Εἰ μὲν τὸ σῶμά σού τις ἐπέτρεπε τῷ ἀπαντήσαντι, ἠγανάκτεις ἄν: ὅτι δὲ σὺ τὴν γνώμην τὴν σεαυτοῦ ἐπιτρέπεις τῷτυχόντι, ἵνα, ἐὰν λοιδορήσηταί σοι, ταραχθῇ ἐκείνη καὶ συγχυθῇ, οὐκ αἰσχύνῃ τούτου ἕνεκα;
“If someone handed over your body to anyone you meet, you would be vexed. And that you hand over your intelligence to any chance comer so that, if you are reviled, it is disconcerted and confused; for this are you not ashamed?”Manual, 28
There are things that are by nature free and things that are by nature slave. Diairesis is the Superjudgement able to understand and distinguish what is free and what is slave. Counterdiairesis is the Superjudgement that misunderstands what is slave as though it were free and what is free as though it were slave.
[E1,1] Among the things that are, some are in our exclusive power while others are not in our exclusive power. In our exclusive power are conception, impulse, desire, aversion and, in a word, what is our own work. Not in our exclusive power are our body, our estate, reputation, offices and, in a word, what is not our own work. [E1,2] Furthermore the things in our exclusive power are by nature free, unhampered, unimpeded, while the things not in our exclusive power are weak, servant, hampered, are another’s. [E1,3] Remember, then, that if you think free what is by nature servant and your peculiar what is another’s, you will be hindered, you will mourn, you will be disconcerted, you will blame both gods and men. If, on the contrary, you think yours only what is yours and what is another’s, as it is, another’s; no one will ever constrain you, no one will hamper you; you will blame no one, you will bring charges to no one, you will perform absolutely nothing without consent, you will have no personal enemies, no one will damage you, for you will experience nothing harmful. [E1,4] Having such important aims remember, then, that you must undertake them not moderately stirred but that you must totally give up some things and defer others for the time being. If you want this so important attainment and at the same time to hold office and be wealthy in money, because you aim also at the former you will not obtain, perhaps, even these latter; but you will at any rate fail those through which only freedom and happiness ensue. [E1,5] Straightaway, then, study to say to every harsh impression “You are an impression and non at all what you appear to be”. After that inquire and evaluate it with these standards that you have, and in the first place and especially with this: whether it concerns things in our exclusive power or things not in our exclusive power. And if it concerns some of the things that are not in our exclusive power, have ready at hand that “It is nothing to me”.
Misfortunes and ill fortunes.
[E2,1] Remember that the profession of desire is to hit the mark of what you desire and that the profession of aversion is to not stumble on what is averted. He who fails in desire is misfortuned, while he who stumbles on what he averts has ill fortune. If, then, among what is in your exclusive power, you avert only what is not in accord with the nature of things, you will stumble on nothing of what you avert. But if you avert sickness or death or poverty in money, you will have ill fortune. [E2,2] Remove, then, your aversion from all that is not in our exclusive power and transpose it on what, among the things that are in our exclusive power, is not in accord with the nature of things. For the time being, totally abolish your desire. For if you desire something of what is not in our exclusive power, it’s necessary for you to be misfortuned, while nothing of what is in our exclusive power and would be beautiful to desire is as yet present to you. Use only your impulse and your repulsion, yet lightly, with reservation and mildly.
The nature of things.
For any of the things by which your soul is won or that provides you with some utility or that you cherish, remember to say to yourself, beginning from the smallest, which is its nature. If you cherish a pot, say “I cherish a pot”; for when it is broken you will not be disconcerted. If you kiss your child or your wife, say that you kiss a human being; for when he dies you will not be disconcerted.
Proairesis: the logic faculty of human beings as our only faculty able to assume a diairetic or a counterdiairetic attitude.
When you are going to undertake a work, remind yourself which is the nature of the work. If you go away for a warm bath, put in front of you the events at the baths: those who sprinkle, those who jostle, those who revile, those who steal. And thus you will undertake the work more safely, if at once you will say: “I dispose to take a warm bath but also to keep my proairesis in accord with the nature of things”. And behave in the same way for each work. For thus, if any hindrance to take a warm bath happens, you will have ready at hand that: “Yet I did not dispose only this, but also to keep my proairesis in accord with the nature of things; and I’ll not so keep it, if I am vexed at the events”.
