who use only what they think as a measure of everything. So that, taking impulse from the standards we are acquainted with and that are thoroughly elucidated, we may, from now on, use for each particular cases well-articulated preconceptions.

An example: the analysis of the ecstasy (19-25)

[II,11,19] What substance has fallen under our inquiry? [II,11,20] -The ecstasy- Bring it under the standard, throw it on the scale. Must the good be a sort of thing worth to have confidence in and to rely on? -It must- Is it, then, worth to have confidence in something that is insecure? -No- [II,11,21] Is the ecstasy anything well secure? -No- Remove it, then; throw it out of the scale, disband it far away from the country of things good. [II,11,22] If you do not have a keen eyesight and one scale only is not sufficient, bring another scale. Is it worth to elate over the good? -Yes- And is it worth to elate over an actual ecstasy? See that you do not to say that it is worth; otherwise I’ll believe you not even worthy of having a scale! [II,11,23] Thus are things judged and weighed, when the standards are ready. [II,11,24] To do philosophy is this: to examine and to strengthen the standards. [II,11,25] The use of the recognized ones is, from now on, the work of the virtuous man.


Dialectics: the art of arguing rightly by questions and answers (1-4)

[II,12,1] What the one who learns to use the art of argumentation ought to know, has been precised by our philosophers. About its befitting use we are, however, perfectly untrained. [II,12,2] Give to anyone of us you please some layman as a conversation partner, and we find no way of using him. After moving him a little, if the fellow opposes himself out of the tune, we can no longer handle him and thereafter either revile or mock him and say: “He is a layman; it’s impossible to use an argument with him”. [II,12,3] But the guide, when he takes with him someone who is erring, leads him on the way he ought, and does not leave after having mocked or reviled him. [II,12,4] You too, show him the truth and you will see that he follows. But till you do not show him the truth, do not mock him but rather become aware of your inability.

The Socratic dialogue: a model of dialectics (5-13)

[II,12,5] How did Socrates do his arguments? He constrained his conversation partner to be his witness, and needed no other witness. Therefore he has the power to say: “I can dispense with all the others and I am always content with my objector only as a witness. I do not take the votes of other people but only of my conversation partner”. [II,12,6] For he stated the contents of the concepts so evidently that anybody whatsoever who became conscious of a contradiction withdrew from it. [II,12,7] “Does he who envies rejoice?- Not at all. But rather he grieves”. Thanks to the opposite statement, Socrates has moved the fellow that he had nearby from his conceit. “And what? Do you think envy to be a grief at evils? And what is the envy of evils?”[II,12,8] And so he made him say that the envy is a grief for good things. “What then? Would one envy things that are nothing to him?- Not at all”. [II,12,9] And so, after having filled out and articulated the concept, he went his way without saying: “Define the envy” and once defined: “You defined it badly, for the definition is not reciprocally implied with the capital point”. [II,12,10] Technical phrases, and for this reason wearisome and hard to understand to the layman, from which we are unable to desist. [II,12,11] As to phrases to which the

layman himself, sticking to his own impressions, could give some way or disprove, we are not able at all to move him by their use. [II,12,12] Well then, once we become conscious of this inability of ours, suitably we, or at least those who have a bit of caution, abstain from the business. [II,12,13] But the rash multitude of us, once they stoop to something like that, are tangled and tangle others, and ultimately they depart reviling and being reviled.

Socrates held dialogues and was not used to revile others (14-16)

[II,12,14] This was the first and most peculiar thing about Socrates, that he never got irritated in a discourse, never blethered saying something reviling or outrageous but tolerated the revilers and stopped the strife. [II,12,15] If you want to recognize how great his faculty was in this field, read the Symposium of Xenophon and you will see how many cases of strife Socrates has dissolved. [II,12,16] Suitably for this reason it has been said with the greatest praise among poets that: “…straightaway he shrewdly used to stop even a great quarrel..”.

The difficulties of a Socratic dialogue today (17-25)

[II,12,17] What then? This business is not a very safe one now, and especially in Rome. For it is plain that he who does it will not need to do it in a corner, but coming perhaps to some person wealthy in money or of consular rank he will try to know from him: “You there, can you tell me to whom you committed your horses?” [II,12,18] “I can, indeed!” “To a chance comer and a person unskilled in horsemanship?” “Not at all”. “And what? To whom have you entrusted your gold or your money or your clothes?” “Not even these to a chance comer”. [II,12,19] “And have you already analysed to whom to entrust your body so as to take care of it?” “Why, certainly”. “This person too, it’s plain, is skilled in the art of physical training or in medicine”. [II,12,20] “No doubt!” “And are these things the most powerful that you have, or did you get for yourself anything else better than all of them?” “What kind of thing are you saying?” “I mean, by Zeus, that which uses them, evaluates each of them and deliberates”. “Are you saying my soul?” [II,12,21] “You conceived it rightly! For I just say this!” “By Zeus, I think it to be by far the best of my possessions!” [II,12,22]”Can you tell me in which way you have taken care of your soul? For it is unlikely that you, a person so wise and valuable in town, at random and haphazardly overlook the danger of neglecting and losing what you have of more powerful”. [II,12,23] “Not at all”. “And have you yourself taken care of it? [II,12,24] Learning from somebody or finding the way by yourself?” Hither, well then, the danger is that he first says: “Sir, and what do you care about? Are you my lord?” And then, if you persist in providing him with troubles, that he lifts up his fist and gives you punches. [II,12,25] I myself too was once upon a time a supporter of this pursuit, before I ran into these difficulties.


Our anxiety is generated by a stubborn and illogical desire of what is not in our exclusive power: a citharist and the burst of applause (1-8)

[II,13,1] When I see a person in anxiety, I say: what does this fellow ever want? If he did not want something that is not in his exclusive power, how could he still be anxious? [II,13,2] For this reason the citharist too, when he sings alone is not anxious; but he is so when he enters the theatre, even if he has a very good voice and plays well the lyre. For he does not want only to sing well but also to win applause; and this is no longer in his exclusive power. [II,13,3] Well then, where science is joined to him, there he is confident. Bring forth any layman you want and he does not turn his mind towards him; but where he neither knows nor has studied, there he is anxious. [II,13,4] What is this? He does not know what a mob is, or what the praise of a mob is. He learned to strike the lowest and the highest

string, but what the praise of the multitude is and what power it has in life, he neither knows nor has studied. [II,13,5] Well then, it is necessary for him to tremble and be pale. When, then, I see a citharist who fears, I cannot say that he is not a citharist but I can say something else, and not one thing only but many. [II,13,6] In the first place I call him a foreigner and say: this fellow does not know where on earth he is but, though he has lived at home for that much time, he is unaware of the laws of the town and its habits and of what one has power on and of what one has not power on; and he never even invited a lawyer to tell him and explain him what is lawful. [II,13,7] Yet he does not write a testament without knowing how one has to write it or else he invites one who has this knowledge; nor he seals up a bond with his seal amiss or writes a guarantee amiss and nevertheless he uses desire and aversion, impulse, design and purpose apart from any lawyer. [II,13,8] Apart from a lawyer, how? He does not know that he wants things that are not given to him and does not want things that are necessary; and he does not know either what is his own or what is another’s. If indeed he knew that, he would never be hindered, never hampered, he would not be anxious.

Anxiety is therefore generated by the ignorance of diairesis and is congenital to the use of counterdiairesis (9-13)

[II,13,9] For how could not be so? Does anybody fear what is not evil? -No- What then? Does anybody fear things that are indeed evil but whose occurrence is in their exclusive power to prevent? -Not at all- [II,13,10] If, then, aproairetic things are neither good nor evil while all proairetic things are in our exclusive power and no one can deprive us of them nor secure upon us such of them as we do not dispose: where is there still place for anxiety? [II,13,11] We are anxious about our body, about our petty estate, about what Caesar will think, but about none of the things inside us. Are we anxious about not conceiving the false? -No, for that is in my power- Are we anxious about impelling against nature? -Not even about this- [II,13,12] When, then, you see someone who turns pale, as the physician looking at someone’s complexion says: “This fellow’s spleen is affected; and this fellow’s liver is”; so you also say: “This fellow’s desire and aversion are affected; he has not a free course, he is inflamed”. [II,13,13] For nothing else alters the complexion or makes one tremble or one’s teeth chatter or *keeps changing and sitting now on a foot, now on the other*.

Zeno and the king Antigonus (14-15)

[II,13,14] For this reason Zeno was not anxious when he was about to meet Antigonus; for over things that Zeno admired Antigonus had no power, and Zeno did not turn his mind towards things which Antigonus had power over. [II,13,15] Antigonus, on the contrary, when he was about to meet Zeno was anxious, and suitably so; for he wanted to please him and this was outside of his power. Zeno did not want to please him, for not even another artist wants to please a person unskilled in his art.

The firm possession of diairesis makes the man intrinsically self-confident (16-17)

[II,13,16] Do I want to please you? In exchange for what? For do you know the measures according to which a man is judged by a human being? Have you studied to recognize what a good man is and what an evil one is and how each of them becomes what he is? [II,13,17] Why, then, are you not yourself good? -How, he says, am I not so?- Because no good man mourns or sighs, no good man wails, no good man turns pale and trembles or says: “How will he receive me? How will he listen to me?”

Like the success of a man can never be the good of another man, in the same way the aberration of a human being can never be the evil of a man (18)

[II,13,18] Slave! As he will deem it best for him. Why do you care of what is another’s? Now, is it not his own aberration to give a bad reception to your words? -And how not?- Can the aberration of one person be the evil of another person? -No- Why, then, are you anxious about things that are another’s?

It is senseless to lack self-confidence in things you are skilled about. Socrates and Diogenes (19-26)

[II,13,19] -Yes, but I am anxious about how I’ll chat with him- So, have you not got the power to chat with him as you want? -But I dread to be shackled- [II,13,20] When you are about to write the name “Dio”, do you dread to be shackled? -Not at all- What’s the cause? Is it not that you have studied writing? -And how not?- And what? When you are about to read would you not stand in the same way towards reading? -In the same way- What’s the cause? The fact that every art has among its elements something potent and self-confident. [II,13,21] Have you, then, not studied chatting? And what else did you study at school? -Syllogisms and equivocal arguments- What for? Was it not in order to skillfully hold a dialogue? And skillfully is it not in a well-timed way, with safety, sagaciously and, further, without false steps, unimpededly and especially with confidence? -Yes- [II,13,22] If you are, then, a horseman who has come upon the plain against a fighter on foot, are you anxious? Where you have studied and he has not? -Yes, but he has the power to kill me- [II,13,23] Tell then the truth, shabby fellow, and do not brag nor urge to be a philosopher nor to be unaware of your lords but, as long as you have this handle given by your body, follow everyone who is stronger than you. [II,13,24] But Socrates studied speaking, he who argues in that way with the tyrants, with the judges, in the prison. Diogenes too had studied speaking, he who talks in that way to Alexander, to Philip, to the pirates, to the one who purchased him….(lacuna)…. [II,13,25] Leave all this business to those who have confidence in what they have studied. [II,13,26] You do go ahead with what is yours and never desist from it. Depart for a corner, sit and twine syllogisms and propound them to others: “In you there is not the man who can be the leader of a town”.


The learning process of any art is boring and sometimes even unpleasant (1-6)

[II,14,1] When a certain Roman citizen entered with his son and was hearing one of his readings “This, said Epictetus, is my way of teaching” and then ceased speaking and was silent. [II,14,2] As the Roman citizen urged him to find what came next “Instruction, he said, in the technique of any art is boring to the layman who is unskilled in it. [II,14,3] But the products of the arts show straightaway the utility for which they are born and most of them have in themselves something that is attractive and charming. [II,14,4] To be present and to understand how a cobbler learns his art is unattractive, but the shoe is profitable and otherwise not unpleasant to see. [II,14,5] Also the learning process of a carpenter is annoying especially to the layman who happens to be present, but his work exhibits the utility of this art. [II,14,6] And one will see this much more in the case of music for, if you are present when a pupil is taught, the lesson will appear to you the less attractive of all, yet musical products are pleasant and delicious to hear to the laymen.

Philosophy is the art of becoming a man (7-8)

[II,14,7] So also in our case, we imagine the work of the philosopher to be something of this sort: he must conciliate his own decisions with the events, so that neither anything that happens happens while we are unwilling it, nor anything that fails to happen fails to happen while we wish it to happen. [II,14,8] And from this ensues, for those who have recommended themselves to philosophy, not to fail in desire and, in aversion, not to stumble on what is averted; to enjoy oneself without grief, without fear, undisconcertedly, while keeping with the mates the relationships -both natural and acquired- of son, father, brother, citizen, husband, wife, neighbour, fellow-traveller, ruler, ruled.

To be a man means to know that only Matter Immortal is; that any intelligence is born from matter; that from the intelligence of men are born gods which are faithful, free, beneficial, impartial as Matter Immortal is (9-13)

[II,14,9] We imagine that the work of the person who does philosophy is something of this sort. Well then, next to this we seek how this will be achieved. [II,14,10] We see, then, that the carpenter becomes carpenter learning certain things and the steersman becomes steersman learning certain things. May it not be, then, that here also it is not enough to decide to become a virtuous man but that there is the need of learning certain things too? We seek, then, what these things are. [II,14,11] The philosophers say that in the first place we must learn this: that there is a Matter Immortal and that It makes Itself the mind of the whole and that it is not possible to escape It not only when one does something but also when one bethinks himself or broods. Next we must learn of what nature are the gods. [II,14,12] For whatever their nature is found to be, the man who intends to please and obey them, necessarily does his best in trying to become alike them. [II,14,13] If, then, materialness is faithful, it is necessary for a god to be faithful. If materialness is free, a god also must be free; if beneficent, he also must be beneficent; if high-minded, he also must be high-minded. And therefore for a man it’s necessary to do and say, as an emulator of god, all that comes next”.

You must begin by stopping to use the language when you do not understand exactly what you are saying (14-20)

[II,14,14] -And whence must one begin?- If you stoop to this business, I’ll tell you that in the first place you must understand the meaning of each name you use. -So that now I do not understand the meaning of the names?- [II,14,15] You do not understand them. -And how is it, then, that I use them?- Like the illiterates use written speech, like the cattle uses the impressions: for one thing is the use and another thing is the understanding. [II,14,16] If you think you understand, bring forth the name you want and let’s put ourselves to the test to see if we understand it. [II,14,17] -But for an elder person who, perhaps, has already served in three military campaigns it is annoying to be confuted- [II,14,18] I also know this. For now you have come to me as someone who needs nothing. And what could one imagine you as falling short of? You are rich in money, you have offspring, perhaps also a wife and many household slaves; Caesar knows you, you have many friends in Rome, you give back the proper deeds, you know how to reciprocate with good things the person who does good things to you and to do evil things against the person who does evil things against you. [II,14,19] What do you lack? If, then, I show that you lack the most necessary things and the ones that are greatest for happiness; that hitherto you have taken care of everything but of what is befitting; and if I put on the finishing touch: that you know neither what a god is, nor what a man is, nor what the good is, nor what the evil is [II,14,20] and, equally the most intolerable of all, that you are ignorant of yourself; how can you tolerate me, afford the control, stay here?

We must not consider ourselves outraged by the Truth (21-22)

[II,14,21] You cannot do so at all, but straightaway you are embittered and get rid of me. Yet what evil have I done to you? Unless the mirror too does some evil thing to the ugly person by showing him what sort of face he has. Unless the physician too outrages the sick patient when he tells him: “O man, you think you have nothing but you have a fever; fast today, drink water”; and no one says: “What a terrible outrage!”. [II,14,22] But if you say to someone: “Your desires are inflamed, your aversions are those of a slave-minded fellow, your designs are inconsistent, your impulses are out of harmony with the nature of things, your conceptions are rash and false”; straightaway he goes out and says: “He outraged me!”

We are invited to the show of human life: comedy? tragedy? farce? nonsense? (23-24)

[II,14,23] Our deeds are of the same sort of those who attend a fair. Cattle and oxen are led to the fair to be retailed, and most people are there either to purchase or to sell. Few are those who come for looking at the fair: how it happens and why; who has set the fair and for what purpose. [II,14,24] In like manner here, in this fair: some people, like cattle, meddle in nothing but their fodder. You all who revolve around estates and lands and household slaves and certain offices: you must know that this is nothing else but fodder!

The divine smile with which the all-governing Matter Immortal looks at those who think it inert, amorphous, incapable of giving birth to intelligence (25-29)

[II,14,25] Yet few are the men who attend the fair because they are fond of the spectacle. “What is, then, the world, and who governs it? No one? [II,14,26] And how is it possible that a town or a house cannot remain even for a very short time without someone who governs and takes care of them, while a structure so great and wonderful is managed in such an orderly manner at random and haphazardly? [II,14,27] There is, then, someone who governs it. Of what kind is the governor and how does he govern? And who are we, who have been born from him, and for what kind of work? Do we have any connection and relationship with him, or none at all?” [II,14,28] This is what these few experience, and they have no leisure but for this: to depart after having visited the fair. [II,14,29] What then? They are mocked by the crowd; quite as in the other fair the spectators too are mocked by the merchants. Also the cattle, if it had consciousness, would mock those who admire anything but their fodder!


The improper use of diairesis can make us to mistake a blind obstinacy for a right firmness (1-3)

[II,15,1] When some people hear these discourses: that a man ought to be steadfast and that proairesis is something free and unconstrained by nature while everything else is hampered, is constrained, is servant, is another’s; they fancy that they must remain inviolably fixed to any of their determinations. [II,15,2] But, in the first place, the determination has to be sound. For I dispose that tensions be in the body, but like in a healthy one, in a body engaged in a trial. [II,15,3] Whereas if you show yourself to me with the tensions of a phrenetic fellow and you brag about it, I’ll tell you: “You sir, seek for someone to cure you. These are not tensions but atony”.

We must not mistake what simply comes to our mind for what we think: any determination must be first well analysed (4-12)

[II,15,4] In another way those too who misunderstand these discourses experience in their soul something of this sort. For example a fellow of mine, for no cause at all determined to starve himself to death. [II,15,5] I knew about it when he was already in the third day of abstinence and I went to him and tried to know what had happened. -I have determined, he says- [II,15,6] But yet what did convince you? For if you determined rightly, look, we sit at your side and cooperate to your going out; but if you determined unreasonably, transpose your mind. [II,15,7] -One must remain fixed to determinations- What do you do, you sir? Not to all determinations, but to those which have been taken rightly. Since if you experience that just now it’s night, don’t transpose your mind, if you think so, but remain fixed to this judgement and say that one has to remain fixed to determinations! [II,15,8] Don’t you want to set up first your beginning and your foundation stone, to analyse if the determination is sound or not sound and so, well then, build upon it the right tension, the safety? [II,15,9] But if you lay down a rotten and crumbling foundation, you must not build on it and the more and the stronger are the buildings that you put on it, that more quickly they will be cast down. [II,15,10] Without any cause you draw out from life a person who is a friend and an intimate of us, a citizen of the same town, both the big and the small one. [II,15,11] And then, while you work to a murder and make a man who did no wrong to perish, do you say that one must remain fixed to determinations? [II,15,12] If the imagination of killing me had ever come somehow to your mind, should you remain fixed to such a determination?

An obstinate irrationality is the sign of a weak soul (13-20)

[II,15,13] That fellow, then, with toil and pain was persuaded to change his mind. But it is impossible to make certain people of our days to transpose their mind. So that I think to know now what I was before unaware of, the meaning of what is customarily said: “The stupid is impossible to persuade or to break”. [II,15,14] Let it never happen to me to have a friend who is clever and stupid! Nothing is more intractable. “I have determined”. And mad people too; but the more securely they determine things that do not exist, the more hellebore they need. [II,15,15] Will you not do what a sick fellow does and call in a physician? “I am sick, lord; help me. Analyse what I must do; my deed is to obey you”. [II,15,16] So here too: “I don’t know what I must do; I have come to learn it”. No, but: “Talk to me about other things; this I have already determined”. [II,15,17] What other kind of things? For, what is greater and more serviceable than to be persuaded that it is not sufficient to have determined and to refuse to transpose one’s mind? These are mad tensions, not sound ones. [II,15,18] “I want to die, if you constrain me to this”. Why, you sir? What did it happen? “I have determined”. I was saved, then, because you have not determined to kill me! [II,15,19] “I do not take money from my pupils”. Why? “I have determined”. Know that the tension you are now using not to take money, nothing prevents that at some time makes you lean, for no reason, towards taking it and say again: “I have determined”; [II,15,20] Like in a sick body, suffering from a flux, the flux leans now towards these organs now towards those ones. Such is also a weak soul; where it inclines, there is doubt; but when to this inclination and to this profusion is joined some tension too, then the evil becomes helpless and incurable.


The orator and the citharist believe that being successful means to win the applause of the spectators (1-10)

[II,16,1] Where is the good? -In proairesis- Where is the evil? -In proairesis- Where is the oudeterous? – In the aproairetic things- [II,16,2] What then? Does any one of us remember these discourses out of school? Does any one of us, when by himself, study to answer in this way to everyday things as to the questions: “Is it indeed day?” “Yes”; “And what? Is it night?” “No”; “And what? Are the stars even in number?” “I cannot say”. [II,16,3] When money is shown forth to you, have you studied to give the answer one ought, namely that “It is not a good thing”? Did you exercise in these answers or only in sophisms? [II,16,4] Why, then, do you wonder if where you have studied there you become better, and where you have not studied there you remain the same? [II,16,5] For why is it that the orator, knowing that he has written well, that he has memorized what he has written, that he brings in himself a pleasant voice, yet he is still anxious? Because he is not content with the mere fact of studying. [II,16,6] What does he want, then? To be praised by all those present. So he has exercised himself in order to be able to declaim, but he has not exercised himself with reference to praise and censure. [II,16,7] For when did he ever hear from anyone what is praise, what is censure and which is the nature of each? What kinds of praise have to be pursued and what kinds of censure have to be avoided? When did he study this, a study consequent with these discourses? [II,16,8] Why, then, do you still wonder if where he learned, there he differs from all the others and where he has not studied, there he is identical to the multitude? [II,16,9] Like the citharist who knows to play the lyre, sings well, has a wonderful straight gown and yet, entering the stage, he trembles. For he knows these things, but he does not know what a mob is nor what the shouting and derision of a mob are. [II,16,10] And he does not even know what the anxiety itself is, if it is our work or another’s work; if it is possible to stop it or not. For this reason, if he is praised, he turns out arrogant; but if he is mocked, that petty arrogance is pricked and flattens out.

Certainly we must pursue success at any cost, for to be a man means to be successful. But what kind of success? The success in that which makes us men: in fortitude, in magnanimity, in virility, that is in the right use of diairesis (11-17)

[II,16,11] We too experience something of this sort. What are we infatuated with? External objects. What are we eager for? External objects. And are we, then, at a loss to know why we fear or why we are anxious? [II,16,12] What, then, is it feasible when we believe the events we infer to be evil things? We cannot help but fear, we cannot help but be anxious. [II,16,13] And then we say: “Lord God, how may I not be anxious?” Stupid! Don’t you have hands? Did not Matter Immortal make them for you? Sit now and wish that the snivel may not run from your nose! Rather wipe it and do not bring charges! [II,16,14] What then? Here, has Matter Immortal given nothing to you? Has It not given you the fortitude, has It not given you the magnanimity, has It not given the virility? And with so large hands do you still seek him who wipes your nose? [II,16,15] But this we neither study nor turn our minds towards. Since give me a fellow who cares about how he does something; who turns his mind not towards hitting the mark of something but towards his own activity. Who, when he strolls, turns his mind towards this activity of strolling? Who, when deliberating, turns his mind towards the deliberation itself and not towards hitting the mark of what he is deliberating about? [II,16,16] And if he hits that mark, he is elated and says: “How well did we deliberate! Did I not tell you, brother, that when we analyse something it is impossible that the outcome is not the one we wanted?” But if the business comes to a different issue, the proairesis of the wretched fellow has become slave and he finds nothing more to say about what happened. Who of us, for this reason, invited a seer? [II,16,17] Who of us slept in a temple for enlightment about his activity? Who? Give me but one fellow, that I may see the man whom I seek from a long time, the truly noble-natured and thoroughbred one; be he young or elder, give him to me!

Our difficulties arise from the impressions that we have not carefully analysed. So the evil thing is not death but the fear of death (18-23)

[II,16,18] Why, then, do we wonder anymore if we have a consummate skill upon external materials while in our activities we are slave-minded, indecent, worthless, cowardly, slothful, whole misfortunes? Because we have not cared about our activities nor we study them. [II,16,19] If we feared not death or exile but fear itself, we would study how not to stumble on those things that appear evil to us. [II,16,20] Now, at school we are fiery and glib, sufficient, if we run into a small inquiry on any of these points, to come to the consequences. But drag us to practical use and you will find us wretched shipwrecked fellows. Let a disconcerting impression befall us and you will recognize what we were studying and what we were training for. [II,16,21] Well then, because of our lack of study we always pile up disconcerting impressions and shape them bigger than what they are. [II,16,22] For instance when I sail, if I bend down towards the deep or look around the open sea and see no earth, I withdraw and fancy that if I suffer a shipwreck I must drain dry this open sea, while it does not come to my mind that three pints of water are sufficient for me. What is, then, that disconcerts me? The open sea? No, but my judgement. [II,16,23] Again, when an earthquake happens, I fancy that the town is going to fall upon me. For, is not a small stone sufficient to throw my brain out of my head?

If we decide to amend our judgements, we must learn to diairesize (24-27)

[II,16,24] What is, then, that dazes and weighs us down? What else but our judgements? What else but the judgement weighs down the person who quits and is far from his intimates and fellows and places and correlations? [II,16,25] When the children cry a little because their nurse has departed, if they get a cookie they have forgotten her. [II,16,26] Do you want, then, that we too become like children? No, by Zeus! For I do urge to experience this not through a cookie but through right judgements. [II,16,27] And which are these? Those that must have the man who studies all day long that he may not pine away for anything that is another’s, either a fellow, or a place, or gymnasia, not even his own body; the man who decides to remember the law and to have it before his eyes.

The golden rule that Matter Immortal gives us (28)

[II,16,28] And which is the divine law? To keep what is our own; not to lay claim to what is another’s but to use it when it is given; not to yearn for what is not given; when something is taken off, to give it back easily and immediately, being grateful for the time we used it. All this if you do not want to call your nurse and your mummy!

Again about amending our judgements (29-38)

[II,16,29] For what difference does it make what one is inferior to and what one is hung up to? Why are you better than the fellow who cries for a wench, if you mourn for a gymnasium, or some roofed colonnades, some youngsters and amusements of this sort? [II,16,30] Another comes and mourns because he his no longer going to drink the water of Dirce’s fountain. And is the water of the Marcian aqueduct worse than that of Dirce? “But that one was customary to me”. [II,16,31] This too will again be customary to you. And then if you pine away for such a thing, cry again for this water and seek to write a line similar to that of Euripides *The Nero’s baths and Marcian water*. Behold how a tragedy happens when the things that come to our lot run into stupid people. [II,16,32] “When, then, shall I see again Athens and the Acropolis?” Wretched fellow, is it not sufficient for you what you notice every day? Do you have something better or greater to see than the sun, the moon, the stars, the whole earth, the sea? [II,16,33] If indeed you understand what governs the whole and you carry it about within you, do you yearn any more after some stones and a pretty rock? When, then, you are about to desert the sun and the moon themselves, what will you do? Will you sit and cry as children cry? [II,16,34] What did you do at school, what did you hear, what did you learn, then? Why did you register yourself as a philosopher when it is allowed to register the real things as: “I was busy with some ‘Introductions to philosophy’ and read some work of Chrysippus; but I did not even get past the door of a philosopher. [II,16,35] For, where do I share the business that Socrates shared, he who lived that way, he who died that way? The business that Diogenes shared?” [II,16,36] Can you think about one of these men as being people who cry or are vexed because they are no more about to notice So-and-so a fellow nor So-and-so a woman, nor to be in Athens or Corinth but, perhaps, in Susa or Ecbatana? [II,16,37] For does the man who has the power, when he so disposes, to go out of the banquet and to play no more, keep on annoying himself by staying? Will he not stay as long as his soul is won by the game? [II,16,38] Probably such a man would submit to go into exile forever or to the exile of death, if he were so condemned.

Wean yourself by now, raise your head: what have you got to do with the slaves, the prisoners of counterdiairesis? (39-40)

[II,16,39] Don’t you want, like the children, to be by now weaned and to touch a more solid food and not to cry for mummies and nurses, loud weeping of old ladies? [II,16,40] “But if I am far from them I’ll annoy them”. You, will you annoy them? Not at all. But what annoys them will be what annoys you too: the judgement. What have you, then, to do? Tear it away; and their judgement, if they do well, they will themselves tear it away; otherwise, they will wail through their fault.

The Areopagus’ discourse of the free man (41-43)

[II,16,41] You sir be insane by now, as the sentence goes, about serenity, about freedom, about magnanimity. Lift your neck up at some time, as one who has been set free of servitude. [II,16,42] Dare to look up to Zeus and say: “Well then, use me for what you dispose; I am of one mind with you; I am your equal; I spurn nothing of what you think; where you dispose, lead me; with the clothes you dispose, clothe me. Do you dispose me to hold office, to be a private citizen, to remain, to go into exile, to be poor in money, to be rich in money? About all these things I shall speak in your defence to the people; [II,16,43] I shall show what the nature of each thing is”.

Be eventually the Heracles and the Theseus of yourself (44-47)

[II,16,44] No, but sitting inside the house like a wench, wait for your mummy that she may fodder you!

