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

Thank you for choosing this new translation of Epictetus.


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So I’ll speak to you… (24)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

so do those too.


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

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

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

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


Sicknesses and insipience’s sickness (1-6)

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

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

The words of the dying Epictetus (7-11)

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

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

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

The example of Socrates (14-19)

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


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

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

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

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

The common mind (8)

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A dramatic final scene (29-36)

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


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

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

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

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

About the Romans and the philosophy (7)

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The rich man (15-17)

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

Earthenware judgements and golden vessels (18-21)

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The deed of the philosopher (16-17)

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

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

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


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

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

Zeus regards us all (4-6)

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


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

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

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

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

The practical exercise on impulse and repulsion (13)

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

The words of our reason (11-17)

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

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

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

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

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

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


Chorus singers and soloists (1-3)

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

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

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

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

We perform many types of actions (7)

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

philosophers with a diairesis of wax (7-10)

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


What news can the newspapers give? (1)

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

The diairesis at work (2-4)

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

A pillar of stoicism (5-6)

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

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

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


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

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

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

Only the proairesis is self-determinative (3)

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A program for life (19-22)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…that is in our proairesis (42-44)

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

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

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

What is at stakes (51-52)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Cynic and the society (77-82)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The privilege of the Cynic (97-99)

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

The tolerance of the Cynic (100-102)

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

The reference models are necessary (4-7)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And looks for praises (23-26)

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

The philosopher does not flatter (27-29)

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An epicurean’s day (38-39)

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

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

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

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

He who moans is lost (42-43)

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

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

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

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

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

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

You are your judgements (54-57)

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

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

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

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

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

Did Diogenes love nobody? (64-66)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Look at what death is! (93-94)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

to one person or to many people.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The freedom or death of men (39)

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