We are proairesis; that is, we are our judgements.
It is not the things themselves that disconcert the human beings, but their judgements about these things. For example, death is nothing terrible, or else it would have appeared such also to Socrates; but the judgement upon death, that it’s terrible, this is the terrible thing. When, then, we are hindered or disconcerted or grieved, let’s never impute anyone else but ourselves, that is our judgements. To bring charges to other people for what he fares ill is the work of the uneducated to diairesize. To bring charges to himself is the work of the one who has begun to diairesize. To bring charges neither to another nor to himself is the work of the man educated to diairesize.
The excellence of human nature is nothing else but the right use, that is, in accord with the nature of things, of our impressions.
Be not elated at any primacy that is not your own. If a horse in his elation said: “I am beautiful”, it would be bearable; but when you say elated: “I have a beautiful horse”, know that you are elating at the goodness of a horse. What is, then, yours? The use of impressions. Therefore at that time be elated when you behave in accord with the nature of things in the use of impressions; for then you will be elated at some goodness of yourself.
All that is aproairetic, earlier or later has to be given back.
Precisely as during a sea-voyage, when the vessel has anchored, if you should go out to fetch fresh water, along the way you will pick up for yourself a small snail or a small bulb, yet your intellect has to be intent upon the vessel and you have to turn it constantly to the possible call of the steersman; and if he calls, you have to give up all those things, that you may avoid being thrown on board fettered as the sheep; in like manner in life too, if, instead of a small bulb and a small snail, are given you a wife and a child, nothing will prevent you to pick them up for yourself; but if the steersman calls, run to the vessel, giving up all those things and without turning your mind to them. And if you are old, do not be far from the vessel, that you may not be left out when he calls.
Error, vice, unhappiness.
Do not seek to have the events happen as you want, but dispose for the events to happen as they happen and you will be serene.
Only our proairesis is by nature free from any hindrance.
Sickness is a hindrance of the body, not of proairesis, if our proairesis does not dispose so. Lameness is a hindrance of the leg, not of proairesis. And say this for each occurrence, for you will find that it hinders something else but not you.
A proairesis able to keep itself free in every circumstance.
For each of the events that befall us, remember to turn the mind to yourself and to seek which faculty you have for its use. If you see a handsome younker or a handsome girl, you will find that the faculty for these things is self-restraint. If a pain is laid upon you, you will find fortitude. If reviling, you will find patience. And accustomed in this way, the impressions will not sweep you away.
All that is aproairetic, earlier or later has to be given back. 2
Never say about anything “I lost it”, but “I gave it back”. Did the child die? He was given back. Did the wife die? She was given back. “The farm was confiscated”. This also, then, was given back. “But the one who confiscated it is a vicious person”. What do you care through whom the giver demanded it back? And till the giver gives it to you, take care of it as of something that is another’s; as the passers-by of the inn.
Men, prices and profit.
[E12,1] If you dispose to profit, give up the reckonings of this sort: “If I neglect my own affairs, I’ll have no means of subsistence”. “If I don’t punish the boy, he will be a knavish fellow”. For it’s better for you to die of hunger once able to control grief and fear rather than to live in the abundance being prey to disconcertment. It’s better for your boy to be a bad fellow than for you to be unhappy. Begin, therefore, from small things. [E12,2] Some oil is spilled; some wine is stolen. Say: “This is the price of self control, this is the price of undisconcertment”. Nothing ensues free of charge. When you call the boy, brood that he may not heed you or heed you but do nothing of what you want: yet he is not in such a mighty position that your undisconcertment is in his exclusive power!
This or that are they the same for me?
If you dispose to profit, submit to seem crazy and silly with regard to external objects and do not decide to seem someone who has science of anything. And if some people think that you are somebody, distrust yourself. For know that it is not easy to guard your proairesis working in accord with the nature of things and the external objects, but if you take care of the first one it’s inevitable for you to neglect the others.
Can anything that is in another’s power free us?
[E14,1] If you want that your offspring and wife and friends live forever, you are silly; for you want that what is not in your exclusive power be in your exclusive power and that what is another’s be yours. In like manner if you want that the boy be unaberrating, you are stupid; for you want that the vice be not vice but something else. Yet if you dispose to be unfailing in desire, this you can. [E14,2] Exercise, then, this that you can. Each person’s lord is the one who has the power to secure or subtract the things that the person wants or does not want. Whoever, then, decides to be free let him neither want nor avoid anything that is in the power of other people. Otherwise, it’s necessary for him to be servant.