Had Heracles sat at the side of those at home, who would he be? Eurystheus and not Heracles. Come on, going around the whole world, how many intimates and friends did he have? But he had no dearer friend than Matter Immortal. For this reason he was trusted to be the son of Zeus, and so he was. Obeying Him, therefore, he went around to clear away injustice and lawlessness. [II,16,45] But you are not Heracles and cannot clear away another’s evils. You are not even a Theseus, that you may clear away the evils of Attica: clear away your own, then. From here, from your intellect, cast out, instead of Procustes and Sciron, grief, fear, craving, envy, joy over your neighbour’s misfortune, fondness of money, effeminacy, lack of self-restraint. [II,16,46] It is not possible to cast these out otherwise that by glancing at Zeus alone, pining away for Him alone, consecrating ourselves to His injunctions. [II,16,47] If you want instead something else, you will follow wailing and groaning the fellow who is stronger than you, seeking serenity always outside yourself and never being able to be serene. For you seek serenity where it is not and give up to seek it where it is.


Do not fancy to know what you do not know. He who is unable to deal with the preconceptions of ‘healthy’ and of ‘sick’ must study medicine (1-9)

[II,17,1] Which is the first deed of one who practises philosophy? To throw away his conceit: for it is unmanageable to begin to learn what one thinks to know. [II,17,2] We all come to the philosophers chatting up and down about what one ought to do and not to do, about what is good and what is evil, what is beautiful and what is shameful; and on these grounds we praise and censure, bring charges and blame, decree and state distinctly about wonderful and bad jobs. [II,17,3] What do we come to the philosophers for? To learn what we do not think we know. And what is that? General principles. For, some of us want to learn what the philosophers chat about thinking it will be smart and cunning; others to secure money thereby. [II,17,4] It is ridiculous, then, to think that one decides to learn certain things but will actually learn something else or, well then, that one will profit in what he does not learn. [II,17,5] What deceives the multitude is what deceived Theopompus the orator too, where he brings charges to Plato for the decision of defining each term. [II,17,6] What does Theopompus say? “Did none of us before you say ‘good’ or ‘just’? Or did we utter these voices without understanding what each of them is, in an inarticulate and empty way?” [II,17,7] And who tells you, Theopompus, that we did not have some natural concepts or preconceptions of each of them? But it is not possible to adapt our preconceptions to the appropriate substances without articulating and analysing precisely this, which kind of substance has to be subordinated to each of them. [II,17,8] Since, then, say something of this sort to the physicians too: “Who of us did not say ‘healthy’ and ‘sick’ before Hippocrates was born? Or did we echo these voices in an empty way?” [II,17,9] For we have a preconception of ‘healthy’ too, but we are unable to adapt it. For this reason one says: “Persevere in abstinence”, and another: “Give him food”; one says: “Make him bleed”, and another “Cup him”. What is the cause? Is it anything but the fact that one is unable to adapt well the preconception of ‘healthy’ to each particular case?

He who is unable to well apply the preconceptions of ‘good’ or ‘useful’ has to study philosophy (10-13)

[II,17,10] So it stands here also, in the cases of life. Who of us does not chat about good and evil, useful and useless? For who among us does not have a preconception of each of these terms? Is it, then, well articulated and perfect? Show it! [II,17,11] ” How shall I show it?” Adapt it well to the particular substances. For instance, Plato classifies definitions under the preconception of ‘profitable’, while you classify them under that of ‘unprofitable’. [II,17,12] Is it possible that you both hit the mark? And how is it possible? Does not one fellow adapt the preconception of ‘good’ to the substance ‘money’s wealth’ while another does not? And another fellow to the substance ‘physical pleasure’, and yet another to the substance ‘body’s health’? [II,17,13] In general, if we all who chat about these names have no empty

knowledge of each of them and need no diligence in the articulation of our preconceptions, why do we quarrel, why do we wage war, why do we censure each other?

For it is contradictory to think that we are able to adapt well our preconceptions to any particular case and to be unhappy (14-18)

[II,17,14] And yet what need have I to quote now our contrast with one another and remember it? You yourself, if you adapt well your preconceptions why are you not serene, why are you hindered? [II,17,15] Let’s give up just now the second topic, the one about our impulses and about working them artfully in relationship to what a dutiful deed is. Let’s give up the third topic too, the one about our assents. [II,17,16] I give you all this as a gracious present. Let’s stick to the first topic, the one that provides us with an almost sensible demonstration that you do not adapt well your preconceptions. [II,17,17] Now you want what is possible and what is possible to you. Why, then, are you hindered? Why are you not serene? Now you do not flee from what is necessary. Why, then, do you stumble on troubles, why do you have ill fortune? Why is it that when you want something it does not happen, and when you do not want it, it does happen? [II,17,18] For, this is the greatest demonstration of a lack of serenity and of unhappiness. I want something and this thing does not happen: and what creature is more miserable than me? I do not want something and this thing happens: and what creature is more miserable than me?

Our counterdiairesis as a drama: Medea refuses to desert the idea of dominating what is not in her exclusive power (19- 22)

[II,17,19] And Medea, not submitting herself to this, came to the point of killing her offspring. With great temperament indeed, as far as this! For she had the impression one ought to have of what it means that the things one wants do not proceed successfully. [II,17,20] “And so I shall take vengeance upon him who wronged and outraged me. What avail can I take out of a person so badly disposed? How can it happen? I kill my offspring. [II,17,21] But I shall inflict a penalty upon myself too. Yet what do I care?” This is the decay of a mind that has great sinews. For she did not know where is the power to do what we dispose, that one must not get this from outside nor by transposing and refitting the things. [II,17,22] Do not want your husband and nothing of what you dispose will fail to happen. Do not want at any cost that he dwells together with you; do not want to remain in Corinth and, in short, do not want but what Zeus disposes. And who will prevent you, who will constrain you? No more than one can prevent or constrain Zeus.

Train yourself to diairesize (23-28)

[II,17,23] When you have such a leader as Zeus and you dispose and desire along with him, why do you still fear to fail? [II,17,24] Give graciously your desire and your aversion to poverty in money and to money’s wealth: you will fail, you will stumble on what you avert. Give them graciously to body’s health: you will have ill fortune. To offices, honours, fatherland, friends, offspring, in short to anything aproairetic. [II,17,25] Give them graciously, instead, to Zeus, to the other gods; commit them to their keeping; let them steer; let all that be positioned at their side. [II,17,26] And where will you any longer fail to be serene? But if you envy, O slothful fellow, and pity and are jealous and tremble and never intermit a day without lamenting yourself and the Gods, why do you still say to have been trained to diairesize? [II,17,27] What kind of training to diairesize, you sir? Because you were busy with syllogisms and arguments with equivocal premisses? Will you not, if possible, unlearn all this and begin from the beginning, after becoming conscious that till now you did not even touch the business and, well then, [II,17,28] thence begin to build besides what comes next: how nothing will be against your disposition and, when you dispose something, that nothing will fail to be?

Look at the good student of philosophy (29-33)

[II,17,29] Give me but one young boy who has come to school according to this design, who has become an athlete of this business and who says: “As for me, farewell to everything else. It is sufficient for me if I ever have the power to pass my life unimpeded and able to control grief; the power to lift my neck up in the face of things as a free man; the power to look up at the sky as a friend of Zeus and a man who fears nothing of what can occur”. [II,17,30] Let one of you show me such a young man, that I may say: Come, younker, to what is yours; for it is your destiny to adorn philosophy; these possessions are yours, the books are yours, the discourses are yours. [II,17,31] And then when he has done all he could and has mastered by practice the first topic, let him come again to me and say: “I dispose, yes, to be a self-controlled and undisconcerted man, but I dispose also as a pious, a philosopher, a diligent man to know what is for me the proper deed towards the gods, the proper deed towards parents, towards brothers, towards my fatherland, towards foreigners”. [II,17,32] Come to the second topic too: this also is yours. [II,17,33] “But I have already carefully studied the second topic too. I would dispose to stand safe and unshaken not only when I am awake but also when I sleep, when I am slightly drunk, when I am melancholy-mad”. You are a god, man; you have great designs!”

You too are like the bad student of philosophy? (34-38)

[II,17,34] No, but: “I want to know what Chrysippus says in his books on ‘The Liar’“. Will you not hang yourself with this design, wretched fellow? What will it avail you? You will read it all mourning, and trembling you will talk about it to others. [II,17,35] This is what you also do. “Do you want me to read for you, brother, and you for me?” “Man, you write in an amazing way”. And: “You write marvellously in the style of Xenophon”; [II,17,36] “You in that of Plato”; “You in that of Antisthenes”. And then after exposing to one another your dreams, you return again to the same things. You desire in the same way, you avert in the same way; similarly you impel, make designs, make proposals; you wish the same things, the same things you are eager for. [II,17,37] Nor you seek the man who will remind you these discourses, but take offence when you hear them. And then you say: “Old man with no affection; when I went out he did not cry nor said ‘What kind of difficult circumstances you depart to, my offspring! If you are saved I’ll light lamps!’ ” [II,17,38] Are these the words of an affectionate creature? It will be a great good for you to be saved such as you are, and a thing lamps-worth. For you must be immortal and exempt from disease!

We must accept the fact of not knowing something and our need to learn it (39-40)

[II,17,39] We must, then, come to reason after having thrown away this conceit, as I say, by which we think to know something profitable; like we do when we move towards geometry and music. [II,17,40] Otherwise, we will not be near to profit even if we go across all the “Introductions to philosophy” and all the treatises of Chrysippus, after those of Antipater and of Archedemus.


The might of our habits (1-7)

[II,18,1] Every attitude and faculty is confirmed and grown by the appropriate deeds: that of walking by walking, that of running by running. [II,18,2] If you dispose to be a reader, read; if a writer, write. When you do not read but are busy with something else for thirty days uninterruptedly, you will recognize what happens. [II,18,3] Thus, if you lie in bed for ten days, once you set up, attempt a longer stroll and you will see how numb your legs are. [II,18,4] In general, then, if you dispose to do something, do it by habit; and if you dispose not to do something, don’t do it but accustom yourself to perform something else instead. [II,18,5] It is so in the business of our souls too. When you get angry, recognize that not only this evil happened to you, but that you also grew that attitude and threw something like firewood

over a fire. [II,18,6] When you yield to something in an intercourse, do not count merely this defeat but also that you have fed and grown your lack of self-restraint. [II,18,7] For it is impossible that the attitudes and the faculties, thanks to the appropriate deeds, will not be rooted in if they formerly did not exist; and that others, which were already there, will not be intensified and made strong.

‘Good’ is the judgement: money is neither good nor evil.’ Evil’ is the judgement that makes us crave for money as a good or an evil thing. How a passion arises and the traces it leaves (8-9)

[II,18,8] The philosophers say that our infirmities too, without doubt, spring up in this way. For when you crave once for money, if a reasoning appraising the evil of this judgement is brought near to your conscience, the craving is stopped and our ruling principle is restored to its original state. [II,18,9] But if you bring near it nothing in assistance, the ruling principle does not revert to its original state but, provoked again by the appropriate impression, is inflamed to crave more quickly than before. If this constantly happens, well then, the ruling principle is made callous and the infirmity strengthens the fondness of money.

Welts, sores and scars (10-11)

[II,18,10] For when a fever stops, he who had the fever does not stand like before unless he has been completely cured. [II,18,11] Something of this sort happens also for the passions of our soul. Traces and welts are left behind in it and if one does not erase them very well, when one is whipped again in the same points, they no longer make welts but sores.

Bad judgements make bad habits (12-14)

[II,18,12] If, then, you dispose not to be prone to anger, do not feed your attitude, throw upon it nothing able to promote its growth. At first keep quiet and number the days in which you did not get angry. [II,18,13] “I used to get angry every day; now every other day, and then every third, and then every fourth”. If you omit to get angry for thirty days, offer a sacrifice to Zeus. For the attitude at first is worn out and then is also totally abolished. [II,18,14] “Today I did not grieve, nor tomorrow, nor uninterruptedly for two or three months, but I paid attention when certain provocative things happened”. Recognize that you are faring smartly.

To break up an evil habit is a much bigger deed than to break up a sophism (15-18)

[II,18,15] Today, when I saw a wonderful lad or a wonderful girl, I did not say to myself “Could one go to bed with her!”, and “Blessed her husband!”; for he who says this “Blessed” says also “Blessed is the adulterer!”. [II,18,16] I do not even picture what comes next: that she is present and strips naked and lies on a nearby bed. [II,18,17] I caress my head top and say: “Well, Epictetus, you solved a pretty sophism, much prettier than ‘The Dominator’“. [II,18,18] And if I’ll abstain and win also when the female decides so and nods and sends me words and also touches and snuggles me, this is already a sophism above ‘The Liar’, above ‘The Quiescent’. For this reason it is worth to have high thoughts about ourselves, not for being able to ask ‘The Dominator’.

‘Good’ is the judgement: sex is neither good nor evil. ‘Evil’ is the judgement that makes us crave for it like something good or evil in itself. What to do? (19-21)

[II,18,19] How does this, then, happen? Once upon a time dispose to please yourself, dispose to appear beautiful to Zeus. Crave to become pure with your pure self and with Zeus. [II,18,20] Then, when an impression of this sort befalls you, as Plato says, go and offer an expiatory sacrifice, go as suppliant to the shrines of evil-averters Gods. [II,18,21] It is sufficient too, if you retire in community with virtuous men and try yourself in this respect by their standards, whether you have as model one of the living or one of the dead men.

Look at Socrates… (22)

[II,18,22] Leave and go to Socrates and see him as he lies in bed with Alcibiades in jest of his youthful grace. Ponder what a victory he recognized he had won, what Olympic game, what his rank was in the series that Heracles began! So that, by the gods, by saying “Welcome, admirable man!”, one may justly greet him and not these rotten boxers and pancratiasts nor their like, the gladiators.

… and you will know how to win (23-26)

[II,18,23] You will win over your impression, you will not be dragged by it if you set these examples against it. [II,18,24] In the first place be not swept away by its sharpness but say :”Wait a little for me, O impression; let me see what you are and what you are an impression of; let me evaluate you”. [II,18,25] From now on do not let it picture what comes next. Otherwise, it goes off with you wherever it wants. Introduce, rather, another beautiful and generous impression, casting out this filthy one. [II,18,26] If you accustom and train yourself this way, you will see what your shoulders become like, what kind of sinews, what tension you develop! Now, instead, you have merely petty discourses and nothing more.

The true ascetic man (27-32)

[II,18,27] The true practiser is the one who trains himself against such impressions. [II,18,28] Stay, wretched fellow, be not swept away! Great is the contest, divine is the deed: it is for a kingdom, for freedom, for serenity, for undisconcertment. [II,18,29] Remember Zeus, invoke Him as help and guardian, like those who sail invoke the Dioscuri during a storm. And what a bigger storm than that of potent impressions able to shackle our reason? And the storm itself what else is it but an impression? [II,18,30] Since remove the fear of death and bring forth as many thunders and lightnings you want. You will recognize how much stillness and fine weather there is in the ruling principle! [II,18,31] But if, defeated once, you say that you will win later and then again you do the same thing; know that at some time you will fare so badly and be so weak as to be later unable even to reflect upon the fact that you aberrate, but you will begin to supply arguments in defence of your conduct. [II,18,32] Then you will strengthen the truth of the saying of Hesiod *The dilatory person always strives with misfortunes*.


‘The Dominator’ argument and the delights of logic (1-4)

[II,19,1] ‘The Dominator’ argument appears to have been asked starting from certain motivating propositions of this sort, because there is a mutual contradiction of these third propositions with the other two: (a) all that has truly happened in the past is necessary; (b) an impossible does not follow a possible; (c) possible is what is not true nor will be true. Noting this contradiction, Diodorus utilized the persuasiveness of the first two propositions for setting forth that nothing, which is not true nor will be true, is possible. [II,19,2] Well then, among these propositions someone will keep this pair: (c) possible is what is not true nor will be true, and (b) an impossible does not follow a possible, but not (a) all that has truly happened in the past is necessary. This is precisely what the school of Cleanthes seems to think, and Antipater strongly pleaded his cause. [II,19,3] Others will maintain the other two propositions, (c) possible is what is not true nor will be true, and (a) all that has truly happened in the past is necessary, but then an impossible follows a possible. [II,19,4] But it is unmanageable to maintain all three of these propositions, because of their mutual contradiction.

A certain study of these arguments does not favour virtue but vanity (5-10)

[II,19,5] If, then, one tries to know from me: “And you, which kind of propositions do you keep?”, I’ll answer that I don’t know. I have assumed from other people a narration of this sort: Diodorus kept one pair; the school of Panthoides, I think, and that of Cleanthes another pair and the school of Chrysippus yet the third possible pair. [II,19,6] “You, then, what?” I was not born to put to a test my impression and compare the statements and make a judgement of my own in this topic. For this reason I differ in nothing from the grammarian. [II,19,7] “Who was the father of Hector?” “Priam”. “Who were his brothers?” “Alexander and Deiphobus”. “Who was their mother?” “Hecuba. I have assumed this narration from other people”. “From whom?” “From Homer. Hellanicus too, I think, writes about the same things and possibly someone else like him”. [II,19,8] About ‘The Dominator’ what else higher have I to say? But if I am a vain person I’ll astound those present, especially at a banquet, enumerating those who have written on the subject. [II,19,9] “Chrysippus also has written in an amazing way on this topic in the first book of his treaty ‘On Things Possible’. Cleanthes too has written peculiarly on this topic, and also Archedemus. Also Antipater has written, not only in his books ‘On Things Possible’ but also peculiarly in those on ‘The Dominator’. [II,19,10] Have you not read the treatise?” “I have not read it”. “Read it”. And of what benefit will it be to him? He will be more babbler and ill timed than he is now. For what else did you gain by reading it? What kind of judgement have you made on this topic? But will you tell us of Helen and Priam and the island of Calypso which never was and never will be?

We need diairesis in order to live and to die, not in order to make a show of it (11-19)

[II,19,11] And here it is not a great problem to master the narration without having made on it a peculiar judgement of our own. But in ethics we experience this much more than in literature. [II,19,12] “Tell me about good and evil things”. “Listen: *Bringing me far from Ilium, a wind brought me to the Ciconians.* [II,19,13] Of the things, some are good; others evil; others indifferent. Good are, then, the virtues and what partakes of them; evil are the vices and what partakes of vices; indifferent are the things that are in between these: money’s wealth, body’s health, life, death, physical pleasure, pain”. [II,19,14] “Whence do you know this?” “Hellanicus tells this in his book ‘History of Egypt’“. For what difference does it make to say this or that Diogenes says so in his ‘Ethics’ or Chrysippus or Cleanthes? Have you put to the test any of their teachings and have you made a judgement of your own? [II,19,15] Show how you are accustomed to train yourself on a vessel. Do you remember of this diairesis when the sail crackles and, while you scream, a mischievous fellow-passenger standing by your side says: “Tell me, by the gods, what you were saying lately. Is it a vice to suffer shipwreck? Is it something that partakes of vice?” [II,19,16] Will you not lift a piece of wood and cudgel him? “What have we to do with you, man? We are perishing and you come and joke?” [II,19,17] If Caesar sends for you because you are accused, do you remember of diairesis? If someone, while you go into his presence and are pale and trembling, comes to you and says: “Why do you tremble, you sir? What business is your statement of claim about? Does Caesar give virtue or vice to those who enter inside?” [II,19,18] “Besides my evils, why do you also mock me?” “Yet, O philosopher, tell me: why do you tremble? The risk you run is it not death or prison or body’s pain or exile or ill reputation? And what else? Is this a vice, is it something that partakes of vice? What did you use to say that these things are?” [II,19,19] “What have I to do with you, man? My evils are sufficient for me”. And you say well. For your evils are sufficient for you: your meanness, your cowardice, the brag that you bragged sitting at school. Why did you embellish yourself with another’s judgements? Why did you call yourself a stoic?

Who is a stoic? (20-28)

[II,19,20] Keep an eye, thus, on what you yourselves used to perform and you will find of which philosophical choice you are. You will find that most of you are Epicureans, some few Peripatetics and these last, worn out Peripatetics. [II,19,21] Where is it that you conceive virtue to be equal or also better, in practice, than all the rest? Show me a Stoic, if you have one. [II,19,22] Where or how? But myriads who say petty stoic discourses. But do these same people tell worse the epicurean ones? And,

similarly, are they not precise with the peripatetic ones? [II,19,23] Who, then, is a Stoic? Like we say Pheidian a statue that has been moulded according to the art of Pheidias, in the same way show me someone who has moulded himself according to the judgements that he chats about. [II,19,24] Show me someone who is sick and judges to be fortunate, who is in danger and judges to be fortunate, who dies and judges to be fortunate, who has been exiled and judges to be fortunate, who has ill reputation and judges to be fortunate. Show him to me! I crave, by the gods, to see a Stoic. [II,19,25] Can you not show me a man so moulded? Show me one who is now thus moulding himself, one who has inclined to this. Be my benefactors: do not begrudge an old man the sight of a spectacle that till now I did not see. [II,19,26] Do you think that you will show the Zeus of Pheidias or his Athena, a structure of ivory and gold? Let one of you show the soul of a man disposed to be of one mind with Zeus, to blame no more either god nor man, to fail in nothing, to stumble on nothing, not to get angry, not to envy, not to be jealous (but why must one use circumlocutions?), [II,19,27] who from a man craves to become a god and who in this corpse-like body takes counsel with himself on his society with Zeus. [II,19,28] Show him to me! But you have none. Why, then, do you mock yourselves and cheat other people? And putting on a dress that is another’s, why do you walk about as thieves and clothes-stealers of names and of a business that in no way befits you?

Let’s work together for the achievement of a great project (29-34)

[II,19,29] I am now your trainer in diairesis, and with me you train yourselves to diairesize. I have this design: to make you come out unhampered, unconstrained, unimpeded, free, serene, happy, men who have Zeus in view in every circumstance, both small and great. And you are here to learn and study this. [II,19,30] Why, then, do you not accomplish the work, if you too have the design that one ought and I have the preparation that one ought to have for that design? What is lacking? [II,19,31] When I see a carpenter with his subject matter lying nearby, I wait for the work. Here too, therefore, there is the carpenter, there is the subject matter. What do we lack? [II,19,32] Is the business not teachable? It is teachable. Is it not, then, in our exclusive power? But it is the only one among all the others. Neither money’s wealth nor body’s health nor reputation nor anything else are, in short, in our exclusive power, except the right use of impressions. This only is by nature unhampered, unhindered. [II,19,33] Why, then, do you not accomplish the work? Tell me the cause. For this cause is either in me or in you or in the nature of the business. The thing itself is feasible and is the only one in our exclusive power. Well, then the cause is in me or in you or, what is more true, in both. [II,19,34] What then? Do you dispose that we begin at some time to convey here such a design? Let’s give up all that has been till now. Let’s only begin; trust me and you will see.


The self-contradictory foundation of some Academic arguments (1-5)

[II,20,1] The sound and evident propositions are of necessity exploited by their objectors too; and one could almost make this as the greatest proof of a proposition being evident: that the objector too finds himself in the necessity of utilizing it. [II,20,2] For example if someone should object to the proposition that there is something universally true, it’s plain that he is bound to make the opposite declaration, that there is nothing universally true. Slave, not even this is true. [II,20,3] For what else is this assertion but the assertion that if there is a statement universally valid, it is false? [II,20,4] Again, if someone comes forward and says: “Recognize that nothing is knowable but that all is unintelligible”, or another says: “Trust me and you will benefit: for no reason one ought to trust a man”, or someone else says: [II,20,5] “Learn from me, man, that it is not feasible to learn anything; this I tell you and this I’ll teach you, if you want”; what difference is there between these people and -whom ever shall I say?- those who call themselves Academics? “Men, assent that no one assents; trust us that no one trusts anybody”.

The self-contradictory foundation on which Epicurus grounds the denial of a natural sociability in mankind (6-14)

[II,20,6] So also Epicurus, when he wants to abolish the natural society of men with one another, utilizes exactly what is abolished. [II,20,7] For what does he say? “Be not deceived, men, be not led astray, do not make mistakes: there is no natural society of rational creatures with one another, trust me. Those who say other things are deceiving you and use fallacies”. [II,20,8] Why, then, do you care? Let’s be deceived. Will it be more difficult for you to get rid of us, if all the rest of us are persuaded that we have a natural society with one another and that one must in all ways guard it? On the contrary, your position will be much better and safer. [II,20,9] You sir, why do you worry about us, why do you stay awake on our account, why do you light a lamp, why do you get up from bed, why do you compile so large books? That some of us may not be deceived upon gods as taking care of men or that no one may conceive other substance of the good but physical pleasure? [II,20,10] For if this is so, throw yourself to sleep and do what a worm does, things which you judged yourself worth of: eat and drink and have sexual intercourse and defecate and snore. [II,20,11] What do you care how the others will conceive upon these issues, if soundly or not soundly? For what have you to do with us? Do you care about sheep because they provide themselves to be shorn by us and milked and by last cut to pieces? [II,20,12] Would it not be your wish that the human beings, enchanted and bewitched by the Stoics, could slumber and provide themselves to be shorn and milked by you and your like? [II,20,13] Instead of concealing it, this is what you ought to say to your Epicurean fellows and especially convince them, before you convince all other people, that we are born by nature sociable, that self-restraint is a good thing, so that all may be kept for you. [II,20,14] Or ought one guard this society with some people and not with others? With whom ought one, then, to keep it? With those who maintain it in their turn or those who stand as transgressors of it? And who are greater transgressors than you Epicureans who have distinctly stated these doctrines?

Like we all, the Academics too use their sensations, the Epicureans too have social relationships with other people. But they believe that it tastes better to say that it is not so, and to explain to the world why other people too must feel ashamed in hearing the voice of nature (15-20)

[II,20,15] What was, then, that awoke Epicurus from his sleep and that constrained him to write what he wrote? What else but what is the strongest thing in men: nature, dragging him unwilling and groaning to its own plan? [II,20,16] “Since you think these unsocial theses, write them down and bequeathe them to others; stay awake because of them and become you yourself, in practice, the accuser of your own judgements”. [II,20,17] And then we say that Orestes, persecuted by the Furies, was awoken from his sleep! But were not the Furies and the Avengers much more embittered against Epicurus? They awoke him from sleep and did not allow him to rest but constrained him to tell out his evils, just as madness and wine compel the Galli to mutilate themselves. [II,20,18] So potent and invincible a thing is human nature. For how can a vine be moved not like a vine but like an olive tree; or an olive tree, again, not like an olive tree but like a vine? It is unmanageable, it is inconceivable. [II,20,19] Therefore it is not even possible for a human being to totally lose his movements as a man and those who amputate themselves of their penis cannot however amputate their masculine impulsions. [II,20,20] Thus Epicurus amputated himself of whatever makes a husband, a housemaster, a citizen, a friend; but did not amputate the impulsions that make a man. For that he could not. Any more than the slothful Academics can throw away or blind their sensations, even if this is what they are especially eager for.

The Academics, upset by the possible fallacy of our sensations, decree their total unreliability. The Epicureans, in their turn, upset by the actual ugliness of the transcendent Gods worshipped by human beings, decree the nonexistence of the gods worshipped by men too (21-27)

[II,20,21] What a misfortune! Even getting from nature measures and standards for the discernment of truth, one does not work artfully to add up and refine what is lacking but, on the opposite, he tries to

tear away and lose whatever power cognitive of the truth he has. [II,20,22] What do you say, philosopher? What do pious and holy things appear to be to you? “If you want, I’ll fashion that they are a good thing”. Yes, do it; so that our citizens turning their minds towards them, may honour what is divine and stop at some time to be lazy about the greatest issues. “Have you, then, the needed proofs?” I have them and I am grateful. [II,20,23] “Since, then, you are very pleased with these, take the opposite ones: that there are no gods and, if ever there are, that they take no care of men, that nothing is common between us and them, that this pious and holy which most people chat about is a falsity of brag persons and of sophists or, by Zeus, of lawgivers aimed at frightening and repressing the wrongdoers”. [II,20,24] Well, philosopher! You benefited our citizens, you recovered our youths who already lean to the contempt of divine things. [II,20,25] “What then? Are you not pleased with this? Take now the other points: how the justice is nothing, how self respect is a stupidity, how a father is nothing, how a son is nothing”. [II,20,26] Well, philosopher! Persist, persuade our youths, that much more people may experience what you experience and talk like you talk. Our well-ordered towns grew great thanks to these discourses. Sparta became great because of these discourses. Lycurgus, with his laws and his system of education infused into the Spartans these persuasions, that to be a servant is no more shameful than beautiful and that to be free is no more beautiful than shameful. Those who died at Thermopylae died because of these judgements. And for what discourses but these did the Athenians desert their town? [II,20,27] And then those who talk so marry, beget children, engage in city business, institute themselves priests and prophets. Of whom? Of Gods that do not exist? And they question the Pythian priestess in order to try to know false things and explain the oracles to others. What a great shamelessness and imposture!

How the Academics could be cured from their scepticism (28-31)

[II,20,28] You sir, what do you do? You confute yourself every day, and are you unwilling to give up these cold epicheiremata? When you eat, where do you bring your hand? To the mouth or to the eye? In order to take a bath where do you step into? When did you ever call the pot a dish or the ladle a spit? [II,20,29] If I were a servant of one of them, I would rack him, even if I had to be flayed by him every day. “Young boy, throw a little oil into the bath”. I would have thrown a little fish-sauce in and then, leaving, I would pour it on his head. “What is this?” “I had an impression indistinguishable from that of oil, absolutely similar; yes, by your luck!” [II,20,30] “Give me hither the gruel”. I would have brought him a side-dish full of fish-sauce mixed with vinegar. “Did I not ask for the gruel?” “Yes, my lord: this is the gruel”. “Is not this fish-sauce mixed with vinegar?” “What anymore than gruel?” “Take it and smell it; take and taste it”. “And whence do you know this, if the sensations are lying to us?” [II,20,31] If I had had three or four fellow-servants of one mind with me, I would have made him hang himself bursting open with rage or transpose his mind. Now, on the contrary, those people sneer at us, because they use all that is given to them by nature while abolishing it in their discourses.

