NEWLY TRANSLATED BY
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)
ON WHAT IS AND ON WHAT IS NOT IN OUR EXCLUSIVE POWER
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.
HOW MAY A MAN SAFEGUARD HIS PERSONALITY IN EVERY CIRCUMSTANCE?
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.
FROM THE FACT THAT MATTER IMMORTAL IS THE FATHER OF MANKIND, HOW COULD ONE COME TO THE CONSEQUENCES?
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.
CHAPTER 4 ON PROFIT
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?
TO THE ACADEMICS
[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.
ON MATTER IMMORTAL’S MIND
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.
ON THE USE OF EQUIVOCAL ARGUMENTS, HYPOTHETICAL ARGUMENTS AND THE LIKE
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?
THAT ARTS AND FACULTIES ARE NOT SAFE FOR PEOPLE UNEDUCATED TO DIAIRESIZE
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.
FROM THE FACT THAT WE ARE CONGENEROUS TO ZEUS, HOW COULD ONE COME TO THE CONSEQUENCES?
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?
[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.
TO THOSE WHO ARE EAGER FOR PROMOTIONS AT ROME
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.
ON BEING WELL PLEASED
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.
HOW IT IS POSSIBLE TO DO EACH THING IN A MANNER PLEASING TO THE GODS
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?
THAT THE DIVINE REGARDS ALL MEN
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.
WHAT DOES PHILOSOPHY PROFESS?
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.
ON MATTER IMMORTAL’S MIND
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!  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.
THAT THE LOGIC IS NECESSARY
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.
THAT WE MUST NOT BE EMBITTERED AGAINST HIM WHO ABERRATES
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.
HOW MUST WE STAND TOWARDS TYRANTS?
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”.
ON HOW REASON IS ABLE TO KNOW ITS OWN GENERAL PRINCIPLES
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.
TO THOSE WHO WANT TO BE ADMIRED
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”.
CHAPTER 23 TO EPICURUS
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!
HOW SHOULD WE STRUGGLE AGAINST DIFFICULT CIRCUMSTANCES?
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.
ON THE SAME THEME
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?
WHAT IS THE LAW OF LIFE?
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.
IN HOW MANY WAYS DO THE IMPRESSIONS ARISE, AND WHAT SUCCOURS MUST WE PREPARE AND HAVE READY AT HAND TO DEAL WITH THEM?
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.
THAT WE MUST NOT BE EMBITTERED WITH HUMAN BEINGS; AND WHAT IS GREAT AND WHAT IS SMALL IN THEM?
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?
ON THE STABILITY OF JUDGEMENT
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.
WHAT MUST ONE HAVE READY AT HAND IN DIFFICULT CIRCUMSTANCES?
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!”