Remember that you must conduct yourself as in a banquet. A course has been carried in front of you: stretch out the hand and take a share decently. It passes on: do not withhold it. It does not yet come along: do not fling your desire onwards, but await till it is not in front of you. So towards offspring, so towards a wife, so towards offices, so towards money’s wealth: and at some time you will be a fellow-drinker worthy of the gods. And when the courses are placed beside you but you do not take and disdain them, then you will not only be a fellow-drinker of the gods but you will rule with them. For by so doing Diogenes, Heracleitus and similar men deservedly were and were called gods.
The grief of another person.
When you see someone crying and mourning either because one if his offspring sets off or because he has lost his property, pay attention not to be swept away by the impression that he finds himself in an evil plight because of the external objects. But straightaway have ready at hand that “This fellow is not oppressed by what has occurred (for it does not oppress another) but by his judgement about it”. Yet till so far as words are concerned, do not hesitate to be complaisant with him and, perhaps, to groan over the thing together with him. Yet pay attention to not sigh also from within.
You are an actor.
Remember that you are an actor of a drama, the sort of which is disposed by the director. If he disposes the drama to be short, of a short one; if long, of a long one. If he disposes for you to play the part of a beggar, he does this in order that you may play this too as a thoroughbred actor; and the same for the part of a lame, of a magistrate, of a private citizen. For yours is to play well the given role; to select it is another’s business.
My own good is in my own hands.
When a crow croaks inauspiciously, be not swept away by that impression but straightaway, you within yourself, discriminate and say: “None of these things omens to me, but either to my body or to my estate or to my reputation or to my offspring or wife. To me all signs given are auspicious, if I dispose so; for whatever comes about it is in my exclusive power to benefit from it”.
Invincible in the freedom’s contest.
[E19,1] You can be invincible if you never descend into a contest in which victory is not in your exclusive power. [E19,2] When you see someone honoured above you or a tycoon or someone who wins applause, behold not to bless him, swept away by the impression. For if the substance of the good is in what is in our exclusive power, then neither envy nor jealousy have country there; and you will neither want to be general nor official nor consul but a free man. One only is the way leading to this: the contempt of what is not in our exclusive power.
Remember that it’s not the fellow who reviles or strikes that outrages you, but your judgement about these acts as outrageous. When, then, one provokes you, know that your conception has provoked you. In the first place, therefore, try not to be swept away by the impression, for once you have obtained some time and some delay, you will be more easily master of yourself.
Let death, exile and everything that appears terrible be before your eyes every day. Most of all death. And you will never brood anything slave-minded nor crave excessively for anything.
The derision and the admiration of human beings.
If you crave for philosophy, prepare immediately to be mocked, to be derided from many people who will say: “Suddenly this fellow is returned home philosopher!” and “Whence does this frown come?” You do not have the frown, but cleave to what appears to you the best as a man positioned to this task by Zeus. Remember that if you remain fixed to the same judgements, those who first mocked you, these same people will later admire you; but if you are defeated by them, you will add to the first a second derision.
To appear and to be.
If, owing to the decision to please someone, it ever happens to you to turn yourself outside, know that you lost your institute of life. Be content, then, in every circumstance to be a philosopher. And if you decide also to seem one, appear a philosopher to yourself and that will be sufficient.
To sacrifice our life for the sake of “the Cause” at the cost of losing our true goods?