If to any transcending God we can calmly say “Thank you for not being there”, then the human being only is accountable for his own happiness or unhappiness. The nature of things is invariant, human cultures are relative. Every time we misunderstand the fact that human cultures are relative to an invariant nature of things, we are unaware of passing off as religion worth of men any superstition worth of human beings and as freedom any indecency worth of slaves (32-37)

[II,20,32] Grateful men indeed and self respecting! If nothing else they eat bread every day, and dare to say: “We do not know if there is a Demeter or a Kore or a Pluto”. [II,20,33] Not to say that, although they enjoy the night and the day, the transformations of the year and of the stars, of the sea, of the earth, of the cooperation of human beings, these things they do not turn the mind towards not even a little, but only seek to vomit their petty problems and then, once they have trained their stomach, to depart for the baths. [II,20,34] These people, even for a brief time, have not worried about what they will say and on what and to whom and what sense these discourses will have for the hearers: that a noble-natured young, having heard these discourses, may experience something bad because of them or, if he has experienced it, that he may lose the seeds of his noble nature; [II,20,35] that we may provide an adulterer with motives to lose any shame of the events; that an embezzler of public funds

may, thank to these discourses, lay hold of some specious plea; that someone who neglects his own parents may add from them a certain brazeness. [II,20,36] According to you what is, then, good or evil, beautiful or shameful? This or that? What then? Does anyone any longer object to one of these fellows, or say that they are right or wrong, or try to change their mind? [II,20,37] By Zeus, one might much more hope to persuade the lewd fellows to change their mind than those who have become that much deaf and blind about their evils.


The fact that we recognize only some of our defects is a remarkable piece of Socratic intellectualism, and at the same time a proof of the existence of a nature of things and of its invariance (1-7)

[II,21,1] The human beings acknowledge some of their faults easily, some others not so easily. No one, then, will acknowledge to be imprudent or crazy but, quite to the opposite, you will hear everyone say: “I wish I had as much luck as I have good sense!” [II,21,2] But they acknowledge easily to be timid and say: “I am too timid, I acknowledge it; but for the rest you will not find me to be a stupid”. [II,21,3] One will not easily acknowledge that he is not master of himself, generally not that he is unjust, quite not that he is envious or officious; most people will acknowledge that they are pitiful. [II,21,4] What is, then, the cause? The dominant one is our inconsistency with the nature of things and our disconcertment in the judgements about good and evil things. Other causes are different for different people and almost everything that they fancy to be shameful, this they do quite not acknowledge. [II,21,5] Timidity they fancy to be proper of an intelligent character, and so to be pitiful. But to be silly, they conceive it to be totally a slave’s quality. And as far as society is concerned, they will never admit of trespassing against it. [II,21,6] With regard to most of their aberrations, they are especially brought to acknowledge them because they fancy that there is in them some involuntary element, precisely as in timidity and pity. [II,21,7] And if one ever acknowledges that he is not master of himself, he adds up to this the amorous passion, so as to be forgiven like for an involuntary act. But injustice they do not at all fancy as involuntary. They think that there is something involuntary also in jealousy, and for this reason they acknowledge this too.

The examination of our proairesis (8-10)

[II,21,8] The man who deals with such human beings so disconcerted, so ignorant about what they say, or about their evils, or if they have them, or how they stand by them, or how to rest from them, I think is worthy of constantly reflecting upon this question: “Am I also one of those people? [II,21,9] What impression have I about myself? How do I deal with myself? Do I too deal with myself the way the prudent man deals with himself, and as a self-restrained man does with himself? Do I too ever say that I have been educated to meet whatever will come? [II,21,10] Have I the consciousness that must have the man who knows nothing, that I know nothing? Do I come to the teacher prepared to obey him like I obey an oracular response? Or do I too, with my nose full of snivel, enter the school only to learn the history of philosophy and to understand books that I did not understand before and then, perhaps, to explain them to others?”

The examination of our proairesis continues (11-14)

[II,21,11] You sir, at home you have whacked your servant, you have turned your family into utter confusion and your neighbours in deep disconcertment: and then you come to me and play, as a wise man, the restrained? You sit and judge how I explained the elocution, and to what end I babbled all that came into my head? [II,21,12] You have come here in envy, slave-minded because nothing is brought to you from home, and meanwhile we have these discourses you sit and you brood about

nothing else but how things stand between you and your father or your brother. [II,21,13] “What are those at home saying about me? Now they think that I am making profit and say ‘He will come along knowing everything!’ [II,21,14] I did want at some time to return having learned everything, but that needs much toil, nobody sends me anything, to bathe at the Nicopolis’ baths is a rotten deed, at home I fared ill and here too”.

Who comes to my school to learn this and not other things? (15-22)

[II,21,15] And then people say: “Nobody gets benefit from the school”. Who comes to the school, who, with the aim of being cured? Who with the aim of providing that his own judgements be purified; who with the aim of becoming conscious of the judgements he needs? [II,21,16] Why, then, do you wonder if you bring outside of the school again the same judgements that you bring in? For you do not come here to put them away or to rectify them or to get other judgements in exchange of them. [II,21,17] Whence? You are not even near this! Rather notice, then, whether it happens to you what you come here for. You want to chat about the general principles of philosophy. What then? Are you not becoming more babblers? Does not the school provide you with some subject matter for a show off of those general principles? Do you not resolve syllogisms and equivocal arguments? Do you not scour the assumptions of ‘The Liar’the hypothetical arguments? Why, then, are you still vexed if you get what you are here present for? [II,21,18] “Yes, but if my child or my brother had died or if I should die or be racked: what will I benefit by such notions?” [II,21,19] Did you come to me for this purpose, for this purpose did you sit at my side, for this purpose did you sometimes light the lamp and stay awake? Or when you go out into the covered walk, instead of a syllogism did you ever put in front of you an impression and then scoured it conjointly? [II,21,20] When did you ever do that? And then you say: “The general principles of philosophy are unprofitable”. To whom? To those who do not use them as one ought to. The eyewash is not unprofitable to those who put drops of it into their eyes when and how one ought to; the poultices are not unprofitable; the jumping-weights are not unprofitable but unprofitable to some and profitable to others. [II,21,21] If you now try to know from me: “Are the syllogisms profitable?” I’ll tell you that they are profitable and, if you want, I’ll demonstrate to you how. “But to me, then, of what benefit have they been?” You sir, you did not try to know if they are profitable to you but in general. [II,21,22] Let also he who suffers from dysentery try to know from me whether the vinegar is profitable, and I’ll tell him that it is profitable. “To me, then, is it profitable?” I’ll say: “No. Seek first to block your flux, to cicatrize your slight sores”. And you, men, cure first the sores, curb your fluxes, be at rest with your intellect, bring it to the school free from distractions and you will recognize what might reason has!


Except for very few cases, we all are intelligent people and therefore we all know how to love what is good. But there is a certain difference between what is loved by an intelligence that uses counterdiairesis -be he a father, a brother, a friend-, and what is loved by an intelligence able to use diairesis with art (1-11)

[II,22,1] Whatever one is eager for, this he has suitably a predilection for. Are men, then, eager for evil things? Not at all. Perhaps for things that are nothing to them? Not even for this. [II,22,2] It is left over, therefore, that they are eager for good things only; [II,22,3] and if these things they are eager for, these they also love. Whoever, then, is a scientist of good things, he is also the man who would know what to love. But he who cannot distinguish good things from evil ones and what is oudeterous from both, how could this fellow love? To love is therefore a power of the prudent man only. [II,22,4] – “How so?”, someone says, “for I am imprudent myself, yet I love my child”- [II,22,5] I am amazed, by the gods, at how you have in the first place acknowledged to be imprudent. What do you lack? Do you not use the sensations, do you not distinguish the impressions, do you not supply your body with the

suitable food, a shelter, a dwelling? Whence do you acknowledge, then, to be imprudent? [II,22,6] Because, by Zeus, you are often dazed by impressions, are disconcerted and defeated by their persuasiveness. You conceive the same things once good, then evil and later oudeterous. And generally you grieve, you fear, you envy, you are disconcerted, you are changeable. For this reason you acknowledge to be imprudent. [II,22,7] And in having predilections are you not changeable? You conceive that money’s wealth, physical pleasure and, in short, the business itself are sometimes good and sometimes evil; that the same people are sometimes good and sometimes evil; sometimes you behave with them informally and sometimes as if they were your personal enemies; sometimes you praise them and sometimes you censure them. [II,22,8] -Yes, I experience this too- What then? Do you think that he who has been deceived about someone can be his friend? -Quite not!- And the fellow who chooses a friend with fickleness, can he be well disposed towards him? –No, he can’t- And he who now reviles someone and later admires him? -Not even this- [II,22,9] What then? Have you never seen doggies fawning and romping with one another, so as to say: “There is nothing more friendly”? But that you may see what friendship is, throw between them a piece of meat and you will recognize it. [II,22,10] Throw between you and your child a bit of land and you will recognize how quickly your child wants to bury you and you wish the child to die. And then you say again: “What an offspring I brought up! All this time he has been wanting to carry me to the grave!” [II,22,11] Throw in a pretty wench and both the old fellow and the young one fall in love with her; or, again, throw in a bit of reputation.

The proofthat comes from a father and a son: Feres and Admetus (11-12)

If you must be in danger, you will say what the father of Admetus said: *Do you want to see the light and think your father does not?* [II,22,12] Do you think that he did not love his own child when it was small, and that he was not anxious when it had a fever and that he did not often say: “If I rather had the fever!”? And then when the test comes upon him, see what speech he lets loose!

The proof that comes from two brothers: Eteocles and Polyneices (13-14)

[II,22,13] Did not Eteocles and Polyneices have the same mother and the same father? Were not they fed together, had not they lived together, played together, had not they been bed-fellows, had not they often kissed one another? So that, I think, if one had seen them he would have mocked the philosophers because of the paradoxes they say on friendship. [II,22,14] But when the tyranny fell in the midst like a piece of meat, see what they say: *Where before the walls do you want to stand? -Why do you ask me?- You I shall range myself against, that I may kill you. -This is what I want too- * And they wish these whishes.

The fact that a man seeks exclusively his own peculiar interest is a holy thing, it is absolutely essential for his survival (15-21)

[II,22,15] For in general, be not deceived, every creature to nothing has been made so familiar as to his own interest. Whatever, then, appears to him to hinder it, be it a brother or father or child or beloved or lover, the creature hates, indicts and curses it. [II,22,16] For his nature is to love nothing as his own interest; this is father, brother, congenerous, fatherland and god. [II,22,17] When, then, we deem the Gods to hinder us from the attainment of this end, we revile them too, we overturn their delubra, we set fire to their temples like Alexander did, who summoned to set fire to those of Asclepius when his beloved one died. [II,22,18] For this reason, if one sets interest and holy and beautiful and fatherland and parents and friends to coincide, all this is safeguarded. But if he sets in one place his interest and somewhere else the friends and fatherland and parents and justice itself, all these things disappear overweighed by the interest. [II,22,19] For where the “I” and the”mine” are, it is necessary for the creature to lean there. If they are in the flesh, the dominant power has to be there; if in the proairesis, it has to be in the proairesis; if in the external objects, it has to be in these. [II,22,20] If, therefore, I am where my proairesis is, in this way only I’ll be a friend and a son and a father as one ought to be. For it

will be my interest to keep the faithful, self respecting man, the man able to tolerate another’s intemperance, able to abstain from intemperance, to co-work and guard his social relationships. [II,22,21] But if I set myself in one place and somewhere else the beautiful, in this way the argument of Epicurus, who declares the beautiful to be either nothing or, at best, what has a good reputation, becomes a strong one.

The trick lies in the knowledge of which truly is ‘his own peculiar interest’ (22-24)

[II,22,22] Because of this ignorance the Athenians quarrelled with the Lacedaemonians and the Thebans with both; the great king of Persia with Greece and the Macedonians with both; and now the Romans with the Getae and, still earlier, the facts of Ilium happened for this reason. [II,22,23] Alexander was Menelaus’ guest and if one had seen them exchange signs of friendship with one another, would have distrusted the person who said that they were not friends. But a small part, a pretty female, was thrown in between them, and around it was war. [II,22,24] And now when you see friends, brothers who seem to be of one mind, do not declare immediately something about their friendship, not even if they swear or say that it is impossible for them to be far from one another.

The judgements that make a human being intelligent and insipient compared to the judgements that make a man intelligent and wise (25-30)

[II,22,25] The ruling principle of an insipient person is not faithful, it is insecure, it is unscrupulous, it is overcome now by an impression and now by another one. [II,22,26] So, do not inquire what the others inquire about, whether they have the same parents, or have been reared at the same time and from the same pedagogue; but only where they set their interest, whether externally or in their proairesis. [II,22,27] If externally, do not call them friends; no more than faithful or well secure or self-confident or free men; not even men, if you have a sound mind. [II,22,28] For it is not the judgement of a man the one that makes them bite one another, revile, seize lonely places or market-places like beasts in the mountains, and show to have robbers’ attitudes in law courts. Nor is the judgement of a man the one that makes people not masters of themselves, adulterers, corrupters. Nor the one that makes them responsible of the many other trespasses that human beings commit against each other because of this judgement and this judgement alone: to set themselves and what is their own in aproairetic things. [II,22,29] If, on the contrary, you hear these men truly think the good to be only where proairesis is, where the right use of the impressions is, do not meddle any more whether they are son and father or brothers or have gone to school together for a long time and are fellows. Once you have recognized this only, declare confidently that they are friends, as you can declare that they are faithful, that they are just men. [II,22,30] For where is friendship but where faithfulness, self respect, devotion to the beautiful and to nothing else are?

The proof that comes from a wife and a husband: Eriphyle and Amphiaraus (31-33)

[II,22,31] “But he has looked after me for that much time and did he not love me?” Whence do you know, slave, whether he has looked after you as he sponges his shoes, as he curries his cattle? Whence do you know whether, throwing away the need he has of you as a small vessel, he will hurl you like a broken small plate? [II,22,32] “But she is my wife and we lived together that much time!” And how long did Eriphyle live with Amphiaraus being also mother, and of a large offspring? But a necklace came in between them. [II,22,33] What is a necklace? The judgement about things of this sort. That was the bestial element, that was what sundered the friendship, what does not allow a female to be a spouse, and a mother to be a mother.

We must rectify our bestial and appalling judgements (34-37)

[II,22,34] And let any of you, who is eager to be himself friend to somebody or to get for himself a friend, cut off these judgements, hate them, drive them out of his own soul. [II,22,35] Thus he will not

be, in the first place, reviling himself, in contradiction with himself, repenting, torturing himself. [II,22,36] Besides this, he will be entirely frank to the other man who is similar to him and able to tolerate the intemperance of the fellow who is unlike him, being with this last meek, gentle, forgiving as to an ignorant, as to someone who makes mistakes in the greatest issues. He will be embittered against nobody, inasmuch as he knows precisely the saying of Plato that “every soul unwillingly dispossesses itself of the truth”. [II,22,37] Otherwise you will perform all the other things that friends perform: you will drink together, share the same tent, sail on the same ship and you will be born by the same parents, and the snakes too! But friends are neither those nor you, till you have these bestial and abominable judgements.


The marvels that Matter Immortal is able to produce (1-4)

[II,23,1] Everyone would read with more pleasure and more easily a book written with well conspicuous letters. And would not everyone hear more easily discourses signified with locutions both decorous and comely? [II,23,2] One must not, then, say that there is no faculty of reporting, for this is to speak as a person both impious and cowardly. Impious, because he disparages the favours bestowed upon us by Matter Immortal and it is as though one abolished the profitableness of the faculty of vision or that of hearing or that of the speech itself. [II,23,3] At random, then, did Zeus give you the eyes? At random did It blend with them a pneuma so potent and able of such an art in his work that it forges, reaching out far away, the models of the objects seen? [II,23,4] And what messenger is so swift and diligent? At random did It made the intervening air so active and vibrant that the sight can penetrate through it like through a tense medium? At random did It make the light, without the presence of which there was no avail of any of the other things?

The marvel of the marvels: the proairesis and its leadership (5-15)

[II,23,5] You sir, do not be ungrateful or unmindful of the better things but for sight, for hearing and, by Zeus, for life itself and for what co-works to it, for the dry fruits, for the wine, for the oil, thank Matter Immortal. [II,23,6] And remember that It has given you something else better of all these things: the faculty that will make use of them, evaluate them, count the value of each of them. [II,23,7] For what is it that declares for each of these faculties, how valuable each of them is? Does each faculty do this by itself? Have you ever heard the faculty of sight to say anything about itself? Or that of hearing? They have, instead, been positioned but to do a service, as ministers and servants to the faculty able to use the impressions. [II,23,8] If you try to know how valuable each one is, what do you try to know this from? Who answers you? How can there be, then, another faculty better than this one, the one that uses also the rest as ministers and itself evaluates and declares the value of each? [II,23,9] Which of those knows what it is and what it is worth? Which of those knows when one has to use it and when not? Which is the faculty that opens and closes the eyes and turns them away from things from which they have to be turned away and moves them towards other things? The faculty of sight? No, but the faculty of proairesis. Which one shuts and opens the ears? [II,23,10] Thanks to which faculty do we become officious and nosey parkers or, again, unmoved by a discourse? Thanks to the faculty of hearing? No, thanks to none other but to the faculty of proairesis. [II,23,11] And then, when the proairesis sees that all the other faculties that surround itself are blind and deaf, unable to note anything else but those works for which they have been positioned to be its ministers and to do it a service, while proairesis only notices with sharpness and sees from above not only the other faculties and what each is worth of, but itself too; well then, is the proairesis about to declare that something else is more powerful that itself? [II,23,12] What else does the open eye do but see? Yet whether one must see the wife of someone and how, which faculty tells this? The faculty of proairesis. [II,23,13] Whether we

must trust or distrust the words that are said and, if we trust them, to be provoked or not, what tells us this? Is it not the faculty of proairesis? [II,23,14] And this faculty of expressing and embellishing locutions -if it is indeed a peculiar faculty- what else does it do, when the discourse runs into something, but embellish the names and compose them like the hairdressers composes our hair? [II,23,15] But whether it is better to speak or to keep silent, to speak in this way or that way, whether this is fitting or unfitting, the time and the need of each thing, which other faculty does say this but the faculty of proairesis? Do you want, then, that this faculty comes to vote against itself?

The proairesis only is self-determinative (16-19)

[II,23,16] “What then”, someone says, “if the business stands like this, can ministers be better than that to which they serve as ministers? The horse better than the horseman, the dog than the hunter, the instrument than the lyre-player, the manservants than the king?” What is it that makes use of the other faculties? The proairesis. [II,23,17] What takes care of everything? The proairesis. What is it that clears out the whole man, sometimes by hunger, sometimes by a noose, sometimes down the cliffs? The proairesis. [II,23,18] And then is there anything stronger than this in men? How is it possible that what is hampered be stronger than what is unhampered? [II,23,19] What is by nature able to hinder the faculty of sight? Both the proairesis and what is aproairetic. The same is true for the faculty of hearing and in the same way for the faculty of expression. But what is by nature able to hinder the proairesis? Nothing of what is aproairetic but proairesis itself, when it is perverted. For this reason the proairesis becomes the only vice or the only virtue.

Epicurus plays a game of modesty but modesty is not at all a virtue (20-22)

[II,23,20] And then, since our proairesis is a faculty so important and placed above everything else, must it come and tell us that the most powerful of the things that are is the flesh? One would have not tolerated this statement not even if the flesh itself had said to be the most powerful thing. [II,23,21] Now, Epicurus, what is it that declares this? That compiles “On the end”, “The Physics”, “On the Standard”? That has let your beard grow long? That writes, when dying: “While we spend our last and at the same time blessed day…”.? [II,23,22] Your flesh or your proairesis? You acknowledge, then, to have something better than the flesh and are you not mad? Are you indeed so blind and deaf?

Why should we be ashamed to tell the truth about proairesis, about the other faculties and their reciprocal relationships? (23-27)

[II,23,23] What then? Does anyone disparage the other faculties? Far from it. Does anyone say that there is no need or promotion outside of the faculty of proairesis? Far from it. This would be crazy, impious, ungrateful towards Matter Immortal. Matter Immortal gives back to each its own value. [II,23,24] For there is a certain use in the ass but not as much as in the ox; there is an use in the dog but not so big as in a household slave; there is an use in a household slave but not so big as in the citizens; there is also an use in these but not so big as in the magistrates. [II,23,25] Yet because some things are better we must not disparage the utility that is provided by the other things too. Also the faculty of expression has a certain value, but not so big as the faculty of proairesis. [II,23,26] When, then, I say this, do not think that I am urging you to neglect the expression, for I am not urging you to neglect your eyes or ears or hands or feet or clothes or shoes. [II,23,27] But if you try to know from me: “Of the things that are which one is, then, the most powerful?” What to say? The faculty of expression? I cannot; but that of proairesis, when it becomes right.

Why should we be ashamed to tell the truth about the human beings, about the men and their reciprocal relationships? (28-29)

[II,23,28] For this is the faculty that uses that one and all the other arts and faculties, both small and great. When this happens successfully, a good man is born. When this fails, a bad human being is born.

[II,23,29] Through proairesis we are misfortuned or fortuned, we blame each other or we are well pleased; in short proairesis is what engenders unhappiness when it is neglected and happiness when it obtains our diligence.

Every faculty has to be cultivated according to its value (30-35)

[II,23,30] To remove the faculty of expression and to say that there is none, is indeed the act of a person not only ungrateful towards those who have given it, but also cowardly. [II,23,31] A person of this sort seems to me to fear that, if indeed there is a faculty in this topic, we may not be able to despise it. [II,23,32] Such are also those who say that there is no gap between prettiness and ugliness. And then would the fellow who sees Thersites be stirred similarly to the one who sees Achilles? Similarly the fellow who sees Helen and any chance lady? [II,23,33] This is a stupidity and a clumsiness of those who do not know the nature of each thing but fear that if one becomes aware of the difference, straightaway he leaves swept away and defeated. [II,23,34] The great thing, instead, is this: to reserve to each thing its own faculty and, once reserved, to see the value of the faculty. To decipher, then, what is more powerful and to closely pursue this in every circumstance, this to be eager for, after having made the rest accessory to this and without, at his best, neglecting it. [II,23,35] For we must take care of the eyes, but not as the most powerful thing; but also of the eyes for the sake of what is more powerful. Because this latter will not stay in accord with the nature of things unless it works rationally with the eyes and chooses certain objects instead of others.

Do not mistake ends and means: the aim of Odysseus was Ithaca, not the Sirens (36-41)

[II,23,36] What happens, then? It is like if someone, while he goes away towards his fatherland, journeyed to a wonderful inn and, as he is pleased with the inn, he stayed there. [II,23,37] You sir, you forgot your purpose. You did not travel to this but through this. “But this is pretty”. And how many other inns are pretty, how many meadows are; but simply as a transit. [II,23,38] Your program, instead, was that one: to return to your fatherland, to set your household free from worries, to do what a citizen does, to marry, to beget children, to hold the legitimate offices. [II,23,39] For you did not come to this world to select for you the prettiest places but to behave yourself in those in which you were born and to which you have been appointed citizen. Something of this sort happens here too. [II,23,40] Since a man must come to his completion through the discourse and a certain transmission of knowledge; since he must purify his own proairesis and structure rightly the faculty that uses the impressions; since the transmission of knowledge necessarily happens through general principles and a certain elocution and a variety and subtlety of form of these principles; [II,23,41] some people are captured by this and halt just here, one captured by the elocution, another by the syllogisms, another by equivocal arguments, still another by some other inn of this sort. And remaining attached to this, they rot away as though they were among the Sirens.

The aim of the man is a right proairesis, not eloquence (42-45)

[II,23,42] You sir, your program was to fashion yourself able to use the impressions that befall you in a way which is in accord with the nature of things: unfailing in desire, unstumbling in aversion, never misfortuned, never having ill fortune, free, unhampered, unconstrained; reconciled to the government of Zeus, obedient to this government, being well pleased of this government; not blaming anybody, not imputing anybody, able to say these lines from your whole soul: *Lead me, Zeus, and you indeed, Destiny*. [II,23,43] And then, while you have this program, because you are well pleased with a trifling phrase, because you are pleased with certain general philosophical principles, do you halt just there and choose deliberately to reside there, forgetful of those at home and say: “These things are pretty”? And who says that they are not? But as a transit, as inns. [II,23,44] For what prevents the fellow who expresses himself like Demosthenes from being misfortuned? What prevents the fellow who resolves syllogisms like Chrysippus from being miserable; what prevents him from mourning, from envying, in short from being disconcerted and unhappy? Nothing! [II,23,45] See, then, that these were worthless

inns and that the program was another one.

If you want to misunderstand what I say about ends and means, please misunderstand and put me too among those who damage their hearers (46-47)

[II,23,46] When I say this to some people, they think that I knock down our diligence about speaking or about the general philosophical principles. Yet I do not knock this down but only the habit of dwelling exclusively and unendedly in this business and of setting our hopes in such business. [II,23,47] If by setting forth this view one damages his hearers, then set me down too as one who damages his hearers. When I notice that the most powerful and dominant thing is a certain one I cannot, in order to gratify you, say that it is another one.


Not only speaking, but listening too is an art (1-10)

[II,24,1] When someone told him ‘I came often here craving to listen to you, but you never gave me an answer. [II,24,2] Now, if it’s possible, I pray you to say something to me’; Do you think, said Epictetus, that as for anything else, so there is also an art of speaking and that the one who has this art will speak skilfully while the one who does not have it will speak unskilfully? [II,24,3] -I think so- Therefore that man would speak skilfully, who through the speech could benefit himself and benefit others too; while the fellow who rather damages himself and damages others, would be unskilled in this art of speaking? You would find that some are damaged while others benefited. [II,24,4] And are all the hearers benefited by what they hear or would you find that some of these are benefited while others are damaged? -For them also it is so, he said- Therefore here too, are those who hear skilfully benefited while those who hear unskilfully are damaged? -He acknowledged that- [II,24,5] Is there, then, also a certain skill in listening precisely as there is in speaking? -So it seems- [II,24,6] If you decide so, analyse the issue in this way also. Whom do you think able to touch the strings of an instrument with musical skill? – The musician- [II,24,7] And what? Who appears to you able to fashion a statue as one ought? – The sculptor- And to skilfully look at it does it appear to you something requiring no art at all? -This too requires some art- [II,24,8] If, then, to speak as one ought is the part of the skilled speaker, do you see that also listening with benefit is the part of the skilled listener? [II,24,9] But for the time being, if you decide so, let’s give up the question of ‘perfectly’ and of ‘benefit’, since we are both far away from anything of this sort. [II,24,10] But I think anyone would acknowledge that he who is going to listen to the philosophers is in need of a certain amount of consummate skill as listener. Or is it not so?

The pupil must be able to stimulate the interest of the teacher (11-18)

[II,24,11] What, then, should I talk to you about? Show me! What are you able of hearing about? About good and evil things? Of whom? Of the horse? -No- Of the ox? -No- [II,24,12] What then? Of the man? -Yes- Do we know, then, what a man is, what his nature is, what the concept of man is? Do we have on this subject pierced ears? Do you have the concept of what the nature of things is and can you, and how much, follow me when I speak? [II,24,13] Shall I use demonstrations with you? How? Do you understand what a demonstration is or how anything is demonstrated or by what means? Or which operations are similar to a demonstration but are not a demonstration? [II,24,14] Do you know what is true and what is false? What follows what, what contradicts what or is inconsistent with or out of harmony with what? Am I to move you to philosophy? [II,24,15] How can I point out to you the contradiction of the multitude of human beings, contradiction by which they quarrel on things good and evil, on what is useful and useless, if you do not know exactly this, what a contradiction is? Show

me what I’ll conclude through a dialogue with you. Move an impulsion for it in me! [II,24,16] As the appropriate grass, when shown to the sheep, moves in it an eagerness to eat, while the sheep will not be moved if you place before it a stone or some bread; in the same way there are in us too certain natural impulsions to speak, when he who will listen appears to us to be an interesting person, when he inspires us. But if he lies nearby like a stone or fodder, how can he move such desire in a man? [II,24,17] Does the vine say to the farmer “Take care of me”? Yet disclosing by its very appearance that to take care of it will be to his advantage, it stimulates his diligence. [II,24,18] The persuasive and cunning children, whom do they not stimulate to play with them, to creep, to stammer with them? Who dashes to play or to bray with an ass? Even if small, yet it is a donkey.

Ignorance is the cause of the moral misery of human beings (19-20)

[II,24,19] -Why, then, do you tell me nothing?- I have to tell you only this: that the person unaware of who he is, what he has been born for, what sort of world is this one in which he lives and with what mates, what good and evil things are, beautiful and shameful things are; who understands neither a reasoning nor a demonstration nor what is true nor what is false nor is able to distinguish them; who will neither desire, nor avert, nor impel, nor design, nor assent, nor dissent, nor suspend his judgement in accord with the nature of things; on the whole this person will go around deaf and blind, thinking to be somebody when, instead, he is nobody. [II,24,20] Is it now the first time that the business stands like this? Is it not like this from the time when the human race exists? From that time, have all the aberrations and misfortunes not been born from this ignorance?

Agamemnon and Achilles (21-23)

[II,24,21] Why did Agamemnon and Achilles quarrel with one another? Was it not because they did not know what is useful and what is useless? Does not one say that it’s useful to give Chryseis back to his father, while the other says that this is not useful? Does not one say that he must take the war’s prize of another, and the other that he ought not? Is it not for all these reasons that they forgot who they were and what they had come for? [II,24,22] Please, you sir, what did you come here for? To get beloved girls for yourself or to wage war? “To wage war”. Against whom? The Trojans or the Greeks? “The Trojans”. Do you, then, let loose Hector and unsheathe the sword against your king? [II,24,23] And you, sir, you give up the king’s deeds *who has the charge of nations and sustains such mighty cares*, and you spar for a wench at your most warlike ally, whom you ought to treat with deference and protect in every way? And do you become worse of a smart high priest who cleaves to wonderful gladiators with every diligence? Do you see what sort of things causes the ignorance of what is useful?

The external gifts we have are not our true self (24-29)

[II,24,24] “But I am wealthy in money too!” Are you, perhaps, wealthier in money than Agamemnon? “But I am also handsome!” Are you, perhaps, more handsome than Achilles? “But I have also a pretty forelock!” And was not that of Achilles more handsome and blond? Did he not comb and shape it smartly? [II,24,25] “But I am also strong!” Can you, perhaps, lift so big a stone as Hector or Aias did? “But I am also of noble-breed!” Are you, perhaps, from a divine mother, from a father who was progeny of Zeus? Of what use are these things to Achilles when he sits and cries for the wench? [II,24,26] “But I am also an orator!” And was he not? Do you not notice how he dealt with Odysseus and Phoenix, the most skilful in discourses among the Greeks, how he struck them dumb? [II,24,27] This only I have to tell you, and without any spirited vigour. -Why?- [II,24,28] Because you did not inspire me. For, what in you might inspire me as the experts in horsemanship are inspired when they see some thoroughbred horses? Your body? You shape it in a ugly manner. Your clothes? This too is effeminate. Your aspect, your gaze? Nothing. [II,24,29] When you want to hear a philosopher, do not tell him: “Do you say nothing to me?”. But only show yourself able to hear and you will see how you will move the speaker.


Logic: you should use it even to deny its necessity (1-3)

[II,25,1] When someone of the those present said ‘Persuade me that the logic is profitable’ Do you want me, said Epictetus, to demonstrate this? -Yes- [II,25,2] Must I, then, argue through a demonstrative argument? The other acknowledged. Whence, then, will you know if I impose upon you? [II,25,3] As the other was silent, ‘You see’, said Epictetus, ‘how you yourself acknowledge that the logic is necessary, if, without it, you cannot even learn whether it is necessary or not necessary’.






The four books of the Discourses are neither Dialogues in the style of Plato nor Orations written by Isocrates for display, but the faithful recording -by his pupil Arrian- of Epictetus’ live talking. I have done my best to preserve this peculiarity and have kept very close to the Greek text. The reader should bear this in mind, and read according to the right ‘tempo’.

Thank you for choosing this new translation of Epictetus.


“Man, you have a proairesis by nature unhampered and unconstrained. Here, in the entrails, this has been written”. (I,17,21)


A faculty able to evaluate all other arts and faculties and itself too (1-3)

[I,1,1] Among the other arts and faculties you will find none that is able to know its own general principles and therefore none able to self-evaluate positively or negatively. [I,1,2] To what extent is grammar able to know general principles? To the extent of screening literature. Music? To the extent of screening melody. [I,1,3] Does either of them know its own general principles? Not at all. But when, if you write something for a fellow, there is need of the letters that have to be written, these grammar will tell; yet whether one has to write or not for a fellow, grammar will not tell. On melodies also, in the same way, music. It will not say whether one now has to sing and play the lyre or neither sing nor play the lyre.

The only self-theoretical faculty: the faculty of reason (4)

[I,1,4] What, then, will? The faculty that knows both its own general principles and all the rest. And what is this? The faculty of reason: for this one only has been assumed from nature in order to apprehend itself -what it is, what it can do, how very valuable it has come to be- and all the others.

It knows how to use the impressions (5-6)

[I,1,5] What else says that the gold is wonderful? As the gold does not say so itself, it’s plain: it is the

faculty able to use the impressions. [I,1,6] What else distinguishes music, grammar, the other arts and faculties; evaluates their uses and points out the right times? Nothing else.

It’s our only and true possession as the gods, sons of the diairesis of men, say (7-9)

[I,1,7] As it was fitting, therefore, the gods made under our exclusive power only the most powerful and dominant thing: the right use of impressions. The rest is not under our exclusive power. [I,1,8] Was it because they did not want to? I deem that, if they could, they would have entrusted the rest too to us; but they could not at all. [I,1, 9] For since they are on earth and tied to such a body and such mates, how could one, in this respect, not be hindered by external things?

Everything else does not depend on us as Zeus, who is Matter Immortal, says (10-13)

[I,1,10] But what does Zeus say? “Epictetus, if it were possible I should have made both your body and your petty estate free and unimpeded. [I,1,11] But as it is, don’t let it slip your mind, this body is not yours but only clay smartly tangled. [I,1,12] And since this I could not do, I gave you a certain particularity of yours: this faculty of impelling and repelling, of desiring and averting; a faculty, in short, able to use impressions. If you take care of it and set in it what is yours, you will never be hampered, never hindered, you will not sigh, will not blame and will not flatter anyone. [I,1,13] What then? Do these things appear small to you?” -“Far from it”- “Are you content with them?” -“I pray the gods I may be!”-

But we believe the opposite and allow the counterdiairesis to be our master. Counterdiairesis: the second-power Judgement, or Superjudgement, opposite to Diairesis. When dealing with ordinary judgements about any situation, the counterdiairesis concludes that those things not subject to our exclusive power are subject to our exclusive power or, conversely, concludes that those things truly subject to our exclusive power are in fact not subject to our exclusive power, and gives orders accordingly (14-17)

[I,1,14] Now, while we can take care of one thing only and to one only have hooked ourselves, we want instead to take care of many and to be tied fast to many: the body, the estate, a brother, a friend, our offspring, a servant. [I,1,15] And inasmuch as we are tied fast to many, we are weighed down by them and dragged down. [I,1,16] That is why, if the weather forbids sailing, we sit and fidget and keep constantly peering about. “What wind is blowing?” -Boreas- “What have we to do with it?” When will Zephyrus blow?” -When he will deem it, sir, or Aeolus. For Zeus did not make you cashier of the winds but Aeolus- [I,1,17 ] “What then?” -We must beautifully fashion what is in our exclusive power and use the rest according to its nature- “And how is the rest by nature?” -As Zeus disposes-

Plautius Lateranus and the diairesis (18-20)

[I,1,18] “Must my neck only be cut off now?” What then? Did you want everybody’s neck to be cut off for your consolation? [I,1,19] Will you not stretch out your neck as a certain Lateranus, whom Nero summoned to be beheaded, did in Rome? For he stretched out the neck and was struck but, since the blow was weak, he shrank it back a little and then stretched it out again. [I,1,20] And still earlier to Epaphroditus, the freedman of Nero who comes on and questions him about his conflict with the emperor: “If I dispose anything”, he says, “I’ll tell your lord”.

Diairesis: the second-power Judgement, or Superjudgement capable of distinguishing, when dealing with ordinary judgements about any situation, what is subject to our exclusive power and what is not subject to our exclusive power, and that gives orders accordingly (21-22)

[I,1,21] “What must we have ready at hand in such cases? What else but the knowledge of what is mine and what is not mine, of what is in my power and of what is not in my power? [I,1,22] I must die: must

I groan too? I must be fettered: must I moan too? I must be exiled: does anyone hamper me from laughing, from being cheerful and serene?

Proairesis: the reason of human beings as their unique, supreme and ruling faculty which can choose to assume a diairetic or counterdiairetic attitude (23-25)

[I,1,23] “Tell the secrets”. I say not a word; for this is in my exclusive power. “But I’ll fetter you”. You sir, what are you saying? Me? You will fetter my leg, but not even Zeus can overcome my proairesis. [I,1,24] “I’ll throw you into prison”. My body, you will. “I’ll behead you”. When did I ever tell you that mine is the only unseverable neck? [I,1,25] These are the lessons that our fellow-philosophers ought to study; these they ought to write down every day, in these they ought to train themselves.

Musonius Rufus reminds Thrasea Petus that Antidiairesis is the set of all our ordinary judgements acting in the real world on what is not in our exclusive power. These judgements are subordinate and can be complementary to both Diairesis and Counterdiairesis. As such, they are able to carry out the orders of the one or of the other (26-27)

[I,1,26] Thrasea used to say: “I would rather be killed today than exiled tomorrow”. [I,1,27 ] What did Rufus say to him? “If you select that as the heavier thing, what a stupid option! If as the lighter, who has given it to you? Will you not study to be content with what has been given to you?”

Paconius Agrippinus is an outstanding master in the use of diairesis and antidiairesis (28-32)

[I,1,28] And what did Agrippinus use to say? “I don’t turn into a hindrance to myself”. Someone reported to him: “You are tried in the Senate”. [I,1,29] -“Good luck! But it’s the fifth hour now (at that hour he used to take a cold bath after training): let’s leave and train”- [I,1,30] After training, someone comes to him and says: “You have been condemned”. -“To exile”, he says, “or to death?”- “To exile”. – “And what about my properties?”- “They have not been confiscated”. -“Let’s then depart and lunch at Aricia”- [I,1,31] This is to have studied what one must study, to have arranged an unhampered desire and an unstumbling aversion. [I,1,32] I must die. If forthwith, I die. If a little later, now I lunch, since the hour has come, and afterwards I’ll be dead. How? As befits one who gives back what is another’s.


The contradictions are unbearable, but the actual oppositions are very well bearable (1-4)

[I,2,1] To the rational creature only the unreasonable is unbearable, while the reasonable is bearable. [I,2,2] Blows are not unbearable by nature. -How so?- See how Lacedaemonians whip themselves when they learn that it’s reasonable. [I,2,3] -But is it not unbearable to be hanged?- Yet if one experiences that it is reasonable, he departs and hangs himself. [I,2,4] In short, if we pay attention we will find the human creature oppressed by nothing so much as by the unreasonable, and again attracted to nothing so much as to the reasonable.

Our choices are different according to the value that we give to our true self (5-11)

[I,2,5] But a different reasonable and unreasonable, precisely as a different good and evil, and useful and useless befall different people. [I,2,6] That is why we especially need education to diairesize, so as to learn to adapt our preconception of reasonable and unreasonable to particular substances, in harmony with the nature of things. [I,2,7] Yet for determining the reasonable and the unreasonable we utilize not only the values of external objects, but each of us utilizes the value of his own personality too. [I,2,8] To act as chairman of a chamber-pot is reasonable for anyone who only notices that if he doesn’t chair he will get blows and not food, whereas if he does chair he will experience nothing harsh

or annoying. [I,2,9] Someone else, instead, not only deems it unbearable to chair but also to tolerate another’s chairing. [I,2,10] If you try, then, to know from me: “Shall I chair the chamber-pot or not?”, I’ll tell you that to get food has greater value than not to get it and to be flayed a greater disvalue than not to be flayed. So that if you calibrate what is yours on this, please leave and act as chairman. [I,2,11] “But it would be unworthy of me”. This is something that you, not I, must contribute to the analysis. You are the one who knows yourself, how much you are worth and at what price you retail yourself. For different people retail themselves at different prices.

Paconius Agrippinus and Annius Florus: diairesis and counterdiairesis (12-16)

[I,2,12] That is why Agrippinus, when Florus was pondering whether to enter Nero’s festival so as to perform personally some service, said: “Enter”. [I,2,13] And when Florus tried to know: “Why do you not enter yourself?”, he said: “I do not even consult myself on that”. [I,2,14] For he who once stoops to the analysis of such alternatives and votes about the values of external objects, is close to those who have forgotten their own personality. [I,2,15] What are you trying to know from me? “Is death or life preferable?” I say life. [I,2,16] “Pain or physical pleasure?” I say pleasure. “But if I don’t croon, my neck will be cut off”. Leave, therefore, and croon; yet I’ll not croon.

A thread of the tunic and the purple strip (17-18)

[I,2,17] “Why?” Because you believe you are but a single thread of the many that make up the tunic. “What then?” This, that you ought to worry about how to be like the others, as even a thread wants to have nothing special with respect to the other threads. [I,2,18] But I decide to be the purple, that little and splendid portion which causes the rest to appear comely and wonderful. Why, then, do you tell me: “Become like the many”? How shall I, then, any longer be purple?

Helvidius Priscus and Vespasian: diairesis and counterdiairesis (19-24)

[I,2,19] This is what Helvidius Priscus also saw and, having seen it, did. When Vespasian sent him word not to enter the Senate, he answered: “It is in your exclusive power not to allow me to be a Senator but, so long as I am one, I must enter”. [I,2,20] “Come on, but if you enter”, he says, “hold your tongue”. “Do not review my opinion and I’ll hold my tongue”. “But I must review your opinion”. “And I must say what appears right to me”. [I,2,21] “But if you speak, I shall kill you”. “Well, when did I tell you that I am immortal? You will do your job, and I mine. It is yours to kill, mine to die without trembling. Yours to exile, mine to go out without grieving”. [I,2,22] What was the use of it, being Priscus but a single man? And of what use is the purple to the robe? What else, but that it stands out in it as purple and is exposed to others as a paradigm of what is wonderful? [I,2,23] In such circumstances, had Caesar told another person not to come to the Senate, he would have said: “I am grateful that you spare me”. [I,2,24] Vespasian would not have hampered such a fellow to enter, but knew that he would either sit still like a jug or, if he spoke, would say what he knows that Caesar wants and would pile on many more flatteries besides.

A brave athlete who knows what game to play and how to play it (25-29)

[I,2,25] In this way also a certain athlete, who was running the risk of dying unless his penis was amputated, conducted himself. His brother (he was a philosopher) came to him and said: “Come on, brother, what are you going to do? Do we amputate this part and step forth once more into the gymnasium?” He did not submit to it, but steeled himself and died. [I,2,26] When someone tried to know, ‘How did he do this, as an athlete or as a philosopher?’ As a man, said Epictetus; a man who has been proclaimed at the Olympic games and has competed in them, who has conducted himself as a man in such a task, not just a fellow rubbed down in Bato’s wrestling school. [I,2,27] Another would even have had his neck excised, if he could live apart from his neck. [I,2,28] Such is personality, so

potent with those accustomed to make it a personal contribution in their analyses. [I,2,29] “Come on, Epictetus, shave off your beard”. If I am a philosopher, I say “I’ll not shave it off”. “But I take off your neck”. If that is better for you, take it off.

Personality and consciousness of our personality are directly correlated (30-32)

[I,2,30] Someone tried to know: “Whence, then, shall each of us become aware of his own personality?” And whence does the bull alone, he said, when a lion attacks, become aware of his own preparation and has put himself in front of the whole herd, in order to defend it? Isn’t it plain that with the possession of a certain preparation comes straightaway the consciousness of it also? [I,2,31] And therefore whoever of us has such a preparation, will not be unaware of it. [I,2,32] Yet a bull is not born suddenly, nor is a generous man. He must go through the winter training, prepare himself and must not throb at what does not befit him.

The value of our proairesis (33)

[I,2,33] Only analyse for how much you sell your own proairesis. If nothing else, man, don’t sell it cheap. The great and special deed probably befits others, Socrates and men like him.

With different natural gifts and skills but, as far as virtue is concerned, men (34-37)

[I,2,34] “Why then, if we are born for that, do not we all, or many, become like them?” For do all horses become swift, do all dogs become scenting? [I,2,35] What then? Because I am a bastard, must I desist, on that account, from diligence? Far from it. [I,2,36] Epictetus will not be better than Socrates; at least, not worse. That is sufficient for me. [I,2,37] For I’ll not be a Milo, and yet I don’t neglect my body. Nor a Croesus, and yet I don’t neglect my estate. Nor, in short, we desist from diligence for something else out of despair of attaining the top.


Matter Immortal is the father of mankind and men are the fathers of the gods. Zeus, i.e. the divinity, is no one else but Matter Immortal (1-2)

[I,3,1] If one could assent as it befits to the judgement that cardinally we are all born from Matter Immortal and that Zeus is the father of mankind and the gods, I think that he will have brooded nothing mean or wicked about himself. [I,3,2] If Caesar adopts you, nobody will bear your frown; and if you recognize that you are a son of Zeus, will you not be elated?

It’s true that we are made up of soul and body: a mortal soul and a body of Immortal Matter. What’s the attitude of the few who incline to judge our congenerousness with Zeus as divine and blessed? (3-4)

[I,3,3] Now we don’t do that but, because these two things have been commingled in our begetting, the body that we have in common with the animals, and discourse and intelligence that we have in common with the gods, some of us are inclined towards this congenerousness as being unfortunate and corpse-like, while a few as being divine and blessed. [I,3,4] Therefore, because it’s necessary for everybody to use each thing as he will conceive it, the few who think to have been born for faithfulness, self respect, safety in the use of impressions, do brood nothing wicked or mean about themselves, whereas the majority does the opposite.

And what’s the attitude of the majority that inclines to judge our congenerousness with Matter Immortal as unlucky and

corpse-like? Zoology of human beings (5-9)

[I,3,5] “For what am I? A paltry pipsqueak!” and “My shabby flesh!” [I,3,6] Shabby indeed, but you have also something better than your flesh. Why, then, did you give that up and agglutinated yourself to this? [I,3,7] We who incline towards this congenerousness become like wolves: faithless, treacherous and harmful; and others like lions: wild, bestial and untamed. But most of us become foxes and practically living misfortunes. [I,3,8] For what else is a reviling and malicious human being but a fox, or something even more unfortunate and wicked? [I,3,9] See, then, and pay attention that you turn not out one of these misfortunes.


He starts to profit who breaks away from desire and uses aversion only within the limits of what is proairetic (1-2)

[I,4,1] Having learned from the philosophers that desire is towards good things and aversion is towards evil things, and having also learned that serenity and self control do not otherwise ensue for the man unless he gets an unfailing desire and an unstumbling aversion; he who profits has fully removed desire from himself or has deferred it, and uses aversion only towards what is proairetic. [I,4,2] For if he averts something aproairetic, he knows that some time he will stumble on it in spite of his aversion and will have ill fortune.

Virtue promises happiness, self control and serenity (3-4)

[I,4,3] Now if virtue’s profession is to make happiness, self control and serenity, profit towards virtue is quite also profit towards each of these states. [I,4,4] For whatsoever it is that to which the perfection of something definitively leads, profit is always an approach to it.

If you know where virtue is, why do you look for it elsewhere? (5)

[I,4,5] How, then, do we acknowledge virtue to be something of this sort, yet seek and show off profit in other things?

Does virtue amount to filling up one’s mind with philosophical thoughts? (6-9)

[I,4,6] What is the work of virtue? Serenity. Who, then, profits? He who has read many treatises of Chrysippus? [I,4,7] Is virtue not this, to have comprehended Chrysippus? For if virtue is this, then profit is acknowledgedly nothing else but to comprehend a lot of Chrysippus. [I,4,8] Now, while acknowledging that virtue brings in one thing, we exhibit that the approach to it, which is profit, brings in something else. [I,4,9] “This fellow”, says someone, “is already able to read Chrysippus by himself!” Well, by the gods, you profit, you sir! And what kind of profit!

We must seek profit there, where our own acts lie: in desire and aversion, in impulse and repulsion, in assent and withholding of assent (10-12)

[I,4,10] “Why do you mock him? Why do you lead him away from the consciousness of his evils? Will you not show him the work of virtue, that he may learn where to seek his profit?” [I,4,11] Seek it there, paltry sir, where your work is. And where is your work? In desire and aversion, that you may be unfailing in desire and unstumbling in aversion; in impulse and repulsion, that you may be unaberring; in proposition and withholding of assent, that you may be undeceivable. [I,4,12] But first are the first topics and they are the most necessary. If you seek to be unstumbling while trembling and mourning, how do you profit?

Don’t seek profit in one place and what you ought to do in another (13-17)

[I,4,13] You, then, show me here your profit. Precisely as if I were holding a dialogue with an athlete: “Show me your shoulders”, and then he said: “Look at my jumping-weights!” Go away you and your jumping-weights; I decide to see the final result of the jumping-weights. [I,4,14] “Take the treatise “On impulse” and recognize how well I have read it!” “Slave! I don’t seek that, but how you impel and repel, how you desire and avert, how you design, you propose and prepare: if in harmony with the nature of things or out of harmony with it. [I,4,15] If in harmony, show me that, and I’ll tell you that you are making a profit. If out of harmony, go away and besides commenting on books, write such books yourself. [I,4,16] And what’s the avail of that for you? Don’t you know that the whole book costs five denarii? And do you think that the one who explains it is worth more than five denarii? [I,4,17] So, never seek your work in one place and your profit somewhere else.

The profit, in the case of virtue, is the profit in the comprehension and use of diairesis (18-27)

[I,4,18] Where is, then, our profit? If any among you, diverting himself from external objects has turned towards his own proairesis, working at it and doing all he can so as to make it to come out in harmony with the nature of things: elevated, free, unhampered, unhindered, faithful, self respecting; [I,4,19] and has learned that he who yearns after or shuns what is not in his exclusive power can be neither faithful nor free, but must himself of necessity be fickle and flutter with that, and of necessity have subordinated himself to others, to those, namely, who are able to secure or prevent that; [I,4,20] and if, then, from the morning, when he sets up, this he keeps and guards, he bathes as a faithful man, eats as a self respecting man and, in the same way, he does all he can in applying the cardinal principles to the subject matter that always falls beside him, as the runner does with the cardinal principles of running and the voice-trainer with those of voice-training; [I,4,21] well then, this is the man who profits indeed, this is the man who did not set off at random. [I,4,22] But if he has striven to attain a bookish attitude, if he does all he can for this only and for this he expatriated, I tell him to proceed home immediately and not neglect his affairs there; [I,4,23] for the goal to which he set off is nothing. The right goal is instead that of studying to tear away from our life mourning and wailing, the “Woe’s me!” and the “Wretched me!”, ill fortune and misfortune; [I,4,24] and to learn what death is, what exile is, what prison is, what hemlock is, that he may be able to say in prison: “Dear Crito, if so it pleases the gods, so be it!”; and not those “Wretched me! Old crook! For this I kept my grey hairs!” [I,4,25] Who says these words? Do you think that I’ll tell you about someone with an ill reputation and wicked? Does not Priam say that? Does not Oedipus? And how many kings say that? [I,4,26] What else are tragedies but passions of people who become infatuated with external objects, shown off in that kind of verse? [I,4,27] If indeed one had to be deceived in order to learn that none of the external and aproairetic objects is for us, I would dispose for me this deception, through which I would live thereafter serene and undisconcerted, while you yourselves will see in it what you want to see.

Chrysippus, providing us with the Truth for living well, deserves at least the same reverence as Triptolemus (28-32)

[I,4,28] What, then, does Chrysippus provide us with? “That you may recognize”, he says, “that these things from which serenity arises and self control meets us are not false, [I,4,29] take my books and you will recognize how consequent and in harmony with the nature of things is what makes me a self- controlled man”. The great good fortune! The great benefactor who shows the way! [I,4,30] To Triptolemus all human beings set up shrines and altars because he gave us cultivated foods, [I,4,31] but to him who found the Truth and illuminated and divulged it to all men -not the truth on living but the Truth for living well-, who among you erected an altar or a temple or dedicated a statue of a god or reveres Zeus for that reason? [I,4,32] Because Zeus gave us grapes or wheat, for that we offer sacrifice, but because he brought forth in the human intellect such a fruit whereby it purposed to show us the Truth on happiness, shall we fail to thank Matter Immortal for that?


Multiple sclerosis…(1-2)

[I,5,1] If a person, says Epictetus, is recalcitrant to truths that are all too bright, it is not easy to find a discourse that would change his mind. [I,5,2] And this is due neither to his strength nor to the weakness of the teacher. When he is led away to petrification, how will one still use discourse with him?

…and necrosis of both comprehension and sense of shame (3-5)

[I,5,3] Now there are two kinds of petrification: one is the petrification of comprehension, the other of the sense of shame, whenever a person stands in array prepared neither to nod to evidences nor to divert from contradictions. [I,5,4] We, the many, fear the body’s necrosis and would contrive any means so as not to stumble on something like that, but if the soul necroses, that we don’t care about at all. [I,5,5] And, by Zeus, in the case of the soul itself, if a person is so disposed that he understands nothing and sets nothing together, we think that he is badly off. But if someone’s sense of shame and self respect is necrosed, we go so far as to call it strength.

The Academic is a dead fellow, who is unaware of being dead (6-10)

[I,5,6] Do you grasp being awake? “No”, he says “no more than I grasp it when, during sleep, I fancy being awake”. This impression, then, does not differ at all from that one? [I,5,7] “Nothing at all”. Can I still hold a dialogue with this fellow? What fire, what iron may I bring near to him, that he may become aware that he has necrosed? He is aware but he pretends the contrary: he is even worse than a corpse. [I,5,8] This fellow does not note a contradiction: he is badly off. This one, even noting it, is not moved by it nor profits from it: he is even more miserably off. [I,5,9] His self respect and his sense of shame have been excised, while his rationality has not been excised but has become brutish. [I,5,10] Am I to call this strength? Far from it, unless I call strength also the one by which lewd fellows do and say anything that comes into their head.


As there is no cause of the straight uniform motion of a material body, so there is no cause of the intelligence of Matter Immortal. The artist, then, is Matter Immortal Itself, and It says: “Give me billions of years and from bare rocks I shall give you men” (1-7)

[I,6,1] From each of the world’s event it is easy to eulogise Matter Immortal’s mind if one has within himself these two things: the faculty of noting what happened in each case and the sense of gratitude. [I,6,2] Otherwise, one person will not see the profitableness of what happened and another will not thank for it even if he sees it. [I,6,3] What would the avail of it be, if Matter Immortal had made colours but had not made a faculty able to observe them? -None at all- [I,6,4] And conversely, if It had made the faculty but the things that are, incapable of falling under the faculty of sight; in that case too, what would the avail of it be? -None at all- [I,6,5] And if It had made both these things but had not made the light? -Even thus, what would the avail of it be?- [I,6,6] Who, then, suited this to that and that to this? Who suited the dagger to the scabbard and the scabbard to the dagger? No one? [I,6,7] But from the very fashion of the handicrafts brought to completion we use to declare that something is quite the work of an artist and has not been randomly fashioned.

Like a material body that moves by inertia, Matter Immortal, left alone, is able to produce by Itself life and thought.

Reason and intellect, then, ensue from Matter Immortal like the law from the citizens (8-11)

[I,6,8] Does, then, each of these handicrafts disclose the artist, but the visible objects, the sight, the light do not? [I,6,9] And the male and the female, the passion of each for intercourse with the other, the faculty able to use the pieces fashioned for that, does this not disclose the artist either? Well, so much for these things. [I,6,10] But such structure of the intellect whereby, when we fall upon sensible objects, we are not simply moulded by them but pick out some things and subtract and add up, and make various compositions with them and, by Zeus, shift from some to others that lie somehow nearby: is not even this sufficient to stir some people and induce them not to leave behind the artist? [I,6,11] Else, let them explain what it is that does each of these things, or how it is possible that things so amazing and workmanlike are born at random and automatically.

Also the creatures lacking reason use the impressions, but man only has the understanding of their use (12-18)

[I,6,12] What then? Do these things only happen in our case? In our case only, many of them; and these are the things of which the rational creature had a special need. But you will find many of them possessed by us in common with the creatures lacking reason. [I,6,13] Do they also, then, understand the events? Not at all. For use is one thing and understanding another thing. Zeus needed those as creatures that use the impressions; us He needed, instead, as creatures that understand the use of impressions. [I,6,14] That is why for them it is sufficient to eat and drink and rest and copulate and whatever else brings to completion each one of their necessities, while for us, to whom He also gave the faculty of understanding, this is no longer enough. [I,6,15] And unless we act appropriately, methodically, consequently to the nature and structure of each, we shall no longer hit the mark of our own ends. [I,6,16] For those whose structures are different, also works and ends are different. [I,6,17] Therefore where the structure is only suited for use, here it is enough to use no matter how. But where the structure is suited also for the understanding of use, unless the ‘appropriately’ be joined, that being will never hit the mark of its own ends. [I,6,18] What then? Matter Immortal fashions each of those creatures, one to be eaten, one to do services in farming, one to bring forth cheese and yet another for some other analogous needs. In order to perform these works, what need have they to understand the impressions and be able to distinguish them?

The nature of man (19-22)

[I,6,19] But Matter Immortal introduced man into the world to be an observer of Itself and of Its works, and not only an observer but an interpreter too. [I,6,20] That is why it is shameful for a man to begin and to end where the creatures lacking reason also do. He should rather begin where they do, but end where nature also ended in dealing with us. [I,6,21] And she ended on the knowledge of general principles, understanding of the use of impressions and oneself ‘s enjoyment in harmony with the nature of things. [I,6,22] See to it, then, that you do not die having never been observers of these things.