[E24,1] Let not these considerations oppress you: “I’ll live lacking honours and will be nobody anywhere”. For if the lack of honours is an evil, you cannot be in evil because of another person, no more than in shame. Is it perhaps your work to obtain an office or to be invited to a dinner-party? Not at all. How is this, then, any longer a lack of honours? How is it that you will be nobody anywhere, when you have to be somebody only in the things that are in your exclusive power, wherein you have the power to be of the greatest value? [E24,2] But will your friends be helpless? Why do you say “helpless”? They will not have from you small coins nor you will make them Roman citizens. And who told you that these things are among those in our exclusive power and not another’s work? Who can give to another person what he does not himself have? “Get them for yourself, then”, someone says, “so that we too may have them”. [E24,3] If I can get them keeping myself self respecting, faithful, high-minded, show me the way and I’ll get them. But if you are urging me to lose my goods so that you may secure what are not goods, you see for yourselves how unfair and unintelligent you are. What do you decide better to have? Some money or a faithful and self respecting friend? Take rather part with me in this, then, and do not urge me to perform actions by which I’ll throw away my very faithfulness and self respect. [E24,4] “But my fatherland, as long as it is in my power”, someone says, “will be helpless”. Again, of what kind is this help? It will have, thanks to you, neither roofed colonnades nor baths. And what is this? For neither does it have shoes thanks to the smith nor weapons thanks to the cobbler. It is sufficient, instead, if anyone fulfils his own work. If you structured for it another faithful and self respecting citizen, would you be of no benefit to your fatherland? “Yes”. Therefore you would not be futile to it. “Which task”, someone says, “will I have, then, in town?” The one that you can have, guarding at the same time the faithful and self respecting man. [E24,5] But if, having decided to benefit your town, you will throw away this, of what avail would you be to it coming out disrespectful and faithless?
Flunkeys and arse-lickers.
[E25,1] Was anyone honoured above you at a dinner-party or on occasion of an address or in being invited for a counsel? If these are goods, you must rejoice that he obtained them. If, instead, they are evils, do not take offence because you did not obtain them. Remember that you cannot, not doing the same things that he does in order to obtain what is not in our exclusive power, deserve an equal share in it. [E25,2] For how can have an equal share, the one who does not frequent the doors of someone and the one who frequents them? The one who does not accompany someone and the one who accompanies him? The one who does not praise and the one who praises? You will be, then, unjust and insatiate if, while not turning over the things in exchange of which those are retailed, you would decide to get them free of charge. [E25,3] At what price are the heads of lettuce retailed? Perhaps, one obol. If, then, turning over one obol a fellow gets the lettuce and you, not turning over the obol will not get it, do not think that you have less than the fellow who got it. For as he has the head of lettuce, so you have the obol that you did not give. [E25,4] In the same way it is also here. Were you not invited to somebody’s dinner-party? For you did not give the host the price for which he sells his dinner. And he sells it for praises, for personal assistance. Give him, then, the price for which it is sold, if it’s advantageous for you. But if you want not to turn over that and yet to get this, you are insatiate and ignoble. [E25,5] Have you nothing, then, in exchange of the dinner? You have that you did not praise the fellow you did not want to praise; that you had not to tolerate his doorkeepers.
The grief of another person. 2
It is possible to decipher the plan of nature from the consideration of the points in which we do not differ from one another. For example, when another’s boy breaks the drinking-cup, you have straightaway ready at hand the words: “These are things that happen!” Know, then, that when your drinking-cup too is broken, you must be the same person you were when the other drinking-cup was broken. In like manner, transpose this principle also to greater things. Another’s offspring or wife has died. No one but would say: “It’s a human thing!” Yet when somebody’s own child dies, straightaway: “Woe’s me! Wretched me!”. But it would be compulsory to remember what we experience when we hear this event befalling other people.
Good and evil do not exist outside of our proairesis.
As a target is not set in order to fail it, so neither the nature of evil exists in the World.
The rape of intelligence.
If someone handed over your body to anyone you meet, you would be vexed. And that you hand over your intelligence to any chance comer so that, if you are reviled, it is disconcerted and confused; for this are you not ashamed?
Please, give up philosophy.
[E29,1] Consider the antecedents and the consequents of each work and at that point come to it. Otherwise, at first you will come along with spirited vigour, inasmuch as you have brooded nothing of what follows next but later, when some difficulties will be shown forth, you will desist shamefully. [E29,2] Do you want to win the Olympic games? So do I, by the gods, for it is a fine thing. But consider the antecedents and the consequents, and at that point undertake the work. You must obey discipline, eat by regimen, abstain from delicacies, train under compulsion, at a fixed hour, in burning heat, in cold; you must not drink cold water nor wine haphazardly; in short you must have committed yourself to the supervisor as to a physician. And then in contest to dig in beside your opponent, sometimes to dislocate a hand, to sprain your ankle, to gulp down much sand, possibly to be whipped and, after all this, to be defeated. [E29,3] Once you have examinated this, if you still want it, come to the trial. Otherwise, you will have conducted yourself as the children, who now play the wrestlers, now the gladiators, now blow trumpets and then croon. So you too are now athlete, now gladiator and then orator and then philosopher but with your entire soul nothing. Like an ape you imitate whatever spectacle you see and are pleased with something that is always different. For you did not come to anything after an analysis or a diligent study but at random and according to a cold craving. [E29,4] In this way some people, once they have observed a philosopher and heard someone speaking like Euphrates (and yet who can speak like him?), want they too to do philosophy. [E29,5] You sir, examine first what is the business and then decipher also your nature, if you can bear it. Do you decide to be a pentathlete or a wrestler? See your arms, your thighs, decipher your loins. [E29,6] For one is born for one thing, another for another one. Do you think that doing this you can eat in the same way, drink in the same way, similarly desire, similarly be ill pleased? You must stay awake, toil, depart from your household, be despised by a young boy, be mocked by those you meet, have less in every circumstance: in honour, in office, in court, in every small business. [E29,7] Examine these issues, if you dispose to give that in exchange for self control, freedom, undisconcertment. Otherwise do not bring yourself near philosophy, that you may not be, like the children, now a philosopher and later a tax collector and then an orator and then a Procurator of Caesar. These things do not harmonize. You must be one person only, either good or bad. You must work at your ruling principle or at the external objects; elaborate artfully your inside or things outside; that is to have the position of a philosopher or of a layman.
About social relationships.
The proper deeds are generally calibrated upon our social relationships. He is a father: what is dictated is to take care of him, to give him way in everything, to tolerate him if he reviles, if he smites. “But he is a bad father”. Were you made by nature kinsman to a good father? No, but simply to a father. “My brother does me wrong”. Keep, therefore, your position with regard to him and do not consider what he does but what you do in order to have your proairesis in accord with the nature of things. For another person will not damage you, if you do not dispose so. And then you will have been damaged, when you conceive that you are damaged. In like manner, then, you will find what is the proper deed of a neighbour, of a citizen, of a general, if you accustom yourself to know the general principles of your social relationships.
On men and gods.
[E31,1] About the piety towards the gods, know that the dominant issue is to have right conceptions of them, as existing and governing the whole well and justly; and to have appointed yourself to obey them, to make way to any of them and to follow them purposely as brought to completion by our best intelligence. For in this way you will never blame the gods nor you will bring charges to them for neglecting you. [E31,2] And it’s impossible for this to happen, otherwise than removing the good and the evil from what is not in our exclusive power and setting it only into what is in our exclusive power. For if you conceive any of those things to be good or evil it’s inevitable for you, when you fail what you want and you stumble on what you do not want, to blame and hate the causes of this outcome. [E31,3] For every creature is born to flee and turn aside from what appears harmful and from its causes, and to go in quest of and give value to what is beneficial and to its causes. It’s unmanageable, then, for the one who thinks to be damaged, to rejoice at what he thinks to damage him, as it’s also impossible to rejoice of the damage itself. [E31,4] Hence it comes that the father is reviled from the son when he does not give him a share of those things that the boy thinks are good. And this made Eteocles and Polyneices enemies of one another: to think tyranny to be a good thing. For this reason the farmer reviles the Gods, and so does the sailor, so does the merchant, so do those who lose their wives and their offspring. For where the useful is, there is also the pious. So that whoever takes care of desiring and averting as one ought, at the same time he is taking care also of the piety. [E31,5] It befits on each occasion to make libations and sacrifices, to offer the first-fruits after the manner of our fathers; doing it with purity, neither carelessly nor niggardly nor beyond our faculties.
The indifferent divination.
[E32,1] When you approach divination, remember that you don’t know what will come about but that you came in order to know it from the seer. Yet you came knowing what’s the nature of the thing that will come about, if indeed you are a philosopher. For if it’s something that is not in our exclusive power, it’s inevitable for it to be neither good nor evil. [E32,2] Do not bring, then, to the seer desire or aversion and do not approach him trembling, but having screened that everything will come about is indifferent and nothing to you; and that whatever it is, it will be possible to use it well and that nobody can prevent this. Come, then, confidently to the gods as to counsellors. Well then, when some counsel is given to you, remember whom you assumed as counsellors and whom you will misunderstand if you disobey. [E32,3] Come to divination, precisely as Socrates urged, in those cases in which every analysis has reference to the outcome and neither from reasoning nor from any other art are given resources in order to discover the issue in question. So that, when you have to run risks with a friend or with your fatherland, do not divine whether you have run them. For if the seer foretells you that the sacred victims have been unfavourable, it’s plain that this means death or lameness of some part of the body or exile. But reason chooses, also with these risks, to stand by side of the friend and to run risks with the fatherland. Pay attention, then, to the greatest seer, to Pythian Apollo, who cast out of his temple the fellow who did not help the friend who was being cleared out.