The travel to Olympia and the travel inside ourselves to scout our resources (23-29)

[I,6,23] You set off for Olympia to behold the work of Pheidias, and each of us thinks it a misfortune to die in the dark about that. [I,6,24] Yet where there is not even a need to set off, but where Zeus already dwells and is present with His works, these do you not crave to observe and apprehend? [I,6,25] Therefore, will you neither become aware of who you are, nor what you have been born for, nor what this work is about, the view of which you have been invited to? [I,6,26] -But some unpleasant and embittering things happen in life- And do they not happen at Olympia? Do you not swelter? Aren’t you crowded? Do you not bathe badly? Are you not drenched, when it rains? Do you not enjoy turmoil and shouting and other embittering things? [I,6,27] But I think that you bear with and tolerate all this, by balancing it off against the fame of the view. [I,6,28] Come on, have you not got faculties by which you

will bear with all that occurs? Have you not got magnanimity? Have you not got virility? [I,6,29] Have you not got fortitude? And what care I longer for anything that may come about, if I am magnanimous? What will daze or disconcert me or appear sorrowful to me? Shall I fail to use my faculty to that end for which I have got it, but shall I mourn and sigh over what comes about?

Snivel is running from the nose of Heracles (30-36)

[I,6,30] “Yes, but snivel is running from my nose”. What have you hands for, slave? Is it not also to wipe yourself? [I,6,31] -Is it reasonable, then, that snivel be born in the world?- [I,6,32] And how much better would it be for you to wipe your snivel than to bring charges? Or what do you think Heracles would have amounted to, if there had not been such a lion and hydra and stag and boar and some unjust and bestial human beings whom he drove out and cleared away? [I,6,33] And what would he do, had nothing of this sort been born? Is it not plain that he would sleep wrapped in a blanket? In the first place, then, dozing for the entire life in such effeminacy and quiet he would not have become Heracles; and even if he had, of what avail would he have been? [I,6,34] What’s the use of his arms and his vigour in general and fortitude and generosity, had not such circumstances and subject matters rattled and trained him? [I,6,35] What then? Had he to fashion these for himself and seek to introduce from somewhere in his country a lion, a boar, a hydra? [I,6,36] This is stupidity and madness! But since they did exist and were found, they were profitable as a means of showing and training Heracles.

Like Heracles, we also have resources and means to excel in dealing with what happens (37-43)

[I,6,37] Come on, then, you too, now that you are aware of these things, glance at the faculties that you have and having them in view, say: “Bring now, Zeus, the circumstance that you dispose: for I have an equipment given to me by You, and resources to adorn myself through what comes about”. [I,6,38] But no, you sit trembling for fear some things will occur and regretting, mourning and groaning for those that occur. And then you bring charges to the gods! [I,6,39] For what else is consequent to such a meanness if not also impiety? [I,6,40] And yet Zeus himself not only gave us these faculties with which we will bear all that comes about without becoming slave-minded nor cramped thereby but, as befitted a good king and indeed a father, He gave that unhampered, unconstrained, unimpeded; He made it entirely in our exclusive power, without reserving for Himself on this subject any power to prevent or hinder. [I,6,41] Although you have these faculties free and yours, you do not use them nor become aware of what you have got and from Whom, [I,6,42] but sit mourning and groaning. Some of you, blinded towards the giver himself and unable to recognize the benefactor; and others -such is their meanness- turning aside to blames and charges against Matter Immortal. [I,6,43] And yet I’ll show you that you have resources and preparation for magnanimity and virility; you show me, in turn, what motives you have in blaming and bringing charges.


He who is earnest in virtue uses logic in order to find, in every topic, the way to what is a proper deed (1-4)

[I,7,1] It slips the mind of most people that the treatment of equivocal arguments, hypothetical arguments and, further, of those that are drawn to conclusion by questions and in short of all such arguments, is related to what is a proper deed. [I,7,2] For we seek, on every subject matter, how the virtuous man could find the outlet and the proper conduct through it. [I,7,3] Let them say, then, either that the man earnest in virtue will not stoop to question and answer or that, if he does, he will not care to avoid conducting himself randomly and haphazardly in question and answer. [I,7,4] But, if they accept neither of these alternatives, it is necessary to acknowledge that some examination of those topics around which question and answer especially turn, has to be made.

To reason means to be able to evaluate and distinguish the true, the false and the doubtful (5-12)

[I,7,5] For what is professed in reasoning? To state the true, to remove the false, to suspend judgement in doubtful cases. [I,7,6] Is it sufficient, then, to only learn this? –It is sufficient, says one- Is it, then, also sufficient for the person who decides to make no mistake when using coinage, to hear that you accept genuine drachmas and refuse the counterfeit ones? [I,7,7] -This is not sufficient- What, then, must be added to this? What else but the faculty able to evaluate and distinguish the genuine drachmas from the counterfeit ones? [I,7,8] Wherefore, in reasoning also, the statement that we have made is not sufficient, and it is necessary for the reasoning to become able to evaluate and distinguish the true, the false and the doubtful. [I,7,9] -It is necessary- Besides this, what is prescribed in reasoning? Accept what is consequent to the clauses that you correctly granted. [I,7,10] Come on, is it sufficient here too, then, to recognize this? It is not sufficient, but we must learn how a clause becomes consequent to certain others, and how sometimes it is consequent to one only, sometimes conjointly to many. [I,7,11] Is it not necessary, then, for the man who is going to conduct himself sagaciously in a discourse, who will demonstrate by himself each assertion, who will understand the demonstrations of others and will not be mislead by quibblers as demonstrating something, to add also this knowledge to his powers? [I,7,12] The treatment of compulsory arguments and topical figures has consequently arisen among us, and training therein has appeared necessary.

The case of false conclusions arising from properly granted clauses (13-21)

[I,7,13] But there are cases in which we have soundly granted the assumptions and what occurs from them is so-and-so: it’s false but nonetheless occurs. [I,7,14] What is then proper for me to do? [I,7,15] To accept the false? And how is this possible? Should I say: “I gave unsoundly way to acknowledged clauses”? But this is not given to me either. Or: “It doesn’t occur through that to which has been given way”? But this is not given to me either. [I,7,16] What, then, must be done in these circumstances? Just as it is not sufficient to have borrowed something in order to establish that one is still in debt, but we must join to it the circumstance that the loan persists and has not been repaid; so it is not sufficient, in order to establish that we must give way to the inference, to have granted the assumptions, but we must persist in giving way to them. [I,7,17] If the assumptions remain until the end those to which we gave way, there is every necessity for us to persist in giving way to them and accept the consequences……..(lacuna)……… [I,7,19] for this inference, for us and according to our school, no longer occurs, because we desisted from giving way to the assumptions. [I,7,20] One must, then, also visit such profiles of assumptions and their said transformations and ambiguities whereby, either in the question itself or in the answer or in a deduction made or in another moment like these the assumptions, taking ambiguity, provide crazy people who don’t notice the consequence with a motive of disconcertment. [I,7,21] For what? In order that on this topic we may not behave unsuitably, nor at random, nor messily.

Hypothetical arguments (22-24)

[I,7,22] The same holds true of hypotheses and hypothetical arguments. For sometimes it is necessary to postulate some hypothesis as a gangway to the next reasoning. [I,7,23] Must we, then, give way to any given hypothesis or not? And if not, to which one? [I,7,24] He who gave way to a hypothesis must fully remain in safekeeping of it, or are there times when he must desist from it? And must one accept what is consequent to it without accepting what contradicts it?

The wise man knows very well how to treat logical problems (25-29)

[I,7,25] -Yes- But someone says: “I’ll make you admit a hypothesis of something possible and then be led away to an impossibility”. Will the prudent man not stoop to consort with this person and will he

avoid enquiry and discussion with him? [I,7,26] Yet who else is able to use reasoning and is skilful in question and answer and, by Zeus, undeceivable and proof against sophistic fallacies? [I,7,27] He will stoop, then; and will he not turn his mind towards not conducting himself randomly and haphazardly in a reasoning? And how will he any longer be the kind of man we think of? [I,7,28] But without some such training and preparation, who is able to guard the logic sequence? [I,7,29] Let them show that, and all these general principles are redundant: they were absurd and inconsequent to our preconception of the man earnest in virtue.

The gravity of logic errors (30-33)

[I,7,30] Why are we still inert, lazy, sluggish and seek pretexts whereby we may avoid toiling and staying awake to work at our own reason? [I,7,31] -If, then, I err in these logical problems, did I kill my father?- Slave! Where was there a father, so that you could kill him? What, then, did you do? You have committed the only aberration possible in this field. [I,7,32] Indeed this is exactly what I also said to Rufus, when he reproached me for not finding the one omission in a certain syllogism. “It isn’t”, I say, “as if I had burned down the Capitol”. And he said: “Slave! the omission here is the Capitol”. [I,7,33] Or are these the only aberrations, setting fire to the Capitol and killing the father? But to use our impressions at random, like fools, haphazardly, and to fail to understand a reasoning or a demonstration or a sophism or, in short, to fail to notice what is consistent or inconsistent with one’s position in question and answer, is none of these things an aberration?


Epicheiremata and enthymemes are well known to philosophers (1-3)

[I,8,1] The ways in which it is admissible to commute the forms of the epicheiremata and of the enthymemes in reasoning, are as many as the ways in which it is possible to commute terms that are equivalent to each other. [I,8,2] Take, for instance, this way: if you borrowed and did not give back, you owe me the money; now you did not borrow and did not give back, therefore you do not owe me the money. [I,8,3] And to do this skilfully befits nobody better than the philosopher. For if the enthymeme is an imperfect syllogism, it’s plain that the one who has been trained in the perfect syllogism would be no less sufficient to deal with the imperfect too.

The study of logic does not bring by itself to a virtuous life. And you must be proud of your life, not only of your knowledge of logic (4-10)

[I,8,4] Why, then, do we not train one another and ourselves in this way? [I,8,5] Because now, even if not trained in this nor distracted, by me at least, from the study of ethics, yet we make no progress on the way of being men. [I,8,6] What is, then, compulsory to expect, if we should add this commitment also? Especially since not only a commitment far from the more necessary one would be accrued, but also a motive, and not a casual one, of conceit and vanity. [I,8,7] For the faculty of argumentation and of persuasive reasoning is indeed a great faculty, especially if it should enjoy frequent training and receive from locutions also a certain comeliness. [I,8,8] The reason is that, in general, every faculty and art that is accrued to men uneducated to diairesize and weak is unsafe for them, with regard to their elating and puffing up over it. [I,8,9] By what device might one further persuade the youth who excels in these faculties, that he must not become an appendage to them but that those must be added to him? [I,8,10] Does he not trample underfoot all these discourses, and strut before us elated and arrogant, much less tolerating that anyone touches him and reminds him of what he left behind and towards what he inclined?

The ‘good’ of any man is the ability of his proairesis to move successfully between diairesis and antidiairesis. This he attains when he knows how to play correctly with the second and how to use skilfully the first. Now, if the faculty of argumentation and of persuasive reasoning, like that of sight, are not the ‘good’ of a man, does this mean that we must abolish them? (11-16)

[I,8,11] What then? Was not Plato a philosopher? And was not Hippocrates a physician? Do you see how Hippocrates expresses himself? [I,8,12] Does, then, Hippocrates express himself so well because he is a physician? Why do you mix things that incidentally assemble in the same people? [I,8,13] If Plato was handsome and strong, ought I to sit and do all I can to become handsome or strong; as if this were necessary for philosophy, since a certain philosopher was both handsome and philosopher? [I,8,14] Will you not become aware and distinguish in relation to what men become philosophers and what is present in them incidentally? Come on, if I were a philosopher, should you also become lame like me? What then? [I,8,15] Do I remove these faculties? Far from it. For I don’t remove any more the faculty of sight. [I,8,16] Yet, if you try to know from me what is man’s good, I have nothing else to tell you but that it is a proairesis of a certain kind.


Thanks to reason we can call ourselves sons of Matter Immortal, citizens of the world and fathers of gods (1-6)

[I,9,1] If what the philosophers say about the congenerousness of Matter Immortal and men is true, what else is left to men but the conclusion of Socrates, of never saying to the one who tries to know from what country he is: “I am Athenian” or “I am Corinthian”; but “I am a citizen of the world”? [I,9,2] For why do you say that you are an Athenian, instead of mentioning merely that corner where your body was begot and cast? [I,9,3] Is it not plain that from what is more dominant and includes not only that corner itself but also your whole family and, in short, whence the race of your ancestors has come down to you, from somewhere here you call yourself an Athenian or a Corinthian? [I,9,4] Therefore he who has understood the world’s government and has learned that “the greatest, most dominant and most inclusive of all is the system of men and Matter Immortal and that from It not only the genes of my father and of my grandfather have fallen down but those of all the creatures that on earth are begotten and sprout, and cardinally of the rational creatures; [I,9,5] and that these only are born in order to associate themselves with Zeus, being intertwined with Him by correlation through reason”; [I,9,6] why should he not call himself a citizen of the world? Why not a son of Zeus? Why will he fear anything that happens among men?

And your fear is to have nothing to eat? (7-9)

[I,9,7] To be a kindred of Caesar or of any other of the tycoons in Rome is sufficient to provide us with a way of passing our life in safety, proof against contempt and whatsoever dread. And to have Zeus as our maker, father and tutor, will not deliver us from grieves and fears? [I,9,8] -And whence to eat, says someone, if I have nothing?- And what about servants, what about runaway slaves? On what do they rely when they are far from their masters? On their lands or on their household slaves or on their silverware? On nothing but themselves. And yet food does not desert them. [I,9,9] On the contrary, will it be necessary for our philosopher to set off having confidence in and leaning on others, to take no care of himself, and to be worse and more cowardly than the beasts lacking reason, each of whom is content with itself and is at a loss neither for its own food nor for enjoying itself in a way which is appropriate and in accord with nature?

Having discovered that you are fathers of gods, do not come to the conclusion that what pertains to the body are mere chains. Having discovered diairesis, do not misuse it and do not hasten unreasonably your departure from this world

because of human beings who don’t know how to play happily with diairesis and antidiairesis (10-17)

[I,9,10] I think that the older man here ought not to sit contriving something in order that you may not appreciate yourselves as slave-minded people or in order that you may not carry out over yourselves mean and slave-minded considerations; [I,9,11] but, if he runs into such youths who recognize their congenerousness with the gods and that like with chains we are hooked to the body, to its possessions and to what, on their account, becomes necessary to us for the management and conduct of life, in order that these youths may not dispose to throw those things away as annoying and unprofitable burdens and depart towards their congenerous. [I,9,12] This is the contest in which your teacher and trainer in diairesis ought to compete, if he were one. You should come to me and say: “Epictetus, we no longer tolerate to have been fettered with this body and to feed it, to give it drink, to rest it, to clean it and then, on its account, to be complaisant with these people and those. [I,9,13] Are not these things indifferent and nothing to us? Is not death no evil? Are we not congenerous of Zeus and have we not come from There? [I,9,14] Let’s depart and return whence we have come; let’s at some time be freed from these chains to which we are hooked and that weigh us down. [I,9,15] Here are robbers, thieves, courts of law and the so-called tyrants, who think to have some power over us because of our body and its possessions. Let’s show them that they have power over no one”. [I,9,16] And here I ought to say: “Men, wait for Zeus. When He will give the signal and will set you free from this service, then set yourselves free and depart to Him; but at present tolerate to abide in this task where He positioned you. [I,9,17] Short indeed is the time of this dwelling, and easy for those who are so disposed. For what tyrant or what thief or what courts of law are any longer frightening to those who have set at naught the body and its possessions? Stay, do not depart unreasonably”.

On the other end, what do you fear? We do not turn our mind towards what the unhappy people in power can do; and for what we care about, they are totally impotent (18-21)

[I,9,18] Something like that ought to happen between a trainer in diairesis and the thoroughbred among the youths. [I,9,19] But now, what happens? Your trainer in diairesis is corpse-like, and corpse-like are you. Once foddered today, you sit crying about tomorrow and whence you could feed. [I,9,20] Slave! If you get it, you will have it; if you don’t get it, you will go out: the door stands open. Why do you mourn? What place is still there for tears? What motive for flattery? Why will one person envy another? Why will he become infatuated with those who have great possessions or with those who have been positioned in power, especially if they are potent and prone to anger? [I,9,21] For what will they do to us? What they can do, we shall not turn our mind towards; what we do care about, this they cannot do. Who, then, will any more rule over a man so disposed?

Socrates (22-26)

[I,9,22] How did Socrates stand with regard to this? How else than as ought the man who is persuaded to be a congenerous of the gods? [I,9,23] “If you tell me now” he says, “…*we acquit you on these conditions, that you no more engage in these discourses that you engaged in thus far, nor upset any more our youths or the old among us*….[I,9,24] I’ll answer that you are ridiculous if you urge that, if your general had positioned me in any position, I ought to keep it, guard it and choose ten thousand times to die rather than abandon it; whereas if Zeus has appointed to some task and conduct, this we must abandon”. [I,9,25] This is indeed a man congenerous to the gods! [I,9,26] When we fear, when we crave, we bethink therefore ourselves as bellies, as bowels, as genitals; and we flatter those who can cooperate to this end, and these same we dread.

Don’t be ignorant of your possessions: no man has bad luck because of someone else (27-34)

[I,9,27] At some time someone urged me to write to Rome in his behalf. Most people deemed him to be a misfortuned fellow because, being formerly well-known and wealthy in money, he had afterwards

lost everything and was passing his life here. [I,9,28] And I wrote, in his behalf, slave-mindedly. But he read the missive and then gave it back to me saying: “I wanted your help, not your pity: no evil is happening to me”. [I,9,29] So likewise Rufus used to test me saying: “Your master will make this and that occur to you”. [I,9,30] And when I would answer: “These are things that happen to human beings”; “What then? Am I to pray him, when I can get from you the same things?” [I,9,31] For indeed it is superfluous and foolish to take from someone else what one can get from oneself. [I,9,32] If I can get from myself magnanimity and generosity, must I take land, money or some office from you? Far from it! I’ll not be so insensitive to my possessions! [I,9,33] But if someone is cowardly and slave- minded, what else is necessary in his behalf but to write missives as in behalf of a corpse: “Please gratify us with the carcass of So-and-so, and a pint of his blood”? [I,9,34] Indeed such a person is a carcass and a pint of blood, nothing more. If he were anything more, he would realise that a man has no ill fortune because of another.


Would our eagerness in getting external objects not be worth of better achievements? (1-6)

[I,10,1] If we had concentrated ourselves on our own work as vehemently as the senators, in Rome, on what they are eager for, probably we too should be accomplishing something. [I,10,2] I know very well what words a person elder than me, who is now in charge of the grain supply in Rome, told me when he made a detour here on his return from exile. He inveighed against his former life and professed, about next times, that once embarked he would be eager for nothing else but for enjoying himself in quiet and undisconcertment for the rest of his life: “For how little is yet left to me?” [I,10,3] And I told him “You will not do it but, once caught no more than a scent of Rome, you will forget all this”. And if he is given a passage to court, that rejoicing and thanking God he will push his way in. [I,10,4] “Epictetus”, he said, “if you find me putting even a single foot inside the court, conceive of me what you want!” [I,10,5] Now, what did he do? Before he reached Rome, written tablets from Caesar met him. He took them and forgot all those words, and since then he has piled up one office over another. [I,10,6] I would like to stand by his side now and remind him of the discourses that he told me when passing here, and tell him “How smarter a seer I am than you!”

Would our laziness in the game of virtue not be worthy of worse achievements? (7-13)

[I,10,7] What then? Do I say that man is a do-nothing creature? Far from it! But why are we not practical people ourselves? [I,10,8] At once, when the day begins, I first remind myself briefly of what I must read over and then straightaway I say to myself “What do I care about how So-and-so reads? The first thing for me is to lounge in bed”. [I,10,9] And yet why are those things like ours ones? If you reflect upon what they do, you will become aware of it. What else do they do all the day long but vote, debate, consult about a bit of grain, a bit of land and profits of this sort? [I,10,10] It is, then, similar to take from someone a little petition and read “I pray you to entrust me the exportation of a bit of grain” or “I pray you to examine what is the government of the world according to Chrysippus, and what task the rational creature has in it; examine also who you are and what is your good and your evil”. [I,10,11] These petitions are similar to those. They need a similar eagerness. [I,10,12] Is to neglect these and those, shameful in the same way? What then? Are we only lazy and doze? No, it’s you, the youths, well before us. [I,10,13] For when we see youths playing, we too, the old, dash in to play with them. And much more, if I saw you awake and full of spirited vigour, I also would dash along to play the game of eagerness for virtue with you.


A father, unable to stand the idea that his sick little daughter could die, flees and comes back only when the child has recovered. Did he behave naturally? And rightly?(1-8)

[I,11,1] When a public officer came to see him, Epictetus, trying to know from him some particulars, also asked if he had offspring and a wife. [I,11,2] Since the officer acknowledged that, he tried to know further: and how do you manage this business? -Miserably, said the officer- And Epictetus: in which way? [I,11,3] For people do not marry and beget children for this, to be miserable, but rather to be happy. [I,11,4] -But, the other said, I feel so miserable about my children that lately, when my little daughter was sick and was thought to be in danger, I did not even stand being present at her sick bed but disappeared and fled till someone reported to me that she was well- What then? What you have done, does it appear right to you? [I,11,5]-Naturally, said the officer- But really persuade me, said Epictetus, about this ‘naturally’ and I’ll persuade you that any event that is in accord with the nature of things happens rightly. [I,11,6] -This is what, the other said, we all, or at least most, of us fathers experience- I do not object you, said Epictetus, that this does not happen; what we dispute about is whether this happens rightly. [I,11,7] Since for this reason one should then say that also tumours are born for the good of the body, just because they are born; and in short that to aberrate is in accord with the nature of things, because almost all of us or at least most of us do aberrate. [I,11,8] You show me, then, how it is in accord with the nature of things. -I cannot, said the officer. You, rather, show me how it is not in accord with nature and does not happen rightly-

The difficult beginning of a dialectical argument (9-15)

[I,11,9] And Epictetus said: if we were enquiring about white and black things, what criterion should we call in for their diagnosis? -The sight, said the officer- And what for warm and cold, for hard and soft objects? -The touch- [I,11,10] Then, since we dispute about what happens in accord with the nature of things and happens rightly or not rightly, what criterion do you want that we assume? [I,11,11] -I don’t know, the officer said- And yet to ignore the criterion of colours, of odours, and of flavours is not, perhaps, a great penalty; but do you think small the penalty for the fellow who ignores the criterion of good and evil, of what is in accord with the nature of things and of what is not in accord with the nature of things? –It is the greatest penalty- [I,11,12] Come on, tell me: are all the things that seem to some people wonderful and befitting, rightly so regarded? Is it possible that all what Jews, Syrians, Egyptians and Romans think about food, they think it rightly? -And how is it possible?- [I,11,13] But I think that if the opinions of the Egyptians are right, it is inevitable that those of the others are not right; and if those of the Jews stand well that those of the others do not stand well. -And how not so?- [I,11,14] Where there is ignorance, there are also lack of culture and lack of education on what is necessary. -He conceded it- [I,11,15] You, then, said Epictetus, now that you are aware of this, you will be eager for nothing else and will devote your intelligence to nothing else but, once you have deciphered the criterion of what is in accord with the nature of things, to exploit it so as to distinguish each particular case.

Affection and reason are they contradictory? Or not? (16-20)

[I,11,16] For the present, this much I can help you on what you want to know. [I,11,17] Do you think affection to be in accord with the nature of things and beautiful? -And how not so?- But what? While affection is in accord with the nature of things and beautiful, what is rational is it not beautiful? [I,11,18] -Not at all- Therefore does what is rational contradict affection? -I don’t think so- Otherwise, when one of the contradictory terms is in accord with the nature of things, is it necessary that the other be not in accord with the nature of things? Or not? [I,11,19] -It is so, said the officer- Whatever, then, we find to be at the same time affectionate and rational, this can we confidently declare to be both right and beautiful? [I,11,20] –Be it so, said the other- What then? I don’t think that you object if I say that it is not a rational thing to leave alone one’s child when he is sick and, having left him alone, to depart. What remains is that we consider whether it be affection or not. -Let’s consider that-

To flee, in this case, was it something affectionate? And rational? (21-26)

[I,11,21] Well, then, since you had an affectionate disposition towards your child, were you doing right when you fled and deserted her? And has the mother no affection for the child? [I,11,22] -She has affection indeed- Ought, then, the mother also leave alone her child or ought she not? -She ought not- And the nurse? Does she cherish her? -She does, said the other- Ought, then, she also leave the child alone? -Not at all- [I,11,23] And the pedagogue? Does he not cherish her? -He does- Ought, then, he also, having left her alone, depart; so that the child be left behind lonely and helpless because of the great affection of yours, her parents and of those about her, and die in the hands of people who neither cherish her nor care for her? -Far from it- [I,11,24] And yet is it not unfair and unintelligent not to grant to those who similarly have affection, what one thinks to befit him as affectionate? [I,11,25] -It is absurd- Come on, if you were sick would you decide to have relatives, offspring and wife included, so affectionate as to be left alone and deserted by them? [I,11,26] -Not at all- And would you wish to be so cherished by yours as to be always deserted alone in sickness because of their excessive affection or rather would you wish, for this, to have the affection of your personal enemies, if that were possible, so as to be deserted by them? If it is so, what remains is that your action is no longer an affectionate one at all.

The explanation is inside us, not outside us (27-29)

[I,11,27] What then? Was nothing moving and impelling you to leave alone the child? And how is it possible? But it was the sort of thing that also moved someone in Rome to cover his own head while the horse he backed was running. Then, when the horse unexpectedly won, sponges were needed to revive him from his faint! [I,11,28] What is this, then? Precision is not due, perhaps, at the present moment. If, however, what the philosophers say is sound, it is enough to be persuaded that we must not seek the explanation anywhere outside us, but that one and the same is in all cases the cause of our doing or not doing something, of our saying or not saying something, of being elated or depressed, of avoiding or pursuing someone. [I,11,29] This has also been now the cause of my action and of yours: yours in coming to me and now sitting and listening, mine in saying these things. What is this?

And it lies in our judgements (30-33)

[I,11,30] Is it anything else but that we thought it? -Nothing- And had things appeared to us otherwise, what else would we be performing but what we thought? [I,11,31] Also for Achilles, then, this was the cause of his mourning: not the death of Patroclus (for another person does not experience this when his comrade dies), but that he thought it. [I,11,32] And this was, then, also the cause of your running away : that you thought it; and again, if you remain with her, that you thought it. Now you go up to Rome because you think it; if you will think it otherwise you will not depart. [I,11,33] In short neither death, nor exile, nor pain, nor anything of that sort is the cause of our acting or not acting, but only our conceptions and judgements are.

We ourselves, and not the external things, are lords of and accountable for our judgements (34-40)

[I,11,34] Do I persuade you of this, or not? -You persuade me, said the officer- Of such sort as are in each case the causes, such are also the results. [I,11,35] Whenever, then, we perform something not rightly, from today forth we will impute nothing else but the judgement according to which we performed it, and we will try to eradicate and excise that judgement more earnestly than the tumours and the abscesses from our body. [I,11,36] And in the same way we shall declare the same thing to be the cause also of what we perform rightly. [I,11,37] And we shall no longer impute either a household slave, or a neighbour, or our wife, or our offspring as being the causes of any evil that happens to us, since we are persuaded that unless we think things to be so-and-so, we do not perform the consequent

actions. About thinking things to be evil or not evil, we ourselves, and not the external objects, are the lords. [I,11,38] -It is so, he said- From today, therefore, we shall survey or review nothing else, what something is or how it stands, neither our land, nor our slaves, nor our horses nor our dogs but our judgements. -I wish so, he said- [I,11,39] See, then, that you must become a schoolboy, that creature everyone mocks, if you really like to make an examination of your judgements. [I,11,40] And that this is not the business of a single hour or day, you think that as well as I do.


Irrespective of what Plato and Aristoteles, among others, have thought and unlike what books full of horrible superstitions about a transcending God claim, it’s plain that from one and the same Matter Immortal and according to Its excellent laws the stars, the planets, the vegetables, the animals, the men and the gods are generated (1-3)

[I,12,1] Concerning the gods, there are some people who say that Matter Immortal does not even exist; others that It exists but is inert, careless and does not make Itself the mind of anything. [I,12,2] A third group say that It exists and makes Itself mind, but of the great and heavenly bodies and of none of the bodies that are on earth; for the fourth group also of those that are on earth and of human beings, but only in common and not also peculiarly of each one; [I,12,3] fifth are those, among them also Odysseus and Socrates, who say: “nor I move without Your noticing”.

When rightly used, the proairesis of a man is able to conceive about itself and about Matter Immortal those liberating, generous, blessed impressions that are in accord with the nature of things and can be called gods (4-7)

[I,12,4] Before all else, then, it is necessary to have examined whether each of these statements is sound or not sound. [I,12,5] For if gods do not exist, how is it an end to stay in the company of gods? If they exist indeed but take care of nothing, even so, how will it be sound? [I,12,6] But if they exist and take care, yet there is no mutuality from them to men and, by Zeus, also to me personally; even so how is it still sound? [I,12,7] Having, then, examined all this, the virtuous man has subordinated his own intelligence to What governs the whole, just as good citizens do to the law of the state.

When unrightly used, the proairesis of a human being conceives about itself and about Matter Immortal those unhappy, mean, slave-minded impressions that are in contrast with the nature of things and that are at the core of revealed religions and of any sort of idealisms. The happy balance by which a proairesis becomes able to use properly the antidiairesis and rightly the diairesis without straying neither in one nor in the other, engenders the transformation of a human being into a man (8)

[I,12,8] And he who is being trained to diairesize, is bound to come to training with this design: “How may I stay in every circumstance in the company of gods, how may I be well pleased of the government of Matter Immortal, how may I become free?”