[E33,1] Position by now for yourself a certain style and pattern, that you will guard whether you are by yourself or are meeting with people. [E33,2] And be silent for the most part or chat the necessary and with few words. Rarely, and when the right time invites you to talk, talk indeed, but not about what you chance upon: not about gladiatorial combats, or horse-races, or athletes, or foodstuff or drinks or such trivialities and especially not about people, censuring or praising or comparing. [E33,3] If, then, you are able, with your discourses bring over also those of the fellows who are with you to what is befitting. If by chance you are taken apart among aliens, keep silent. [E33,4] Do not laugh much nor at many things nor coarsely. [E33,5] Spurn an oath, if possible, at all; otherwise, as far as it is contingent. [E33,6] Decline dinner-parties with outsiders and laymen. If ever the right time for this happens, pay much attention not to glide into any vulgarity. Know, indeed, that if the fellow is defiled, also the one who rubs against him must of necessity defile himself, even if he is by chance clean. [E33,7] With respect to the body, employ things like food, drink, clothing, house, servitude, till the satisfaction of the mere need; and set limits to everything which is for reputation or effeminacy. [E33,8] About sexual pleasures before marriage, one must keep oneself clean; and the one who touches them must take a share of the lawful ones. Yet don’t become rude nor challenging with those who indulge and do not quote repeatedly that you do not indulge. [E33,9] If someone reports to you that So-and-so speaks ill of you, do not speak in your defence against what is said but answer that “So-and-so ignored the others vices that are joined to me, since he would not speak, then, of these only!” [E33,10] To go to the theatre is, for the most part, not necessary. If it is ever the right time, show to be eager for none but yourself, that is dispose for that only to happen that happens, and for him only to win who wins: for in this way you will not be hindered. Abstain totally from shouting and mocking at anyone or from exciting yourself for long. Once you are far from the theatre, do not argue a great deal about what has happened, except in so far as this brings to your rectification; for such a behaviour discloses that you admired the spectacle. [E33,11] Do not go at random nor easily to people’s lectures. If you go, guard yourself solemn, stable and at the same time not rude. [E33,12] When you are about to confer with somebody, especially one of those thought “Excellence”, put in front of you what would Socrates or Zeno have done in this case and you will not be at a loss for using befittingly of the occurrence. [E33,13] When you frequent any tycoon, put in front of you that you will not find him in, that you will be shut outside, that his doors will be slammed in your face, that he will not worry about you. And if, despite this, it is a proper deed to come, come and bear with the events and never say to yourself: “It was not worth that much trouble!”; for this is typical of the layman and of one who has been filled with suspicion and resentment against the external events. [E33,14] In your conversations keep yourself far away from remembering for long certain works of yours or, beyond measure, certain dangers that you have run. For as it’s pleasant for you to remember your dangers, it is not so pleasant for other people to hear about the dangers that have occurred to you. [E33,15] Keep yourself also far away from moving laugh, for the way that brings into vulgarity is slippery and at the same time sufficient to lessen the respect of those who are nearby towards you. [E33,16] Unsafe is also to step forth towards smutty talk. When, then, something of this sort occurs, if it’s a well-timed occasion rebuke also the person who stepped forth to it. Otherwise, cease speaking and be silent and blush and be sullen, so displaying your dislike at the discourse.
The strength of our impressions.
When you get the impression of some ecstasy, precisely as for the other impressions guard yourself against being swept away by it. Let the thing, then, wait for you, and take some delaying. Next recollect both the times: the time in which you will enjoy the ecstasy and the time when, later, after enjoying it, you will repent and revile yourself. Set against this how you will rejoice in abstaining from it and how you will praise yourself. However, if it appears to you the right time to undertake the work, pay attention not to be defeated by its enticement and pleasantness and attractiveness. But set against this how better is for you the cognition of having won this victory.