Who is free, and that one has to learn to be free (9-16)

[I,12,9] Since he is free for whom everything happens according to his proairesis and whom nobody can hamper. [I,12,10] What then? Is freedom insanity? Far from it. Madness and freedom do not come to the same point. [I,12,11] “But I want that everything I think has to happen, and no matter how I think it”. [I,12,12] You are mad, you are raving. Don’t you know that freedom is something beautiful and renowned? To haphazardly want that those things happen that I haphazardly thought, runs the risk of being not only not beautiful, but the ugliest of all things. How do we do with the letters of the alphabet? [I,12,13] Do I decide to write the name “Dio” as I want? No, but I am taught to want to write it as it needs to be written. What do we do in music? In the same way. [I,12,14] What do we do, in general, where any art or science is involved? Otherwise, it would be worthless to have science of

anything, if this were suited to each person’s decisions. [I,12,15] Here only, then, in the case of what is greatest and most dominant, in the case of freedom, was it granted to me to want at haphazard? Not at all. But to train oneself to diairesize means precisely to learn to dispose each thing so as it happens. And how does it happen? As the constitutor constituted it. [I,12,16] And it constituted that there be summer and winter, profusion and dearth, virtue and vice and all such oppositions for the harmony of the whole; and to each of us it gave a body and bodily parts, an estate and some mates.

The reason why those who are unable to play with diairesis and antidiairesis are only able to have with external objects and with other people relationships of domination or subordination, of exploitation or rebellion and never of rational and joyful agreeableness (17-21)

[I,12,17] Mindful, then, of this constitution, we must come to be trained to diairesize not in order to change the premises (for this is not given to us nor it’s better) but in order that, being things around us as they are and are by nature, we have our intelligence reconciled to the events. [I,12,18] For, what? Is it feasible to flee from people? And how is it possible? Being with them, is it possible to change them? [I,12,19] And who gives this power to us? What is, then, left behind or what device can we find in order to use with them? Such a use that, while they will do what appears right to them we will, nonetheless, be in accord with the nature of things. [I,12,20] But you are slothful and difficult to please. If you are alone, you call this loneliness; if you are with people, you call them treacherous and robbers. You also blame your parents and offspring and brothers and neighbours. [I,12,21] He who remains alone ought to call this quiet and freedom, and to believe himself gods-like. Being with many, he ought to call this neither mob nor turmoil nor unpleasantness, but a feast and a festival and so to receive everything being well pleased with it.

What’s the punishment for the human being unable to play with diairesis and antidiairesis? The punishment is the inability itself to play the game, and the fact that he is faring as he fares (22-26)

Which is, then, the punishment for those who do not accept? [I,12,22] To fare as they fare. Is someone ill pleased to be alone? Let him be in loneliness. Is someone ill pleased at his parents? Let him be a bad son and mourn. Is he ill pleased at his offspring? Let him be a bad father. [I,12,23] “Throw him into prison”. What prison? Where he is now. For he is there unwillingly, and where one is unwillingly that is for him a prison. Socrates, in so far as this, was not in prison, for he was there purposely. [I,12,24] “Should my leg, then, be crippled?” Slave, and do you bring charges to the world because of one leg? Will you not bestow it to the whole? Will you not relinquish it? Will you not rejoice to give way to the giver? [I,12,25] And will you be vexed and ill pleased at the constitutions of Zeus, constitutions that He, in presence of the Fates spinning your begetting, defined and constituted? [I,12,26] Don’t you know how small a part you are compared to the whole? That is, as to the body; but as to the reason you are not worse than the gods or smaller than they. For the greatness of reason is not determined by length nor by height but by judgements.

Learn to recognize your true wealth, the one by which you stand above all external objects (27-35)

[I,12,27] Don’t you like, then, to set the good somehow there, where you are equal to the gods? [I,12,28] “Wretched me, I have such a father and mother!” What then? Was it given to you to step forth, to select and say: “Let So-and-so have intercourse with So-and-so at this hour, that I may be born”? It was not given. [I,12,29] But your parents had to pre-exist, then you had to be born as you were born. [I,12,30] Of what kind of parents? Of such as they were. What then? Since they are such, is no device given to you? If you were unaware of the purpose for which you possess the faculty of sight, you would have ill fortune and would be miserable if you closed your eyes when colours are brought before you; and because you ignore to have magnanimity and generosity suited to each of these circumstances, don’t you have even worse a fortune and are you not more miserable? [I,12,31] Things appropriate to the faculty that you have are brought before you and you especially then turn the faculty

away when one ought to have it open and staring. [I,12,32] Do you not rather thank the gods, because they let you above all the things that they did not make in your exclusive power and declared you accountable only for what is in your exclusive power? [I,12,33] They let you unaccountable for parents, unaccountable for brothers, unaccountable for the body, estate, death and life. [I,12,34] What did they make you, then, accountable for? For the only thing that is in your exclusive power: the use as it must be of the impressions. [I,12,35] Why, then, do you draw upon yourself that which you are not accountable for? This is to provide oneself with troubles.


We are all sons of the only and same Matter Immortal and among us behaves as a god he who knows how to do his own good and at the same time tolerates that other people do their own evil to themselves (1-5)

[I,13,1] When someone tried to know how it is possible to eat in a manner pleasing to the gods, If it is possible, said Epictetus, to do it justly, with good intelligence, and equally with self-restraint and decently, is it not also in a manner pleasing to the gods? [I,13,2] When you ask for hot water and the boy does not heed you, or he does but brings in tepid water, or if he is not even found at home; then not to be embittered and not to burst open, is this not pleasing to the gods? [I,13,3] -But how can one tolerate such things?- Slave! Will you not tolerate your brother, who has Zeus as his ancestor, as a son born from the same genes and from the same above descent; [I,13,4] and if you were appointed to some eminent task, will you straightaway institute yourself a tyrant? Will you not remember what you are and over whom you rule? That you rule over congenerous, over brothers by nature, over descendants of Zeus? [I,13,5] -But I have a deed of sale for them and they have none for me- Do you see where you stare? That you stare to the earth, to the chasm, to these paltry laws of corpses and do not stare to those of the gods?


Every single atom of our bodies has been synthesised in a star… (1-4)

[I,14,1] When someone tried to know how a person could be persuaded that each of his actions is regarded by Zeus “Don’t you think”, said Epictetus, “that all things are united in one?” [I,14,2] -I think so, said the other- What then? Don’t you think that what is on earth is sympathetic with what is in the heaven? -I think so, he said- [I,14,3] For whence comes it that so methodically, precisely as by an injunction of Zeus, when He bids the vegetables to flower, they flower; when He bids them to bud, they bud; when to bring forth the fruit, they bring it forth; when to ripen it, they ripen it; when again to throw it away and shed their leaves and, after mustering together, to remain quiet and rest, they remain quiet and rest? [I,14,4] And whence would it come that at the waxing and waning of the moon, at the approach and recession of the sun, we contemplate so great a gap and transformation to the opposite of what is on earth?

… and our minds are to Matter Immortal what clouds are to the atmosphere (5-6)

[I,14,5] The vegetables and our bodies have been so closely tied up to the whole and they are with it so sympathetic, yet is it not much more so for our souls? [I,14,6] And if our souls have been so closely tied up and connected to Matter Immortal inasmuch as they are pieces and sparkles of It, does Zeus not become aware of their every motion as being His own and ingrained?

The amazing, divine ability of Matter Immortal to make Itself mind (7-10)

[I,14,7] You can brood over the divine government, over each of the immaterial phenomena and at the same time over human things. You can be moved by myriad of things at the same time both sensitively and intellectually, both assenting to some and dissenting from others or suspending your judgement. [I,14,8] You guard in your soul so many models derived from so many and various things and moving from them you run into notions corresponding to the facts that first moulded them. From myriad of things you preserve, one after another, arts and memories. [I,14,9] And is Zeus not able to regard all things, to be present in all and to have a mutuality with them all? [I,14,10] The sun is able to illuminate so large a part of the whole and to leave without light the small space that can stand under the shadow that the earth makes; and Matter Immortal that has made the sun itself and leads it round, sun that is but a small part of It, small with regard to the whole: can this matter not become aware of all things?

Zeus, or Matter Immortal, gives to each of us a different genome (11-14)

[I,14,11] -But I cannot, says one, understand all these things simultaneously- Does anyone tell you that you have a faculty equal to that of Zeus? [I,14,12] And nevertheless, as a trustee to stand by the side of each of us, He stationed his particular gene and committed each of us to its guard: a sleepless gene and one not to be deceived. [I,14,13] To what other guard, better and more diligent, could He have committed each of us? So, when you close the doors and make darkness within, remember never to say that you are alone. [I,14,14] For you are not. Zeus is within you and your own gene is. What need do They have of light to notice what you are doing?

A right oath (15-17)

[I,14,15] To this Matter Immortal you also ought to swear an oath, as the soldiers do to Caesar. For they, taking service for wages, swear to honour the safety of Caesar above everything else. And will you, who have been thought worthy of so many and so important gifts, not swear or, after swearing, will you not remain fixed to the oath? [I,14,16] And what will you swear? Never to disobey nor bring charges nor find fault with any of the things that have been given by It, nor to do or experience unwillingly anything of what is necessary. [I,14,17] Is this oath similar to that one? There the soldiers swear never to honour another man above Caesar, here you swear to honour yourselves above everything else.


Philosophy does not profess to secure for a man either friends or health or celebrity, but the art of living well (1-5)

[I,15,1] When someone consulted Epictetus as to how he could persuade his brother to be no longer embittered against him; [I,15,2] Philosophy does not profess, he said, to secure for a man any of the external objects. Otherwise it will take upon itself something outside its peculiar subject matter. For as wood is the subject matter of the carpenter and bronze that of the sculptor, so the subject matter of the art of life is each person’s own life. [I,15,3] -What is, then, the life of my brother?- Again, it is the subject matter of the art of living his own life, but with respect to yours it is an external object like a land, like health, like good repute. Philosophy does not profess to secure any of these things.[I,15,4] “In every circumstance I’ll keep my ruling principle in accord with the nature of things”. -Whose ruling principle?- [I,15,5] “His in whom I am”. -How, then, do I keep my brother from getting angry with me?- “Bring him to me and I’ll speak to him; but I have nothing to tell you about his anger”.

In order to reap this fruit one needs time and commitment (6-8)

[I,15,6] When he who was consulting with him said: -This I seek, how I may be in accord with the nature of things even if my brother is not reconciled with me- [I,15,7] Nothing great, said Epictetus,

becomes great suddenly, where not even a bunch of grapes or a fig does. If you say to me now, “I want a fig”, I’ll answer, “It needs time”. Let it first flower, then put forth his fruit, and then ripen. [I,15,8] The fruit of a fig does not come to its perfection suddenly or in one hour, and do you want to get for yourself in so short a time and in a so easy-going way the fruit of the intelligence of a man? Do not expect it, even if I tell you so myself.


The works of the intelligence of Matter Immortal(1-5)

[I,16,1] Do not wonder if the other creatures have had ready what pertains to the body, not only food and drink but also a couch; and if they don’t need shoes, or bedding, or clothing, while we are in need of all these things. [I,16,2] For it would not be advantageous to have made creatures, born not for their own sake but for service, in need of other things. [I,16,3] Since, look if it would be possible for us to worry not only about ourselves but also about our sheep and our asses, how they are to be clothed, how shod, how to feed them, how to give them drink. [I,16,4] But just as the soldiers are ready for the general shod, clothed and armed; and it would be strange if the commandant needed to go around shoeing and clothing thousand people; so nature also has made the creatures born for service ready, prepared, in need of no further diligence. [I,16,5] And so one small child with a rod drives a flock of sheep.

The works in us of the intelligence of Matter Immortal (6-14)

[I,16,6] Now, while we give up thanking because we do not have to take care of these creatures with a diligence equal to the one we devote to ourselves, about ourselves we bring charges to Matter Immortal. [I,16,7] Yet, by Zeus and the gods, only one of the things that have happened in nature would be enough to make the one who is self respecting and has the sense of gratitude, aware of Matter Immortal’s mind. [I,16,8] I am not thinking now of great things but of the mere begetting of milk from grass, of cheese from milk and of wool from skin. Who has made these things or thought on them? “No one”, somebody says. What a great insensitivity and shamelessness! [I,16,9] Come on, let’s give up the main works of nature and observe its accessory works. [I,16,10] Is there anything more unprofitable than the hairs on the chin? What then? Did nature not utilise these too in the most fitting way it could? Did it not distinguish through them the male and the female? [I,16,11] Does the nature of each of us not cry aloud straightaway from afar: “I am a male; as such come to me, as such chat with me and don’t seek other things: behold the tokens”? [I,16,12] Again in the case of ladies, as it commingled in their voice something softer, so likewise it took off the hair from their chin. No, but the human creature ought to be deserted indistinguishable and each of us ought to proclaim “I am a male!” [I,16,13] And how wonderful a token, comely and solemn! How much more wonderful than the cock’s comb, how much more majestic than the lion’s mane! [14] For this reason one ought to safeguard the tokens of Matter Immortal, one ought not cast them away nor confuse, as far as they are concerned, the genders that have been discriminated.

An anthem to Matter Immortal (15-21)

[I,16,15] Are these the only works of Matter Immortal’s mind in us? And what discourse is adequate similarly to praise them or to stand them by our side? For if we had sense, what else ought we do conjointly and privately than to sing a hymn of praise to Matter Immortal, to speak well of It and to rehearse Its favours? [I,16,16] As we dig, we plough, we eat, ought we not sing the hymn of praise to Matter Immortal? [I,16,17] “Great is Zeus, that He provided us with these instruments with which we shall work the earth; great is Zeus, that He has given us hands, swallowing, a belly, and to grow unconsciously and to breathe while asleep”. [I,16,18] This is what we ought to sing for each of His


favours and then to sing the greatest and most divine hymn, that He gave us the faculty able to understand them and to use them methodically. What then? [I,16,19] Since most of you are blind, ought there not be someone to fulfill this task and to sing in behalf of all men that hymn of praise to Matter Immortal? [I,16,20] What else can I, a lame old man, do but sing a hymn of praise to Zeus? If I were a nightingale I would do what a nightingale does; if a swan, what a swan does. Now, I am a rational creature: I must sing a hymn of praise to Matter Immortal. [I,16,21] This is my work. I do it and, as long as this is given to me, I shall not abandon this position. And I exhort you too to join in this same song of praise.


Reason only is self-theoretical (1-3)

[I,17,1] Since it is our reason that articulates and elaborates the rest and the reason ought not be unarticulated, what should it be articulated by? [I,17,2] It is plain that it will be so either by itself or by something else. This is either a reason or something better than reason, which is impossible. [I,17,3] If it is a reason, what, again, will articulate it? For if this articulates itself, then also the first reason can do the same. If we need something else, this process will be boundless and unceasing.

The logic is criterion and condition for proper thinking (4-12)

[I,17,4] “Yes, but it is more urgent to look after..”. and similar things. Do you want, then, to hear about them? Listen. [I,17,5] But if you tell me: “I don’t know whether you argue truly or falsely”; and also, if I say something in an ambiguous tone and you tell me: “Punctuate..”., I’ll no longer tolerate you but I’ll tell you: “But it is more urgent..”. [I,17,6] For this reason, I think, the stoic philosophers place logic as a priority; precisely as, in the measuring of grain, we place the examination of the measure as a priority. [I,17,7] If we do not distinctly state first what a modius is or distinctly state first what a scale is, how will we still be able to measure or weigh anything? [I,17,8] In our case, if we have neglected to clearly decipher and thoroughly precise what is criterion of the others arts and faculties and represents that through which the others arts and faculties are deciphered, will we be able to precise and decipher anything else? And how is it possible? [I,17,9] “Yes, but the modius is made of wood and is fruitless”. [I,17,10] But it is capable of measuring grain. “Logic also is fruitless”. About that we will see. Even if one should give that for granted, it is enough to say that logic is able to distinguish and examine the other arts and faculties and, as one might say, to measure and weigh them. [I,17,11] Who says this? Only Chrysippus, Zeno and Cleanthes? [I,17,12] Does not Antisthenes say that? Who has written that “The beginning of education is the examination of the names”? Does not Socrates say that? And of whom does Xenophon write that he began with the examination of the names, what each meant?

Understand the nature of things and say thanks to him who helps you to understand it (13-19)

[I,17,13] Is this, then, the great and amazing thing: to comprehend or explain Chrysippus? And who says that? [I,17,14] What is, then, the amazing thing? To comprehend nature’s plan. What then? Do you understand it by yourself? And whom do you still need? For if it is true that we all aberrate unwillingly and you have deciphered the Truth, it is necessary for you to be already successful. [I,17,15] But, by Zeus, I do not understand the nature’s plan. Who comments on it? People say, Chrysippus. [I,17,16] I come and inquire further what this interpreter of the nature says. I begin not to comprehend what he says and look for one who explains it to me. “Look, examine… how this is told, precisely as if it were in Latin!” [I,17,17] What meaning, then, has here the commentator’s frown? Not even, rightly, that of Chrysippus himself, if he only comments on the nature’s plan and does not follow it. How much more is this true in the case of his commentator? [I,17,18] For we have no need of Chrysippus on his own account, but in order to understand the nature. Nor need we the sacrificer on his own account but


because, through him we think to be able to apprehend what is going to happen and what is meant by the gods. [I,17,19] Nor need we the entrails for their own sake, but because through them something is meant. Nor we admire the crow or the raven, but Zeus giving signs through them.

What follows is exactly what is written in the human DNA (20-29)

[I,17,20] I come therefore to this interpreter and sacrificer and say “Examine for me the entrails, what they mean for me”. [I,17,21] He takes them, spreads them out and explains: “Man, you have a proairesis by nature unhampered and unconstrained. Here, in the entrails, this has been written. [I,17,22] I’ll show this to you, first in the topic of assent. Can anyone prevent you from nodding to the truth? No one. Can anyone constrain you to accept the false? No one. [I,17,23] Do you see that in this topic your proairesis is unhampered, unconstrained, unimpeded? [I,17,24] Come on, is it otherwise in the topic of desire and impulse? What can overcome an impulse except another impulse? And what a desire and an aversion except another desire and another aversion?” [I,17,25] “But”, says someone, “if a person brings upon me the fear of death, he constrains me”. “It is not what is brought upon you that constrains you, but the fact that you think better for you to do something of that sort than to die. [I,17,26] Again, then, your judgement constrained you, that is, proairesis constrained proairesis. [I,17,27] For if Zeus had fashioned the peculiar part that he tore away and gave us, hampered or constrained by Himself or someone else, He would no longer be Matter Immortal nor It would take care of us in the right manner. [I,17,28] This I find”, the sacrificer says, “in the victims. This is meant to you. If you so dispose, you are free. If you so dispose, you will blame no one, you will bring charges to no one, everything will be in accord with both your intelligence and that of Zeus”. [I,17,29] For this power of divination I come to this sacrificer and philosopher, not admiring him for his interpretation but the things that he explains.


Our assents and dissents, the understanding of our desires and impulses are act of our intellect, works of our proairesis (1- 2)

[I,18,1] If what the philosophers say is true, that for all human beings the foundation is one only: namely, for assenting the experience that the thing exists, for dissenting the experience that the thing does not exist and, by Zeus, for suspending our judgement the experience that the thing is doubtful; [I,18,2] and in the same way for impelling to something the experience that this is useful to me; and that it is unmanageable to determine one thing useful and yet to desire another, to determine one deed proper and to impel to another: why are we any longer embittered against the multitude?

Any kind of aberration is the consequence of wrong judgements upon what is and what is not in my exclusive power (3-4)

[I,18,3] -They are thieves, says someone, and clothes-stealers- What does it mean “thieves and clothes- stealers”? They have erred in questions of good and evil. [I,18,4] Ought we, then, be embittered against them or pity them? Show them the error and you will see how they divert from their aberrations! But if they don’t notice it, they have nothing higher than their mere opinion.

The one who errs on questions of good and evil has already suffered the most harmful loss (5-8)

[I,18,5] -Should we not, then, put this robber and this adulterer to death?- [I,18,6] Not at all, but you should rather say: “Ought we not put to death this person, who has erred and has been deceived on the greatest issues, who is blind not in the sight able to distinguish between white and black but in the intelligence able to distinguish between the good and the evil?” [I,18,7] And if you say so, you will recognize how inhuman is what you say and that this is similar to say: “Ought not this blind and deaf


person, then, be put to death?” [I,18,8] For if the greatest harm is indeed the loss of the greatest things, and in each person the greatest thing is the proairesis as it is needed and of this very thing one is dispossessed, why are you still embittered against him?

Neither pity nor hate are in accord with the nature of things (9-11)

[I,18,9] You sir, if you must dispose yourself against the nature of things with reference to another’s evils, pity him rather, but do not hate him. Give up this faculty ready to take offence and to hate; [I,18,10] do not bring in the voices that the majority of censorious people use”…Well, then, these accursed and abominable stupid..”. [I,18,11] Be it so; but how is it that you became so suddenly wise as to be embittered against other stupid fellows? Why, then, are we embittered? Because we become infatuated with the subject matters that those fellows subtract us. Do not become infatuated with your robes and you don’t become embittered against the thief; do not become infatuated with the prettiness of your wife and you don’t become embittered against the adulterer.

The one who is not just but embittered and cruel against thieves, adulterers, petty politicians and people in dire poverty of diairesis, shows himself too filled, like them, with counterdiairesis (12-14)

[I,18,12] Recognize that ‘thief’ and adulterer’ have no place among things that are yours, but among those that are another’s and not in your exclusive power. If you give up these things and believe that they are nothing to you, whom are you still embittered against? But as long as you are infatuated with these things, be embittered against yourself rather than against those people. [I,18,13] For consider: you have wonderful robes, your neighbour does not; you have a window, you want to air them. He does not know what man’s good is and fancies that it consists in having wonderful robes, the very thing that you fancy too. [I,18,14] Shall he not come, then, and remove them? You show a cake to gluttonous beings and gulping it down alone, don’t you want them to snatch it? Don’t provoke them, don’t have a window, don’t air your robes.

The iron lamp of Epictetus (15-16)

[I,18,15] I have an iron lamp near my household gods and lately, hearing a noise at the window, I ran down. I found the lamp snatched away. I calculated that the one who had removed it had experienced something not unpersuasive. What then? [I,18,16] Tomorrow, I say, you will find a lamp of earthenware. For one loses what one has. “I lost my robe”. For you had a robe. “I feel pain in my head”. Do you perhaps feel pain in your horns? Why are you, then, vexed? For our losses and our pains are indeed about what is also our estate.

As it’s true that pain and physical pleasure are not judgements, in the same way it’s true that your proairesis will always have a judgement upon each particular pleasure and pain. And this judgement, not the pain nor the pleasure, is in your exclusive power. This is what “Recognize yourself” means (17-20)

[I,18,17]-“But the tyrant will fetter”- What? The leg. -“But he will take off”- What? The neck. What will he neither fetter nor take off? The proairesis. For this reason the ancients prescribed “Recognize yourself”. [I,18,18] What then? We ought, by the gods, to study on small facts and beginning with those, to cross over to the greater ones. [I,18,19] “I feel pain in my head”. Don’t say: “Woe’s me!” “I feel pain in my ear”. Don’t say: “Woe’s me!”. I don’t say that it has not been given to us to sigh, but do not sigh from within. If the boy is slow in bringing the bandage, do not cry aloud, don’t fidget, don’t say: “Everybody hates me!” For who will not hate such a person? [I,18,20] Well then, relying on these judgement walk upright, free, not relying on the greatness of your body, like an athlete does: for you must not be unconquerable as an ass is.

Who is unconquerable? (21-23)

[I,18,21] Who is, then, the unconquerable man? He whom nothing aproairetic can daze. And coming to each of the circumstances, well then, I decipher it as in the case of the athlete. “This fellow dislodged the first opponent appointed to him by lot. [I,18,22] And what will he do with the second? And if there is a burning heat? And at Olympia?” Here also the case is the same. If you put in front of him some money, he will despise it. And what about a wench? And if it be in darkness? And if you put in front of him a bit of reputation? And if a revilement? And if a praise? And if death? [I,18,23] He can win all these things. [If there is burning heat means: if he is slightly drunk, melancholy-mad, sleeping.] This is for me the unconquerable athlete.


The tyrant, puffed up with counterdiairesis and arrogance, believes to have the power of giving and taking away very important things and that for this reason one has to pay court to him (1- 6)

[I,19,1] If some superiority is joined to someone, or at least he thinks to be joined even though it is not joined, it is inevitable that this person, if uneducated to diairesize, becomes arrogant on account of it. [I,19,2] At once the tyrant says: “I am more powerful than anyone else”. And what can you provide me with? Can you secure me an unhampered desire? And whence can you? For do you have it? An unstumbling aversion? Do you have it? [I,19,3] An unaberring impulse? And where do you have a share in that? Come on, when you are on a ship, do you have confidence in yourself or in the one who knows the art of sailing? [I,19,4] And on a chariot, in whom do you have confidence but in the one who knows the art of driving? And in the case of the other arts? In the same way. What, then, can you do? “All people look after me!” For I look after my small plate too, and wash it and wipe it out and fix a peg for my oil-flask. What then? Are these things better than me? No, but they provide me with some utility. Because of this utility I look after them. What then? Do I not look after my donkey? [I,19,5] Do I not wash its feet? Do I not cleanse it? Don’t you know that every man looks after himself and after you as after his donkey? For who looks after you as after a man? Show me. [I,19,6] Who wants to become like you, who becomes your emulator as men did of Socrates? “But I can cut off your neck”. Well said! I forgot that one must look after you as after fever and cholera, and set up an altar to you as in Rome, where there is an altar to the Fever.

The tyrants, big or small it doesn’t matter, are terrified by one thing only: the judgements of the free man (7-10)

[I,19,7] What is it, then, that disconcerts and terrifies most people? Is it the tyrant and his bodyguards? Whence? Far from it. It is not feasible that what is free by nature, be disconcerted or hampered by something else but itself. [I,19,8] It’s his judgements, instead, that disconcert him. For when the tyrant says to someone “I’ll chain your leg”, the one who has hold in honour the leg says “No, have mercy upon me”; while the one who has hold in honour his own proairesis says “If it appears more advantageous to you, fetter it”. “Do you not turn your mind towards it?” “I do not”. [I,19,9] “I’ll show you that I am the Lord”. “Whence you? Zeus let me free. Or do you think that He was going to allow his son to be enslaved? However, you are lord of my corpse: take it”. [I,19,10] “So when you approach me, you do not look after me?” “No, but after myself. And if you want me to say that I look after you too, I say that I look after you as I look after my pot”.

The one who takes possession of what a man is indeed by nature, does the most socially useful of the actions: and this is politics (11-15)

[I,19,11] This is not selfishness. For such is the creature: it does everything for itself. For even the sun does everything for itself and, well then, Zeus itself does. [I,19,12] When Zeus disposes to be Rain- bringer, Fruit-giver, Father of men and gods, you see that He cannot hit the mark of these works and



appellations if He is not also of common benefit. [I,19,13] In general, Matter Immortal fashioned the nature of the rational creature in such a way that he could not hit the mark of any of his own goods unless he furnished some common benefit. [I,19,14] And so, to do everything for one’s own sake it is no longer an unsocial action. [I,19,15] What do you expect? That a man should divert from himself and from his own interest? And their appropriation of themselves, how will it still be one and the same foundation for all beings?

The common and widespread counterdiairetic judgements with which their proairesis is filled, force the multitude of tyrants, big or small it doesn’t matter, to establish a magic chain of shit through which they recognize themselves and feed each other with (16-18)

[I,19,16] What then? When judgements of a different kind, about what is aproairetic as being good or evil, lie underneath, it is inevitable for human beings to look after the tyrants. [I,19,17] And would that it were the tyrants alone and not their chamberlains too! How can a person suddenly become a virtuous and prudent man if Caesar makes him head of his night-stool? How can we say at once: “Felicio chatted with me with such a prudence!” [I,19,18] I would dispose that he be thrown out of Caesar’s dunghill, so that you may think him again an imprudent and vicious fellow!

The irresistible career of the slave Felicio, an Epaphroditus’ cobbler (19-23)

[I,19,19] Epaphroditus had a certain cobbler, whom he sold because he was unprofitable. By some chance, then, the fellow was bought at the market by a member of the Caesar’s household and became a Cesar’s cobbler. You should have seen how Epaphroditus held him in honour! [I,19,20] “Pray, what is my good Felicio busy with?” [I,19,21] And then if one of us tried to know: “What is he doing?”, he was told: “He is taking counsel with Felicio on something”. [I,19,22] But had he not retailed him as unprofitable? [I,19,23] Who, then, suddenly made him a prudent man? This is to hold in honour something else than what is proairetic.

The irresistible career of a people’s tribune (24-25)

[I,19,24] “He has been thought worthy of a tribunate!” All who meet him, congratulate him. One kisses his eyes, another his neck, the servants kiss his hands. He comes home and finds the lamps lit. [I,19,25 ] He climbs up the Capitol and offers a sacrifice. Now, who ever sacrificed for having desired as a virtuous man, for having impelled in accord with the nature of things? For where we set our good, there we also thank the gods.

A Nicopolitan fellow on the threshold of an Augustus’ priesthood (26-29)

[I,19,26] Today a fellow chatted with me about a priesthood of Augustus. I say to him: “You sir, give up the business; you will spend a lot of money for nothing”. [I,19,27] -“But those who write the deeds of sale”, he says, “will write my name!”- “Are you, then, present when the deeds are read and do you say: it’s me that they have written? [I,19,28] And even if you can be present to all readings now, what will you do if you die? -“My name will remain”- “Write it on a stone and it will remain. Come on, who will mention you outside of Nicopolis?” [I,19,29] -“But I’ll wear a golden crown!”- “If you crave once for a crown, take a crown of roses and put it on: you will look smarter”.