When you, having screened that a certain thing has to be done, do it; never avoid to be seen performing it, even though the multitude is going to conceive something different about it. For if you do it unrightly, avoid the work itself. If rightly, why do you fear those who will rebuke you unrightly?
A clash of interests.
As the statements “It is day” and “It is night” have a great value for a disjunctive clause but lack value for a coordinate clause, so let to select the greater part of a course have value for your body, but it lacks value to the purpose of guarding as one ought the sociability at a dinner-party. When, then, you eat with another person, remember to look not only at the value for your body of the courses that lie nearby, but also at guarding your respect towards the banquet-giver.
Out of the lines.
If you interpret a role that is above your faculties, in this you were indecent and you omitted to fulfill the role that you could have fulfilled.
Precisely as in walking you pay attention not to step on a nail or to twist your foot, so pay attention not to damage your ruling principle. And if we are on our guard about this in each work, we will undertake it more safely.
The measure and above.
Each person’s body is a measure for his estate, as the foot is a measure for his shoe. If, then, you abide by this principle, you will guard the measure. If you go beyond it, well, then it’s necessary to be brought like along a cliff. Precisely as for the shoe, if you go beyond the foot, the shoe becomes gilded and then purple and then embroidered. For there is no limit to what is once above the measure.
Ladies whose only good is their cunt.
Straightaway from the age of fourteen the females are called by the males “Ladies”. Seeing, therefore, that nothing else is joined to them but to be bed-fellows of the males, they begin to embellish themselves and to devote all their hopes to that. It is worth, then, to pay attention so that they may realize to be honoured for nothing else but for appearing well-regulated and self respecting.
Shitting and fucking.
It’s a scum’s sign to linger fondly on things that concern our body, like training oneself for long, for long to eat, for long to drink, for long to shit, to fuck. These things must be done as accessory works. All thoughtfulness has to be for our intelligence.
Who is the damaged one?
When somebody treats you ill or speaks ill of you, remember that he does or says so, thinking this to be a proper deed for himself. It is not, then, possible for him to follow what appears to you but what appears to him, so that if his opinion is wrong, the damaged one is the deceived one. For if one conceives false a true coordinate clause, it is not the coordinate clause that has been damaged but the one who was deceived. Taking, then, impulse from this, you will be meek with the reviler. For to every reviling exclaim: “He thought it!”
The two handles of the business.
Every business has two handles: a bearable one and an unbearable one. If your brother wrongs you, do not take the business from here, that he wrongs (for this is its unbearable handle), but rather from there, that he is your brother, that he has lived in common with you; and you will take the business from the bearable handle.
Discourses that cannot fit together.
These are discourses that cannot fit together: “I am money’s wealthier than you, so I am better than you”; “I am more eloquent than you, so I am better than you”. These discourses, rather, can be combined: “I am money’s wealthier than you, so my estate is better than yours”; “I am more eloquent than you, so my elocution is better than yours”. But you are indeed neither estate nor elocution.
Reality and appearance.
Somebody bathes hastily; do not say that he bathes badly but hastily. Somebody drinks much wine; do not say that he drinks badly but that he drinks much. Before screening the judgements, whence do you know whether he is doing it badly? Thus it will not occur to you that you seize the cataleptic impressions of certain things and assent to others.
On being philosophers.
[E46,1] In no place call yourself philosopher and for the most part do not chat among laymen of general philosophical principles, but do what follows from those principles. At a banquet, for example, do not say how one ought to eat but eat as one ought. For remember that Socrates had so eliminated from all quarters the showing off, that people came to him and wanted to be recommended by him to the philosophers; and he used to bring them along. To such a point he tolerated its underestimation! [E46,2] And if a discourse about some general philosophical principle runs into laymen, for the most part keep silent; for great is the danger to vomit straightaway what you did not yet digest. And when someone tells you that you know nothing and you are not bitten by this, then know that you are beginning the real business. Since also the sheep do not show off to the shepherds how much they ate by bringing them the fodder but, once they have digested the pasturage within themselves, they bring outside wool and milk. You too, therefore, do not show off the general philosophical principles to laymen but, after digesting them, the works.
When you have suited yourself, with regard to the body, to cheap living, do not embellish yourself with this and, if you drink water, do not seek every motive to say that you drink water. If you dispose to exercise yourself to toil, do it for yourself and not for outsiders to behold. Do not embrace statues, but when you have a vehement thirst draw upon yourself some fresh water and then spit it, without telling anybody.