Reason only is self-theoretical. Oudeterous is what is neither good nor evil (1-6)

[I,20,1] Every art and faculty is able to know the general principles of certain cardinal things. [I,20,2]

When, then, it is itself of the same kind of the objects known, necessarily it becomes able to know its own general principles. On the contrary, when it is not of the same kind it cannot know itself. [I,20,3] For example, the art of shoemaking revolves around leather, but the art itself is totally far from the material “leather”. This is the reason why it is unable to know its general principles. [I,20,4] Again, the art of grammar revolves around written speech. But is it also written speech? Not at all. This is why it cannot know itself. [I,20,5] Therefore for what purpose has reason been assumed by nature? For the use as it must be of the impressions. And what is reason itself? A system of impressions of a certain kind: so reason becomes by nature able to know its own general principles too. [I,20,6] Again, prudence has come to us in order to know what? Things good, evil and the oudeterous ones. And what is prudence itself? A good. What is imprudence? An evil. Do you see, then, that prudence necessarily becomes able to know the general principles both of itself and of its opposite?

We need to evaluate and distinguish the impressions more accurately than the coins (7-11)

[I,20,7] Therefore, the greatest and first work of the philosopher is to evaluate the impressions, to distinguish them and to furnish none of them unevaluated. [I,20,8] You see in the subject of coinage, where we think something to be there for us, how we have even invented an art; and how many means the assayer exploits for the evaluation of the coinage: sight, touch, smelling and by last hearing. [I,20,9] He casts down the denarius and pays attention to the noise, and is not content with testing its noise once but, as a result of his extreme attention, he becomes a musician. [I,20,10] Thus, where we think that to err differs from not erring, here we bring in much attention to distinguish what can mislead us; [I,20,11] while over our paltry ruling principle we gape and sleep, accepting heedlessly every impression: for in this case no penalty befalls us!

‘Substance of the good is the use as it must be of the impressions’: this is something easy to say, but less easy to understand and practice (12-19)

[I,20,12] When you want, then, to recognize how heedless you are about good and evil things and diligent, on the contrary, about what is indifferent; reflect upon how you stand towards being blinded and towards being deceived. You will recognize that you are far away from having experienced what one ought to experience about things good and things evil. [I,20,13] “But this needs much preparation, much toil and lessons”. What then? Do you hope it possible to acquire the greatest art in a short time? [I,20,14] And yet the cardinal doctrine of the philosophers is very short. If you want to recognize this, read Zeno and you will see. [I,20,15] For what is there lengthy in saying: “The end is to stay in the company of gods; substance of the good is the use as it must be of the impressions”? [I,20,16] Say: “What is, then, god and what is impression? And what is the nature of the “particular” and what is nature of the “whole”?” [I,20,17] It’s already a long statement. If moreover Epicurus comes and says that the good must be in the flesh, again the explanation becomes lengthy and it is necessary to hear what is cardinal for us, and what is basic and substantial. Since it’s unlikely that the good of a snail lies in its shell, is it likely that the good of a man lies in his flesh? [I,20,18] You yourself, Epicurus, what do you have more dominant? What is the thing within you that takes counsel, examines each thing, decrees about the flesh itself that it is cardinal? [I,20,19] And why do you light a lamp and toil for us and write so large books? Is it that we may not ignore the truth? Who are we? And what are we to you? And so the discourse becomes a long one.


On being admired by whom? (1-4)

[I,21,1] When a man has in life the station that one must have, he is not all agape for outside things. [I,21,2] You sir, what is it you want to happen to you? I am content if I desire and avert in accord with

the nature of things; if I use impulse and repulsion as I have been born to do; and similarly employ purpose, design and assent. Why, then, do you strut before us as you had gulped down a spit? [I,21,3] “I wish that those who meet me would admire me and follow me yelling: ‘O the great philosopher!’” [I,21,4] Who are these people by whom you want to be admired? Are not these the fellows whom you use to say that they are mad? What then? Do you want to be admired by mad people?


We all have identical preconceptions of good and evil. The contrast between us arises during the application of our preconceptions to particular cases (1-4)

[I,22,1] Preconceptions are common to us all, and preconception does not contradict preconception. For who among us does not state that the good is useful and to be chosen, and that in every circumstance one must go in quest of it and pursue it? Who among us does not state that what is just is beautiful and fitting? When does, then, the contrast arise? [I,22,2] In the adaptation of our preconceptions to the particular substances and cases, [I,22,3] when one person says: “He did it well, he is brave”, and another: “No, he is insane”. Thence arises the people’s contrast with one another. [I,22,4] This is the contrast of Jews, Syrians, Egyptians and Romans; not over the issue that what is holy has to be honoured above everything else and closely pursued in every circumstance, but whether it is holy or unholy to eat swine.

The contrast between Agamemnon and Achilles (5-8)

[I,22,5] This is the contrast you will find between Agamemnon and Achilles too. Call them here in our midst. What do you say, Agamemnon? Ought it not to happen what it ought to and it is well? “It ought to indeed”. [I,22,6] And what do you say, Achilles? Are you not pleased that what is well happens? “It pleases me indeed most of all”. Adapt, then, your preconceptions. [I,22,7] From here the contrast begins. One says: “It is not compulsory that I give back Chryseis to his father”. The other says: “You ought indeed”. One of the two is adapting very badly the preconception of ‘what one ought to do’. [I,22,8] Again one says: “Then, if I must give back Chryseis, I must also take the war’s prize of some of you”. And the other: “Would you take my beloved?” “Yours”, the first says. “I only, then…?” “And shall I be the only one not to have…?” So the contrast arises.

If our preconceptions of good and evil are natural and are the same for all, their application is nevertheless a cultural issue that is closely linked to the use of diairesis and of counterdiairesis (9-16)

[I,22,9] What does it mean, then, to train ourselves to diairesize? It means learning to adapt our natural preconceptions to the particular substances and cases in a way appropriate to the nature of things and, well then, to discriminate [I,22,10] that, among things, some are in our exclusive power while others are not in our exclusive power. In our exclusive power are proairesis and all the works of proairesis; not in our exclusive power are the body, the parts of the body, estate, parents, brothers, offspring, fatherland, in short our mates. [I,22,11] Where, then, shall we set the good? To what substance shall we adapt it? To what is in our exclusive power. [I,22,12] -And then is not the body’s health, body’s soundness, life itself something good? Not even offspring, or parents, or fatherland? Who will tolerate you, if you say this? [I,22,13] Let’s, then, transpose again the good here. Is it feasible for a person to be happy, if he is damaged and fails the good? -It is not feasible- Is it feasible for him to keep towards his mates the conduct that one ought? And how is it feasible? For I have been born to attain what is useful to me. [I,22,14] If it is useful to me to have a land, it’s useful also to take it off from people nearby me. If it is useful to me to have a robe, it’s useful to me also to steal it from a bath. This is the source of wars, conflicts, tyrannies and plots. [I,22,15] And how shall I any longer be able to perform my proper deed towards Zeus? For if I am damaged and misfortuned, Zeus does not turn His mind towards me. “What

is there, then, between me and Zeus, if He cannot help me?” And again “What is there between me and Zeus, if He disposes that I be in the evil in which I am?” Well then, I begin to hate Him. [I,22,16] Why, then, do we make temples, why do we make statues to Gods as evil genes, to Zeus as to a Fever’s God? And how can He any longer be Saviour, Rainmaker, Fruitgiver? If, indeed, we set somewhere here, in what is aproairetic, the substance of the good, all these things follow.

The inability to play as one ought with the diairesis has become a mass inability and people mock you. Very well! And so? And then? (17-21)

[I,22,17] What, then, shall we do? This is the inquiry of the man who indeed philosophises and is in labour of thought. Now I see what the good is and what the evil is. I am not mad. [I,22,18] Yes, but if I set the good somewhere here, in what is proairetic, all people will mock me. Some old hoary fellow with many golden rings will come along and, after shaking his head, will say: “Listen, my offspring: one ought to philosophise, but one ought also to keep one’s brain: these are stupid things. [I,22,19] You learn the syllogism from the philosophers, but you know better than the philosophers what you must do”. [I,22,20] You sir, then, why do you reproach me if I know it? What should I say to this slave? [I,22,21] If I hold my tongue, he bursts open. So I must say: “Forgive me as you would forgive lovers: I am not master of myself, I am mad”.


Amazed at the way he sees human beings raise their children and engage in petty politics, Epicurus seems to decree that men too will have no children and will not engage in politics (1-10)

[I,23,1] Epicurus also has the notion that we are by nature sociable beings, but once he has set our good in the shell he can say nothing else. [I,23,2] For, again, he very firmly holds the principle that one must neither admire nor approve anything that is torn away from the substance of the good; and he does well in holding it firmly. [I,23,3] How, then, are we still sociable beings if we don’t have natural affection for our progeny? Why do you dissuade the wise man from raising offspring? [I,23,4] Why do you fear that he runs into tribulations because of them? Do you run into them because of your Little- Mouse, the one fed inside your home? What does the wise man care, if in his home the small slave Little-Mouse laments before him? [I,23,5] On the contrary he knows that, once a child is born, it is no longer in our power not to cherish and not to worry about him. [I,23,6] For this reason Epicurus says that he who has a sound mind will not engage in city’s business: for he knows what he who engages in city’s business has to do. But since you are going to conduct yourself as among flies, what prevents you? [I,23,7] And yet, knowing this he dares to say: “Let’s not raise offspring”. But a sheep does not desert its progeny, nor a wolf does; and a man deserts his one? What do you want? [I,23,8] That we are stupid as sheep are? But not even those desert their progeny. That we are bestial as wolves are? [I,23,9] But not even those desert their progeny. Come on, who obeys you when he sees his child fallen on the ground and crying? [I,23,10] I think that your mother and your father, even if they had divined that you were going to say this, would not have exposed you!


Let’s not fool ourselves, thinking of being different from what we are (1-2)

[I,24,1] It is the difficult circumstances that show what men are. Well then, when you run into a difficult circumstance, remember that Zeus, like a physical trainer, has matched you with a harsh lad. [I,24,2] -What for? someone says- So that you may become an Olympic victor; and this does not happen apart from sweat. I think that nobody has had a difficult circumstance better than the one you

have got, if only you dispose to use it as an athlete uses that lad.

Whom shall we send in the world as a scout? Shall we send a coward? (3-5)

[I,24,3] And now we send you to Rome as a scout. Nobody sends a cowardly scout, that if he only hears a noise and sees a shadow anywhere, he may come running and disconcerted to say that the enemy is already present. [I,24,4] So now also, if you come and tell us “Things in Rome are frightful: terrible is death, terrible is exile, terrible is revilement, terrible is poverty in money; [I,24,5] flee, sirs, the enemy is there”; we will tell you: “Depart, divine to yourself. We aberrated in this thing only: in sending a scout like you”.

A right scout: Diogenes (6-10)

[I,24,6] Diogenes, who was dispatched as a scout before you, has given us different reports. He says that death is not an evil, for it is not a shameful thing either. He says that ill reputation is a noise made by mad people. [I,24,7] And what sort of words this scout has said about pain, about physical pleasure, about poverty in money! He says that to be naked is better than any purple-edged robe. He says that to sleep on the bare ground is the softest couch. [I,24,8] And he brings forth as a demonstration of each report his own courage, his undisconcertment, his freedom, and then his gleaming and hardened body. [I,24,9] “No enemy”, he says, “is near, all is full of peace. “How so, Diogenes? “Look”, he says, “have I been hit with a missile, have I been wounded, have I fled from anyone?” [I,24,10] This is a scout of the sort one has to be! But you come and say one thing after another. Will you not depart again, and look more precisely and apart from cowardice?

Is it so difficult to recognize what is in our exclusive power and not to claim what is not ours? (11-15)

[I,24,11] What am I, then, to do? What do you do when you quit a vessel? Do you pick up the rudder, or the oars? What, then, do you pick up? What is yours: the oil-flask, the knapsack. So now, if you are mindful of what is yours, you will never lay claim to what is another’s. [I,24,12] The tyrant tells you “Lay aside the laticlave”. Behold my angusticlave. “Lay aside this too”. Behold my robe alone. “Lay aside the robe”. Behold, I am naked. [I,24,13] “But you stir my envy”. Take therefore the whole body. Do I still fear the person to whom I can hurl my body? [I,24,14] But he will not leave me behind as his heir. What then? Did I forget that none of these things was mine? How, then, do we call them ‘ours’? As the mattress in the inn if the innkeeper, when he dies, leaves behind the mattresses for you. But if they are for some other fellow, he will have them and you will seek another bed. [I,24,15] And if you don’t find one, you will lull on the ground. Only do it confidently and snore, mindful that the tragedies have their place among people wealthy in money, and among kings and tyrants, while no one who lacks money fulfils a tragedy except as a chorus-singer.

For people who are driven by counterdiairesis, it is structurally impossible to recognize what is in our exclusive power and not to lay claim on what is another’s (16-20)

[I,24,16] The kings begin in a fine and prosperous state: “Wreath the halls”; and then, about the third or fourth act, they say: “Alas, Cithaeron, why did you receive me?”. [I,24,17] Slave! Where are your crowns, where is your diadem? [I,24,18] Are your bodyguards of no more use to you? When, then, you approach one of those people, remember these words, that you come to a tragic figure, not to the actor but to Oedipus himself. [I,24,19] “Blessed So-and-so, for he strolls with many!” I too I draw myself up with the multitude and stroll with many! [I,24,20] But the capital point is this: remember that the door is open. Do not become more cowardly than the children, but like they say, when the thing does not please them “I’ll no longer play”; you also, when things appear to you to have reached that stage, say “I’ll no longer play”, and walk away. But if you stay, do not moan.


Don’t say that you are ignorant of what is in your exclusive power: who can steal your loyalty, your honesty? When, then, you aim at something that is not yours as if it were yours, look at what happens: you have lost yourself (1-6)

[I,25,1] If this is true and we are neither slacking nor merely playing a part when we say that man’s good and evil are in proairesis while all the rest is nothing to us; why are we still disconcerted, why do we still fear? [I,25,2] Over the things we are eager for, no one has power; the things over which others have power, we do not turn our mind towards. What trouble do we still have? [I,25,3] -But give me some directions!- What directions should I give you? Has not Zeus given them to you? Has He not given you what is your own unhampered and unimpeded and what is not your own, on the contrary, hampered and impeded? [I,25,4] With what directions, with what ordinance have you come from there? Keep in every way what is yours and do not aim at what is another’s. Faithfulness is yours, self respect is yours: who can take these things away from you? Who but yourself will prevent you from using them? And how do you hamper yourself? When you are eager for what is not yours, you lose what is yours. [I,25,5] Having such suggestions and directions from Zeus, what kind of suggestions and directions do you still want from me? Am I better than Zeus, or trustworthier? [I,25,6] If you keep these, are you in need of any other? Has He not given these directions? Bring your preconceptions, bring the demonstrations of the philosophers, bring what you often heard, bring what you said yourself, bring what you read, bring what you studied.

But you can, you must and it’s unavoidable for you to be involved with things that are not yours. And as long as you are careful not to confuse the two levels, that is as long as the game is well played, what a reason do you have for refusing to play it? (7-13)

[I,25,7] How long, then, is it well to keep these directions and not to break up the game? [I,25,8] As long as one can enjoy himself smartly. At the Saturnalia a king has been chosen by lot, for we thought it smart to play this game. The king enjoins: “You drink, you mingle, you sing, you depart, you come”. I heed, so that the game is not broken up on my account. [I,25,9] “You, conceive that you are in an evil plight”. I do not conceive it; and who will constrain me to conceive it? [I,25,10] Again we agreed to play the quarrel of Agamemnon and Achilles. The one appointed Agamemnon says to me: “Go to Achilles and drag away Briseis”. [I,25,11] I go. “Come”. I come. For as we conduct ourselves in hypothetical arguments, so we must do in life also. “Let it be night”. Let it be. “What then? Is it day?” [I,25,12] No, for I took the hypothesis that it was night. “Let it be that you conceive that it is night”. Let it be. “But conceive also that it is night”. [I,25,13] This does not follow from the hypothesis. So also here. “Let it be that you have ill fortune”. Let it be. “Are you, then, misfortuned?” Yes. “What then? Are you unhappy?” Yes. “But conceive to be also in an evil plight”. This does not follow from the hypothesis, and another prevents me.

The game is no longer fairly played when its rules are broken: that is when, in order to play it, you should lose what is yours (14-25)

[I,25,14] How long, then, must we heed to such directions? As long as it is advantageous, that is as long as I safeguard what is fitting and appropriate to me. [I,25,15] Well then, there are very harsh and stomach weak people who say “I cannot dine with this fellow, if I have to tolerate his exposing every day how he waged war in Mysia: ‘I exposed you, brother, how I climbed upon the crest of the hill…; and I begin to be besieged again’ “. [I,25,16] Another says “I’d rather want to dine, and hear him babbling all he wants”. [I,25,17] It’s your business to compare the value of these choices: only do nothing as a fellow weighed down or oppressed or conceiving to be in an evil plight, for no one constrains you to do this. [I,25,18] Has someone made smoke in the room? If the amount is moderate, I shall stay; if it’s too much, I go out. For one has to remember and hold firmly that the door is open.

[I,25,19] But someone says: “Do not dwell in Nicopolis”. I do not dwell. “Nor in Athens”. Nor in Athens. “Nor in Rome”. Nor in Rome. [I,25,20] “Dwell in Gyara!” I dwell there. But dwelling in Gyara appears to me like too much smoke in the room. I retire where no one will prevent me from dwelling; [I,25,21] for that dwelling is open to all. As for the last garment, that is the body, higher than this no one is in power over me. [I,25,22] That is why Demetrius said to Nero: “You threaten me with death, but the nature of things threatens you”. [I,25,23] If I become infatuated with my body, I have committed myself as a servant. If I do the same with my estate, I have given myself away as a servant. [I,25,24] For straightaway I display against myself what I can be captured by. As in the case of a snake, if it contracts its head I say “Strike what it guards”; you also must recognize that your lord will set his foot upon what you want to guard. [I,25,25] Mindful of this, whom will you still flatter or fear?

Anyway remember that if you lose what is yours, your judgements and not other people or the circumstances have reduced you in such a bad state. Do you think this to be a paradox? Analyse the question well enough and you will see that this is the Truth (26-33)

[I,25,26] -But I want to sit where the senators do!- Don’t you see that you are providing yourself with distresses, that you oppress yourself? [I,25,27] -How else shall I see well the spectacles in the amphitheatre?- You sir, do not be a spectator and you will not oppress yourself. Why do you have troubles? Or wait a little and when the spectacle is over, sit down in the senator’s places and sun yourself. [I,25,28] In general remember that we oppress ourselves, we distress ourselves; that is, our judgements oppress and distress us. [I,25,29] Since what is “to be reviled”? Stand by side of a stone and revile it. And what will you do? If, then, one hears like a stone, what is the avail of it for the reviler? But if the reviler has the weakness of the reviled person as a gangway, then he accomplishes something. [I,25,30] “Disrobe him!” Why do you say ‘him’? “Take his robe, disrobe him!” [I,25,31] “I have outraged you!” Much good may it do you! This is what Socrates studied, for this reason he always had only one personality. On the contrary, we want to exercise and study anything rather than how to be unimpeded and free. [I,25,32] “The philosophers tell paradoxes”. And are there not paradoxes in the other arts? What is more paradoxical than to prick someone’s eye in order that he may see? If one said this to a person unskilled in medicine, would he not mock the teller? [I,25,33] What is there amazing, then, if in philosophy also many of its truths appear paradoxical to unskilled people?


Some youths really study in order that they may live well… (1-7)

[I,26,1] As someone was reading the hypothetical arguments, Epictetus said: This also is a law of the hypothetical arguments, that we accept what follows from the hypothesis. And before all else, it is the law of life that we perform what follows from the nature of things. [I,26,2] For if we decide, on every subject matter and in every circumstance, to keep ourselves in accord with the nature of things, it’s plain that in everything we must make a point of neither escaping what is consequent with it nor accepting what contradicts it. [I,26,3] The philosophers, then, train us first in the knowledge of general principles, where this is easier, and then lead us to the more arduous cases. For here, at school, there is nothing to drag us back from following what is taught, but in the life’s cases we are distracted on many grounds. [I,26,4] He is ridiculous, then, who says that he wants in the first place to begin with these latter, for it is not easy to begin with the more arduous cases. [I,26,5] This is the account that one ought to present to those parents who are vexed because their offspring study philosophy: “Then I aberr, father, and I don’t know what is incumbent upon and befits me. But if this can neither be learned nor taught, why do you bring charges to me? If it can be taught, teach me; and if you cannot, let me learn it from those who say to know. [I,26,6] Since, what do you think? That I gladly stumble on evil things and fail the good ones? Far from it! What is, then, the cause of my aberring? Ignorance. [I,26,7] Don’t you want me to put away my ignorance? To whom did anger ever teach the art of steering, or music? And

do you think that I’ll learn the art of living thanks to your anger?”

…while others use philosophy only for literary displays at drinking-parties (8-12)

[I,26,8] Only he who has brought forth such a design is in power of saying this. [I,26,9] But if one reads these hypothetical arguments and comes to the philosophers only because he wants to show off at a drinking-party that he knows them, what else is he performing but trying to get the admiration of some senator who lies down beside him? [I,26,10] For indeed the great money is there, in Rome, and the riches of here, of Nicopolis, look to them like mere toys. For this reason it is difficult to hold firmly our impressions there, where great is what shakes them off. [I,26,11] I know someone who cried as he clasped Epaphroditus’ knees, and said that he was in misery, for nothing but one million and a half sesterces had been left to him. [I,26,12] What, then, did Epaphroditus do? Did he mock him, as you are doing? No, but he was astonished and said: “Wretched fellow, how did you keep silent, how did you endure it?”

The importance of understanding the state of our ruling principle, of the dominant part of our soul (13-18)

[I,26,13] Having so disconcerted the student who was reading the hypothetical arguments and as the one who suggested the reading laughed, Epictetus said: “You mock yourself. You did not train the lad beforehand nor recognized if he can understand these arguments, but you use him as a mere reader”. [I,26,14] Why then, he added, do we entrust praise, censure, decrees on what happens well or badly to an intellect unable to understand the meaning of a coordinate clause? And if such a person speaks ill of another, will a man turn his mind towards him? And if he praises another, will the latter be elated? When the person who blames or praises is unable to find the logical consequences in things so trivial as the coordinate clauses? [I,26,15] This, then, is the foundation of philosophy: the sensation of how our own ruling principle stands; for after we recognize that it is weak, we will no longer use it for great things. [I,26,16] Now, some people are unable to gulp down a morsel, and nevertheless buy a whole treatise and design to eat it. For this reason they vomit or suffer from indigestion; and after that colics, fluxes and fevers follow. [I,26,17] They ought first to reflect upon their capacity, and see whether they can do what they plan. In the field of the knowledge of general principles, it is easy to confute the person who does not know them, but in the business of life no one submits himself to a control and we hate the person who confutes us. [I,26,18] But Socrates used to tell us not to live an unexamined life.


What to do in case of impressions that disturb us (1-6)

[I,27,1] The impressions happen to us in four ways: for either some things are and so they appear; or they are not and they do not appear to be; or they are and they do not appear; or they are not and they appear to be. [I,27,2] Well then, it is the work of the man who has been trained to diairesize to hit the mark in all these cases. Whatever be the thing that oppresses us, against that we must bring the help. If to oppress us are the sophisms of Pyrrho and of the Academy, let’s bring the help against them. [I,27,3] If to oppress us is the persuasiveness of things, whereby certain of them appear goods when they are not, let’s seek there the help. If to oppress us is a habit, we must try to find out a help for that. [I,27,4] What remedy is it possible to find against a habit? The opposite habit. [I,27,5] You hear common people saying: “That wretched fellow, he died!”; “His father perished, and so did his mother!”; “He was cut off, moreover untimely and in a foreign land!”. [I,27,6] Listen to opposite discourses, drag yourself away from these speeches, set against a habit the opposite habit. Against sophistic discourses we must have ready at hand logic, training and a consummate skill in it; against the persuasiveness of things we

must have our preconceptions evident, polished, ready at hand.

Death and the fear of death (7-10)

[I,27,7] When death appears an evil, we must have ready at hand the argument that it is a proper deed to avert evil things and that death is necessary. [I,27,8] For what am I to do? Where am I to flee from it? Let me be Sarpedon, the son of Zeus, so that I can generously say: “In leaving home I dispose either to win the prize of valour myself or provide another with a motive to win it; if I cannot succeed in anything myself, I’ll not begrudge another to do something generous”. Let this be beyond us, but does not that fall within our reach? [I,27,9] And where am I to flee from death? Reveal me the country, reveal me the people to whom I may go, the people whom death does not throw itself upon, reveal me the magic charm against it. If I have none, what do you want me to do? I cannot escape death. [I,27,10] Should I not escape the fear of death, but should I die mourning and trembling?

The will: that repeated, stubborn, fatal counterdiairetic attitude of proairesis that brings forth passions (10-14)

For this is the begetting of passion: I want something and this something does not happen. [I,27,11] Thence, if I can transpose the external objects according to my decision, I transpose them. If I cannot, I want to blind the fellow who hinders me. [I,27,12] For it is man’s nature not to give in to being deprived of the good, not to give in to stumbling on the evil. [I,27,13] And then, at last, when I can neither transpose the things nor blind the one who hinders me, I sit and groan and revile whom I can, Zeus and the other Gods. For if they do not turn their mind towards me, what are they to me? [I,27,14] “Yes, but you will be impious”. What, then, will be for me worse than what I have now? On the whole, remember that if what is pious and what is useful do not coincide, what is pious cannot be safeguarded in any case. Do not these judgements seem urgent to you?

If, between an useful dishonesty and a disadvantageous integrity, dishonesty always prevails, the question is not one of casting doubts upon logic or upon our sensations, but that of correcting the error by which we think that dishonesty is useful and integrity is disadvantageous (15-21)

[I,27,15] Let a follower of Pyrrho or of the Academy come and oppose me. I, on my part, have no leisure for these things nor I can plead the cause of customary usage. [I,27,16] Also if I had some trouble for a bit of land, I would have called in someone to plead my cause. [I,27,17] What am I, then, content with, regarding this topic? How indeed the sensation happens, whether through the whole or from a part, equally I don’t know how to give an answer, and both views disconcert me. But that you and I are not the same person, this I know very precisely. [I,27,18] Whence this? When I dispose to gulp down something, I never bring the morsel in that place but hither; when I dispose to take bread I never take a broom, but I always come to the bread as to a target. [I,27,19] And you yourselves who abolish the sensations, what else do you do? Who among you, when he wants to go to a bath, goes to a mill instead? [I,27,20] -What then? Ought one not do his best to hold fast to this too, to keep the customary usages and to fortify himself against the arguments that threaten them?- [I,27,21] And who objects to this statement? Only the person who can, who has the leisure for it. While the person who trembles, who is disconcerted, whose hearth is broken from within, must devote his leisure to something else.


The Socratic intellectualism is put to Medea’s test (1-9)

[I,28,1] What is cause of assenting to something? The fact that the thing appears to be there. [I,28,2] It

is impossible, then, to assent to what does not appear to be there. Why? Because this is the nature of the intellect: to nod to the truth, to be ill pleased with the false, to suspend judgement in doubtful cases. [I,28,3] What guarantee do we have of this? “Experience, if you can, that now it’s night”. It is not possible. “Do not experience that it is day”. It is not possible. “Either experience or do not experience that the stars are even in number”. It is not possible. [I,28,4] When, therefore, a person assents to the false, know that he did not dispose to assent to the false; for every soul unwillingly dispossesses itself of the truth, as Plato says, [I,28,5] but that he thought the false to be true. Come on, and in the sphere of our actions what do we have corresponding to the true and the false? We have the proper and not proper deed, the useful and the useless, the according to me and the not according to me and whatever is similar to these criteria. [I,28,6] “Can someone, then, think something useful for him and not choose it?” He cannot. [I,28,7] As she who says —*I know what evils I am going to do, but my wrath is stronger than my resolutions*— says this because she believes more useful to gratify her wrath and take vengeance on her husband than to save her offspring. [I,28,8] “Yes, but she is deceived”. Show her with evidence that she is deceived and she will not do that; but till you do not show it, what can she follow but what appears true to her? Nothing. [I,28,9] Why, then, are you embittered against her? Because the paltry lady has erred on the greatest issues and instead of a human being has become a viper? Why do you not, if anything, pity her? As we pity the blind and the lame, why do we not pity those who have been made blind and lame in their dominating faculty?

The Socratic intellectualism is put to Menelaus’ test (10-13)

[I,28,10] Whoever, then, remembers purely this: that the measure of every action is, for the human being, what appears to him (well then, this impression appears to him rightly or wrongly: if rightly, the man is blameless; if wrongly, the person has penalised himself; for it cannot be that a person has erred and another person is the damaged one); whoever remembers this, I say, will not get angry with anyone, will not be embittered against anyone, will not revile anyone, will not blame anyone, will not hate, will not offend anyone. [I,28,11] So do you mean that also great and terrible works have this foundation: what appears? This and nothing else. [I,28,12] The Iliad is nothing else but impression and use of impressions. It appeared well to Alexander to carry off Menelaus’ wife and it appeared well to Helen to follow him. [I,28,13] If, then, it had appeared to Menelaus that the experience of being dispossessed of such a wife was a gain, what would have happened? Not only the Iliad but also the Odyssey would have been lost.