Human beings and men.
[E48,1] Station and style of a layman: he never expects benefit or damage from himself but from external things. Station and style of a philosopher: he expects every benefit and damage from himself. [E48,2] These are the signs of the one who profits: he censures nobody, praises nobody, blames nobody, brings charges to nobody, says nothing about himself as though he were somebody or knew something. When he is hindered in something or hampered, he brings charges to himself. If anyone praises him, he mocks within himself the one who praises; and if he is censured, he does not speak in his defence. He goes around like an invalid, cautious to move, before they take solidity, any of the parts that are being reconstituted. [E48,3] He has removed from himself every desire and has transposed aversion only upon what, among what is in our exclusive power, is not in accord with the nature of things. Towards everything he uses the impulse mildly. If he is thought to be silly or uncultured, he does not worry about. In a word, he is in his guard against himself as against a treacherous personal enemy.
Solemnity of being philosophers or of commenting on philosophers.
When one takes a solemn air because he is able to comprehend and explain the books of Chrysippus, say to yourself: “If Chrysippus had not written obscurely, this fellow would have nothing about which to take a solemn air”. What do I decide? To decipher the nature of things and to stay in her company. I seek, then, the one who explains it and, having heard that Chrysippus does so, I come to him. But I do not comprehend his writings. I seek, then, the one who explains them. And down to this point there is nothing solemn. When I find the commentator, what is left behind is to use the prescriptions: this only is solemn. But if I admire this mere fact of commenting, what else do I come out if not a grammarian instead of a philosopher? Except that instead of Homer I can comment, indeed, Chrysippus. When one tells me: “Read me Chrysippus again”, I, then, rather blush, when I am unable to show off works similar and in harmony with his discourses.
What is at stakes is happiness.
Remain fixed to what is proposed to you as to laws, as if you would commit an impiety in violating it. And do not turn your mind towards whatever thing one says about you; for this is no longer yours.
Olympia is now.
[E51,1] And to what kind of time do you still delay to think yourself worth of the best thing and to violate in nothing the reason that performs the diairesis? You have assumed the general philosophical principles with which you had to match and you have matched with them. What kind of teacher, then, do you still expect, that you may defer to him your rectification? You are no longer a lad but by now a perfect adult. If you are now neglectful and lazy and make deferment after deferment and define one after the other the day when you will pay attention to yourself, it will escape your notice that you are not making profit and will continue to live and die as a layman. [E51,2] Urge yourself by now, then, to live as a perfect man and a man who profits; and let everything that appears best, be for you an inviolable law. If something painful or pleasant is brought near you, bringing good reputation or ill reputation, remember that the contest is now, that the Olympic games are by now before you, that it is no longer possible to delay and that in a day only and a contest only your profit is lost or safeguarded. [E51,3] Socrates came out the man he was because, in all that was brought near him, he used to pay attention to nothing but his reason. And even if you are not yet Socrates, you are bound to live as one who decides to be a Socrates.
The three fields of philosophy.
[E52,1] In philosophy, the first and more necessary topic is the one concerning the use of general principles: for example, non to lie. The second is the one concerning the demonstrations: for example, whence is it that one ought not to lie? The third is the one that strengthens and articulates these issues: for example, whence does it come that this is a demonstration? For what is demonstration, what is logical consequence, what is contradiction, what is truth, what is falsehood? [E52,2] Therefore the third topic is necessary because of the second and the second because of the first. But the most necessary one and the one in which we must rest is the first. We instead do the things backwards; for we pass our time in the third topic and all our eagerness is given to this one, while we neglect totally the first. Therefore we lie, but how to demonstrate that one ought not lie, this we have ready at hand
Who takes side with Socrates?
[E53,1] In every occasion we must have ready at hand these words: “Lead me, Zeus, and you indeed, Destiny, to that goal long ago to me assigned. Resolute, I’ll stay in your company; and if I don’t want so, becoming vicious, nevertheless I’ll stay in your company”. [E53,2] “Whoever has complied as a virtuous man with necessity, for us is wise and knows what is divine”. [E53,3] “Well, O Crito, if so it pleases the gods, so be it”. [E53,4] “Anytus and Meletus can kill me but not damage me”.