The Socratic intellectualism is put to the test of the death, slaughter, annihilation of human beings and of ants (14-18)

[I,28,14] Have so important things, then, depended on so small a business? What things do you say that are so important? Wars, conflicts, loss of many people and destruction of towns? And what is great about these events? [I,28,15] -Nothing?- What is great about the death of many oxen and many sheep and about the fact that many nests of swallows or storks are set to fire and destroyed? [I,28,16] -Are these events, then, similar to those?- Very similar. Bodies of human beings perished in one case, and bodies of oxen and of sheep in the other. Small rooms of human beings were set to fire in one case, and nests of storks in the other. [I,28,17] What is great or terrible about that? Or show me in what they differ, as dwelling, the home of a man and the nest of a stork. [I,28,18] -Stork and man, then, are similar?- What do you say? As far as the body is concerned they are very similar; except that in one case the small homes are built with beams and tiles and bricks, in the other with sticks and clay.

Where is, then, the difference between a human being and an ant? The difference lays in the information written in their DNAs, by which the ant is a structurally aproairetic creature while only the human being finds itself to be a proairetic creature (19-21)

[I,28,19] -Does a man, then, differ in no wise from a stork?- Far from it, but in this respect he does not differ. -In what, then, does he differ?- [I,28,20] Seek and you will find that he differs in some other

respect. See whether it is not in understanding what he does, see if it is not in his sociability, in his faithfulness, in his self respect, in his safety in the use of impressions, in his sagacity. [I,28,21] Where are, then, the great good and the great evil among men? Where the difference lies. If this difference is safeguarded and stays well bulwarked and neither self respect nor faithfulness nor sagacity is ruined, then also the man is saved. But if any of these differences is lost and forced to surrender, then the man also perishes.

The annihilation of Socratic intellectualism, the upsetting of the right judgements of the proairesis, the mass inability to play with diairesis: this is the true, imposing and terrific failure of mankind (22-27)

[I,28,22] The great things lie in this difference. Did Alexander make his big false step when the Greeks attacked with their ships and ravaged Troy and when his brothers perished? [I,28,23] Not at all. No one makes a false step because of another’s deed. Then mere storks’ nests were ravaged. His false step was when he lost his self respect, his faithfulness, his respect of the rules of hospitality and, in a word, the decent man. [I,28,24] When did Achilles made his false step? When Patroclus died? Far from it, but when he got angry, when he cried for a wench, when he forgot that he was present there not to get for himself beloved damsels but to wage war. [I,28,25] These are the human false steps, this is the siege and this is the destruction: when the right judgements are crushed, when those differences are ruined. [I,28,26] -When our ladies, then, are led away and our children are taken prisoners and people are slaughtered, are not these things evils?- [I,28,27] Whence do you further presume this? Teach me too! – No; but whence do you say that these are not evils?-

The terror balance among human beings (28-33)

[I,28,28] Let’s come to the canons, bring your preconceptions. For this reason I cannot be sufficiently amazed at what happens. When we dispose to determine weights, we do not judge at random. [I,28,29] When the issue is about straight and crooked lines, we do not judge at random. In short, where it makes a difference for us to recognize what is true in a topic, no one of us will ever do anything at random. [I,28,30] Yet where there is the first and only cause of our being successful or of aberrating, of being serene or not serene, misfortunate or fortunate, here only we are rash and reckless. Nowhere anything similar to a scale, nowhere anything similar to a standard, but something appears to me and I do it straightaway. [I,28,31] Am I better than Agamemnon or Achilles? Following what appears to them they do and experience such evils, while is the mere appearance of anything sufficient to me? [I,28,32] And what tragedy has any other foundation than this? What is the Atreus of Euripides? What appears to Atreus. What is the Oedipus of Sophocles? What appears to Oedipus. [I,28,33] The Phoenix? What appears to him. The Hippolytus? What appears to him. To take no care at all of this, whose do you think it typical? How are those people called who in every circumstance follow what appears to them? – Mad men- Do we do, then, anything else?


We can get goods and evils only out of ourselves. They are, indeed, a certain attitude of our proairesis (1-8)

[I,29,1] Substance of the good is a proairesis of a certain kind; of the evil, is a proairesis of a certain kind. [I,29,2] What are, then, the external objects? Subject matters to the proairesis, dealing with which it hits the centre of it’s own good or evil. [I,29,3] How will our proairesis hit the mark of its good? If it does not become infatuated with the subject matters. For the judgements on subject matters, if they are right make the proairesis good; if they are crooked and perverted make it evil. [I,29,4] Matter Immortal has set this law and says: “If you dispose some good, take it from yourself”. You say “No, but from

another”. No, but from yourself. [I,29,5] Well then, when the tyrant threatens and calls me in judgement I say: “What does he threaten?”. If he says: “I’ll fetter you!”, I say: “He threatens my hands and my feet”. [I,29,6] If he says: “I’ll cut off your neck!”, I say: “He threatens my neck”. If he says: “I’ll throw you in prison!”, “He threatens my whole flesh”; and if he threatens banishment, the same. [I,29,7] -Does nothing, then, threaten you?- If I experience that these things are nothing to me, nothing. [I,29,8] If instead I fear any of these, they threaten me. Well then, whom do I dread? The tyrant who is Lord of what? Of what is in my exclusive power? But no one is. Of what is not in my exclusive power? And what do I care of that?

Nothing can overcome proairesis: proairesis only can overcome itself. Thus the kings, or their ministers, can rule over the assets of their subjects, but not over their judgements (9-15)

[I,29,9] -Do you philosophers, then, teach us to despise the kings?- Far from it. Who among us teaches to lay claim, against them, to what is in their power? [I,29,10] Take my body, take my estate, take my fame and take those who are around me. If I convince any to lay claim to these things, indeed let him bring charges to me. [I,29,11] “Yes, but I want to rule over your judgements too”. And who has given you this power? How can you overcome another’s judgement? [I,29,12] “Bringing fear upon him”, he says, “I shall overcome him”. You ignore that the judgement overcame itself and was not overcome from something else; nothing else can overcome proairesis except it itself. [I,29,13] For this reason the law of Zeus is the most powerful and the most just: let the best always prevail over the worst. [I,29,14] “Ten are better than one”. For what? For fettering, for killing, for leading away where they want, for subtracting our possessions. Therefore ten overcome one, in what they are best. [I,29,15] In what are they worst? If the one has right judgements and the ten have not. What then? Can they overcome in this? Whence? If we are weighed in a scale, must not the heavier thing drag down the scales?

What Socrates lost and what his killers won (16-21)

[I,29,16] -So that a Socrates may experience what he did at the hands of the Athenians?- Slave, why do you say “Socrates”? Say things as they are: so that the body of Socrates may be carried off and haled into prison by stronger people; so that someone may give hemlock to the body of Socrates and so that it may grow cold. [I,29,17] Does this appear to you amazing, unjust? For this reason do you bring charges to Zeus? Had Socrates, then, nothing in exchange for this? [I,29,18] Where was the substance of the good for him? To whom must we pay attention? To you or to him? What does he say? “Anytus and Meletus can kill me but they cannot damage me”. And again: “If so is pleasing to Zeus, so let it be”. [I,29,19] Show me that he who has worse judgements masters the one who is better than him in judgements. You will not show it; no, nor you will even come near to show it. For the law of the nature and of Zeus is this: let the best always prevail over the worst. In what? In that in which it’s best. [I,29,20] One body is stronger than another body; the mass than the one; the thief than the man who is not a thief. [I,29,21] And for this reason I lost my lamp, because the thief was better than me in staying awake. But he purchased a lamp to such a price: in exchange for a lamp he became a thief, in exchange for a lamp he became faithless, in exchange for a lamp he became a bestial person. And this seemed to him to be advantageous!

Where you are better than I am, I’ll do what you tell me to do (22-27)

[I,29,22] Let it be; but someone has taken me by my robe and drags me towards the market place and then others yell: “Philosopher, of what use have been to you your judgements? Look, you are haled into prison; look, you are going to have your neck cut off!” [I,29,23] And what kind of “Introduction to philosophy” should I have performed, so as not to be haled if one stronger than me lays hold of my robe? So as not to be thrown in prison if ten people hustle me and throw me in? [I,29,24] Did I learn, then, nothing else? I learned to see that all that happens, if it be aproairetic, is nothing to me. [I,29,25] – And in the present case do you not benefit from this? Why, then, do you seek your benefit in anything

other that what you learned?- [I,29,26] Well then, I sit in prison and say “The fellow who cries aloud these things neither realises what his words mean nor understands what is said nor did he care at all to know what philosophers say or what they do. Let him be!” [I,29,27] “But come out of the prison again”. If you have no further need of me in prison, I come out; if you need me again, I’ll enter it again.

For how long? As long as reason will choose this way (28-29)

[I,29,28] For how long? As long as reason chooses that I be with my body. When reason does not choose this, take the body and be healthy. [I,29,29] Only don’t give up your life unreasonably, loosely, for a casual pretext. For Zeus does not decide again: He needs such a world, such inhabitants of the earth. And if He gives the signal for the retreat, as He did to Socrates, one must obey the signal-giver as a general.

Some people like to have as their goal in life that of getting blood out of a stone and of making donkeys fly (30-32)

[I,29,30] -What then? Must one say these things to the multitude?- [I,29,31] To what end? Is it not sufficient to obey the general? To the children, when they come to us clapping their hands and say: “Today is the good Saturnalia!”; do we say: “The Saturnalia is not good”? Not at all, but we also applaud. [I,29,32] Therefore you too, if you are unable to persuade a human being to change his mind, recognize that he is a child and applaud him. If you do not dispose this, well then, be silent.

The right moment has come. Recognize it and enter the contest (33-34)

[I,29,33] We ought to remember these things, and the one who is called to meet some difficult circumstance must know that the right time has come to demonstrate if we have been trained to diairesize. [I,29,34] For, a young who from the school goes away to meet a difficult circumstance is similar to the one who has studied to resolve the syllogisms and who, when one propounds him a syllogism that is easy to untie, says: “Rather propound me one that is smartly twined, so that I may train”. Also the athletes are ill pleased at light lads: “He does not bear me”, they say.

Don’t say: “I must still learn..”. (35-38)

[I,29,35] “This young is a thoroughbred”. No, but when the right time calls one must cry and say: “I still want to learn!” What? If you did not learn these things so as to show them in practice, what did you learn them for? [I,29,36] I think that someone among those who sit here is in labour of thought and says to himself: “Why doesn’t a difficult circumstance like the one that has come to this fellow, come to me now! Am I to be worn out sitting in a corner, when I might be crowned at Olympia? When will someone announce me such a contest?” So should all of us feel. [I,29,37] Among the gladiators of Caesar there are some who are vexed because no one promotes nor pairs them; and they pray God and come to the trustees and entreat them that they may fight one on one. And no one of you will appear so disposed? [I,29,38] For this very reason I would like to sail and see what my athlete is doing, how he studies his hypothesis.

Don’t say: “I don’t want this contest, I want a different one..”. (39-43)

[I,29,39] “I don’t want”, he says, “such a hypothesis”. Is it in your exclusive power to take the hypothesis that you want? You have been given such a body, such parents, such brothers, such fatherland and such a position in it. Then you come to me and say “Change the premises for me!”. Don’t you have resources, then, to use what is given? [I,29,40] It is yours to propound; mine to study well the case. No, but “Do not put forth to me such a proposition but such other one; do not infer such an inference but such other one”. [I,29,41] There will probably be a time when the singers will think that they are their masks, buskins and long train. You sir, you have this as subject matter and

premises. [I,29,42] Utter something, so that we may know if you are a singer or a buffoon: for both have the other things in common. [I,29,43] For this reason if one takes off his buskins and mask and promotes him on the stage in his normal appearance, is the singer lost or does he remain? If he has a wonderful voice, he remains.

Man! Show us of what matter you are made! (44-49)

[I,29,44] Here too. “Take the leadership!” I take it and, once taken, I show how a man who has been trained to diairesize deals with this business. [I,29,45] “Lay aside the laticlave, put on rags and come to me in such a guise!” What then? Has it not been given to me to bring in a wonderful voice? [I,29,46] “How, then, do you now mount the stage?” As a witness who has been called by Zeus. [I,29,47] “Come, you, and bear witness for Me. For you are worth to be promoted by Me as a witness. Is any of the objects external to proairesis either good or evil? Do I damage anyone? Did I make each person’s benefit in power of other people or in his exclusive power?” [I,29,48] What kind of witness do you bear for Matter Immortal? “I am in dire straits, Lord, and have ill fortune; no one turns his mind towards me, no one gives me anything, all censure me and speak ill of me”. [I,29,49] Is this the witness you are going to bear? Are you going to put to shame the call that Matter Immortal made to you, the fact that It honoured you of this honour and believed you worthy of being brought upon the stage for so important a witness?

In what account must we take the judgements of those people who believe to have power on what is aproairetic? (50-55)

[I,29,50] But he who has the power over you declares: “I judge you impious and profane “. What has happened to you? [I,29,51] “I was judged impious and profane”. Nothing else? “Nothing”. And if, upon a hypothetical proposition, he had decreed and given the declaration “I judge the proposition ‘if it’s day, there is light’ to be false” what would have happened to the hypothetical proposition? Who is here the judged one? Who has been condemned? The hypothetical proposition or the one who is deceived about it? [I,29,52] Who is he who has the power to declare anything about you? Does he know what the pious or the impious are? Has he studied that? Has he learned it? [I,29,53] Where? With whom? And yet a musician does not turn his mind towards him if he declares that the lowest string is the highest; nor does a geometrician, if he decrees that the segments that from the centre strike against the circumference are not equal. [I,29,54] And the one who has been indeed trained to diairesize will turn his mind towards a person uneducated to diairesize, who decrees something upon what is holy and what is unholy, upon what is unjust and what is just? [I,29,55] What an injustice on the part of those who have been trained to diairesize! Did you learn these things here?

Daguerreotype of an Academic teaching-staff (55)

Will you not leave the petty discourses upon these issues to others, to slothful pipsqueaks, so that they may sit still in a corner and get their petty fees or grumble that nobody provides them with nothing; and you instead come to use what you learned?

You, instead, make the diairesis be a living thing (56-58)

[I,29,56] For it is not the petty discourses that are lacking now. The books are full of petty stoic discourses. What is lacking, then? What is lacking is the man determined to use them, the man determined to bear witness to these discourses in practice. [I,29,57] Interpret this role for me, so that at school we may no longer use ancient paradigms but may have also a contemporary one. [I,29,58] And who can be an observer of these examples? The one who has leisure. For the human being is a creature that likes to be an observer.

The one who is using the counteridiairesis has some master; the one who has some master is troubled and unhappy; the one

who is troubled and unhappy is using the counterdiairesis (59-63)

[I,29,59] But it is shameful to be observers of these examples like runaway slaves. It is beautiful, instead, to sit without distraction and listen now to a singer, now to a citharist and not like those runaways do. At the very moment when he attends the performance and praises the singer, he looks around and then, if someone utters “lord”, at once they are agitated, they are disconcerted. [I,29,60] And it is shameful that philosophers also be spectators of the works of nature in this way. For, what is “lord”? A man is not lord of another man, but so are death and life, physical pleasure and pain. [I,29,61] Lead Caesar to me, but without these weapons. You will see how I am stable! Yet when he comes with these thunders and lightnings and I fear them, what else do I but recognize him as “lord”, as the runaway slave does? [I,29,62] As long as I have no truce from these threats, I too am acting like a runaway slave does in a theatre: I bathe, I drink, I sing; but I do all this in fear and hardship. [I,29,63] If however I set myself free from my masters, that is, from those things by which the masters are frightening, what kind of further trouble do I have, what kind of “lord” any more?

Can the mass inability to play correctly with diairesis make me troubled and unhappy? The example of Socrates (64-66)

[I,29,64] What then? Must one proclaim these truths to all? No, but we must be complaisant with common people and say: “This fellow also gives me the same advice he thinks good for himself: I forgive him”. [I,29,65] Socrates too, when he was about to drink the poison, forgave the jailer who cried and said: “How generously he has wept for us!” [I,29,66] Does he perhaps say to him: “For this reason we dismissed our ladies”? This he says to his acquaintance, to those who can hear it; but with the jailer he is complaisant like with a child.



You are facing an eminent person and at the same time you are facing your proairesis (1)

[I,30,1] When you go into the presence of some eminent person, remember that from above another too notices the events and that you must please this rather than that.

The proairesis’ examination (2-5)

[I,30,2] This, then, tries to know from you: ” At school, what did you call exile, prison, chains, death, ill reputation?” [I,30,3] “I called them indifferent things”. “Now, then, what do you call them? Have they perhaps changed?” “No”. “Did you, then, change?” “No”. “Tell, then, what is indifferent”. “What is aproairetic”. “Tell also the consequences”. “The aproairetic is nothing to me”. [I,30,4] “Tell also what things seemed to you to be goods”. “Proairesis and the use of impressions as it must be”. “And to what end?” “To follow you”. [I,30,5] “Do you say this even now?” “I say the same even now”. Well then, go inside confidently and mindful of these judgements, and you will see what is a young man who has studied what he ought, in the presence of people that have not studied.

The nothing of the fellow who thinks to have power over you (6-7)

[I,30,6] I fancy, by the gods, that you will experience something of this sort: “Why do we prepare ourselves so greatly and so much for what is nothing? [I,30,7] Was this the power? Were these the doorways, the chamberlains, the guards with the daggers? For this reason did I listen to so many discourses? They were nothing, and I prepared myself as though they were great things!”



As for me, may it happen that I am seized while nothing else I am taking care of but my proairesis, that it may be self-controlled, unhampered, unconstrained, free.



We know so few details about Epictetus’ life that the story is quickly told.
Epictetus lived between the second half of the first century and the first half of the second century a. C. He was a contemporary of Plutarch and of Tacitus.
In 69 a. C. he saw the burning of the Capitol in Rome. He was, at that time, more or less twenty years old.
Epictetus was born at Hierapolis, in Phrygia. Hierapolis is today in Turkey, and its new name is Pamukkale. The ruins of the ancient town are still there, on a magnificent plateau overlooking the Denizli valley, and are scattered around the most marvellous natural swimming pool of warm thermal waters that I have found in the world. Plunge into that water and you will understand, for example, that the Stoic precept is not one of ‘living in accord with nature’, simply because you will quickly realize that neither a stone, nor a vegetable, nor an animal, nor a man, and not even the worst criminal can live ‘against nature’. The Stoic precept is, instead, the one of ‘living in accord with the nature of things ’. And which is, then, the nature of things ? The nature of things is their essential bipartition in things that are in our exclusive power, the so called ‘proairetic things’; and things that are not in our exclusive power, the so called ‘aproairetic things’. In order to grasp the meaning of this basic and fundamental distinction, or ‘diairesis’, you must however abandon any assumption of already knowing it and any distrust in your ability to understand it. At this point it will be very useful for you to plunge into that warm water for a second time and you will perhaps understand about Stoicism more than you can imagine. I am absolutely sure that, during his childhood, Epictetus too liked to wallow in it. 
But let’s come back to our story. The mother of Epictetus was of slave condition. Epictetus himself was born slave, and remained in slave condition for many years before coming to Rome. At some time he was bought and owned by Epaphroditus, the powerful freedman and secretary of the Emperor Nero. 
When he was young a schoolmaster –as I think- crippled him. But you can believe something else because, with respect to his lameness, the interpretations of the scholars are conflicting. In Rome he was a pupil of Musonius Rufus, the most famous Stoic philosopher of that age. 
When the emperor Domitian, around 90 a. C., banished all the philosophers from Rome, Epictetus went to Greece and settled in Nicopolis. Here he opened a school and taught for many years and with a large success. 
He had no sons, but in his old age he took a wife to help him to take care of a little child he had adopted. 
Epictetus wrote nothing for publication, but one of his pupils, Flavius Arrian, took notes at the lectures and wrote down the books that have survived till now. 
We know nothing about Epictetus’ death. Yet in Book III 5,7-11 and in Book IV, 10, 14-17, he himself has left us the words that he would have thought in those moments.


This page contains a collection of five dialogues that explain the philosophy of Epictetus in a discoursive and dramatic form, according to the model of Socrates’ teaching.

Three people meet in a small Greek island and discuss the following topics:

‘Dialogue’ I: -The Proairesis-
Proairesis is a key concept in the phylosophy of Epictetus. Proairesis is shown to be the human reason as our only faculty capable of assuming an attitude according to Diairesis or in contrast with it (that is according to Counterdiairesis).

‘Dialogue’  II: -Medea: Diairesis, Antidiairesis and the mysterious judge- 
The well known story of Medea is told and analyzed in order to understand in depth the way that all human Proairesis work. It is shown that human Proairesis is home to: 
1) a Superjudgement called Diairesis 
2) a ‘mysterious judge’ which will later (in the fifth dialogue) shown to be a Superjudgement that can be called Counterdiairesis 
3) a huge class of ordinary judgements that can be collected under the general name of Antidiairesis.

‘Dialogue’ III: –The Diairesis at work-
The dialogue shows that conscious human life is a continuous stream of Antidiairesis at the orders of either Diairesis or Counterdiairesis.

‘Dialogue’ IV: -The Stoic precept is not that of ‘living according to nature’ but that of ‘living according to the nature of things’- 
Living in accord with ‘nature’ means perfectly nothing, simply because it’s impossible to live ‘against nature’. Instead, the dialogue shows that men can live in accord with the ‘nature of things’ or in contrast with it. It is shown that the nature of things exist, is invariant like the speed of light in Physics, and is valid for all human being without exception.

‘Dialogue’  V: -Giges: Diairesis and Counterdiairesis, Good and Evil- 
The story of Giges is told according to Herodotus and analyzed so as to show that ‘good’ and ‘evil’ indeed exist and what they are.


With the title THE DIAIRESIS TREE, the complete text of my English translation of Epictetus is made up of six units: the four books of the ‘Discourses’, the ‘Fragments’ and the ‘Handbook’.

1) Book I of the ‘Discourses’
‘Man, you have a proairesis by nature unhampered and unconstrained. Here, in the entrails, this has been written’. (I,17,21)
Book I consists of thirty chapters. 

2) Book II of the ‘Discourses’
‘You only remember of that diairesis according to which a boundary is drawn between what is and what is not in your exclusive power’. (II,6,24)
Book II consists of twenty-six chapters. 

3) Book III of the ‘Discourses’ 
‘What a great thing is to be able to say to oneself: “What now the others talk solemnly about in the schools thinking to say paradoxes, this I actually bring to completion. Sitting, they comment upon my virtues and inquire about me, they sing a hymn of praise to me’. (III,24,111)
Book III consists of twenty-six chapters. 

4) Book IV of the ‘Discourses’
‘Why, then, do you say that he is a man? For is perhaps each being judged from its mere external appearance? Since, in this way, say that also a waxen apple is an apple. But it must also have the aroma and the taste of an apple, the external feature is not sufficient. Not even nose and eyes are, then, adequate to make a man, if he has not the judgements of a man’. (IV,5,19-20)
Book IV consists of thirteen chapters. 

5) The ‘Fragments’
‘It is compulsory to know that a judgement does not become easily present to a person unless he should every day say and hear the same judgements and at the same time use them for life’. (Fr. XVI) 

6) The ‘Handbook’
‘If someone handed over your body to anyone you meet, you would be vexed. And that you hand over your intelligence to any chance comer so that, if you are reviled, it is disconcerted and confused; for this are you not ashamed?’ (Handbook, 28)
The ‘Handbook’ consists of fifty-three chapters. 


And he seems always to be using the same terms for the same things; so that anyone inexpert and thoughtless might laugh his sentences to scorn’ (Plato ‘Symposium’ 221E)

THE DIAIRESIS TREE is the name that I have given to my English translation of all the extant Greek works of Epictetus: the 4 books of the ‘Discourses’, the ‘Handbook’ and the ‘Fragments’.
The Greek text upon which my translation is based, is essentially the text prepared by W. A. Oldfather and published in two volumes (reprinted 1979) by the Loeb Classical Library, with the title: ‘Epictetus. The discourses as reported by Arrian, the Manual and Fragments’.

A Greek scholar will quickly realize that my approach to Epictetus is not a philological one. I have carefully avoided to deal, and depress myself accordingly, with matters like complete bibliography or extensive critical literature or scholia. There is no question about that. If I were a Greek scholar, I would have never undertaken the task of translating Epictetus. Since I brought this task to an end, and in the course of many years of daily work, the reason must be that I was interested in something else. At the same time I hope that also people unlearned in philological studies will quickly realize that my translation abstains from the Christian rape that the text of Epictetus has been up to now forced to endure, and that it takes a special care to respect the materialistic, pantheistic, monistic background which was a peculiar trait of the ancient Stoa. 

The most distinctive feature of THE DIAIRESIS TREE is the fact that my translation is strictly based upon the careful analysis of the ‘Index Verborum’ included in H. Schenkl’s critical edition of Epictetus (Teubner, 1965). Taking advantage of this Index, I have tried, in the first place, to be scrupulous in giving to each Greek word (noun, adjective or verbal form, etc.) one or the least possible number of meanings consistent with the different contexts in which they appear, and then to keep the number of its occurrences in my English translation consistent with the number of occurrences of the word in the Greek text. I think that this attempt, to my surprise and also -I must say- satisfaction, has been basically successful. It’s obvious that all the mistakes one can find are mine, and that I would appreciate very much any contribution that might help me to emend them.

Many people, reading my translation for the first time, find themselves faced with terms and concepts that they have never heard, and are disconcerted. I have taken the utmost care to always carefully define, in the titles of the hundreds of paragraphs in which I have subdivided the text, the meaning of each new word that I had to introduce. I think it useful, however, to briefly summarize here some of the explanations that are more frequently requested.

*According to the context, I translate the noun ‘theòs’ -singular and plural, with article and without article- with the words ‘Zeus’ and ‘Matter Immortal’; or ‘god’ and ‘gods’; or ‘God’ and  ‘Gods’. The words ‘Zeus’ and ‘Matter Immortal’ are basically equivalent and interchangeable. I always define Matter as Immortal, because reason and experimental evidence tell us that only Matter is endowed with this quality. Zeus is the name that Epictetus gives to the totality of Matter that makes up the universe, and he never fancies Zeus as a personal and transcending God of Judean-Christian tradition. I use the words ‘god’ and ‘gods’ when Epictetus means one or some of those generous, happy, liberating impressions that are respectful of the nature of things and of which only the men can be fathers. I use the word ‘God’ (in four places) and ‘Gods’, instead, when it is clearly referred to people who could very well share that unhappy, narrow-minded, enslaving impression that is disrespectful of the nature of things and which characterizes all revealed monotheisms.

*I translate the noun ‘ànthropos’  with the word ‘man’ only in those cases in which Epictetus refers to the one who is virtuous, that is to the one who has learned how to play correctly with diairesis and antidiairesis. In all the other cases I translate it, according to my style rules, with words like ‘human being’ or ‘person’ or ‘fellow’ or ‘people’.

*I translate the noun ‘prònoia’ with the term ‘Matter Immortal’s mind’. Athena was called and worshipped as ‘Pronoia’ both in Delphi and in Delos. If we think of Zeus as ‘Matter Immortal’ and of Athena as ‘mind’, we can easily understand the accuracy and the clearness of the ancient myth that tells us something about her birth. Few things can be more alien to Epictetus and to myself than the idea of a transcending and Christian Providence.

*The noun ‘fùsis’, besides its usual meaning of ‘nature’, takes very often in the present text the more technical meaning of ‘nature of things ’, and I have translated it in this way where I thought it necessary. This is a very important question because, together with the concepts of ‘Proairesis’ and of  ‘Diairesis’, this is one of the pillars of the philosophy of Epictetus that have been till now dramatically underestimated or completely disregarded by all translators in whatever language. Epictetus knows very well how easy it is to misunderstand this point and how big the danger is of passing off as ‘nature’ what is, on the contrary, a simple ‘cultural model’. He never plays this game. At the same time, he points out very firmly that we can and we must talk about the ‘nature of things ’, and he is adamant in telling us that ‘the nature of things ’ is invariant, inviolable and valid for all human beings without exceptions. The ‘nature of things ’ is, eventually, their essential bipartition in things that are in our exclusive power (‘proairetic things’) and things that are not in our exclusive power (‘aproairetic things’).

*I never translate the noun ‘paidèia’ with the simple word ‘education’, because this word could lead to the same misunderstandings that I mentioned for the word ‘nature’. I regularly translate it, instead, with the term ‘training to diairesis’ or ‘training to diairesize’, because this is the only interpretation that, in my opinion, is coherent with the general philosophical system of Epictetus and is also clearly the goal that he sets to himself as educator.
*I translate the verb ‘thélo’ with the verb ‘to want’, mostly in those cases in which Epictetus uses it ironically or makes fun of people who don’t know very well, as the saying goes, what they want. Epictetus is adamant in constantly reaffirming that we are ‘our judgements’ or ‘our proairesis’, so that the concept of ‘will’, although not unknown, is mostly useless to him. Except for few cases, I have therefore translated this verb with the English verb ‘to dispose’, a verb that, in my opinion, incorporates the precious meaning of an act of our intellect, useful to comply with the strong dislike of Epictetus for any chat about a presumed contradiction, in man, between theory and praxis.’

THE DIAIRESIS TREE has been written in Aluthgama (Sri Lanka), Singapore (Singapore), Pulau Pangkor (Malaysia), Bangkok (Thailand), Gili Trawangan (Indonesia), Paihia (New Zealand), Nadi (Fiji Islands), Lalomanu (Western Samoa), Ofu (American Samoa), Los Angeles (California, USA), Key West (Florida, USA), Turin (Italy), Athens (Greece).